Friday, April 10, 2009

Dig It

Farmers - Clermont County OH Photograph by Melvin Grier

I think there is a parallel between good photography and gardening. They both require the right light and they both require patience. When we bought our home in Avondale there was a small plot of land that had been a garden in the backyard. My father was happy to have a place to grow his tomatoes and peppers. He did it the old school way using a tiller to prepare the soil for planting. My Dad got sick and couldn't use our little plot of earth anymore so after awhile I decided to try my hand at it. I rented the tiller and after getting the darn thing started I churned some soil. The next morning I woke up with what I thought was a heart attack. My upper body was one big pain. It was the tiller I concluded.I went to the Avondale Branch Library and found a book on "square foot gardening" that promoted the system of small plots of ground dedicated to one type of crop that you never stepped on and the use of compost and no tiller.Now I have seedlings going in my basement under lights and my four piles of compost are coming to life. Now I am bringing a couple of Nikon F5s back to life. I want the discipline of film.Wait until it's processed to see if that decisive moment is in focus. Forget the little monitor. Then processing the film in my darkroom and standing over a tray as that print emerges on the enlarging paper. Time controls the seedling and the photo image. Each appears in it's own time and has it's own reward.We are now an instant gratification society. Gotta have it. Gotta have it now. Even when I was on deadline at the Post and used Dektol at 1:1 it took a minute to process the film and whatever time I needed to make a print. Digital made that urgency easier to deal with.Digital is a wonderful tool for the demands placed upon news photographers to get those images and get them now. That immediacy does not necessarily render good work but it serves a purpose. My purpose in my life now is peace of mind through my photography and the serenity I find in gardening. It's a process I welcome.