Photo Exploration: Cabin Wall with Guitar Strings, June 2014.

July 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Since I first start­ed play­ing gui­tar I had wound my strings into a lit­tle round object as they came off for new strings. It was real­ly more a func­tion of keep­ing the strings in place as they came off the instru­ment and not lay­ing around haphazardly.

But over time I start­ed to real­ly love the cir­cu­lar shape and I tried to put a lit­tle inten­tion in how I wrapped the strings. I cer­tain­ly am not the first (or ten thou­sandth) to do so, but I did real­ly like the way they looked. Espe­cial­ly the old­er strings when I was lax on chang­ing them. Their worn down feel was beau­ti­ful when woven togeth­er — all the dif­fer­ent thick­ness­es and mate­r­i­al in and out, with enough nat­ur­al flex and resis­tance to man­u­al posi­tion­ing that each set of strings was a lit­tle unique.

At Kanu­ga this past June, the time came to change strings on site. I’d been delib­er­at­ing on tak­ing a pho­to of the cab­in wall by itself, but I real­ized that what I real­ly need­ed was to make a pho­to of the strings on the wall. The con­trast of the organ­ic wall with the two nails (which have been there since who knows when) and the met­al cir­cles all came togeth­er very well in a late after­noon long expo­sure (I believe it was 2 sec­onds at f/11).

Cabin Wall with Guitar Strings. June 2014. FP4+ 120 film.

Cab­in Wall with Gui­tar Strings. June 2014. FP4+ 120 film.

I am grate­ful of my his­to­ry at Kanu­ga. I’ve been going there twen­ty years this sum­mer, and it con­tin­ues to be as for­ma­tive then as it was that first year. I’ve almost always stayed in the #30–36 cab­ins and the tex­tured green walls are as famil­iar as my own skin. I’m pleased with this image, as a remem­brance of a qui­et time and place in the midst of a hec­tic life.

Using the cam­era as a tool to record a staged event is of mixed regards, and the ten­sion of still life vs more “street” or “organ­ic” com­po­si­tions still goes back and forth in my own aes­thet­ic. How­ev­er, I do believe that it is pos­si­ble to cre­ate a clear­er state­ment of place and/or time by lay­er­ing objects delib­er­ate­ly and then record­ing that con­tent than by wait­ing and hop­ing to chance upon arrange­ments that speak the same. If we are to have clar­i­ty of our mem­o­ries and our rec­ol­lec­tions, we must be able to express those same through what­ev­er tools we have available.

Now, an inter­est­ing step fur­ther is that I left the strings there on the wall. If anoth­er pho­tog­ra­ph­er was to come onto the porch and see those strings and make an image, they would have the oppo­site rea­son­ing for doing so — their record­ing of a found for­ma­tion as opposed to my inten­tion­al cre­ation. Would they feel any con­nec­tion to my work? Would their prints be at all relat­ed to mine of the same scene? Maybe next time I vis­it Kanu­ga they will still be there and I can inves­ti­gate, at least con­trast­ing my own estab­lish­ing vs find­ing work.

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.