Magic lanterns

Semaphore sunrise (2) Porthmadog, Wales 26 September, 2015.

Semaphore sunrise (2) Porthmadog, Wales 26 September, 2015.

Once upon a time, we’d gather in darkened rooms with stacks of yellow boxes and small steel cases packed with precious transparencies in 2x2 cardboard mounts. To the whirr of a projector fan we’d cycle the cardboard-mounted slides though stack-loaders or carousels and share stories and conversation as image after image after image flashed on the rollup screen at the front of the room. It was a ritual, a rite of friendship, a social event, a school of photography, and history, and geography, and current events. And just plain fun. It was the slide show.

By the brilliant glare of the projector light we’d keep up with each other’s photographic efforts and travels, from down the street to around the globe. Slide shows were mandatory after every trip and would run as long as it took to project each and every frame. Sometimes planned, often spontaneous these gatherings were instilled with the magic of the magic lantern shows of old.

Those days are gone. It’s been a decade or more since I’ve attended a slide show of any kind. I’ve given away my projectors and screen and supply of spare bulbs. Instead of friendly gatherings by the light of a DAK500 bulb we’re forced to make do with teasers, occasional images compressed to 1s and 0s and dispatched over the ether in emails and social media postings. But we never really see the true dimension of each other’s work. Inflicting slide show-sized postings on unwitting recipients violates every convention of electronic communication and social media.

I miss the fellowship and sharing photographs with friends, but it’s unlikely that the slide show will ever enjoy the sort of retro-revival that’s reinvigorated vinyl records and other old school art forms. And while there’s no digital or electronic substitute for the social delights of gathering with friends to project bright light through tiny pieces of celluloid, there’s really no excuse not to take advantage of technology that not only permits sharing photographs, but transcends the limitations of geography and time zones and coordinating schedules. So in the spirit of the slide show I’m assembling a few galleries and uploading them here as time permits. So far I’ve put together the first two days of the autumn adventure in the UK

It’s no magic lantern show, but it’s a start.

On the footplate (2) Fireman Peter Skinner at work aboard BR Standard 9F 2-10-0 No. 92214 on the 10:00 Great Central train from Loughborough Central to Leicester North. 27 September, 2015

On the footplate (2) Fireman Peter Skinner at work aboard BR Standard 9F 2-10-0 No. 92214 on the 10:00 Great Central train from Loughborough Central to Leicester North. 27 September, 2015

Tradition

It seemed innocent enough when I made my first purchase of an In-n-Out t-shirt in the early 90s. I was hungry and running low on clean clothing while photographing the Cajon Sub west of Victorville. The iconic California burger joint provided one-stop shopping: lunch and a clean shirt for less than $15.

Since then, the acquisition of an In-n-Out shirt has become a tasty and practical annual tradition. They're affordable and likeable enough, and a style statement in their own right. The shirts have been variously offered in white and black over the years (only one color per year), the delightful drive-in themed graphics are different every year and you can still get lunch (a Number 3 with onions, please) and a shirt for about $17. What’s not to like?

Not everyone in our house shares my sense of style (You’re not going out in that!), or the fact that at one-per-year, an undeniable level of wardrobe domination takes effect as the decades pass. Spousal intervention is inevitably inflicted upon the aging and tattered members in a sartorial process of natural selection. But the numbers are strong and despite the ongoing controversy the stock replenished annually.

The tradition lives on. I’m happy to report that this year’s crisp-white edition — served up with a Number 3 and onions at the San Bernardino location — is in the house.
Quality you can taste since 1948.