in the boneyard

headstone

I was on a mission to shoot a couple of other subjects in Provincetown, but because it was a gray, windy, foggy, cool, somewhat drizzly morning, I thought it would be an opportune time to spend an hour in the cemetery.

It also proved convenient that a friend was visiting a resident of the assisted living facility in town. The assisted living facility is located across the street (Alden) and beside the graveyards. (Yes, you read that correctly.) One car, two keys, and I had shelter from any sudden downpours.

I decided to play around with using a Canon digital SLR with an available pinhole body cap (actually for an old Pentax) held over the body in place of the lens. There were the inevitable goof ups and light links, possibly a stray finger, and movement aplenty, but the point was to just shoot down and dirty and quick and get a soft look with some ghosting effects. I decided not to worry about the many dust critters that were also revealed as I felt they added a little "je ne sais pas quoi".

This was definitely easier than carting around the homemade pinhole "one shot" cameras I made while taking a class at the FAWC (Fine Arts Work Center) some years back. I could more easily adjust the exposure time and determine if I had captured what I had meant to by checking out the LCD display on the back after I took the shot.

I shot them in color. For this blog, I decided to make only the following adjustments in Photoshop: a black and white adjustment layer for all three, and I brought back the color in the beads around Mabel's headstone. Other than that, I decided to just keep the pics "as shot" - no extra processing.

headstones in a line
cemetery path
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pilgrims and indians

race point
Recently, I read Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick which dispels the many myths about the Pilgrims, Indians and Thanksgiving with which we've been brought up.

The book details the Pilgrims' journey from England to Holland and eventually to America in search of a place where they could live and worship as they saw fit.

The passage was long and brutal. They arrived, not on Plymouth Rock, but along the outer arm of the Cape, eventually landing in the Provincetown area before making their way to Plymouth Harbor. I've often looked out from Race Point, over the dunes and out to sea, and thought how beautiful and desolate and barren it looks, and what it must have been like to be among the "first" to see this shore.

Without a doubt, the Pilgrims needed food, and fast. One of their first acts of procuring food was to, unfortunately, steal corn that had been stored away for the winter months from the local inhabitants. Not a great way to begin a mutually beneficial relationship in a foreign land. But the Indians befriended them and there was likely a celebration of thans the following fall which was unlike the Thanksgiving we have come to know and love.

And, amazingly, a peace, uneasy at times, was established between the Pilgrims and the tribes along the coast and lasted for about 50 years. Over time, the cultural bridges that had been built failed. The balance of power began to shift from the Indians to the increasing numbers of English who arrived on this shore looking to establish their own thing. And they needed lots of land for cows, and houses, and crops, and commerce. And the next generation needed still more.

The story gets a little complex, as stories do, with arms deals, land "bought" at ridiculously unfair prices, friends becoming enemies, enemies becoming allies, and tribes setting against tribes. The end result: a lot of bloodshed on both sides. Dead Pilgrims and far more dead Indians—as well as enslaved Indians who were sold to pay for the war te new Americans waged.

The past cannot be undone, but there's a lesson or three in it, as there always is. While I'm passing the turkey and stuffing, and fighting over the wings, and giving thanks for waht I have, I'll be reflecting a lot more on the mythology of the day.

I imagine that, with the exception of the occasional plane, boat, and hiker, this view in 2005 might have looked pretty much the same to a Pilgrim or the Nausets in 1620. This double exposure above was taken with a Holga Camera from the balcony of the Visitor’s Center at Race Point. The Holga costs $24.00 and is a whole lot of fun.

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shooting into the sun

sun over water

Somehow I missed the whole, "Don't-shoot-into-the-sun" rule.

I also have to admit that as a kid I occasionally challenged the "Don't-look-into-the-sun" rule, even if for a moment. (Sorry, mom.)

Not that I advocate for staring into the sun until you go blind. That would be bad.

This shot was taken in August at sunset. It was an incredibly hot and humid day (the worst, as a matter of fact).

The air along the shore was still very dense and still, even as night approached, which made for an interesting view out to sea. As I stared out over the water into the sun, and felt my eyes go blurry, I saw a boat passing. It appeared to be not much more than a mirage, and I liked the result.
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pinhole photography

provincetown theatre
Unnerved by the aspect of taking a poetry writing course at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, I scrolled down the list of available classes and saw "Pinhole Photography."

Build your own camera, trial and error...there was something appealing about the method. Or you could say I chickened out of taking the poetry class.

Whatever.

Nothing could compare to the feeling of capturing not only an image, but a feeling, on paper. This primitive and natural way of taking photographs helped me to give up control.
light through trees
You never feel fully in control when you are out there allowing the light to do its thing, to find its way through a pinhole into a tin or box to create a picture of the world that is upside down and backwards. The image you see, or contrive to capture, is surpassed by what the light and circumstances reveal.

No control. And yet, you learn to control the things you can and to accept the outcome.

I took this amazing class and thought, I will never write again. I became obsessed with my "cameras" and with the dark room, working until well after midnight and back at it with the sunrise.

Happily, I did take up my pen again and did take a poetry class. But working with pinhole photography helped rekindle my love of photography and to inform my writing in sometimes small, sometimes major ways.

pictured top left: Provincetown Theatre, top right: A Light from Above

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