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So, many inches of snow are falling outside our window today; it feels like a New England February. But, just two days ago I was comfortably wearing a t-shirt outside. It’s been weird.
This is Nicole. Nicole and I have a standing agreement that I don’t take normal photos of her. So, I’m sort of breaking with tradition. Nicole is one of the first people I met out climbing in the woods – not sure how many years ago now. I ran into her this weekend by chance which is always nice; I don’t see her much outside anymore as she’s completing studies on a advanced degree (doctorate?).
I think James (in the orange hat) is using some form of The Force here and not spotting. Looks meditative. James, Imran, and…. David? I’m bad with names. They were in the Lincoln Woods for the first time. Somewhere to the left is a big black Russian terrier.
Kind of a silly little tail on those guys. But, a cute dog.
James. A fine name. I forgot to get portraits of these guys because I intended to catch up with them later. I got distracted elsewhere but maybe I’ll catch them if they come back down this way sometime.
James told me he made this bread with his girlfriend’s yeast. It only sounded weird because of that beard beer that is out there somewhere. But, anyway, apparently the yeast had expired in ’14 so he’s basically got a shoe to eat through I think. I don’t know why – maybe because I loved going to bakeries as a teenager – I love seeing homemade bread used in a normal daily routine.
Kristin is focused. I know it isn’t the hardest climb in the world but it is still pretty amazing that people can hold themselves up with so little. Of course it’s nice to get a little power spot when things aren’t working, too. This is the story of Jamie’s life (Kristin’s husband). Always available with a shoulder to sit on.
When all was said and done, Ryan sent the problem again and the others were thwarted. It wasn’t a bad day for January, but in the shade the stone was freezing cold. Cake doughnuts for everyone.The funny thing is, I’m pretty sure Nicole was looking up at Kristin on the rock. Or she could be asleep. Hard to judge.
It was a good day in the woods. Not a lot of people; in fact these are all the climbers I saw. The next day was predicted to be 55 degrees so I think everyone else was holding out. Instead, Amie and I saw the new Broadway tour of Cabaret at PPAC. If it’s going to be in your area you should check it out.
Tech notes: Shooting with a 645 and a mix of Fuji 160 NS 220 and 400H 120. Just a few rolls as it was more fun just to watch and hang out.
It may be a while before I’m out again because of this snow, but if you’re going to be out there in the woods let me know and I’ll be out there with you.
[Western Tokyo, Japan]
Back in 2009, I ran into a Japanese guy climbing in the woods of Rhode Island named Masa. We got to talking and I mentioned to him that I was hoping to photograph bouldering when I went back to Japan. So, he put me in touch with a guy named Yusuke – a buddy of his in Japan who was living one town over from my parents, near the Tokyo / Yokohama border. Yusuke emailed me some suggestions and I thanked him for the intel (or beta if you’re a climber).[Western Tokyo, Japan]
Well, a couple of years pass and I go to Japan but never get around to photographing bouldering. The earthquake / tsunami also happened and my priorities changed. Then in October of 2011, I find myself out in the woods again and this time I run into a few Japanese climbers (only the second time I’ve run into Japanese climbers that I can recall). We get to talking and end up going out for food and beer. A short trip in the early afternoon becomes an intoxicating evening of stories and jokes.
[Yusuke / Yusuke and Takako’s dog Shiro in Rhode Island] [actual photo from that night]
Somewhere in there it occurs to me to ask one of the guys his last name. His first name is Yusuke. Well…yeah. Go figure. It’s the same name as the guy I wrote to in Japan a couple of years earlier. Not only the same name but the same guy. The same guy I had just spent 6 hours with. Unbelievably, we met out in the woods of Rhode Island (at some point he had moved NY). Talk about timing and luck.
A few months later, I follow up with Yusuke and he sends me a hand-drawn map of an area called Mitake in Western Tokyo. I tell him I will have to get out there! But, I find myself mostly spending time with family and up north covering the story of post-tsunami Tohoku / Fukushima when I go back to Japan.
Nevertheless, in 2014 we finally took the assorted transportation to get out into the sticks – the mountains (? hills?) of Western Tokyo. We only get to spend a few hours there and it’s dead center middle-of-the-day light but the scene was gorgeous. People kayaking down the river with boulders on either side. Fly fisherman and families walk up and down the side of the river. It was just beautiful. Not great light for photography, but pretty to walk.
