LIGHT/SHADOW

The French word for a camera lens is “objectif photographique,” a factoid I learned in a piece from a series of articles & books called “Object Lessons,” which, surprisingly, has yet to publish any histories of cameras. They’ve published a book on the potato, so… But maybe the story’s too big to tell too quickly; that’s probably why the article only touches on how the 50 mm lens came to be the standard for “normal” vision. Anyway, the French word is perfect because, as the author points out, it encodes much of what we tend to think photography is for: “truth and … Continue reading “LIGHT/SHADOW”

LOOK/SEE

There’s an ethics to looking that takes on sharp relief when one begins writing with light. Photography is the craft of capturing emanations from “out there,” and so, with a camera to look through, the predatory urge to survey and ensnare becomes a very real possibility. But to look is not necessarily to see, and there’s an ethics to that moment as well. Viktor Shklovsky writes: “this thing we call art exists in order to restore the sensation of life, in order to make us feel things, in order to make a stone stony. The goal of art is to … Continue reading “LOOK/SEE”

Trip Like I Do—Snoqualmie Falls, June 27

So here we are, back to the start; these iconic falls “where Heaven and Earth meet” were the very first stop on our itinerary, making these some of my very first photographs on the journey. I’d read about this sacred place and wanted to capture a little bit of how indigenous peoples might perceive these waters, these “mists that roll up to Heaven” and “carry our prayers and our hopes and our dreams to the Creator of us all,” in the words of Ernie Barr, Jr. My photos weren’t successful in the way I’d imagined them when I looked through … Continue reading “Trip Like I Do—Snoqualmie Falls, June 27”

Trip Like I Do—Secret Place, Idaho

A friend mentioned this place in a quick exchange as I was being eaten by mosquitos in the one spot with wifi in the whole of Priest Lake. When the mood turned sour in our immediate surroundings, Christine and I decided to head out here to spend the day somewhere totally unplanned, to catch our breath and reset; we were not disappointed. “It’s so unexpectedly nice,” I said to my friend, after asking her to guess where we are. “Exactly,” she replied and mentioned pickles. They have really good pickles here. Then she said: “Keep it a secret place…” No worries … Continue reading “Trip Like I Do—Secret Place, Idaho”

Trip Like I Do—E. Washington Roadscapes

x “I went in search of astral America, not social and cultural America, but the America of the empty, absolute freedom of the freeways, not the deep America of mores and mentalities, but the America of desert speed, of motels and mineral surfaces. I looked for it in the speed of the screenplay, in the indifferent reflex of television, in the film of days and nights projected across an empty space, in the marvelously affectless succession of signs, images, faces, and ritual acts on the road; looked for what was nearest to the nuclear and enucleated universe, a universe which … Continue reading “Trip Like I Do—E. Washington Roadscapes”

Trip Like I Do—Eating Edition

Spokane, June 28: Our vacation was obviously not deep and moody all the time, despite our itinerary; a big part of traveling for us is finding fun spots to eat. Frank’s was the first of two train-themed restaurants we stumbled on during this trip, located right next to an active railway line. Here’s what their website says about this space: “During the golden days of railroading, Barney-Smith and Pullman vied for supremacy of the elegant rail car business. In 1906, Barney Smith manufactured this car as an “observation car”. It remained unsold until 1909, when it was purchased by the … Continue reading “Trip Like I Do—Eating Edition”

Trip Like I Do—Palouse Falls, June 28

Getting here was incredibly rough on our poor little hybrid sedan; the road into the park is grooved like sawtooth, which is great for winter visits, I guess, but absolutely bone rattling for city slickers in a ten-year-old car like ours. I genuinely expected parts to start falling off the chassis like some Hannah-Barbara cartoon. But we made it and were greeted by the most incredible lunch spot and view. Palouse is the official state waterfall and is significant to me mostly for what isn’t here; I love that Wikipedia even includes a whole section about it: “In 1984, the … Continue reading “Trip Like I Do—Palouse Falls, June 28”

Trip Like I Do—Priest Rapids Dam, June 28

The genesis of this whole itinerary was my reading about Smohalla, a spiritual leader of the Wanapum people and prophet of the Washani (Dreamer) religion. After yesterday’s extended quote from Eugene Smalley, I want to share a little of what Smohalla had to say: “The work of the white man hardens soul and body. Nor is it right to tear up and mutilate the earth as white men do. … We simply take the gifts that are freely offered. We no more harm the earth than would an infant’s fingers harm its mother’s breast. But the white man tears up large tracts … Continue reading “Trip Like I Do—Priest Rapids Dam, June 28”

Trip Like I Do—Hanford Works, June 28

Somewhere past this barrier is the B Reactor, where plutonium was manufactured for more than a quarter of a century and was used “in the first nuclear bomb, tested at the Trinity site, and in ‘Fat Man,’ the atomic bomb that was detonated over Nagasaki, Japan.” By 1966, the N Reactor came on and this death factory started to produce electricity, so up until that moment, the massive amount of energy produced here through the splitting of atoms and collision of neutrons “served no social purpose,” as Richard White so poignantly puts it. He goes on: “Everything at Hanford seemed … Continue reading “Trip Like I Do—Hanford Works, June 28”

Trip Like I Do—Ellensburg, June 27

The guy at Brick Road Books was full of stories. He told me about the biker gangs that congregate at Palace Cafe and the many permutations of place names that change with the tides of patronage. He also talked about the kind of outside real estate development that made the city what it is today. His way of speaking was hazy and circuitous, kinda like a Kerouac novel, so it was hard to grasp everything he was saying about the dynamics between locals and outsiders trying to make this place more attractive, but I do remember that, at one point, … Continue reading “Trip Like I Do—Ellensburg, June 27”