Saturday, June 30, 2012

Capturing a moment in time. Lessons learned and ignored.

The making of a photograph.

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This photograph of an abandoned Navajo hogan was taken near the
Continental Divide exit on I-40 in northern New Mexico while driving cross
country alone. There was a small trading post at the offramp and I spied this
scene as I got out of my car. The temperature was on the cool side and it
was morning. I quickly took a series of 4 photos, hoping that one was a keeper.
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This photo shows more of the red cliffs behind the scene in the distance. One
day I would love to return and drive out that way.
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To the right is the beginning of the yard for the folks who own this property.
There is a mobile home over to the right past that tree.
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I was very interested in this scene at that moment. I knew when I looked
at the photos later on my laptop that I made a serious mistake, and since I
was hundreds of miles down the road, there was no way to fix the flaw in
these photographs. In hindsight, I realize that I needed to shoot in aperture priority mode, to achieve sharpness from the flowers at the bottom of the photo
all the way to infinity. I was shooting with an Olympus E-10 and it was capable
enough, the problem was operator error.

I was a lazy photographer shooting in Program mode and let the camera make
the creative decisions.

On my way back to this area a few days later, I tried to set up the return attempt perfectly. The plan was to arrive around sunrise and set up with a tripod and re-shoot.

So I pulled off the interstate in a state of excitement, because the sun was starting to come up over those red cliffs in the distance, illuminating the ghastly
scene that awaited me- trails of toilet paper all over the tree and bushes and the hogan.

Needless to say, I didn’t take a single photograph that morning.

This was easily the second biggest bummer in my photographic “career,” the
number one bummer being the loss of my photographs of the Cadillac Ranch
near Amarillo, Texas.

I did learn a valuable lesson with the hogan, but must confess that I still haven’t
devised a fool proof method to preserve and catalog my photo archives, nor did
I ever find the disk that I burned the Cadillac Ranch photos to.

Now you know the rest of the story.


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