Gone Tomorrow

This is an ongoing series of back roads photos, the first of which have been in the exhibitions [v]erge and Art in the Woolshed in 2010, The Mahurangi Group's Matakana 2011 and at The Vivian Gallery in 2013.

Our rural environment is changing: subdivisions and lifestyle blocks are springing up, villages are being redeveloped and roads are being sealed, as Rodney District becomes more accessible, via the extended motorway from Auckland. My main photographic project in recent years has been to capture the changing roads of my area around Leigh.

I am looking at the places we rush past, en route to daily destinations and documenting my surroundings as they change – for one day, many of these scenes will exist only in memory.

The photos in the Gone Tomorrow series are all in a square, black and white format. I chose this format because it echoes the work of earlier photographers and scenes like these will also pass into history.

Initially, the series was shot digitally on an early model DSLR, using a painstaking stitched (and stacked) mosaic method to achieve medium format quality. Stacking and blending bracketed exposures enabled me to retain the full tonal range, making the result look more film-like. It was a long-winded way to achieve the desired results, requiring 12 to 20 or more exposures per final image.

In 2010 I acquired a 1954 Rolleicord medium-format camera, which made the process of taking photos much easier: one exposure per image at last, shot with the sort of camera I'd been trying to emulate. When I am well enough to return to taking photos, however, I will return to digital and use a later model digital camera, because of the workflow advantages.

Prints are on Ilford fibre-based paper, with Epson K3 Ultrachrome pigment inks. The ultimate goal for this project is to publish a book and to hold a solo exhibition of the work.

Only the photos that have so far been exhibited are online.

All content copyright © Richard Smallfield 2009
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