Black and White – Round 3

Lunch Break

Lunch Break

Next week, I start a third semester of black and white photography.  We use film cameras and my current film of choice is Kodak Professional 400TMax.  We develop the film in the classroom lab through what is chemical magic to me.  I’ve learned to use an enlarger, negative carrier, contrast filters, and an easel.  A year ago, I didn’t have a clue what these items were.

The first semester of this class produced high anxiety.  The worst task for me was going into a pitch black closet, extracting the film, and then rolling it on a metal spool.  As I blindly looked for the correct prongs to attach the film to, my hands began to sweat, and my head started to ache.  I’d slump down on the floor, methodically turning the spool to attach to the little square openings on the film.  After an eternity, I’d complete this task and then gently feel the film to see if it was smoothly wrapped.  Instead of the required uniform consistency, I’d feel a large wart-like protrusion immediately signifying I’d screwed up again.

Question

Question

Another huge challenge for me was developing a perfect print.  Most of what I learned in the first two semesters were the myriad ways you can actually improve a mediocre print: e.g., changing your f/stop and exposure; using contrast filters; adjusting the enlarger head; and selecting different developing times.  While this may sound straightforward, it isn’t.  The path to a perfect print is scattered with one quarter inch test strips, and later, full sheets of expensive Ilford Photographic Paper.

                                                                          North Beach
North Beach

You might wonder why I am taking a third semester of this class.  I’ve learned more about photography using a black and white film camera than any digital class I’ve taken.  I’ve learned patience and persistence…beautiful photos just don’t happen.  I’ve collaborated with talented photographers in my class and I’ve learned from them.  My instructor’s demand for excellence has pushed me to improve.  The number one reason I’m returning for round three…to see a print magically appear before my eyes again and again.

Man with Cane

Man with Cane

Skyscrapers-SFO

Skyscrapers-SFO

Shadow  Book

Shadow Book

The above prints are some of the framed and matted images from my black and white portfolios over the last two semesters.  I took a digital picture of each.  Just for comparison, I then shot the following digital photos which have a black and white vibe.  So much to learn, so little time.

Angel Wing

Angel Wing

Shadow Line

Shadow Line

“U. S. Route 395 – Manzanar War Relocation Center”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

       

EntrySign

Desolation

Desolation

Manzanar Story

Manzanar Story     

“This travesty of justice could easily happen to any other group…Educating people about the incarceration of one group will help prevent its happening to other minorities in our American democracy.”  Personal Justice Denied:  Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians”

My recent trip to Manzanar, one of a number of “relocation” camps for Japanese-Americans in World War II, brought to vivid reality one of the worst chapters of American history.

The Manzanar National Historic site is located on the west side of U.S. Highway 395, 9 miles north of Lone Pine, California and 6 miles south of Independence, CA.  Having spent many years in Hawaii and counting many Japanese-Americans as my friends, I had heard of Manzanar, but had little knowledge of the detailed circumstances that gave birth to the “relocation” camps.

American citizens were uprooted from their communities, their homes, their friends and transported to camps for their “protection.”

American Family

American Family

James D. Phelan, mayor of San Francisco and later U. S. Senator,  is representative of the majority of white America at the time.  Mayor Phelan clearly establishes the racism and economic basis for Japanese-American citizens to be incarcerated,  He called the influx of the Japanese (making no distinction as to whether they were citizens or not) “a silent invasion” that would convert the United States into “a Japanese colony.”  “But California is a white man’s country, and the two races cannot live side by side in peace….”

Mayor James Phelan San Francisco

Mayor James Phelan
San Francisco

Hate

Hate

Hatred

Hatred

Racism at Work

Racism at Work

My children and I walked the grounds of the encampment.  Very little of the original camp is left, torn down after World War II.  A sleeping area, dining hall, and watchtower have been recreated.

Sleeping

Sleeping

Mess Hall

Mess Hall

Watchtower

Watchtower

Waves of heat beat down on our heads.  The landscape was barren and hauntingly lonely.  The wind picked up the dust and spun the fine sand into tiny tornadoes.

Lonely

Lonely

Many of the people that came to this camp had left picturesque areas with their own homes.  They arrived to a very hot area in the summer and a freezing cold area in the winter.  Utilitarian barracks were shared with strangers.  A picture of toilets described in stark language the embarrassment they felt at sharing intimate bodily functions with people they had never met.

No Privacy

No Privacy

An original, bright yellow fire hydrant splashed color against the arid land.

Hydrant

Hydrant

A stark monument surrounded with hundreds of origami cranes beckoned.

Remember

Remember

Cranes

Cranes

A short distance away, a few graves remained.

Final Resting Place

Final Resting Place

One grave brought tears to my eyes.

