Thursday, May 21, 2009

Remembrance ~

Each year I think of those who’ve left us and gone on. I hold them in my thoughts and visit when I can.

I go out of respect and because I feel a certain comfort quietly walking through the lovingly placed stones. And if the cemetery is old enough I often learn a bit of the history that surrounds it.

All carved stones share their stories with us, Here two sisters were buried within a year and a half of each other, one not quite grown and the other so young life had hardly started. They died just after the First World War ~ did the Pandemic take them?

In another cemetery, score after score of stones ~ all young men and women. All never to grow old, lost in the span of so many wars.

Some graves are well remembered, others hardly kept. All are waiting ~ so still.

Back before the turn of the previous century there was a practice of planting roses near the stones. It was a good practice, done out of love and respect. Perhaps we should restore it once more. So that we never forget to remember.

Putting them up, tearing them down ~

When I go out looking for yet another building to photograph, I often think about how long we’ve been putting them up.

And then I think about how long we’ve been tearing them down in order to put up yet another. My goodness we’re silly ol’ things.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pick an Object ~ clear a spot

The man, who taught me photography, was the father of a dear friend. After months of building my courage to say 'I want to be a photographer like you' he just grinned and led me to his camera collection.

Photographers build camera collections. For some it’s their way of remembering where their journey has taken them, and for some others it’s about touching as much of the history of photography as they can.

My teacher’s collection focused on cameras that had proved themselves under the hardest of conditions; a titanium body that had withstood Viet Nam, or an Old Standard Rolleiflex that had survived both WWII and Korea.

I watched as he picked up a road and weather beaten Nikon F with a 1:1 ratio lens, saying that it still worked. We then made a trip to the darkroom fridge for 10 rolls of ASA 100/200 BW 24 Exposures film. After the e equipment and supplies came the 30 minute class on how to load, focus and shoot, under several light conditions a 35 mm camera.

Finally he gave me the first and only learning assignment I ever received from him.

“Take an object, put it down somewhere and using the available light, take 100 different shots of it. You can’t move it once you’ve found a place for it and taken the first picture. And if you decide to change the object you’ve chosen; you can only do so once. Come back every two rolls of film and we’ll develop them and we’ll see what ya got.”

Here’s what my lesson taught me: 1) Never choose fruit or something eatable; it just won’t last long enough, 2) It’s surprising how few shots are really “different” from each other in the first four rolls of film, 3) A grease pencil isn’t your friend, and 4) “…That’s cute ~ but no cigar”; as phrases go, can drive you crazy.

In the end it took me 15 months of spitting, kicking, walking away and calling names to get it done. But at the end of that time, my friend’s father didn’t have to tell me what I accomplished; I had figured that out all by myself. I think that was his plan all along.

I learned to adapt my ‘One lesson only’ as I went on. Whenever I wanted to explore another form of photography, I just chose another subject.

There’s a lamp in the corner of a room that I photograph now and then, just to remind myself how it’s done.