Passing the Torch

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I was thinking today about passing the torch. No, not the Olympic torch, but a more personal version, one involving the now disappearing craft of chemical photography.

I have a five year old grandson who’s seen me snap innumerable digital portraits of him, in almost every conceivable situation, such that he’s become adept at assuming a photogenic pose, almost instinctively. This has happened no doubt because of the immediacy of feedback brought about by showing him the resulting photos on my digital camera’s flip-out screen, a kind of magic mirror to the soul.

So the kid knows that his grandpa is a photographer, knows instinctively that there are these tablets, phones and cameras about, carried by almost every older person, to record every aspect of one’s life, but hasn’t yet been introduced to the inner workings of traditional photography, until today.

We had an afternoon together at my house, where we set about taking several still-life photographs of my typewriter collection onto Harman Direct Positive Paper, using my old Anniversary Speed Graphic camera, then developed them in the comfort of the kitchen. My grandson helped me at every step of the process, from metering the light to filling cups with rinse water, to be used in processing the prints in a Jobo daylight tank, where I had the opportunity to try out my recently acquired hand-operated rotary base.

I almost lost his attention during the course of the development process, but he maintained focus by practicing his numbers, counting aloud to the cadence of the digital kitchen timer, and was surprised at the quality of the resulting prints once the tank was opened up and the two wet prints removed for inspection.

Before I knew it the afternoon had passed and the little guy had to go home, too soon to permit us time for one of our other pastimes, that being sitting together and typing stories on a manual typewriter, which we manage to do by him telling me each word and I in turn point out each letter for him to press. That will have to wait for another day, but not too much longer, because before you know it the little guy will transform into a teenager before my eyes and he’ll forget, if but for a momentary spell, the time we had spent together at the typewriter, or making photos of things together, watching them magically come alive in our hands.
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  1. rdungan's Avatar
    I must say it sounds like a wonderful day. I am sure some of it will rub off.
  2. earlj's Avatar
    I see your keyboard has the optional poiuy key order.
    Treasure these times, Joe - as you pointed out, they are fleeting.
  3. Tom Persinger's Avatar
    great, touching story Joe and a wonderful image to go with it! Thanks!