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  • Writer's pictureGary Gruber

The Story Behind the Stories (Part Twelve)

I used to return to the east coast once a year to visit friends and family. As time marched on, these trips stretched themselves out, occurring less frequently. I would always bring a camera with me to document something.

This trip was different (2017). This trip marked my return to photography after a hiatus of nearly 20 years. I dug myself a rather deep hole to wallow in when digital replaced film. Enraged, I refused to accept this transition. To me, it was akin to going from first grade to high school graduation with nothing in between. One of my long-time photography buddies urged me to get into commercial areas that I found belittling and offensive. He is no longer my friend. This was as nuclear as a guy could get.

And then one day, I just jumped in. I can’t recall what the motivation was, other than to be back behind the viewfinder looking at life again. $1200 was a lot for me to shell out for a compact little digital camera (FujiFilm X100F), but it was as close to one of my old Leicas as I was going to get, and I found it vaguely familiar in my hands.

While another ex-friend had steered me towards an older Nikon and given me advice I didn’t find germane to my own vision, I found that camera foreign to the feel, and quickly discarded it.

There was a familiar hum to travelling on the east coast. I made the rounds visiting the same three states all the time. After flying into Newark, I’d cross into New York for a few days and visit our daughter Sasha in Brooklyn. I stayed at a fairly upscale hotel around the corner from her apartment, and it only took a little hoofing to accidentally run into a restaurant my parents took me to as a child when we visited my grandparents here. Talk about a blast from the past, Junior’s was it. And the food was still as fantastic as I remembered.

After NYC, I drove to NEPA (Northeastern Pennsylvania). It was our 50th high school reunion – our class was exceptionally tight over the years. I stayed at the hotel where the festivities were to take place and was delighted to see that my room fronted on a small forest. While exploring I found a large stream with descending rock beds to a quiet pool of water. With my camera at the ready, I looked down and saw this magnificent display. It was almost celestial, the interplay of rock and color and dimension.

The lighting was MY lighting – a light haze in the sky diffused the sunlight, blanketing everything evenly. I took a moment before pressing the shutter release. Suddenly, I was back to the beginning again. A circle had met itself once more, and I was aware that I was aware that I had a camera in my hands again, and was doing what I loved so much, and had missed for so long.

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