Back when the world was sane, students would occasionally fight late-night Nerf wars in academic buildings. Sometimes a shot would go astray and not be recovered, only to be found much later by a nosy photographer.
When I came back to work at the University of Illinois, I found that a local businessman was running a coffee shop with branches in the Siebel Center and the Mechanical Engineering Lab. In the spring of 2015 he decided to get out of the coffee business. The shop in MEL is now vacant, but the Siebel location was subsequently occupied by the Einstein Bros. bagel-and-beverage-and-pastry chain, which has set up this gauntlet of coffee and tea canisters for thirsty customers to fill their cups.
“Photography” comes from Greek roots meaning “to write with light,” but what makes a photograph compelling is often not light simpliciter but contrast: light against dark, dark against light, and the boundaries where they mix. The pattern in this photograph repeats itself every afternoon for a few days in late September in the building where I work, and one day I determined to capture the dappling of direct sun on the otherwise dark interior. I didn’t dare push the contrast much harder than this, though, because of the dark sign on the wall.
My F100 almost ate this roll of film; it would not rewind and I had to pop open the back in a dark room under cover and pull the film out, and it suffered creasing and damage anyway. It’s a pity, because I don’t know when I’ll have time to go back and recreate this image of University Laboratory High School’s dedication stone.