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26 July 2022

When we're out on an urban safari, carrying a camera along the sidewalk, we try to wind our way through the private properties to some more public spaces. We're more and more reluctant to photograph anything on private property these days.

Papers. Nikon D300 with 18-200mm Nikkor at 200mm (350mm equivalent), f8, 1/500 second and ISO 200. Processed in Adobe Camera Raw.

We used to think of our neighborhood photography as something like a compliment. The equivalent of exclaiming, "That's terrific!" Taking a photo was the highest form of flattery.

But these days anything that happens on the street is likely to be seen as suspicious. Even walking alone. Sans dog.

Even worse. With camera.

But we keep at it, trusting that the appearance of a bent-over doddering old man on the sidewalk fumbling with some infernal black box will either elicit sympathy for such a harmless buffoon or familiarity with him.

The era of Papers has yielded to the era of Screens.

"There he is again, Mom," some child will report from the window. "I wonder what he's taking a picture of this time."

For a long time I've wanted to capture this slot marked for "Papers." There's a more common mail slot on the adjacent garage door (which was likely not always there, certainly not there as long as "Papers").

But it is down a driveway and the downspout to the right is not perfectly perpendicular and the garage door frame to the left embarrassingly weathered.

But this elegant resting place for the writings of another age was irresistible.

So we used a long lens and we made a severe crop and got this tribute to an age when you would, in finely tailored clothing, cross your legs and unfold tablecloth-sized sheets of newsprint before you to read the news of the day.

The era of Papers has yielded to the era of Screens. You are reading this with transmitted light rather than reflected. No one appreciates that more than we do because, were we obliged to buy that newsprint to publish anything, we never would.

In fact, it occurred to us just the other day that at the rate we're going we may never manage to buy another camera or another lens or another computer.

One way or another, we suspect, we'll survive. For a while, anyway. Like the papers that used to slip through this slot.

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