A Photographer's Coda

Archive for January, 2023

Art, Craft and Discovery

Easter Sunday 1957 – Brooklyn, Ohio

My Mom made this photograph with the family Kodak Hawkeye Brownie camera. They had the Flash Kit version. Indoors a couple of Easter’s later shows the sharp shadows from the flash bulb, behind me and my brothers.

Handheld because the camera had no tripod socket. It had a single shutter speed of about 1/30th of a second or Bulb aka Long, as long you held it open. The lens was a fixed focus meniscus. The manual said everything from 5ft to Infinity would be in focus, so selfies were mercifully, not possible. The Hawkeye aperture was also fixed at about f16. What she knew to do was get us outside in bright sun aka the “Sunny 16 Rule”. The film box explained it. Same with the flash attachment indoors.

Film size was 616 so most of the prints were simply contact prints. Fill out the envelope at the local drug store, keep the receipt part and drop it in the bin. They sent it out and a few day later, you picked up the prints and negatives. Sixty six years later, I scanned it, edited the now digital version in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop and made the version you’re seeing.

The six year old you see has been discovering the world ever since. The last dozen years, with photography. I’d write “with a camera” but that’s almost the least of it. And it became time to stop and reflect and write. It takes time to really see a thing

This Menu Category is going to be sort a working draft of what may become a book. It begins with Art, the Why. Craft is the How and enables Art. Discovery, that’s the journey. The teacher in me would like to share what I’ve found, before mine ends.

Sunday Story

I’m pretty sure I made photographs of the first event at the newly renovated Cary Arts Center. It was Sunday. A “Wet Paint” sign was taped to the stage riser and the Brussels Chamber Music Orchestra, jet lagged, were trying to figure out the space

The last time, I’m pretty sure I made photographs there was the Cary Ballet “Nutcracker”, 2021. In my usual place, next to the video guy, behind my tripod and just left of a pillar in the last row of the theater, I’d done my check and re-check of gear. A guy came up and plopped down in a seat near me and somehow, we started talking. As usual, I bragged on the Cary Ballet Company dancers. And told him how I “lost” some every year to ballet company contracts. He grinned and said , I know, I’m taking one with me.

We exchanged cards. His said “Nick Mullikin, Associate Artistic Director, Nashville Ballet”. And then I was telling him about “La Vie En Rose” and Marie Konrad and Paris and this heart breaking performance I’d found by Rhiannon Giddens. And he grinned again and explained about spending months on the road with Rhiannon, working on choreography for Spoleto. Where I lived in Charleston for the very first. It is, a very small world. And she is wonderful.

Bramble Rose

Abandoned Garden – East Garner Road, Wake County, North Carolina 1 June 2014

Driving home, I kept seeing splashes of color in an empty lot. Surrendering to curiosity, I made this one late afternoon. My guess is, it was someones garden. Abandoned, the rose spread yards in all directions. Since, sedge and scrub pine have taken over and the color is no more. Maybe it was something similar that Tift Merrit saw from her apartment window in Raleigh


Midway Amusement Ride – North Carolina State Fair 23 Oct 2009

In late 2007 a Parisian pickpocket “liberated” my Point & Shoot camera from a jacket hung on the back of a Bistro chair. Back home, I decided to treat myself to a new DSLR, the Digital version of the 1970’s Film SLR I’d had long ago. It took no time at all to realize how little I never knew about the craft of photography. Especially all the new whiz bang, digital stuff.

So I read. And it was sort of “Back To The Future”. Soon, the camera mode was on “M”, the meter ignored and I could ballpark “Sunny 16”. It was my first step from “camera owner” to “photographer”. I could tell the story I wanted vs camera automation.

La Vie en Rose

Place Ste. Catherine – Paris 24 Sept 2016

It’s not the Camera. But it is. Sort of

Paris – 8 Oct. 2007