Once I accumulate enough film to justify the time and chemicals, into the dark I go for some processing time. If I were more organized the mystery of what is latent in each roll of film would be minimal. Not being that way, though, means I get to discover all those things attracting my attention over the past season or so.
The inability of glancing at a screen to see whether the image is desirable does change my workflow in the field. I check and re-check the exposure (has the light changed? is that cloud moving too fast? are those shadows where I want them?) and spend more time looking in the viewfinder to confirm the composition. Still, pressing the shutter release remains a wish more than a certainty. I marvel at the great photographers who just “knew” they had the shot.
My attention continues drawn to the iconic, and possibly stereotypical, compositions. I feel like the beginning guitarist who simply wants to be able to replicate a favorite riff or melody. If I can do it as good as “they” did then it means I’m learning this craft. The challenge is when to step beyond “them” and find your own form, your own vision to be developed and presented to the world.
Or, you can just have some fun.
Continuing my pursuit of Eliot Porter’s intimate landscapes, I find the city weaving within itself these areas where nature has sway, where immersion in the local haven enables you to push away the metro buzz. Milwaukee’s European roots run very deep, with an appreciation of how the city and the country can be integrated. Efforts at reclaiming rivers and their banks, returning areas to a sense of wild and bringing intention to the interface between people and nature result in surprising vistas. The concrete jungle gives way to the border environment, a shoreline where urban structure can meet and interact with the seeming chaos theory of the natural world.
I believe most people don’t crave the wilderness, the absence of civilized existence as a way to rejuvenate a soul. I do believe, however, that the complete removal of nature is detrimental to all civilization, that people suffer in many ways by being divorced from the organic world. A city should encourage semi-wild places where gardeners and planners have little authority, a place where people can recall that deep sense of wildness and exploration. In their own way these are also intimate landscapes for those who turn to them with an explorer’s heart.