Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

Reflections on a Long Ago Sunset

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mattoon-sunset-x

I ran across this Kodachrome slide more than a year ago while looking for something else. I set it aside and planned to put it back in the box but for some reason it never got put away.

It has sat on my desk for several months gathering dust. While scanning slides for a book project, I decided to do something about this slide. I cleaned it and then scanned it.

The slide mount is stamped December 1979. Chances are it was one of a handful of frames left on a roll of film that I exposed during a trip to Florida.

My memory is that I made this image at the edge of the backyard of the house in which I was living at the time. It wasn’t just any house. It was the house in which I grew up and moved back to after college when a job offer came along in my hometown of Mattoon, Illinois.

Our house was on the edge of town and the view to the south and southwest was farm fields. In December the sunset would have been toward the southwest.

I no longer remember why I made this particular image. Maybe I was standing in my backyard, saw the sunset and decided to capture it.

I used to spend a lot of time standing on the edge of the field abutting our property, looking toward the southwest and thinking about things.

In December 1979, I had a lot to think about. My mother had died tin October of cancer. A friend had died in a plane crash on Thanksgiving Day. I was going through tough times.

Amid a period of recovering from grief I saw beauty in this scene. I vaguely remember stopping down the aperture just to see what effect it would have.

I must have gotten on my knees to frame the vegetation in the foreground, plants that many might call weeds.

The image turned out darker than I would have liked, but I liked what I saw. I still do.

The slide from which this image was scanned has since been placed back into its box. In life, there are always times when things must be put away, even if they are never quite forgotten.

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