Craig Pindell

Fine Art Photography 

Never Forget 

Like almost everyone I know, I can remember exactly where I was when I heard that airplanes had crashed into the twin towers, the Pentagon, and in the field in Pennsylvania. I also can remember the sick feeling, the anger, the astonishment, and the resolution to always remember that our country had been attacked in such a cowardly fashion. 

Everywhere in the nation there were American Flags flying proudly. The entire country came together as one. We all promised we would never forget. That patriotism was the genesis for this project for myself- I would make a photograph every September 11 at 6:46 am Mountain Time- the exact time the first plane hit the World Trade Center. 

Since that horrible day in 2001, memories have faded for some. There are fewer flags flying these days. Patriots are harder to find, but I have never missed my self-appointed scheduled photograph. It is not always easy to get the time away from work. It is challenging when I am out of town (9/11 made air travel with large format cameras difficult, especially in smaller airports). This project is too important to me for me to miss my schedule. Making the photos for this self-assignment will take the rest of my life, and long as I am physically strong enough, I will never miss a 9/11 photo. 

Photography is usually a solitary event.  Photography with a large format view camera (as was utilized for the majority of these photographs) has been described as hours of patience followed by 1/2 second of activity.  While that is a bit of an exaggeration, there is a lot of time to reflect while waiting for the light to be right,  or in the case of the images presented here, for the clock to reach the appointed time of 6:46 AM Mountain Time.  During that waiting time I am able to recall the day of the attacks, to recall the events of the past year, and to consider the ongoing impact that 9/11 brings to all Americans.  Time I treasure every year.

 

I hope you enjoy these photographs, I hope you appreciate the effort, and I hope that you please, Never Forget.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002  6:46 AM Mountain Time 

Wednesday, September 11, 2002  6:46 AM Mountain Time

 

Waterfalls near Sugarloaf Road

Snowy Range, Wyoming 

8x10 Ilford Delta 100 Film

Burke and James Camera

360 mm lens

3 Second Exposure at f/45 

This morning is warmer than I thought it would be.  As I left Cheyenne at 4:30 AM, I saw a few flags flying, but it was really quiet.  There will be memorial services later on, but I will miss them.  I chose to venture down Sand Lake Road because I have photographed in this area before with my friend Graig Marrs, and I knew I would find a suitable subject.  When I conceived this project, I had not considered the logistics involved.   

I like to wander and photograph what interests me, but when working to a constraint such as a particular time, like I am in this project, there is a lot of pressure to have the photograph already in your mind, and not be caught hunting for a location with the clock strikes 6:46 AM.  

This particular lens does not have a shutter, so there were a lot of opportunities to mess this up while taking the lens cap off to expose the film or when replacing the lens cap.  The photography gods smiled on me, and the exposure was just as I had envisioned.

 

 

Thursday, September 11, 2003 6:46 AM Mountain Time 

Thursday, September 11, 2003  6:46 AM Mountain Time

 

View from Lewis Lake

 

 looking towards Sugarloaf Mountain

Snowy Range, Wyoming

 

8x10 Ilford Delta 100 Film

Burke and James Camera

360 mm lens

1 Minute Exposure at f/45 

The morning was cold and still.  There were occasional snow flurries, and I had hopes that the snow would not obscure the scene at 6:46 AM.  The drive up the mountain was nice, with no traffic. I was all alone on this huge mountain.  Once the camera was in place, I waited for about 15 minutes and thought of how the world had changed since 9/11.  As it got closer to time to make the photograph, I could see another snow squall coming my way.  I removed the lens cap at the appointed time, not knowing if the mountain in the background would be at all visible. I could see it, sort of, so I hoped it would show up on the negative.  Once I developed the film, I was really pleased with the result.  I began to feel there must be something magical about the project and how things work out to make sure the images are successful.

This image was when I first thought of trying to include vertical shapes like the pine trees in the front center to be mindful of the Twin Towers.

