This an image I made of a farmhouse on Flanders Road in 1996, if memory serves. It is a scan of a silver print, made from a negative shot with a Hasselblad 500cm with 80mm lens on Ilford FP4 Plus and developed in PMK staining developer. The image you see here is as close as I could get to conveying the qualities of light and the edge effect that was a characteristic of that film/developer combination. I had been driving this road, past this house, every day for almost a year, but this was the first time I had seen the shadows of the old maple tree cast on the front of the house. There was something meaningful, to me, about the ghostly impression of a tree that is upon the wooden house and the tree that was. I liked the rough stone wall that anchored the light picket fence. I made the exposure hand held from the middle of the road while listening for oncoming cars, but somehow managed to get the composition right on. I love the juxtaposition of so many different elements; the way the pickets line up with the horizontal trim across the top of the windows and door. How the stone just touches the window mullion and so does the horizontal wooden fence member. And the picture is sharp without image stabilization. I don’t know how I did it, and yet the original print still hangs today in our house and is still one of my favorite images. It was a chance image made on film when I was at the top of my game as a black and white photographer using film and the silver print technology. Times, and things change.
Here is that house and stone fence taken yesterday. The maple tree is gone, and so is the Hasselblad and I haven’t exposed a roll of film in ten years. Things change, and I’m very glad that I stopped to make that photograph in 1996. There is no way I can capture that image again. The tree is gone, and as much as I like digital photography, it just isn’t the same; not better or worse, just different. And I’m different. I have developed a tremor in my left arm that has changed how I work with the camera, and image stabilization is a godsend. I also see differently, and I’m not talking about my glasses either. I feel more with my heart what I see with my eyes. There is more connectedness, if that makes sense. I now feel the thread that runs all the way back to the days my father spent teaching me about photography; driving down backcountry roads, stopping when he saw something that spoke to him. He would try to explain why he thought a particular scene was worthy of the trouble, frequently I didn’t get it, but sometimes, just sometimes, I did.
We all photograph for all sorts of reasons. Your reasons will be different from mine, but one thing is certain; things we photograph today will be different tomorrow.