Near and Fargo: New Mexico 20140907

Some don’t make it back. I smelled this poor little guy before I saw him. Coyotes and cars don’t play well. I was climbing slowly, rising sun in my face when the whiff of death became apparent. Only the sound of my breathing as I stopped to make this little tribute.
The road continued to climb for several miles then topped out with a view of a small mountain village. The road turned to dirt and the mobile had no signal. Keep pedaling. A low road along a dried up river but the soil was damp with recent rains, a small column of dirt spraying up from the front wheel. Switchbacks began and were loose, dry and laden with washboard. Up and up and up. Small sprocket, looking down between my legs at the rear ring, never wanting to surrender to the low gear. A photo, ya, that’s it. Reason to stop.
At roads end was a gate blocking my movement, but oh what a gate it was. It is claimed that 75% of all Fortune 500 CEO’s have property in or near Santa Fe, and this baby looked like one such compound. Every trip out here I find a new paradise..owned by someone else.
There was no choice but to retrace my step. Miles of downhill back to Two Trails and then I drop south into the high desert. Miles of downhill tarmac, nice shoulder, no shoulder, glass, debris, etc. And then single track along the rails all the way back to town. The trails changes to improved trail and I realize I’d ridden five difference surfaces on this little gem. Right at forty, perfect, solitary miles. RIP Mr.Coyote

The Leica File Thirteen

Hey folks, a little something different here. I’ve posted this image before, as part of a story about my travels to Peru. I am by no means a landscape photographer, but there is something about this image that I absolutely love. I wanted to explain what this is, and also how this image fits into the realities of covering something like the Amazon with a Leica rangefinder. Please follow the “travels” link above and see how this image fits into the overall context of the photo-essay. Also, listen to the Macaw soundtrack again, if you haven’t before because one of the surprising things about the Amazon is how loud it is.

Peru black and white. 2011

Land(and technique) of the Lost

Yes, I’ve posted these images before.
I’m posting them again because I had, for the most part, forgotten about them. I made these images back in 2006 but in some ways it feels like I made them a hundred years ago. It’s not that I don’t like them, in fact I think they are some of the most interesting landscape style images I’ve made, but the simple truth is I’m perpetually moving fast. I started this project on the North Shore back in 1998. I’d made many trips to the area and spent most of my time covering the surf culture. After a few years of returning to the same place I began to see strange patterns. I began to notice the number of people who would descend on the area, mostly tourists, and would USE the area as a type of decompression from their lives, and stresses, back home. These people all used the same exact area.

The term “salt line” describes the exact point where you smell the ocean before you see it. The “salt line” is very real and historically has had a powerful impact on the cultures that reside just past this invisible line. Suddenly I was intrigued by the Hawaiian salt line. I knew I wanted to try and capture this place, and it’s effects on people, but I also knew I needed a new technique. My goal was to create a charcoal sketch, a photographic charcoal sketch, one that showed motion and emotion. The problem was I didn’t know how to do this. So, I began to experiment and came up with the technique you see here.

I posted these images again because I really like this technique.
When I finally figured out how to do this I thought, “Oh, this is going to be a big part of my future,” and yet all these years later I can remember ONE time where I deployed this style. I find this really strange. So much gets lost because of how fast I’m moving through the world. I would have never thought that this technique, or these images, would get lost in the shuffle of life but they really have. Now I sit here, once again, thinking “Okay, this is how I’m going to use medium format on my New Mexico project” and yet my bags are packed for a return trip and this camera isn’t with me. I’m not sure what the answer is here, or even the question, but perhaps it pertains to choices, or having to many. Perhaps it’s about critical thought and solitude of mind?

A Sense of Place

My aunt and I share the same birthday, so I always try to call her on the day.

She recently had a book of poetry published. The poems came to her in a “moment of clarity” and suddenly began to flow through her. She wrote them down, thought of self-publishing, but decided to try one mainstream publisher who quickly gobbled her up. I am thrilled for her.

But something from our conversation really hit home. It was that “moment of clarity.”

You see her moment happened when she was holding her granddaughter, and watching her grandson as he roamed and ran. It wasn’t as if she was sitting alone in a darkened room, meditating with flute music. She was in the midst of things, which is what made me stop and think.

They say we all have a “powerspot,” or a place that we subconsciously relate to. “They” being educated people like the college professor that explained the “powerspot” to me.

I agree with this. I have several. One happens to be the drivers seat of my car. Another is the seat of my bicycle. And my other “powerspots,” they vary, move around.

But when I land on one, my best work emerges. Always.

It is during those moments of pristine clarity when, I think, our true creative being emerges. We find the focus we need, we find the second layer of the project, or the third, fourth or fifth. And suddenly, your vision becomes as clear as your moment.

Currently, one of my “powerspots” is where my mom lives. I only get there once, maybe twice a year, but each time I’m there I always manage to find a moment of clarity. And when I do, I make pictures. I make these pictures for no reason other than to make them. I have to.

And what these particular pictures seem to do is give me a sense of place, of being, without really showing where I am. They are like fingerprints, inspired by nature, perhaps a return to my youth. I make them each and every time I go, and I’ve found them more and more interesting over time.

I feel an energy in these images, a respect. I’m not sure anyone else would feel it, or should feel it, but I’m curious about that.

I actually printed one of these, large, roughly 30×30 and it sits framed on my mom’s mantle, above the fireplace. It’s odd to see it, then look out the window and see the real object. There had to be something that alerted me to photographing this object, and then print and frame this object, and then have my mother hang it. There had to be an unknown force. At least it feels that way.

I think the key to these moments is not necessarily the work that is made directly from the experience, but rather the realization of what happened, that you had this moment, you could feel it, and in some ways experienced a creative breakthrough.

At first I thought these images were not really “mine,”, but now I think, perhaps they are “my” work. Maybe they are leaving tracks for me to follow. A warning? A suggestion?