Mar 7, 2020

Moonbow Meander

Cumberland Falls, Google Pixel 4

Mini Snow
Diana F+ MEG, Kodak 400TX
Gatliff Bridge
Diana F+ MEG, Kodak 400TX
Cumberland River
Diana F+ MEG, Kodak 400TX
Last month I packed a few cameras and visited Cumberland Falls State Park in Kentucky.

I planned to go with someone else. I drove up alone, opening the windows occasionally to the cold to wake myself because I'd slept so little in the weeks prior, and felt melancholy. In the higher elevations I smiled at patches of snow that fell earlier in the week but were mostly melted. It was the first snow I'd seen this season, despite being February. Every white patch brought a blizzard of happy memories, smiles that melted back into sadness.

The drive took longer than I expected, longer than Google said it would, but I welcomed the slowness.

A long bridge spanning the obscenely swollen Cumberland River greeted me at the park. It’s been a wet winter, but the speed and rage of the water shocked me. I didn’t recognize it as the same river that passes through my town, Nashville, 200 miles downstream; I'd never seen it like this, not even during the flood of 2010. Driving across that old bridge, convinced it couldn’t possibly withstand the river's onslaught, frightened me.This was Young Cumberland, still close to its birth, hot-headed, eager to rebel against constraint. Down Nashville way it's Mid-life Cumberland, meandering through its day-to-day routine, trying to slow the persistent plod toward retirement into the Ohio. Both stages can be deadly, but in very different ways.

I promised myself to use this time away to think. Thinking about youth vs. mid-life, and beyond, didn’t help my melancholy. I took a deep breath and drove across the bridge.

Just downstream of the bridge is Cumberland Falls, a 70-foot faceplant in the river’s journey west. I parked and rushed to see the fall. It’s called the Niagara of the South. It ain’t quite Niagara, but its power made me think it’s damn close. I wandered to the different overlooks, each time impressed with the fall and trying to capture it on my crappy little film cameras.

Cumberland River Valley, Google Pixel 4
I drove up the lodge, where I’d booked a suite, and dropped my stuff in the room. I wasn’t looking forward to sleeping in a king-size bed in a king-size room on my own. I didn’t want to hang out in that vast loneliness, so I went down and sat on the lodge’s patio, feeling the cold as I watched the Cumberland Valley turn itself over to night.

My main reason for going: to see my first moonbow.

A moonbow is a rainbow created by the light of the full moon in the mist of the falls. You don’t see a rainbow in the traditional sense because your eyes can't discern the colors (unless you’re under the age of ~6…something about losing cones as you get older). Conditions must be perfect, so moonbows aren’t common but there are a few places on earth they appear with some regularity, Cumberland Falls being one of them. I advise you look up Cumberland Falls and Moonbow to see what I’m talking about.

(Barely Visible) Moonbow, Google Pixel 4
Although naked adult eyes can’t see the colors, long exposure photos can. I hoped to capture a colorful moonbow on film (alas, I failed). I was surprised how many other people were there for the exact same thing (although I don’t think anyone else was shooting film).

One woman I met was driving from Florida to Pennsylvania; her husband filed for divorce and she was headed to stay with a cousin she’d met only once. She’d read a blurb about the Moonbow at a rest stop and decided to detour since it was a full moon weekend. She had a high-end digital SLR she didn’t know how to use despite calling herself a wedding photographer. I showed her how it worked and let her use my tripod to take several photos of the moonlit falls. She was excited and it made me happy to help her find some joy in a difficult time.

She left and I reclaimed my tripod to take my own photos, hoping to find my own joy in a difficult time.

Feb 7, 2020

Thanks, You

Winter 2011, ZeroImage Pinhole
Shelby Park, Nashville
I had someone I don't know reach out to me yesterday to offer encouragement after reading my recent posts. It was a kindhearted gesture. Thanks, you, for gifting me a much needed and appreciated boost. It reminded me, I need to be more kindhearted to strangers, it's how we improve this world.

