I can’t really imagine going walking without a camera, and by that I don’t mean the iPhone although I have fallen back to that at times. Landscape photography is a part and parcel of my identity and the Nikon 810 full frame comes into its own in the mountains. Maybe this is the year I will make the transition to the Z mirrorless series while I can still get a reasonable price for the seven lens I have although I’m still tempted by the D850 as the mirrorless isn’t quite there yet. All too expensive at the moment mind you, so there is time for the technology to change, but I suspect mirrorless is next if only on grounds of weight. Now I mention that in the context of ceremony as well as memory. For each walk I take an image of the route from Viewranger with various statistics as to height, length, time etc and increasingly medical data from the iWatch. I then load the RAW files, delete ones I don’t want to keep and sometimes make minor adjustments. But in general I fall in the school of presenting your work as it was, not with a whole bunch of edits after the event.
Now I was very good at doing this, but I got a little behind after an extended trip to the Lake District last year and then I didn’t have time to catch up, so new walks all went into the backlog and at the time of writing I have some eighty five walks that I need to process and every week I don’t do it, then it gets worse. I broke a habit and I am now suffering the consequences. Doing small things as you go along probably takes more cumulative time that batching them up but its much more likely to get done so the perceived effort is less. There is also less detective work. Given that I have to abandon my much loved Viewranger for Outdooractive at the end of February I got all of the route files into a directory and matched them up with the date files for the photographs and that got messy at times. I also made a decision to abandon Adobe given the extortionate monthly pricing and replace it with Aurora which was a one time charge but that works in a different way and I haven’t yet spent time on it. I planned to get rid of the backlog before the Adobe subscription ran out but failed to do that so the task got even worse.
The other aspect of this ritual of picture taking is that it makes be stop and compose a picture, as well as examining the landscape in a very different way than if I was just walking through it. I love composition and I am increasingly attracted by the enabling constraint of fixed focus lens. You can get very sloppy with a zoom lens. When I first started taking pictures i the mountain it was with a Zenith E with a fixed 50mm lens and replicating that constraint with the Nikon is something I do a lot – especially on coastal walks where 50mm works well, the mountains better for 20mm. Photography is a form of aesthetic, a ritual of noticing things differently, especially light and its effects. In taking a picture you don’t capture what you see in a literal sense, you capture a perspective on it formed by exposure, framing and so on. A landscape artist takes this on a level and I have several oil and watercolour paintings along with several etchings of mountains in both Wales and the Lake District all of which illustrate that.
Remember here we are talking about sense-making, or how do I make sense of the world so I can act in it. The ritual and habit of creating art (and I include photographs here) is a part of a process of sharing experiences, but also critically interpretations and insights into those experiences to a wider community. It is to engage that community in abstractions, the ability to see not into an essence (I hate neo-Platonism for that alone) but into something more essential that is not casting a shadow, but is a part of the material nature of our various acts. To understand abstraction properly (and that includes aesthetics and semiotics) should be a materialist, or maybe better a new-materialist goal. To my mind it is essential (sic) to the way in which we can start to manage the dispositional state of a system to enable exaptive and abductive invention, concepts and new forms of reconciliation. Now I have compressed a lot into those sentences, and I will expand on what I mean in future posts but I am signalling something there for readers who have been a part of this journey.
At a pragmatic level, in order to create community and knowledge which is separate from direct imitation and experience then we need to find ways to record not only what happened, but why it happened and our perspective on it. We need to see things from multiple perspectives, not just our own but also others. And also from something completely new – if I look at a Caravaggio painting I don’t see it as the artists saw it, but I gain perspective that I would not otherwise have. What we choose to record, what and how we share that and how it is used are all key to dynamic and adaptive sense-making. Its what SenseMaker® Genba is about (more when I get home on that in what will be a series of posts at the end of the month, spinning over to February.
I’ve got four posts to go in this series, five if I indulge myself with a Baker’s Dozen so it’s getting time to move on to mapping to be followed by intervention/management and then abduction. but before doing that I want to take a final look at ritual in the context of the sacred and the profane so that sets the agenda for tomorrow.
The banner picture is the view west from the head of Llyn Ogwen with Tryfan prominent. This is the iconic mountain of Wales for me and the place where I want my ashes scattered. New Years Day saw the mountains clear, but a ferocious wind so I parked near the trees in this picture and then ascended the well made path up Cwm Tryfan to Bwlch Tryfan and thence down the path via Llyn Bochlwyd (fond memories at the age of 12 wild camping in the pouring rain) to Ogwen Cottage and then the lake side path back to the car. With hindsight I rather regret not taking the side path to Llyn Idwal from Bochlwyd but anything in this valley is interesting. I’ve done that walk from the Bwlch to Ogwen Cottage in the dark without a head torch before now, one of two foolish trips where I over extended a day walk and was not properly equipped. I’ve been walking it for years so the I know it like the back of my hand and that proved useful. On another occasion I set off late in the date with boots and pullover only to go to Idwal, but then got carried away and completed the Glyders planning to drop down Can Tryfan at the end of the day. But when I got there it entry to the path was covered in a massive snow cornice so I had to struggle (up to my waist in snow at times) down the ridge to Gwen Goh Isaf and just got back to the car before my sister and wife were about to call out the mountain rescue.
The opening picture is a little more of a stretch, but shows the various options I have for carrying the camera into the hills, all arrayed on a Rohan light fleece. I have six of these and they are one of the most useful bits of kit and regularly feature in the sales. The blue and black unit is for heavy rain, its pretty much bomb proof. The other two units are a more recent discovery from Cotton Carrier – an enterprising Canadian Company who have finally come up with something that works. I normally take the smaller ‘skout’ with a 20mm or the 24-28mm zoom in winter, it fits under the rucksack over single shoulder. The worse the conditions the more likely I am to use a fixed focal length and the 20mm Nikkor is perfect for depth or field in low light conditions, but its a landscape lens and I let down my companions a little as a result – they end up as small dots of foreground interest. The bigger harness again fits under the Rucksack and I use it with larger and heavy lens as it is more stable. I tend to carry another two lens in the rucksack anyway – you never know what you will encounter. The technology allows me to take pictures while walking without any especial issue. Its simple a twist and point approach. In really bad conditions I may just take the small Sony (which will take RAW) and fits in a small pouch on the belt but its notes good as the Nikon Full Frame.
I thought I would add another picture from today – this from the highest point shows the Bristly Ridge which, preceded by the North Ridge ascent of Tryfan and followed by a descent of Y Gribin is probably one of the great scrambles in Eryri, only the horseshoe of Crib Coch, Y r Wyddfa and Y Lliwedd is comparable and that is all grade I, this route (you follow that serrated edge) is a Grade II
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