I remember the time when I was on a project shooting at an area called Black Water Dam in Webster, New Hampshire in the late 80s/early 90s. I worked in 8 x 10 in those years in black and white. The project is here
This time was in December before the area would be so covered in snow I couldn't get into it. On an early Saturday morning, I packed up the camera, the tripod, the light meter, the dark cloth, my winter boots, and my film holder bag with 10 holders loaded with Ilford's HP5 film. Off I went.
Webster was about 1 1/2 hours north of Cambridge, where I lived.
I'd been photographing at the dam and the river above it for several months already. This was the type of project that would see me making my pictures through all four seasons. Unique to this particular place was an unpaved access road on each side of the Blackwater River allowing me to get at it for a few miles above the dam from both sides. As long as it wasn't too muddy or snow-covered, I could photograph the river and the opposite bank pretty much wherever I wanted. This was one of the primary reasons I had decided to make an extended project there.
Of course, Blackwater Dam is very beautiful.
At any rate, on this early winter bright sunny day with no wind, I got to the base of the dam, stopped the car, got the tripod out, extended the legs and reached into my camera bag for the connection plate that would screw into the bottom of the big camera to "marry" the tripod to the camera. It was not there. Where else could it be? It was not already screwed onto the camera. As I became a little frantic, it was not loose in the trunk of my car, in fact, it was not in the car at all and it hadn't fallen out lying on the ground near the car. As it turns out it was where I was not: back home.
Just a little thing, but monumental. I couldn't believe it. A rookie mistake. Professor Rantoul, head of the Photo Program at Northeastern University, recently tenured and an exhibitor of his works in various prestigious museums and galleries had fucked up.
(As a side note, this later became known with my students as the Rantoul Blackwater Dam fuck up.) It seemed to give them no end of pleasure.
So, I'll stop here, but as we'll learn in the next post, the day is not yet done with me. Was the day ruined? Did I just accept defeat, pack it up, and drive home? I did not.
(note: I originally wrote this piece a few days after knee replacement surgery but thought it wise to delay posting it as experience has taught me that I am not clear headed for a couple of weeks after being knocked out. Good thinking. It is now two weeks.)