Kid with a Camera: Chicopee, c1978.

Reviewing an Old Roll of Black & White Film.

Memory is an indefinite media: I remember making these photos, I just don’t remember exactly when. I think it was the summer of 1978 . . .

My father had a meeting with someone in an office in or near the old mills occupied by the Lyman Outlet in Chicopee. To get away from the monotony of a kid’s life in Monson, I traveled with him.

He spent about an hour in the meeting. I wandered around the old mills making photos with my Leica 3A, mostly using a 21mm Super Angulon, but also with a 50mm collapsible Summitar that was my stable lens of the period.

To calculate exposure I used an old Weston Master III, which by modern standards wasn’t especially accurate, especially in the hands of an eleven year old.

The sidings along the side of the old mills interested me, although there was no sign of activity that day. I was equally intrigued by the brick smokestack and made a number of photographs of this, many of them using a skyward vertigo-inducing perspective.

Chicopee2_c1978_Brian_Solom Chicopee3_c1978_Brian_Solom Chicopee4_c1978_4Mod1_Brian Chicopee6_c1978_3_mod1_Bria Chicopee_c1978_5_w_tracks_m Chicopee_c1978_Brian_Solomo Lyman-Mill_Outlet_Chicopee_

While 1978, it seemed like completely normal activity for an 11 year old to wander around alone photographing century-old mill buildings with a Leica, now I’m not so sure.

These photos, like many from my early years, remained latent for more than three decades. It wasn’t until 2012 that I finally got around to processing this film. By then, I’d developed a complicated multiple step chemical process to get decent negatives from old film.

Ironically, I probably ended up with better negatives than if I’d tried to process these at the time. My processing abilities from the 1970s were handicapped by inadequate understanding of the chemical processes and a tendency to keep using chemistry even after it was exhausted. My resulting negatives were often too thin to print.

I scanned these using my Epson V600 scanner. Until now, no one except me has ever seen them.

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