Madison, Wisconsin Capitol – Fall 2006

Blog, Photography / Friday, June 28th, 2024

I don’t have the usual gallery to share today. However, I do have 20 exposures from a roll of 24 all stitched into a single image. I used my Kodak Retina Reflex S camera with a 135mm telephoto lens, all of which was mounted on a tripod.

This was the first roll I shot once I left home and started college. I had this notion that I wanted to be more than the kid I was before college. I remember thinking I’d have a whole new wardrobe, different friends, do adult things, and make projects of rolls of film. This isn’t the last time I’d be caught in the streets of Madison, WI with my Kodak methodically taking photos of a single, massive subject.

For those of you who are wondering, I positioned myself on the Square where West Washington ends. Likely, this was shot(s) in October of 2006.

Once I took these photos and had them developed (I no longer had access to a darkroom so I had to rely on Walmart to develop my negatives for a while), I spent an afternoon with a roll of tape meticulously arranging them above my closet in my dorm room. I thought it was the greatest thing I had done. Mind you, the exposure varied from photo to photo and some blending was done in the mashup but that collage of photos looked so cool and I kept it there until I moved out of the dorm.

Then, at some point after the move, the photos and the negatives went missing. For years I searched my parents house where I thought they would be. No dice. The largest photo I had ever developed just up and disappeared. It wasn’t until a couple years ago did they resurface with a dozen other rolls of film lost to the ages. Suddenly, I could spend an hour stitching them back together on my coffee table. Furthermore, I had the negatives and a film scanner and I could do what I was never able to do before and merge them into a single, massive image. What’s more, the image could even be bigger and retain more of the detail but my computer was starting to struggle with the size of the image and all of the layers so I had to make do with 9142×4884 px.

I was absolutely giddy as I stitched this together by hand again. There was more joy in it than when I did it the first time around with the individual prints. That joy came from suddenly having something I cherished again. I was devastated when this project disappeared. But here it is, back in its full glory.

Furthermore, I loved the challenge that this presented. I know that Photoshop has a feature that will stitch photos together for you, but I don’t have Photoshop so I had to get creative. Some of the skills needed I had learned over the years and I needed to learn more. I loved it.

I think the colors are off. There’s some blending that could be better. If you look closely you will see that some of the details do not line up nicely. I could not figure out to do with the space around the photos that I didn’t have photos for.

What’s great is that since I stitched this all together, I’ve learned even more about my process that I know I could make it better. I could get cleaner scans. I could guarantee the colors match up with a consistent exposure. I could build a better and better photo the more I try to do this. And I probably will.

Every time I take a stab at this stitch, I enjoy the process and I learn and grow. Maybe I should come back to it every five or ten years to see how it progresses. Maybe I should simply do what I tend to do and call it a day now that it is done. That, to me, doesn’t sound as fun.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the past. Being able to share what I saw on a gloomy fall day in Madison so many years later is a real treat.

As I mentioned earlier, I have another similar project further down the line in my rolls of film. That one, however, is much larger and maybe I’ll apply my learning towards it. I have a number of rolls of film to get through before I’m there, so I can take my time and enjoy the process.

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