•COMING IN SEPTEMBER, 2015•

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

by Emery Roth

Friday, October 19, 2007

Southwest Elbows


It's reassuring to know that contact sheets (and virtual contact sheets) have posed problems for the greatest of photographers. There are times, of course, when photographers know what they want, and the contact sheet provides a record of the refining of the idea. There are times also when the image is not there until a serendipitous event clinches it. For me, however, it is more often the case that at the end of a series of shots, all I have is options that seem to offer different advantages.

On August 23rd of this year I posted on my blog and sent to subscribers a different image from this series under the title, "Staying Rooted." In the note I grumbled about the difficulty of choosing. Above is the image I chose not to post. This link leads to what I did post:

http://rothphotos.blogspot.com/2007/08/staying-rooted.html

As I posted the other image, I quietly filed this image in a folder titled, "Reflection," in preparation for the exhibition just completed with The Camera's Eye. Unfortunately, I followed a different path in assembling my exhibit photos, and it was only in final review of images that this one elbowed its way into the show just outside the door where the rest of my pictures hung. It is now similarly elbowing its way onto TODAY'S.

The sun rose early on July 8th. My first shot was at 5:03 AM. By my second shot, 20 seconds later the sun was peaking over the hillside. By 5:10 the bay was covered by a broad blanket of clouds and by 5:18 the sun had almost entirely disappeared behind those clouds. Even so I continued shooting until 5:29. Throughout , my decision-making was rushed by my late arrival, rapidly changing conditions and a mood just short of panic. A vision of what I wanted? All I had was a knowledge of the site from previous shoots. I exploited that knowledge as best I could and scampered around within 30 feet of my car framing what I could as best I could. The 59 shots that resulted testify to how small changes in position and zoom can create vastly different meanings. This shot, perhaps, emphasizes the security of the harbor and the lure of the open sea and the unknown. Some shots emphasize rapid change and others calm. A few suggest the precariousness of civilization hugging the shore. It only takes a small tilt of the lens to make such vast changes, and I would be lying if I said I was aware of all of these differences as I shot through the tiny viewfinder. I'd also be lying if I said many of the shots were fully committed to the meanings just identified. I've come to believe this one, at least, is. Ah, choosing!