Most of september, I lived out of my suitcase. Labor day weekend, I was flying back from Denver. I had been there at a conference, technically in Aurora. The night before had been a late one; there was an open bar that had Laphoriag, and it only takes a couple (three?) these days to give me a wicked hangover. But that’s not what this is about, nor is it about the 3am Mcd’s I may have had. I managed to get up in the morning and get myself together, get to the airport. By the time I got through security, I’d drank a liter of water and one of gatorade, and I was feeling somewhat human.
Of course, that meant that as soon as we got to cruising altitude, I was asleep. Turns out that was a good thing, lots of clouds over the Rockies, not a ton to see. I woke up as we were passing over the eastern sierra, snapped a pic of the fires over Yosemite, and tried to wake up to march through the airport.
Somehow, I either took a wrong turn or something, but my plane went to terminal 1, and I ended up walking all the way to the exit in Terminal 2. Maybe I was still a bit hungover. At least I only had carry-on luggage; I walked out the door and Sophie pulled up about two minutes later, and we were off. I had kinda thought I’d go home, maybe take a shower and grab some clean clothes, but things were already in motion, and there wasn’t time.
Sophie drove straight from the airport north, across the bridge and onto the 101. I don’t remember the town name, but we were headed somewhere in Marin, where our friends James and Janelle have a place with a pool. Cason and Ryan were already there, having a good time and texting us, telling us to hurry.
I feel like I got there, cracked a beer, and hopped in the pool, but there was probably more to it than that. They definitely showed us around the place. It was dark, when we got there, but it was also still like 80º. This was one of the last really hot weekends, so the water was fine. I was able to run laundry, shower, and fall asleep in a nice warm bed.
Sunday, we went to the grocery store and got some essentials, burgers and chips and that sort of thing. Just sort of had a lazy day most of the morning, besides the grocery run. James grilled the burgers for a late lunch, just a perfect Labor Day weekend. Then, I’d decided ahead of time that I wanted to go shoot pictures around sunset in Point Reyes, because it was my birthday weekend. So we took the car and headed west, in that direction. But those photos will be in the next post.
Posted on 2022-10-02 07:22:18Z GMT
I just felt like posting something, and scrolled through the stuff in my backlog (which I keep in Lightroom’s ‘Quick Collection’). This was the first set that really kind of hung together.
This was last year, about this time (roughly August). I had just gotten fired from my job, and decided I should take some time off, and as it happened Christa was visiting, so it kinda worked out. We met and took the ferry to Oakland, probably got dinner, or I drove her to Allie’s? I don’t remember, she might’ve stayed with us for part of it too. Next day, we went to the Bay Model (not pictured, talk about drab lighting inside but fascinating to look at). Then an afternoon walking around the de Young with Allie, dinner in the Sunset, Uke on the couch, and a hike on the last day.
Some or all of that may be out of order, it was a long time ago. I’m pretty sure Christa has visited twice since then? or maybe I was in NYC twice and she was here once? Anyway, there are a lot more photos on the backlog. A whole years worth, almost. Remember when I did short posts, just one or two photos? Yeah, me neither.
Posted on 2022-08-26 08:22:52Z GMT
Sometimes, when I go out to shoot pictures, everything goes wrong. I start by forgetting I had the camera in self timer the last time I was shooting, so I miss the first picture. Then I get off a couple frames, and realize the ISO is also set to eleventy-million. Then the autofocus hunts when I’m trying to get a picture of something fleeting, like someone walking slowly through the frame; I realize the focus point has fucked off to the corner of the frame somehow.
Once I get in a funk like this, it’s important to realize that nothing good can happen and I should just stop; but “can’t stop won’t stop forgot how to stop” isn’t just my twitter bio. Sometimes such a shoot can be redeemed by stopping, taking a break, perhaps a shot of whiskey, and moving on. A reset for the mind.
W. Eugene Smith, when he was shooting in steel factories for Time Magazine (when Time meant something, that is), would stop in the middle of the damn place, have his assistant produce a portable record player, and sit and have a whiskey, if the shooting wasn’t going well.
All that to say, sometimes, a shoot is the opposite. The camera is always ready; the light is at the right angle, and I’m on the right side of the street to use it. The modes are right, the autofocus does its job and gets out of the way.
More than that, though. I’m seeing clearly and responding to what’s in front of me. When I compose, I remember to glance at the frame edges and think about what’s there, at least a little bit, to make sure I’m not cutting anything off accidentally (doing it on purpose is fine). I’m adjusting depth of field to fit the composition. There’s a kind of focus of intent that spreads out to all the different factors you have to manage to make a good picture; on the good days, it feels like I’m doing the one thing I was put here on earth for.
Or maybe, sometimes, it feels like nothing. Last sunday, I had the good kind of session. I was just walking and found a groove. I wasn’t reviewing images as I shot, except to check exposure occasionally. I had a feeling I was doing pretty well, but years of shooting film (which was really two decades ago now, jeez I’m getting old) sort of burned out trying to guess if the pictures were good while the shoot is still happening. Sometimes there is a good vibe, though, that you don’t look too closely at, for fear of scaring it off.
Then, you get home and you’ve shot 80 pictures, and 20 of them are good enough to blog. you know how wild that is? Normally a 5% hit rate (one or two per roll of 36, in the old days) was good.
I don’t know that there’s a point to this, other than to mark how wonderful it is when it happens. I don’t have any secrets for accessing this higher plateau of art making. It’s mostly a matter of doing the thing and being there when the time comes.
Photography (and painting, and sculpture) is a business of millimeters and milliseconds. Writing probably too, especially poetry (“For he’s the super realist…”) Either you’re at the right place at the right time or you’re not. The margin for error is brutally small, and the photo, in the end, is binary: either it works or it doesn’t.
On the best days, I am a gambler with loaded dice. All the chance elements turn my way, and I come by at just the right moment, with the right lens on, and make the pictures.
Posted on 2022-07-11 07:13:41Z GMT