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Category: Port Crescent

A minor exhaustion

Grass Splash, Joyce Quadrangle, March 2009

I watched William Eggleston in the Real World last night. I admit I’d not heard of the documentary until searching through NetFlix for a biopic on Alfred Stieglitz, but it was a nice surprise.  It starts out with Eggleston wandering around a small town in Kentucky on a photo safari of sorts at the commission of Gus Van Zant. The opening scenes and indeed the film entire are ardently low-fi; almost hesitant, handheld shots crapulent with peripheral noise and harsh light and competing on equal footing with Eggleston, yet there is a tone-perfect symmetry in Eggleston’s convalescent shuffle, subaudible drawl and the initial reluctance to haul the camera to his eye, as if first attempting to exhaust the scene’s accountability before taking the picture.

At first I thought these opening scenes were just a little stage fright. But then as later scenes unfold Eggleston remains unapologetically himself, though detours of drinking and synthesizer recitals, steadfastly uninterested in explaining away the fun of it despite the predictable toadstools of artspeak the interviewer/filmmaker tries to prompt him upon.  Eggleston at last squints, literally, though such epic premise. “Art, or what we call that, you can love it and appreciate it, but you can’t really talk about it. Doesn’t make any sense.”

I latched immediately onto this title, after originally the doc on Stieglitz, as an insight into the methods and therefor the very minds of some giant role models… I’m not sure why photographers are so fascinated by the way other photographers work. What is there, exactly,  to explain about the act of taking a photograph? The abstractions in the subject tend to fill quickly with surrogations about gear, lenses, film, etc. All so much general noise, like wind on a unsheilded mic, and just as temporal. What I like most about Eggleston’s work is it doesn’t inspire such questions in me. I’m left with only the act, the photograph, the laconia of movements and gestures that might seem to suspect the world’s design, but never its space. There’s a sense of searching for something that’s not fully known to be missing, yet the picture always seems ultimately taken as a way to catalogue this spot as having been thoroughly noted nontheless.  Each shot a mild exhaustion, then onto the next.

Abies amabilis

Silver Fir, March 2009

In dense thickets, the understory looks dry and dead as the light is almost completely shut out- I believe I could change out sheets of film in some of these places. This was a 3 minute exposure on a very sunny noon, to give an idea of how dark it can get. But towards the canopy, the boughs of the fir green up considerably.

I shot this more than a little unrealistically;  this is quite high key for the subject. I have been printing very dark the work from the interior, almost in direct reaction to all the open highkey work of the coastal areas. The bark of silver fir is covered with many tiny resin blisters and I love these feverblisters and the nervous threads of the limbs layered over the staggered depths of the background. Strolling along into deeper and deeper bracken, the fir-lined DNR roads start to look like some oddly scaled diorama. Colossal ferns and tiny evergreens of methusellian wither, and other such specimens that couldn’t possibly coincide with current climate conditions, but do just the same.

A mindbend in the river

Salt Creek, February 2009

I’ve been messing with the color scheme here and on my website. The black background with white text used previously was good for some interesting cluster headaches, which in turn made me flee the computer and seek out some shady areas with my camera. Beneficial, ok; I know headaches can be a significant part of my personality, but lets not get carried away.

The shade is perpetual in this spot, as is the quiet. I’m not sure I would have noticed it without the mindbender. It’s a visual anesthetic of sorts, which feels oddly different in the eye with the headache. Interesting, at least for now.

Stump purge

The stumps are really piling up, so it’s time to bleed off a few.


Sadie Creek, January 2009

Striped Peak, January 2009

The very bones of cliche

Striped Peak, December, 2008

Today I’m painstakingly doubtful of my ability to say anything of note in this project- everything I’m coming up with seems mere scaling of the usual cliches- on many levels. The perspective of history and industry is not a static thing, ever changing in a crucible of science, demand and public opinion. I’m not convinced I have the mental chops to be here. I generally try to work above my skill set, but this feels different. The void feels altogether different here than staring out into the Pacific, and it irritates me when I try to use the same meter on it.

Who the hell am I, anyway? I liked the initial project idea of charting my own evolving opinions, but surely this is an old trick; and the fact is I’m relatively static in my own buffeting ignorance, or indifference. The winds don’t move me so much as muss my hair. This feels like getting old,  a brain pinching shut. What happens next? The suspense is excruciating.  Ok, maybe not so much.

Tableau vivant

Striped Peak, January, 2009

The notion of presenting this project as children’s fable did occur to me, a sort of Sendakian parable of the grotesque, populated with anthropomorphous events and shapes. But the fact is I’m having difficulty finding movement or personality in the wreckage, other than the occasional monstrous stump of course. But I do really like the unnatural uphill movement of this image, a land wave of cataclysmic predation, flailing monster at its crest, ready to devour the remaining trees.

Lesson I: Acquiring a Vocabulary

Striped Peak looking SE, January, 2009

The jargon for logging overlaps a bit with pornography. For example, I’m now aware that ‘donkey punch’ has meaning quite different than ‘donkey puncher’-  the guy that ran the donkey, a steam operated yarder. Live and learn! I wasn’t going to mention it, but though some might assume I was trying for some unintended metaphor in my previous post. But we wont speak of it again.


In this lesson we intend to instruct you sufficiently in the language of the woods to enable you to carry on an intelligent conversation with the bull cook or other high company officials. Now bear in mind that the Big Three of logging are donkeys, lines and blocks. When you are able to ‘punch’ a donkey, ‘buck’ 2000 feet of straw-line and ‘hang’ a block you’ll be a man, my son, for a’ of that. To the untutored brain, punching a donkey might seem like a ticklish occupation. However, once that you have discovered that the donkey is not one of the long-eared variety the situation becomes less involved. The much-cussed and discussed species of steam engine known to the profession as a ‘donkey’ is to the logging game as the mainspring is to your dollar watch. You will find that actual logging operations are carried on by whistle signals relayed over the wire from the ‘whistle punk’ in the brush to the donkey engineer on the landing. The whistle punk is usually about 16 to 18 years old and the hardest boiled egg in the outfit. He is usually deaf, dumb and blind, according to a report in ‘The Hooktenders’ Gazette.’ An important part of your education is to learn the whistle signs. For the present, however, it will suffice to know that a long and a short whistle means quitting time. This is the most important signal.

-D. D. Strite, How to Become a Logger: A Complete Treatise in Six Lessons. Details: Bare Understory, Windstorm

Whistlepunk or donkeypuncher?

Crescent Bay from Striped Peak, January, 2009

The history of the Olympic Peninsula is conspicuous, but not without it’s romance. It’s like the whole area was planned during a fistfight. Despite the devastation of bottom’s-up industry, it’s hard to not to feel a sort of ignorant devotional pride over it, the old time religion of absolute resource depletion. A soft guffaw, as it were, from a pew.

This new project pigtails such yokel pride with a fairly unsophisticated ecological bent in me. I’m curious to see how that duality will manifest itself, and which ignorance will prevail. Or simply where my interest will go, even if it is the path of least resistance.