In Praise of Doing Things Slowly

Well, here were are still in quarantine, in I’m going to say May but really I’m not sure.  I don’t know if I’m doing a project or the family chief, code name Neptune, just put me on this mission, but I’m digging through my photographs, old, new, whatever.

I realized that I have entire albums of slides.  Well, young readers (old readers skip ahead) let me take you back to 2001.  That’s almost 20 years ago now, which disturbs me beyond belief.  Anyway, I was but a young photographer obsessed with images.  The difference now is that I’m a bit older.  I’m still obsessed with images.  Anyway, I was obsessed with color images. Color film just didn’t give the types of color reproduction I wanted so I shot a lot of slides.  A LOT.  This was of course before the days of digital editing programs too.  Slide film made beautiful colors and gave the pictures a kind of luminescent quality to the images.  They are all Vermeers, I mean I guess I thought they were.

The thing though about slides was that printing them cost a mint.  A print from a slide cost like $2, so I really had to limit the number of them I got.  So, the slides from Paris sat in an album for low these past 20 years.  I knew, I always knew we would get hit by a global pandemic and before that, smartphones would be invented and I would be able to download a free app to scan all my slides.  I knew that.

OK we’re at the third paragraph and I haven’t made a point.  I appreciate your patience, I really do.  Anyway, so in 2001, I went on a trip to Paris and Poland in late summer.  I went to Europe a lot in those days.  Rediscovering the roots, I guess.  We went to Paris and look, Paris, is Paris.  People always say — that’s the Paris of wherever, but Paris is the Paris of Paris.  The city is like something built in a jewel box.  The food was magnificent and the whole atmosphere there is exactly like the movies.  I always imagined myself living in one of those tiny little corner apartments, staring down at the street, getting my bread from some hundred year old bakery on the way to wherever.  And of course all the pictures I took there were on slides.

Fast forward to 2020 and I suddenly get the urge to scan all of this.  I find this app that you can use to scan it all with but you need a backlight.  I had this tabletop projector I used to look at my slides in to magnify them.  This thing is still at my parents house, where I am for the duration of the pandemic.  I took out the slide projector, that I haven’t used in almost 20 years.  I had to open the albums, go through the pictures, choose the ones I wanted to view and load up the projector.  The projector only takes a certain amount of slides anyway.  This took time too.  I had to look closely at every slide and position the projector the right way to get the best view.  The colors on the slides are really beautiful and the pictures have a kind of slow quality to them.  I was using a Canon AE-1 all manual camera back then.  No autofocus for me yet.

I realized while I was doing this how this was all so slow and brought me back to the days when photography was craft and you were kind of an artisan doing it.  I mean I wasn’t a real artisan back then either.  I didn’t have my own dark room like some people had.  It’s kind of funny too that the pictures from Paris are the slide film artisan ones.  France is the country where they still have handmade butter that they stamp into all kind of interesting shapes.  Here butter is just in sticks that we buy in bulk at Costco.  Vive La France!!!!

Anyway, I pulled out some good ones from the slides.  I put two pictures from Poland in there too, because I’m Polish.  I guess.

The pictures from when pictures still kinda looked like paintings from the city that literally looks like a painting all the time:

 

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