Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by bowzart, Jan 1, 2009.

Ape Cave: How We See (or do we?)

Ape Cave: How We See (or do we?)

  1. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    bowzart submitted a new resource:

    Ape Cave: How We See (or do we?) - Ape Cave: How We See (or do we?)

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    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2016 at 5:29 PM
  2. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    I had posted a link to this text in a previous thread. I'm sure that not many saw it at the time.
     
  3. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    I think I remember this story from a while ago...

    Lava tubes are great. We went to Lava Beds National Monument (north and east of Mt Shasta, CA) a couple years ago and explored quite a few of them...nothing as long as the Ape Cave, but some up to a quarter mile or more, with different branches here and there...one place had us going in circles a little bit. But the darkness is absolute, good head gear is recommended (we did not have any and had a couple bloody, but shallow head gashes), and two flashlights per person! Some of the deeper tubes had ice floors.

    But one can only have what one takes with oneself. Occasionally one might gain some insight from such a unique experience, but insight is difficult to gain in such a crowd...it sounds like the kids (and the parents) needed a good grounding...a base from which to gain from the experience. Very little in modern life naturally prepares people for insightful experiences. So while not unexpected, one does wish that people would look, feel and otherwise sense...and thus gain from...such experiences as being in the lava tubes.

    I took the boys to the Redwoods today (also took the 8x10, but too much rain so it stayed in the van), a tradition I have for the the first day of the New Year. Very beautiful. I have three 11 year olds and I got a lot of mouth from a couple of them ("Its too wet!", etc) as we bushwacked through the soggy ferns. We explored on section of the creek, looking for salmon, but found none (medium-high water flow...not too clear). We went down to another section of creek and found a very recent fall of a giant redwood (perhaps 12 to 15 feet in diameter, a couple hundred feet long, but in several chunks with some splintering), so we used it as a way to get down to and across the creek. The boys refocused on the experience and there no more complaints. The boys bushwacked their way up the opposite slope to check out the hole created by the root ball of the fallen redwood. We ended up walking down (and in) the creek a ways , being careful not to step on any redds we might come across, but we all ended up wet to at least mid-thigh. We did end up finding one Chinook over a redd. We also came across a fishery biologist tracking fish movements by radio transmitters.

    So if one were listening to my boys earlier they would have a low opinion of how grounded they were...but later they might have been a bit amazed at the boys' sense of wonder and adventure in conditions that most would consider a bit cold wet and unpleasant.

    Vaughn
     
  4. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    That's wonderful, Vaughn. I've been in woods like that; redwoods (not where you are; Tamalpais) and of course up here in the great Pacific NorthWet. In the winter when it is cold and really wet, it is sort of like a cave unto itself, a big one, going on forever. I can hear the lack of sound; the quiet can be palpable, and the sense one (well, myself at least) gets of the self in that seemingly eternal and vast space can be almost too much to bear, with time stopped dead. The odors, resin and decay. All the creatures are doing what they do to stay dry; not a sight of any of them. Water on everything.

    When I looked at your images of the woods I got such a strong sense of that. For me it is very easy to see why you spend so much time there.

    Hardly anyone ever goes into them when it is like that, unless, like the fisheries fellow, doing some work.
     
  5. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    I (almost) feel sorry for the tourists coming through in the summer and only experiencing the redwoods with the sun out and things relatively dried out. Today the colors, especially the reds and the few yellows still left on some trees (mostly the cascarra), were very intense.

    I photograph the redwoods primarily in the late fall and onwards until the leaves start breaking out on the berries, alders and maples. Seeing anyone else is a rarity, like today.

    Vaughn
     
  6. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    The Olympic rain forest is like that, too. Sure, it is beautiful when the sun shines, but hard to photograph it because the light is so fragmented. Also, there is a sense that something isn't quite right. That's not what makes it what it is. Fog and rain does that, and under those conditions it looks just right. It isn't sunny there a lot; mostly in August/September.

    I pitched my tent there one August, though, and the weather decided to be typical of the rain forest. It rained all night, and in the morning a coffee cup that had been left out was half full of water. I had seen a sign for someone selling dry firewood up the road, and went up there to get some. I mentioned the cup to the guy. He said "It was a light rain; usually they are full and overflowing". I think Forks gets something like 130" of rain / year. It's hard to shoot there just because it is a couple hundred mile trip, and you don't know whether there will be a time to work when you and your equipment won't just get soaked. It's beautiful, though, even if you have to watch it from inside the car.

    I must be about due for a trip over that way. Been thinking about it a lot lately.
     
  7. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    Since taking up carbon printing, I can now translate the type of light striking through the redwoods on sunny days...the process can handle those extremes. It is one of the reasons I love the process so. But it does make for more challenges. There is more apt to be a bit of a breeze on sunny days. The light shifts far more quickly compared to having the giant softbox of a light overcast or fog. And as you mentioned, the light seems to be almost foreign to the temperate rain forest. But I have gotten some nice images despite all that.

    In my early pre-photo days, I had hitched-hike up the coast, semi-heading to Alaska, but really without enough money to get there. Spent 4th of July in Forks...camped in a small campground just south of town...in the rain, of course. But dry during the day for the "big" parade through town. This must have been '73 or '74. An interesting town to be a long-haired hippy in. I got up to Port Angeles but figured I did not have enough money for the Canadians to let me thru, so I proceeded to thumb back down the coast to Humboldt County.