We meandered down the path a bit and spoke to people here and there. It was pretty great. The food was distinctly different from RI but there were a lot of visual similarities (a lot of the same brands of stuff). Still, I feel like I barely scratched the surface. We plan on going back sooner than later.
[This is Hiro on the rock]
Maybe next time film? This is all digital. A side-trip from our excursion in 2014. I can’t really put into words how much I loved getting out to Mitake. It was part nostalgia and part exploration. You take the Chuo line part of the way out there (the train I rode daily for school). Far past my transfer station, it changed from the grey concretions of megalopolis to the rocky valleys of interior Honshu.
[Mitake, Tokyo, Japan]
We’ll be going back.
It doesn’t always go as planned. I say that as if I am planning anything on these weekend climbing shoots. It never goes as planned – for lack of a plan. A lot of the usual suspects out in the woods this past weekend. But, don’t worry. This will only sort of seem like a “watch Tim climb post.”
As primarily a commercial photographer I am sorely tempted to bring every last piece of gear with me. But in the outdoors it feels like the drive is to take as little as possible. Jim Corbett, the hunter turned conservationist, would only carry a few shells with him while tracking down man-eating tigers in India (he specifically hunted only man-eaters and now has a massive national park named after him in India). On a few occasions (or maybe just a couple) this seemed to turn into a very bad situation where he would be short of ammunition (he was taking something like 2 or 3 shells with him).
(I feel like I’m color grading for Hollywood – teal and orange land)
I don’t have these problems. But, in my zeal to take the minimum gear whilst shooting climbing I have found myself short on film, the right format backs, and batteries. So, I’ve been leaning more on the old photographers philosophy of take more film than you will need. I take out what I think I will use. Then I add to it. Then I add to it again.
(that’s a serious look)
I was out shooting with the famously battery hungry Contax 645 and discovered that I had loaded my spare battery in the wrong (identical) bag. So, suddenly I wasn’t out shooting with the 645.
I happened to have a fully mechanical 67 film camera with me as well. But, I shoot 220 with the Contax and 120 with the 67. Thankfully I had taken out what I though I would need. Added to it. And added to it again. The double wammy is of course that 67 is significantly larger than 645 and therefore you get fewer shots a roll (10 shots vs 16). But, I had a lot of 120.
I feel compelled to note that on commercial work we don’t really have the opportunity to make these mistakes because we have triple redundancy and work from lists. For these characters in the woods I’m not going to triple my bag. I’m bleary eyed on a Sunday morning grabbing things in the dark and walking out the door with an orange and a bunch of film.
Anyway, so I was back to the usual haunts though I did get to go to “try again” for the first time in a while because there were peeps going there. 400H looks different than 160NS. All the 120 I had was 400H. It’s a bit brighter and more poppy. Almost a touch too clean for my taste but I like the blues.
Also, saw Evan who I haven’t run into in… a couple of years? He’s been on the road a ton out climbing. I think he’s got even more trips in the works. Some day I’m going to have to head south and west. Maybe Bishop first.
These kids from Long Island were there. Apparently they make day trips to climbing places in PA and elsewhere. I need a bit of their energy. I like being places – not as much the getting there in the car. (cue That Dog “Long Island” for the ladies who love bearded men – by which I mean one person specifically who I’m not going to call out).
Anyway, so no disaster, but a lot of fun climbing to photograph for me. The one thing that was a fail though is that I don’t think my viewfinder and my film frame are the same. I’m cropping some things on the bottom of the frame that I don’t think I missed in the frame. So… still learning some of the odds and ends. (Note Loon sitting there looking like a 50’s cat burglar)
Until next time! Not sure when that is going to be. Depends on the weather.
5 years ago today I emailed the most excellent Andrew Hetherington because he had posted something about giving away the remainder of his film to someone as he was transitioning to digital. He was looking for deserving people with good ideas. I emailed him quickly and sincerely promised to put it to no good use; except maybe to start a new series of self-nude portraiture. Sometime a week or two later a bag of film arrived in the mail. I haven’t gotten around to the portrait series but the film got used anyway.
I insert this butt shot for Andrew. The downside to being mostly on the ground for bouldering is that you do get a lot of butt shots. It’s not the goal – just sort of happens. I try to avoid it mostly but this one was too perfect. Two butt shot – and I managed to photograph 5 people at various angles and still get no faces at all. Mad skills.
