When my darling, adorable wife and I returned from vacation, the FM3a still had 5/6th of a roll of film in it. I carried it around for a few days, took a few random shots, and then decided to burn the rest of it playing around with the C.L.A.M. I don’t play with it often, and really haven’t figured out how to use it, though I know it’s incapable of producing what I hoped to get out of it.

The bit of play I did with a few frames of Ektar didn’t yield anything much, and unless I put in some time and really explore it, I should probably scrap it and try again with some other ideas I have. There are a couple of things I see in these that may make good jumping off points for other explorations, but only if I keep them in mind, take my time, and shoot the C.L.A.M. with some intent.

In previous tests, I tried spraying water on the C.L.A.M. and discovered that I couldn’t quite get what I wanted. While shooting this one, I sneezed, and some spittle flew on one of pieces of glass. The spots here aren’t dust or development errors, they’re the traces of an off-axis sneeze, plus some dust on the glass. There’s something there, I think. I’m not sure what it is, or where I could take it—and if I don’t do some shooting, play around some, I’ll never find out—but there’s something.

I’ve sorta lost interest with pure abstraction, and like to have some point of reference, even just some dust and spittle, as above, but I still like this one. If I used Photoshop, this might make a good layer in something. I tried turning it various ways, hoping some sort of form would emerge from the fog, but no such luck.

One real possibility lies in exploiting some of the features of the C.L.A.M., like the door in the side… There’s just some unidentifiable stuff there now, but possibilities, possibilities. Also, I like that it’s not square, and that focus is off, but shapes are still recognizable as something, rather than dissolving into nothingness, but it’s a fine line, and maybe this one goes a bit too far.

So those were the best of the ~10 shots I made to finish off the roll. There’s no greatness here, but there are some directions to go, and may Allah guide me to better, ameen.

As to the C.L.A.M. having the potential to be anywhere… I’m currently stuck on a very early assignment in the Inspired Eye course. The task is to make a picture that doesn’t depend on place to work… Well, these certainly qualify, but I’m not sure they really live up to the intent of the task, which has three parts:

  • Look for old or make 5 images that are metaphoric in nature. Think of a concept first, like Light vs Dark, Calmness, Chaos, etc
  • Take a few images that are hard to locate the shooting location and show them to your friends, ask them where do they think you made them
  • Find 5 images you made you really like and describe them, do you tend to emphasize where those images were made? Why?

So these fall into the second bullet: “hard to locate the shooting location.” (I’m leaving out the “show them to your friends” part, since I don’t have any friends.)  I think some of the images from the Vacation and from the past few months of shooting could also be nearly anywhere, or, rather, the images don’t depend on being from a particular place to work. Sure, I’ve taken up the habit of titling images “CityState Year” following Robert Frank’s image titles in The Americans, among others, but the photos don’t depend on the place, much like Frank’s photographs depend on being in America, surely, but not necessarily in Glendale, California, for example.

Had I started shooting the C.L.A.M. with the intent to shoot Light vs Dark, Calmness, or Chaos, maybe I would’ve succeeded in ways that I didn’t here, and that’s the task I can really learn something from, I think. And the intent of the assignment is to teach us that a photograph has its own reality, independent of the place it was shot or the subject depicted.

With the shots in this post, does it matter that they were made on the C.L.A.M.? Not really. Only in one of them can you even see the C.L.A.M. itself, and even the, if I didn’t tell you, you probably wouldn’t know what you were looking at. But if I didn’t write this post about the C.L.A.M., what would these pictures be about? The intent I had when shooting them was primarily to burn through the end of a roll, and the C.L.A.M. was the obvious subject/tool to achieve that objective.

So what i need to work on is not the location thing, it’s thinking about the photographic reality before shooting: what reality is this or that photograph going to create? What meaning do I hope to create or suggest? This is hard for me, and requires an intentionality that I don’t always have when I shoot.

InshaAllah, I will work on that.

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