The truth – I have always been afraid. It is a painful feeling, fear. It sits deep in the bottom part of your stomach and hurts. But it is the energy of survival. I have always been afraid of fear and at the same time grateful for it–afraid of its pain and grateful that because of the pain I can take steps to eradicate it by overcoming that which frightens me.
One who is afraid reacts to it as any animal. If one is a rabbit, one runs into one’s hole and hides. If one is a turtle one pulls back into one’s shell. We have all known people who react to their fear in this fashion. Some call them shy. Some, wrongfully, call them cowards.
But some people react to fear as a wolf reacts. We get angry. It is easier to be angry than to be afraid. It is less painful. The frightened wolf attacks whatever frightens him. But it is fear, nevertheless.
Fear has been given to us so that we may recognise that which endangers us in this complex world. To avoid injury of one kind or another we need to recognise the danger, whatever it may be. Fear permits us to ask ourselves: what are we afraid of and to evaluate it. It gives us an opportunity to say to ourselves, we don’t need to be afraid of this person or that situation. It is something we can handle. It gives us an opportunity to understand that the other person may be as afraid of us as we are afraid of them. It gives us a chance to deal with our fear.
Fear is also the stuff of courage. We cannot be brave without fear. One who faces unreasonable danger is not courageous unless that person has first felt fear and overcome it. He is only foolish. I know of no persons who are brave who are not first afraid. So, at last, fear is our friend. Listen to it. It speaks loudly to us. It is not to be ignored. It is to be cherished as our protective partner.
In the end, fear is a gift.
One of the gaps that exists between seeing the ocean with your own eyes and photographing the ocean is that it can be hard to really capture the sense of movement, which itself helps convey the sense of space and depth. Sometimes I have found it helps to do long exposures. The motion blur can help illustrate the various layers at work. I think that is what this photo was about for me. The light was really nice as well but mostly I was enamoured by the layers: that brightly lit layer with the dark stony layer residing beneath. One moving to the tide of the moon, the other benevolently resting below.
Anyway, this is a partial story, as they all are. I always see more than I photograph and I always photograph more than I write about and explain. But I wanted to add this bit at least, for its depth.
It occurs to me that these days one must go farther and farther to escape the crowds. I witnessed how larger and larger numbers of people are travelling and places are getting more and more crowded. In part this is driven by the internet and social media. It is easier to publicise a place and we are drawn like moths to a flame to the places that sites such as Instagram subtly tell us are the “it” places that one must visit in their life. Look at Iceland, look at New Zealand, sure. But even on a smaller, more local scale I see beaches and trails becoming more packed. I don’t know what I think of this. On one hand I find it repellent and annoying to navigate crowds of people when my goal is to get somewhere away from people. On the other hand, I can hardly fault these people for wanting to get out into beautiful places. They are doing the same thing I am doing and I can no more fault them than I can, or should, myself. But at the same time the increasing numbers present issues. The more individuals through an area the more wear on that area, the more litter, the more people climbing through alpine meadows off-trail, or scaling sea stacks at the beach disturbing the natural bird life. We slowly erode that which we love.
On a photographic level the unwanted wanderer has long been a bane to the photographer wanting to get “the shot”. I remember struggling with this in my early days, waiting patiently and sometimes not so patiently, for that man in the red raincoat to get along his merry way and out of the frame I have been composing for the past ten minutes. But that was then. These days I rarely experience the issue and in large part that is because of the world of photography that long exposure and pinhole has opened up to me. When you are making 10 second, or eight minute exposures, crowds not present much less an issue but actually they create an opportunity. So many times the essence of a particular landscape image to me is based on the unpredictable blur of people moving within the frame. Now my struggles laughably tend toward the opposite end of the spectrum. I set up to make a long exposure of people within a landscape and I get a minute into a four minute exposure and they get up and leave the frame, barely registering as ghosts at that point. I want to run in and tell them to not get out of my way.
The photographic aspect of this issue is a fun one to wrestle with, the non-photographic aspects of growing crowds though has me a little concerned at times.
My Lament to Fuji Acros, which is not long for this world. Like the seasons, the inexorable spin of the planet and the relentless pull of time and progress have their way eventually. Acros will be a memory, but what memories it will have made. This roll, for example, exposed in the shifting dunes in the middle of the coastline nowhere, with the sun beating down and the wind completely still.
