May 13, 2009

On Axes, Shovels, Cyberspace and Nature

Last week was heavy with screen time as I prepared to teach, and then taught a class outlining time-saving approaches to increasing web visibility by integrating blogs, Facebook and Twitter. The content was based on the work of Nancy Marmolejo.

Thus it was so refreshing to find myself last Saturday, along with other volunteers, on top of a ridge deconstructing a rotting observation platform. It was a brisk, foggy morning and it felt good to be in my body, using a hammer and a nail puller to remove the sometimes recalcitrant boards. Looking out at the mist shrouded trees with fresh spring leaves I visualized a photograph entitled Spring Green.

So, Monday morning, I hiked back up to this place called Sachem Head in Greenfield, Massachusetts. This time the bag on my shoulder contained my photographic tools. The light was flat; the deconstruction complete. Concrete posts awaited fresh lumber.

Spring Leaves, 2009

As it turned out, the shot I visualized looked more engaging converted to black and white.

This close up of oak leaves did capture the dainty spring green hue I wanted. With these two detail shots, I again removed the lens and held it slightly off my camera, aiming for a different look. This approach is wonderfully imprecise compared with the mathematical precision of a digital camera.

The sun kept teasing that it would peek out from behind the clouds, bringing with it the promise of directional light to make the construction site and view come alive. I recited a photographer's prayer: "I need some frickin' light."

Contrast this "prayer answered" image with the opening shot.

I later reflected on conservation writer Aldo Leopold's assertion that all tools relate back to either a shovel or an axe. You use a shovel to plant a tree or for creation. An axe to chop something down. The camera as tool can go either way.


Chris Sanborn said...

Very cool photos. I sometimes think Sachem's Head looks better without the it's natural state.