Inverness, California 2002
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My wife Ulla and I were staying overnight with friends in Inverness, near the Pacific Coast in northern California. We were in their lovely new guesthouse in a lush garden and forest setting of coast redwoods. Waking early, I glanced out the window at a remarkable scene, like a fantasy, the way the rain had just stopped and light was filtering through the not-yet dissipated mist. Still in my pajamas, I grabbed my large Linhof panoramic camera, tripod, film, light meter and ran outside. I knew those conditions would not last, and I knew what the camera settings should be for that light. It was chilly but I was warm with sweat. I found the spot to set up but the ground was wet, so the tripod and I were both tending to sink in the mud. I had to stabilize the tripod, or wait for in between moments when it was not sinking, because to get infinite depth of field even with Tri-X film required exposures of 1/15 of a second or slower, which would blur the image if the camera moved. Meanwhile the light was changing, in and out, up and down, involving me in an intricate dance; just when it all came together and I pushed the cable release (gently to avoid causing movement), I heard Ulla open a window and in a bleary early voice asked what I thought I was doing out there in the cold and wet in my pajamas with mud all over me. I shouted something terse and dismissive. Finally I finished several exposures and the light was fading and I trudged back dripping mud and thinking of coffee and a shower and wondering what I or Ulla would do about my soaked pajamas.
One of the frames turned out great. I scanned it and printed it 30 inches wide on an Epson printer, have sold a couple of prints, and 9 years later used it on page 293 of my retrospective book, Causes and Spirits. Including it there was a late breaking decision because the book was mainly about people; altering the last chapter in order to include that and some other non-people images interrupted the printing cycle and caused the great publisher, Gerhard Steidl, to remain angry at me for about a year.
But the Linhof is still okay. Also the pajamas. Also Ulla.