Rebecca’s House

A friend of mine has a vacation rental just north of Watkins Glen on NY 414, the west side of Seneca Lake. This is not an ad for her rental, but you can rent it through We’ve stayed there a couple times, and it’s amazing. Perhaps the best thing about it is eight or ten friends getting together for a weekend of wine tasting, hiking, talking and laughing, and in my case, some guitar playing and photography.

The last time up, we drove past this old house several times, and I decided it needed its portrait made. I call it Rebecca’s House, because every time we drove past on our way to a winery, or a restaurant, or some lake viewing, Rebecca said, “Man, I love that house.”

I shot several views, but this is the one that grabs me most. I’ve discovered recently that I really love to fill the frame when shooting portraits, whether it’s a house, a person, an animal, or a car. Just get right up there and shoot. When I’m working with people, of course, I say something like, “I’m going to get uncomfortably close now. Just look into the lens and be.” And I get the best damn portraits that way. I use a 50mm lens for this, because it focuses at about a foot and a half, which is way inside most people’s bubble, and the tension it makes, between me and the person, the person and the camera, and the person and their need for space is almost like magic.

For Rebecca’s House, though, I had a good bit of distance, ’cause it’s a house. Much bigger than most human faces.

But then I did get close. Right up on the wood. Ansel Adams made a photo of a rose on a wooden plank. I always have that photo in mind when I make wood pictures, not with an intent to copy, but to draw inspiration, to find the character in the wood.


And then I saw the nail. Whoa Nelly, that nail. I mean just look at it. How the hell does a nail stay that perfectly straight over decades of Finger Lake winters?

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