The towering mulch pile

Posted on May 27, 2010


I have been spending a lot of time in the 19th century, searching through CDs full of images of old newspapers, piling up books with post-its fluttering from their pages, wandering around in cemeteries.  I seem to get what I need when I need it, even when I’m looking for something else.  Thus I went looking for a photo of Daniel Webster Sage and ended up with Lois Dawson’s potato salad.  Came out way ahead on that deal, and will probably end up with Daniel, too, but that’s another post.

My trip to Lakeview Cemetery with Louan persuaded me to look into Samuel Curren.  Let’s just say his stone caught my attention. 

That Finger of Fate effect was purely accidental, on my part anyway, so it’s probably wrong to use the image for my response to Scott Thomas’s assignment to experiment with exposure.  I’m doing it anyway.  For a couple of weeks I experimented with exposure within the limitations of my camera.  I made some photos that pleased me.  But the odd one here helps me tell a story. 

Part of working at photography, just like working at writing, comes down to making choices. This suits my purpose, that does not. The sentence over there is pretty but it tells a lie. The one here is embarrassing but true.  Sometimes creation is a process of piling up materials and then, as Daugherty Johnson says, removing whatever ain’t no wolf.

I started this post last Friday, before the little camera went Phfft! I saved it because I thought I might use a piece of it somewhere. I save a lot of bits and pieces in my mulch pile. The sheer weight of the heap of paragraphs and pixels threatens to send the whole house sliding down the sandy slope into Michigan Trail.

It’s time to get the garden in.  Spread the mulch around.  Grow a pile of something or other.  Prune away whatever ain’t no wolf.  See how it turns out.

Sunday will be my last day at the Eastport Market on the business side of the counter. After that I fully intend to become one of the Regulars who wanders in practically every evening to buy milk or batteries or bananas and ends up in a philosophical conversation with another Regular about whether it does any good to complain about the weather anyway. (The consensus is no, it does not.)

Then I will go home and walk the dogs and sit down at the keyboard and write. And then I will get up in the morning and go do research and come home and write. And then I will go for a walk on the beach and write in my head. And then, for recreation, I will write a little post about this and that. So tomorrow I’m going to go buy a new camera, the better to blog you with.  And I’m going to write.  And I’m definitely looking into Samuel Curren, because if I have learned nothing else in the last eight months of obsessing, it is to follow up on the presents that fall in my lap all wrapped up in a bow. 

Here is what I learned doing Scott’s assignment:

  • The experiments demonstrated the value of learning how to manipulate exposure.
  • I think I might prefer to learn to make manual adjustments  rather than hassling with layers of menus.
  • Thinking about my choices made me examine the air more closely.
  • The assignment reinforced my conviction that I am hardwired to interpret the world through language, but
  • I love collaborating with people who interpret the world through shape and color and sound.
  • It is possible to make cloudy day photos that look the way I want them to.
  • It is possible to make sunny day photos on the beach that contain both water and bright blue sky without blasting either one into nuclear oblivion.