shoot-243I rarely travel during November. Too many amateurs are out and about, fares and gas prices get jacked through the roof, and the light is rarely cooperative.

I get some shorter rides in, snow and ice allowing, but that’s about all I usually get done. Plus I tend to stay and work during the holiday times. I don’t have any children, so I try to cover for the ones that do so they can go do family things.

This mostly leaves me on foot, shooting black and white to deal with the flat, inconsistent light, and exploring various areas in town. This year, I am spending time using rangefinder cameras, which is different for me. I’m using pinhole as well. I’ve tried it a few times before, but I’ve never been happy with the results. I’m using a different approach this time and I’ll see what it gets me.

I actually enjoy this process very much. Layered up under my M65 Field Jacket, tramping around in mud, then snow, and then muddy snow. It gives me something I usually have to go to the mountains to find, right here in the city: solitude. There’s just something to walking about with coffee on a mostly silent dawn or dusk hour with your breath visible in the air. I can almost always put enough layers on to be comfortable, except for my hands. Gloves thin enough for good tactile response all seem to be unequal to the task of dealing with temperatures under 35 or so. I spend a lot of time with my hands in my pockets stalking the light as a result.

shoot-244It’s always a time of learning. November is my laboratory. I’ll use the time outdoors to try out new clothing and break in new boots. I’ll try out new emulsions, narrowing down the choices for a large film buy in the new year. If they can perform in the crap lighting conditions I am exposing them to, they will do well under better ones.

I’ll catch up on developing as well. Spend some time in the warmth of home, with good tunes playing as I do my inversions and crank through developing as many rolls of film as I can. Watch the snow out the window as negatives hang to dry and sip coffee in the mornings and bourbon in the evenings.

It’s the only time of year I feel the slightest bit content being home and not traveling. I suppose it’s me being contrary, since most of the U.S. will be on the road this month. Whatever the reason, it’s always good to stretch and try new things.