Four polaroids of the sea

Four images of the ocean and its edges, in various guises and moods. Peaceful, the tide out, so that light and figures reflect off smooth wet sand. Hidden on impossible film, so it is less the ocean you see and more the curve of the hillside beyond; you can only see the sea if you know where it is. Down by the breakwater, the waves will always break against the rocks, brought up short by them unexpectedly. And out to sea, a rainbow spears from the cloud and into the ocean, mirroring the multiplicities of colour that break and refract through the spray of the waves as they roll, curling, curving, crashing, a flurry of whitewater and sunlight, in towards the shore.

Kodak from the eighties

At the Box Hill camera market earlier this year we picked up a few random films, including a roll of Kodak Gold that expired in March 1989. Standard, run-of-the-mill film back then, but twenty years on it produces something quite different.

The risk of expired or cheap film is that sometimes there’s decent shots messed up by too much grain or strange colours. But then sometimes there’s a few that turn out alright…

This one was taken in South Fremantle in July, and I like the graininess in the colours of the sky:

And there’s this one, looking up the bay towards Melbourne from Brighton. I know, lots of ocean photos… They are hard to resist.

And then for something quite different, no water in sight, there’s this one shot by No Fixed Address on the same roll of film:

Capture the light

We were all rugged up against the cold
Scarves and coats and woollen socks
The sun came out, bright and glaring
Not warm, just sharp.
Casting light-shadows across our faces
Across the close dark weave of his coat.

In the south a storm brewed
But we were safe, here
In our slab of sharp sunlight
Surrounded by the cyclone fence
The graffitied wall, the empty showroom
The locked gates, the cracked carpark,
The weeds shooting through the bitumen.

We came for no thing, no solid
Thing to hold in our hands
We came for the light, the sunlight
Or, when the storm came, the cloud light
That fell in streaks between the rain.
We brought what we needed with us
And took only the light home
It is not a thing that you can hold.

But we will try, anyway.
It was yet another day that we could not hold
By mid-afternoon it felt all but over
It spilled away from us easily, too easily
We went to try and slow it down.
Only the capture of light, the taking-home of light,
Could slow it down, pause it for a moment.

We went home together in the rain.
The sunlight was gone
But we carried the light with us
Between us, around us, beneath the black umbrella
It’s not a thing you can hold
But we carried it, all the same.

Photo: Melbourne, winter 2011 (film: Kodak T-Max 100)
Text: Stream-of-consciousness in response to the photo

Reading, and writing, on paper

Today I published a piece on upstart about the impact of the internet on reading (thanks to Meanland for the inspiration), and about the evolution of reading habits across twenty years of reading life. There is so much talk about how the internet will change everything – how we read, write, communicate, live – but sometimes I think our reactions are a little hysterical. Reading habits will change, but the internet is not the only factor.

The early draft of the piece, before it went on upstart, had a bit about writing in it too, about how I prefer, when there’s time, to write with blue ink on paper, instead of tapping away on a keyboard.

Most of the time it’s more efficient to type, but the day this photo was taken there was time both to read (a novel, in real book-form), and to write, with pen and ink on paper.

Photo: Melbourne, 2010 (Minolta XG2, Fuji Superia 400)