Saturday, May 21, 2016

Realization

I hate going through negatives. I’m not much of an organizational person. However, I just received the best gift going through them. A realization that I have been working on a project without knowing it.


You know the realization. You like a certain type of image, a certain subject matter, and then you look though your shots and see a theme. You didn’t go out hunting for this type of image, but you found it anyway, and the theme just happened.


shoot-542In my case, I think I subconsciously knew I was doing it. So I was chasing the project before I knew what it was or what I was doing. But now it’s coming together.


It’s no secret I’m in love with the Inter-Mountain West. I moved 1,800 miles to be here and I consider that the smartest move of my life. I looked back through my negatives and realized, what I have going is a love story with the mountains.


By Wednesday, I’ll have a new pack, the last piece of gear I wanted before hiking and camping season. Since the high mountain passes start opening on Memorial Day, the timing is pretty good. I need to either get my Canon 7 CLA’d or get a backup body, and the repair guy needs to finish up with my Kodak Medalist, and then I can dedicate some serious time to the project. There’s going to be a lot of time under big skies and a lot of miles on foot and some on bicycle involved. And hundreds of frames, if I have my way.


shoot-543So I’m sharing this realization in an attempt to keep myself honest. I’ll need to work on it every possible moment I can. And if I tell folks about it, I have to go do it. So you should get some previews. These shots from a cheap plastic pano are the first step. The thrill of that realization should carry me the rest of the way.



Realization

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Waiting

Spending a lot of time waiting and not particularly enjoying it. There’s a lot of “fixin to” going on now. Repairs, new camping gear, and checking on plans seems to be the new rut I’m in.


I suppose there is value to proper preparation and all that, but I’m getting a little tired of it.


The Medalist I dropped off for repairs a couple of months ago hasn’t been touched yet. It may not be touched for a month more. I’m kind of worried he’ll just decide he doesn’t want to fix it and tell me he can’t and to come pick it up. The new pack isn’t available in my size and desired capacity now. Parts are being shipped, and then I can replace the scratched ground glass in my 4×5, but shipping from the east coast seems to take forever. It feels like everything is just out of reach no matter how hard I pedal.


Really, I’m ready to get on with it already.


It’s marathon weekend. In spite of being sick, Steph is running anyway. After this weekend, we’re out of reasons to stay in Denver, though. Hopefully, weather will co-operate and we’re out and off and running. We may just do some day hiking out and back from a campsite just to get started and give the new tent a test run. A small amount of progress would be good, and might do wonders for my waning sanity.


shoot-539I have the feeling I’m going to get sick of waiting and just decide “the hell with it, let’s go!” one afternoon. Which will either be epic, or tragic, depending on luck. I miss being out and up and away. I’m getting twitchy.


Waiting is the hardest part. Or so said some singer in the 80s, so it must be true.



Waiting

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Lost time

I’ve been down with the roughest encounter with influenza B I’ve ever had in my life. Two weeks lost to feeling like crap all the time and hacking up a lung. Half the office has had it, and coughing echos through my apartment building as well. Nothing to do for it but just outlive it, so I have been working on little else. Fever dreams and a crushing weakness to cap it all off.


I’m feeling better. Steph, who came down with it as well, has turned the corner and is on her way to recovering. So now I’m trying to get it together to make up for lost time. Oddly enough, the film development backlog didn’t work itself out while I was sick. Nor did the horribly neglected scanning and cataloging project. Stupid elves or fairies or whoever was supposed to surprise me with getting everything done while I was bedridden didn’t actually do it. Fired, I tell you. They’re all fired.


The best thing about losing time is it inspires you to make up time. So this summer, I am going to start a project I have been putting off for a while. Steph and I are going to go camping often this summer, and the gear has been laid in to do it. We cashed in our REI dividend, and now have the nicest tent I have ever owned. I need to sort a new pack and some odds and ends, and we’re off. Trips to the Colorado National Monument, a return to the Lost Creek Wilderness, and an exploration of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison are in the offing this summer, among other places.


If everything co-operates, I want to ride the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota as well. Easier when camping it.


shoot-538The project is a love story with the American west, capturing it as well as I can. I’ve been pouring over maps, pulling out old lists, and finding new places. This project will take more years than I have to finish, but a thing worth doing is always hard and the best ones are impossible. So I’ve been turning it over in my mind and making choices. Yes to here, maybe to there, narrowing it down a bit.


As soon as the virus dies, I am going to hit the ground running  and see what I can do. Making up for lost time.



Lost time

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The public lands argument

The current advertising for the National Park system bills them as “America’s Best Idea.” I’m with Alan Spears on that, though. There are many American ideas better than the NPS. But public lands and National Parks are not a bad idea in any way. Which is why the unending attacks on their very existence puzzles me.


