On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
This series was created by Alain Chamot (1971-2020).
Hiya! I’ve been a clicker of these pages since, as Tim F recently put it, the proprietor was a disgruntled warblogger emerging from the dark shadows of the right. I don’t comment or make myself known much, but we rescued our little one-eyed Sanders in NYC thru this Shabeen (Calendar: July), and I read and love y’all, so here we go.
In 1980 I signed up for high-school photography class, borrowed $200 from an aunt (my first loan! a lesson in capitalism!), and purchased my first big-boy camera: a Canon AE-1 kit with a 50mm lens. It was between that and a Pentax that had a nifty leaf shutter, but felt too small for my hands. This turned out to be ironic in the bad way as the ergonomics of that fucking thing haunted me for 20 years until I got a Nikon. You see, it was an aperture priority camera and they put the aperture ring on the top right in exactly the place I rest my forefinger when I’m carrying the camera (I don’t like neckstraps, and in the days before hand straps, I would wrap a thin leather strap tightly around my hand so that I could use a loose grip as I carry at my side). There is no more heart-sinking feeling as a photographer than pushing the shutter expecting f4.5 and the corresponding quick tick-tick of 125th of a second and hearing instead “Click” … … … “Click” meaning you just lost the shot because you accidentally set the f-stop to 22 while advancing the last frame because the designers felt it important to locate that dial and the optimum finger-leverage spot in exactly the same place. One can page thru my pre-2000 contact sheets and see the dark and overexposed images and go, “yep, I remember that shot I didn’t get. Fuck that camera.”
Anywho. These are photos from the first roll that I have the negatives and thus scans of, my fifth roll overall. The first four rolls were used in class assignments, and all I have from them are some bad, faded prints that I turned in for grades.
Rustic Canyon is a magical garden for children. There are countless hidden routes and secret places that only the those who grow up there know. The creek which runs thru the center was the thoroughfare of fantasies for the kids of the canyon. These shots were taken in the uppermost parts of Rustic, north of the Sunset Tunnel, past the last houses of the horse-and-stable crowd, above the twisty rock section and the formidable waterfall that was no obstacle to the children of the canyon because they had been shown the way by the older ones. Now, these places are overrun with joggers and hikers from the nearby homes and beyond, but back then, only the scouts visiting Camp Josepho and us, the explorer kids from the lower canyon, treaded thru these forgotten places.
Forgotten, but not unknown. According to “Rustic Canyon and the Story of the Uplifters” by Betty Young, prior to the aforementioned BSA Camp there were at least two attempts in the early 20th century to build compounds in these upper reaches of the canyon. The last time I was up there, about 10 years ago, I couldn’t find much of anything left of the artist colony, but back in the day there were rotting stables and several artist studio buildings with clearstory windows facing south. I don’t have any pictures of them, as even by this time I think they’d been torn down by the rangers. And if you’re interested, I’ll sell you my copy of the book for an even two grand.
Just a stump near one of the stables. I like the texture of the paint and the barbed wire.
I don’t have the book with me atm so I can’t check dates, but I think the artist colony exited for just a couple of years after the war? Not sure, but there was lots of stuff just here and there and I was just developing my eye, so I thought this was cool.
There were a couple of houses farther up the way, partially destroyed by fire, and partially just crumbling. This was the interesting compound to explore. There were discarded things still about, and the sense that the people who built it had more money and better contractors than the artists down the road. This tangle of conduit caught my eye.
One of the two groups even built this culvert to divert the creek away from their homes. Not sure which group, but given the quality of the engineering I’m going to guess it was the Nazis.
Yes, real Nazis. This is the powerhouse the Nazis built, a structure that still stands although now covered by graffiti. I once moderated a flickr group dedicated to this area and if flickr still existed I’d send you over. The Nazis were there in the early 30’s, and didn’t last very long either.
That’s it! My first photo post from my first phot shoot ever. I hope to come back with more soon.