Photo Exploration: Military Street, Hamilton Alabama. August 2014

August 20, 2014 at 11:37 pm

When you drive down the road on a sunny day, some­times you have a cam­era in hand and it’s setup for 1/500 sec expo­sure. Maybe man­u­ally setup for f/11 and hyper­fo­cal con­ver­gence. Burn­ing through a few frames, or more. And there is one shot, maybe, when it is worth stop­ping. But where on earth are you? Film doesn’t give you much by way of coor­di­nates. If you’re lucky, you can remem­ber the most recent town, or some­thing unique about where you turned around to trace back a quar­ter mile to find that shot.

Military Road, Hamilton Alabama

This photo was made early August of 2014 on a drive from Nashville to Colum­bus, MS. It was only after I devel­oped the film that I real­ized I wasn’t really all that sure where I had been. It cer­tainly wasn’t going to come up in a search for Tex­aco sta­tions between the two points.

Grate­fully there are plenty of ways to trace one’s steps. Work­ing back­wards from the end of my drive, look­ing at a Google Maps satel­lite view along High­way 17 in Alabama, I was able to find where the above was taken. 34.170103, –87.962499. The street view is from Decem­ber 2013, and you can see the branches bare. The tree seems much more frag­ile then, as if it could be ripped out of the ground with­out effort. But in the sum­mer, it seems that within a few years the entire loca­tion will be one mass of green.

It was occu­pied at least since 1989, when System3 gaso­line was intro­duced. And prob­a­bly much more recently than that. My guess is that it was dam­aged in 2011, pos­si­bly related to the EF5 twister that in that area. This is a snap­shot of a moment of tran­si­tion. I feel the bal­ance very pre­car­i­ously in this spot. Will we come to clean our mess? And, fur­ther, will we come to clean the mess that we were handed by nature, in a way? Or will we let nature take back what was claimed by storms?

I felt like a tourist there. I was no more invested in this space than I am when I visit ancient won­ders. I admire those who built it, and I even more so, in some ways, admire those who knew to walk away. “Yes we are OPEN” — was that left as a bit of jest? As a state­ment say­ing we will be back? It is like those places aban­doned mid-meal, when some ter­ror or need was so great that all was left behind with hope of return­ing, but maybe know­ing in some sliver that no one would be com­ing back. And now it is cap­tured in film, in this state of tran­si­tion, forever.

 

[EDIT: Oth­ers have noted that the EF5 tor­nado passed a few miles north of the ser­vice sta­tion. So, dam­age is prob­a­bly not from the tor­nado itself but I would still guess from the related storm]

All the Square Books, Oxford MS. April 2014

May 9, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Self Portrait, April 2014

April 9, 2014 at 11:22 am

Self Portrait, April 2014

Fuji NPS160. Brent­wood, Tennessee.

Josh and Karen Wedding, July 2013

August 5, 2013 at 9:34 pm

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Fuji NPS160 and Kodak Por­tra 400. Yesterday’s Spaces, West­ern North Carolina.