Saturday, March 31, 2007

Last Shot

To me, the gym had always been there. Actually, the gymnasium for St. Martin Consolidated School was completed the same year I entered first grade: 1953.

First impressions remain forever. The gym was huge -- almost cavernous in size and appearance. We could walk through big double doors right onto the gym floor. (Of course, we never walked on the gym floor without removing our shoes!) Wide, wooden bleachers, seemingly stairs for giants, were a challenge to climb to the very top. We didn’t get into the gym regularly so each visit was a special occasion.

As elementary students, the gym was a place for class activities and not for sports. The Spring Festival was a major annual gym event for which we practiced right on the gym floor (no shoes allowed). A stage was added to one end of the gym In the future, there would be sock hops (no shoes allowed on the gym floor) and basketball games with many, many basketball practice sessions (basketball shoes only on the floor).

I learned to play basketball in that gym. My dad always said that the first basketball game he ever saw was also the first one I played. With only one basketball floor for the entire school, practice time was at a premium.

Eventually the older boys taught us how to break into the gym through the boy’s locker-room window so we always had a place to play basketball. It didn’t seem odd that the locker-room window was so easily jimmied and that there was always a basketball or two lying around.

Years later, not being a regular visitor, I was again struck by the size and appearance of the gym. Somehow it had become old and shrunken -- an outdated shadow of its old self. That natural aging process was nothing in comparison to Hurricane Katrina.

After taking this photo, I picked up the basketball and dribbled in for a layup – just the way I was taught, except, of course, quite a bit slower and not jumping nearly as high. I made that last shot and then walked out.

A few months later, the old gym was bulldozed.

Monday, March 19, 2007


I think I've configured the settings to allow moderated comments.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mississippi Shrimp Boat, 1974

A retired photographer once advised me to simply take lots of pictures of everyday life.

In the late 1960’s I began to use fully adjustable cameras and by the early 1970’s had become more serious about photography. I had learned to develop my own negatives and print my own prints – even though I was not particularly good at it. I also began to try to take pictures just for the sake of getting a “good” picture.

I don’t know why I took this photo of a shrimp boat in 1974. It is negative number 7 on a roll of Panatomic X and was probably developed in D76. The camera was almost certainly my old Konica T2 fitted with its 52mm Hexanon lens. As it turns out, no print was made from this negative until just recently. Perhaps it was too simple a scene. It is not a particularly great photo. The sky is a bit overexposed and typically drab. After scanning the negative, Photoshop was able to recover a bit of detail in the sky. It looks better in sepia – to me, anyway.

But now, this simple photo is important because the shrimp boat (probably) no longer exists, the harbor has changed extensively and it is one of the few photos that I have from that area in those days. As a result, this photo looks very good to me now.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Wallace is a wonderful man who has lived a full and rich life “full of years”. I hoped to get a photograph of Wallace that conveyed those life experiences as well as his vitality.

As is often the case, I had a mental image of the photo I wanted but ended up with a better one. My plan was to get a photo of Wallace in his workshop but lit only by window light. My son was stationed outside the window with a reflector. Even so, Wallace was concerned about the dim light in his workshop and asked if he could light up his torch. At that point, I knew something good was about to happen.

I wish I had been able to back up just a little bit more so as to include more of the American flag (top left) of which Wallace is so proud. This photo never fails to get compliments – not so much for the image as for the man, the craftsmanship and the generation it represents.

Canon EOS 7 fitted with Canon 85mm f1.8 lens at about f2.8 using Kodak T400CN chromogenic film. Negative scanned with Canon FS4000.