It’s the end of the year. And the last photograph in this series. The sky is overcast. It is what they call on the photography forums a “flat day” (it took me a long while to understand what that meant). There was never a day flatter than this. But I am in Versailles, and I never tire of going to the gardens there. I brought my recently-repaired Rolleiflex with me, loaded up with my last roll of Tri-X.
Here in the depths of December the statues are all wrapped up for the winter. I look down the avenues of the garden and remember what Szarkowski wrote about Atget not taking the photographs that the garden wanted you to take. So I look a little to the left, and I wonder if I’ll be able to see the wrapped-up statues against the empty hedges. I click the shutter.
The Rolleiflex 2.8C that my friend Mr. Seagull ‘loaned’ me on such generous terms came back from repair, just in time for the Christmas break. It was made some time in the early 1950s. After being thoroughly serviced at Photo Suffren it was fully returned to working order. I had had been plagued by randomly blurry images which in the end had nothing to do with focus (how could that go wrong on a Rollei where both lenses are fixed together on the same bit of metal) but was in fact simply a problem of film transport. So after picking up the camera I went out and shot a roll of Tri-X in the streets around the shop.
That evening, I anxiously developed that first roll of film in my 70-year-old ‘new’ Rolleiflex. I was relieved to see the images were all sharp and in focus. But sadly, I am afraid that the weather was overcast and cloudy and not a ray of light was to had. But there’s still something there, a certain ‘medium format’ look. It’s funny, in the days when the Rollei was the press photographer’s camera of choice, medium format was the ‘normal’ format size, and Leicas were ‘miniature’ format…
Why “Ancient Light” ? Because I simply wonder about all the light that has passed through this camera since it was made, seventy years ago…
52 photographs (2018) #50: Jesus Mary and Joseph: in the window (2)
In Ireland, of course, “Jesus Mary and Joseph” is not an enumeration, it’s an exclamation. And yes I know this is the St. Therèse. Another strange Parisian shop window somewhere near the Salpé. Thankfully there are still a few of these left in Paris.