Tilting At A Windmill

I have said before that I am most haunted by the photographs that I did not take. This photograph is a variation on that theme. I am reminded of a line from Orwell’s Animal Farm: “Windmill or no windmill, he said, life would go on as it had always gone on--that is, badly.”

This windmill has haunted me not because I failed to photograph it – because I did several years ago – but because the lab I was using at the time lost the negatives. Their offer to reimburse me for the cost of the film was not even close to repaying me for the lost images. At least as I imagined them.

This windmill stands near Ursa, Illinois. It’s quite close to a paved two-lane road. I knew I was going to pass it last weekend so I looked forward to reprising my attempt to photograph it. In the past I used a Holga and a Blackbird Fly. This time I had my Harman Titan 4x5. It was breezy, and I did not remember that the windmill actually still spins when the wind is strong enough.

I developed my own negatives this time, so I had no lab to blame if things went awry. They didn’t. I particularly like the dark halo effect that the pinhole provided when pointed into the bright sky. An unexpected bonus. I shall  rewrite Orwell, with the windmill, life went on as it had always gone on – that is, pretty okay. One less thing to haunt me.

When the Wheel Comes Off


Several years ago, when my oldest son was showing an interest in his old man's interest in photography, we were in the habit of crawling under fences, climbing gates, ignoring cautionary signs, and otherwise engaging in trespassing. He was all about color and digital and I was all about black and white and toy cameras. Yet, we were often drawn to the same subject matter. Sometimes, we even tried to out maneuver each other, as if jostling for the best angle at a press conference. We talked about shooting together and ultimately creating a book that we would call "Trespassing." Each spread would feature our individual photographs of the same subject.

Then the little bastard up and moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.

My son was the first person I really went shooting with. Previously, my approach to photography was the same as my approach to writing and masturbation: it's something best done alone. In the past year, I have enjoyed the pleasure of shooting, if not side-by-side then nearby, with a fellow photographer and artist, Jeff Sass. No masturbation has been involved

Mostly though, I still shoot alone. I found a place nearby that technically is private property, but I explore the property anyway because, hey, I don't see any no trespassing signs. I like trespassing. It gives the experience a heightened feel. Acquaintances who do Urb Ex get a similar rush. But I'm too big a pussy to go in those places alone. The open field where I took "Destination" is just fine by me.