Angry Photography Gods


I got out for a walk in the woods this week – no more household items. I was looking forward to this hike. The weather was going to be in the low seventies with a mix of clouds and sun and a small chance of rain. This would be the first time out in real spring/summer conditions. No snow, no ice, no frost, maybe some Trillium blooming and some ferns uncurling.

I could take my time. It wouldn’t matter how far I went or even where I went. I wouldn’t have to keep on the move to keep from freezing. I could just wander around and stop and sit whenever I felt like it.

It turned out to be just as I had hoped. I wandered through the trees, dropped into some gullies, dragged myself back out of said gullies, worked my way around back to the top of the ridge, and eventually circled back to my starting point. I ate lunch while sitting on a big flat rock beside a splashing waterfall.

One thing that I love to look at and study and photograph is decaying wood. Fallen trees become covered in dark green moss. Fungi grow in rows along the sides. The bark flakes off and the exposed wood splits open and falls apart. Bugs drill holes and burrow inside. The wood turns colors – grey and green and brown and red and yellow.

I think the colors and the textures are really neat and I take a lot of photos of various logs and stumps. However, you never see me post any of them. That’s because these photos invariably stink.

This day was no exception. Although the hiking was great, the photography gods were angry. I just wasn’t feeling it creativity-wise. I did manage to hammer out a few decent water shots – nothing amazing though. I also took bunches and bunches of rotting wood shots that all ended up in the reject pile.

I hate to blame my equipment, you know that old saying about a good craftsman never blaming his tools, but I think that maybe 35mm is not quite the right format to capture the fine details and subtle textures of the wood – part of the interest in these shots is the microcosmic complexity of it all.

A couple weeks ago I went to a local camera club meeting where the featured speaker’s topic was large format photography. The detail in the photos that he took using a 4×5 view camera was just amazing. He had some shots of leaves that were blown up huge and they still had razor sharp edges and clear details.

I often think that this is the kind of thing I need to get what I’m looking for in my decaying wood photos. Unfortunately hauling a large format camera and all the related equipment through the woods might be a problem. I start to gripe if my tripod weighs over 3lbs for heaven’s sake!

With a camera, heavy duty tripod, and assorted lenses and film packs, this setup would weight a ton. I’d have to go all Jungle Jim on the deal – me in a pith helmet hacking my way through the woods with a machete followed by a line of locals carrying huge packs and calling me bwana and stuff. Besides, at about $5 a snap, I couldn’t afford it anyway.

Maybe I can at least go up to a digital medium format setup – as soon as I win the lottery!



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5 Responses to “Angry Photography Gods”

  1. ~donna~ Says:

    I had the same kind of weekend. Your photos are much more interesting than what I came up with though. :-) Beautiful set of exposures here. Makes me want to go find a small waterfall to sit beside.

  2. suburbanlife Says:

    Your photos of water bear witness to the notion that concentrating on a set phenomenon to learn the craft of photography pays off handsomely. Your shots of water are sublime and leave me breathless!!! G

  3. forestrat Says:

    Thanks G.

    I just can’t resist those water shots!


  4. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Try as you may, there’s nothing you can do when the Photography Gods decide differently than you do! Spectacular photos that you are sharing with us, again. Thanks

  5. Bernie Kasper Says:

    I always blame my equipment Mark, it makes me feel better, large format is an amazing thing I just don’t think I have the patience to acquire that skill !!

    BTW great photos !!

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