Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Darkroom is 95% done! Plus other Photo Palace news.

Hello Everyone!

Sorry for being absent or the past few days - all the efforts went into finishing the darkroom and so for your viewing pleasure here are three photos of the various parts of it in the process of being built.

Drying racks and future dry and wet counter spaces.

Print washing sink (custom made by us to fit one 16x20 and one 11x14 archival washers and the big sink for trays (we went with a standard 6ft sink that theoretically can hold trays up to 20x24)

And these are the guts of our enlarging stations (I tried to make as many drawers as I had patience for as there is always a ton of small stuff needed in the darkroom like lenses, negative carriers, etc.) 

And here are three images of what the darkroom looks like tonight as we finish up work on it.

There are still a few things to do - safe lights need to be wired and placed, ventilation is waiting to be hooked up to the switches (that's hopefully going to get done right after I press 'publish' on this post) and a couple of faucets need to be placed in the sinks.  Otherwise it's ready to be a very cozy creative cave.

In other news the decision was made to launch on our maiden journey much sooner than previously planned.  We are going to rough it on this trip and have no bedrooms.  We could spend the summer working on the second story (and it would not be out of our realm of capabilities), BUT that would leave Ryan and me in a dire financial situation with no finds to actually go anywhere and start making art and spreading the joy of gelatin silver across the country.  So!  The launch date has been moved up and is now set to be around June 8th (give or take a day or two).  The Photo Palace is taking off from the Bay Area tomorrow and am headed to San Diego for the first time.  There the darkroom will be stuffed with all sorts of equipment that makes darkrooms so much fun.

Our route will be announced soon so stay tuned!

I am also completely lagging on posting a huge Thank You Post in which I will pay homage to all the wonderful folks who made the building of The Photo Palace in Bay Area possible.  I am not forgetting about You guys - I just want to get a day of breathing and rest so I can put together a less rambling post to honor You in.

It's almost 3am - time for a little more coffee and some more finishing touches. 

Sometimes I have dreams that I reach into my camera bag and pull out a camera, but find that it's not the right camera for the occasion (like a Polaroid when I want a Rolleiflex) - very frustrating dreams those are.... I think the best photo-dreams I remember having were the ones then I notice a striking light quality  (usually dawn or sunset hour, but sometimes slightly hazy overcast looks beautiful in my dreams) and actually have a camera that can do justice to the moment...  A while ago I had one of those dreams, but was slightly sad because I thought to myself: "This would be perfect for Kodachrome but they don't make it many more...."
Hope everyone is having good dreams right now. 


Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Monday Update

Happy Monday to all who read this! (or any day of the week if You are reading this not on a Monday)

This is a quick update of what has happened in the past few days.

First off, I forgot to mention in the last post that last Sunday The Photo Palace Bus ventured out into the public and was introduced to the art world at  Watsonville,  CA.  There is a wonderful show of modern alternative photographic work currently on exhibit at Pajaro Valley Arts Council in which Ryan and I have a few pieces.  The reception was warm and many excited photo artists came through to take a look at the progress.  Unfortunately at that point the darkroom was not at all done so we had to play the 'imagine this' game.  Luckily artists are usually good at that game.  A couple of the images from that outing can be seen on our Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/PhotoPalaceBus.

Tuesday after that Photo Palace was seen in the back of the art building at San Jose State University.  Driving up the main street in San Jose I took this picture of City Hall complex.  It was built while I was attending SJSU and I even did a little documentary work for the city San Jose during the construction. I think it's a nice looking building, but it definitely looks better through the front window of a school bus.

Only in my wildest dreams, while going to this building daily for three years, did I ever imagine parking the Darkroom Bus in the back parking lot! 

The student art shows at SJSU have their receptions starting at 6pm on Tuesdays and this was the end-of-semester week so all the galleries were occupied by group shows, which makes for a massive influx of people.  We had a good time and a few of my old professors stopped by to say hi.
On the drive back I got my first taste at driving the bus at night and had to pull over to check if all our lights are in working order.  They are indeed and this is what we look like from the rear.

The Photo Palace Bus is now parked at a very beautiful spot where work continues.  Ryan's friends' land is not too far away and there is plenty of parking next to a big beautiful barn seen behind me in this reflection image.

