Saturday’s blistering cold temps and bone dry conditions made me decide to tackle the James River for some shots of our fair city. Bone dry was good because it meant the sky would be dark blue and the perfect chance to break out some Ilford sfx 200 film and make those skies virtually black. The blistering cold? Just an added bonus.
As I continued underneath the Manchester Bridge, I noticed some locals gingerly climbing up a stone wall with nothing but shoes and bare hands to grasp onto the rocks. “Oh no!” I ran to see what could possibly be chasing them. They had no interest in talking to me, only getting away from … whatever it was! Maybe an ax murderer?
I asked them, “Is there an ax murderer about?” Again, nothing but blank stares. It became clear that the best way I could help them was to document their struggle and give the police some clear images to identify their soon-to-be-mangled bodies. Ilford sfx200 is a great choice of film for this. It’s a pseudo-infrared film that will make their faces nice and bright against the dark blue sky. And the Mamiya 645AFd medium format camera has great resolution so the police will be able to see their last moments clearly and with very little grain.
I decided to bump it up to 40o iso because I knew they’d be moving fast and I wanted as little motion blur as possible. This would add a minute or two to development time, but that was a sacrifice I was willing to take.
I began to document the chase…
“I’m too beautiful to die this young!” I heard one gasp with the faintest of whispers so as not to give the pursuer an audible fix on their location.
“Could you please hold still? I need to rotate the polarizing filter to darken the sky more. I know, I know. But I had to switch to a portrait orientation so I can fit your whole body in. This will help the police match you to the body that will be floating shortly in the James.”
“My mace!” another exclaimed. “How could I forget my mace?! I put it right next to my iPhone, next to the keys for my scooter and bam. Totally left it. What a joke.”
“The shadows just aren’t working for me with your face like that. Turn more towards your right. Yeah, that’s it. Wait, polarizing filter. Rotating, rootaatiing…”
With them apparently as safe as they were gonna be atop the stone edifice, I bid them a fond farewell, “Good luck getting down!” Silly hipsters. Ax murderers can climb too, you know.
As I turned around, I was shook to my core at the sight of the James River Tree Ghost – usually benevolent in nature, but today twitching like a crack-whore in church. Fresh off a breakfast of gluten-free blueberry pancakes and rich maple syrup, he must’ve been crashing hard.
“It’s just the Tree Ghost, hipsters. Give him some of your ClifBars™ and he’ll be fine.”
And with that I was on my way. Happy to see these fine fellows live another day.