Lake of the Ozarks.
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This past weekend I travelled to Missouri to holiday at the Lake of the Ozarks. It was the first time I’d visited the state in 10 years, but my first time back to the lake in 20 years. I don’t remember much about that inaugural trip, except that I was armed with a disposable Kodak 35mm camera, and as a 14 or 15 year-old taking a bunch of mostly indisposable pictures of friends and the scenery over the lake. Thinking back on that trip and remembering what the results were when I received the photos back from the local drugstore a week later, I’m actually amazed that the thought of photography never even crossed my mind as a possible career choice at the time. Those were some amazing pictures! Especially for there not being an internet, no Flickr, no Facebook, and my entire knowledge of photographers being limited to two places—newspapers and National Geographic.
That ensuing fall, I took a liberal graphics class my sophomore year; it was a multi-faceted course that incorporated photography, silk screen printing and darkroom processing. I remember spending an ample amount of time in the darkroom, but the lasting items I produced from that semester were a series of logo decals I designed for my then rapper name (because you know, lots of 15 year-olds spend at least five weeks thinking that they can . . . you know, be a rapper . . . never mind that for me it was more like five years, but whatever).
My point is, though I spent a great deal of time in the darkroom, the thing that actually grasped ahold of my attention was the graphic design. In the darkroom, I remember learning to make double exposures and being quite taken by that whole process of creating something that could never be duplicated. But in the fall of ’94, the kids who were into learning photography at my school were (in my limited mind) really boring kids. I thought cinematography was far sexier, and I knew that once the semester was over, I wasn’t going to have a darkroom—I wasn’t going to convince my aunt to install one in her house, and (annnnnd this is a very big, dumb AND) I thought that if one had a real 35mm camera, the only way to process the film would be in one’s own private darkroom.
(…It was 1994, give me a break!)
But I did have a computer. So I learned graphics, I learned to write and not so long after, I learned to manipulate photos. I wonder what my life might be like today, if I had asked my aunt for a camera and and known that I could simply take the bloody film to a drugstore. In my mind, I always knew how to frame people… I always saw the world that way.
So for this trip, I wanted to do something different, something that was akin to my first trip 20 years ago. I left my Sony and my big, expensive lenses at home, and I brought along my trusty Fuji x100. The idea was to simply take 35mm photos that reminded me of my first trip, the sorts of images that are still burned in my memory that have not yet faded. I thought it might be a challenge because I’ve only previously used the Fuji for parties and indoor events at night. I never trusted opening the aperture all the way up during the day on people in New York with it because it’s a bit soft. But I was determined, and figured I’d take good pictures with it or die trying. Interestingly enough, once I arrived at the lake, I realised this would not be a problem—accounting for the distance out on the water forced me to stop down the entire time and I cannot tell you how amazed I am with how tac sharp some of these turned out. And I came away from the trip with an unintended birthday gift: a new (but old) Pentax 35mm film camera with an f2 lens. Not a bad coup for a holiday.
As always, TGIF.