Trees in Snow, University of Oklahoma, Valentine’s Day 2021

The Valentine’s Day Blizzard, Norman, Oklahoma

On Valentine’s Day, 2021, a mas­sive win­ter storm pushed across the cen­tral and south­ern US plains, plung­ing tem­per­a­tures to record-break­ing lows and dump­ing sig­nif­i­cant snow over the affected areas. In the ensu­ing days, grid oper­a­tors enacted rolling black­outs [Sidenote: Grid oper­a­tors pre­fer to call these planned short-term ser­vice inter­rup­tions. ] and power out­ages affected mil­lions of Oklahoma and Texas res­i­dents. All 254 Texas coun­ties were affected.

The tem­per­a­ture at the Bureau reached 5ºF (-15ºC) with a wind chill of -19ºF (-29ºC) that after­noon. By Tuesday, Oklahoma City recorded a tem­per­a­ture of −14°F (−26°C), the cold­est since 1899.

Sunday after­noon we bravely fool­ishly climbed into the Bureau’s MINI Cooper with a Rolleiflex cam­era and a par­tially-shot roll of expired black-and-white film to doc­u­ment the bliz­zard. An hour or so later we were back at the Bureau devel­op­ing the film in a day­light tank. That evening, after the film was suf­fi­ciently dry, we cut the neg­a­tives into strips of three frames each and slid them into a plas­tic neg­a­tive stor­age sleeve, weight­ing the sleeve under a dic­tio­nary overnight to flat­ten the film.

We scanned the neg­a­tives on Monday. We imported them into Adobe® Lightroom on Tuesday and updated the meta­data and made tonal adjust­ments. We also did some ini­tial retouch­ing (dust and scratch removal). Retouching con­tin­ued into Wednesday, when we exported the final files. We present them today for your enjoyment: 


Rolleiflex 2.8c
Gepe Pro Release 20″ cable with Zeiss Disc-Lock
Schneider-Kreuznach Xenotar 80mm ƒ/2,8
Leitz (Leica) K2 (Wratten No. 8)
130th sec­ond (OU cam­pus images)
160th sec­ond (down­town Norman images)
Kodak Plux-X Pan (PXP) Professional 120
Gitzo GT1542T Series 1 Traveler (car­bon fibre)
Tripod Head
Monoball P0 Ballhead with Classic Quick Release
Adox Adonal (Rodinal) 1:100
~60 min­utes semi-stand in Paterson Super System 4 day­light tank
Epson Perfection v850
Adobe Lightroom 6

About Chris J. Zähller

International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.

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