Desert Storm

This was shot in the fall of 2004 at the Apache Canyon Trading Post on route US-62 on the outskirts of the town of Carlsbad in Whites City, New Mexico. It was early in the morning, during what I understand is the extremely rare rainy season in desert country. The haze isn’t a side effect of bad developing or defective film – it really was that steamy, humid, hot, cloudy and hazy. Imagine that – the one time I visit and rather than being the stereotypical dry southwestern heat, it’s a total steam bath. I remember filling up with gas and asking the gas station attendant, who spoke almost no English, “does it ever get cold here?” and he just smiles and says very bluntly “no.” The trading post was apparently closed at the time. There was not a soul to be seen for miles. I didn’t want to trespass, but there was so much I wanted to shoot and I wasn’t doing a lot of digital in those days. Film will only take you so far. A tee pee at the side of a souvenir shop in the middle of the desert during a rain storm is something one probably does not see very often. I’ve read online that this place closed in 2022. The irony is that I never actually saw it when it was open.

Though photos from this place do occur elsewhere on my site, this is the first time that I have scanned this photo at really high resolution and taken the time to clean up water spots, film scratches, and so on.

Shoot photos, not each other!

Canon Rebel 2000, Kodak T-Max 400, Kodak T-Max developer (standard dilution and time), Pacific Images scanner, GIMP 2.10

3 replies to “Desert Storm

  1. I’m glad to see your digging through, scanning, and sharing some more of your archived film photos. I hope you continue to. Your film archive is what originally led me to your blog. It looks like your PrimeFilm scanner is still serving you well. I prefer the reworked T-MAX 400 emulsion (TMY-2) to the original (TMY). Still, it’s always incredible to me just how fine-grained even the original was for a 400 ASA B&W stock. It’s amazing this emulsion goes all the way back to the 80’s. And the photo you shared here is with the T-MAX developer, which isn’t known to be the finest grain developer out there. Impressive stuff, for sure. If indeed it did, it’s a shame this trading post closed down.


    1. Overall yes I’m very happy with the Pacific Images scanner. I’m still entertaining other methods of “scanning” with DSLR cameras, but I don’t really have a lens that suits it well. There’s a lot that you can still do with film these days and I’m hoping to do a lot more new film as well as scan old film.


      1. I think Pacific Image is an underappreciated scanner brand. Sure, there have been quite a few complaints about their build quality and long-term reliability, and I do think these are valid concerns based on conversations with people who *have* had issues with their units. That said, I’ve seen almost as many complaints about Plustek units in more recent years. Sadly, ultra high quality, dedicated film scanners seem to be a thing of the past, disappearing when Nikon and Canon exited the market nearly two decades ago. It’s a shame. Honestly, it seems the quality of everything has gone down the drain. But when they work, Pacific Image scanners work well and produce great quality scans, especially the ones made within the last 10-15 years (USB 2.0 units). Regarding newer consumer film scanners, based on what I’ve seen, the PrimeFilm XEs produces higher quality scans than the similarly priced Plustek 8100. If I could afford to buy a new scanner, I’d opt for the XEs.

        I think DSLR scanning can produce great images, but to do it right is *far* more complicated than most people realize. And, if you don’t already own the proper equipment, it’s actually substantially more expensive than a dedicated 35mm film scanner. If you continue to explore this option, and you don’t want to spend hundreds on a macro lens, I’d suggest you look into using a vintage enlarging lens instead, adapting it to your DSLR’s lens mount. Good, vintage enlarging lenses can often be found quite cheap, and they have great potential for digitizing film. It’s something to look into.

        I do hope you’ll keep sharing more film photos, both from your archive and from new rolls. I look forward to seeing what you’ve got planned.

        Take care!


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