Golden Lady -- 1976

(Click image for larger view.)

I created this over several months (back before computers and digital imagery tricks were available), for a dear friend in Wyoming. We'd seen "The Trial of Billy Jack" movie together and it moved us both. These lyrics are from one of the songs in that movie and they had special significance to our friendship.

I took some of the photographs with a Speed Graphic 2.5" x 3.5" single sheet film camera of my dad's. Others I took with an old Argus 35mm camera from a vehicle salvage. None had telephoto lenses nor sophisticated metering.

I developed the negatives and worked on the printing and enlarging collage in a rented darkroom lab in Monterey (taking a bus to get there). Since the negatives were of different sizes and exposures, this wasn't just done with negative sandwiching. I had to expose just the part of the paper I wanted for each negative and hope the overlap wasn't incorrect. This rendition is my copy and the overlaps aren't perfect. The original gift item was much closer to perfect, but it's apparently since been ruined by some cats.

It was a trial getting the gold paper as I was told no one made it and that's "impossible". I could go on and on about that! I asked people to be creative and think of ways I could accomplish what I wanted. For example, how about painting liquid emulsion on gold stationary? How about finding/mixing a gold toner (like sepia tone that was popular at the time)? Etc. But fortunately, perserverance paid off and I finally located a manufacturer of gold photographic paper.

Not only were the words to have meaning (you can read them on the larger view), I wanted to take pictures of subjects that meant a lot to our friendship. The waterfall in the upper left is on Casper Mountain and a beautiful spot for picnics, enjoying nature (in the summer), and just talking. The main figure is my little sister in our front yard in Casper and I'd asked her to "look contemplative." The butterfly in the lower left was a rare sight in our family garden and I remember being awakened one morning by my parents telling me one was out there. I jumped out of bed and captured it on film! (We'd been waiting for a long time for one to show up.) The rose in the bottom right was a favorite flower of my friend's (from my parents' garden) and the antelope at the top right was a common sight along the unfenced ranges of our beautiful state. I had to have the words typeset (remember, this was the dark ages!) by a printer, then I photocopied them onto a clear transparency which I placed on the photographic paper and where there was black ink, the reverse effect was accomplished in the darkroom.

Mostly, this is a testament to the power of friendship and the will to accomplish whatever we set out to do, no matter the obstacles.