Double armed dogs. Sounds like a pseudo yoga move or a bad TV gang. This past Sunday was a fun one. I had wandered around and initially saw no one. It turns out they were out by the Pond Cave. It was sort of like there was some kind of Red Team / Blue Team going on but that was fine by me. Happenstance making for interesting lines. The lighting was interesting and I was trying out the EOS 3 with its new focusing screen. If you are the proud owner of a miscalibrated EOS 3 film cameras as I am: try out an A type focusing screen. I went from having 3 out of 36 photos in focus to something like 28 of 36 (relying on autofocus before and mostly manual focus now). Night and day.
The backgrounds were interesting. Swing and a miss. But, it seems like I was mostly getting shots of Tim doing cool things. I felt pretty dialed in. Although I was shooting some with the EOS – the primary camera was still the 645. Looking at an image like this… man I do love film. There is a grittiness to images that is a saturated version of real life. Before they remastered and ruined it – the Indiana Jones Temple of Doom outdoor scene at the very end was obviously shot with a different film stock. It went from indoor studio lighting to dark shadowed gritty wild exterior. I always loved the look of the initial outdoor sequence. Part of the beauty of medium format is that the sharp parts are really sharp and the out of focus is silky smooth. Ryan’s a bit blurred because he is moving but the details are evident.
It’s always a good day out in the woods. Stow. Stoic? I know man it’s a terrible pun. I’m sure I’m the first. It’s all I’ve got – it’s Friday.
About 10 months after A. Hetherington sent me his film I picked up a Canon 5D. Although I had been shooting digital for a bit, it was still something of a revelation. The Fuji Pro digital cameras I had been using (because I love Fuji film) didn’t have the beautiful colors and tonality that Canon provided. Now, we’re a few generation beyond it and heavily into digital.
But, the analog magic is still special. This photochemical image-making process called film. I don’t worry about the last shot – just the next one. Also, it’s probably helping my fine motor skills to manual focus so much. Maybe.
Shot on a Canon Eos 3 with Kodak films and a Contax 645 with Fuji films. German design, Japanese manufacturing, and American engineering; we’ve got it all.As always – my thanks to the climbers!
My brother being the odd duck he is loved birds as a child. We got an inside tour of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard when I was very little. Drawer upon wooden drawer of pretty dead birds stick with me. We had birds. I think we had 11 or 13 birds in the house during our time of peak bird. This may have influenced my troubled relationship with cats. That or my allergic reaction to them.
Now, as is the constant duality of life – most of my closest friends are what we would colloquially call “cat people.” Even the ones who claim to not be cat people – yet paradoxically have cats – are cat people. I like cat people. I like dog people too. Haven’t really met bird people until now.
We had the chance to photograph three bird people for Rhode Island Monthly a few months back. I realize as I write this I am probably a bird person – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!. Anyway, this was going to be a fun one.
Karli, our art director for the article, may have already been on the same page but I’m pretty sure I rolled in like “Hello? Karli? I WANT TO SHOOT THIS ARTICLE LIKE A SERIES OF DIORAMA. Just sayin’.” Now, because of schedules and the reality of life I didn’t quite get to go crazy shooting everything like it was a diorama. But, we did have fun.
I photographed Peter first. I had heard of his website and so learning a bit about the behind the scenes at Providence Raptors was cool. The origin story basically has Peter sitting at the window of his new place. You will notice that Peter is a cat person. And a graphic designer. Did I mentioned that I know a lot of graphic designers? Who are cat people? I don’t really know the connection… I think I do actually but since I’m married to one I hesitate to speculate.
Raymond was psyched. He also spends a lot of time doing some hard work for the love of it all. I wouldn’t want to be in charge of cleaning out these plastic gourds. I realize that in this moment I’m never going to be a zookeeper. I’m ok with that.
Jana was great to photograph. She looks every bit the intrepid birder to me. I wish I could have learned even more from her – but I think we have an open invite to hang with the Ocean State Bird Club.
So, all of the small creative team for this article are in these photo except me which is probably for the best. Amie and Karli both wielded that enormous and heavy lance of a lighting pole deftly. What you don’t see is that they were both reviewing the photos as we went with the wireless viewer in their other hand. Good times.
I really really enjoyed this shoot. I want to do it again or something like it. Human Diorama. I want to make it.