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№ 75 Posts

Postcard principles

Fresh Snow, Lyre Incline, March 2009

I tried to resist this shot, but the dogs had disappeared and I was waiting for them to return. Our newish lab still gets a bit distracted. She had this odd sort of hum and danced in place then silently disappeared into the wilderness when I turned to rest and take in the view. I should know better.  It was the first time they’ve run off, and I hate the idea of letting a couple of dogs loose on a unsuspecting habitat, especially one as new as this. This all sounds unspeakably PC, but I can’t help it- our terrier mutt still is strong with the ‘bite heads off small animals’ reflex.  So, hoarse from yelling for them, and unable to climb further in the growing dark, I waited and ultimately took the damn picture. So, maybe the cloud break represents a break in this small example of my effort to contain what I’ve opened, started, begun, and not kept in check. I’m constantly coming to grips with where my responsibilities lie, and need to stop surprising myself with it with these postcard lapses into automation. Hopefully the shot is spared prettiness by the foreground mess and devastation but I’m finding the more involved I get in the routine of this project, the shakier my judgment gets.

How much more must this poor landscape endure.

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.

New growth

Secondary Growth, Burnt Mountain, February 2009

The irony of my unemployment hasn’t been lost on me, in fact it was mostly responsible for the idea of this project. Working on it continues to be a painful reminder of the nature of economic downturns, which is a reason I’ve been avoiding it of late. It’s easy to see your future, or some unwelcome version of it, driving through some of the outlying boom towns. Most seem fated to meth production. Towns like Clallam Bay crumble like so many rotten teeth. Houses have doors shot off, kicked in, ripped off the hinges by a parade of angry customers or dealers and ultimately law enforcement.  Even impounded, many counties don’t bother confiscating the properties because of the contamination: apparently for every pound of meth produced there are something like six pounds of toxic waste left to deal with.

So the town seems a victim lighter and a house darker each time I pass through. It’s rare to see people outside, but then it’s rare for me to stop at all.  The fact is I don’t care really. But I do care about circling the same figurative bowl. There is a point when all that’s left is carrying out the physical law.

I hesitate to delve into personal circumstance too deeply, I know it’s likely to come across as self important whining. But without doing so, I suppose this log would be of amazingly little use. Can’t wait to look back and chuckle.

Winter Trees

Beach 1, February 2009

I thought I’d celebrate the 1 year anniversary of this blog with a little WCW. I’m sure he wasn’t thinking about spruce, but what the hell, other parallels might find their home here.

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

-William Carlos Williams, Winter Trees

Light front

Beach 1, February 2009

This is a revisit of an earlier photograph,  this time looking north.  This one nags a little more than usual; I like many of the elements but it’s missing something as a whole. I’m posting it because it won’t occur to me what that might be until I do. But it does represent what I like most of the coast here- an astonishing sense of light and brightness always battering at the edge of an immovable darkness like some terminal meridian, a storm of light struggling against the impenetrable treeline.

The landscape marches on

Beach 6, February 2009

I came across this yesterday crashing around in the salmonberry and salal above Beach 6, trying to pick up a trail that vanished. I soon found the reason the trail disappeared- a good portion of the bluff had been undermined by relentless surf and storm and collapsed. And continues to do so, really- the collapse is taking a good part of the forest with it in an exquisitely minute, almost glacial ride down the incline, like an amusement of epochal measure.

Note: I  tilted the horizon out of level to the left a bit to visually counter the leaning of the trees, and the lilting cloud line. I considered leaving it level, and using the optic trickery to emphasize the sense of imbalance and general flailing, but I just couldn’t see anything past it. Funny how that works.

The shallow end



Kalaloch, February 2009

Anticipating tide patterns is great fun, almost like sorting puzzles out of the infinite. All the more so with a view camera  because there’s no way to see what’s on the viewscreen when you trip the shutter (er, lift the lenscap- no shutter on the Protar). It’s easy to burn up film walking down the beach as your focus deepens and new patterns emerge. But then that’s also the hard part:  resisting the temptation of waiting for just one more tide cycle. But I got lucky this time out- only 3 shots and a half-decent triptych for the day’s work.

Executive function

Ruby Bluffs, February 2009

A bit frustrated with the road closure hindering my other project, I went back out to the west end yesterday for this first time this winter. Something about seeing the ocean is recharging, especially after seeing the yellow creep back in my eyes in the bathroom mirror and standing on the scale and seeing it up another 10 pounds, 15 pounds- most of that muffling my decision making processes,judgment and higher functions… I was surprised at how different everything looked, just climbing out of the car at Ruby, and equally surprised at the instant boost in my energy level and level of focus; even the dim sun and mist seemed to burn through the cottony convalescent haze and backbedroom winter headaches. I felt like I’ve had a thumb in my eye for six weeks.

So Kalaloch seems new again, and within the margins of inspiration and reaction, instead of stagnating project quota.

Way out west

Roadside Burnpiles, February 2009

Speaking of roads, Highway 112 west of here has been closed since the heavy snows of December. All the melt and runoff destabilized the road bed and the highway collapsed at milepost 37 between West Twin and Pysht. This is the coast highway along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and a significant commercial corridor between the logging parcels around the Pysht River and Port Angeles.  It’s also a recreational corridor, so the ATVs that frequent the abandoned BLM and forest service roads have quieted considerably as well, even without the fresh insulation of new snowfall.

Tomorrow is cast in the oven/ Lucid dreaming on the clock

Crescent Bay, February 2009

I actually dreamt about this photograph, which is a new one for me.  I always dream about 9-5 work,  but never about taking pictures, or the pictures themselves, which is just now striking me as fantastically odd. Most of my dreams are simple filterings of the day’s minutia, but with the workfront quiet and anxiety on the rise, this one danced in my head even while the negative remained undeveloped and nestled away in the film holder overnight.  This dream was like  a sleepwalking grant,  a shift paid to spend on the bench, supervised by particle drift and accelerating erosion with no clear task, shoes tied to the wings of scavenging and brawling birds, pecking at my kneecaps before ultimately climbing into the ribcage to roost.

After developing the picture it couldn’t not disappoint, but I’m hoping for a sequel, or a least some Cliffnotes.