Sunday, October 13, 2013

Not in Kansas anymore...

  ...from a photographer's notebook

Detail from "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas  anymore" ©2013 Steve Ember

Of  late, I’ve been enjoying opportunities to delve into many boxes of slides and sleeves of negs, re-discovering some long neglected images and reliving some most pleasant travel experiences.
One such fun experience was discovering the colorful trams of Mannheim, Germany in the winter of 2008. I found their vivid palettes an inviting motif as part of the Mannheim cityscape. This trip was actually the first outing for my first “serious” digital camera, but, naturally, the film cameras were along as well. I did lots of tram shots with the D-SLR, but also captured some on film as we roamed the cobble-stoned streets of the city.

Last night, I thought I’d scan some of the color film from that shoot. There was one neg that I really liked, but, try as I might, I just could not come up with a good enough scan from it.

But that image really appealed to me – I liked the position of the gal with the stroller and her juxtaposition with the happy faces in the advertising for an amusement park that covered the long articulated tram. And I didn’t have a digital image with that same composition.

So, I summoned up my Digital Genie. “Liebe Genie,” I said to her as she emerged from her bottle, for in this case, she must be German, nicht wahr?

“Genie-Liebchen, what if that tornado that picked up Dorothy and Toto in Kansas was so powerful that it swooshed them across the Atlantic and plopped them down, seventy years later, in Mannheim…but in a "parallel universe" Mannheim where everything was in a kind of noir-ish graphic novel black and white…everything, that is, but those very colorful Mannheim trams?”

“Lieber Steve,” she purred, her soft German tinged voice sounding like…like…yes, Cornell Borchers, “you are truly strange, but I do like the way you think.”

And so, we went to work, Genie and me. As you’ll see, Dorothy is indeed wearing her red slippers. Call it artistic license, but in this particular Land of Oz, Toto gets to ride in a carriage. My hunch is Dorothy finds the Tin Man getting oiled in a Mannheim bar, the Munchkins out for a day-trip on the tram, with the Wizard at the controls. The scarecrow finds gainful employment guarding the produce stands in Mannheim’s market square.

The Wicked Witch? She gets dispatched most appropriately - While making a menacing low pass, her broomstick gets tangled in the tram’s pantograph, slamming her into the 600 volt DC overhead line.

Oh, the Cowardly Lion? He just couldn’t take it anymore and split for Heidelberg

“Toto, I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore” will soon be available in gallery prints and as a custom printed note card. The card (you may see its actual design here) can be ordered with the red “Toto, I've a feeling...” message either on the front or on the inside.

To reserve yours in time for the holidays, or request more information, click your heels together three times and contact me at emberphoto(at)hotmail(dot)com.

OK, I’m sane now, Auntie Em. (well, everything’s relative, after all…)

©2013 Steve Ember

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