 

Saturday, September 11, 2004 6:46 AM Mountain Time 

Saturday, September 11, 2004  6:46 AM Mountain Time

 

Aspen Trunks Along Blair Wallace Road

Laramie County, Wyoming

 

4x5 T-Max 100 Film

Linhof Tech V

150 mm lens

4 Second Exposure at f/16 

Usually, Saturday morning is reserved for breakfast out.  A way to end the work week, often preceded by Friday night happy hour.  This morning I chose to stay close to Cheyenne, only about a 45 minute drive to this road, and I knew there were a few beaver ponds that would offer some photographic opportunities. 

As I turned the first few corners, I saw the aspens along the road and knew I could make an interesting photograph.  The sky was really overcast, but there was no wind to speak of. I came across this clump and set up the camera.  I looked at my watch and I had a 35 minute wait until time to release the shutter.  Enough time to second guess myself many times over.  I kept thinking there may be better trees on down the road.  Eventually I convinced myself to stay with these trees and was really happy I did. 

This area was very quiet, not even many birds at that hour of the morning.  Usually there is a lot of wind in Southeast Wyoming, but not today.  The fall air was crisp, but there was no frost.  There were patches of aspen trees that had started to turn colors, but not in the area of these trees.  A truly beautiful Wyoming morning.

 

Sunday, September 11, 2005 6:46 AM Mountain Time 

Sunday, September 11, 2005  6:46 AM Mountain Time

 

French Creek

 Downstream from Lake Marie

Snowy Range, Wyoming

 

4x5 T-Max 100 Film

Linhof Tech V Camera

300 mm lens

30 Second Exposure at f/16 

French Creek is high up in the Snowy Range, nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, and the weather is very unpredictable.  I expected snow and cold, instead it was warm (35 F) and clear.  I knew that direct sun would make any scene involving moving water nearly impossible to photograph well, so I looked for a location that I was sure would be in shadows.  I had almost finished setting up the camera for this scene when the sun rose over the mountain and half of the scene was in sun and the other half in shadow.  A disaster. 

As I considered the options of finding another location, or changing composition, knowing that time was short, clouds began to sneak over the mountains to the west.  First just a few, but then more and more.  They were moving very fast, as mountain clouds usually do.  I began to hope that this photograph would work out after all.  Just minutes before I made this exposure, the clouds parted and the entire scene was in sun!  I fully expected this to be a complete bust. 

Just as I metered for my final exposure calculations, a large cloud moved in and the situation was exactly as I had hoped for at the beginning of the day.  I made the exposure knowing that the photography gods had once again smiled on me and the project.

 Just minutes after I made this photograph and had put away my photography equipment, the rain came and my photograpy day was over.

 

 

 


Monday, September 11, 2006 6:46 AM Mountain Time 

Monday, September 11, 2006  6:46 AM Mountain Time

 

Wind Blown Tree

Laramie County, Wyoming

 

4x5 T-Max 100 Film

Linhof Tech V Camera

150 mm lens

2 Second Exposure at f/16

This was a Southeast Wyoming Day!  Very cold and 40 mph winds with gust to 70 mph. The conditions are a huge technical challenge, to say the least.  Large format view cameras are not known for their aerodynamics, and to photograph in wind like this takes some creative problem solving.  I moved my vehicle to the upwind side of where I expected the camera to be, trying to keep the vehicle as close as possible to the camera.  I also tied the camera bag to the center column of the tripod for additional stability.   

When the meter indicated a 2 second exposure, I was sure there would be no chance of the tree being stable and in sharp focus in the image.  I also had doubt that the camera would be steady for that long.  As I waited for 6:46 AM, I noticed that when the wind was steady, the tree would lean to the right, but then would hold that position until the wind eased or a bigger gust moved it further.  I hoped for steady wind at 6:46 AM, and as luck would have it, the tree was steady.  I did make a second negative of this scene, which I had not ever done for this project, but the first negative was the better and my track record with the photography gods is intact!

By the way, I was only 20 minutes late for work on this morning, thanks to a really strong tail wind while I was driving back to Cheyenne.  Credit the photography gods with another assist!

 

 

Tuesday, September 11, 2007  6:46 AM Mountain Time 

Tuesday, September 11, 2007  6:46 AM Mountain Time

 

Sky Scrapers

Denver Colorado 

T-Max 100 Film

Hasselblad Camera

80 mm lens

1/2 Second Exposure at f/11

 

I was very fortunate to be asked to be part of a conference about Shutdowns, Turnarounds and Outages in Denver Colorado and I accepted before I realized I would be at the conference for 9/11.  I considered withdrawing from the conference, but in the end I felt I could make my photograph at the appointed time, and still be able to get to the conference session on time.  It had been a big year since the last 9/11 photograph.  Sadam Hussein had been found, tried and hung.  The war based on lies was being called out for what it was. The government was being exposed, finally.  They took the events of 9/11 and used them as a catalyst for profiteering and bloodshed. Patriotism is turning to anger. 

As I left the hotel and walked in downtown Denver, it occurred to me that there were people walking in New York City the morning of 9/11.  I cannot imagine the feeling they must have had when they looked up and saw the planes hit the buildings.  Cities are so enclosed and I feel trapped in the city.  It had to be pure terror! 

When I had finished making this image, the security person from the building on the right came out and told me in no uncertain terms to leave the area.  He had called the police and my activities were suspicious.  I thought about waiting for the police to explain myself, but I did not want to be late for the conference session, so I left.  As far as I know, the Denver police are still looking for a terrorist with a camera.............

 

 

Thursday, September 11, 2008 6:46 AM Mountain Time 

Thursday, September 11, 2008  6:46 AM Mountain Time

 

Lake Marie

Snowy Range, Wyoming 

4x5 T-Max 100 Film

Linhof Tech V Camera

65 mm lens

30 Second Exposure at f/22 

I really enjoy photographing in Snowy Range, and I like coming here for my 9/11 project.  The quiet and the calm are soothing and at this time of year, I am usually alone.  On this day, I could hear someone else, maybe a photographer, but never saw them.  I was sure to make enough noise that they knew I was around, as well.  This morning was better than I could have hoped for.  The air was crystal clear and there was very little wind.  The temperature was just below freezing, but there was no frost. 

I had long wanted to make this photograph, but when I had been here in the summer, there were people along the shore line.  I preferred the scene the way I found it on this day- empty.  The wide angle optics exaggerates the distances in this photograph, making it seem even larger than it really is.  The peaks are very impressive, especially when you are at the base looking up, as I am here.  It reminds me of how small I really am in the world.  What a small part of the entire organism humans really are.

It was an incredible morning and a reminder for me of why this project is so important.

 

 

Friday, September 11, 2009 5:46 AM Pacific Time 

Friday, September 11, 2009  5:46 AM  Pacific Time

 

Horsetail Falls

Multnomah County, Oregon 

T-Max 100 Film

Hasselblad

50 mm lens

2 Minute Exposure at f/11 

I was very concerned my project was going to end this year.  I was working at a chemical plant west of Portland Oregon, and my supervisor made it clear that there would be no time off during this job.  After a lot of careful consideration, I decided that continuing the project was more important to me that the continued employment at that company.  When I was driving up to the job from Wyoming, I had stopped and photographed this waterfall, but I was there in the early afternoon, and the light was not good.  I decided it would be a good possibility for my 9/11 photograph this year. As I was mapping out the trip and calculating the departure time from my hotel, I remembered that 6:46 AM was Mountain Time, and I was in the Pacific Time zone.  I had to move the schedule up an hour and make the photograph at 5:46 AM pacific time. 

I knew there would not be much light at that time of day, so a long exposure was obvious.  When I travel for work, I do not always take my large format cameras, I take a smaller format instead. I usually take a lighter tripod as well.  For long exposure work, heavy cameras and heavy tripod usually work best, so I would have to find a way to make my lightweight equipment do the job.  By finding a camera position that would allow the use of a wide angle lens and by weighing the tripod down with extra weights, I was able to overcome the potential problem, and made an image that I am very happy with.

The early hour allowed me to get back to work less than one hour late, and I had stopped and purchased a few dozen donuts, so all was forgiven.  I made my photograph and kept my job........

 

 

Saturday, September 11, 2010 6:46 AM Mountain Time 

Saturday, September 11, 2010  6:46 AM Mountain Time

 

Blair Wallace Campground

Laramie County, Wyoming 

8x10 T-Max 100 Film

Kodak Master View Camera

240 mm lens

2 Second Exposure at f/16 

When I headed out for this year’s picture, I had an idea I would chose this location.  I remembered this campground from when I used to come up to this area with my parents and grandparents.  We fished the beaver ponds around here quite a bit.  It took some looking around to find the campground, it is back off of the road a bit, and somewhat hidden by the bushes along the creek between the campground and the road.   

It does not show in the photograph, but the pine beetle has killed most of the trees in this area, and I would bet that in another year or two none of the trees in this picture will still be standing.  Another reminder that the world around us is always changing, and if we do not adapt, we will go the way of the majestic pine trees, destroyed by a tiny beetle barely big enough to see......

 

 

Sunday, September 11, 2011 6:46 AM Mountain Time 

Sunday, September 11, 2011  6:46 AM Mountain Time

 

Twin Towers of Stone

Laramie County, Wyoming

 

4x5 T-Max 100 Film

Linhof Tech V Camera

150 mm lens

1/2 Second Exposure at f/16 

This was a cool, breezy morning, and I found this photo very quickly.  I had lot of time to contemplate the year since that had passed.  Osama Bin Ladin had been killed.  The name most associated with the 9/11 cowards had been executed.  My good friend and motorcycle companion of many years seems to be very sick.  My mother had been in the hospital a couple of times for internal bleeding.  My mother-in-law had fallen and had surgery this year.  I had quit my job because the travel and schedule was impossible.  The new company I went to work for certainly had not lived up to expectations, and I still have 3 more months of my contract with them. A lot of change in short order. I have no comfort zone anymore. 

And saddest of all, even the death of Bin Ladin does not bring back the flags and the patriotism.  Americans have forgotten the feeling we had after 9/11.

 

 

Monday, September 11, 2012 6:46 AM Mountain Time 

Monday, September 11, 2012  6:46 AM Mountain Time

 

Mirror Lake and Medicine Bow Peak

Snowy Range, Wyoming 

8x10 T-Max 400 Film

Kodak Master View Camera

240 mm lens

1/4 Second Exposure at f/32 

I am back in the beautiful Snowy Range.  It is crisp, clear and calm.  It is a gorgeous Wyoming day.  I am so blessed to be able to be here.  I have lots of time for thinking and reflection. 

Around Thanksgiving, my grandfather and a favorite aunt passed away.  The holidays were a lot less bright this year. My friend and a long time motorcycle riding buddy died on Mother’s Day this year.  I was lucky enough to be able to spend time with him before he passed.  In June my mother had open heart surgery and the results were not what we had hoped for.  She passed in July with my sister, my brother and me at her side.  After that, my time has been spent trying to sort through her house full of belongings and treasures and memories.  This has been the saddest time I can ever remember.  I have worked less than 6 months all year.  Even though my brother and sister and I have put a lot of effort into my mom's house, it seems like months of work left to do.  Today here in the mountains, all of that went away, and I was able to just think about photography and nature and the peace of being here. 

Even through all of this horrible sadness and despair, I am a proud American!

 

 

 

 





Wednesday, September 11013 6:46 AM Mountain Time 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013  6:46 AM Mountain Time

 

Prairie Road

Goshen County, Wyoming

 

4x5 T-Max 400 Film

Linhof Tech V Camera

150 mm lens

1 Second Exposure at f/22 

Today is cold and raining off and on.  Sometimes a downpour, other times, just a drizzle.  It is cold and wet and contributed to the meloncholy feeling.  As I had planned for this event, I had read about Flight 93, the flight that crashed in the field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I had heard the Neil Young song "Let's Roll" twice the past week on the radio.  Instead of my usual trip to the mountains, this year I chose to go to the plains north and east of Cheyenne.  The rolling hills are peaceful and there are not many people around to interrupt the day.

