Monday, May 08, 2006

The Forty Year Cycle

It's strange how fashions go through cycles. There were the flappers in the 1920's with their short skirts. The hippy era in the 1960's saw a return of showing a lot of leg. We're going through another revival now. It seems to skip a generation, and resurfaces once more.

I'm just relying on memory here but I think her name was Nancy. The world was full of optimism back then. If you weren't fighting in Viet Nam the world was a safe place to be. Or maybe it was that all the troublemakers opted to join the army rather than do jail time and few were on the streets. Anyway, it was safe to be on the streets, and people hitch hiked every place. I was driving home from a shoot on Miami Beach one evening when I spotted this cute girl hitching across the causeway. She got in my VW Microbus and as I drove her home we exchanged phone numbers.

Two interesting things had recently happened. One, I got hold of a couple of rolls of Ektachrome Infrared film, the original E2 Process version, which gave some really strange color effects with foliage. Two, I had gotten a bargain on a Canon 19mm lens for my Leica. Canon had just introduced a retrofocus 19 for the Canonflex so you could view through the lens and still had a brand new 19mm that used a seperate viewfinder, with the mirror locked up. I walked in to Walter Gray Photorama on Hollywood Blvd. one day and Murray Spitzer said "Wait'll you see what I have!" He offered to throw in a Canon Lens Mount Converter B so the lens would fit the Leica, and the lens came in a nifty compartment case complete with viewfinder. "One hundred dollars, complete" Murray said. "Sold", I replied.

I loved that lens. Finally it was stolen about 1990. But at that time, 1968, it was a cherished new posession, I had the I.R. Ektachrome, I bought an orange filter as suggested by Kodak, and Nancy and I went up to Greynold's Park. The stone steps are near the little bridge. I shot some color and I shot some B&W, both there and elsewhere in the park. Come Monday I brought the Ektachrome to the lab. Kodak suggested bracketing exposures, so I only had maybe a dozen shots on the roll that were correctly exposed. This one just stood out, the color, her pose, the exposure, everything was perfect. For years I had a 16x20 print framed in my living room. Eventually, like most color prints, it faded. Eventually, like most people you meet in Miami, I lost track of Nancy. All that's left is the color slide and some memories of another era, another time. Nobody hitch hikes anymore, but those short little skirts are back in fashion once again.


Blogger -- your favorite dilettante said...

man. . . . great post and great shot. i fell in love with the VC 15mm that i bought (after seeing some of your work, it cemented the fact that i wanted an ultrawide. . . the olympus OM 28 just wouldn't do).

hmmmmmm. . . . it'd be nice to shoot some color infrared like that. only experience i have with it is with some of the high speed black and white stuff. . . . never had good results with it, sadly.

anyway. . . . i'm not particularly eloquent today (too many allergy meds have left me feeling addled), but your recollection of the time was nice. i see the way stuff goes down now and wish that i had the option to at least look back and think of a better time.

maybe it's all relative anyway. . . . i'm sure that, given a few years. . . today won't seem like it was such a bad day despite everything.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Rick Waldroup said...

Simply a great shot Al. Reminds me of the many afternoons I spent in Greynolds Park in the mid to late 70's. I wasn't shooting rangefinders then- usually Nikon F's and F2's. Thanks for the photo and especially thanks for the story.

8:09 PM  

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