Musings on Photography

Down in the Valley

Posted in landscape, process by Paul Butzi on September 13, 2007


Taking heart from the Harry Callahan passage about times when the photographs are nearly all poor but believing that those poor photos lay the groundwork for later work, I’ve been flogging myself to go down into the valley and make photographs there.

This morning, the valley was filled with fog – a not unexpected thing in September. But this fog looked and felt different, and everywhere I stopped the car, I was treated to an unusually deep quiet – the fog seemed to just swallow up all sounds except for the steady dripping of the water off the leaves of the trees.

I’ve been down in the valley with the camera several times in the past weeks, and each time it felt forced – sometimes very forced, and sometimes just a bit. But today I finally hit that rhythm where things seem to fall away and the photos are all around, and it’s more a matter of picking which ones to make exposures for than it’s a matter of finding the photos to begin with.


I’m not going to claim the photos are good. But it was nice to be back in that state where making the photos felt good.


And yes, the fascination with gates and fences is still there.

(and now that I’ve typed this all up, I look at the photos and realize that in many, the fog looks just sucky. Oh, well.)

One Response

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  1. Gordon McGregor said, on September 14, 2007 at 8:16 am

    There’s a short book that I once read ( Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment by George Leonard ) that taught me a lesson that comes back to me again and again.

    It talks about the hills and plateaus we go through, in learning any skill, artform, sport, everything. We struggle on the uphill hard parts, nothing seems to be good, but that’s where we are making all the progress. Then we reach those plateaus where everything is easy and the work just flows.

    The struggles are when you are growing in preparation for the plateaus.

    The flip side is, when you feel that you aren’t going anywhere, that might just be when you are growing too. When running times aren’t decreasing, when you feel you’ve hit some sort of comfort level, you might just be saving up for that next big push.

    I’m not doing the ideas justice here 🙂 but it is an interesting read.

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