Stilts

November 15, 2009 § Leave a comment

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Stumbling along the streets in Havana, carrying a 4×5 Speed Graphic on a tripod from one corner of their tightly, claustrophobic streets to the next, and blank stares of confusion. I was considered to be an oddity, transporting not only the camera, but all the miscellaneous photo-related equipment that is needed. I would often stop, set down the tripod placing it in front of the scene that I was only hoping to photograph, yet, to find, only moments later, my scene would not wait for me to be photographed. Often left in disappointment, moving on until another scene would unfold, setting my camera down once again, yet only to be disappointed once more. I would spend my days walking the streets, occasionally stopping to rest on the stoop of a step, looking at all the wonderful moments unfolding before my eyes, but discouraged by the speed of time these moments would unfold. After my rest, I once again gained consciousness to move forward looking for more scenes to possibly photograph. I walked by this complex of three boys playing-one boy was playing with a pair of homemade stilts made out of wood and rusty nails. I placed my tripod down once again, yet to be told they did not want their photograph to be taken. I packed up my equipment, yet again to walk in between the buildings that crumble and hold their breath, while looking for other moments to capture on film. Halfway down the block, the man-sitting in the top left corner of this image-with his broken english and my broken spanish, invited me back to photograph him, and the three boys. Elated, I jumped at the opportunity, holding back my enthusiasm, and setting down my tripod and camera once more. The three boys, including the one with stilts, were climbing up and down the stairs, and running around as if I weren’t there. The minute I was ready, the magic happened, all three boys and the man, who chased me halfway down the block, all sat down, without direction. I exposed two plates, before I realized all the other film holders I had pre-loaded for the day, have already been used. I then realized that these would be the only two exposures that I would be able to create of this moment. The first exposed plate went well with only a slight concern of the image being underexposed. The movement in this image, the second exposed plate, is a result from using a slow shutter speed, the people moving, and me bumping the camera. Once I processed the film and made my contact sheets, this image turned out to be the more interesting of the two. The rest of that evening was spent cooling off, and eating chinese in the Barrio de Chino District of Havana, before returning to my casa particular. On subsequent journeys, I have wondered the same streets looking for this complex, yet it seems to have vanished only to exist for this one moment, this one photograph.

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