I had the opportunity to use my large format cameras only 4 times in the past 15 months. Once on a field trip with Rod Klukas to Sedona. Once to drop my daughter off at college in Pittsburgh, and twice during the Spring when my wife had some church gatherings to attend. On one of these gatherings I used the time to photograph the Tempe Mill – a place I had been wanting to photograph for a few years now.
I only had an hour and had to park a few blocks away. I carried my 4x5 small bag (I also have a large bag which I left in the car), tripod, vest and film the three blocks and set the camera up. After setting the first shot up I realized that I had left my light meter in the large bag... which was still in the car. Rather than tear everything down, go back and get the meter, I decided to see if there were any light meter apps available for the iPhone. I was lucky and there were two. I downloaded them and, after 15 minutes of trying to figure out how they worked, came up with an exposure. The exposure "seemed" to be accurate so I went with my instincts and made the exposures.
One of these exposures caused me to have a flashback to 1983 and my grandmother's house. I had gone to visit my grandparents, who were in their late 70s and early 80s at the time, and to take their portraits with my 4x5" camera. I also took a photo of their curtains, which had a soft, glowing quality (or "glowacious" as Randy Efros relayed to me how Brett Weston used to say) to them. Anyway, after seeing the negative from the Mill after development I immediately went to find the negative from Grandma's house some 20 years ago. The results are strikingly similar even though one is made of concrete and over one hundred feet tall, and the other is made of linen and a only few feet tall.
Tempe Mill, Phoenix, AZ, May, 2013 © Richard M. Coda
Grandma's Curtains, Maplewood, NJ, 1983 © Richard M. Coda