Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cortez The Killer

This is a tintype portrait of me, taken by my husband a couple of years ago. I had to sit perfectly still for a few seconds, which feels longer than it sounds. This is why you'll never see any action shots in a tintype format, only portraits.

I was very proud when Jay dove in and figured out how to do this vintage form of photography. It was invented in the 1850s and the actual photograph is on a piece of metal. Nothing about it seems easy. Jay reminded me that light meters do not apply and both exposure and development are guesswork. The image is a negative that is flipped, so I see myself here as I would in a mirror. It takes about one week to prep, as the photographer needs to make the chemistry and let it age.

I think they are beautiful. This portrait somehow reminds me of my favorite Neil Young song, Cortez The Killer. You cannot rush this song, just as you cannot rush this type of photography.

He came dancing across the water
With his galleons and guns
Looking for the new world
In that palace in the sun.

On the shore lay Montezuma
With his coca leaves and pearls
In his halls he often wandered
With the secrets of the world.

And his subjects gathered 'round him
Like the leaves around a tree
In their clothes of many colors
For the angry gods to see.

And the women all were beautiful
And the men stood straight and strong
They offered life in sacrifice
So that others could go on.

Hate was just a legend
And war was never known
The people worked together
And they lifted many stones.

They carried them to the flatlands
And they died along the way
But they built up with their bare hands
What we still can't do today.

And I know she's living there
And she loves me to this day
I still can't remember when
Or how I lost my way.

He came dancing across the water
Cortez, Cortez
What a killer...


Jay Watson's tintypes

Joni Sternbach's tintypes


If you're a fan, what's your favorite Neil song?


Clare said...

Two things. Firstly, I just adore this post and have so much admiration for your husband's talents. Secondly, a confession from me. I dont know a single Neil Young song.

dolcechic said...

What a great post. Love the photo. Hmmm...Heart of Gold is my fav.

tres_arboles said...

Killer shot is several respects. I have come to love digital photography, it's immediacy, and quite frankly the picture quality gets better and better for less money. But it's the anit-immediacy of this shot (besides the subject) that make it so admirable. Folks raised in the digital age are gonna have an increasingly difficult time understanding the prep time and the lag in production of old media.

Thanks for posting.


tres_arboles said...
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Jessica said...

Jay is the man. He does live with a beautiful subject though!

As for Neil, the entire Comes A Time record (and I do mean record) reminds me of my dad. But especially the title song, Human Highway and Look Out for My Love. And for some odd reason to this day, I find myself humming Motorcycle Mama to myself and thinking no one would possibly understand why.

Toddy said...

I missed the Neil Young boat. But my first rock concert was CSN at the Yakima State Fair. I always liked Wooden Ships. Doesn't count tho.

Ana said...

this photograph is amazing! nice collaboration, J and J!

Joseph said...

Oh jees, the connections continue! Jenny and I listen to Neil non-stop--seriously. Favorite song? On the Beach, thanks to A. Kidman. Close second? Everybody Knows this is Nowhere. You're lucky that he's pretty much your neighbor, I think it shows in you and your husband's work.
--J&J in Maine

Jamie Watson said...

Thank you guys, so much for your feedback, I enjoyed each one (so did Jay).

David - thanks a LOT.

Toddy, CSN is so close! Wooden Ships is beautiful.

Jess, your musical past is so rich, I like learning these things about you. Why don't we listen to some of these records together? You know that my Dad raised me on many of the same records yours did.

Clare - I'm not sure if you'd like NY, but I'd like to show you some tunes. You may like Heart of Gold, as dolchechic does.

Ana, you rock.

Joseph - yeah! You are right, he kind of is our neighbor. I read that he is the largest land owner in San Mateo county. Shamefully, I still haven't seen the Andrew Kidman films. I am in for a treat, I know. I will die seeing it and hearing a Neil tune in it.

sulu-design said...

Jamie, this is so, so cool. I'm passing the post along to my husband who collects tintypes and will be interested to see shat Jay has been up to with them. The portrait of you is stunning. I did a double take when I read that is was a contemporary shot - the quality of the process is so antique-looking. Beautiful!

Surfsister said...

I know this sounds typical, since I'm black, but I really like "Southern Man" for it's wailing. I also love CSN's "Ohio". Neil is great. I swear his voice is awful and yet it's beautiful at the same time.