Big and Empty

Is Robert Adams still alive? (He is) Driving along the front range on I-25, I could really see the attraction to the area, which was and really still is his home turf. It’s spectacular in scale, and the juxtaposition of the tiny scale of the ‘development’ done here next to the mountains that do not care is sublime; it is a ratio that is just out of our ability to understand.

The impulse persists, though. to try to put a frame around it, even (especially) at 70MPH. The smaller, man-made junk on these rises that go on for miles and miles; the smoke from the fires.

I dunno. We’re out here. We came to get away from the smoke in CA, and there’s a huge fire (biggest in state history) about 5 miles from where we were staying for the last month. The prevailing wind was sometimes in our favor, sometimes not. We were isolating/social distancing in a house owned by a friend of the family; they had a dog that needed watching, and their dates and ours aligned pretty well.

We were already coming to Colorado to celebrate Sophie’s birthday. It’s a big one, and even in the pandemic, we figured we could get away with a small gathering, as long as everyone is isolating properly before (we’re also going to all get tested before we meet, as an additional precaution). Then, of course, we’re going to go back to Cali and sit in our house and isolate for two weeks; followed by the regular social distance / pods we were doing before. It’s not zero risk, but it’s also not a ton more than sitting at home (by my reckoning; I am not an immunologist, please carefully consider your options and risk factors).

I still have complicated feels, even doing all the right things. I guess it’s like any form of security. It’s not a binary, but rather a continuum. My personal threat model for this is “don’t kill anybody” and second “try not to die.” Mask wearing is non-optional in public settings; private gatherings are small, intentional, and book ended by long periods (at least two weeks) of social distancing. We’re following all the rules, or at least as many as we can and still do the thing.

We also spent the first month of lockdown not entering a building not our own house. As we found out about mask wearing, got sufficient masks that fit well enough, we added the grocery store to that list. And I’ve blogged about going camping up in the hills, after that even. Going into a store, as long as everyone is masked, seems decently safe. You won’t catch me going inside a bar or restaurant until this is really over. Isolation in time and space, and try not to die.

That’s it for now. We’re away from the smoke, finally, in an airbnb. I should be sleeping. good night.

Posted on 2020-10-20 07:04:49Z GMT

orange sky 2

There may be a nuanced discussion to have about the difference between, say, the fire management policies of the state of california and the ongoing effects of climate change; the difference between a black swan event (I think this is number 3 or 4 of those for this year) and leading indications of trends. I’m not the guy to write those essays; I think, at this point, they’re a difference without a distinction, or vice versa. We’ve been fucking up for a while, and the time to change was 10 years ago, and now we must do everything we can (we is intentional; collective action is the only way out of this).

In case anyone is wondering: I walked around for about half an hour to shoot these, and then we drove out to the emeryville marina for the last couple. White balance was set to Lightroom’s Tungsten preset, as that struck a nice balance between too orange to see what’s going on, and what it really looked like. Shot mostly wide open, mostly on my trusty Summilux.

Posted on 2020-09-09 23:43:02Z GMT

first slowly, then all at once

Context: I took these 20 minutes ago, outside my house. It’s 8:53am local, which means the sun should be up AND THE SKY SHOULD NOT BE ORANGE. I believe the technical term for this situation is ‘fucked’, or barring that, ‘entirely fucked’. We may be well and truly FUBAR’d.

Posted on 2020-09-09 15:55:16Z GMT

full narrative collapse

On some old pickup trucks, there was an option to lock the differential for use when in four wheel drive*. The idea being that one tire might slip where the others wouldn’t. You couldn’t use it for very long without unlocking, because the difference in the way the wheels spun would put twist in the axles, first loading up the drivetrain with spring tension and then causing something to break (at the right forces, any piece of steel is a spring, for at least a little bit).

But/And! impassable territory became passable, just barely. Drive, hit a rough passage, lock it down, drive a little, unlock, coast, lock, repeat, until you get past the obstacle.

That’s sort of how I feel about this here blog. when this blog is going well, there is a rhythm to it, a sort of A follows B follows C that kinda works. A smooth narrative from post to post, and sometimes I can keep that going for quite a while. But the world doesn’t fit a smooth narrative. Plans are lists of things that don’t happen. No smooth narratives here.

Let’s not think too hard about the metaphor. I’m not sure it actually extends to the territory being rough, all right? Sometimes it’s just that I get distracted by other projects, and they take over my time. Despite my efforts to never sleep, it’s still limited.

Posted on 2020-08-25 07:58:57Z GMT

Halloween, in the beforetimes

At some point in the last few weeks (maybe a month ago? time is a soup in a blender), I found a folder of images that was everything I shot from just after the trip to new york all the way through the beginning of december. So, starting from the top, here’s some stuff from Halloween night.

These are with the 35/1.4 voightlander, and I hadn’t noticed it being appreciably soft wide open, but these do have some glow. The close up portrait is nice, but the others… well, my technical game is always improving.

Current projects moving in one way or another:

  • Briefcase Bag - Doing a muslin in cordura before I use the expensive stuff. All cut, doing the assembly now. I’m not actually doing any new techniques, just recombining old tricks and a slightly different shape. Dimensions to fit a 16”MBP, in case I ever get around to buying one.
  • Books - So I have almost half a dozen possible book projects, three of which spring to mind immediately, so those are probably what I’ll go with. There’s the Brazil retrospective (15 years later! god I’m old), there’s the NY synthesis book (just called “The Questions,” probably), and the Dinner Club book, which I haven’t even tried to make an edit for.
  • Lathe Purchase - This is to support some of the other things I’d like to do, in particular make fixtures for a bike frame jig, and cut the tubes.

Backburnered projects:

  • The bike frame itself. I got to a point with my welding that I could get all the way around a joint with no blowouts consistently, and decided to conserve some material for when I was able to start up again after I make the frame jig.
  • San Pablo. Had to give it a rest. It may start back up, or it may not, but in the mean time, I’ll probably cast about for a new photo-project to work on. Open to suggestions.

Posted on 2020-08-17 08:43:42Z GMT