I woke this morning to snow. Not enough to keep me in bed away from work but enough to give me a smile. Living in Nashville means snow is a rare occurrence. We're on that just-might-snow-but-probably-ain't-gonna geographic line. It's common for folks just north of us, and east of us on the Cumberland Plateau, and west of us to get lots of snow each year. Could be Nashville is hot enough, urban enough, bad ass enough to repel the snow angels.

Snow is joy, laughter, happiness, and all that cheese. Maybe the brightness created by reflecting light serves as a fleeting panacea for seasonal affective disorder. Maybe I still remember sledding as a child, then as an teen, then as an adult, then as an adult with child. Maybe because of its rarity, although rarity does not translate to happiness...I mean the plague is maybe that's not it.

After our last big snow, the kind that shuts down Nashville for a week -- meaning more than a couple of inches -- I reverted to being a child for a few days. I bundled and trundled my ass to a nearby friend's manor. We drank and cooked and smoked and sledded a small hill.

This morning when I woke up and looked out the window at less than an inch of snow knowing I had to get to work and wishing I didn't, that memory gave me a smile. Thanks, Nature, for gifting me a much needed and appreciated boost.

Here's video of sledding a small hill in 2016. I wish I could Groundhog Day that snowstorm endlessly.


Feb 5, 2020

Card Catalog

I spent the evening creating. Not creating well, but it's a start.

I dug out a pinhole camera I made several years ago using an Impossible Project Instant Lab. I charged it up and loaded it with a pack of year-old Polaroid 600 BW film. 

I set the rig up on an old library card catalog. Light meter suggested ~2 minutes. I increased by half to cover reciprocity failure. It wasn't enough time. My first shot was under exposed. All that was visible was the center drawer and the light leak. 

My second shot (the one here) was 9 minutes. It probably could have done with a couple of extra minutes. And I need to fix that light leak. 

Creating tonight has helped soothe my heart a bit. I hope those bits increase as I continue to create more. 

Shooting using Impossible
Project Instant Lab Pinhole

Feb 3, 2020

Fightin' Words

I'm sitting here sifting through boxes, sorting my life back out, and I get excited about plastic things. These plastic things pictured, to be specific.

I used the Holga and Diana a tad over the past four years, a roll each, perhaps. They've been tucked away. I never forgot them, just forgot I wanted to shoot them. The Reality So Subtle was an eBay purchase from more than a year ago and finally used for the first time last month.

I read a blog post earlier today by Monika Danos on finding a new path after becoming ill recently, which has limited her ability to work in her darkroom. She ended the piece with: 
"Art is a fight, and it is worth it."

Them's fightin' words.

I'm trying to make plans for myself. I need something to occupy my time as I heal, as I find my footing, otherwise I risk TV, bourbon, and inertia taking over.

I'm excited because I bought film to load in these guys. And I've decided to try the new Cinestill Df96 Monobath. Well, new to me, at least. I read about it for the first time when looking up chems to buy yesterday. I went ahead and ordered a couple of batches to try...because I'm gonna fight.

Links (no, I don't make money from these):

Monika Danos website

Cinestill Df96 Monobath

Holga 120 WPC Pinhole Camera

Diana+ MEG Edition Camera

RealitySoSubtle 6x6 by James Guerin

Jan 19, 2020

Some Path Foward

Lady Liberty pinhole shot with some
weird Lomography film I can't remember.
I'm busy packing things, trying to figure out what to take, what to leave, what to toss, what to give away.

Transitions are difficult.

Part of my job is helping people figure out the best path forward and best way to deal with the resulting changes. They need help because change is hard.

I wish someone could help me in this change I don't want. I wish I could be Zen about this, about everything in life. It's what I advocate for others, but c'mon, how well do we follow our own advice? If we did, we'd all be well-adjusted humans achieving in every aspect of life.

I'll advocate for myself. I can do this and I can do this well.

There, now that I've packed that away...