Dishonesty?

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Taken in the Rutgers Ecological Preserve on Livingston Campus. The place looks deceptively shallow from the outside. I’ll bet it’s even nicer closer to spring and summer, when the canopy’s a little more dense. 

There’s an argument floating around out there that doing photography for the sake of memory tends to cheapen the moment. That going through the motions of dressing up an image with fancy editing tricks and going out of your way to shoot photos in these moments detracts from the very act of being there. Far be it from me to argue. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions, right?

Everyone’s got their own way to try and make a moment immortal. Everyone’s got their own way to respect how short this all is.

Dishonesty?

Gone for too long without a trip…

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A carved tree on at the side of some trail in the Adirondacks. I think this was over the summer. We had stopped at Lake Placid for a night on our way up to Montreal. Had to wait for family photos to wrap up before I snapped this one. :p

I’ve been posting a lot of urbex on Instagram lately. The last field trip to the warehouse has my Lightroom queue pretty stuffed at the moment – not to mention the fact that I went back to the old abandoned farm not too long after. Truth be told, you get a little limited when you stay within the scope of your town as far as photos go.

Suburbs and city. Seems like I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. I miss the mountain air. The canopy of green over my head. The sound of a winding stream leading through the woods to god-knows-where.

Gone for too long without a trip…

One of the first ones

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It’s an interesting experience – going back to the first photo you took with photography as the intent.

This was right around the time we were filming the old Winter In Piscataway video. I didn’t even have a DSLR yet, and I was trailing around while Patrick was shooting video on his old Nikon. I had an iPhone out, and I was shooting  with it in portrait instead of landscape, genius that I was.

Snow started falling early that December. There was already a nice blanket going by the time we hopped out of my car, trudging through the powder in jeans and work boots.

I remember wanting to catch the snow in the light. I remember wanting to remember how it felt.

I think I do.

 

One of the first ones

The Warehouse

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The tattered wreck was just a short walk through the woods from Patrick’s old house. If you asked me for directions there, you’d be up a creek, but after my most recent jaunt there, I think I’d be able to lead you over well enough.

It was the first place I had really tried to photograph anything with any sort of thought, back when I manually letterboxed my pictures in Microsoft Paint.

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I remember sort of half-leaning through a window lined with broken glass, snapping a picture of the other side of the room – quietly terrified out of my wits that some worker, police officer, someone was going to walk in on us wandering around in there. I was just sort of caught up in what was basically Baby’s First Urban Exploration – drawn in by the allure and mystique of something so wrecked and ruined that I don’t think I was actually too concerned about shooting a picture that was actually in focus.

I want to swat past me on the back of the head for this one, but I get the feeling.

The next time wasn’t much better. I remember coming back and having the ISO on my camera set so high that the noise grain may as well have made my photos shitty impressionist paintings. Those ones didn’t even make it to Instagram.

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I ended up coming away with nothing but this wide shot that wasn’t even framed or made black and white properly.  It would be a few months until I went back again – October 2016.

I think I had a different mindset going in this time – capture the essence instead of just the building. I think – technical quirks aside – it’s relatively simple to shoot urbex. That’s simple, mind you. Not easy. You just need a place, and a camera, and an eye for good light and angles. The process of injecting your own experience into a picture of that place is a little more complicated. How do you capture that sense of discovery, that sense of creeping adventure – that thing that turns us all into beanie-toting, camera-clutching Indiana Joneses the moment we step into a building that our towns forgot?

I don’t think I’ve got it in its entirety just yet, but I’m so much closer than I was.

I’m just going to have to keep going back.

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The Warehouse

Breather

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Enter October, where the autumn chill sets in and you realize exactly how busy you’re getting, and exactly how busy you just don’t want to be. Around this time every year is when I realize that I’ve been sitting in the middle of this tidal wave of ennui – where I don’t feel like doing shit, I haven’t pumped out content, and a lot of projects get paused in favor of settling into class, going through the motions, and getting through the day. Which is stupid, because every time I come back to just writing on this blog, I realize how therapeutic it is for me. I sort of vomit my thoughts onto a text box without thinking about it, and it honestly just feels better having it out there, regardless of who’s reading it.

So, court mandated blog time. Leggo.

These first two months of the semester sort of bring into sharp detail this mountain of shit that suddenly needs to get done on the day-to-day – obligations being born from the absolute paradise of nothingness that was my summer break. But everyone goes through that transition, right? You pry yourself off of the habit of waking up close to noon, having unhealthy brunch because of pure convenience, and being well acquainted with a well-rested state and get back to plugging away at life. It’s one of the most natural things in the world – leaves falling from trees. But for a lot of people I know, the slog drags out a little more than they’d like, and all of a sudden, they freeze. Life can only stay on the back burner for so long, and the first two months of fall often bring it back into focus at a startling rate, especially for people still out there trying to get that degree or build that portfolio.

You go from ease to crunch time what feels like a matter of minutes, and it’s easy to feel aimless. Lost.

Believe me, you’re not alone there.

It’s like dreadfully slow asphyxiation – air getting more and more precious as the deadlines and obligations mount, and you get more and more buried in whatever you need to devote your time to. The comparison of the now to the then makes you feel even more buried, more stifled, more suppressed.

Breathe.

It’s an overly simplified solution, and you may thing that it doesn’t even come close to cutting you lose of whatever’s keeping you down, but breathe. If it doesn’t pull you out, it’ll start to tug at those knots at the very least. Fixate on the fact that you’ve made it up until now – and that’s no small matter. What’s one more page? Or two? Or ten?

Despite what people may think of it, life was will be is good.

So take a breath. One big one. In and then out.

And I’ll see you tomorrow.

Breather