Living in the 80s


Sounds cliché but hey, why not?

For a good portion of my life, I worked in photo labs. In fact, my first job back in 1987 was at a photo lab in Long Beach, CA inside Ralphs “The Giant” store on South Street. The next one was also in Long Beach and because she lived right around the block from the place, I could have quite possibly had my (future) wife as a customer. Of course back then she was a teenager and I probably wouldn’t have given her the time of day, but anyway…

If you work in a photo lab and are even remotely interested in photography, naturally you take tons of photos. It costs you nothing provided the boss/owner isn’t around and isn’t anal about print counts matching the day’s take.

Since I was just out of high school and my Minolta X-370 still had that opened-on-Christmas-Day freshness, you bet I took lots of photos. The content didn’t matter; I was doing it because I loved to shoot pictures.

Flash-forward to a dusty storage shed in 2008. I was cleaning out said shed and came across a box of photos I took between 1986 when I first got my Minolta X-370 (which I still own), and 1989 when I started to work at Knott’s Berry Farm (and my free film-processing ride ended). I found it hard to believe how many pictures I took between those years but then again, my camera was my constant companion no matter where I went: Disneyland, baseball games, car shows, Las Vegas, etc.

As I looked through them, I realized how lucky I was to take so many damned pictures of so many stupid things. Back then they were just ordinary snapshots but today they are a slice of Americana from a crazy time to be alive.

That said, I thought it would be fun to share some of the best with everybody. I started to scan them last night and will begin to upload them to my Flickr account when they are all done, which could take a while after I crop, adjust, rename, save, upload and then tag, add descriptions, etc.

Either way, I’m sure they will be a hoot when finished and when they are, I will post a link to the album for all to enjoy.

Let’s just say this: my 1982 Chevy Chevette was awesome! Okay, not really.

Oh, and about the banner, aka Noritsu Nora (courtesy astropix.com) That is a print from a Noritsu control negative, which was used to color-balance Noritsu printers. Each different film type had its own channel which had to be set manually by the person printing: Kodak was 1, Fuji was 2, Agfa was 3, etc. Then they had to set the ASA: 100 was 1, 200 was 2, 400 was 3, etc. So the Fuji 400 film channel setting was 2-3.

Pain in the ass? Oh yeah, but every film type–35mm, 110 and even 126–and manufacturer had to be calibrated. Thank [insert appropriate deity here] Fuji came along with their Frontier system and pretty much eliminated that whole mess.

And I always thought a mannequin a perfect gauge for measuring human skin tones. Thanks, Aperion, Inc., for using a real person on your control negs!

Hi, I'm Trudy TruColor!

See? You kids have no idea what you missed out on!

Stay tuned…!

UPDATE: I scanned a few pictures of friends/relatives last night and e-mailed them. Their reactions were as follows, along with the image sent.

From one friend (jokingly):

"Good GOD! Can't you find anything better to do with your time?"

From another:

"Shit, dude! I had to look at that for a few minutes before I realized who it was and where it was taken!"

Either way, they have brought smiles to their faces. Cool.

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6 thoughts on “Living in the 80s

  1. In the 80’s, my camera was a 110. Yikes! In 1978/1979 I lived in Santa Ana, not too far from Knotts Berry Farms. Since we were from the Philly area, we liked to go and look at the minature Philadelphia they had there.

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  2. Next to disc film, 110 was the WORST to process and print! Such a hassle to crack open the cartridge in a darkbox, remove film, transfer to another, and then to print it required a different negative carrier. A complete mess! I’ve got some pics of my photo labs I will post with the other 80s pics.

    Independence Hall is still there and recently refurbished, although there is now a water park surrounding it. Progress, I guess. You probably wouldn’t know the place now since Cedar Fair took over. The Knott Family were good people–I met them several times. Cedar Fair, OTOH, is about $$$.

    If you lived in the area during that time, you might remember the Alligator Farm across the street from Knott’s. Funny thing is I worked in a photo lab across the street from Knott’s, almost in the same location as the former Alligator Farm!

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