Hey, slow down!
Pinhole photography, Low-IOS X-Ray films, and a few thoughts about telling stories in a world full of distraction
The driving idea of the Neutral Density newsletter is to slow down and look at the world around us more. It is about places, as they were in the past, and as I experience them — with the help of my cameras — in the present. It is my hope that I can reveal this world through writing and photographs in a way that is not just about myself; I want to present a world that is about us all, where we have come from, what joys and hardships we have faced on our journey to this present — and in the process to ask, or at least suggest, meaningful questions about what lies ahead.
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When I emphasize myself, I do so to show how the world impacts us all. When it’s about me, it’s really about all of us, just as when it’s about the world of yesterday, it is about the world today.
The name comes from a neutral density filter, which is a tool photographers use to reduce the amount of light that enters the lens, thus allowing the use of slower shutter speeds. I use these filters all the time so I am rather fond of the metaphor. It is also worth noting that every photograph is of the past. In photography, the present is ever elusive.
As the readership of this newsletter has grown, I have been asked if I would write more about my processes, particularly with matters photographic. But, I am very reluctant to wander too far into the perilous realm of “gear talk.” Even I find talk of photographic equipment to be a powerful sedative. Also, I believe that what matters is not the camera, but the person who operates it; the best camera is always the one you have. So, I will not be writing much about gear except the gear I happen to be using, and those references should never emphasize the specific tools as much as the process of using them to tell stories.
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