The Sky Was Falling; And I Didn’t Catch It

Posted on May 16, 2012


Wow, it’s been so long since I posted, I don’t even recognize the UI. I could give the litany of excuses: medium format camera and lens bit the dust, ebay replacement arrived broken, new job (5 in the last year), and started two new companies. Maybe more about those some other time, but they are both making money now, which is is great.

However, I’m a writer and no matter what else I do, if I’m not writing, I’m failing. (Or is it flailing? I need something creative to restore me.) The one thing that absolutely blew me away about not posting in 6 weeks is that somewhere along the way I reached critical mass. Right around when I last blogged I had just hit 5000 views, which I take to be some kind of milestone because more people are reading my old posts now than used to read my new ones and I am now up over 6500 total views. And that’s not even me logging in to obsess about punctuation. Better crank out some content.

Anyway, I started this blog because I was largely using my Facebook account as a photo blog, and while it is essentially a duplication of content, I thought I would repost some of my portfolios as a way to breath some new life into this while I get back to work on my many, many projects.

I once saw a poster of cloud types in San Francisco. Every picture was taken in the “Convergence Zone” north of Everett where the wind whips over the tip of the peninsula. It turns out I have a great view of this from the deck of my house.

For new readers, I’m  still completely unrepentant regarding scan quality: I only scan to choose which to print. However, this was a particularly bad batch from when I did something like 1000 scans in a row.

Quilted Skies

When my teacher, Jahnavi Barnes saw this she said “Hmm, underexposed and over developed.” Which explained a whole lot of my crappy negatives to that time and launched me onto a long period of film testing. Mostly the film testing just pointed out my camera was broken though, so as soon as I repeat all of that with the new camera, I’ll write that up, too.
Her comment created a fundamental shift in my photography, because for one reason or another, so many of these pictures are not just bad scans, they are bad negatives. It should be crime to stand in the face of a majestic moment, recognize it for what it is, and not apply the proper technical skills to capture it. Indeed, the technical skills should be the least part of it.
For me photography is about being there. Being in the moment. Clearly a bad negative is not about being there. It is not present. It is the slovenly acceptance of a unique gift. Do not take pictures lightly. Do not become digital drunkards. No matter the medium, take each photo like you were shooting rolls of 10 images, or like the great pioneers – 1 image. Each of which you might wait hours, days – or in my case -sometimes years to have the time and skill to develop and print, and only then take your shot. That is the skill of photography. That is the art. Seeing and capturing the moment. Read The Making of 40 Photographs before you shoot another picture. Make art, not snapshots.

Another porch shot. The neighbor’s trees are starting to occlude the view and I think I might have to start shooting (pictures, not neighbors) from the roof.

One of the things I like about working from home is that if the light is good, I can step outside and get a shot. You can just see the funnel cloud forming at the bottom of this shot.

Once you start shooting B&W shots with a red filter it’s really hard to go back. Still kicking myself for not having red filters at Baker.

This is from my old house on Ben Howard Rd.

Another porch shot. I’ve printed this at 16×20. It requires a #3 filter, but it comes out really nice.

Talk about a storm front. This is in the Skagit, famous for its tulip festival and smack dab in the middle of the convergence zone. This always reminded my of my friend Karka Matzke’s paintings.

After the fire I went fishing in Alaska. I hiked for miles across the tundra to take some shots, only made possible by bears smashing trails through the knee-high eon-old foliage. Then, some f*cker stole our boat, the island we were on flooded with salt water and I lost not only all my film but all my gear. So these pictures are just here to tell the story, although the stains do add a certain je ne sais quois that will probably make it the Instagram crowd pick.

Always looking for new views on old subjects.

Behind the Red Apple in Sultan. This begs to be retaken with the 500mm lens, don’t you think? I love the peak into the storm-laden valley like a door into a magical kingdom.

I had a friend who worked at the vaunted Pilchuck Glass school. I used to hang out there, take pictures, pick mushrooms, and catch fish out of the pond. Paradise for me, although some how politics seems to choke all of the creativity out of the artists. Go figure.

I’ve been trying to get a good shot of this valley since I moved here. I raced from dinner in Redmond to get this shot. I love the localized rain coming down, but still it doesn’t capture the valley the way it opens up as you come down the hill. On a good day Rainer would be about centered in this shot.

To me clouds are like flames: always there, always shifting, the sense of unread meaning just out of grasp, a will-o’-the-wisp of enlightenment that I chase down and seek to capture in silver nitrate, perhaps to divine it at some later time.