January 1, 2017: Swinging in the Rain
On August 1, 2014, the day after I took my very last psych med, I traveled to Hornby Island in British Columbia for a one-month residency where I’d learn how to use my first digital SLR camera; a Canon 5D Mark lll. Hornby Island had a population of 800, a downtown consisting of no more than a food co-op, a café, and a gas station, and no street lamps at night. There was nothing to distract me other than my fear of turning on my camera. That fear was a more powerful deterrent than the sunless skies, frequent rainstorms, and assortment of Seinfeld DVDs I had brought with me. Compared to the direct and intuitive relationship I’d developed with analog cameras over the past thirty-five years, my initial experiences with digital cameras felt serpentine and mediated. The pixilated LCD screens, endless user menus, buttons, and dials confounded me. I studied the 5D manual, poured through numerous online forums, sought the advice of shop technicians and professional filmmakers—but never turned on the camera. Not once.
Late one afternoon, almost two weeks after my arrival, I was napping in a small cabin in a forest of ferns and redwoods as the rain pounded the roof. Lying on my back, I saw an irresistible performance of crystalline water droplets dancing on the skylight. I pointed my camera towards the ceiling, flipped on the power, and was stunned by the 5D’s charcoal-like rendering of light and shadow. As I gently turned the focus ring, pools of crisp raindrops and silhouetted redwoods mingled in the space between glass and forest. I composed the image and was moving my finger towards the record button when the rain suddenly stopped and the night fell like a stage curtain. Luckily, I awoke the following morning to a hearty downpour and quickly harvested the very first image for Whisper Rapture. It was love at first sight and I kissed my camera smack on its hot shoe.