A lasting image, 35 years later, in black and white

An artist at work painting a waterfall in Central Ohio, circa 1978. I believe this was in Hocking Hills Park near Columbus, but I'm not certain.

An artist at work painting a waterfall in Central Ohio, circa 1978, at Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills State Park near Columbus.

This post is old-school all the way.

It’s about a photo I took in 1978, using black & white film and developed in a college’s spartan photo lab, stinky chemicals and all.

I’ve held onto this photo, and some others from that photojournalism class at Ohio State, for no particular reason.  I guess I just never got around to tossing them.

I come across the photos once in a while, usually in a search for something else. They’re in surprisingly good condition. (Thank you, Kodak paper.)

Artistically, the waterfall photo is not great, but I suppose it helped me pass the course with a “Gentleman’s C.” (Thank you, Bruce Johnson.)

In my quest to pay more attention as I get older, I’ve tried to examine everything in my life more closely — even photos I find in my basement.

Closer scrutiny shows that the artist (unknown, but I like his hat) appears to be almost finished with his rendering of the waterfall at Hocking Hills State Park. At his left, on the ground, may be a photograph or another painting that he’s using to help create the image he wants.

I have no recollection of whether I talked to the artist, or if I even let him know I was taking the photo. But I think if I had, I would have remembered the encounter.

So I chalk it up as a missed opportunity to have an engaging conversation with a talented artist, maybe even an eccentric, quirky sort who would later become famous. Instead, all I remember is the name of my course instructor and the grade he gave me. The end.

It made me wonder how many experiences I’ve had, day after day and year after year, in which I’m hurried or distracted and just do what I have to do to get by, to get something done and over with — and how much richness I miss in doing so.

As much as I’d like to blame it on the hectic pace of the digital age we’re stuck in now, I can’t. The evidence is right there in black and white.


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in Irish Investigations, photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A lasting image, 35 years later, in black and white

  1. webnerbob says:

    Spartan, eh? Poor choice of words to describe an OSU darkroom this week, Mr. McKeever! (But I did love the reference to Bruce Johnson!)


  2. JustI says:

    Are you sure it’s a ‘he’? From the small shoulders, it could almost be a ‘she’. The hat could throw you off maybe? I have a friend that frequently uses the phrase, “Perception is everything”, so is our personal perception biased? Hmmmm, I had a thoughtful moment 🙂


  3. markbialczak says:

    Oh, the spartan college photo class lab, stinky chemicals after film turned wrinkly after spooling in the total dark. Not to mention the fact that I only got any kind of passable image if I put all of that aperture and f-stop talk aside and set the school-provided Pentax’s lens on automatic. Oh, but I digress just a bit from your point, Jim, I suppose and hope. Life can surprise you when you bypass automatic and fiddle with all of the little settings it gives you to choose. Nice post, again, sir.


  4. gjroma says:

    Missed opportunities are often catalyst for reflection and growth, so in the end perhaps what was missing we find…

    Keep going Jim, it’s always a blessing to receive one of your posts!

    Always for Africa, Gabrielle Romano http://www.kamalatu.org


  5. Brilliant. I love the black and white photograph and the story of not being sure if you engaged with the man. It’s all part of our stories. And I love that our hikes have crossed paths Jim.


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