Texas has just become an inferno and the same people that couldn't keep the grid alive in February's arctic blast are now warning that they might need to shut everything down just as the Fires of Hell descend upon us.
Lou at Laguna Gloria Museum. A photograph from a cool (rare) Autumn day posted on the roastiest day of the year so far in Austin.
There was a time when a Hasselblad 203C camera with a 180mm Zeiss lens was glued to my hands for days, weeks and months at a time. There was never a question of buying, selling or trading for new stuff. Why would you when you were already using the best camera made, up to that point in history?
The camera was nearly always outfitted with a 90° prism finder which made the whole rig feel as if I was shooting with a chubby SLR. Few cameras have come close to replicating the feel and the look of that one.
We sometimes conjecture that, if we have lenses that are sharp enough when used wide open, and if we do enough work in PhotoShop, we'll be able to copy the look and feel from the work done in that time with state of the art digital cameras but what invariably gets left out of the equation is the fact that work like this is not just "out of camera" or SOOC + Post processing. Those assumptions leave out the interpretation of the black and white, darkroom printing process. It was integral to my vision as were the incredible printing papers from Seagull, Afga and Ilford.
So much of the look and feel of the work I did in the 1980s and 1990s was created in the print interpretation and that's an integral part of what feels like is missing from most of the work I see today online. Most especially when it comes to black and white.
I'm not lobbying for a return to the darkroom, I'm not sure we could find the papers we loved again today. And I'm not sure we have the patience any longer to spend time nursing an image into full bloom. It may well be, for most photographers, another loss we'll have to deal with. Another erosion of past technique and the disappearance of wonderful materials.
But it doesn't only happen in photography. Could anyone sculpt with the genius of Bernini in the 21st century? I think not. And maybe that's why sculpture is mostly abstracted today instead the aching realism of that Italian master. (If you have not been to the Borghese Sculpture Gallery in Rome then that should be your top travel priority once pandemic travel restrictions are lifted. If you would willing opt for a golfing vacation instead I strongly suggest you take some time off to meditate on a mountain top and try to pinpoint the moment your life took a wrong turn).
I'm no "Photo Bernini" but my portraits with the Hasselblad are still the ones I am most happy with...