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spacer Lucy Castle, Joshua Tree, California, 2001
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Karl Derfler, SKywalker Ranch, CA

I snapped this with the first of the so-called Advanced Photo System cameras, which used a film format smaller than 35 mm, sealed in a cartridge, and also included a magnetic stripe on the film’s edge to record exposure information. Canon’s sleek and small Elph, which would be introduced a few months later, became a modestly successful APS product and a fashion statement as well – a notion not lost on the designers at Apple who created the iPod. Kodak spent hundreds of millions of dollars developing this new format, claiming it would deliver better prints, and also hoped APS would help end the slow but steady decline in the sale of film cameras. Alas, it did not, and in 2003, for the first time, more digital than film cameras were sold worldwide. The nicest thing about most APS cameras was that they could easily fit in a pocket – and this image would not exist if my little Konica had not. Karl, who has engineered many great rock albums, including No Doubt’s “Rock Steady,” was working with my friend Jerry Harrison, producing a new album, “Remember,” with the band Rusted Root. I would often stop in to visit Jerry and Karl when they were working at various studios in the Bay Area. But Jerry had warned me that this band was skittish about having strangers show up at its sessions. They were almost religious in the way they worked, filling the studio with candles and speaking in very hushed tones. One night Jerry called and invited me to stop by for dinner at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch, where Rusted Root were recording tracks. During the meal I passed the camera around the table. And when we went back into the studio after dinner, nobody batted an eyelash when I pulled the thing out of my pocket and fired off this portrait of the engineer in a white T shirt. The ethereal object floating over Karl is a reflection of me in the control room glass. Because of the room’s layout, the only way to have the camera at Karl’s eye level was to hold it well below my own eyes. So this was a blind stab at composition. Sometimes it works; usually it doesn’t.

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