Micawber Day Reading

Despite having to depart for a business trip to the southern end of the Sprawl later today, I'm taking some time to celebrate Micawber Day by reading as broadly as possible and having that second cup of coffee. Here's what open in my Safari tabs at the moment:


And lastly, because you can never have too many, a picture of some overhead lines. 

State of the Art 2016

Back in early December, Kate and I took a trip to Philadelphia to see the production of Hedda Gabler that Kyle Cassidy kickstarted. It was a great production, and we had the kind of fun that we typically have in Philadelphia; walking around, buying books, drinking beer flips, etc. In packing for the trip, I discovered that all the 120 film in the house expired back in 2014. It's been in the freezer, so it's fine, but that triggered a quick inventory of the rest of the photo supplies in the house:

35MM Film

  • T-max 400: 24 rolls
  • T-max 100: 3 rolls
  • Acros: 4 rolls
  • Delta 3200: 5 rolls

120 Film

  • T-max 400: 45 rolls
  • T-max 100: 10 rolls
  • Delta 3200: 2 rolls


  • Xtol, powder: 5 packs, best by 5/2015
  • Xtol, stock: 3 liters, 8 months old
  • Fixer, stock: 3 liters, no date stated
  • Rodinal: 80% of 500ml bottle, been through at least two apartment moves, so something like 7 years old
  • Pyrocat HD kit: in the back of cupboard, behind some other thing, know I'm not going to use it soon, so can't be bothered to look
  • DD-X, stock: 1 liter, unopened

It was the 8 month old Xtol stock that got to me. I've been using Xtol for years, and I've never let a batch of stock go unused within the 6 month window. Used without dilution, a batch will develop 20 rolls of 35mm or 12 rolls of 120. That doesn't seem like much to shoot in six months, but photography wasn't a priority in 2015.

Recovering from a massive back injury was a priority. I haven't written about it much here, but I went down with two herniated discs (L4/L5 & L5/S1) in August of 2014. I'm much better now, but that's after three steroid epidurals, two rounds of oral steroids, lots of pain meds, and almost a year of weekly PT. That, and the joys and strains of New Signature taking on 35 million in investment, just didn't leave a lot of time for art.  

Will 2016 be different? I don't know. I hope so. My back is pretty healthy. Work is settling down, kind of. And I'm feeling like I've got creative energy again.  I also have all this expired film and chemistry to use up. 

With that in mind, I'm committing myself to posting at least one picture each week at mattalofs.com. The only rule I'm giving myself is that it has to be from a roll of film developed that week, which should help me use up some of that Xtol. I plan to continue blogging here, but not on any regular schedule, although hopefully more often than in 2015. 

The first pic of the week is up. Check back next weekend for the 2nd.  




The Art of Overhead Wires, Part 1

I've been taking pictures of overhead wires for years.

Earliest image of overhead wires in my archives. Aprils, 2007. Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. 

There's over 100 images prominently featuring overhead wires in my archives.

Files names for all my film pictures of overhead wires. First three digits are the roll number. Last four are the frame.

Files names for all my film pictures of overhead wires. First three digits are the roll number. Last four are the frame.

I'm not the only one fascinated with them. Kate's drawn them.

Somewhere along the MBT. Pen on paper. via namrogetak

Somewhere along the MBT. Pen on paper. via namrogetak

Others draw them too.

From Emi Gennis' comic Baseline Blvd

From Emi Gennis' comic Baseline Blvd

George Ault painted them.

George Ault, The Cable Station via SI

George Ault, The Cable Station via SI

Jamie Langhoff creates sewn fabric art of them.

Jamie Langhoff, With the Depths of the Ocean's Reflections. Buy one on etsy

Jamie Langhoff, With the Depths of the Ocean's Reflections. Buy one on etsy

Why are we fascinated with these?

soap bubbles

The bottle of PhotoFlo that I've been using for years finally ran dry, so I pulled a bottle of the Freestyle equivalent off the shelf. At about the same time, I started seeing spots on my negs. I suspect those spots are left over surfactant residue. I've actually had this in the past with PhotoFlo as well; I don't think there is anything generically wrong with the Freestyle stuff. More like I got a bad bottle. It also may have been fine when I got it and since gone bad. The Freestyle bottle had been sitting around for at least a year but probably much longer. 

The residue seems to wash off, although rewashing cut negs is a pain in the ass, so I may skip it for all but a few negs. When I went looking for a new bottle of PhotoFlo, I discovered that B&H no longer ships it, but they do ship Edwal LFN. LFN comes in a dropper bottle, which would let me skip the process of measuring out surfactant in a baby medicine syringe. It seemed to work fine on the rewashed negs, but only a larger test will tell.