Photo Exploration: Orange|Blue Wall

June 3, 2013 at 9:25 am

This late after­noon image was made in Decem­ber 2011 with Provia 100f slide film. The sun was still bright but the year was draw­ing down and all the col­ors were start­ing to fade. Espe­cially in Asheville, where once the fall leaves dis­ap­pear it can get rather dreary.

How­ever, this wall in the Asheville River Arts Dis­trict was a mas­sive anti­dote to the gray. Seem­ing imper­vi­ous to tem­per­a­ture or sur­round­ings, the wall stood (and stands) not with an active pur­pose, but maybe just with an iden­tity. A bit of an unm­mov­ing block of color hold­ing court with itself. I had walked this neigh­bor­hood many times to get out from behind my desk and get a bit of fresh air, and although I had pho­tographed the wall with dig­i­tal and neg­a­tive color film, I had never really felt like I had made an image that was fully present in both color and tex­ture. How­ever, this one last walk of the year I had slide film loaded and the time was right.

One of the hard­est, for me, chal­lenges when shoot­ing an image like this is to get it all lined up prop­erly. Any tilt up/down or left/right will be very notice­able in the fin­ished image, and tak­ing care in the moment to true your lines pays div­i­dends later. I think I still have a bit of ver­ti­cal mis­align­ment, with the top titled slightly away from the film plane, but over­all the wall and the film seem to line up pretty well. Expo­sure with the in-camera mech­a­nism, check focus and with a click the image is made.

Orange|Blue Wall, Provia 100f. December 2011

Orange|Blue Wall, Provia 100f. Decem­ber 2011

I’ve dis­cussed the benefits/process of slide film before, espe­cially regard­ing the view­ing of an image and see­ing the minia­ture world within. With this image the expe­ri­ence was nearly tran­scen­dent. It was like hold­ing pure light, this amaz­ing trans­par­ent yet solid emul­sion of orange and blue. I am no way with Rothko’s tal­ent, but I imag­ine his won­der at a com­pleted color field paint­ing to be much the same as when I first held the devel­oped image above.

It was made with a Fuji GA645, quite a work­horse medium for­mat cam­era. If you aren’t famil­iar with one, think of a wide-angle rangefinder with aut­o­fo­cus capa­bil­ity. Extremely sharp ele­ments and very accu­rate meter­ing. It is a fun cam­era that I’ve used many times over.

This image is mean­ing­ful for two rea­sons — the first is that after many attempts with a sub­ject, I was finally able to find the right com­bi­na­tion of mate­r­ial and process to get a sat­is­fac­tory image. The sec­ond rea­son is this pho­to­graph helped push my bound­aries a lit­tle bit. Remov­ing peo­ple, nature, and many extra­ne­ous items from the image I was pre­sented with slight tex­ture and com­ple­men­tary colors.