Going way back in time for another favorite image made while wandering, this time while visiting family in Marietta, OH. Not sure of the exact date but I think it was made in either the spring or fall of 1979. I do recall that it was a damp and overcast day.
I also can’t recall what the rest of my family was doing while I was meandering but I am eternally grateful to the space I was often allowed during family time to go off on my own and gather images. A practice that continues to this day.
This is another example of the “point & shoot” process I employ with my film cameras (as I described in my previous post). The weather was also working in my favor that day as the overcast sky evened out the light while still producing shadows with details. As I like to say: “I’m using God’s softbox”! My favorite kind of light.
I was walking along the waterfront, and as I passed this building, I heard the door open. As I looked over the man looked up at me. I raised my camera, composed quickly and clicked the shutter. The man smiled and waved, I did the same and walked on. The whole exchange probably took place in less than 5 seconds. The exposure was probably around 1/60th of a second. Preparation, meet opportunity. Although it was lucky that I happened to be walking by at just that moment, I find that the more present you are, the more moments you’ll have.
Looking back, I can’t help but marvel by how at ease and comfortable the man was with being photographed. I don’t know that this would be the same today. I am sometimes confronted by people who demand to know what I’m doing even when the camera isn’t pointed in their direction. (In fact, I was once photographing some trees in a public park when a women driving by pulled over and demanded I stop. Seriously, I kid you not.) Apparently a dumpy middle-aged guy is more threatening than a young, wild bearded red-headed freak. Times change, I guess…
However, this image almost ceased to be. It was one of the last frames on the roll of 36 exposures. Thinking I might have something really special, I quickly shot the remaining frames and proceeded to wind the film back into the canister. In my excitement, I forgot to push the film release button on the bottom of the camera and got in 2-3 good turns before I realized something was wrong. After a few panicked moments, I figured out what was wrong and wound the remaining film back into the canister.
I knew I had damaged the film but I didn’t know how badly or at what place on the roll. I only knew it was toward the end, which is where this image would be. So I had a couple more days and an 8 hour ride home to fret and ponder what to do about my mistake. Pure torture!
When I finally got into the darkroom and removed the film, I discovered I had really ripped up the end of the roll. I spooled the film as carefully as I could onto the developing reel and placed it in the tank. Unfortunately, film must be agitated during processing so this was a step I couldn’t ignore. More torture! But 30 agonizing minutes later, I pulled the film from the wash and could see the roll was completely developed and the only damage to the film was to the sprockets, which were totally ripped apart along the last 5 frames. Instant relief!
Further examination reveled that there was a small section of this image that wasn’t developed. One of the loose sprocket pieces must have lain up against it to prevent development, so there was a short line that ran along the bottom left edge of the image. Early printed versions of this image are cropped along both the left and right side which makes for a slightly taller and narrower print. Current versions, thanks to the miracle of digital technology allowed me to have the defect retouched out, and now we have the full framed image.