It was one of those experiences that make our photo safaris memorable. Susie took us over to Melvin’s farm to meet Melvin and make some photographs. We were not the first to photograph Melvin. The many portraits of Melvin neatly stapled to the wall of his mobile home gave witness to Melvin’s popularity with local photographers.
One of the places we photographed at Melvin’s Farm was his shop. Melvin had a “single shaft machine shop” in his barn. A single motor of indeterminate vintage drove a wide leather belt that rotated a single shaft suspended from the rafters. Each machine in the shop was connected to the single shaft by its own leather belt. This level of technology was state of the art at the beginning of the century. That would have been the beginning of the twentieth century.
I wondered if the machines were older than my wooden 5x7 view camera. I began photographing with a smile on my face because it just seemed right to be photographing hundred year old equipment with a hundred year old camera.
Scientists and Engineers are not afraid to stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before to advance their technology. Artists, on the other hand seem to ignore those that have gone before or go out of their way to belittle their success. Both try to look to the future, but one does so from a vantage point, the other from a hole.
My wife and I attended a concert recently. We enjoyed the experience and we had a great time people watching, too. One of the things that we noticed was the number of people (of all ages, surprisingly) viewing the concert on the back of their cell phones. It was odd. The spectacle of the live performance was just in front of them, yet they were satisfied to avoid the experience and concentrate on the screen of their smart phone.
While I shake my head at the younger generation, I thought as photographers, we are guilty of the same thing. We look at the world on the external viewing screen of our DSLR rather than actually experiencing the world if front of our cameras. How often have we looked at a digital file, admired the photograph we made and failed to remember the experience? If we go out into a beautiful world to photograph, we should make sure that we spend some time to just enjoy the experience of the location. There are times it is more important to experience the real world before we capture the vision on the back of our camera. I think that is an important thing for people of all ages to remember that a real experience is much better than a digital capture.