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Sometimes the photograph doesn't spark a memory.

I'm still rummaging through old negatives. Well, "rummaging" is a bit of an exaggeration since they are neatly filed in clear pages along (mostly) with a contact print. But I digress.

Most of the time I look at an appealing negative or thumbnail on a contact sheet and thing "Oh, yeah. I remember taking that." Not this one. My film log tells me that it was taken in Baltimore in October, 1981 on Tri-X rated at ISO 800. At least that explains why the negative is more than a bit dense and contrasty.

I have no memory of this surreal scene nor of having been in Baltimore in October 1981. I presume it was a side effect of some business trip that was easily forgotten.

There are three frames of this guy inexplicably trying to scale a stone wall. Is is Romeo trying to get up to Juliet's balcony? This frame, with the passer-by obviously trying to sort it out too, is the right one to print.

The great Brassai once noted that "Nothing is more surreal than reality." Case in point.

Speaking of surreal, the Frye Art Museum in Seattle is now showing a selection of small, beautiful, silver prints by the great Manuel Alvarez Bravo. All the prints are from a single collection, that of the University of Michigan's Art Gallery. Many of the photographs are ones that you see in the books but not all -- and several of what I consider his signature images are not there. Curiously, the print quality is a bit ragged -- ranging from good to "wow!". The latter, in addition to showing wonderful content, are enough to stop me cold.

There is a second show of silver photography also showing there -- Hana Hamplova's "Meditations on Paper". Not much to my taste but very nice, much larger prints.

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