Friday, January 14, 2011

autumn geology

This week being a photographer has reminded me of my geology lessens from way back when in grade school. Wikipedia said it best (or perhaps just most simply): “Geology (from the Greek γῆ, , "earth" and λόγος, logos, "study") is the science and study of the solid Earth and the processes by which it is shaped and changed.”

Not too long ago I spent an afternoon blissfully photographing the turning autumn leaves. Lost in the rich colors and incredible textures, I was almost having an out of body experience of abounding joy as I moved in closer and looked with dreamy eyes at one beautiful leaf after another releasing my shutter every now and again. To my disappointment I ran out of film quite quickly and decided to come back later and finish my explorational shoot. It was only a matter of a few short days until I had the film in hand and a spare moment to walk out to the maple trees in our back yard and pickup where I had left off. The trees, however, were completely bare. Not a single leaf left on a branch, just small twigs and some green and grey moss. Instead of bright beautiful orange maple leaves there were thousands of shriveled brown leaves already beginning the natural process of mulching the ground beneath the tree. That shoot had, evidently, come to an end for at least the next 300 and 59 or some-odd days to come.

On the same note, just yesterday I had another run in with nature’s fine progression. I have been working for some time now on a series of abandoned buildings, photographing the subtle beauty in rotting boards and rusting objects and the like. Yesterday I came across a building I have drove by hundreds of times and not given a second thought to. This time, however, the old wood roof was blanketed in a vibrant ocean of red. The maple leaves had covered it almost completely and to me there appeared to be, as if there had never been before, so much beauty there. The leaves made the shot, and in the timeline of a year it’s only for this one fleeting week that they’ll be there: red and delicious and glistening damp with rainwater. Photography, at its very core, is about looking, and not just looking, but also actually seeing.

When the leaves change so quickly from life green to transitional orange and red and finally to dismal brown, my sense of time and my understanding of the natural world is augmented. Amongst the many gifts of life, photography helps me to slow down and see the subtle elegance and quirky yet meaningful habits always at work around me. Watching the leaves change so quickly this season was a small yet important reminder that the world keeps spinning and that each moment is unique and special and beautiful in its very own way. Each day is exceptional in itself and one day will never be the same as another that follows or precedes it.

… and so, the lessons on how and why the world changes and shifts as it does have come back to me in these recent days. Instead of forgetting the hard-at-work process of our surrounding natural world, I have been reminded of why and how things shift and change in order to sustain a greater natural cause. We are, merely observers of this great process and it is with gratitude that I remember my childhood studies of this brilliant earth.

tulips and coconut oil on a cold day

Yesterday was a cold day. It was one of those foggy winter days when I found myself still in my pj’s drinking coffee at noon. Itching to pickup my Hasselblad, but utterly resisting going out into the sub-zero California winter temperatures, I shot off a roll of Kodak Portra 400NC on the dying tulips sitting on the breakfast nook table. To make the scene a little more interesting I wanted to create a blurred vignette using the old vaseline around the lens filter trick. To my dismay my search high and low for vaseline in our home was unsuccessful, and feeling desperate, instead of vasaline (like the good hippy Sebastopolian that I am) I rubbed a little coconut oil around my lens filter - in retrospect probably not the brightest ideas I have ever had. It worked though! I achieved the desired effect and in the end it came right off my lens filter.

As I examined the shapes and colors of the delicate and beautiful flowers through the viewfinder I became lost in their absolute beauty and subtle intricacies. Although it was a simple scene, for those ten minutes or so, the world was quiet, endlessly interesting and so, so beautiful.

This is why I love photography. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

to be a photographer

It was in a recent conversation with my mother that I was informed of the following alarming statistic: on a list of the top 50 most difficult jobs to achieve financial success and stability, photography was good old #1!

In my strong continuing effort to grow and succeed as a budding photographer in a difficult industry, the most difficult industry, I have created this blog to simply try to keep up. I will post tidbits of projects that I am working on, things that inspire me, challenges, accomplishments, pieces here and there about my life and journey and probably some other things, some things that may or may not be relevant or useful for some of you, whoever you are.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them." - Alan Watts