The Airport Best Western, Tulsa, Oklahoma
The Giant Road Trip was productive beyond expectations in its main goal. I got to, and photographed at, 90 different theaters. Almost all of them still operational, almost all in good lighting conditions. The punishing heat wave and drought had the upside of providing strong clear sunlight which works so well for the drive-in theater subject matter. All that production means that it's taking longer than anticipated to edit the enormous number of digital captures. That's partly because it's a game of Concentration—the edit of the take at one theater has to be seen in relation to all the others. It's a matter of finding the combination of theater structures and surroundings that most clearly define a specific geographical region. Not just which theaters, and which frames, from KS/OK/TX best exemplify The Plains, but how they do this in relation to the pictures that best exemplify the Pacific Northwest, etc. This week I also made good progress on the large format sheet film, but then ran into a new wave of heat and humidity. The problem is when the THI is soaring over 100, I can't reduce the heat and humidity in the lab space enough for film to dry in a reasonable amount of time without running the air conditioner (if it takes too long to dry there's a risk of problems with the staining action of the pyro development I use), but I can't hang giant sheets of film to dry with the AC blasting air—and maybe dust—around the room. Catch 22.
NIGHT CLUB, Tulsa, Oklahoma
So to keep my eyes from crossing while spending hours editing the theater take, I've also been editing my "off-topic" shooting and posting some of it here. Both on the road and now during the edit, I think the off-topic work is vital to maintaining a fresh view of the main subject. I think the "distraction" of photographing other material is a positive thing. It may be a way to keep paying attention to both the forest and the trees. I wanted to make pictures in new, unfamiliar places in pretty much the same way I've been working close to home to make the pictures I've been posting on this blog over the past few years. Not unlike with the theaters, in these new places I wanted to see how the sort of things that catch my eye—an odd slant of light on a window, a weird building, home-grown signage—compare and contrast to similar things around southern New England and Upstate New York. So far, I'm finding the similarities and the differences both fascinating.
ANCHOR BAPTIST CHURCH, North Peoria Avenue, Tulsa, Oklahoma