February 16, 2018

Cloudy, 30 Degrees, Northwest Wind 10 mph

Today was truly not a nice day for a walk. The low clouds, the wind from the Northwest, and the generally gray nature of everything just makes it a forgettable day. We’ve been having a lot of thawing over the last few days, so the snow is subsiding and the dirt on the snow is showing everywhere. Everything just looks ugly, at least in town. We are entering the time of year that I probably like least. It’s the doldrums between winter and spring. It seems way too long. We are months away from any green or any flowers, but the winter is fading.

Really like this one. It has that dark and faintly ominous quality I’m looking for.

I’m not feeling great this morning physically, and that is probably contributing to my dark outlook. My stomach’s been upset and I feel weak and lethargic. Because of this, the walk was a little difficult this morning. I moved more slowly than normal and felt less enthusiasm for the photography. Climbing the hills out there left me a little winded.

An undertaking like this one is bound to be a record not only of the weather and the seasons, but also of the roller-coaster of human emotions. My emotions. I don’t feel terrible today, but I sure don’t feel great. I have observed in recent years how strong and yet how unreliable my emotions are. They feel absolutely compelling when they happen and yet they are so fleeting and meaningless for the most part. That doesn’t make them much less compelling, but it’s good to keep in mind.

Even the grayest of dull days has a cool look to it


So, I will try to set aside how I feel this morning and let the day develop as it may. Being retired makes that a lot easier than when I had a day full of responsibilities to look forward to. If I feel crummy now, I can just sit and read a book and let it pass.

I shot almost entirely tree trunks this morning. I haven’t done that in a while and I’ve been thinking about it, so today was the day. I framed my shots tighter today than I have before. I have the idea that filling almost the entire frame with the tree might be more powerful. These images are awfully simple. There’s not much going on except to appreciate the complexity and variation of the bark. There’s a tiny bit of design involved in how I frame the variations in the bark or perhaps a knot where a limb used to be, but for the most part, it’s just the incredible detail, variety, subtle color, and deep fissures of the bark that speaks to me.

Making these images work will require just the right editing choices. I am sure that a deep vignette, a dark and contrasty look will work. I’m also sure that a larger scale print and printing on the watercolor paper that I like will help. Some people consider that relying on the scale of the print is somehow inappropriate, but I think the scale of the image with respect to the viewer is important. I just have the sense that both the tree trunks and the overhead branches will benefit from printing at 27 x 40 or even larger.

Maybe still to naturalistic for me. May need less color or more texture of some kind.

When I bought my Canon 5ds I hoped that the incredible 50 megapixel sensor would help with the images I was shooting. I was shooting beach and forest landscapes. I was right about the resolution helping. The forests came alive with detail. It just felt like you could walk right into them. I’m hoping that the level of detail in these bark shots makes them more compelling too. So today I’ll spend time editing both tree trunks and the overhead branches again. It’s getting to be time to make some larger prints to see how they look. I want everything right before I do. It’s not cheap to make those big prints.

I haven’t been playing the guitar the last few days nd that’s probably making me feel down as well. I walk into my room and there sits my beautiful Epiphone Sheraton just begging to be played. I love the thing and I love the act of playing it, but the music is just feeling wrong now and I don’t want to play when it leaves me feeling bad. It seems such a shame to let all of the work I’ve done over the last few years go down the tubes.

Amazing the variety of forms that bark can take.

It’s not as if you can put down the guitar and pick it up months or years later and pick up where you left off. I’ve memorized tons of chord and scale fingerings and they will fade, if not disappear. Playing guitar is a matter of ingraining these patterns into your mind and your fingers. Without practice, they fade quickly. Some of it will remain, but a lot gets lost.

I feel really sad about that, and it’s not as if I have something else I want to do with the time I used to spend playing. I spend several hours a day on photography and writing, but there is still time in the day to play. I just don’t have the heart. I keep looking for a way to continue playing that feels right to me. Less focus on practice, more on music, more improvisation, but none of it is really working for me.

Dense brush is everywhere. I need to figure out how to represent it too.

I thought briefly today about when I quit playing the classical guitar. It was a real loss. It had filled most of my free time and probably almost all of my mental space. Then it was gone. I think I started my first business around then. In fact I know I did. I think I had to have something to fill that mental space. The same goes for now, but I’m not sure what that will be.

I have a tremendously active and curious mind. I always want to be learning something and delving into it. I’ve left such a trail of passions behind me in life. I rarely want to go back and do any of them again. I dig in so deeply and then I’m done. I can’t go on. That can be a little depressing to me too, but at least I’m living a life and doing things, learning things. It just feels bad that I leave them behind.

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