Saturday dawned gray, cold, and wet. A light mist eased through the forest at my university. But a day walking in the woods with a camera is a good day, no matter the weather, right?
The university was on holiday break. Students had fled home to give thanks with family and friends. I did, too, but returned early.
The deeply overcast sky dictated a flat, low-contrast aspect to the trees and trails in the forest. I looked down. At least I can shoot leaves, now wet and trodden. I like to shoot leaves. A little Photoshop would add hue and color contrast to them, I thought.
But the gray and the cold and the mist cut into my coat and mind. I shivered. Bummer. A dark day growing darker. Melancholy arrived and tapped on my shoulder. I turned and shuffled back onto the main trail, intent on returning to my truck. My Canon hung unused from its strap around my neck. I hate the interregnum between seasons: no leaves on the trees, no snow on the ground.
Franciscans have walked through these woods for more than a century and a half. Franciscans like nature and apparently thrive in it. They have, over the life of the university, constructed stations of the cross on a circular trail in this forest — Bob’s Woods, named after Fr. Bob Stewart, who died of cancer shortly after my arrival at the university.
I am not a Franciscan. I am not as hopeful as they appear to be. Dank, dark weather like this day’s further eroded my ability to detect hope.
Then I saw …
… in an image taken by one of my journalism students, Taylor Kickbush, to fulfill an environmental portrait assignment in her photojournalism course.
… found on a path in the woods at my Franciscan university. Note that the dollar bill is stapled to the message. I wonder why …
In 1992, I slept beside this abandoned cabin along Route 305 north of Austin, Nevada. I remembered it. It became a pivotal scene for Kara, the female protagonist in “mapping Utah,” my first novel. I revisited the cabin this summer.
Sometimes when you’re driving in the West, you see a thunderstorm. It’s far off, still nascent, an indistinct dark smudge on the horizon perhaps a hundred miles away.
In the East, you don’t see a storm so far ahead. That’s because you can’t see the fullness of the storm until it’s literally over your head. In the East, the sky is smaller — topography, tall buildings, and trees obscure the horizon.
In the West, you keep driving toward that still-small gray mass. You look to the side through the driver’s window and see blue sky dotted with puffy cumulus clouds. You look out the passenger window; you see the same pastoral placidity. There’s psychological comfort in those little white pearls floating in the blue sky beside you. But in front of you?
… on Pilot Mountain Road en route to the Sun Tunnels.
Route 93 about half way between Wells and Ely, Nevada …
This is the earliest digital photo that I consider remotely a “keeper”. It was taken from the top of an RV somewhere in Nebraska. The camera was a Minolta DiMAGE S304 with a whopping 3.2MP (2048×1536) and 4x optical zoom. Still available on eBay for as little as $10!
This is an atypical image for me. With rare exceptions, I don’t do people, and I don’t do emotion. I didn’t remember having this until I was transitioning from Aperture to Lightroom and reviewing old collections. It was taken from a Seine cruise in late afternoon (at the time, I didn’t re-set my camera clock for travel).
Since the inception of 5280 Lens Mafia in August of 2012, I have posted 1,173 times — almost daily for more than two years. These realizations come to mind:
Specifically, this is a panorama from the top of the apartment building where I lived in Yushima in 1987 and 1988. Click to see and explore the full-sized image. Enjoy.
I’ve been absent from these pages for awhile because I was preparing for, then undertaking, the trip I’m currently on in Tokyo, Japan. I’ve been getting some shots I really like, such as the one below. I invite you to go here and see what other things I’ve been doing.
Some twerp bashed the driver’s side mirror off my car. But I got a decent photo out of it. Silver linings, people, silver linings…