Thursday, January 2, 2014

Low Light

I readily admit, winter's no lover of mine.

Sure, it's starkly beautiful. But a winter's day is relentlessly short, too often cruel and frequently dark. While the added bulk required to be reasonably comfortable working the wild makes working the wild clumsy on all but the best winter days.

Besides, I've gone ice fishing exactly three times in my life and went through the ice twice for my trouble. So I'm leery of winter's tangle of sharp-edged wonder.

Scan from 120mm transparency, 2011

Anyway, the Linhof could be worked while wearing gloves. Fat chance of that with the Nikon, considering about a gazillion near microscopic buttons and the myriad settings that require their dexterous use.

The other day I realised I'd passed 100 posts, illustrated. Then I realised I'd not taken a break in 28 months. Or nearly three full years, taking into account the advance planning that went into the gig.

Then I knew what's ailed me of late. In addition to winter, I mean.

This blog was originally conceived as an extended road trip. A narrative that'd draw to a natural close after maybe a year, or at any rate once my stock of large format film was exhausted. The film's long gone and we've been off the road for quite the while now. And a creative workflow designed specifically to accommodate frequent travel is also exhausted.

It works against me, though narrative opportunity around the Basin remains robust.

What to do?

I thought, Well Hell, even bears get to hibernate.

But blogs don't. Hibernating blogs are quickly taken for dead. There's too much yet to do -- too many tales to tell, wild places to explore, people to meet, news being made and way too much to learn -- to be taken so soon for dead.

Skull of a Young Bear -- Digital capture from Nikon 800e, 2014

With that in mind, here's what'll happen while I transition over to full-fledged digital imagist and ready myself for the promise of spring:

For the remainder of this dark season, this search for perfect light will rely on reruns. Or, as a dear friend generously suggested, The Best Of...

Every so often I'll repost from among the entries of the last 28 months, accompanied by an introductory paragraph as to why I chose it. That way, I can go off to better focus on creative goals critical to my moving forward, while the all-seeing eye of the Internet won't think I've given it up altogether and completely shift its favorable gaze away to some more persistently pleading flicker.

Then about the time the woods awake and snowmelt compels fish to flood rivers in search of sustaining life, when bears again rummage hungrily about and trillium breaks through winter's detritus to reach for an inexorably warming sky, we'll come back live here too.

And be better prepared to again hit the road along Superior in the bargain, one would hope.

Image courtesy of Bob Wild and Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

So toss a fresh log on the fire and put your up feet, winter's just begun. If you're inclined, consider where we've been and what we've seen. I'll prod you a bit to do that, in these coming months.

What's true is that around Superior today, even as antiquated argument is fanned afresh to flare old enmities hot once again, everywhere along the Basin they're good, honest folk laboring mightily to forge new ways to do old things so to devise and construct a more secure future for both people and place.

We'd be well advised to follow their lead. But the only way for us to do that is to see and to learn.

The reach of the Internet is awesome to behold.

I'm constantly surprised at who finds this work of mine and why. I'm grateful for every one of you who stops on by however briefly for whatever reason and am humbled by those who've taken the trouble to share with me what Superior and the hard land around it means to you.

Before I ever started this, I already knew Superior for a superior place.

And knew those who've lived on it and died on it and pillaged from it and protected it and those who struggle still to reach accommodation with a remarkably rich and difficult landscape for an authentically  superior people.

After all, some of those people are mine and the essence of Superior runs through them.

But I couldn't have guessed just how many other folk share in it too.

Even those who've never breathed Superior's cracklin' fresh air or walked the ancient woods or sat beneath a blanket of diamonds cast upon an obsidian sky, or stood right at the edge of a remarkable wild world to offer up a cautious toe to Superior's frigid embrace.

Turns out, the community of Superior reaches far beyond its basin. And being an active part of that robust community so enriches both me and my work that I'll not be giving up on it anytime soon.

Be warm, be well.

And by all means, think spring...

Scan from 120mm transparency, 2012

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