    The Good Old Days :wink:

    Vaughn
     
  8. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council

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    I had a similar experience about halfway between Kitimat and Bella Bella while sea kayaking BC's inside passage. It was mid November and my wife and I hadn't met or talked to anybody else in a month. We were camped on a steep hillside in a very narrow channel where we had found an out wash fan big enough to get the kayaks out of the water. The weather had been thick with mist and rain almost every day, and the 16 hour nights helped deepen the sense of isolation.

    Sitting under the rain tarp in front of our tent I could hear a 'thrumming' getting closer and closer. Out of the mist and darkness, through the trees, a passenger ferry passed close enough I could have hit it with a sling shot. The people inside were moving about in the incredibly bright interior, talking, walking around, or swilling booze in the bar. They had no idea we were there, watching them. Then the light and thrumming disappeared into the dark, leaving us alone in perfect stillness.

    Weren't you slightly tempted to start screaming like insane Banshee's when the annoying group went past?

    Murray
     
  9. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    In 1989 I was photographing in Forks on a project. I was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, which for me, means wearing bright red coveralls and a red Effenem crusher (the loggers' favorite hat). I had left my opinions at home - a trick one (hopefully) learns as a photojournalist. The camera was pointed at the saw shop. Somebody came out and yelled at me "Are you an environmentalist?". I got out of there (having got the shot I needed). I knew that they wouldn't be likely to understand my lack of malice and wishing to see both sides. (CAVE? - we're each in our own cave, aren't we?) Tempers were hot. I know my rights, but I also have no desire to be "dead right". I like Forks a lot, actually, and I like the people there that I've met. I also like to stay in the cabins down in La Push. Being in LaPush in the winter is Definitely being in a cave! I think Forks is doing a lot better now, but I haven't been there. As I say, due for a trip!

    I saw that light in your carbons. No question about it, you really have managed to contain those values and make them absolutely sing. We still haven't got around to diving into it, but I'm sure we will. We'll have to enlarge Jane's negatives to do it. And I guess I better get used to the idea of packing those big cameras around again.
     
  10. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    Actually, that would have been a good thing to do. As it was, we just stood there in shock, more or less. Then we turned on our lights and made our way back to the end of the cave.

    Your experience with the ferry really does correspond dead on to the cave experience.

    Not to feel somehow superior or smug, it probably helps to know that someone else might be watching ME as I watch the others. I guess I could honestly say that I try to be that someone else watching me as much as possible. The better our view of the context of our own cave, the better we can see.

    I think we usually see ourselves as objectively "seeing" - that is, we don't ask questions about the quality of our seeing at the moment of seeing. We are aware of what we see, but not of the process. There is me, and there is that. I see That. We rarely consider the conditions that bear upon the act of seeing - especially while we are there. We are rarely aware that it is quite possible that I see I. That is there, but what I see may be what I'm projecting upon it, which is to say, I see what I myself have invented. Most likely with no consciousness whatever.

    Maybe later insight would come. Maybe much later.

    Kayaking there in mid November must be a LOT like that cave like experience we've been discussing, of being in the forest in the wet. I understand it is not exactly dry where you are!

    L.
     
  11. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    Good morning, Bowzart, Murray, and Vaughn;

    Neat stories of the Pacific Northwest. Yes, and even more impressive are the introspective observations.

    It is a treat to learn of others who have spent time inside a tent hoping that there might be an hour or two of slackening in the rain. One of the pleasurable experiences three years ago was after spending 5 days and 4 nights in the rain hiking around Mount Saint Helens in August. When we got home, I had to dry the ground cloth and the fly of the tent. The body of the tent, and its contents, had stayed dry.

    I did have a 35 mm camera in the pack with me, but the hoped for sweeping vistas of the mountains never came out of the mist and fog.
     
  12. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    So, rain. I just got back from a week in central Mexico. It is so disappointing to be back in the land of perpetual Zone IV. What was it doing when we got off the airplane? Would you believe? Rain...
     
  13. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council

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    I prefer to think of those clouds as a tens of thousands of square miles soft box, producing an all enveloping, diaphanous rain forest light :smile:

    Murray
     
  14. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Some wonderful thoughts Bowzart. I agree with you that people take far less notice of things than they should (and we all suffer from it from time to time, it's difficult to open up) and don't step out of their comfort zone enough.

    Let me share two of my experiences:

    In the beginning of the nineties, when I was still studying biology, at some summer day in the evening I was restless and decided to go for an evening / night walk (something I actually do quite regularly). This time, a beautiful night with strong moonlight, I was bold, and decided to go for a longer 5 km hike outside of the city I lived, even though it was already 23.45 hours (I was living at it's borders). Going into the countryside around it, passing a grave yard and walking past a canal, fields with horses and cows, I was amazed at how much life was going on! I could hear frogs, horses grazing, birds flying over and even discovered a hole noisy colony of herons nesting in the grave yard's circumventing high tree range.

    It was wonderful... and not a single sole in sight of course!

    Another more recent "experience" is that I started making sketches outside. Now I have had quite some experience taking drawing classes, but had never before been bold enough to just sit down in the middle of a town, and start drawing. It was another wonderful and contemplative experience. After the first hesitations and worries (can I do it?, what will people think?), I just "let go" and let my mind wonder and my eyes and hand do the work. I came to rest... and people starting showing interest, I had some wonderful talks and experiences out of that!
     
  15. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    I love this thread.