Starting From Scratch: Hello Canon!

So, I finally caved and got a DSLR (don’t worry analog! I am still your #1 fan and continue to tote around my Holgas and other miscellaneous old-school cameras, but it was time to jump on this digital bandwagon) and I feel like I’m starting from scratch.

I feel like I am 16 again with my first 35mm SLR and just getting used to the camera and the controls and the lens. Depth of field and shutter speed and f-stops and metering all seem like old friends I haven’t seen lately and we need a little while to catch up.

While I get acquainted with this strange creature called “digital” I will shoot the same sort of things I shot when I was 16 and getting to know my first Canon SLR. Which is basically close-up nature shots and other such things. And I have to be OK with that. Afterall, it’s an excercise in getting to know one another.

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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.

Taking the passenger only ferry from Vashon to Seattle in the early morning fog. An overall feeling of isolation and quietness overtook me on this chilly foggy morning (which actually happens to be my favorite kind of morning in the PNW), and a minutes after i took this photo, we passed a scene that was almost the same, but there were dozens of birds resting on the water. Alas, I missed that shot, but still very much like the one i ended up with.

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.

An Unintentional Side Effect On Nature Stemming From Our Ego

How’s that for the longest title ever?!? Last month I blogged briefly about a current collaborative project I am working with a cohort of mine involving landscapes of civil war battle fields and other historical places we photographed in the deep south, namely Virginia, a few years ago. Well, in the few spare moments I have had in the last few weeks, I have thrown myself into researching and some abstract ideas have really started to form. Sometimes I have to photograph something, put it away for a while, and then revisit the project to really understand why I photographed something in the first place.

The main epiphany I had over the last few weeks is really the structural skeleton of the project that I have tried to put into words for the last few months. In the end, this project in not about civil war battles, or preserving historical events, but rather the unintentional side effect of creating spaces that are being largely untouched by the human hand and can start to regrow.

It remains a little thought about fact that the deep south’s natural resources have been cleared time and again in the last 300 years, and current forests are in their 2nd or 3rd regrowth stage (more about this is later), and the national parks created to educate and preserve historical cultural events (Jamestown, Civil War battlefields, etc) have created spaces where nature, for the first time in the area in centuries, is largely left to its own devices.

This is most visible in sites where smaller happenings occurred (i.e. The Battle of the Wilderness) where visitors are largely left to their own devices and trails make up a very small percentage of the actual parks, but even in larger destinations like Gettysburg and Jamestown, the visitor trails and attractions make up a fairly small part of the parks themselves, and much of the land is allowed to regrow from centuries of pillage. As I read on and hypothesis, I’ll have more to say on the subject, but for now I’ll let these thoughts stand.

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

I’m so worried that I’m going to perfect [my] technique someday. I have to say its unfortunate how many of my pictures do depend upon some technical error.