It was a dark and starry night... So begins the novel PAUL CLIFFORD (written in 1830), by replacing ‘starry’ with ‘stormy,’ a much parodied opening line from the book, my first image of which was Snoopy sitting on his doghouse typing his great American Novel using those words on his typewriter. Mental images we take with our eyes, ‘cerebral photographs’ are part of the way we all view the world. What happens when we manipulate mental images with cameras such that what we see with our eyes is not what the camera sees? Let the artistic fun begin!
Imagine having the opportunity to drive a van transporting photographers for a workshop at the Great Sand Dunes National Park? Such was my honored task. This was not a normal day trip but an all nighter! The focus? Sunset, Milky Way, and the sunrise. The workshop participants had the opportunity to learn from the professionals at Tamron, a leading lens manufacturer, and the staﬀ of National Park Trips Media. This was not their first National Park so Ken, Andre, Mark, and Damian have had time to perfect their craft of teaching about the technical aspects of nighttime photography, a lot more to it than aim and shoot! Technical terms like ISO, Aperture, shutter speed, lens’ sizes in millimeters, etc. were tossed around, all helping the students take the photos they were trying to digitally master. Wow! How fun, as I checked in on all the participants, peeking in on their camera screens, with permission of course, and looking at the shots they had taken moments before.
Walkabout - Australian Aborigine term by which young boys, having learned survival skills from their parents, head into the Outback (wilderness areas) of Australia for weeks or months on solitary journeys, live off the land, be spiritually enlightened, and begin the process to go from boyhood to manhood. Vision Quest (translated into English) is the Native American term referring to a similar journey. On a limited scale, due to limitations of modern world, these personal journeys continue today for these cultures.
We 'western civilizationers' have changed things up as we do not make that kind of time for turning kids into adults. Sending children out for these kinds of extended periods alone has never been part of our western culture. We do condensed versions - sending kids on solo overnights, maybe a backpacking trip for several days to weeks and usually in groups, or perhaps sending them to summer camp where the hope is, kids will get similar revelations, via experiences and interactions, about growing up in the world.
As the ancient civilizations contemplated what substances made up the universe, most cultures came up with the basic four of Air (gas), Earth (solid), Fire (plasma) and Water (liquid). These were considered both matter and energy that sustained life. People contemplated these elements scientifically, philosophically and spiritually. How should we view these four things in the San Luis Valley?
AIR - Why is there air? To breathe? Blow up balloons? Make sure the Great Sand Dunes continue to reshape themselves? Carry the clouds across the sky? No instruments were available to determine the composition of air for the ancient peoples. They knew nothing about the gases that make up the air - nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, argon, water vapor and a few other assorted elemental gases in minuscule amounts. How did air come to be? Tough question, only that we instinctively know that it has mass when the wind blows and can make waves on water, blow dust into our eyes, bend trees.