Things Consumed

visit the latest entry in things consumed | visit the things consumed archives | return to | subscribe to the feed

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Nearly healthy.

digital light painting by A.E. GravesAlthough I haven't quite beaten the office plague, I can now pass for normal for short periods of time. I can go out without sounding like I'm trying to expel a lung for hours at a time. And that feeling that I had spent the night with energy vampires has largely passed. Largely.

I'm full of postponed projects that were waiting on my recovery, which are all trying to dominate my sleepy head at once. They are piled up everywhere, and my other thoughts are tripping over them and getting tangled up with them. It will take me a while to get them organized enough to act upon.


It hasn't been much of a week for food. I've been making familiar dishes here at home - Tibetan noodle soup, lasagna, broccoli with tofu and black bean sauce - and taking packaged foods that Steven bought in as lunch. Steven has forgiven me for making off with all the vegan items and leaving the cheese items for him, which is very kind. :-) I have a few pasta sauce experiments coming up, and perhaps some enchilada variations, but nothing too exotic.

My only exotic thoughts are about a meal I ate many years ago. A colleague is going to Nepal, and discussing that country brings me back to my first meal in Kathmandu at a fabulous Bhutanese restaurant. That was one of the best meals I've ever had. Tired from more than 24 hours in transit, we stumbled through the unevenly paved streets of the city of more than one million people, carrying flashlights, and followed our trip leader to a restaurant I knew I would never be able to find again. It was a cozy room, and our group divided up into vegetarians and nons. Everything on our vegetarian table was remarkable - soups, appetizers, - especially the spinach momos, and the tender noodles in a remarkable hot-pot style of soup... The little dumplings were filling, spicy, satisfying... So good. So warm. I remember leaving so happy...

I have made momos at home, and they have been good, but they've never been quite the same as they were in that restaurant.



The rain is gently falling outside, the drops wide-spaced and heavy. I walked home from the train station, breathing in the fresh air, quietly receiving the shattered shower. Despite the rain, the air looked remarkably clear. The City is so lovely at night. The City isn't perfect - there are many unlovely things here, things that people do to make spaces look abused or dirty or just unloved - but at night, when the lights sparkle and illuminate the contours of this hilly place, with waves of little lights unfolding in every direction... It is perfect. It sparkles. It glows. And I feel so lucky to be here.


I took some photos this weekend, despite the heavy, slow clouds that kept rolling over us and changing the light in my garden in unpredictable ways. It would have been better to just sit in the garden and watch them blow over, but I felt compelled to record something, just to work some of my compulsion to make wet collodion plates out of my system, since that is an expensive and challenging compulsion.

I spent undue amounts of time using my Polarid pinhole camera and Polaroid Type 665 film (both at, one of the types of film that produces an instant print and a same-size negative which can be used for other processes. (As part of my ongoing commitment to studying antique technology, I can assure you that neither the camera nor the film is made any longer.) I had purchased some of the last 665 film after it was discontinued. As an alternative process printer who spends a lot of time making large-format negatives in various ways, it seemed like an ideal, 'alt-alt' technique.

"Lensless" photography, which uses no conventional optics, has been enjoying yet another resurgence - it is possible to craft a digital or film camera that uses a pinhole, a zone plate, or a photon sieve to focus light - and I've been enjoying the work that others are doing with these techniques. Having taken my research back in time before the advent of film, why not go slightly further back, before the use of glass optics? The 'camera obscura' - a room or box with a hole in one side, which naturally projected an upside-down image of the outside world onto the opposite wall - was popular long before people figured out how to record images permanently, and pinhole cameras are just camera obscuras with film.

Since I'm a busy person, I wanted to go back in time - before glass lenses - but also very far forward in time, to have an excuse to use the brilliant, instant-positive technologies provided by Polaroid. I want to have it both ways. I can. I did. (I had previously tried making pinhole images with some of the late 1800s contact printing process papers I use, but those papers can take days to form an image, and I'm not that patient.)

I'll scan and post selected results later. Very selected. Very much later. My lack of practice with the camera and the difficulty of estimating exposure times when clouds keep passing over caused me problems. (My images with faster, print-only film in steadier lighting conditions were better.) I learned with greater certainty that my camera does have an inner focusing limit of about six inches, after which it may have a more-or-less infinite depth of field - so close-ups of very small things (the point of this weekend's experiments) don't work well with this particular box camera. (Some of the early tests I posted long ago lacked sharpness: this is why.) I am thrilled to learn that, though that lesson wasn't necessarily the best use of some of the last Type 665 film on the planet.

I need to rethink my subject matter plans: since close-ups aren't appropriate, and the plant subjects I spend so much time on move too much during the long exposures that the tiny pinhole aperture requires, I'll need to use this camera for (a) larger things (that will fill the frame at distances of greater than 6 inches) that (b) stay very still, and can benefit from being shown with (c) an extraordinary depth of field. I would want to do this only to the extent that I learned something new, because I have other cameras good at photographing large, still things at a reasonable depth of field.


euphorbia by A.E. GravesI also went out into the back yard and took some digital color photos showing the lush greens of December in our garden. I took these in the soft, dark available light - these lack the drama and sharpness of a sunny day, but convey the mood of the afternoon. I love living in a climate that has happy plants year round. Even now, some of our succulents are in bloom, and our apple blossom camellia has tender, short-lived, pink-edged blossoms on it. Such a December!


I realize that I post a tiny fraction of the photos I make here - not even one percent - and that my injuries earlier in the year kept me indoors more than usual. I'll likely create a few highlights/best of galleries to make up for the enormous gaps, once I sort through all of these other projects eagerly waiting to escape my mental backlog.

Labels: ,

posted by Arlene (Beth)9:51 PM

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

comments Return Home