Attending a party in borrowed clothes by way of an abandoned railroad

 2019_6x9_D3200_01_05 001

Over at Emulsive HQ, they do these happenings called film parties, and this month it was time for the #fp4party which stars as you likely guess Ilford FP-4. I find January a great month to join in on a party as I find I need a little extra motivation to get out in the cold and grey Rhode Island winter to make photos. Saying to a group of folks on Twitter “sure, I’m in” seems to be just enough to get me out and get something done. And so I did.

FP-4 is an excellent film full stop. But rather than further my winter of discontent with a cold tripod I decided a more sensitive film would be better suited to my conditions and purpose. I skipped over my usual Tmax 400 and went to the fastest 120 film there is, Ilford Delta 3200. Using which does mean that my images will not be eligible for consideration in the viewer voting at the end of the week but as my dad used to say “we’re not here to win a beauty contest” so I’m good with that. For the tech fans: my film was Ilford Delta 3200 in 120 which I rated at its “data sheet speed” of 1000 and developed in Kodak T-Max developer diluted 1:4. The camera was a Fuji GSWIII 6x9.

As for my subject, I went to my list of desires to find a walking photo meditation along the rail line of the former Moshassuck Valley railroad in Pawtucket, quite close to home. I first encountered the MVRR without realizing it when I walked the river of that name. After doing a bit of research, I discovered that the diminutive railway had a rather interesting and long history. Although at 2 miles it was one of the shortest in the country it retained its independence from its start in 1847 right up to 1981. It ran passenger service until the 1920s and fought and won a rate dispute with “The Company” the mighty New Haven Railroad. When I learned that an extension was planned (a crucial move in winning the rate dispute) that would have brought the railroad right by my house, I was hooked, and I knew I had to explore this bit of neighborhood history further.

This is just a first effort, but I am encouraged that there is more I can work with. In the spirit of the party and my virtual notebook I’m sharing here every picture from both rolls in the sequence I made them.

The MVRR was folded into the Providence and Worcester Railroad in 1981, and this branch is actually not wholly abandoned. It sees some occasional service. I note evidence here of recent tie replacement and brush clearing, perhaps indicating that the P&W’s new owners still see some value in the line.

For more info:

And here is a cool home movie of the railroad in use from 1970.

The ghosts of edits past

Editing a project for a show or a book has it's stages, from shooting, which may continue well into the editing stage, to the initial selection from contact sheets, printing, sequencing, more printing and then on to book layout or exhibition hanging.

When it comes to sequencing, I've found no better way than working with actual prints, laid out on the table or the floor, shuffling and shifting until the rhythm is right. Digital or film, it doesn't matter, you need the space to see it all together flowing from one image to the next.

The hardest aspect of any edit is the cutting away of things you like and have become attached to. It starts out fairly easily but eventually you get to where it hurts, and you agonize over each choice. But choose you must and (hopefully) the sequence shows you what it needs most. The deadline looms, you convince yourself it's right and up it goes.


It begins...

Sequencing underway...

We have an edit...

On the wall for all to see.

On the wall for all to see.

You pack up the outtakes, hang the show, make the book and move on. Sometimes those outtakes linger with you, like ghosts popping in unexpectedly until finally you go back to that box and have a visit. Some, you admit you still like. Some give you ideas for new work. Thanks to the miracle of modern digital media you can put them up and excise your ghosts. And so I shall. These are outtakes from Canonicus' Bow.

New work: Conanicus' Bow @ AS220 Project Space

Opening on Saturday February 1st. Providence in Silver: photographs by John Nanian, Warren Eve, Paul Shelasky and Erik Gould  @AS220 Project Space, Providence RI.

I'm very excited to be part of this group show and to show some new work. 40 photographs with text and audio.

 A walking meditation, Conanicus' Bow grew out of my attempt
 to walk the Moshassuck River, only 8.9 miles in length, flowing from Lincoln RI to the bay at Providence. Used and abused, this river makes its way almost unseen through a built landscape including former textile mills, a casket factory, three cemeteries, a major rail line and an interstate highway.

I relate my experience in photographs, words and field audio.

"Even under the open sky it is difficult to see and to get to, well guarded by a thicket of trees and vines and exit ramps. There's water there? Hiding in plain sight until comes a rainy spring and with great flood announces to the unlucky that although it may be your house or workshop YES indeed: a river flows (temporarily) through it..."
Available as a book on Blurb: