Portfolio Naples April 2017 - Page 35

Every once in a while one has an an experience that burns itself into your memory with such force that it remains with you throughout your life. Richard Geary was always inter- ested in archeology but his experience had been limited to National Geographic Magazine. It wasn't until the mid 1970's that he walked into an ancient Maya site in the yu- catán. His first reaction was visceral and it made his hair stand on end. Here were buildings over one thousand years old and built with a technology that was just emerging from the Stone Age. ese were entire complexes of enor- mous structures, intricately carved and planned with so- phisticated insight and forethought. Geary's paradigm changed radically at that moment. "I felt that same sense of insignificance when looking at the Milky Way on a really dark night", he said. Richard truly felt part of the fabric of human history for the first time in his life. Geary is not a professional photographer but he was en- thusiastic and had a darkroom in his house held over from his fascination, in college, with black and white photogra- phy. is was still in the analog days with chemicals, expo- sure settings and fumbling in the dark with film. He became obsessed with recording images of these ancient places and took hundreds of photographs in color and in black and white. ere seemed to be no way to capture that initial moment, that fragment of realization that he had first felt when looking at these structures. e more trips Richard made the more he became aware, not just of the buildings but, of the sense of 'place' that each of these an- cient sites embodied. Armed with a 35mm camera he began to experiment with different types of black and white film. Color film just gave the immediacy of a travelogue. He began trying tech- nical films. Tech Pan film gave really fine detail particularly when the chemical developement was modified but black and white High Speed Infra-Red Film seemed the most promising. e film was heat sensitive and recorded a dif- ferent portion of the light spectrum particularly for medical use and document forensics. Landscape photography was not mentioned in the Kodak literature. It gave exposure guidelines but little else. It was a total crap-shoot. e film requires the use of a very dark red filter which made focus- ing the lens through the camera nearly impossible. A light meter is totally useless so it required many different expo- Left: Maya: Labna Arch, Yucatán, Mexico Bottom: Teotihuacan: Pyramid of the Sun, State of Mexico, Mexico PORTFOLIO MAGAZINE 33