Among The Weightless…

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Rainbows are illusions in Nature’s mirror.

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History is a concept, often assisted by gravity.

There are many things that can only be weighed by a heart or mind.

 

 

Big Ol’ Barn

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Light along the Oregon coastline and in the small inland valleys is often naturally diffused by moisture in the air (aka fog), as in this early morning Kodachrome from the 1980s. I converted it to digital using SilverFast 8 software with a Nikon Coolscan V scanner.

I was so naive as a kid I used to sneak behind the barn and do nothing. —Johnny Carson

Lost In Hardman


I rediscovered this picture while rifling through a stack of slide pages the other day, and the long-ago moods attached to it—of subject and circumstances—were as fresh as ever.

Hardman, Oregon, was a popular ghost town in the ’60s and ’70s (I would say is except I haven’t returned, and can’t vouch for its present condition), and late one summer day in 1978 my tripod straddled the center line on the secondary highway that divided its few remaining structures. A friend’s tripod stood nearby, and we were mesmerized by the light fantastic reflected onto those four panes. The vibrant colors we focused on were courtesy of a bank of high clouds far to the west—the landscape itself had turned quite dark, as this was nearly an hour after sunset.

Darkness finally ended our shooting, and the sensation I experienced then may be similar to that of someone waking from a hypnotic trance—”I’ll count to three now and when I snap my fingers…”—I looked around and wondered “How did I get HERE?” I was suddenly back in the moment, with 400 miles to go before I slept (work the next morning came at 8 o’clock).

My friend and I used up all the bad jokes we knew on the drive home, stopped for coffee where we could find it, and straggled into Eugene as the sun peeked over the Coburg Hills. I’d only slapped myself a couple of times en route, had a picture I really liked (and still do), and learned another important lesson from The Road.

Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t get lost in a place like Hardman.

Single-minded, Mostly

Single-minded, Mostly

At 59 I’ve seen film photography succeeded by digital capture, and mainstream print media buffeted by an increasingly electronic marketplace (the disappearance of Life and Look are two examples). I probably picked up my enjoyment of pictures, and picture-making itself, from those weekly magazines. Later, when I had my first 35mm camera, they became resources for learning.

The photographers who shot for Life, especially, appeared to lead exciting and exotic lives—this was proven every week when their amazing stories were delivered to our mailbox. There was a liveliness about those pages, and an impact on readers, that won’t be duplicated.

Besides their memorable photographs, Life’s staffers would occasionally talk about how they worked and what they had to do to get them. Aside from technical matters, this was a great way to learn attitude.

I thought of that while waiting for a live-fire drill to begin last Saturday (the second session I’ve shot in a week). Standing on the fringe of a large group of firefighters and listening to the Training Officer explain the day’s schedule, I noticed the early morning fog moving deliciously around an old barn a hundred yards away, and along a short stretch of the Willamette River behind the property owner’s new house. In particular, I was attracted by a sprawling maple tree cloaked by the mists.

But my job (self-assigned) was to shoot fire pictures, not nature or scenery…and it was at that moment I remembered something Life’s Co Rentmeester said, that being a professional meant ignoring 90 per cent of the other photo opportunities that present themselves as you completed your assignment. And so, because they fell in that other ten per cent, I took time to shoot the barn, and the bonus cow, and invested a few minutes surveying the maple tree. The fog dispersed quickly after that, the drill started, and I got busy taking the pictures I’d come for.

Rentmeester, by the way, is still making wonderful photographs.

Single-minded, Mostly