Frederick 3 (finding the light)

“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”

George Eastman
Frederick 2018 – Mamiya 7 – Kodak Tmax 400

It’s not as if I had just discovered light. But in some way, I had an epiphany. I had been shooting around Frederick, Maryland, for over a year now. At the halfway point in that timeline, I started shooting a series around town based entirely on three constraints- specific camera, specific lens, and specific film stock. To be transparent, this was incredibly hard for me. My ADHD brain wants to do whatever it wants to do at the moment it finds inspiration. But at this moment, I found a thread I was truly inspired to pull.

Frederick 2018 – Mamiya 7 – Kodak Tmax 400

Hard light can be a deal-breaker for many photographic subjects, and it can change the entire look of a scene so dramatically as to render it unrecognizable. For people, products, pets, and countless other subjects, this isn’t exactly the goal. One could even argue that it would not be appropriate to use when documenting a small town in Western Maryland- wink. But I had realized that I didn’t want to tell a historically accurate documentary story about Frederick. I wanted to do a picture story about its style, its grit, its attitude. Then I saw the light and realized I also wanted to tell a “light story,” or maybe, if I dare, “light poetry.”

Frederick 2018 – Mamiya 7 – Kodak Tmax 400

The thing is, I’m into history, and I’m excited to learn more about this town over time, but my attention is fleeting. I needed to recognize the incident along with the artifacts. For me, the hard light discovery is where shooting in Frederick shifted from curiosity to absolute joy.

Frederick 2018 – Mamiya 7 – Kodak Tmax 400 – Deep Yellow 15

The image above is where I begin to incorporate power lines into my framing. I also used a Tiffen Deep Yellow 15 filter to increase the contrast. It also increased the grain, but I like grain, so I’m not mad about it. I hadn’t used black and white contrast filters in about 15 years, and I’m not sure I used them often before I went digital, so I’m still on a learning curve. Is it supposed to increase grain? I’m not sure.

Until next time.

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