The Man of Steel and Other Such Heroes

This evening marked the kick-off of Long Shot, the Photo Centers NW annual fundraiser in which hundreds of photographers from around the world shoot for 24 hours, and later the prints are auctioned off.

I had grand plans for the 24 hours when I signed up a month ago, but my life seems to have run away from me again and I am spending the 24 hours of Long Shot with my in-laws. and so I grabbed my iphone with it’s toy camera app, and my wife’s camera with the hipstamatic app and the Holga lens filter/ adapter for the iphone, and am spending the next 24 hours taking photos of my 24 hours with the in-laws.

First stop? The comic book store. Where I got some fun shots, and picked up Kick-Ass 2 while I was there. Lesson learned? Find inspiration where ever you can.

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Southern Forests

by the early 1900’s, much of the south’s forests had been destroyed for lumber, turpentine, land, and by fires. Little thought was given up to this point to reforestation and preservation, but seeing that the base of the south’s economic structure was facing complete destruction, reforestation efforts started to be made. One of the most significant efforts of the 1920’s was The Mississippi Federation of Women’s Clubs organized a crusade to promote fire control, conserve the last remaining “virgin” timber, and plant news trees in blackened, devastated forest land. Although modest, the efforts of the Women’s Club was remarkable, and through endorsements of political candidates and grassroots campaigning, in 1926 the Mississippi General Assembly created the states forestry commission and put forest conservation was finally put on the map.

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Who knew women had such an impact on the early days of forestry and preservation? I’m learning very interesting stuff as I delve into the not-so-well talked about/ studied area of southern lumber industries, deforestation and preservation, and I’m excited to just keep going.

Southern Fields

“Within the scope of a couple of generation prior to 1870 much of the southern cypress and lowland cedar resources were laid to waste, mush of it never to be regenerated to anything approaching the virginal state. It is still possible in secluded coves in parts of the Appalachia to see the outlines of walnut and chestnut stumps that stretch the imagination, to conceive of the massive trunks that once sprang up from the woodland floor. Many of these decaying shells linger as grim monuments to the ravages of man and his wanton fires.”

– The Greening of the South, P.6

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Well, I have chosen 18 images which I am willing to work with for this project. When my cohort returns from her latest globe-trotting, we’lll see if she agrees with me and we can proceed, or we’ll sit down and hash out the images together. We are already having a healthy debate on sizes, so it only makes to add another. She wants 6-8 80×80 prints. I on, the other hand, want 6 60×60’s with 9 20×20’s. We shall see, we shall see. In the meantime, here are 4 of the 18 I am contemplating. The scans aren’t great by any means, but they will have to do for the time being.

A few months ago I picked up a 35mm Holga BC on a whim (because, you know, having anything less than half a dozen Holga cameras just isn’t in my nature…) and have been running around snapping pictures in 35mm. Which I haven’t even used in the last few years, but it’s fun and damn cheaper than developing 120. Here’s one of my faves from the film I’ve shot in the camera in the last few months.

Tied to Memory

What do you see in the below photograph?

Viretta Park Bench #1

Scribbles and scrawls; part of a bench, and maybe a tree. But this photograph isn’t about the tree in the background, or the bench, or even the scribbles and scrawls or the mementos left on the bench. I believe no photograph is about what the photograph shows, but about what the photograph does not show. for me, it is the story behind what a photograph shows that offers the intrigue.

Susan Sontag once wrote “A photograph is only a fragment, and with the passage of time its moorings become unstuck.” If this is the case, these image will last only as long as the memory of Kurt Cobain resides in pop culture, and will become irrelevant as a cultural shared grief fades. I cannot say how long that will be, but in the 17 years since the lead singer of Nirvana committed suicide, this shared grief lives strong, and can be seen in the letters and flowers left on the graffiti bench that sits in the park behind the house the angst-ridden star lived and died in. So, is this really a photograph of just a bench?

Viretta Park bench #2

Cougar Mountain (Holga Pinholes)

Old railroad tracks and river at Cougar Mountain

Pinhole photograhy always fascinated me. To strip down all he bells and whistles and simply be left with a container that is otherwise light tight, apart from the light that enters through a hole that was made with a pin, and to be able to make images from such a primitive apparatus, is pretty effing cool. We don’t need lenses to make a photography, we just need patience.

See, because the hole a light must pass through in a pinhole camera is so small, patience is a must when shooting. Exposures in bright light can take 4-7 seconds, low light can take up to 20-60 seconds, ad night photography? Well, that’s whole other ball game. If you are lucky, your pinhole might be comparable to an f-stop of 64 (you can generally achieve this by using a beading needle if you are making your own pinhole camera) and you could use a light meter to get a estimate on your exposure time. Sadly, that’s not often the case and exposure times can be a bit of a guessing game.

Perhaps later we shall discuss the mechanics of making a pinhole camera, but today I simply wanted to share my latest adventure. I finally took the plunge and started shooting color in my Holga pinhole. Don’t ask me why I’ve only been shooting black and white film all these years, I really have no answer… but when the first really nice day of late spring hit the Pacific northwest, my wife and I went out to Cougar Mountain to hike the old railroad, which has long since fallen back into natures clutches, and is barely discernible. We hiked for 3 hours, and went less than a mile. That’s patience.

Waterfall at Cougar Mountain. The orange is from the iron in the area left over from the railroad work.