Tangentially, I’m a late spring/early summer guy. I love the promise of warmth. I love the feeling of well being it brings. I love the quiet that both bring. But spring comes and goes such that despite how well we get along, we always part. But we part with promises to reunite again when we can. Eventually time will break that promise but till then…
I am disappointed to see Acros break that promise, but it is a fact of life as a film photographer. I have seen more films come and go in my years than films currently available. Weirdly enough, I am OK with this and that is largely because I have images like these. It is worth it to live through the demise of Acros because I had this chance to make these Photographs with it. And not to sound callous, but there are other films. So I carry on and swing between tears and wonder.
Still, I will miss this film.
It’s not what you’ll possess
It’s how you will express
The essence of you
It’s not the wage you earn
It’s about the things you learn
And the love that you give
It’s not what you’ll conceal
It’s all that you’ll reveal
That will make you be you
The perfection of you
These images happened at around 06.00 in the morning on a snowy outing. I made two images of these trees. The first I exposed per my usual formula for challenging lighting conditions: using f11 and a 400 film with only the shutter speed varying. In this case, the shutter speed was about 5 seconds. And then to do a little experimenting I decided to flood the frame with some light and thus I made a second exposure, adding a ND Filter at f11 and ISO 400 but for about 2 minutes. I wanted to really overexpose the scene and render it much brighter under the unique ambient light that occurs on heavily overcast snowy days.
Mesmerised children are playing
Meant to be seen but not heard
Stop me from dreaming
Don’t be absurd!
Sentenced to drift far away now
Nothing is quite what it seems
Sometimes entangled in your own dreams
Long afloat on ship less oceans
I did all my best to smile
One of the greatest gifts of photography is the ability to be fascinated by something as seemingly mundane as an abandoned child’s bike, a discarded chair or an empty parking lot. In all fairness it wasn’t simply an empty parking lot, but rather the light during a sandstorm, late one afternoon drifting across the sand peppered surface of an empty parking lot. But that is still fairly mundane. Not many people are sitting at home and think to themselves, you know what I want to do today? It’s not dinner, it’s not clubbing, it’s empty parking lots. Not many people! But I am happy to belong to the people who do think such things. Because that’s what photography does for me, it gives me the tools I need to notice such things and a strengthened sense of creativity to appreciate them.
And I am thankful for that. It isn’t even about being able to make an interesting photo of such things, but rather simply the noticing of them. I think this image is alright, I doubt I will ever print it, it’s interesting enough to post along with this short train of thought, so that counts for something. But the value that came from this experience was all in the experience itself, standing there in a big, open parking lot that was a few hours removed from being packed with cars and people, that was noisy with human activity and had become silent, the play of the different colour temperatures of light across its surface, and the speed at which the clouds were traveling on the stormy breeze through the skies above.
I also found my shadow exploring the emptiness. I know that technically it is always there, following me endlessly around on my travels, whether it wants to or not. Sometimes I notice its companionship, sometimes I know I don’t, but yet it remains right there. I turned around, surveying the light, looking for any last moments of the day to photograph, and there it was stretching out in front of me. Was it in repose? In waiting? Bored? Anticipating? I have no idea. I never do. But it did hold still long enough for me to make a photo of it in that light. Within a minute or two, the sun had dipped those crucial extra couple of degrees and my shadow, though still there in some sense, had nonetheless dissipated, immersing itself unto invisibility in the greater pool of shadow that stretched across the land.
All in all, it was a good moment to be in and one I doubt I would have ever found without the benefit of photography.
I continue to be intrigued by how we see and experience colour. What if our colour layers would have been swapped? Take anything green and replaces it with purple, and vice versa. This swapping of course has other side effects on colour rendition, but the purple-green connection is the main impetus here.
Considering that I like to spend time in green places (like forests) I have some motivation to investigate.
To me this isn’t a gimmick, but instead helps me meditate on the idea but for a quirk of evolution we may not see forests as the lush green wonderlands they are. Our eyes could have adapted to see them as lush purple wonderlands or magenta wonderlands if we had developed some infrared sensitivity. There are some out there with colour blindness that don’t see them as all that green. We are used to seeing forests as green and take it for granted that they are green and we don’t even spend any time thinking about alternatives. I like trying to think about the things I don’t think about. So here’s to thinking about forests in ways we don’t normally think about them.
But there’s so much more than this
There is something else there
When all that we perceive has all gone
But nothing fades as fast as the future
And nothing clings like the past, until we can see
Way beyond imagination
Beyond the stars
With my head so full of fractured pictures
It’s all there is
Gino and Libby
Sam, Denzil, Libby and Hattie
And as Waldmeister Aldo becomes our newest Champion my thoughts drift to my dog of a lifetime. Nimrods Gismo also known as Gino. His blood runs in all Waldmeister Dachshunds. You travelled on way too soon.
“They say you can’t take it with you but they are wrong, because something big has gone”