Big Smiles at the Dump.
Call me crazy, but I enjoy going to the dump — I mean “Recycling Center” — in our city-town of Stamford. Just sounds funnier to say “dump” because…well…you know why…
Why do I enjoy the dump? Well, there’s the obvious reasons and benefits of decluttering, year-round spring cleaning, feeling Zen, etc. And of course, it feels great to know the stuff we throw in the bins stands a chance of being recycled and reused, or will definitely be more safely disposed of than tossing it in a toxic landfill. But by now you know why I really enjoy going most places, including the dump: people-watching and photo-opportunities!
Today, I headed to the dump with a mini-SUV load of stuff to recycle, which had been accumulating in the garage for over a year. I also brought my vintage Polaroid BIG SHOT camera, loaded with a troublesome pack of long-expired Fuji FP-100c “peel apart” film. Despite cleaning the camera’s rollers before loading, several shots from this pack of film had gotten stuck, requiring darkened room manipulation to rescue them. I expected trouble if I took a shot of anyone at the dump today…
Juan was managing and directing recycling activities today; a friendly assistant to all the dumpers, as they arrived, parked, dragged, lugged, dropped, sighed with relief, and drove away. When I approached him with the boxy, gray, plastic BIG SHOT camera, he thought I was asking which bin it should be dumped in, and offered to toss it in himself! After I explained it was a vintage camera and would like to take his portrait with it, he broke out in a huge, beaming smile, agreed, then proposed to include the woman he’d been talking to (a dumper like me) when I approached. I warned them — the camera has a fixed-focus distance of 39 inches, so for them to both fit in the frame, they’d have to lean into each other a little — they smiled and leaned in, like old friends.
Of course, this shot got stuck (as expected) so I darted into their “book swap” shed, went to the darkest corner of the bookshelves at the back, and fiddled the film through the rollers. This meant I had to open the camera and risk fogging the image, as well as remaining shots in the pack, but it had to be done. As you can see in the shot, it turned out OK — a little “solarized” light leak across the middle of the image and some fading — but I tweaked the scan to bring out natural tones. Happy with the result personally, and Juan loved it! Here’s the iPhone shot of the portrait after I rescued it:
Camera: Polaroid BIG SHOT Portrait Camera (vintage)
Film: FujiFilm FP-100c Color pack-film (made in 2016/expired 2018)
Photographer: Russ Murray (vintage)
Location: Katrina Mygatt Recycling Center, Stamford, CT
See you tomorrow!