Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On the first day of summer...

     ...from a photographer's notebook

     Adapted from an original Kodachrome transparency        ©Steve Ember

Yikes! Did we really need to look at a calendar to know summer had arrived? The summer solstice occurred earlier this evening in the EDT zone but the blast of hot, humid air and bad air quality we always kind of hope won’t get here until July or August apparently just couldn’t wait for technicalities like solstice before descending on us.

Ah, well, nothing to do but slog through it…and hope summer 2012 also brings some stretches of warm sunny days, with low humidity…the kind that make you want to get out and take in the rays, open up the moon roof while heading down the highway with the Beach Boys praising those “California Girls,” or if you can remember it, the intoxicating piano trio sound of Eddie Heywood and “Soft Summer Breeze.” Ahhh…do I begin to smell honeysuckle?

And, if summer puts you in the mind of gentler times, I hope the photo up top might bring a smile. I’ve written elsewhere about the scanning binge in which I engaged in 2009, after buying my Nikon slide and film scanner. Off I went on a voyage of “re-discovery” of years and years of film shooting, mainly color slides.

There was some “method” in my madness, as I tore into countless boxes of Kodachromes, Ektachromes, Fujichromes, etc, seeking out Alpine landscapes, or cityscapes, shot long before we spoke in “Pixel-ese” and messed with memory cards…with the goal of integrating such “legacy” work into my current shooting and displaying workflow. Geez, come to think of it, 95% of those slides were shot before people used terms like “workflow.”

But there were also random forays into boxes where I wasn’t at all sure what would jump out in my loupe.

“Coke Machine” was one of those “forgotten” images re-discovered in 2009, but it just never worked its way into my, er, workflow until I re-discovered it again last week and gave it a closer look. It sorta took me back to summers I remembered from long ago. Simpler, gentler times, when birds had an absolute monopoly on “tweeting.” And “text” was something you read in a book…or a Lionel Trains catalog.

Somehow, I think this image almost cries out for captioned conversation…or cartoon-style talk bubbles above the boy at the left and the man…perhaps a “thought bubble” above the lad with his back to the camera…and maybe a bold “Whack!” or “Bam!” from that disembodied arm trying to “coax” the Coke machine into providing what his 35 cents entitled the boy attached to it, to, on this hot summer day.

Well, feel free to supply your own “bubbles” and sound effects ;-)

35 cents! Now, you just know this photo was taken a few decades ago! The date on the slide was 1981, but allowing for different styles of Coke machines – and different prices for “the pause that refreshes” – such a scene could play out over truly a wide swath of time.

The image was originally captured on Kodachrome-64 slide film, but I decided this timeless slice of summertime Americana worked best in this warm toned black and white rendition.

I hope your visit will serve as a “pause that refreshes.” Somehow, I think we could all use that…and perhaps a moment to smell the roses - or the honeysuckle - in the process.

©2012 Steve Ember

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