In the right conditions, even a brief walk can be Kodak-momentous. I remind myself of a chicken, perpetually cocking my head to one side in order to get a better look at a potential morsel. When we were kids, we used to hypnotize chickens by drawing a straight, chalk line with a yardstick on the concrete floor of the verandah, then laying a hen down on her side so that one eye was as close as possible to the end of the line. If nothing came along to disturb it, a chicken so mesmerized could lie that way for hours.
Being right-handed, when I squint to look for a picture, it’s usually my left eye that I close. In strong light, there’s a considerable difference between what I see through each eye. My left is the cold one; I like to think of it as my Yeats eye. Things have a much warmer cast when seen through my right eye.
My awareness of the ambiguity in my own eyesight makes me all the more willing to play with brightness and contrast, hue and saturation, figure and ground.
In order to communicate what I think of as a truer vision, I have to look at things in a highly selective manner. There’s a kind of circumspection to it.
I become a tracker, meaning not only one who tracks, but also one who leaves a track, and – especially in mud season – one who tracks in.
Most photos must be cropped. A crop need not be something planted, but it does imply discrimination at least in the gathering. To crop is to segregate within real or figurative boundaries from the perceptual chaos of nature.
Birds have crops, or gizzards, which they use in lieu of teeth. As anyone who has ever kept chickens knows, they have to swallow many small stones along with their food.
Cropping anticipates digestion. The land passes through our bodies on its way to becoming something else. And we in turn pass through the land, again and again, on the way to our final covenant with the earth.