Gilli and I arrived pretty late at night thinking that, as usual, we will wait for the bars to be closed and the streets to clear out so we could get a prime parking spot. To my surprise bars here are open till 4am, so it was quite a wait and I didn't fall asleep until 5am, by which time the last of the drunks were off the street and I didn't need to worry about them trying to barge in. For some reason it appears that Gilli is irresistible to inebriated people and they, as a rule, are quite disrespectful, so late nights on busy bar streets are our most stressful time.
I rose early due to the sun heating up the interior and started setting up the display. By 10am we were ready for the crowd, but the activity of this town didn't pick up until noon or so. By that time I had a steady stream of locals and tourists taking pictures of Gilli (she loves posing for photos) and the 8x10 Kodak that I set outside as both advertizing display and educational tool. Plenty of people asked to look through the camera and one of them made me laugh when he compared the sharpness of the ground glass to a 'giant iPad'. All in all probably over 150 people came through The Photo Palace Bus and all were given a quick run-down on our mission and plans of keeping the tradition of darkroom printing alive. A higher than usual amount of children of all ages were also given a tour of the darkroom and some were very curious about the details of the process of manual printing, which I was happy to divulge as long as their attention spans held.
One of the visitors actually was the first one to participate in the 'Equipment Redistribution Program' that I will initiate as soon as Gilli has a large storage space built on the roof. What is the 'Equipment Redistribution Program'? Allow me to explain. In every city and town I go to I meet two kinds of people - those who have enjoyed darkroom photography in the past and either have grown weary of it or just got too old and frail to carry on working in the dark AND new enthusiasts looking to either set up their first darkroom or expand on what they already have. Throughout my travels so far I have already been offered at least 5 enlargers and countless other items for free. I have also met about the same amount of people who said that if they only had the equipment they would convert their bathrooms, closets of basements into darkrooms. SO - as soon as the storage space is built I will be taking equipment donations and redistributing them completely free of charge to those who are looking to use it for art-creation. This will encourage creation of many new darkrooms large and small, increase film, paper and chemistry sales across the country and enable people to work with their hands while furthering the art of traditional photography. At this point I only have two developing tanks that have been donated (the enlarger was offered by the same person, but sadly there's no place for an Omega 2D right now in The Palace) so if anyone wants a stainless steel 120 tank with two 35mm reels or a double 120 (will also fit 4 35mm reels) tank - just let me know via e-mail and I'll be happy to ship them to you (provided you cover shipping - if you cross paths with The Palace I'll just hand that over to you in person). 'Equipment redistribution program' should be a lot of fun for me and very helpful to others - for some it'll help clear out space that could be used otherwise, and for others it will provide long-wanted equipment and initiate art creation process.
Here is a quick shot taken mid-day during a small break in foot traffic.
The day was pretty successful and I raised a bit of money though print sales in order to fill up the tank and get to the next destination.
Afterward I drove to my friend Mahandeep's place in the country by the town of Wallkilland parked Gilli in this picturesque and shady spot where she is currently resting up before the next leg of the journey.
Today a long-time friend of mine Greg McMahon has promised to come up from NYC for a visit and it should be fun catching up with him and seeing another familiar face. It' also nice to get off the road for a couple of days and not be finding myself waking up in random weird places every morning - though that has a certain thrill in itself I can use a day off here and there..
Tomorrow will be a day devoted to deep cleaning (which has not been done in a while) and then developing some 10 or so rolls of various formats that have accumulated in the past week or so. Hopefully tomorrow I can also print some interesting images from such cameras as Minox, Robot and Stereo Realist. I would like to have a print from every format of camera that I carry, so that people can see the various different results that those cameras produce.
Wishing a productive and successful week to all my readers.