Sunday, April 29, 2007

Violin Maker

My dad made a violin – which I now have.

Daddy didn’t play the violin or any musical instrument. No one in the family plays the violin so I don’t know if Daddy’s violin has a good tone or not but it is very special to me.

As I was returning to serious photography after a long hiatus, one of my self-imposed themes was “Hands”. Daddy’s hands, once strong, rough and gnarled – one finger broken and twisted by a rifle bullet, now showed their age in addition to their experience. When he showed me the violin, finally finished after many months of work, I seized the opportunity for a photo session.

My dad had always loved working with wood and credited his grandfather with teaching him to use woodworking tools. Daddy had always had a workshop and he used his retirement years to polish his skills. In fact, he demonstrated over and over again that an old dog can learn new tricks. Daddy was always trying a new tool or learning a new technique while working on his many projects.

For the violin photo session, Daddy hauled out his kit of patterns, pegs, clamps, knives and scrapers. I placed the violin on his workbench and opened the workshop door. I placed my Konica T2 with 52mm Hexanon lens on my tripod and fired off an entire roll of Kodak Gold film. The results, as processed by the local one hour photofinisher, were disappointing.

Far too few years later, the violin propped in a corner of my study, I searched for and found those negatives. Having acquired a few new tools and learned a few techniques myself, I also found the photograph I had originally wanted; it had always been there.

No doubt that there are better violins and I’ve made better photographs but Violin Maker is one of the few hanging on my wall.

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