Stockbridge This Evening. February 1, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
Tags: Canon 24mm f3.5L TS-EII, Clemens Kalischer, heroes, Stockbridge, tilt-shift photography
My meanderings took me through Stockbridge this evening, a quintessential New England town with a lot of history – hell, Norman Rockwell immortalized the place in his paintings, and nothing old there hasn’t appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. It’s about as iconic as America gets, and as intimate as such a shared experience could possibly be.
As I tooled through the central village, I caught a glimpse of a beautiful brick edifice and found a place to hang a u-turn and park.
Turns out the building was once the Town Offices:
That’s a straight-on, no trick shot from Elliot, who none the less managed to get a lot into the picture.
Now days the front of this building houses a sales room for Yankee Candle, a local purveyor of, well, you know what:
…yeah, right. Candles. They’re cool candles, but they’re still just candles. That was Elliot employing his tilt-skills to get things looking rectilinear. That’s why architectural photographers use tilt-shift lenses – they allow one to present a straight-on image without distortion, even if the photographer can’t occupy the exact spot where an image would be rendered without convergences. Here I’m considerably below the center point of the image, so all of the vertical lines would have leaned slightly inward toward a “vanishing point” at the photo’s top, except for Elliot’s “shift” function.
The cool thing about “shift” lenses is that one can either negate vanishing points, or exaggerate them. The latter choice can yield images which look dream-like to me, like this:
…a detail from the front of the building, with a good deal of “swing” (that’s left-to-right ’tilt’ of the front lens) to get it all in focus.
As I was shooting this, a young-ish lady and older man came out of the building, and the woman asked if I thought I ought to ask permission to photograph there. No, I thought, this is a public sidewalk and a public facade. But I inquired instead why she was asking.
Turns out the photo in that frame was taken by the older man at her side, Clemens Kalischer was his name. He’s ninety years old, a German Jew who escaped the Holocaust by the skin of his teeth, and has his photography on permanent display at the Met, among many other esteemed venues.
I was humbled, and even more so when I accepted their invitation to the gallery at the the rear of the building. Tears welled up in my eyes at the beauty of this man’s work, a lifetime of observing the human condition, rendered in the honesty of black and white. See some of it here.
I’ll be back to study these masterpieces in the near future. Plainly, I have soooooo much to learn from people like this, who go unheralded through our space and time, but none the less deserve our time and attention.
Thank you, Mr. Kalischer, for showing me the way.