Featured Image

The Olympics

Mag­gie and I went to the Olympics over Christ­mas break and stayed at Dew Drop Inn in Forks, Wash­ing­ton. We had been talk­ing about going to the Hot Nation­al For­est for about two years now. Locat­ed in the Olympic Nation­al Park, Hoh is a mossy won­der­land where green touch­es every­thing. All that moss absorbs the sound, mak­ing it feel sur­re­al­is­ti­cal­ly still. So much so that it was list­ed as the qui­etest place on earth. Nat­u­ral­ly, we were quite excit­ed to vis­it, but unfor­tu­nate­ly, Mr. Pres­i­dent declared a gov­ern­ment shut down, caus­ing all the nation­al parks to close. To make mat­ters worse, intense rain­falls in the weeks lead­ing up to our trip had caused branch­es to break and block the roads; with no one to clear the debris, the parks were left vir­tu­al­ly inac­ces­si­ble, espe­cial­ly in our lit­tle VW bug.

Nonethe­less, we ven­tured onwards. We weren’t going to let our mon­ey spent on the motel go to waste! We arrived in Forks at around 03:00 PM. It was already as dark as night. We imme­di­ate­ly under­stood why vam­pires like liv­ing there, and also, why every­body seemed so pale.

We woke up the next morn­ing to a thick mist rolling over lush vio­let fields. The sun, futile in its effort, was try­ing real­ly hard to burn through the clouds, but the clouds were too thick and came back with­in the blink of a shut­ter. We start­ed mak­ing our way to the for­est. The deep­er we went the cloudi­er it start­ed to become. Soon, it was pour­ing. We stopped at a cute lit­tle sou­venir shop that had the best flan­nels in the entire world. And that’s not an overstatement.

The store own­er told us that the park was closed. We looked out­side and the rain was so dense that we could­n’t even see our car. Idi­ot­i­cal­ly, I decid­ed that I want­ed to take a pic­ture, and take it with my large for­mat cam­era. Mag­gie was­n’t feel­ing well (and by this time had had enough of my non­sense) so she retreat­ed in the car while I fum­bled with my bulky old equip­ment. First, I took out a small yel­low umbrel­la, and start­ed set­ting up my tri­pod; it was per­haps the worst idea I had had until that point because it was impos­si­bly hard open­ing the legs with one hand. The twist knobs kept clench­ing the skin on my fin­gers, caus­ing me to shout curse words.

Once the tri­pod was ground­ed, I  start­ed to set up my Lin­hof. With one hand on the umbrel­la, I care­ful­ly used the oth­er to place the cam­era on the tri­pod. That was­n’t too bad. I start­ed unfold­ing the bed and took out the lens. Now, I had to focus.

By this time, the thick clouds had made it impos­si­bly hard to see; even with the aper­ture opened at its largest, I could bare­ly make out shapes as I peered into the ground glass.

To make mat­ters worse, I sur­passed my stu­pid­i­ty and tried to use a mag­ni­fy­ing glass to focus on the trees. Prob­lem was, I was using one hand to hold the umbrel­la and the oth­er to move the lens. I had no more hands left to hold the mag­ni­fy­ing glass. I decid­ed to put pres­sure on the mag­ni­fy­ing glass using my cheeks and almost tripped the tripod.

At this point, I was almost in tears and want­ed to kick and scream. Why do I shoot film? It’s so dumb. I could have shot this in less than a minute with my dig­i­tal cam­era, and it would have been sharp­er too.

Frus­trat­ed, I angri­ly insert­ed the film back, closed the aper­ture, took out the dark slide and pressed the shut­ter but­ton. But my trou­bles were not over yet; rain had got­ten into the dark slide, so as I was try­ing to put the slide back in, it kept get­ting stuck. I just gave up, flipped the film back, dried the hold­er, and tried tak­ing the pic­ture again.

Despite the prob­lems, a part of me had high hopes that the pic­ture would be a mas­ter­piece. Lat­er, when I devel­oped the neg­a­tive, this is how it turned out. As you can see, a mon­key’s ass would prob­a­bly make a far more inter­est­ing pho­to. Not only did I screw up tak­ing the pic­ture, I screwed up the devel­op­ing as well. The devel­op­ing tank cracked as I was devel­op­ing the film, leak­ing stinky E‑6 chem­i­cals every­where. But look­ing at my fail­ure, I under­stand exact­ly why I still shoot film—the process of fail­ing taught me so much about what to do, what not do, how dif­fer­ences in chem­i­cal den­si­ty impacts a neg­a­tive and in turn, the rela­tion­ship of expo­sure to neg­a­tive density.

But back to the sto­ry. Defeat­ed from my expe­ri­ence, I stormed into the car like a lit­tle child and drove back to Dew Drop. As we got to the hotel, I was still curi­ous to see how far I could go into the for­est; Mag­gie, feel­ing unwell and tired of my stu­pid­i­ty, decid­ed to relax in the hotel room instead. On my way back to Hoh, I saw a beau­ti­ful water­fall drenched in autumn col­ors and decid­ed to take out my large for­mate cam­era again. This time though, the thick for­est canopy served as my umbrel­la. It was­n’t let­ting even a drop through!

Sur­pris­ing­ly, this neg­a­tive came out look­ing a lot bet­ter, despite the fact that it was devel­oped in the same tank as the pre­vi­ous pho­to. It was still under-devel­oped; when you see the neg­a­tive in day­light, it is very hard to make out the details. But still, I was able to recov­er a lot more infor­ma­tion through scan­ning. 15 min­utes from the water­fall, I could tell I final­ly arrived at Hoh prop­er. Moss was grow­ing on every­thing but the road. Rain or shine, debris or no debris I was going to get my pic­tures. The deep­er I got, the dark­er it became. Moss grew on every sur­face, light­ing the Spruce and Sitkas in elec­tric green. The deep­er I went, the qui­eter it became. Soon, I stop see­ing any cars and the road comes to an abrupt halt.

With nowhere to go, I got my cam­era out and start to take a walk. The thick coat of moss muf­fled every sound. I couldn’t hear myself walk. Through the vel­vet green shad­ows of ancient droop­ing trees, I notice a stump ris­ing from the ground.

I set up my tripod.

The wind began to howl and the leaves start­ed to trem­ble. Soon, the rain start­ed to pat­ter down the quiv­er­ing ferns, and the for­est begins to swell like a wave.

Windswept, the for­est becomes ghoul­ish­ly ani­mat­ed. I start see­ing faces in the hang­ing moss­es. I looked around and noticed the dead limbs of trees sprawled across the cracked road. The rain grew loud­er, but still could­n’t find its way through. I was alone, and the sound of the shut­ter on my cam­era was absorbed by the ancient giants that sur­round­ed me.

Tagged: 35mm · Ektachrome · Ektachrome 100 · Ektar · kodak · large format
دم مست قلندردم مست قلندردم مست قلندردم مست قلندردم مست قلندردم مست قلندردم مست قلندردم مست قلندردم مست قلندردم مست قلندر

© Sanwal Deen 2022 All Rights Reserved