photographing 2335 mccoy in the rain: one soggy experience

May 19, 2011

This has been a week of waiting and disappointments. The weather has predicted thunderstorms with 70-80% chance of precipitation all week. A gift of a week for someone who wants to photograph in the rain. And, yet, every day that Wendy has been home from work (so she can watch Hydan when I go out to photograph), the clouds would roll in, and as I watched them approach Bear, DE, on weather.com a giant hole would form right over Bear. Rain to the north, south, east, and west. Twice I drove out and sat in the back of my Prius, hatch open, back seats down, camera on tripod pointing at the barn at 2335 McCoy when the weather said 100% chance of rain. Maybe a drizzle for 5 minutes. Yesterday when the rain didn’t come I spent an hour or so testing new Impossible Project film.

So, today, after so much disappointment and curses to the rain gods, I didn’t even think about photographing the barn in the rain. I got up, scanned in my images from yesterday’s shoot, ate breakfast with Wendy, composed a long blog post, ate lunch with Wendy, and then went outside to work on the raised bed garden we’re making. Not 10 minutes in to the gardening and I hear thunder. What a tease, I thought. Then a bit of lightening and some more thunder. I looked at the weather app on my iPhone and lo and behold another storm approaching.

Because I hadn’t been thinking about it, I wasn’t prepared, so I ran—covered in mud, I must say, from the gardening—to get my cameras, tripods, and film, and hurried over to 2335 McCoy. I parked the car, opened the hatch, and started setting up the cameras. I still had Polaroid 100 Chocolate Giambarba Expired in the 250 Land Camera, which I was planning on using. But where was the other pack? And the Polaroid 644 Twin Giambarba Expired pack? I called Wendy. I left it sitting in the garage. The rain was starting. While she packed Hydan into the car and drove the film over, I took a meter reading and loaded a Holga with 100 speed film and taped it with gaffer’s tape. Wendy arrived with the film just as the rain was getting going. The sky darkened. Wendy left. I took another reading. Damn! I loaded my other Holga with 400 speed film and wrapped it with gaffer’s tape. I set up the travel tripod with the 250 Land Camera, got in the hatch, and waited for the real rains to come. As the rain got heavier I made a few images with the 250 Land Camera and was so frantic to not miss the full storm I forgot that I had one last picture left in the pack when I opened it to load another pack of Chocolate. (I did, however, pause and check to make sure the rollers were clean.) Still heavy rain, but not the real downpour I knew I would need if I were to capture any rain and water running off the roof with the Chocolate film. So, I grabbed the Holga with the 400 film, set it on Cloudy, and rain out into the rain. I must have looked like a maniac to the contractors working on other buildings on the lot. It was my Holga waist level modified by Randy at Holgamods and has a UV filter attached to it, so the filter was getting very wet. I, in just shorts, t-shirt, and baseball cap, was drenched, as well. But, I convinced myself that rubbing my wet shirt on the filter would get enough drops off of it to make a good photo. Midway through, however, winding got very difficult. Then extremely difficult. (I knew something was very wrong and when I opened it later I saw that the film had for some reason rolled at an angle and was crunched and loose on the spool. I hid it in darkness and then wrapped it in aluminum foil. We’ll see how that turns out.) But, when all 12 shots were taken, I got back to the car and a minute later the skies really opened up. I got the 250 Land Camera in front of me, dried it off a bit, and was able to take one photograph before the torrent slowed. And, I tell ya, getting all soggied was well worth it, as the photo captured the rain and water running off the roof—the one thing I really wanted:

It may be hard to see here, but I just printed a version of the image on 13 x 19 paper and, wow, it looks great. Here are before, during, and after images:

All my equipment survived intact and none of the film got wet. So, all in all a great experience.

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