Photo Exploration: Nurse Log in Percy Warner Park, May 2015

It had been a long time since I’d clam­bered into the woods, dirt under hands and scrap­ing knees, to make that metic­u­lous­ly framed pho­to. The more found-and-street pho­tog­ra­phy I do, the less of the com­pose-recom­pose-recom­pose-again process I had done. Last week­end was just such an oppor­tu­ni­ty. Walk­ing in Per­cy Warn­er Park there was up on a hill a large tree that had fall­en across anoth­er tree and, over time, twist­ed away and set­tled on the ground. In the future it will prob­a­bly be a nurse log for oth­er growth. Unfor­tu­nate­ly it was a good was up that hill and too far for any lens to get it from the road. It was a very cloudy day mak­ing hand­held shots tricky at best, and this being under cov­er of trees I had no choice except to scram­ble up car­ry­ing my tri­pod to set­up for the shot.

Nurse Log, Percy Warner Park. May 2015

Shoot­ing with the Leica M3 at 35mm can be tricky. On the tech­ni­cal detail side, this was made with the Leica M3 with a 35mm f/2.8 lens. Expired T‑Max 400 shot at 200, f/11 at 1/2 sec­ond. With that 35mm lens there is an attach­ment to the viewfind­er to ensure prop­er fram­ing, but when the cam­era is low to the ground in an already uncom­fort­able sit­u­a­tion, it’s tough to ensure that the set­up is just the way you want it. With a lit­tle time and patience, that part came together.

Next was meter­ing and set­ting the shut­ter. Get­ting the expo­sure down is thank­ful­ly a breeze with my hand­held meter. Since it was a long expo­sure, a self-timer was going to be used. With the Leica there is a strange lit­tle half-winder on the front that you set, trip to start, and then when the winder fin­ish­es it fires the shut­ter. It takes a few tries to trust it — espe­cial­ly as the winder can run whether or not the expo­sure has already been tripped by the shut­ter button.

But when all was done, the pho­to was made and can now be shared.

Photo Exploration: Military Street, Hamilton Alabama. August 2014

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]

Velvia Slide Film around the Asheville and the Biltmore Estate (6x45 120)

First roll of medi­um for­mat slide film. Was inter­est­ing to see the end result, would love to real­ly get some good scans off these neg­a­tives some­time. Shot with the Mamiya Pro TL and 45,80, and 150mm lenses.