I had a camera in my hand on and off starting at age 4. Mom loved photography, and was very good about handing the old 110 camera over to me when I asked for it. There are hundreds of bad pictures scattered through the family picture collection. Most of them come from the hands of the two youngest members of the family. In high school, I jumped at the chance to take a “real” photography class.
I struggled through learning the various techniques, through learning how to compose a compelling image, and how to translate the cool thing my brain saw into an image others would enjoy. My favorite part was always the darkroom. Dinking around with rolls of film, the quiet and solitude of standing around in the dark, waiting patiently to see if something good showed up…this was the best part of the day.
After college, I eventually graduated to the world of digital. It was a great way to get back into photography after a layoff, without the expense of film. I built up a pretty impressive library over the past 15 years or so.
Recently, I stumbled across an article on stand developing. This got me interested in doing some of my own black and white developing again. So I picked up a few cheap rolls of film, jammed them into a camera, and started shooting. I’ve also started to develop some old rolls of film that I had kicking around from when I lived in DC.
Doing your own processing requires a little more focus. Stand developing is pretty forgiving of mistakes. But the process of getting your film ready for processing is much less forgiving. I’ve got old school metal reels, and they push you to be patient and use good technique. Poor technique means a bad load, and then bad, blotchy developing.
I’m having to force myself to slow down, and not cut corners. It’s by turns irritating, and incredibly useful. It’s making me work through a problem, not just throw up my hands and walk away.
I’ll start posting some of the experiments. I’m aiming to get at least 1 roll of something shot, and developed each week. It’s not a hard plan, more of an elective kind of idea. The biggest thing is I’m not pressing myself for perfect. I’m not going to get perfect with this technique. I’m learning to accept things as they are, not as I want them to be.
There’s that beautiful moment where the last light of the day, mixes with the lights of your Christmas tree and the room just glows. There’s a beautiful mix of promise and warmth in that light. So many people cut Christmas off abruptly on the 26th. Others wait for the 1st of January. I always wait through the full 12 days of Christmas.
As the Feast of the Ephihany approaches, the light on Christmas slowly goes out. It’s important to enjoy those last moments.
It’s easy to put things off. You don’t feel like buckling down for a work project, so you push it off. Don’t feel like doing laundry, push it off. It’s so common, most of us don’t think about it. It’s a borderline automatic response.
I’ve been driving past one of my favorite photo spots right around sunset for several weeks. Each time I go past, I’ve pushed the impulse to go take a few pictures off. There’s always time, I can do it later, next time I’ll stop.
One afternoon the realization hits, I’m running out of next times. It doesn’t matter that I push things off, time doesn’t pause when I do that. The clock never stops ticking. On an impulse I pull into the crowded parking spot. As the clock ticks down, I scramble up the steep trail, watching the light change.
In this moment I realize that I’m running out of time. As minutes tick down, the sky changes, colors shift, and I’m losing the race. I speed up, chasing the moment.
I reach the top, suck in a breath, and start firing off shots with my iPhone, desperate to capture something that’s racing away from me. Five shots, and the light is gone. I won’t know until I get home just what I captured. I walk back to the car, curiously calm after my race up the trail. It doesn’t matter what I caught. It just matters that today I didn’t push the chase off until tomorrow.
Every Christmas holiday season I make an attempt to share my love of this time of year via my blog. This year is no exception. Yesterday marked the final kickoff to Christmas, and was also the first day of Advent. Advent is the traditional build up to the birth of Jesus, which most Christian denominations celebrate as December 25th. I spent 1979-80 living in Southern (read CATHOLIC) Germany with my parents and brother. As a result, my formative Christmas memories blend in a lot of the German Advent/Christmas traditions into the secular Christmas I grew up with.
At Mass yesterday, the Gospel reading talks about Jesus encouraging his disciples to stay awake. I had to laugh because that’s really what I did yesterday. I was up early and out later, which resulted in catching some truly spectacular photos. It’s a good reminder. It’s awfully easy to just ease into comfortable thinking this time of year, literally to fall asleep. You go on autopilot when you shop. You hit the lines for big sales, and don’t really enjoy it. You just move through the season, hoping it is all over soon. But what happens if you wake up? What happens if you go into your day, thinking not about your must do tasks, but thinking about how much fun you might have? What happens when you open yourself up for something good to happen, even if it requires you do a little extra work?
When I went out picture hunting last night, the first half dozen shots were okay. I was pretty sure that the sun was not going to give me anything spectacular. But I decided to hang out a few minutes longer, just in case. I was rewarded with glorious pinks, purples, and a pretty awesome shot.
If I’d just shrugged my shoulders and moved on, no stunning shot. No big smile on my face. No sense of accomplishment. I had to push a little harder, but man it was so worth it.
Every day can be special, you just have to stay awake and give it a chance.
Today should have been one of those days where you complain that nothing goes right. I had plans. None of them actually got accomplished. But it's not a problem.
This morning I had to make a run out to a friend's house early. I woke up around 4:30 and just couldn't go back to sleep. So around sunrise I headed out. As I was driving, I passed some fog burning off the ground, combining with the beautiful morning color.
I couldn't find it in myself to complain too much after that. It was a beautiful start to the morning. Just a beautiful day.
Later while picking up some medication for a foster kitty, I ran into Princess. She's a 10 year old lady kitty, and she was in need of a lift to an adoption site. I was planning to head back home after getting the meds. I ended up giving Princess a lift. She was quite grateful.
So by now, the afternoon is getting away from me. I stopped off to grab dinner. Driving home I encountered a beautiful sky. I made a snap decision to bypass the game, and head down 360 to get some pretty shots.
Things were pretty, but it looked like I had missed the best light. I stuck around a bit longer and I'm glad I did.
A beautiful start to the day, and a stunning evening. Just wow.