Much of this is just pure greed. The greedy want to transfer the ownership of Federal Lands to state governments under a “States Rights” argument. That alone should tell you what you need to know about this movement. “States Rights” arguments gave us the Civil War and the opposition to the Civil Rights movement.


shoot-534Colorado has many fine state parks, but state land is a good example of what will happen if greed wins and federal land is transferred. BLM land is usually used for grazing, with hunting and camping also available. It has the least restrictions on it I’ve ever seen. As far as I know, the rules for being on BLM land are: camp off the water so the wild creatures can drink, use fire responsibly, and if you’re going to park your vehicle for more than two weeks let them know, otherwise they send out a search party too soon. The equivalent state land is off-limits, not that you’d want to go on it anyway. Most if it I’ve seen is being used by fracking operations. Utah has done this with just about all its state land already and so wants the Federal land to do the same with. Never mind the fact that the state can’t afford to administer those lands if they got them.


There are people like the Bundy’s who want that Federal land. They interpret the Constitution’s Enclave Clause and Property Clause in a way that is insane. They’d be easy to dismiss but for the fact they are armed terrorists.


shoot-535Some people are ignorant on the role of these lands. Without sufficient aquifers, there’s not enough drinking water for the cities out here, and water is already pretty tight. Between rapid growth and climate change, it’s not likely to get better anytime soon. But they’re not seeing that, only seeing unused space.


So the opposition to public lands is made up of greed, ignorance, and terror. How are these people getting so much traction? Why are we listening to them at all?


 


Alan Spears opinion piece on the NPS as “Greatest Idea”



The public lands argument

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Experience

I’ve been on the road a lot recently, and it’s left me with a backlog of film to process, and no time to do it. Six day work week to boot. I may just have to give up and send film out to be processed, which is a new experience.


Still, it’s given me new things to see and fodder for photos. It’s good to get out.


I’ve recently had another of my camera reviews up on a bigger website. Emulsive, a fantastic site that’s a great resource for the film community, was kind enough to publish my review of the Canon 7 Rangefinder I love and lug about so often. I’m not big on technical information. I don’t pixel peep and wax poetic about lens coatings or know the names of all the formulas that create them. I’m not always possessed of the most accurate information about a given thing. In talking with Emulsive, I admitted that I really don’t have anything to offer but my experiences with a thing. And it turned out, that was enough.


shoot-532If we’re being honest about it, none of us has more than our experiences. We have things, but those really aren’t our own. Unlike experiences, those can be taken away. We have knowledge, memories, but those are secondary to our experiences.


So when I spend a day on the road, I wake up looking forward to the day’s experiences to come. Looking forward to what I will see and do before sundown and bed in another hotel.


I’ll be in town for a bit, working on a camera and hopefully getting another back from the repair shop, but then back out. This time with my beloved in tow for the first camping outing of the year and some epic scenery to photograph. Experiences like these, I look forward too.


Here’s the Canon 7 review on Emulsive



Experience

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Strange Trails

I’m back from a week on the road, and it made a difference.


I tend to stay closer to home during winter. It’s typical. I keep an eye on the weather so as to avoid getting stuck out, sleeping in a high school gym somewhere while the snow flies. I know unplanned elements just add to an adventure, but I spent enough time in those gyms in high school.


But it reminded me of a couple of things.


shoot-529I still haven’t seen all of this state I live in. I wandered over the Divide to the Western Slope, which I haven’t spent much time on. It’s really quite different. Far more rural and sparsely populated, I can see the allure. Aside from some poverty related problems, it wouldn’t be a bad place to spend time or even live.


 


shoot-531But most importantly, it reminded me I need to spend more time on strange trails than I do. I keep closer to home, so a lot of the trails I ride and hike are familiar in the winter. I need to get out and about and further afield. Weather getting warmer will help that. Being conscious of limiting my own choices will, too. As I rolled along the state highways, I couldn’t help but notice how many trail heads I passed. And I felt the pull of every one, leading me up and away from the road in to the forest.


So going forward, I won’t resist that pull when I feel it. This is going to be a summer of strange trails.



Strange Trails

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Spending time in the woods

We’re planning on spending a lot of time outdoors this summer.


We’re at the cusp of the process that end with us in a home of our own. And as such, we’re saving a bit of money. So this summer will be playing out a little differently.


shoot-527Instead of a big cycle tour, this summer there will be many overnights in the woods. After all, once the gear is bought, the overnights just cost gas and food. Plus, there’s something to be said about sleeping under stars in a tent with the rain fly off. Far enough out you can see the milky way, and experience what dark really is.


We’ll be taking a train trip again, heading to San Francisco for a few days. Hiking about the city and shooting much film. We might run out to South Dakota and ride the Mickelson trail on a four day weekend, weather and all other factors being able to co-operate. But those may be the only long distance miles we bike this year.


Of course, the end result will hopefully be a place of our own with a nice back yard for Steph to garden and a place for me to convert to a dark room to practice alchemy in.


shoot-526In getting there, we will be spending time climbing mountains and hiking down valleys. We will spend time watching the world turn colors when the sun comes up and goes down. We will spend time counting stars, eating off of camp stoves, and drinking the occasional shot of whisky to keep the chill at bay.


I know it won’t all be picture perfect. We’ll also spend time huddled under a tarp as it rains, and slogging in mud getting back to the truck. I’ll spend time swearing at the stove when it won’t start, or the sleeping bag when it gets wet in the storms. But that time won’t really count.


We’ll be spending time together, out in the woods, on trains, and on bikes. And that is all that really matters.



Spending time in the woods