Artistically, this image is a departure for me. When I open the print box that contains some of my night photos from the late 90s and early 2000s, this photograph is not at all like the others. There is no discernable downtown Columbia landmark here, no familiar downtown street, no neon sign, no brick buildings, no attempt to evoke either nostalgia or a sense of history. This image stands alone in my portfolio, just as this particular rooftop view is a singular and rare sight in a city as small as Columbia.
This was taken on a balmy August night in 1999, once again on black and white film. The thing that mesmerized me by the first darkroom print I made of this image was the way the metal chimney pipes possessed the visual quality of metal…a metallic silver that can be very difficult to replicate on black and white film. And now, with the inescapable powers of hindsight and retrospect, I also see the influence of the children’s author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats guiding my hand here, bringing to light this tiny sliver of an artistically adorned, urban, rooftop landscape in Columbia. A landscape that resembles the visual backdrop to so many of his books.