Baby Jerry

Baby Jerry

Baby Jerry Ogata died in Manzanar, an American prison camp on American soil.  I don’t know if he was born in America.  It doesn’t matter to me.

The fence surrounding the graveyard cast shadows on the ground imprisoning Baby Jerry for eternity.  I wiped away my tears and turned away.

Imprisoned

Besides prior noted links, more information about Manzanar can be found at the following links:

Internment of Japanese Americans-newspapers 

HistoryLink.org- the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History 

WW2 LETTERS TO THE WAR RELOCATION AUTHORITY ABOUT JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMPS,WW2 WHITE AMERICANS AGAINST JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMPS,1940S WHITE AMERICANS OPPOSED TO JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMPS,AMERICAN SOLDIERS RAIL AGAINST THE INJUSTICE OF JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMPS,JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMP HISTORY LESSON,PROTEST AGAINST JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT 1944 – Article Preview – Old Magazine Articles

Interview with James D. Phelan – 1906

Children of the Camps | HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

“U. S. Route 395 – Alabama Hills”

Sculpted

Sculpted

I grew up watching movies and television shows about the Wild West.  My brothers and I attended Saturday afternoon matinees at the base movie theatre in Berlin, Germany where my Dad was stationed.  The landscape portrayed in these shows was ruggedly beautiful. Mountains soared to the heavens and snowdust capped their peaks.

Eastern Sierra Magic

Eastern Sierra Magic

Many of these Western movies and television shows were filmed in the Eastern Sierra mountains’ Alabama Hills area,  a short drive from Lone Pine, Calfornia.  As I drove toward the entrance to Alabama Hills, the palette of colors in the mountain terrain surprised me.  I snapped pictures from the car.

Red Heart

Red Heart

Subtle shades of gold and the palest of oranges and pinks created a tapestry of soft hues.

Softly

Softly

The mountains changed with the miles and the light.

Shadow Hill

Shadow Hill

The unique geology of the area caught my attention.

Cowboy Country

Cowboy Country

Three Rock

Three Rock

Masterwork

Masterwork

Inner Sanctum

Inner Sanctum

Rock Study

Rock Study

Mobius Arch

Mobius Arch

Future posts will highlight other scenic vistas from U. S. 395, the majestic route through the Eastern Sierras.

Park Bench Memorial to a Creative Life

ImageThe plaque says her name, but who is she?  The park bench reveals that she was greatly cherished.  Someone comes to this bench frequently and leaves mementoes of love. Tiny towers of pebbles are stacked on a nearby boulder to honor her. Small, smooth, silver, white, and brown stones are artfully placed on the weathered park bench to spell  “I love you.”  A bright yellow sunflower, framed by evergreen branches, is thoughtfully arranged, and carefully weighted with rocks to protect it from strong winds. The park bench with its brass plaque is a memorial to a woman departed.  The way the bench is creatively tended, with such love and devotion, is the woman’s legacy.

Memorial Bench

Arlyne Shepro
A Passion for Life...A Place to Rest

If You Don’t Step Out, You Won’t Know

If you don't step out, you miss the spring.

Exploring  means taking a risk:  risk of failing, looking like a fool, making mistakes.  The alternative is staying put in our self-created “security.”  Part of my journey is stepping out.  Stepping out of routine, consistency, and the comfort of familiarity.

Last night, I stepped out and started a Journalism class at the U.C. Berkeley extension in San Francisco.  New faces, new subject, new teacher.  The class is small, no more than ten people.  When I walked into the class, everyone had staked their territory in the rows of long tables with five chairs to each row.  As each new student walked in, the seated students quickly looked up, glanced at the newcomer, and  swiftly lowered their eyes.  No greetings were exchanged.

The instructor, Mr. A., a white-haired, pleasant man of about 55, in a tan shirt and brown pants, greeted us warmly as he walked into the classroom at precisely 6:30 p.m.  He asked why each of us was taking the class and what we wanted to achieve.  He then asked us to interview a classmate to find out the answers to these questions.

I turned around to look at my closest classmate.  He had dark hair, wire-rimmed glasses, and was dressed neatly in a white and blue striped shirt.  He appeared nervous and shy.  I engaged him in a conversation and he laughed quickly and easily at my attempts at humor.  He was quite self-deprecating in his discussion of his own writing skills.  I pegged him for a contracts lawyer.  Wrong.  W. is a graduate of the UCLA Film School and a playwright.  The piece he wrote about me was elegant and precise.

I discovered that, in this small group of people, there was a fish market clerk, a Danish judge, a Chinese performance artist, an 18 year old who had interned with Rolling Stone magazine, and an active Air Force sergeant from Kentucky.

Stepping out last night resulted in benefits that I had not considered.  Experiencing the diversity of this class and their very different backgrounds will most likely be more richly rewarding than learning journalistic principles.