One of the things I enjoy about being out west is the element of surprise. One minute, you’re simply enjoying the landscape – and in the next, you’re face-to-face with some ornery looking longhorns that are giving you the skunk eye. Almost as if they’re saying, “How fast can you run, punk? Because whatever it is, that’s not fast enough!”
Photo info: Texas longhorns Ennis Lake Ennis, Montana October 2017 Eastman Double-X 5222 film Zeiss Biogon 21/4.5 ZM lens Leica M3 35mm film camera
Blooms, blooms, and more blooms. When you visit anyplace that figures “gardens” prominently in their title, it’s a good bet that there will be lots and lots of blooms to view and appreciate – such is the case with Brookside Gardens. The last time I was here was nearly two decades ago and it’s had major improvements during my absence – elevated boardwalks, a new visitors center, many plantings that I don’t recall – the list goes on.
It’s funny… I absolutely hated visiting places like this when I was a kid. My mom was big into flowers and gardening, and would drag me practically kicking and screaming to various professional gardens whenever we moved to a new state. And now? Now I love them and seek them out.
The change for me was my last photography job, where I worked in an audiovisual 24/7 sweatshop down on K Street NW in Washington, DC. I was hired there in the spring of 1988 initially as the sole optical photographer (everyone else was a Genigraphics computer artist), and I worked excessively long hours shooting all of the optical images that we produced – many hundreds of thousands of images by the time I left there some four years later. Product shots, studio shots, composite insertion shots, black and white Kodalith slides, E-6 color duplication slides, Ektachrome slide composites – you name it, I shot it.
All of this photography work was done in a dark room. Scratch that… all of this was done in a completely BLACK room, including the ceiling and floors. Due to cross contamination issues from any other color source, every square inch of that room was painted flat matte pitch black, and every crack that emitted light was sealed tightly shut. When the lights went out – which was 90% of my hours each work day – that room was the complete absence of all light. It was black-hole-level-of-darkness personified. And believe me, that wasn’t a job for anyone with nyctophobia or vertigo.
By the time I was six months into that job, I began seeking out anything that wasn’t black. By the time I left it, I was addicted to pure color. Bright color. Saturated color. Jackhammer-to-the-eyes color. And I discovered that one of the very best places to find pure unadulterated colors were the professional gardens, which I have loved and enjoyed visiting ever since.
Photo info: Flower blooms Brookside Gardens Wheaton, Maryland July 2021 Voigtländer 65/2.0 APO Macro lens Sony a7 III digital camera
We had been interested in seeing the incredible views at Watkins Glen State Park for many years, but simply hadn’t found the time to visit it until the summer of 2018. Wow – it was even better than we anticipated! The canyon that the park is centered around is quite narrow and deep, which makes for tough shooting conditions with a film camera due to the lack of light. All of my shots within the canyon were ½-second in length, with the aperture wide-open – and still there were areas where I couldn’t take shots because it was simply too dark. Highly recommended as a travel destination.
Photo info: Rainbow Falls Gorge Trail Watkins Glen State Park Watkins Glen, New York August 2018 Film Ferrania P30 Zeiss Sonnar 40/2.8 lens Rollei 35S 35mm film camera