HP Ranch, Grand Canyon, 2010

This year I had a special family decided to spend Christmas out with me in California instead of back East. After some cajoling, I was able to thankfully convince them to take a road trip and go visit my uncle and his friend I had the great fortune of reconnecting with during my Colorado excursion during the year.

While every holiday is special, this trip was a special one that I shall treasure. It had been raining very much in California and I was hoping that the roads to my uncle's ranch weren't washed out with all the downpour. We drove on out and met him at the start of the dirt roads, and just when he came out to greet us I knew it was going to be a wonderful time. No photograph, paintings, or words can capture that magical moment of reconnecting with someone you love you've not seen in so many years. My uncle had gone out of his way and had holiday decorations up to the nines with a beautiful tree and a magnificent display of his village minature collection that he had been setting up for months. And to top it all off he had set up my grandmother's nativity and we toasted with her special holiday glasses. We also had a truly phenomenal dinner and the first time I ever had a Christmas goose, with all great compliments going to the wonderful chef. I also got to meet some wonderful new friends and exchange some great stories. With such wonderful gifts of food, family, and friends I don't think it's possible to ask for anything more for Christmas.

After our holiday time together I took my family on a trip over to the Grand Canyon. I hadn't been there in nearly 10 years and was anxiously scouring the weather to see how things would be. When we got there it was snowing and it made a fog all through the canyon. But as we drove and as the afternoon went on, the clouds started to open and the sunlight shone through. The shadows rended the land into beautiful alternating stripes of light and dark, turning the entire canyon into an impressionistic masterpiece. I'm sure there are people who wait for months to see that play of light upon this land. After dinner we also got to see a small herd of elk that had wandered into the village. I had never seen any that close in person; suddenly the elk crossing signs on highways have a much more sinister meaning to me now! The next day it was clear and sunny so my family was able to see a glimpse of the canyon in its full lit splendor.

It was a beautiful trip, combining both the overwhelming joy of family with the splendor of nature. I just wish it could have lasted for weeks instead of days, but will remain in my memory forever.

The Photographs

We were traveling days before the final processing deadline for Kodachrome, but I had never photographed either my uncle's ranch or the Grand Canyon in Kodachrome so I figured I'd give it a shot. I shot three of the last remaining rolls of PKL 200 I had. Although the indoor photography experiment did not work out, I'm still glad that I had one last chance with this film to capture not only precious memories but also a bit of the abstraction of the mixed light playing within the canyon. I wish I had more time not only to visit with family but also to play with this film, but it's time has now passed. I commend Dwayne's Photo for being honorable enough and follow through processing film expressed mailed to them on their last advertised day. I had been waiting for a month and was accepting these rolls were lost, but I got a shipment nofitication and there they last Kodachrome slides. It is rare that any business these days follows through on their word, especially in face of overwhelming, unexpected demand.

While I am very sad to say goodbye to Kodachrome that I've come to know so well, at the same time I'm excited to start experimenting with and learning new films. Still, I am thankful for the thousands of images Kodachrome helped me capture and of the attention it made me pay through learning all of its quirks and limitations. Trying to master a finicky film helped me appreciate what I see and strive to use film to visually express the fascination and love with the land that surrounds me. The oddities that were Kodachrome were my canvas. I am sad it is now finally gone, but am glad to have had it for as long as I did.

The final pictures I shot with it may not give justice to how much I fell in love with this film. In these final rolls, however, I was able to get some pictures of family reunions over a decade in the making, not to just shoot a landscape but to capture a treasured moment of my own life. I don't think I ever tried to capture such a moment on this film before. To get even just one frame of that moment was a treasure.

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