Welcome back to another (maybe) fun filled monthly film journal.
As you all might expect from last month’s post, I ended up doing a tiny bit of research and swallowing the (maybe) bitter pill of purchasing a lifetime subscription to VueScan. With it, hopefully I’ll never need to worry about out-of-date scanner software ever again. The decision was made easier by the fact that we’re moving (a few streets away) soon and purge-the-extra-stuff mode is enabled. That means getting rid of the vintage 2011 macbook I used last month to get my film negative scanned.
VueScan of course, came with a bit of a learning curve. The biggest difference is Canon’s MP Explorer software would recognize film negatives and break the preview scan into frames, whereas with VueScan you have to zoom in and crop. There’s also a bit more work to do in Photoshop, playing with levels and popping on ‘Auto-Color’, but hey, this basic method is going to (hopefully) force me to tinker more in Photoshop than I normally might.
Enough blather. Let’s get to some photos.
Unfortunately I goofed by dropping my latest rolls of film off late on a Saturday afternoon, only to learn they won’t be ready for a week. I didn’t ask why (what I thought was) the normal 1-2 hour turn around was going be much longer. Who can complain at 2 bucks a roll though? Still, I’m super eager to see how some of the rolls came out, particularly a film project ‘low’ roll that I bracketed the shit out of, and some general shots from a trip to Chicago that you can read the broad strokes of by backing my ass on Patreon.
This left me with a need – a need to scan (something) for this journal entry. With no new film to test the scanning software, I was left to dig into some old negatives and get re-acquainted with how I shot 15 years ago. Flipping through one of my binders of negatives, some photos from ‘The Monastery’ jumped out at me. I have never scanned these or even written about the Monestary. It was a building on Staten Island whose exact history escapes me. What I do clearly recall though is how much we all joked about the place back in the day (late 90s-2003ish). It was one of those buildings that was severely beat up and very well known, popularized by Weird New Jersey. Sidebar: Weird NJ was an even bigger joke to us. Our mean people cool kids club always looked down on their suburban ghost stories.
After much consternation we finally decided to go to this dump one day. The whole place was littered with red plastic cups from whatever ‘spooky’ college rager took place here a few days before.
It wasn’t long before we ran into some natives. There was a guy with a radio playing security for his buddies who were in the sub-basement trying to smash down a wall. Did I mention the urban legends of this place having like 10 floors below it, complete with dungeons and coffins filled with zombie nuns and ________ (insert Weird NJ style pabulum here).
After chatting up their lookout, we all went down to the sub basement to see what the rage was. Sure enough there was some wall that (maybe) looked suspect that they were taking turns bashing at. It was apparent they had bashed a few other holes in walls down here, searching for that elusive portal to Satan that apparently every Staten Island youth desperately craves.
It wasn’t long before the whole thing just turned into some weird ass photoshoot.
And there you have it.
Your two key takeaways from this post are as follows:
1) VueScan is good, but there’s a learning curve that I’ve rushed through and will have to revisit more. The quality is fine though, and makes the most out of my old scanner. It lets me kick the can down the road awhile longer to research or wait on a scanner worth buying. For the mostly online work I do, Vuescan is enough to pull in good images. It will also work fine for any of the print work I’m hoping to get into this year.
2) The Monestary, for all it’s worthless stupidity, was definitely one of those NYC places that could only have existed when it did. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss how much I hated that place.
Next Month: Some actual talk about various types of film, noodling with F stops, etc.