|Graphic Design Ben J. Shockley. Image © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2008.|
A Creative Non-Fiction Essay
By Jeremy Wade Shockley
The large sheet metal door slides to the right with resistance, breaking the silence of the land. The smell of sage and juniper rise from the desert, a reminder of recent rain. The horizon looking north toward Colorado and the La Platas still holds its blue-gray demeanor. Late afternoon sun shines brightly upon my grandfather’s Stetson, a light straw affair, not nearly as dilapidated as the one I last saw him wearing. As he steps into the shadows of the workshop, he pushes the hat back on his forehead, revealing wisps of thinning gray hair above his weathered ears. Pearl snaps catch window light on a cuff of thin flannel material, signature western wear.
Shelves climb to the ceiling on either side of us. He reaches for a few stones, newly cut and polished, and spits on his thumb to better wipe the dust away, revealing shimmering quartz surfaces that he holds between two worn fingers. His pinky is missing. Filtered light catches the reflection of the smooth rock. The dust stirred by our presence stands in the air like a heavy beam caught in the sunlight. Tires and tools are stacked over and under decaying boxes of oily cardboard. The air smells of grease. A large industrial metal lathe sits to my left; I focus my eyes on the rusting thermostat, once selling Dr. Pepper. Nearby, an old Coke bottle sits on its side amid other windowsill clutter. Grandpa is searching for something. “See if you can pull down that box,” he demands, pointing a crooked finger above my head. It’s full of wooden containers, dated by a thick lacquer finish. He hands me one, a keepsake.
He pulls an old stool from somewhere, collecting his thoughts as he exhales. I take a few photos, realizing how out of place the Nikon seems in this antiquated reality. A workshop filled with tools, equipment and possibility. Dated. I feel a deep sadness for my grandfather and his way of life, both on the brink of disappearance. I let the camera rest as the old man shuffles outside. “Well,” he sighs, “we best be getting on. Dinner ‘ll be ready ‘for you know it.”
“Give me a hand with this door,” he says.
A weekend spent at Chaco Canyon gave me the perfect opportunity to test out some new glass, the Tokina 12-24mm F4. Not the fastest lens perhaps, but beautifully well built and tack sharp! Certainly a lens that must be used in moderation, but a nice accompaniment to my standard go to primes.
Such a wide lens seems to always work best on the most expansive landscapes and conversely in the tightest of quarters…the above image was shot at the wide end of this lens, giving the image a full view of the Kiva in the foreground, sunset for atmosphere. In many of the other images I was able to include extra details into my composition, not possible with a standard lens. In all the years that I have shot at Pueblo Bonito and in the canyon – this was the most experimental.
Hope you enjoy the images! Jeremy
The Nikon 50mm/F1.4 Prime lens, recently acquired and immediately tested. I picked this sucker up used for a price most photogs wouldn’t even flinch at, slammed it on my camera and then walked across the street to make this picture. The reason I bought the lens in the first place was to make this picture.
The prime with it’s shallow depth of field is ideal for portraiture. The D90 makes this a very acceptable substitute for the more expensive 85mm lens, but ever so compact, light and lovely. As the evening light dwindles and fades away, one can still create stunning images with available light and the low depth of field will only add interest as you engage your subject!
This image of a flute player was shot in bright sunlight, under the shade of a covered walkway, not uncommon in the streets of Santa Fe, New Mexico with it’s historic architecture.
Simplify your gear, free your mind of unnecessary choices and the pictures will follow! Now go enjoy the light….Cheers, Jeremy
Street Photography will always surprise- the right time, right place. This is the idea right.
I found myself in the company of Jessie Bridges just off the plaza in Santa Fe where she preformed her latest record to a crowd already warmed up by the likes of Jeff Bridges who played a benefit concert in the neighboring Lensic theater as a follow up to his epic performance in the film Crazy Heart.
Setting out into Santa Fe each evening- camera in hand, mind open- this is street photography. The product is not as much the photos but rather the moments of experience that created them.
Check out Jessie’s latest album on iTunes!
Embrace the unexpected!!