Went out looking for November.
November first was cool and foggy. I threw the 4×5 into the trunk and set out before dawn to find some field or other. To look.
Was thrilled and chagrined by the fog. Thrilled because it’s difficult to take a bad photo when it’s foggy. Chagrinned because it’s difficult to take a bad photo when it’s foggy.
Let me explain . . .
Sure, I want a certain amount of atmospherics in these pictures. But as I trudged through the field I found I was thinking about how I mostly like to photograph on plain days. I don’t really want my images to be about sublime light or any other kind of naturally occurring melodrama.
Too often photographs that use overly dramatic light, etc., are photographs of that light, those conditions. And I want my pictures to be about something else.
Yes, I’ll use crazy light as a backdrop to, in support of, the pictures I take. But that’s really all I want those conditions to be . . . backdrop and support.
Anyway, I found a field and set off through it, looking, thinking, feeling. The 4×5 like a heavy axe over my shoulder.
I decided to use the 4×5 for this because I want to slow down, to make my decisions on the ground, in the field. Couple that with the fact that I have 30 sheets of film and the decisions become, somehow, more fraught.
Yes, that can lead to a completely anal approach to the subject, but it doesn’t have to. I’m aware of that pitfall and am doing whatever I can (with my brain) to avoid, or at least embrace, the limitations I’ve set myself.
I’d see something I thought might work, set up the camera, compose the frame (and myself) and then wander around a bit, wondering. Then I’d go back to the camera, have another look, another think. More often than not I wouldn’t take a picture. I’d pick up the camera and continue my walk, looking for something else. I didn’t know what. These first days are complicated by the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing, don’t know how to get where I want to be.
And, funnily enough, I got lost in that field. The fog obliterated landmarks, I somehow got all turned around and couldn’t find my way back.
I took that as a good omen.
COLIN PANTALL ON AFTER THE FACT (AND OTHER STUFF)
Here’s a link to a review Colin Pantall wrote about After the Fact. And there’s a pretty funny (because it’s true) list in there, too.
You can support the book, this blog and my practice by going here and buying a copy.