Archive for November, 2009

Of Leicas and Celebrities

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Leica M rangefinder cameras are easily my favorite type of camera.  Mostly manual, they harken back to a time when you had to be rather deliberate about one’s photographic technique.  Even their M8 and M9 digital equivalents today require a degree of engagement that is anathema to most DSLR shooters.  Exposure?  What’s that?  What do you mean it doesn’t have an autofocus button?  You mean I have to actually focus the lens by hand?!

I also like Natalie Merchant.  I liked her music long before I found that she herself is a connoisseur and practitioner of the fine art of rangefinder photography.  I liked her even more once I discovered that little bit of personal trivia!

Here’s a shot I took a few years back, while she was out with what I think was her M3.  I’m not sure what kind of film she was shooting – but the shot of mine was on Tri-X, developed in Xtol.

And, no, it’s not what you think…

Natalie Merchant & Her Leica M

Natalie Merchant & Her Leica M

A Hunting Trip… Lost

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

It was easily the hottest I had ever been while hunting.  Even with my vest and jacket shrugged off and laying on the ground beside me, the sun beat down with a steady directness.  I had already forsaken the still-hunting that usually frames my days in the November woods.  Now, just sitting quietly with my back against a tree was an uncomfortable chore.  And although in all my years of hunting I had never once carried pain killers into the woods with me, I couldn’t get my mind off the bottle of Ibuprofen tablets I had back at camp, and the relief they might hold.  Every muscle in my body ached.

Another hour went by, the day slowly wending towards mid-afternoon.  And it was then that I suddenly realized it was all for naught.  If I killed a buck there was no way I could drag it all the way back to camp.  Just the thought of it made my fevered brain hurt.

Reluctantly donning the jacket and vest, I began trudging back.


That was Monday, the first day of what was supposed to be my week-long deer hunt.  Back at camp I drank several bottles of water and took a couple of those Ibuprofen tablets, then climbed into my sleeping bag.  When I was no better the next morning, I packed up my gear and headed on home.

The week that was supposed to be enjoyed in camp, in the woods, ended up being spent, instead, in bed at home.

The Camp at Bolar Draft

The Camp at Bolar Draft

This shot was from our 2005 camp.  A handful of additional images from that camp can be found here, under ‘Rod & Gun’.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

“Alright, I’ll shoot him when I get home.”

Ginny, never quite sure if I was serious or not, was always back to her normal protective self when I walked in the door a few hours later. But those calls during the middle of the day were always hard, with her crying over the latest deed of destruction our new dog had wrought.

That was 25 years ago.  We had two toddlers, one income that hardly covered the sparest basics, and a very young Rhodesian Ridgeback.

We had much to learn.

Zuri grew up, of course, a treasured part of the family.  For the next dozen years he colored everything in our lives, spinning memories of constancy and affection and laughter along the whole shank of our boys’ childhoods.  His exploits were legion, turned to legend.  Even today I carry a picture of him in my wallet and cannot think of him without a smile.

After Zuri came Zindika.  Surely the sweetest animal that ever lived.  Ridgebacks are known for their incredible hunting prowess, their indomitable courage, and their utter fearlessness.  Zin was the exception.  She loved everything, and would hurt nothing.  The only exception was if she sensed danger to us.

Her devotion was so remarkably selfless that you just knew it came from a special place.  That God himself had made of her a gift.

And like Zuri before her, she left us with countless priceless memories.  I can still see her heading off down the driveway in Ginny’s pickup as they headed off to work, her head held high next to Ginny.  The joy she felt so apparent in her delighted bearing.

Cancer took her early.  And so we buried her in the circle, between the tree and the rock, next to Zuri.  Close by the house, where we can still talk to them.

A couple years have gone by.  Long enough to slowly lose that sense of presence – the gladness – that always enlivened every entrance, every time you came home and walked in the door.  Long enough for Charlie, our cat, to slowly adjust to it just being us and him.

Long enough.

And so now here is this little guy.  Just eight weeks old.  A little fellow who in his first 24 hours here has already shown us a glimpse into his character.

He’ll create his own stories, write his own book.

Not many things in this world are better than that.

a hunter's instinct

A Hunter's Instinct

Some Words from Mom

Some Words from Mom

Tuckered Out

Tuckered Out

Some more images can be found here: