I get glued to this computer sometimes. My eyes stuck wide-open, frozen in a blinkless state, I feel like Alex from A Clockwork Orange in the scene where the reprogram him. Only, in my case, I don’t have some creepy attendant putting tear solution in my eyes. “Blink!” I tell myself—always too late to do any good. By the time I actually do remember to blink, my eyelids feel like sandpaper.
Photography used to mean pungent, slippery chemicals and amber (or red) safelights. I can recall back in my undergrad years how I would stay up all night in the darkroom and re-enter the sunlit world feeling like one of those little men who emerge from the center of the earth in Superman and the Mole Men. I guess photography has always had its altered states of consciousness attached to it.
Sometimes I forget that photography means drawing with light. Light. Fresh air. Getting out into the world with a camera is one of the great joys of photography. One can feel an energy like no other. It is a glorious treasure hunt best experienced alone with the outdoors. Sometimes I like to shoot in the rain or other inclement weather. Other times the dancing shadows of a sunlit day will entice me. No matter. The exhilaration is intoxicating.
The other day I went out into the Marin Headlands bunkers again and the warm sunlight baked my bones back to life. It was a glorious day where I had the bunkers and the universe all to myself. Then, slowly, groups of European tourists started to filter in and wander around me. I knew it was then time to return to my computer and see what I’d captured on disk (it’s still strange to write that, somehow not nearly as romantic as capturing something on film). But, for about an hour before the tourists arrived I had that feeling! It was that sense of being in the flow, senses heightened, awareness keen. The camera and I were as one.
It’s sort of like, I suppose, Cinderella returning from the ball. I come back home tired and spent, feeling ordinary again. Back here in the studio I stare at what I produced in the field. I am grateful for the experience, for the moment out-of-mind. And once again, staring at the monitor, I forget to blink.