That Photo Album

Everbody used to have one of those, the Album of photos taken under the most daring circumstances resulting in one in a million images.

A friend from Ohio was telling me about his photos, which he made climbing all over the ice that was swept up on a highway during the sixties, near the lake where he lives in Ohio, so high that bulldozers could not shift the ice. He risked serious damage to himself climbing all over the mountain, which stood higher than the telephone poles, to conserve the images for posteriority. The chunks of ice themselves were as large as automobiles. Nature impressed with its strength and immensity.

The special set of photos my spouse made were taken hanging off a cliff in England to catch the seagulls in flight as they dipped and fell for the pure fun of it, gliding on the wind and showing off their amazing skills. He was mesmerized by their art and freedom.

They are very special pictures and they all ended up in the Album-Of-Pictures-That-Never-Were, because when my Ohio friend and my spouse got back from their respective excursions they realized they had no film in their cameras.

Enough time has passed to allow us to laugh at this misadventures. Hopefully enough time has passed for the friends of TrueGerman to forgive, that all the pictures of them standing with Lech Walesa, the hero of Solidarność, were exposed to light, because unbeknown to Truegerman the film had got stuck in the camera and when the camera was opened the film was destroyed.

The brain usually tried to warn us. There was this nagging feeling, this did I remember, I must have put in film or the funny how many photos I seem to have on this roll. But either we were too excited or to sure of ourselves to listen to the subtle message.

I speak of these kind of events in the past tense as most of us amateur photographers will have switched to digital cameras by now, as have a lot of professionals. No more counting the frames to see how many pictures still can be taken, no take one more picture so we can fill up the film and take it to be developed.

This is Catawba when spring is about to arrive. Makes me wonder what it is like when it is winter!

This is Catawba when spring is about to arrive. Makes me wonder what it is like when it is winter! @Bob Schraidt 2009

Nowadays I don´t worry so much about my unsteady hands when I am asked to take pictures for perfect strangers, like the chinese group of visitors at the grave for Karl Marx in London this summer. I know the cameras they use will prevent any wobbles and they can immediately regard the result with obvious satisfaction.

We are experiencing a world that is technically becoming more sophisticated. It allows us to perfect our interactions and our art, by compensating for our weakness and failings. We can produce more of everything and always less flawed. And yet we don´t. 

As if to reassure  us the camera will imitate our imperfections: batteries fail in cold weather or an automatic flashlight will overexpose a picture. We still have the chance of making the AlbumOPTNW and I recommend that we do.

I did not make pictures of the chinese tourists with my camera, but in my mind the image of the well-heeled tourist groups of chinese visitors filing past the grave of their hero is an image I will not forget.

I remember the seagulls and how my spouse climbed the rocks to get the perfect picture. I still feel the wind, that held the seagulls up, coming in from the sea, the sun that would peak through the clouds, the smell that makes landlubbers like me  remain rooted to the spot, face into the wind and simply wanting to breathe as deeply as possible. Maybe that is what freedom smells like.

My friend in Ohio remembers the childlike thrill of climbing the ice, the sight from a viewpoint no one else could put a claim on, his breath coming fast from the effort of the climb and his wonder.

And his laughter later that day at the thought ,”That´s another one for the Album.”

@Francesca

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