I set out this morning looking for an open area, and when I saw this road that went on and on into the horizon, it made me think of how things keep going on.  Through tragedies, through victories, through wars, through celebrations.  Every event is but a bump in the road of life.  The road extends to the horizon - for some that horizon is closer than it is for others. None of us knows how long that road may be.

No wonder then, that Americans seem to forget the events of 9/11 a little more each year. That horrible day was a bump on the road.  It was a big bump.  It was a memorable bump. I read yesterday that anyone who is 15 years of age or younger this year has no memory of that horrible day. What a tragedy, but what a blessing as well.  I think everyone who can remember that day knows exactly where they were when they heard our world had changed forever. The youngsters do not remember how it was when we still had personal freedoms and the NSA spying on Americans was unthinkable. No matter, I remember how it was, and I remember that horrible day. 

And I will not forget........ 

.

.

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Thursday, September 11, 2013 5:46 AM Pacific Time

Thursday, September 11, 2014  5:46 AM Pacific Time

At The Ready

Bend Oregon

 4x5 T-Max 100 Film

Linhof Tech V Camera

210 mm lens

2 Minute Exposure at f/16 

This scene saved this project for me. I was on my way home from one of the worst photography workshop experiences I have ever had. The workshop at Shore Acres and Bandon Oregon had not been productive, and was a huge disappointment.  I was frustrated and angry and ready to get home.  It was a long, long drive for nothing.

I  had left Coos Bay at noon on September 10th and had driven as far as Bend before stopping for the night.  Exhaustion and frustration was getting the best of my judgement.  For the entire day of traveling,  I had been looking for photographic possibilities for the 9/11 image, but had not seen anything fitting.  When I was in the hotel room, I thought that I had come to the end of the project.  I felt that I had finally succombed to the more and more prevalent feeling that 9/11 was in the past - no big deal any more.  These days we have Ebola, and ISIS to worry about.   That awful day becomes a more and more distant memory every year.

The fact that I was even considering not making the photo, was making me more upset and more angry the longer I sat in the hotel room. Finally, I concluded I was not ready to quit.  So what if it is hard.  So what if I had to work for the image. Time to stop moping and to get busy. 

I got in the car and headed back to the west, along the highway I had traveled into town. I had noticed a large flag at a business near the highway, and I thought if it were lighted, there may be a photography opportunity.  If that would not work, maybe I would see something else.  

The flag idea was a complete bust.  The flag was not lighted, and from all angles the background was horrible.  It was very dark by now, and as I drove further west, there was less to see.  Finally I turned around and headed to toward the hotel.  I was hungry and felt defeated.  At the moment the large flag that had carried all of my hope for saving the project came into view on the left side of the car, something caught my attention on the right side - the lights of the fire station.  The huge glass doors, the gleaming fire engines, it all fell into place.  Immediately, my mind connected the dots and I was transported back to the day of 9/11 and the First Reponders answering the call, even knowing the outlook was grim. Firefighters running into the smoke and ash and dirt that everyone else was running away from.  The Project is saved!

I saw a couple of firefighters in the bay of the station, so I pulled in and parked.  I introduced myself and explained my project, and asked if I could return the next morning to make a photo at 5:46 AM. They both immediately seemed to know the significance of the time. Without hesitation they granted permission, but then qualified it with conditions. Nothing difficult. Just that I needed to understand that the smaller truck was most likely to be called out, with the truck in the far bay being the next most likely.  They felt it would be best to photograph aligned with the center bay, but to be ready to get out of the way quickly if there was a call. I agreed and went out to the driveway to preview the scene.

When I walked in front of the middle bay, the photograph all came together.  The light range was extreme, but thanks to the John Sexton workshop I attended  this spring, I was able to manage that issue.  There were minimal camera movements required. I felt incredibly fortunate. I went back to the hotel that night feeling like the trip was worth it after all.

