I am not a very adventurous type; adrenaline-soaked thrills are not the sort that typically appeal to me. But I do understand the lure of exploring, of seeing something you’ve never seen before—or perhaps even something that few or no other people have seen before. Exploring combines the intellectual interest of discovery with the experience of being there. So when I go on one of my little excursions into the nooks and crannies of the Buckeye state, I always hope to see things I’ve never seen before. On this vernal equinoxian expedition, taken on March 21, 2015, I certainly did see some new things.
We pick up the narrative again in relating a frigid February 2015 expedition into the snow-covered hills of northeastern Ohio Appalachia. As I write, a year later, the weather outside my window is not so different from what we see here, so I am channeling my inner Yeti. I’ve been finding taking photographs in snowy conditions is rather interesting; snow can really change the character of a photograph, whether landscape or otherwise. It has both a visual effect—the addition of so much white into a photo frame—and a psychological effect, creating distance, loneliness, sometimes purity.
When I began reviewing these photographs, taken in mid-January 2015, I was struck by how lonely some of the images seemed to be. The dead of winter conspires against sociability; we have to fight against that natural instinct to hunker down, to hibernate. As I take many landscapes and photos of ruined buildings, many of my photographs have that desolate look to them no matter what the season is, but winter accentuates that impression. I am a reclusive person and often deal with feelings of loneliness, but some of these photographs could make anyone seem lonely. Wow, I’m really selling this, aren’t I? Actually, this blog entry contains several of my favorite photographs of 2015.
Even when I was a child, I always wanted to “go down in history” in some fashion—hoping that some part of me would live on, even if only as part of people’s memories. Today, many years later and pretty much in the throes of a mid-life crisis of sorts, it seems obvious to me that my chances of being remembered will be slim. But it is interesting how people are memorialized and how they are chosen to be remembered. We’ll see an example of what I mean, bye and bye. The photos here are from the second half of an excursion that my friend Tsuki and I took on a bleak day in late November 2014. Continue reading
Photography is, I am learning in my own novice way, in many ways the study of light. But it is more than that, too. It is also the study of color and of texture. I can’t help but think that this is somehow a metaphor for living life. Light is the world we live in, the ocean in which we swim. Color represents those things around us, the things we see, the things we notice, the things we react to. Sometimes these colors of life are bright and superficial, sometimes darker and more soulful. But perhaps most important of all is texture. Texture is richer, deeper. No matter what the color, it is the texture that reveals the truth of something. Texture is not so much life as how you live your life—the choices you make, the way the world wears on you—etching grooves deep into your surface. Colors can change, but texture abides. And as we live our life, the texture of that life defines us more and more.
In early October of every year, I travel to the tourist mecca of Cleveland, Ohio, to participate in a strategy tournament for a favorite game of mine. As I did in 2013, in 2014 I took a meandering back-roads route to the Cleve. This, time, however, I decided to leave in the late afternoon/early evening, to try to expand my horizons a little bit by taking some low-light photographs in the twilight hours. My journey was thus something of an experiment.
I discovered that my camera, if one exposes the image long enough, can take a very dark twilight scene and make it seem much brighter. That was the case with all of the images here. I had anticipated working with a much darker set of images that I actually ended up having. This wasn’t bad or good, just unexpected, and something I need to take into account in the future—I should take photographs of the same scene at different exposures to get a better sense of what exposure at the same ISO and aperture will produce what level of light.
Anyway, the eight images below (seven different images, but one processed in both color and black and white) are the photographs from this little experimental trip that I thought worth sharing. It is a tiny little blog entry, so if you don’t like it, it is over quick. Continue reading
This is such a short blog entry that a long introduction would be misleading. Those who hate random binges of nostalgia can rejoice. During 2014, I had to make a number of work trips to Chicago and on August 11, I made one of them. During the Ohio portion of my drive, I managed to take a few photographs. Some of those I have included here. That’s all she wrote.
Artists, they say, can become fascinated with certain subjects, returning to them over and over again because the subjects are so compelling. Of course, the same is true for stalkers. I am no artist, but I do confess that certain sights I see on my excursions manage to exert a certain hold on me, sending out their siren call long after I have departed the premises. Though I always want to explore and see new things, in the time I have been engaging in this little hobby, a few places have so intrinsically interested me that I have returned to them, sometimes more than once.
Once upon a time, before thumb drives and smart phones, people actually had to remember things. Do you remember that? No? Look it up on your smart phone; I’ll wait. The ancient Greeks and Romans sometimes used a technique called the Method of Loci (i.e., places). It’s more commonly called a memory palace. The idea behind a memory palace—an idea stolen by the movie Inception—is that you create in your mind some sort of reality, like a house or museum or row of shops—or a palace. When you want to remember something, you “store” it in a particular place in this mindscape. For example, you may remember your locker combination by “storing” it inside the disgustingly pink vase on the mantel over the fireplace in the living room of your mind mansion. It is the combination of the item and its virtual surroundings that create a memory connection for you. It’s kind of like a mnemonic only in space rather than via words or sounds.
I often think that being a child consists largely of being oblivious to the world around you. Children live in a world within a world, seeing all sorts of things, but comprehending or even noticing only a few. Children often have no idea why parents make certain decisions, for example, unless those decisions are explained to them. Things just happen, or don’t happen. My childhood was certainly this way. Many reasons and significances I only learned years later, or not at all. I’ll give one example. When I was around 12 or 13, my father, an inveterate hunter, took me deer hunting for the first time. Every year he went deer hunting near Caballo Lake in New Mexico with a family friend and relatives of that friend. This time he took me with him. It was very cold, up in the desert mountains in November, but I had a lot of fun (though I did not get to shoot at any deer). I kind of assumed that this was simply the first of what would be a long series of annual deer hunting trips I would now go on. But things did not work out that way. My father never took me again. Not once. To this day, I have no idea why. Had I somehow embarrassed him in front of his friends? Had I done something wrong? If I had, I never realized it. But that was the first and last time I went deer hunting.