Biltmore Avenue, Asheville. September 2012

A bit of a throw­back with some recent­ly found scans. HP5+, 35mm. Stand­ing in the mid­dle of Bilt­more Avenue.

Photo Exploration: Theo on Stairs (Gratitude)

If you have a child, or know some­one with a child, you’ve got a ready-at-all-times pho­tog­ra­phy sub­ject. They move in unique ways, their per­spec­tive on every­thing is often quite enlight­en­ing, their expres­sions and emo­tions are far more unin­hib­it­ed than when we get old­er. And they nev­er seem to do the same thing for very long so there is always some­thing new to photograph.

This pho­to was tak­en just a cou­ple of months before Theo turned two. It had been a pleas­ant after­noon strolling around the Bilt­more Estate gar­dens but Theo was ready to climb some stairs on his own. Stairs are tricky things, espe­cial­ly for those in their first year of walk­ing upright. As walk­ing is basi­cal­ly con­trolled falling, the idea that in order to climb (or descend) stairs one must fall up or down onto a dif­fer­ent hor­i­zon­tal must be quite an adjust­ment. It makes for some won­der­ful sto­ry-telling — this new con­quer­ing of land­scape. An acqui­si­tion of a skill that will prob­a­bly nev­er leave.

Theo, Bilt­more Estate. July 2012. Canon A‑1, 50mm f/1.8, Ilford HP5+

Pho­tog­ra­phy helps me remem­ber moments. My days seem to be so full that I can get con­fused on remem­ber­ing if some­thing was a cou­ple of days or a cou­ple of weeks ago. But with pho­tographs, espe­cial­ly if I am dis­ci­plined in record­ing when a pho­to was tak­en, I can go back and have per­spec­tive on some past moments. It helps keep my mem­o­ry lin­ear­ly intact. And while there is some­thing to be said for hav­ing a gen­er­al jum­ble of feel­ings, I do like to have my own time­line at least some­what organized.

This Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day I am grate­ful for the abil­i­ty to watch and engage with Theo’s life as he grows. It does some­times seem to hap­pen in the blink of an eye,  but with pho­tog­ra­phy at least I can cap­ture it in 1/60th sec­ond bursts.

Photo Exploration: Sunset Statue at Biltmore

This entry in the Pho­to Explo­rations series will focus on a 35mm film piece from the Bilt­more Estate.

When I vis­it the Bilt­more, the embar­rass­ment of (pho­tog­ra­phy) rich­es is over­whelm­ing. After the ini­tial “pho­to­graph every­thing!!!” ses­sions, I real­ized I would have to focus my vis­its with lim­its on the medi­um, sub­ject mat­ter, etc. This pho­to­graph was tak­en dur­ing a late-after­noon film ses­sion in Jan­u­ary 2011. I enjoy the way black and white film can enhance stone, and when that is com­bined with sculp­ture the results can be fantastic.

This was Kodak 400cn, which is an inter­est­ing black and white film as it is devel­oped via the same process as col­or neg­a­tives (C‑41) as opposed to tra­di­tion­al devel­op­ment of black and white film (think Tri‑X, T‑MAX, etc). There are many ben­e­fits to this film — smooth grain, incred­i­ble scan­ning fideli­ty, ease of devel­op­ment and so on. Although it won’t ever give you the grain and feel of a Tri‑X or HP5 (and def­i­nite­ly don’t try push­ing or pulling it and then expect most labs to be able to fol­low those direc­tions), it is an excel­lent choice for start­ing in black and white and giv­ing the pho­tog­ra­ph­er the oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­cen­trate on tonal val­ues and shape with­out the dis­trac­tion of col­or reproduction.

Meter­ing was prob­a­bly done by hand. When there is a dif­fi­cult light­ing sit­u­a­tion, a cam­er­a’s built-in meter can be thrown off by the dif­fer­ence in ambi­ent light and what is being reflect­ed from the sub­ject. In this case, the stat­ue was offer­ing very bright and very dark spots and I was wor­ried about over/under expo­sure. With an inci­dent meter, I was able to con­cen­trate only on the light of the scene and not the dis­parate light read­ings com­ing from the statue.

I want­ed to tell a sto­ry with this piece and not so much doc­u­ment the art­work. By going around the stat­ue, I found angles that lost the stat­ue’s face but gained van­tage points for a more engag­ing point of view. I like to think that this flautist is giv­ing a bit of a salute to the set­ting sun and is per­haps call­ing friends togeth­er for a night­time celebration.

Biltmore and Asheville, February and March 2012

Vis­it to the Bilt­more and Asheville Graf­fi­ti. 35mm Ilford HP5+ 400