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Friday Slide Show: Standing in Line Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

8 May 2020

Once upon a time you only stood in line for movies. Now you stand in line for food. And so there we were, standing in line to get into Trader Joe's in Stonestown. For an hour.

What's a photographer do when forced to stand in line for an hour?

Talk to the masked characters in front or behind them? Nope, they're on their phones or performing ritualistic exercises or minimalist dance routines.

Compose poetry in one's head? Nope, too hard to remember anything for an hour.

Curse the coronavirus? What's the point? It's a curse itself.

No, as you may have guessed already, a photographer photographs the experience.

This wasn't our first line-up here. It was our second. And during the first, we scouted the location. By which we mean we looked around.

What's a photographer do when forced to stand in line for an hour?

And what we saw intrigued us.

But packing a camera along when you plan to fill a real shopping cart with groceries is not our idea of wise planning. And standing in line without shopping is a waste of frustration.

So on our second trip, we still didn't bring a camera. Other than our smartphone.

But if you're going to be taking photographs surrounded by people wearing masks, it's better to look like you're a tourist than a professional (photographer, news media or law enforcement).

So every now and then as the line bounded up six feet at a time, we slipped out our phone and captured some new aspect of our changing surroundings.

We actually found ourselves enjoying the experience.

Our iPhone images are massaged in Lightroom's Camera Raw but the tunnel image still had a horrid green cast. We minimized it in Photoshop by selecting the color range and applying a neutral gradient map to the problem area.

It began in a tunnel whose extremes were impossible to capture.* And when we had gotten into the sunlight, we were surrounded by unimportant abstractions formed by the utilitarian architecture of an underpass.

This was all newer construction at the 68-year-old shopping mall. And yet evidence of its decay was unavoidable. It seemed the iron posts on the railings had rusted and were splitting the concrete walls.

We found that poetic, inhabiting an era characterized by decay. We're confident you can come up with your own example of contemporary decay to complete the metaphor.

It wasn't all decay, though.

There were signs of life in the persistence of some weeds and the boldness of a Crane fly sunning itself. There were even colored X's on sidewalk to mark every six feet on the assumption someone would indeed need them. And the long shadows in the early morning suggested there was even intelligent life to be found in line.

The sort of intelligence, we thought, that sees decay as a chance to rebuild the world a bit better than it found it. We'll be happy to stand in line for that.

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