By William Carter

Photographer, Author, Jazz Musician

Inverness, California 2002

with 5 comments

Inverness, California, 2002

Please click on image for full-size version. To view more panoramic images, please visit this page on my website.

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.

Copyright statement: William Carter papers, © Stanford University Libraries. Click here for a detailed usage guide.


Written by bywilliamcarter

October 2, 2016 at 12:00 pm

5 Responses

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  1. the depth and intensity this shot.It is probable that we might have both covered the same territory, though i shot this two years back, up in the hills of a rented home that about 1/4 miles above the main road-had a large wooden deck

    I am having my open studios show on Oct 8,9 and 15,16 at 403 Escalona, Santa Cruz.just below the university…would love to see if you are traveling.Some coastline work and European architectural and figurative shot…
    Bob and Char are coming midday on Sat.Oct 8Th.

    Hope you are well,
    best George Melnikoff..


    george melnikoff

    October 3, 2016 at 6:43 pm

  2. I have a story too. No it wasn’t soiled pajamas but during he late 50s I was doing the photography for a book I wanted to write, “The back of the Circus” (circus life, the “real” lives of the folks who work in that venue behind the big top and glitter).

    This happened in a small town somewhere in Wisconsin one summer. I decided to travel with and shoot two different small circuses over a period of two years. The small traveling shows are not only more accessible, but almost always “work” in the small towns because rent is cheaper for the few days they are there, and there was a more personal interplay between audience and performers. If you’ve ever gone to one of those you know, even with the absence of many of the big animals there is still a wonderful and exciting show that’s performed.

    During these times I usually stayed in the homes of the local townspeople who had a spare room for rent. (that in itself is another wonderful story) of course these were the 50s, a time when people trusted others to pay for a night in a spare room in their homes.

    So there I was, three weeks out of Chicago working with the Keller Miller Circus when one day during a rehearsal, when I was photographing Henry (the lion tamer) working out with two female lions and two Alaskan husky dogs, (memory fails me about the act itself, but when any of the four animals weren’t actually “doing their particular part of the act in the ring” they would be seated on a kind of platform located about 7′ above the floor and cleated to the inside of the cage. I was crouched down (outside the cage) shooting through the bars with a rolleiflex when suddenly the female lion who happened to be perched just over my head decided to have a pee. I was drenched with something like a quart or more of her urine. My camera, down my neck, inside my jacket, even down into the boots I was wearing.. It was awful… awful !

    I has to put a tarp down in my car just so I could drive back to the guest room where I was staying. Worse yet, it was one of those cold rainy days and the woman who’s room I had rented, made me stand outside in there back yard, naked, humiliated, shivering, while she sprayed me with their garden hose before allowing me into the house to have a real shower and change.

    … And you talk about “mud”

    Marshall Berman


    Marshall Berman

    August 4, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    • Hi Marshall, I am a photographer friend of Bill’s.Just love your redemption I gather!! We all get hit by pelicans here on the coast, but my hat is the safety cover.

      george melnikoff
      Santa Cruz


      george melnikoff

      October 3, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    • Fabulous story, Marshall. That it is so improbable and has little to do with photography in a literal way proves it happened to a photographer.
      Take care
      Bill Carter



      October 5, 2016 at 12:44 am

  3. I so love the black-and-whites panoramic prints!! Inverness Kinrara-1, Monte Oro, and Monte Belo are possibly my favorites. Thank you!!



    August 2, 2012 at 1:57 am

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