I just had one of those "WOW" printing sessions. I'm a real novice printer, so it's not like I produced The Technically Perfect Print That Glows In The Dark, but I got a good print of an image that people are actually going to look at and care about, and I thought that was cool.

See, we vacation every year at the same place on the Oregon coast, with the same group of families---many of those families are now into the third generation, with the children of people who grew up together growing up together. We drove up this year, so I was able to pack along a pretty serious load of photo gear, including my 5x7 Eastman 2-D, a gigantic moose of a camera in oak and brass, with matching tripod and holders.

I mostly used it for landscapes, but it occurred to me that I should take my 3-year-old son and the gang of kids he plays with, sit them all down in one place, and take a group portrait with the big camera. So I did, and of course people boggled at the camera and giggled at me getting under the darkcloth to focus and all that, and I emerged, squidged a holder in, dry-fired to make sure the settings were sane, pulled the darkslide, said "Try to look like a person!" and shot.

The result is a picture of five little kids and a dog sitting on a staircase, with some motion blur (nobody under voting age can hold still for 1/8 of a second unless they're asleep) and no particularly interesting compositional elements. It ain't art; it's a snapshot, but taking it was loads of fun.

And tonight I got in the darkroom with the negative, and my first test print was dead-on and looked great, at least to the eye of the parent of a subject. I took it out to show to my son, and of course he lit up and identified everyone in the photo and wanted to play with it. Made a second one to send to the grandmother of most of the other kids, at her request. I figure in future years I'll try to do the same thing, and after a while we'll start getting photos of five disreputable-looking teenagers (and probably a dog) sitting on the same staircase, and future descendants can wonder what that was all about.

None of this is the kind of photography we normally talk about on APUG, because People Don't Do Vernacular Photography On Film Any More, much less with a large-format camera and contact prints. But dang, it's fun to do it that way!

I don't have a point. I just wanted to crow about a successful printing session and the fun factor of using the photographic medium as it used to be done. Hey, does anybody know where I can get one of those birdies on the end of a stick to hold up and make the kids smile?

-NT