Saturday, March 6, 2010

Drive By Time Travel

It’s inevitable. As anyone who fancies himself a photographer traverses the nation’s roads, countless photos will whiz by at 85 (wait…no…) 65 MPH. Despite my rather stubborn attachment to film, I feel it should be noted that this is where digital photography really gets the gold star. If I see something that I want to attempt to snap from the car window, there’s nothing lost if it doesn’t turn out. More importantly, otherwise missed opportunities wind up getting captured, where I may not have risked the cost of film and processing otherwise.

During a last-minute decision to head over to Phoenix, there were several instances where the long stretches of California and Arizona highways struck me as so incongruous with the stereotypical idea some may have of these places. I don’t imagine I’m alone in the vision of the endless megalopolises of California and Arizona. Here however, less than one hour outside of Phoenix (which seems to double in size every time I visit), I found myself clicking window-shot after window-shot of what seems like another place and time altogether. Super-cities aside, it does remind me that I do in fact live in the Old West.

The open spaces and crude fencing blur the usually distinct line between the modern life we know today and the drastically different world of less than 100 years ago. The two times, places and mindsets meld together seamlessly here. While the modern truck and graffiti do a little to keep the shot from being out a scene right out of 1910, the speed implied by the barbed wire fence is what completes the connection between then and now. The speeds at which we so casually travel everyday were nearly unimaginable such a short time ago, and yet for all of the advances like this, we find that some things are best left unchanged. It’s almost as if to say, “all your advancements do is complicate an older way that worked just fine. We had it right the first time.”

Of course, given the choice, I suppose I’d rather make these trips with Starbucks, Fiji water and Wireless Data coverage pretty much the whole way. Perhaps, it’s good to remember that simple ideas and the complexities of modern life are really just meant to complement each other. When the world starts to overwhelm, the old west is just a cell phone call’s time away.
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Innocence...and on a day when I wasn't expecting much

I had actually taken this photo quite some time ago. I had just bought a new lens, so of course I wound up with a slew of unspectacular days in a row, a new piece of equipment taunting me the whole time.

Clouds or no clouds, I took a trip to La Jolla's Mt. Soledad, which if nothing else offers some nice views and some Aperture/Photoshop starting points. This was by no means my first visit to this site, and though I think the laser engraved stones were a fairly recent addition, I knew they were there.

I hate to admit that, initially, I was most impressed by the laser graving itself, until I took a look at such a wide angle of view, which compressed the sheer number of these memorial stones into such a small space. This was when I realized the scope of what I was really looking at. Equally impressive to me was the amount of exposed concrete just waiting to be filled in, as indicated by the blue tape around what appear to be recent additions.

If anything, the gloomy light I had been disappointed with helped to achieve the mood. While the large number of stones in place reminded me of the sacrifices that so many (honored by the thousands in sites like this across the United States), what I felt completed it was the little girl at play here on the site. As she runs off to join the people she's visiting with, the divisions between the stones multiply her reflection. It seems as if her carefree activity is a reminder of what's made possible by the acts of the people depicted in the stones. The reflection, however, makes her part of them. While she innocently plays around monuments to the fallen, it would be inaccurate to see her as separate, for she too will impact this world in what she does. It's impossible to know what sacrifices or contributions she, or anyone else, will make. After all, the men and women etched in granite were once as young and playful as she is now.

By the way, I'm planning on upgrading my camera body, so if you live in Southern California, expect rain.

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