Haiti. Wow.

March 28, 2011  •  Leave a Comment
Desire (pronounced Dez - er- Ray), in the mountains above Gonaives, Haiti.
 
Just a quickie to get back into the swing of things. Back from Haiti and what an incredible trip. Far exceeding expectations - too much to download here and now, but new doors, new opportunities were opened we never could have have imagined. If anyone ever feels like they need new creative inspiration, hop a plane to Port au Prince and start wandering around. Seriously. When you return your head will be swimming with imagery for years.

Shot a bunch. Mostly the D3S and some B&W film with the F6. Have my films back from Digi-Graphics here in Fort Collins, and finished the first earnest edit of the digitals over the weekend. Glad to put that behind me. Anyone else feel like that? I mean, once you make a frame of a place you don't get back to very often, throwing anything away is tough. And when it holds faces and experiences near and dear to the heart, it can be really tough. But you simply must edit. The more you edit the better your images get. Not only because you're no longer looking through 50 (500!) ho-hum images to see the 1 or 2 great ones (there's that, too...), but because as you look at your images and think, "rats - if only I'd thought to do this or that..." when you were shooting, it would have been such a better image. Well if you're lucky, some of those thoughts stick in your head so the next time you're out shooting you're adjusting with what you learned your last, arduous, emotionally exhausting editing session - and getting better images.

Much of the construction in progress last year had been completed this time through. Colorful, freshly painted homes dotted the country side. Croix des Bouquets, Haiti.

So I did something a little different this time before the ruthless final edit commenced. I took just about every one of the 3,200 frames made and put together a HD video with a sound track produced by the kids at Source de la Grace East our last morning. It moves pretty fast, but it's fair to say that no one in their right mind would sit through the 12 hour slide show required to step through every photo. And - it feels a bit presumptuous (to me) to be the only set of eyes that ever scans all of my frames - good or bad. I understand part of being a good photographer is being able to edit your own images, but man, sometimes I don't see the potential of a frame right away ("the hope of an image," as my friend Mark once said) and once you chuck it, it's gone. So I gave this a shot and it was kinda fun - but have some clean up to do and will link to it in a later post. Side note: Apple TV is the greatest thing since... I don't know what. I put a rough cut of the video up on facebook which promptly mutilated into fb-showable format. But when I stream it off my Mac to the HDTV via Apple TV, it's simply incredible. The quality of the images begins to show, convincing me I'm not simply wasting my time. While using the web to show everything is sure convenient, cheap and fast, as a visual artist when I see my work on the web it's nearly always disappointing.
 
Traveling with film was a little better this time. DIA still went through every - blessed - roll, but I smiled through the whole thing. No one else seemed to care - in Haiti, Florida or Dallas. Not sure how I feel about that, but it did speed things up a little. DIA asked what speed my film was.
"I'd like it hand-inspected, please," I said - doing my best to be polite while falling over removing my shoes, belt, change in pockets, watch, and getting my ziplock back of liquids out making sure I don't smash them beneath my 30 pound shoulder bag.
"But you don't need to if it's under 800..." he said - clearly not wanting to be bothered with the chore.
"Yes, but it's cumulative and we have multiple flights," I said with a smile. He relented and I was glad to have those images upon my return.

The skinniest, most frightened puppy I've ever seen, Croix des Bouquets, Haiti. Nikon F6, 28-70/2.8 on Kodak Tri-X

I used everything I brought. I was actually able to fit it all in my LowePro Stealth Reporter 400AW shoulder bag. Now nearly 5 years old this bag has become my security blanket when traveling. I know a lot of guys work out of the comando-style harnesses and such, but I'm still finding the shoulder bag more to my liking. It's a little less intimidating to people, and fits perfectly - even bulging with extras - on the floor beneath the airplane seat in front of you.
 
No real conclusion here other than it's great to get out and it's great to be home again. What a blessing to be able to visit the country of Haiti... there's just something about it that buries itself deep into all your senses. After packing the bus at the airport in Port au Prince Chris and I were walking across the airport parking lot and both turned to each other at the same time and said, "smell that?..." and smiled. "When you smell that smell, you know you're back in Haiti. We're back!" - and it felt great. Now I can't wait to get back again. I'd so much rather be there shooting than here editing.

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