January 23rd, 2005

What's the Point?

Although my antibiotics have been making me sleep fitfully -- ninety minutes after taking them my stomach feels dreadful -- I mustered the energy today to accompany Kim and Skylar on our first trip to Sabino Canyon since the fire and subsequent mountain lion-induced closure. It was great to see some of our old haunts from Bean's diaper days. I got winded quickly, but was able to rest and take pictures while the young adventuress had some riparian fun.

You have to take advantage of gray skies while you can in Tucson. They're a precious commodity. So I concentrated on taking low-contrast photos of the family, then experimented a bit with focus. My camera doesn't let you focus manually, which bothers me a lot. Nor does it enable manual adjustments to speed or aperture. This means that the gray scale-value of whatever you focus on determines the exposure of the photo. And that often causes a creativity logjam. When the contrast is lower, though, I have a lot more control. kdotdammit will probably put up some of the day's "straight" pictures later. I'm going to share three of the queer ones, then sign off with a conventional why-our-desert-rules shot.

Skylar had a great time walking in the creek. She managed to navigate "quicksand" while thankfully avoiding the real thing, which is common in Sabino Canyon. I love the brush down by the banks.

The Bean and I saw the documentary Rivers and Tides on the shelves at Blockbuster this evening, which reminded me that we need to buy a copy to commemorate our family viewing at the Loft back in August, 2003. Even then, the girl understood art in a deep way.

I've always been a huge fan of corrugated granite. I could sprawl on it for hours. It reminds me of childhood meditations on Pennsylvania boulders, the realization that the complexity of the landscape is mirrored in the features close at hand.

There are worlds inside each world. Sometimes the horizons correspond.

One of the things that connoisseurs of landscape often remark upon seeing the Sonoran Desert for the first time is that it's amazing how easy it is to frame a shot that even the somewhat oblivious will immediately acknowledge as aesthetically appealing. The challenge, for those who get to know the place better, is to seek out new ways of seeing that complicate the beauty without giving it a black eye.

The adage means something in these parts: "You can look, but you better not touch." Unless you have a credit card or a bottle of Elmer's handy. That won't help you in the case of an ocular impalement though. I think Dali and Buñuel would approve.

Still, sometimes it's good to stand back and say to yourself, "If Ansel Adams had captured that in black-and-white, with a judicious use of a filter, I would have paid to see the photograph."

Of course, Adams was given to maximizing contrast, even in an image with a lot of nuanced grays. That's beyond my capabilities or at least those of my four-year-old Olympus. But the winter light still plays across the ridge, even if its impact is diminished. It really is that beautiful here. You should come for a visit. Particularly those of you who already live here.
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    Never Enough Neck 1 - The Fucking Champs - Greatest Fucking Hits

Bruin Is To Bear As _____ Is To _____

Thanks to elizabeg I've come to follow the after-dark doings of UCLA graduate students like yourbestfiend -- who gets extra credit for eating her way out of hangover while watching football -- and tropicopolitan -- who has a knack for party photography. It really does make me nostalgic for my own pre-qualifying exam experiences. Unfortunately, even though I'm otherwise am excellent documentarist, I have very few concrete souvenirs of my erstwhile festivating. You see, at the parties I attended, way up at UCLA's older sister of an institution, I was rarely in the portion of the room that people would allow to be photographed. Sometimes possession really is 9/10 of the law. . .
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    Pale Horse - John Vanderslice - Cellar Door