Since we have been here we finally started the darkroom portion of the bus and it's been coming along nicely.
Against all odds we decided to put a standard plastic darkroom sink into our little space - the whole darkroom had to be pretty much designed around this thing - it's really the smallest possible sink for a regular stationary darkroom, but inside a school bus it quickly moves up to being almost the biggest possible. We even had to make a separate small sink to house the print washers (that's the small blue sink hiding behind the big black one in this image.
Then we moved to the right and constructed custom-made print drying racks (Ryan did a great job making the frames from recycled redwood, I wish I had a better picture of them alone, but You'll just have to come on the Bus and see for Yourself).
To the right of the racks will be two counters (wet and dry). The fame for the dry counter can be seen taking shape  above.  Today frames for enlarging stations will be finished.   Here is a shot of the first station in two stages of construction - frame only and then with cubbyholes and compartments that will house lenses, paper, dodging tools, etc.

Well, it's time to return to the Bus and get some work done.

Have a great and productive week everyone! 


Monday, May 7, 2012

They are finally here!

Well,  I have not posted an update in a few days as we have been super busy with the arrival of the floors, cushions and tables all at the same time, plus the need to move The Bus from Ryan's house to another location.  Now it will be parked a few miles away from the shop at a very private and spectacular spot in the midst of redwoods and there, hopefully, we can finish the darkroom construction before moving on to San Diego.

Here are the events of the past week illustrated by my trusty iPhone.  I am also doing a little documentation with my Leica M3, but, due to not having a place to develop film right now, those images will remain latent for a little while.

On Tuesday we went to visit a locksmith in San Jose in order for him to get an idea of what the job of re-doing the locks on The Bus will entail.  I like this perspective of The Bus from the inside of the shop.

The locksmith looked over The Bus and told us that we can come back on Friday and he'd have the whole thing done that day in a few hours and that it would really speed up the process if we pre-drilled the holes for the new locks.  On Friday we arrived an hour earlier than the time of our appointment with half the locks out and holes ready to go and, while waiting, removed the rest of the locks and bore them out as well.  Locksmith showed up about on time and brought with him a helper (by the looks of it his brother or uncle...). They tinkered for about 6 hours and managed to install about HALF the locks that they were supposed to have installed and so now we have to go back tomorrow and have him finish the job.  Very frustrating because we don't have locks, since we took them out for this guy to replace, and have to drive around with a wire holding some doors.  ...sigh.  On the other hand we finally got the flooring and I had ample time to install half of it while while waiting for the lock guys. Here is how it looked at the end of the day.

Back at the house Ryan finished stuffing electrical components into the darkroom wall and this is what it looked like right before we sealed it in.
 At the last moment a bit of an extra effort was made to ensure that we stick with original concept drawing and have a 'darkroom in use' warning light by the darkroom entrance.  For that purpose we decided to use one of the original school bus warning lights and you can see the rear of it on top here with our little spider-web fixture for it.  I had to cut the hole and in the process apparently fried my Dremmel 4000.... But the job was done and the hole was cut.

 The light was installed and fit pretty well.

And it looks really awesome when lit up (super bright though, so we might have to put a resistor on it to tune it down).

The darkroom ventilation also got a big boost when I finally got enough guts to cut a 4in hole in the two layers of steel that make up the Gilligs roof.  Right angle grinder is fun to work with - be sure to wear gloves and protective eye gear though...  Here is me making the first cut as documented by Ryan (no gloves yet, I put them on after the sparks started frying the arm hair about a minute into the experience)

 I think it was a pretty brilliant idea to put the vent out in the place where the old warning lights (seen above as 'darkroom in use' warning lights) originally resided.  You can see the future vent hole in the top left of this frame.

And here is the vent from tube after being fitted into the irregularly shaped hole that I succeeded in carving out.

That allowed the rear darkroom wall to be sealed off.  After Ryan made a nifty wall with some insulation to cover the engine compartment I cut the wall  to fit the irregular shape of the rear.Here it is after being painted by Ryan outside and being re-installed again.

We finally got our table tops all done and installed!  That piece of flamed maple that we originally bout in one huge chunk has gone through 3 different wood shops in order to get to where it is now.    We are very thankful to Garry at Westside Woodworks of Santa Cruz for finishing the job - a true professional and a great guy.  Here is one half of our big table in front of the shop in Santa Cruz - getting ready to be carried inside The Bus.

And here are the two views of the tables after installation - opened for cooking and closed for art time.

And Finally!  Here is a shot with cushions that were picked up by Ryan at the same time that I was at the wood shop. 
Not bad, eh?

Ryan is making the print drying frames right now - better go help him :)