Tuesday afternoon, 5:00 p.m. Everything else in my busy day has been completed. Nothing to hold me back. Now I need to know.
The answer to life, the universe and everything?
The sound of one hand clapping?
The air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
Nah… I already know those things. It’s 42, the beginning of a handshake, and more information is needed as to whether it’s a European or African swallow.
I’m talking about IMPORTANT stuff. And there’s only one place I can go to find the answers. And I need to go right now.
Let’s Go, Cardachrome – first stop, home. Gotta change from a suit and tie to more casual duds. And I need all the luck I can get – so I put on my Dragon band T-shirt. Trust me on this. Dragon rules. That, and I had to snag my Nikon D700.
Then – Let’s Go, Cardachrome – next stop, the Altamont Fair. And don’t spare the horsepower.
As you know, this is my third year of entering my artworks into the Altamont Fair photography competition. I don’t look at it as my third year. As far as I’m concerned, I look at it as having submitted my ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth pictures to this competition.
As I traveled Route 20 Tuesday night on my way to the Fair, I thought about my prior entries in this competition. The first year, when I just submitted four nice looking pictures and they got bounced like they had insufficient funds. And then last year, when I threw everything from Nipper’s Polar Panorama to the Lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove and they were met with four votes of meh.
And now, I keep thinking about whether any of my pictures had a viable chance this year. Whether people would appreciate a series of exposures in a cemetery that caused the stars to rotate around a stone monument’s head. Whether people would appreciate a colorful picture of a weed bursting through an abandoned railroad tile. Whether people would appreciate a black-and-white night shot of an Albany movie theater. And whether people would understand a picture that is both color AND black and white.
6:30 p.m. I finally reach the Fairgrounds. A parking lot attendee directs me to an open parking spot near a patch of mud. Memo to self – Cardachrome may need a car wash after this.
I hand the front gate attendee my ticket. And for the third consecutive year, I enter the Altamont Fair… hoping against hope.
No time to waste. I need to know. Did I make the right choices for this year? Did I frame them adequately and impressively – so that the judges were summarily impressed? Second-guessing and self-doubt. It’s a nasty habit that I have to remove from my oeuvre.
I suppose that everybody else in the Fair is also nervous – not just the photographers, but all the other competitors in all the other competitions. Who has the best rooster. Who has the best apple pie. Who has the best scarecrow. This is some serious stuff. There’s probably someone else, someone pacing up the graveled fair roadway, wondering if her homemade currant jam won its competition.
I’m not going to lie to you. I’m nervous. More nervous than I was last year, when two of my four “hammer” pictures – Nipper’s Polar Panorama and The Lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove – took prizes at other competitions, but were stonewalled here. Two of my four entries that appear at Altamont this year are still being judged for the New York State Fair; one of my entries is also scheduled for the Big E. And it just doesn’t matter. All the Grey Cups Doug Flutie won in the CFL didn’t translate into a single Super Bowl for him, did it?
My heart’s beating like a Devo drum track. Deep breath, Chuck. Just remember. It’s not the worst thing in the world if you don’t win anything at Altamont. Just take a deep breath and walk inside the art center. One foot in front of the other. And soon you’ll be walking across the floor. Oh great, now I got that song from that old Christmas special stuck in my head. Dang it…
Okay, there’s the Star Trails of St. Agnes Cemetery picture.
This is starting off sucky. Another failed photo. I guess star trails aren’t what the judges are looking for this year. I guess all the magic for that picture was used up. No biggie. It still looks good on the wall. A little naked without a colored ribbon, but good anyway.
I then go over to the film photos. And there’s the Agfa Bridge over Ansco Lake.
Hold on a second and a half. Am I seeing things?
Is that what I think it is?
oh my God…
IT IS!! It’s my first ribbon at Altamont, yay!!! FINALLY!!
After three years, I’ve finally earned some silk!!
Time to celebrate!! HIT IT, DRAGON!!!
But hey… wait a minute… I’ve still got two more pictures, don’t I?
Where’s that Railsplitter photo… oh it’s right over here…
As God is my witness… is that… in the lower right corner…
Holy smokes, my Kodachrome photo picked up third place!!! Third place, color, that’s amazing!! Two ribbons out of three pictures!! This is amazing!! No way is this happening!!
I gotta pinch myself.
Looked again. Yep… it’s real!!
Grab the trumpet, Hugh Masekela – and crank up the beat!!
So after three years, I’ve nailed a third place and an honorable mention. This is beyond belief. Wow, wow, a hundred times wow.
Gotta remember for a second…
I brought four pictures to the Altamont Fair, didn’t I?
The Palace Theater is on another wall…
Over with the black and white photos.
That’s… that’s… it’s a red ribbon.
A red ribbon isn’t honorable mention. It’s not third place. It’s…
This isn’t happening… I just picked up second place black-and-white, and a third place and honorable mention in the color category…
Two years, no ribbons…
and today… three ribbons!! A place, a show, and a fourth that could have been part of a quinella!
No, I thought if I was lucky, I’d get one ribbon. Never dreamed it would be two. And no way in the world did I expect to earn three banners. This is absolutely fantastic.
You know what? I feel like celebrating some more!!!
Let’s hear it for Liz Phair and Material Issue!!!!
Sorry, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m still dancing around the place. Might be a while longer. May want to hear Liz Phair again. 🙂
Never. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen. And so many people to thank.
McGreevy Pro Lab for getting my efke and Agfa and Ansco films developed.
Dwayne’s Photo for getting my Kodachrome film developed.
Ritz Camera for getting my pictures printed.
Arlene’s Art Supply for the mattes.
Hobby Lobby – all three winning pictures were framed in Hobby Lobby frames.
And also to all my friends and readers. Without the support from every single one of you, I might have given up on Altamont a long time ago.
Oh man oh man oh man… this is fantastic.
Before I finish this blog, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge that there are some fantastic paintings, sculptures, drawings and photos at the Art Center at the Altamont Fair. You need to go see every one of these artworks. some of these artworks earned blue ribbons, and they were very deserving of those accolades. There are some tremendously talented photographers, painters and artisans, and their works must be appreciated. I hope everybody gets a chance this week to visit the Altamont Fair, and to have a great time there!
And next up for me … the New York State Fair and the Big E.
Thanks, everyone, for all your support. And say it with me…
THE ALTAMONT FAIR CURSE IS FINALLY BROKEN!!!!