Monday, March 20, 2023

Misguided (Spring)

"Falling in love again, I never thought I could.  I never thought I would.  I can't help it."

I developed a roll of black and white film I shot with my Leica M7.  I love the camera, the way it looks, the way it feels in my hand, the whisper of the shutter.  But shooting film is a hassle.  You have a roll of 36 exposures.  You are stuck to one film speed which may not be the one you want at any given moment, either too fast or too slow.  By the time I've finished a roll, sometimes, I don't even remember when I began shooting it or what might be on it.  But, you know, feeling that I am capable of great things, I can't wait to develop it to see what is there.  And then, after spending time loading the film onto the reel and into the tank, then soaking, developing, rinsing, fixing, and rinsing once again, I pull the roll from the reel to clip it onto a rod to hang and dry.  Looking at the negatives, there are usually some bad exposures, too light or too dark.  Later that day, or maybe the next, I cut the negatives and put them into plastic sleeves.  Then I take them to a light table and look at them with a loop.  And then my stomach sinks.  There is nothing of interest, I think.  Trees and the roofs of houses, a table or a can. . . nothing.  Still, dutifully, I take them to the scanner.  I load them, two six frame strips at a time, and hit the button.  I sit and wait for the scanner to take them in and run a quick exposure.  I look at the twelve thumbnails and then select some or all of them for a "Preview."  This will take five or six minutes. Then I look at the larger previews and adjust the frames and the dimensions, pixel count, number of scans and bit depth on the ones I will want, then hit "Scan."  Depending on how many I scan (usually too many), it will take half an hour to forty-five minutes.  When that is complete, I start over with the next two strips of six.  Then again.  

I have to download these files onto a separate hard drive and take them into my big computer where I import them into a developing application and see if they are worth working on.  They must be spotted for dust, adjusted for exposure and contrast, and tonal adjustments must be made.  All of this is done in four separate applications.  And when I've finished with that, I am sick because I have taken a bunch of pictures of nothing.  

 And so they sit in a hard drive until one day I open them up and peruse them.  And then, by gosh, sometimes, I like one or two of them and get excited.  

Other times, though, I get too excited right out of the box and like too many of them too soon.  Later, it seems a fool's game.  

But, I have been taking pictures of "my life of solitude" because that is what I have.  I worked on the roll of Tri-X I developed on Friday and scanned on Saturday.  I worked on them yesterday for a long time.  Remember, I have been sick and not really doing anything, so that was it, the sum of three days of inactivity.  But when I looked, I liked the film images.  Film can be sweet.  The tonalities can be so soft and buttery compared to the harsh, literal digital camera things.  There is that beautiful lack of precision that takes the image a couple steps away from reality.  For three days I was thinking I would never shoot film again.  It is just too much work.  And then I looked at a couple of the images and loaded another roll into the camera.  What can I do?  

"Falling in love again. . . ."

Yesterday was the last full day of winter.  It was cold and gray.  Winter has been very warm here this year, often unbelievably so, but as we move into spring, it holds on with a final death grip.  It is still winter as I write this, but spring will come later today before sunset.  It will, I think, still be cool.  But it will be spring and all that spring means, both literally and figuratively.  The rivers will flow and the sap will rise and our desires for "love" will reignite.  That, at least, is the Dick and Jane version of things.  Those lucky kids retained their youthful hue and awe forever in that America we all loved and envied.  Not now, of course.  Um-mm.  They are to be much reviled, those little fuckheads.  

Oh, honey. . . leave that alone.  It is spring, regardless.  Chemically altered spring!  Glaciers melt, species disappear, and the crops won't grow, but we have wonderful discussions about identity politics!  

Sorry.  It is an insiders joke.  Some of you won't have enough reference on postmodernism and the 1970's debate between Foucault and Chomsky for this one.  Still. . . I love you.  I'm a hippie.  That's what I do.  

But I have gone so far astray which is what happens in a timed-writing such as this.  

"You have fifty minutes to write an essay on the elements of spring, what it is, and what it means to you. Time starts now. Begin."

That pretty much sums up the gist of ENC 1101 education.  Dumb.  It is really, really dumb.  But here I am performing the theory every morning, over and over again.  Oh. . . I would get a "C" for the class, I guess.  

"Your essay lacks structure and there are numerous writing errors, but you include, at times, some interesting elements and observations.  By and large, I think, you have given it the old college try."

I'm sorry, professor, but I have been ill these past few days and have been incapable of preparing, really.  I know I can do better if I had more time. . . . 

I might include this as evidence of a life in disarray.  

There is always so much to do, you know?  Things sometimes just begin to pile up.  I need someone to be in love with me, of course.  Not just love me, but to be in love with me daily, to succor me through sickness and encourage me in health, to attempt to allay my anxieties and fears, to lie with me in the sweetest of passions throughout the night, someone for whom I could do the same.  

Someone with a love of gardens and an idea of how to order a home.  Someone to cheer me on when I pressure wash for many hours and pitch fourteen yards of mulch in the driveway and the beds.  Someone to eat dinners with and read our books for an hour and settle down on the big leather couch for awhile in the television portion of the evening.  

"Life could be a dream with you in Paradise. . . ."

I don't hate these black and white pictures.  Actually, I find them profoundly appealing in a way.  And, importantly, I just love to use that camera.  And so, I will eschew the big cameras for awhile so that I can have some things of my own to post here daily.  

Look!  Come see?  It is Spring!  Spring has come.  Oh, Jane, come see Spring.  See Spot play?  Spot is happy.  Spot likes Spring.  

Dick.  I like girls.  Do you like girls?  Let's go see Gus the Fireman.  He likes both.  Do you like both?  Would you like to be a girl?  Come, Dick.  Come.  

I ask too much, of course.  I'm clinging to a fallen world.  The concept of "happiness" has been considerably altered.  Perhaps.  They just released the list of the World's Happiest Countries.  Hmm. 

1. Finland
2. Denmark
3. Iceland
4. Israel
5. Netherlands
6. Sweden
7. Norway
8. Switzerland
9. Luxembourg
10. New Zealand

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