• Rooted and Rocked Mountain Biking Washington by Jay Goodrich

    Owen Dudley rides the rooted, rutted, super technical rocks of a trail near Bellingham Washington.

White Noise

Have you ever heard of a Holga? Or Lomography? The Holga might go down in history as the biggest piece of shit plastic camera ever produced. And it was made in and for the country who is notorious for producing cheap crap replicas of reality–China. At the same time though, they produce pure perfection like the Mac Book Air I am typing this post on. Lomography grew out of a similar trend. This time with a piece of crap Russian camera. Both of these tools had a lot of things in common, mainly their light leaks and cheap fabrication, and it was primarily these two features that surprisingly allowed them to grow a cultish following among photographers. If you knew your camera leaked light along the top horizontal edge, you could effectively compose for it and use its disadvantages to your creative advantage. Much like Guerrilla Warfare.

I can already feel my purist colleagues rolling in their proverbially graves. What no multiple exposure merging? Disregarding image perfection. It is necessary to make sure that you eliminate the shadows and find detail in every part of the landscape. Your thought process is ludicrous Jay. You have fallen off your rocker. Maybe sippin’ a little too much of the Old Lady’s moon shine again are we? Maybe. But I am changing, not into a butterfly, I am developing my mission and viewpoint as an artist. And as this occurs, my likes and dislikes are changing as well. The world is far from perfect and I am beginning to believe that photography shouldn’t be perfect either.

Photography is becoming extremely sterile. And in that pursuit, so is the creativity, so is the style, and so are the images. I am seeing so many photographs of popular places in different light (albeit amazing light) with different compositions, but these images now possess almost nothing of interest to me. Is it because my growth as a photographer is turning me into a snob? I don’t think so. Is it because I am tired of looking at the places I have seen so many times prior. Probably not. I think it is because those images are becoming so typical in their style that they are benign. Lustless. Clean. I want True Grit or at least a grit that fits the subject.

I think this quest for perfection became a most sought after ideal as the film industry began to give way to the digital era. Companies like Fuji had films like Velvia with its ridiculously fine grain structure. They worked this engineering so hard because publishing techniques and secondary separations tended to blur/muddy the final outcome at that stage of the technology game. That mission of smoothing out film continued with noise in the digital sensor. Nikon has managed to surpass their heralded D3s with their forthcoming D4 in noise suppression. Now every image will be perfect and to the entering amateur that may in fact continue the sterilization process to the point of a photography demise in my opinion. There are times I want that noiseless perfection, knowing full well that I can junk it up if I so choose. So even at a time when photography is becoming sterile, I want a camera that can produce sterile as long as I can create T-Max 3200 with light leaks in the end.

Maybe you are striving for that image perfection like many others. Perfect light shining across some vast expanse as the sun kisses the horizon in an f22 starburst with just the right amount of pink clouds in the upper third of your composition. Ah yes. The perfect checklist of capturing one-stop exposures for your ability to join everything together in a two-hour Photoshop session. I know, I have been there, and sometimes still go there, although not that often anymore. I want grain. Simplified color. Or no color at all. Strong lines and textures. What I often thought I wanted was Jackson Pollock. Now I want Jay Goodrich–a recognizable situation, with abstraction mixed in to the point that you almost fall off of my view point, but somehow manage to stay connected as you see that point get driven right through the head of my subject like a vampire stake. I am going to take your checklist, crumple it up, and light it on fire. Why? Because I can. Now all you have to do is leave the cattle behind and come join me on the razors edge. I will have a mason jar full of black cherry moonshine waiting for you when you do.

In the End What Will You be Known For?

Kids Destroy Photographic Print by photographer Jay Goodrich

I have witnessed some major changes in photography throughout my career. I remember the days when you had no choice but to get the shot in the camera. If you missed, that was it, the scene was history. You took a chance every day that you set out on an assignment or a project with the film that you chose, the lenses that you carried, and all of the miscellaneous gear that you brought to accompany your specific mission. Now you have more options than ever. You have choices. “A little bit of variety.”–Natural Born Killers. You can create black and white images after the fact. You can process images as if they were shot with a Lomo camera. Even cross process or bleach bypass an image with a click of your mouse.

And now more than ever before, photographers are discussing, to the point of arguing, over the most minute technical limitations of every new piece of equipment that is being released. They tout those creating with iPhones. Complain about autofocus. Freak out over diffraction. Complain about noise levels in digital sensors. The list could take up this whole post. Does owning a brand new Canon 1DX make you a better photographer than me? Or Ansel Adams? Art Wolfe? Frans Lanting? Or any other pro out there? Or any other photographer out there? I recently read an interesting post by Trey Ratcliff discussing why he is not even interested in the brand new Nikon D4. Did you become a photographer to spend thousands upon thousands on equipment? Or is photography a true enlightenment for you? A creative passion? Is there a voice in your head that makes you see the world and create a picture because of what you see?

I say it often, and to many people, over and over again–simplify and free you mind. I cannot tell you how many images I have created with my iPhone that I truly love. In the same thought, I tend to use a specific tool for a specific task. I don’t create an HDR image because that is what the competition or trends are doing. Nor do I shoot with the most expensive Canon equipment for the same. In fact I am currently in the process of lightening up all of my all of my gear. I just purchased a thirteen inch Mac Book Air to replace my seventeen inch Mac Book Pro. I am switching many of my f2.8 aperture lenses to lighter f4 ones. Freeing my mind so my soul will follow. And I have to tell you it is an enlightening experience.

In the end do you want to be known for blowing your kid’s college education on camera bodies and lenses? Or do you want to be known for capturing a brief, fleeting moment in time that speaks to someone else’s soul? I will choose the latter every single time. And if you take all of my cameras away. Smash all of the computers. Burn all of the paper. Destroy all of the forests. I will keep those visuals I have seen through out my life, to myself and share those experiences through the campfire with only those closest to me. My life will always be complete. Now the biggest question is–will yours?

The Subway – The New Creative Machine

The Creative Machine is geared towards the photography artist who is striving to be as creative as possible. It is the thought process as much as it is the reality of what you shoot and how you combine the tangible and untangible.

I have taken thousands of photos with my iPhone at this point and have shared many of them here on this blog. However, I haven’t really shown any of the hours of HD video clips that I create almost simultaneously with the stills. Enter the Creative Machine–a way for us to share some creative video concepts alongside a small creative message. Our first CM is about The Subway, a place nature photographers from all over the world know about located in Zion National Park. Take a minute out of your life to enjoy a new creative outlet.