When I arrived at the fire station the next morning, everything was quiet and still.  The morning was crisp and clear. A great morning for photography.  I set up the camera and had about 20 minutes to wait for 5:46 AM.  It gave me time to think about the previous eleven September 11 mornings, and the variety of locations I had photographed.  And about how the project has a mind of its own, and if I try to force it, it does not work. The fire station was very different from the other scenes I had found, but the feeling I had was the same.  Knowing inside how important this was.  How meaningful this was. How easy it is to screw up an exposure using a large format camera.   The tension builds as I check and double check and triple check the camera, the meter readings, the film.

Just before the magic moment arrives, I notice that the light level on the building has increased  and I hurry to meter the scene.  I quickly make the final adjustment, and release the shutter - photograph number 12 of this project is created.

As I packed up to leave, I could not help but know that from the first year, things have fallen into place to make these photographs special, at least to me.  I hope they are special to you as well.  But most importantly, I hope you never forget why I create them. It is truly a labor of love.

 

No matter what, I will continue to photograph on September 11, as long as I am able. 

And I will remember why I do this........ 

 

 

 

 

Friday, September 11, 2014 6:46 AM Mountain Time

Friday, September 11, 2015  6:46 AM Mountain Time

Grain Elevator

Chappell, Nebraska

 

8x10 Ilford HP5+ Film

Kodak Master View Camera

250 mm lens

½ Second Exposure at f/22 

When I began thinking and planning for this year’s photo, I knew I would be close to home for September 11, rather than be traveling. I thought about returning to Snowy Range, because I always enjoy having time there. I also considered trying to find a scene in Northern Colorado, possibly a grasslands image.  Eventually I remembered I had seen this particular grain elevator some time ago, and the huge flag really caught my attention.

I decided to scout the scene, to be sure the flag was still there, and to find a possible camera position.  I hopped on the motorcycle and made the nearly 300 mile (round trip) on September 9.  I was happy to find the Flag still there and looking great.

When I was in my teens, working on my Grandfather’s farm, I used to haul wheat to this elevator, so in a way, this was a homecoming for me.  It was a beautiful morning.  Calm winds and only a few clouds. The clouds helped even the light on the elevator.

I sat up the camera and waited for 6:46, and I thought about all the family that have another anniversary to remember those who perished.  Not only in the attacks, but also in the wars that followed.  While all of share the loss, some feel it much more than others.  The post 9/11 patriotism has not returned, maybe it never will.  It is so sad.  

  will Never Forget why I do this........ 

 

 

Sunday, September 11, 2016  6:46 AM Mountain Time

Fallen Tree Rubble Pile

Happy Jack Road, Albany County Wyoming

8x10 Ilford FP4+ Film

Kodak Master View Camera

250 mm lens

3 Second Exposure at f/32 

I had seen this fallen pine tree the week before 9/11.  I was not scouting for the 9/11 photograph for this year (I was actually on a motorcycle ride with Kate) but as soon as I saw this, I knew I would be back to photograph this pile of rubble on Sunday Morning.

 

The moment I saw the pile I thought of the rubble pile after the towers collapsed.  At one time this had been a mighty pine tree, withstanding fierce winds, heavy snows and lightning storms.  In the end this giant was murdered by the tiny pine beetle.  The pip squeak of the forest.  A tiny insect that is devouring the pine forest across the west. 

Very similar to the pip squeak terroist that attacked our county. Little bugs who attack innocent souls, and thrive on the turmoil they cause.

 

The rubble pile is evidence this mighty tree did not give up easily.  The pile is next to the stump.  This tree did not lay down, it stood as long as possible.  And Like the Twin Towers, when it fell, it came straight down, ending in a tangled memorial to the years it was alive.  This pile will not be hauled away, it is not destined to be divided up among countless musems. 

This pile will go the way the terrorist ought to go.  It will remain alone on the prarie, eventually succombing to fire, or to decay, or possibly other organisms eating it away.  Lets all hope it outlasts the terrorist.

And most of all, let's Never Forget what they have done to us and our country.

 

 

 

 

Please, Never Ever Forget!

 

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