This week’s photo shows a scene from the hills north of town, and is noteworthy not just for its subject and compositional elements, but also for the photo which follows it for next week’s post. Often times during the photo-taking process, the eye looks for certain lines or shapes, in certain positions which are not necessarily rationally-informed, or sanctioned beforehand. In fact, it is often the case that we only notice preferential compositional elements when looking upon a scanned (or preferably printed) image. This experience rings particularly true when working with film as a medium rather than digital. As any visualization of the image is seen in the mind’s eye rather than on a screen immediately after taking, there can be little room to critique an objectified, near-final product. Instead, the outlines, colors, shadows, gradients, as well as even smells, and sounds are left to take root in the ether of an inward-leaning experience. As such, it proves itself an ideal tool for allowing this dialectic between outer and inner experience. When ready, the next shot takes place in regards to the experience of the first. Then the next. And another, and so on. Like a good German casserole, each layer builds on the ingredients of those which came before.
Such was my surprise when developing a roll of Kodak T-max which was started last fall, and finished this winter. The camera had sat on a shelf with its roll half exposed, lying in wait for the day when I had the need, and patience for its idiosyncratic mechanics. (This is an extremely long story, and only of interest to others out there who have had a similar love/hate relationship with the iconic, yet temperamental Ricoh GR1 series of cameras from the mid-90’s.) The image above was taken when negotiating my way through the cavernous Asia Culture Center shortly after its opening last year. Only now, upon reflecting, do I remember how disastrous a shortcut that turned out to be. Yet, it did provide this image, and for that, I remain grateful.
Having started this roll in the midst of the inaugural exhibition at the ACC last year, I soon shelved this camera, only providing it with a passing, annoyed glance every now and again. As fall turned into winter, and then back again into spring, all thoughts of how, where, and when the roll had been started faded. The end of winter imbued me the overly optimistic ambition that the camera had miraculously fixed itself. Therefore, several weeks ago, I said my Hail Marys, pocketed the camera, and headed towards Damyang to finish the roll. Please tune in next week for image number two from the second half of the roll. You may see some similarities.
[Photo taken with my oft’in-disrepair Ricoh GR1, shooting T-Max 400.]
(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)