Day: May 1, 2004

Which Way is Up?

LimbsPhotojournalists, as a rule, don’t shoot ambiguous photos.

Our photos are supposed to tell a story and clarify things for the reader (as in "a picture is worth a thousand words").

But former photojournalists who now own galleries do shoot photos that leave the viewer guessing.

For some reason, people seem to like that sort of stuff.

Like this shot from the masochism tango (otherwise known as our Friday hike up the Buffalo).

Yes, these are bare limbs against the fog, shot at the very top of the mountain.

But they could be a tree just about anywhere. And which way is up.

I let four fellow tenants at The Jacksonville Center look at this shot when it first came out of the printer and asked each to tell me which was the top and/or the bottom.

There were four different guesses. When it comes to fog shots, some of us don’t have the foggiest notion of what it all means. Which may be good. Or bad.

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Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

GhostFred First (of Fragments from Floyd fame) started planning this madness several months ago.

"Let’s hike up the Buffalo," he said with usual Firstian enthusiasm. "We can get some great shots."

Normally, this little voice injects sanity into my thought process and I realize that a 56-year-old body with bad knees, a bum hip and an ankle that’s been broken too many times should not be climbing up a mountain but insanity ruled and I agreed.


We set the last day of April (Friday) as the time for the great Buffalo Mountain trek. Friday, of course, dawned cool, cloudy and foggy and the little voice surfaced to say "don’t waste your time. The light sucks."

"It’s gonna clear," Fred declared. "Trust me. It will be worth it."

So we headed for the mountain after picking up a third partner in misery. Halfway up the mountain, Fred swore the fog would lift. I just swore as the knees, hip and ankle screamed for mercy.

At least the fog provided an errie backdrop for some good mood photography, including a tree that looked like a woman dancing (or perhaps she was warning us to stop and go back because she — unlike Fred — knew the fog would not lift).

And it didn’t lift. We made it to the top to find the view blocked on all sides by an ever-thickening layer of fog.

Faced with the harsness of reality, Fred finally admitted defeat and suggested we head back down the mountain to the warmth of the car and the sustinence of banana bread. "OK," Fred admitted, "so maybe it didn’t clear. But you gotta admit the climb was worth it."

Depends, I suppose, on one’s definition of worth. The fine companionship made the pain in the joints palatable and the light, while bad, provided some interesting opportunities. But damn, my knees, ankle and hip hurt.

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