It’s 93 degrees Fahrenheit and climbing. The trail winds around another rock obstructing the view. What looms behind it blots out the trail underfoot. In a dream state, I stumble forward as the heat steals my stamina. But I’m not paying attention to my dehydrating state. I’m lost imagining about what looms around the next turn. A crow glides right over the crest and I see the feathers on its wings twitch in the wind. Only through its eyes do I see the folds of these mountains breaking into the wide desert beyond. I pass by another mound of scat – maybe the third or fourth one – full of juniper berries on the trail and think of what shaded spot the coyote must be panting in right now. Slipping by another rock face, I find a shallow cave with the shade I had yearned for seconds ago. And I sit there to stop the dizziness and sip a ration of water. There is a juniper tree with a burial mound at its feet. These rocks before me speak of Technicolor dreams with danger behind every turn in some old Western movie or the multitude of uses this place had for primitive fantasies and alien planets on film and through this sense of simulation I wonder how this place will seep into my dreams when I pass by the final obstruction of the day and fall to sleep like the crow cradled in the arms of its juniper tree or the coyote curled up in its stone womb.
Let’s wander away to the Big Rock Candy Mountain!
One evening as the sun went down And the jungle fire was burning, Down the track came a hobo hiking, And he said, "Boys, I'm not turning I'm headed for a land that's far away Besides the crystal fountains So come with me, we'll go and see The Big Rock Candy Mountains -Harry McClintock, Big Rock Candy Mountain
Before digital photography, photographers were used to working with negatives in order to produce the desired print from the exposure. In digital photography, there is the label of a digital negative but that refers just to a type of file called RAW which is about retaining as much information as possible. Digital photographers might use the negative or inverse in some part of their process but it really has disappeared from the collective consciousness since we’ve lost most of our one hour photo shops (or home dark rooms as I grew up with). I’m not a luddite so any sentimentality I have for the old ways is quickly dashed by the fact that film was far more expensive and time consuming. It’s funny to see people now shooting on film as if it has magical properties. Surely, if we handed a digital camera from today to someone back in the 70’s, it would be seen as magic. In addition to the pleasure of looking at the world in any way our naked eyes cannot (which is the main purpose of photography in my opinion), I like the ironic feeling of making a negative as the final result from a digital file.