Studies in Green ~ II

An image more about context that subject
An image more about context than subject

The hump of the Buffalo (Mountain) appears just barely above the far green horizon.

Sometimes you know it’s not a shot; the subject is too small to draw the eye. And yet, there is a feeling about the time and place, and viewing that image on the computer monitor the next day will have meaning for the photographer if no one else. A photograph like this holds a kind of immortality: the object is never the same again, the image potentially eternal.

Here’s a stream-of-consciousness excerpt from What We Hold In Our Hands: a Slow Road Reader and a piece about aging. It speaks to the role of photography in my life:

That year my first camera forever changed how I saw and knew time. Film became a way to preserve present moments in a clear resin of recall. Every photograph set a benchmark in time, held a unique instant in the emulsion of memory, captured in perfect synchrony that vertical line of precise moment that intersects the coordinates of particular place.

No two photographic markers were the same, and there was no going back. With my lens I fished from the moving stream of time as days flowed through the faces I knew, past the places I loved, leaving the lived, the known moments bobbing on its glassy surface, deeper down, farther back, receding Doppler-like across a realm that I could photograph, could know just once, just now.

I have spent decades more behind the camera now, no longer wishing I were older, happy for the past, but savoring photographic instants in the present when one face or one flower, one sunset, yet another family pet or one more grandchild’s candle-covered birthday cake fills the viewfinder and moves on downstream.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Love reading this blog since I live just one county over in Carroll. Still in Hillsville but almost in Dugspur. Keep up the good work.