The Open Road in Sepia

Hanging out on the tip of Washington in a place called “Dismal Nitch” might sound depressing.  However, according to the National Park Service, its name was derived from the journal of Capt. William Clark who referred to the site as a “Dismal Nitch” after being stuck there for 6 days in a storm waiting for supplies.  For the Lewis and Clark expedition, it was the last miserable stop on the Columbia River between them and the Pacific ocean.

For us, it was a beautiful, sunny day that gave us great views of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the Columbia River, and the mountains beyond.  However, having driven over the ridiculously long bridge, stopped at Dismal Nitch, watched the pelicans diving after fish, and watched the sun start to sink lower in the sky, we decided it was time to start heading back towards Portland.  We had one more stop in mind and we wanted to get there by dusk.

On the way back, I did some more “through the windows” shooting.  I’m fairly certain there is some law of photography that starts with, “Thou shalt not do landscape photography from a moving vehicle.”  Oh well, rules are made to be broken.

I know for sure there is some law of photography that says all photographers must at some point take a shot of themselves in a mirror.  I’ve resisted for a really long time.  But when I caught my reflection in the side-view mirror, my will power crumbled.  Like being drawn into a black hole, I felt compelled to press the shutter button.  Too bad I didn’t have try a slower shutter speed–it might have been interesting with the bridge blurred in the background.

Having captured some similar images of the bridge going the opposite direction, I found myself somewhat bored with today’s selection of photos.  I decided to change them all to the sepia preset.  I went a little wild with the orange tones in the first image–it evoked the idea of sunset for me.

The pairs of images are yet another semi-happy accident I wish I would have thought of when I was shooting because I would have shot them a little differently.  Maybe with the road going left and then right or something.

Regardless of what I might have shot differently or whether I shot something similar before, there is still something evocative to me about looking down the road.

What is it about an empty road that seems so prophetic?  My nomadic desires were suddenly reawakened by the sight.  The possibilities promised by going somewhere new seemed irresistible.  But on this day, the road didn’t lead to a place we hadn’t been before.  Just like life, sometimes we drive in circles.

Drive-by Shooting

Sometimes, I ignore what I’ve learned and regress to just snapping pictures.  They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same actions and expecting different results.  I’m not insane.  I just sometimes decide the awful results I know I’ll get are OK.

Sometimes, I just want to take snap shots.

That said, there is something fundamentally wrong about pulling out a Canon 5D Mark III with a 24-17mm f/2.8 lens on it and shooting from the passenger side of a shuttle van through the windows while moving at speeds up to 55 MPH.  I believe it violates the 11th commandment:  Thou Shalt Not Waste a Really Great Camera by Using it Poorly!

It’s times like these I wish I had one of those little compact point-and-shoots that you can pull out of your pocket and look like a typical tourist.

On the flip side, I hauled 17 pounds of photography equipment with me through 3 airports to get this far and I sure as heck was not going to fail to use my camera.  Unfortunately, when I look at these images, I can’t say I’m glad I did.

What does one do with crappy vacation photos that are too ugly to use for anything but too evocative of memories to get rid of?  If you’re like me, you probably have thousands of pictures that you can no longer identify what the subject of the photo was supposed to be or the subject is obvious but completely blurred or has a street sign coming out of its head or is underexposed, but it’s the only photo you got of that really great subject, so you hang onto it for dear life.

Sometimes, it’s better just to delete.

I’ve written before about the joy of an uncluttered life.  And how that includes an uncluttered hard drive.  So, this is my pledge:  I’m deleting all of these photos.  Well, I might keep the Psychic Gallery one.  And the one of the ski runs.  And maybe the church.  Why is it so hard just to hit the delete key?

But, I digress.

Continuing my travel story from two days ago, having safely arrived at the Rutland, Vermont airport, we were greeted by our driver, Terry, from Gramps Shuttle.    (I’m pretty sure there’s a joke in there somewhere.)  He knew our names, he greeted us like friends, we laughed all the way to the hotel.

Along the way, I shot anything and everything that was even semi-interesting.  The sign for a Psychic Gallery really threw me.  I pictured an art gallery that displayed psychic events instead of art.  Or perhaps performance art installations involving levitation or telekinesis.  Or maybe just a collection of fortunes from Chinese fortune cookies.  Terry enjoyed contemplating what it was, but he didn’t offer to stop to find out.

It was just as well–it would only have resulted in more bad pictures.