the photoshooter's journey from taking to making

PERISHABLE

Once upon a time there was a very old apple. Shot real wide and in tight to suck up as much window light as possible and bend the shape a little. 1/50 sec., f/3.5, ISO 160, 18mm.

By MICHAEL PERKINS

I‘M ALMOST TO THE POINT WHERE I DON’T WANT TO THROW ANYTHING AWAY. I’ve written here before about pausing just a beat before chucking out what, on first glance, appears to simply be junk, hoping that a second look will tell me if this rejected thing has any potential as a still life subject. I realize that this admission on my part may conjure images of a pathetic old hoarder whose apartment is packed with swaying columns of yellowed newspapers from 1976 and pizza boxes that have become filing cabinets for old soda bottles, mismatched hardware, and souvenir tickets from Elvis’ last concert.

It’s not that bad.

Yet.

For this I have my wife to thank, since the civilizing influence she brings to my life tends to bank the freakier fires of my aesthetic wanderings. Still, there are hours each day when she’s at work, heh heh, hours during which the mad scavenger rescues the odd object, deluding himself that it is the next big thing in artsy coolness.

That’s what led me to the apple. Actually, I was rooting around in the garage fridge for a beer. The “backup” fridge often acts as a kind of museum of the lost for things we meant to finish eating or bring into the house. The abandoned final four strands of ziti from the restaurant. The sad survivors from the lunch we packed for the office, then left behind since we were running late.

And, in this case, a very old apple.

Having seen gazillions of pieces of fruit frozen in time by photographers, I am sometimes more interested in preserving the moment when Nature has decided to call them home. It’s not like decay is attractive per se, but seeing the instant where time is actually changing the terms of the game for an object, as it always is for us, can be oddly fixating.

So I set this old soldier on a slab and shot away for about a dozen frames. Window light, plain as mud, really zero technique. The colors on the apple were still bright, but the wrinkles had become furrows now, sucking up light and creating strange shadows. Something was leaving, collapsing, vanishing before my eyes, and I wanted to stop it, if only for a second.

And yes, in case you are asking, I did finally throw the thing away.

And got myself a beer.

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