Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Black River

Black River photo shoot's been in mind for about a month. I need a photo for a magazine piece I hope to pitch; no guarantee, of course, that the editor will run with the idea. I got down riverside among boulders, cool water in my boots, set up my tripod, got out my D7100 with the Tokina wide angle, and began attempting to mount that camera. Aha. The tripod mount needs work. I placed the camera safely aside and found there's a Phillip's head screw underneath, so I may be able to fix this myself, and if not, I know a place in Morristown that might do the work. 

Managed to get a shot that might work for the magazine, just in case I don't get back up to Chester to shoot fast water at narrow aperture, thus creating that blurred water effect that looks cool. Otherwise, the photo above captures an angle, and the photo below I shot straight down as I stumbled for a moment, never really threatened with falling off the edge of that rock.

It's a day off work. I had gone out for a smoke on our porch, looked to the sun, and had known instantly this is no day to waste. At the time, I was into reading the second of two O'Henry short stories, "Supply and Demand," from the Options collection. The first, "The World and a Door," is from Whirligigs. I identified with the Island Time theme of "The World and a Door," though it's not set on an island as such, but in La Paz, Bolivia. Copyright 1914.

My drive to Chester was like other drives there and elsewhere, full of fire and fury; as I consider the engine of my car, no matter how quiet it is, I think of the power, and also of cars and 18-wheelers and the like passing by in the lane opposite. And then I was by the river shortly after all that burning of fossil fuel was done for me. I sampled the sort of natural essences I mentioned in yesterday's post, but when I was finished the shoot, I felt I hadn't really achieved very much, and told myself to keep fishing, because the participation involved in the fishing game seems to involve more substance and exercise than coming to a river for a photo shoot. But this caveat. What if I were to devout hours to photographing a river, complete with say a half mile or more of walking, just experimenting with different scenes and angles?

The closest I've come to doing this, besides boyhood years when I used to spend hours at a time exploring Little Shabakunk Creek, which I called Little Shabaconk Creek, was with my son on at least several occasions when we spent at least an hour, maybe two-and-a-half, doing nothing but exploring rocks, macroinvertebrates, flowers, other plants, a shale cliff, an interesting juncture between a run-off ditch and the river, birds overhead. I would say we spent at least two-and-a-half hours each time, deeply rewarded. On one occasion, we walked a slate bottom mid-river, when Matt called out to me about rock embedded in that shale which looked like turquoise. I was partly fooled by the looks, too, exclaiming that turquoise surely doesn't exist on the East Coast, and as far as I know, it doesn't. We got a piece out of the river bottom and made sure. Still an interesting anomaly for a slate bottom.

Part of my concern at present is the value of my better photos. Yesterday at Sherman Hoffman, on my way back up the trail from the Passaic River headwater, I was taken by the scintillating burnished brown of something like wheat grass, fully six or seven feet tall. Instantly, I thought of photographing some, and though I did try just to see if there was any sort of hope of cropping an image of any value--no go with this. I looked at the grass again and thought that a painter could do it. A painter, if he were to select the likes of what I looked on as subject, could create a realist painting a camera can't get.

I began to think of my photo collections--I have three big ones I hope to publish as books in the future, collections which continue to grow--as documentary. I've told myself for years now that I don't care if photography is art or not. That's a self-denial or simply a refusal to think about this, since I've been busy otherwise. I may have time to think about it more and come to a conclusion. If all I can offer for three books is documentary, the photos have aesthetic value; I choose and edit them for just that. But it is curious how they just don't draw such an aesthetic response for me right now, as they have for a number of years. Even Lightroom feels too limited. I don't claim to be among the best skilled at using the device, but it just cannot be particular as a paintbrush. 

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