Mid-November 2020 — 8 month months into the pandemic. We have to distance, but the one freedom we still can experience is a walk in the woods. Luckily, there’s a path near my home in Gloucester, Massachusetts to neighboring Rockport that is wild, wooded, and ever-changing given the season. In winter, it’s a whiteout. Spring, a marshy, muddy mess. In the summer, it’s tick and mosquito-infested, but cool, clear, and crisp in the autumn.
It’s the time to explore.
The path is only 3 miles long, filled with texture; tree bark, leaves, erratic glacier boulders, dead tree stumps, and occasional discarded objects, which are often rusted and have started to decompose and transpose into the natural landscape.
A major reservoir, Cape Pond is a serene sight for nearly half of the hour or so stroll. An occasional freshwater fisherman can be spotted, or a Lycra wearing mountain biker. But generally, it’s a quiet meandering trail, where you can enjoy your thoughts, or be on the watch for interesting rectangular vistas to capture on film. It’s the perfect length of time and variety of scenes for a roll of 36 exposure Kodak Tri-X 400.
I grabbed my Yashica Electro 35 GSN for a variety of reasons yesterday … there was a full roll of film in the chamber, it’s light, and I don’t need to worry about metering since I shoot it at Sunny 16 since the meter doesn’t function,. All I need to say to myself is “will I go with f/16, f/11, f/8, or f/5.6?”.
With the Electro I can walk with it securely anchored to my right wrist, tethered to its tripod mount. As soon as I see what I want (to capture), a quick swing to my eye, a fast-focus with my left thumb and forefinger, and (as long as I pre-advanced) an instant shutter release. And then, I’m back to the stroll.
Fortunately, in these days of instant photo gratification, the one-two combination of Tri-X 400 and Kodak D-76 allows me to have a strip of the exposure I just completed drying on a guy-wire strung over my bathtub. Before I go to bed that evening, my day’s 36 moments of compelling interest have been scanned (I’m a “shoot film / show and print digital” kind of person).
Were all 36 great photographs? No way. But there were 5 satisfying pictures that encapsulate the walk. Dried leaves glistening with high contrast in their monochrome representation. Almost hidden I-beams in a bed of autumn debris. The path itself, bending in a wave. The reservoir framed by a tree gone horizontal. And, a field of boulders that are only revealed because the foliage had fallen.
There were others…but these are the 5 I chose to share from yesterday’s exploration.
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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