Fort Taber Abstract Image

Decayed Wall - Fort Taber, New Bedford

Decayed Wall - Fort Taber, New Bedford

Greetings to all and welcome to the new year. I wanted to kick off the new blog by sharing the story of a new image. I had moved from Indiana to Massachusetts in January of 2007. The logistics of settling in prevented any serious photography. The warm weather finally came as I set about looking for scenery to photograph. I had heard about an old fort at the edge of New Bedford. The fort turned out to be a bust as it was far too clean for my taste. Fortunately for me the fort had a few older buildings that had succumb to age and decay. Things were starting to look promising. I scouted out the older buildings up close and found some interesting patterns within the decayed walls. I grabbed my 11x14 view camera and proceeded to frame up the first image. The ground in front of the wall I was photographing was slanted and full of suspicious looking green plants. I took no chances as those plants looked like poison ivy. Setting up a 28-pound wooden camera on a slant is a challenge. The weather was on my side as it was cool and overcast

I set about framing up the first shot when a snappy dressed man approached me. I could tell by his green wardrobe that this would be official business. Experience has taught me that nothing good can come from an encounter of this nature. It turns out that I was right. The snappy dresser was a park ranger. He oversaw operations at the fort. Naturally he was curious as to what I was doing. I expected slightly more from a man of his education. I kindly explained that I was here to photograph the patterns in the wall. The expression on his face told me that he was not buying it. I ducked back under the dark cloth to compose the image. He continued to advise me of my options of packing up my camera and heading back to where I came from. Not being one to back down, I accepted his challenge and continued to compose the image.

Working with the 11x14 so close to the wall on a slanted angle was not easy. I managed to burn the first image on film as a second ranger approached me. Perhaps there was a two for one sale that day. This ranger was more experienced and understanding. He found my intentions to be honest and told me to finish up as soon as possible and be on my way. I smiled and thanked him as I moved onto the second composition. I will confess that I was now in no hurry to get the shot, yet I did respect the second ranger’s demeanor. I was framing up the second image underneath the dark cloth when I heard the sound jingling keys. Then came the sound made when clearing one’s throat. I had a real good idea of what was to come. I crawled out from underneath the dark cloth and came face to face with two of the city’s finest law enforcement officers. I smiled and explained that I was simply taking a picture. They both looked at me and nodded to each other in an up and down motion of their heads. I took that as my get out of jail card. One of the officers thought it might be a good idea if I planted that camera somewhere else further away. I decided not to ask just exactly how many feet are in “further away”. They even offered to help me transport the camera back to whatever vehicle I had driven here. I thanked them for being considerate as I burned that second image image onto film.

At the start of this little story I had mentioned that this image was new. That is not entirely true as I shot this image back in 2007. The negative was developed and printed out that fall. The results were not what I had envisioned.The negative was filed away, and time passed on. In the spring of 2010 I started to print in platinum palladium. I knew that this image was a perfect fit for platinum palladium. The reality set in that I needed to first learn the process. After several years of printing, I decided to learn how to print on Japanese gampi tissue. I knew that gampi was the best fit for this image. I spent many years learning how to print on gampi. I was so focused that everything else fell to the side as I overcame problem after problem. I have now refined the process of printing on gampi and can print the negative on gampi.


A few years back I found myself close to the fort. I decided to take a look at the wall. The entire building was painted a dark grey. All the character of that wall was now a passing memory. The average person wouldn’t even take a close look at that wall. The few that did look closely would think little of the details present. I will always see treasures where others see ugliness. That grey paint was pure ugliness to me. Some will like this image while others will not. Most will look and try and figure out why I bothered. I’ll just smile and tell them that my eyes see what others do not.