I submitted a photo to a call for entries from the Eastern Sierra Center for Photography the other day, and the photo was accepted! It’s even #1 in the series. The photo is one I took a while back of the Surratt house in Washington DC. The theme of the photos was “Motels”, based on a quote by William Borroughs –
“Motel, motel, motel, broken neon arabesque, loneliness moans across the continent like fog horns over still oily water of oily rivers.”
The motel connection in my image is a little tenuous, but Mrs. Surratt took in boarders to her home to help pay the bills before she was hanged for her alleged role in the Lincoln assassination (she was the first woman ever executed in the United States for a crime she may have only ever been tangentially involved in). I also felt the mood of the scene put into image the words in the Burroughs quote.
There was a requirement that the image be made with a large format camera (one of the primary missions of the Eastern Sierra Center for Photography is the promulgation of large format photography).
The photo was shot on Kodak Portra 160 with a Canham 5×7 wood field camera using a Kodak Commercial Ektar 12″ lens.
Please go visit the Eastern Sierra Center’s website and read about their very worthwhile mission – supporting the continued use of view cameras for contemporary (and future – they have a program to expose kids to view cameras!) photography.
The fresh noodles and Peking duck house on 6th Street, NW. I think someone needs to teach them about Windex, as the “OPEN” sign is fuzzy not from being out of focus in my composition but from the splattered duck fat on the window. And no, I’ve never eaten there to know if the food is any good or not. But if you’re lucky when you wander by you can watch them making traditional Chinese noodles in the window, stretching and re-folding the dough over and over and over again, then cutting the ends and BOOM! you’ve got all these separate strands of pasta.
I liked the juxtaposition of the empty sidewalk out front, the lone Prius in the parking lot next door, and the intimate diners in the window.
This one gets a cutesy title because there’s just something so post- and meta- and ironic and all that kind of stuff about having a sushi joint on the ground floor of Mary Surratt’s boarding house, where the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln was hatched. Don’t believe me? Read the plaque on the wall of the house, like the two time-blurred figures in the photo are doing. It’s a very odd vestige of what downtown Washington looked like in 1865, and despite what Robert Redford would have had you believe in “The Conspirator” (by filming in an albeit lesser mansion in Savannah, Georgia), evidence of the utterly middle-class lifestyle of Mary Surratt.
All the above images were shot with my Canham woodfield 5×7, using my Kodak 12″ Commercial Ektar, using Kodak Portra 160nc film.