Don't leave home without your camera.

It may well be that I'm in the process of geeking out--with photography, I mean. (I geeked out in other ways decades ago.)

You may recall that, back when I started taking pictures while driving, my father ordered me a window mount for my camera, in the hopes that it would keep me from doing stupid things. Today, I finally hooked it up--to my Nikon. You can picture it: there I went, rolling through Gambier, with my 35mm camera pointing out the driver's side of the car. I suppose I could have waited until I was on Zion Road, making my way into the countryside, to attach the camera to the window. And yet it was so cold this afternoon that my brain was slower than usual.

My first project for the photography class involves experimenting with shutter speed. Our task is to capture some blurred motion and some frozen motion. After sleeping on this task for several days, I realized that I've actually been preparing for this assignment all year: I just needed to try out the drive-by shooting with the film camera. The problem, of course, is that the little point-and-shoot is much lighter, much easier to swing around without diverting too much attention from the road. In fact, the 35mm--with no monitor and with that pesky problem of film's expense--is not at all a suitable camera for taking pictures while driving.


Unless one has a window mount and can set up exposure and shutter speed ahead of time and then just push the shutter release over one's shoulder as one drives along backroads. And in fact that's what I did. I had a bit of a glitch early on when I realized that the camera wasn't sure what to focus on. Shutting off the autofocus (which I'm using because I don't trust my eyesight) solved that particular problem. The real kicker came when, after having used the last of my exposures, I turned a corner and faced this vista--only with the sun shining and chips of blue sky glinting.

And I had no way to document it. I hadn't carried a digital camera--or more film--with me. A quick run home to grab the other camera allowed me to get some semblance of what I'd seen, but I'm disappointed not to have gotten any pictures of the sun glinting off the ice coatings on the snowy hills one passes between this corner and Gambier. Instead, I shot snowy fields, the same ones I shot in April, when the cows were nursing their young and the grasses were greened.

Unfortunately, going home for the other camera and making this backroad pass again made me miss the weekend omelet cutoff at the coffeeshop.

I have now developed three rolls of film, including the one I shot from the car this afternoon. This week, I learn to make contact prints. My fingers start to smell sour like chemicals, though I can't name which ones just yet. I start planning more elaborate things for my projects.

In a closet not far from here, my afternoon's drive hangs to dry.