I hate going through negatives. I’m not much of an organizational person. However, I just received the best gift going through them. A realization that I have been working on a project without knowing it.

You know the realization. You like a certain type of image, a certain subject matter, and then you look though your shots and see a theme. You didn’t go out hunting for this type of image, but you found it anyway, and the theme just happened.

shoot-542In my case, I think I subconsciously knew I was doing it. So I was chasing the project before I knew what it was or what I was doing. But now it’s coming together.

It’s no secret I’m in love with the Inter-Mountain West. I moved 1,800 miles to be here and I consider that the smartest move of my life. I looked back through my negatives and realized, what I have going is a love story with the mountains.

By Wednesday, I’ll have a new pack, the last piece of gear I wanted before hiking and camping season. Since the high mountain passes start opening on Memorial Day, the timing is pretty good. I need to either get my Canon 7 CLA’d or get a backup body, and the repair guy needs to finish up with my Kodak Medalist, and then I can dedicate some serious time to the project. There’s going to be a lot of time under big skies and a lot of miles on foot and some on bicycle involved. And hundreds of frames, if I have my way.

shoot-543So I’m sharing this realization in an attempt to keep myself honest. I’ll need to work on it every possible moment I can. And if I tell folks about it, I have to go do it. So you should get some previews. These shots from a cheap plastic pano are the first step. The thrill of that realization should carry me the rest of the way.

I forget

I think I forget that photography is magic.

I’ll get too caught up on pedaling down the road because we have to make a certain town for the night or because I’m hungry and I need to be fed, and I’ll pass up a photo opportunity as I go. Somewhere in the back of my mind I’ll know I won’t get that particular opportunity again, but I’m moving on.

Or I’ll raise the camera to my eye and then lower it without taking the picture. There’s some wisdom in doing that. It spares you from the frustration of knowing you’re missing the shot you want. But that isn’t always the only consideration that should have weight.

I’ll clamber along and realize I don’t have the right lens to capture the scene I see in front of me. As a matter of habit, I don’t often carry a lot of equipment with me. Minimalism is a key part of what I do and who I am. But sometimes, I’ll forget something, or I’ll plan incorrectly, and then I’ll be stuck at tree line with a 50mm lens when what I really want to use is a wide and it’s back down in the truck. Dropping back down off a mountain to get a lens isn’t an option. Hiking five miles back and losing a couple thousand feet of elevation takes time, so I live with not getting what I want.

All of that is perfectly reasonable. Logical reactions to the situation at the time.

But they’re all what happens when I forget.

shoot-507Snap shots in the moment are frequently better than well planned out ones. Sometimes, you need to place your trust in the magic that happens in that little light light box, and just see what happens. Sometimes, I should tell the schedule to get bent and just stop the bike and shoot. I should take the damn shot anyway. Film is still pretty cheap, roll the dice on a frame and see what happens. I should just look at the light and capture what I can and not fret about what lens I have screwed to the front of the camera.

Getting out and then having disappointment stain the moment is not the way to have fun. Trust the magic. See if that 1/125th of a second lives forever and makes you happy. Worst case, it doesn’t, but there are a huge number of other fragments of time to try again. Best case, the magic happens, and you find yourself with something new and worthwhile. But forgetting leaves you with nothing to show, either way.