Young Ben completing the swim portion of a mid-winter biathlon in the outdoor pool.
About fifteen years ago I was still straddling the film and digital divide. All the commercial stuff got shot on electro-cameras while a lot of personal stuff still got lovingly shot on film with my little Leica rangefinders. We were way too busy back then to deal with the output of my endless stream of consciousness, personal shooting style so when I accrued a backlog of film I'd take it to Holland Photo and have them soup it and write it to CDs. These would come back with a little print of thumbnails and, after a quick inspection, would go straight into a drawer where they would languish for over a decade.
This week I've been in the mood to throw stuff away and have been going through the filing cabinet drawers with the ferocity of a rabid tornado, tossing journals, reams of paper, corporate film archives and old telephones into the trash. Yesterday I was literally tossing handfuls of CDs and DVDs, that had accumulated over the years like old newspapers in a hoarder's living room, into a second trash can. But I can't let go of anything until I've given it a good "once over" and if it's a piece of storage with a family member or friend's photograph on it I just can't let it go.
There was a surprise job cancellation for today. I swam early, breakfasted heartily and sat down to plow through e-mail when I remembered that I'd found a disk I wanted to check. There were only twenty or so images on it but when I brought them up in Preview I was delighted to find a tiny sliver of personal history that made me smile.
The top image was made of Ben's first biathlon. He'd just finished his run and his half mile swim when I snapped this from the sidelines. It feels so ..... 1960's. I love the stark shadows created by the head-on flash. I love the swirl in the water behind Ben, illuminated by the underwater light fixture. I hadn't actually seen this image before this morning...
An even younger Ben unwinding after school with a favorite snack of bleu cheese and grapefruit.
The second image of Ben is one that seems so familiar to me. That was Ben's place at our little butcher block, dining room table. Every day after school he would pull up a chair, play something on his laptop and have a snack. His favorite snack food was "anything with bleu cheese." Often, he would make his own lunch for school and a standard was his crunchy peanut butter (Laura Scudders), bleu cheese and sweet pickle sandwich (on Sweetish Hill Bakery whole wheat bread) with Kalamata olives and mustard. None of the other kids ever offered to trade sandwiches in the school cafeteria.
I love the photograph for so many reasons but one technical reason is the way the long, long "shoulder" of the highlight curve of film holds detail. An endless sea of tonality with no burnout to white.
Dear friend and gifted photographer, Will, smiling.
The final image is one of my friend, Will. We're "real" photographers. We always bring a camera with us when we meet for coffee or lunch. It's just the way it's done. But my observation here is mostly about the effortless way the Noritsu scan interpreted skin tone from the black and white negative. It's enough to make me thoroughly nostalgic for film. At least it's a prompt for me to turn down the sharpening and contrast on my current camera's standard shooting profile.....
Funny, the stuff you find when throwing things out. Now, what am I going to do with the two Leica Pradovit, professional slide projectors I stumbled across in the closet???