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  • Writer's pictureRuss

Preserved by Colorado Weather

Early November found JJ, my Jolly Jeep, bouncing down a Route County road that sported a sign about five miles back announcing, “No Winter Maintenance Beyond This Point.” Actually, I was trying to find my way onto a Ranching for Wildlife unit.

Nevertheless, I found a stunning old workover unit. Workover is an oilfield term for a rig utilized to re-enter wells that need something done to them later in the well’s life. My old rig still has original green and orange paint in places. The large wheels are made of wood and remain very much intact. Some of the wood grain came out visibly on the photos.

The photos were actually taken during a slight blizzard. Hence, the exposure was as fast I could make it, yet using an aperture of f/20. I did not want the wind to noticeably shake the camera. The mountain forests in the distance are hazy due to snow. The sky exhibits pretty much nondescript features. All four photos are on the new tab Old Oil Fields under the Wanderings tab.

Ancient workover rig left out in the backside of Route County

I did not intend to create a documentary of the old unit, but to derive photos that I could

see hanging on my office wall. I shot in two positions, and in each position once in Velvia and once in some knock-off black-and-white from eastern Europe. I then developed the B/W in my darkroom using Rodinal, which is a developer recipe over 100 years old, producing high contrasts. It was originally meant for plate developing that did not agitate much because you did not want to damage the emulsion surface.

Velvia I still send out to a commercial lab.

Well, I never found a way to access the Ranching for Wildlife property. But I found this rig and I intend to be back there on a sunny spring day, and do it all over again.

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