This past week has seen the hottest temperature on record broken, and then again. Therefore, I was looking for an image which could somehow help to put our current heatwave into perspective. I took a bunch of photos where I tried to broach this feeling visually. For example, I was attracted to the drip of water from window A/C units, overcrowded mountain-top swimming holes, or an elderly man selling electronic mini-fans outside a subway station entrance. The images I ended up with were relevant, but somehow didn’t quite put our current situation into perspective.
In this process of photographing and working with images after the fact, I found that the image above stood out among the others. It was taken almost in passing. When photographing for the blog, I usually carry a medium format camera to capture details about which I find and photograph digitally along the way. (On this day I had a Hasselblad with an 80mm lens and the longest extension tube Hasselblad offers to compliment an aging Ricoh GR digital.) I had passed by a small bed of flowers outside a local cultural center. While there was nothing outstanding about the images which resulted digitally from the encounter, I found myself drawn to this wilted flower taken on 6x6cm film. The image is underexposed, a miscalculation of exposure on my part. (When using such long extension tubes its necessary to compensate +2 stops of exposure.) Yet I feel that this lack of light somehow carries an emotional quality I fully understood in that sweltering moment. This was nearly the last flower to bloom in a bed of dozens. Its pedals seemed overly fragile, altogether unprepared for the furnace of life. The dark tinted image drew my eye towards this intimate scene.
In retrospect, the image does not show as aspect of human visual culture which this blog so frequently represents. However, if lucky, the flower provokes an impassioned empathetic response from the viewer, or at least a shared understanding of “I feel ya man.” I did nothing for this flower that day. My energy and momentum wilted away under a gauze of pure survival. (The heat makes such a convenient scapegoat for floral in-action and blog topics alike.) In any case, I hope that you readers are making the most of your precious cool moments during the day, and realize that we are in this wave together.
[Image taken with a Hasselblad 503cxi using an 80mm f2.8 lens and a 55mm extension tube, and was shot on Fuji Velvia 100.]
(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)