Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Touch of Silver

Piedras Negras, Coahuila, February 2001

I never have released this photograph before.  This is not unusual for photographers who have a hundred rolls still in the freezer, and thousands of negatives that have yet to be scanned.

This one always gnawed on my consience, however, because its composition always satisfied me, yet I never approved its inclusion in my photographic study, Los Colores de Coahuila.

For me, for a photograph to be in color, it must be about the color.  The original photograph was simply a coalescence of black, white and grey, with a little red thrown in for good measure.  It was meant to be viewed as a black-and-white photograph.

Then, last month, I was watching Orson Welles's greatest motion picture, Touch of Evil.  Suddenly, I recalled this photograph.  Take a close look at this wonderfully seedy scene -- at any moment, you can imagine Janet Leigh running out onto the balcony, wailing in hallucinatory horror as drunken sailors and dizzy dames on the pavement jeer and whistle.  The surreal potential of this scene is palpable.

I committed the original negative -- made on Fuji Reala color negative film -- to a couple sheets of what's left of my stockpile of Kodak's gorgeous Panalure paper.

The resultant flatbed scan is thus a genuine silver gelatin print.  If only I had Russell Metty and a camera crane, imagine what else I would have gotten on that shoot!