Three weeks later,
can I recall the sky?
On that longest day of the year, summer solstice, 2008?
First, clear, cumulous forming slowly on the horizon,
and then the sky was overcast, or nearly so,
with sharp definition.
For the photographer, a challenge: rapidly changing light, color
temperature climbing from 5,000 degrees Kelvin
to over 7,000. Blue ascending.
into the diminishment of light, or nearly so, night.
What do the photographs reveal?
Those of day, those of
From my Journal, June 23, 2008:
This single dream: I was a young dad again, with a daughter about Ella’s now age, looking like Ella, acting like Ella, but the mother with whom I seemed compatible was not any of the obvious candidates. The mom and I commented on how pleased we were that our daughter was now at this age—mobile, verbal, with a distinct personality.
Now the Cape Ann trip, western side, first of 4 Summer Light series. With about 10 students (a few missing from the over limit of 13 registered, and including TB, one of my favorite students), we began in Rockport (after a possibly too long opening discussion, me lecturing too long, the great pontificator), meeting at the train station and walking down to the waterfront to explore Bearskin Neck. Here the exercise was to choose one of the photographic distinctives or characteristics that we’d discussed while reviewing everyone’s photos at the train station—frame, light, color, balance, shape, depth of focus, time, etc—and design an exercise or experiment to explore it. I think I chose light, my usual theme to grapple with, and first found a stack of brightly colored plastic lobster traps. With the Motif Number 1 in the background I tried a set of frames and angles that constantly changed how the light interacted with the traps. Why I am photographing traps is beyond me, so banal, meaningless, dumb. But there they were, calling to me
I used the wide-angle lens to show a couple sitting at the point gazing out at the water, and then…
I used the long lens for a series from the tip of the walk back to show the throng of tourists. The place had a bazaar or fair-like atmosphere, gentile, twee as Lysa might put it, safe, comfortable, joyous, consumerism at its height. Having a joint mission—teaching and making photography—I was less distracted by the ice cream, strudel, jewelry, artwork.
Yet, at our meeting point, with a few minutes remaining, I sauntered off to a side dock and found across the bay two young women, each wearing short skirts, walking on a quay or spit and photographing each other. I could make out shapely legs, one with the most curvaceous legs of the sets I’d observed, so with my long lens I made a series of photos, trying not to be spotted. Because of the shallow depth of focus the women stand out in their sharpness (and shapeliness). If I don’t reveal myself as the lusting voyeur I may show these at the review session.
Second and final site was Halibut Point, rife with memories for me of family. Lynn and I brought kids there frequently to picnic and swim. One of my treasured family photos is by a friend of ours showing Lynn and me with Joey and Katy, K in a back carrier, J holding Lynn’s hand. Ah, the normal family.
At this site I outlined the steps I suggest for making a good photo—be aware, follow light, choose position, etc—and asked them to choose one phase or step and design an experiment teaching them what that step means. I used the instance of the choose-your-position step, illustrating by talking thru photographing the parking attendant at his kiosk. I am aware, I note the light, not very good, how can I work with it, and then, where will I put the camera, do I allow him to see me (he noticed us all staring his way, I called out, not to worry, just giving a lesson), maybe in front so I can show the action between him and drivers, then time, design, etc.
The low of the day for me occurred when I mistakenly chose the path labeled “Back 40” and became lost in a cul-de-sac of winding paths that offered no vista, no beach access, no quarry view. I’d hoped to photograph across the quarry again (this had been my first stop) with a polarizing filter handheld over the too wide wide-angle lens. I did finally escape, locate the quarry, and make the series, but I doubt there is much effect from the filter.
The contrast between the 2 locations was stark: jammed Bearskin Neck, open space at Halibut Point. I loved both sites, and appreciate that about the only way I’d get out to these places and do this sort of photography is when I’m teaching. I am paid for what I desire to do.
The sky began clear, cumulous slowly formed on the horizon, and then the sky was overcast, or nearly so, with much definition. A perfect day for photography, despite the challenge from rapidly changing light.
I missed L3’s presence. Last summer she added much zip to my summer light photo workshop experience. Thinking then I’d perhaps found a 3rd mate (yes, at times I way very hopeful, how misled I was, how poorly I analyze first impressions, let that be a lesson) the summer took on a different glow than most summers. This season I am solo, now finally, after years of wondering what living single would feel like, I am coming to know.
If only I had …
If only I had more money…
If only I was more handsome…
If only I had a flat muscled stomach, a stout cock…
If only I were younger…
If only I had more time…
If only I were a more skilled artist…
I might be a successful artist.
Mistaken thinking, full of fallacy, the fallacy of “If only I…”
Rather: live the moment, appreciate the gifts, refuse smugness and premature self-satisfaction. Rather: be knowing, aware, wise, grateful, appropriately content. Relax and breathe deeply.