Tuesday, July 24, 2007

One Perfect Thing

It seems in life, I'm always searching for that one perfect thing. The perfect bike or the perfect camera or the perfect cup of coffee.

It has led me on some strange journeys.

When I first started shooting, I jumped in with an insatiable appetite for information that only a true amateur (from the latin amat, "he loves") can have. I first started with my dad's Nikon F2 and a small darkroom that fit on a desk. Once the bug bit, it sunk its teeth in. I was then obsessed with rangefinders (as oppose to SLRs) and that led me on a long strange trip jumping from a Canonnet G17, to a Bessa R, to a Leica M2 then an M4P and finally ending with Hasselblad Xpan. Then, not satisfied with 35mm film, I started playing with medium format (Hasselblad, Mamiya C330, Rolleiflex 2.8, Holga), but apparently even that was not enough so I bought a 4x5 camera.

I was first an "available light" shooter, if the light is not there, don't add any because it will spoil the mood. However, I got fascinated with Avedon and Irving Penn, studio shooters that weren't opposed to lighing. So of course, I had to get myself some lights. I learned on some enormous Norman 2000, but eventually bought a few scaled down 200Bs. Since then, I've scaled down my studio kit even more, to just a few Nikon strobes and some select light modifiers.

The same thing happened with bikes. I wanted one perfect bike that could do everything. Of course, there is no such thing. That is why I have the Xtracycle to carry large loads, the Bike Friday to carry medium sized loads and to go multi-modal, the Surly Steamroller for in town errands and my Mondonico road bike for the pure pleasure of going fast.

I suppose my personality is predisposed to photography. When you think about it, photography is all about searching for that "perfect" moment, where all the elements of light , color, action, expression miraculously fall into place for a single beautiful beat...then disappears once again into the mundane reality. Still photography is freezing an action into a moment, distilling it to its purest essence.

I have learned however that there is no such thing as perfection.

Or if there is, it certainly doesn't last for very long. It's like christmas. You remember the anticipation leading up to it and then the long drawn out period of recovery, but those few blissful moments when you're opening your present and it's that shiny red bicycle you always wanted seems to fade so quickly. It can't be comprehended or observed. It escapes our mind's ability to capture it like a fickle butterfly deftly avoiding our nets.

So if you find perfection (send me some :), enjoy it but know that it will not last. Everything changes.

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