You have probably noticed that I have not written anything for quite a long time. Right now I’m not sure whether I will or will not continue this blog. For me, this year has been simultaneously very good and very bad. You might remember the “best of times, worst of times” opening line from Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities. The actual full sentence reads:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Photographically this has been a great year for me. I think I’ve taken some of the very best photos of my life this year. And I’ve recently started working with the new Nikon D850, which I consider to be by far the best Nikon camera I’ve ever used (and I almost hate to admit just how long I’ve been a Nikon shooter, going all the way back to my very first Nikon camera, a Nikon F Photomic that I bought in my sophomore year of college).
I’ve continued to travel widely. I’ve made a few of what I call my “last-time trips,” repeat trips to the exact same locations at the exact same time of year, journeys that I do not plan on repeating one more time. These destinations include Japan in winter (snow monkeys, Steller’s sea eagles, red-crowned cranes, winter landscapes), Iceland in winter (frozen waterfalls, glaciers, icebergs on black sand), and, starting a week from now, the sub-Antarctic islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. I’ve done each of this trips multiple times, and simply want the opportunity to photograph other locations during the same time frames.
Yes, the best of times has been very good indeed. I’m in pretty good health, still mentally functional (although that’s always debatable), still an avid and compulsive book reader, and just as curious about the world as I’ve always been.
So what’s this “worst of times” bit?
First a bit of background info. I came of age in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Yep, that just gave you a hint about my age. I was involved in the Vietnam era, and the Nixon debacle. But over all these years I believed America would become a better country, a better people. I felt truly blessed to be an American. I love this country.
And then 2017 happened…and I started needing to apologize for America during my travels abroad. Environmental regulations rescinded, climate change denied, immigrants demeaned and threatened, civil rights ignored, white supremacy in the open and applauded, politics by 140 characters, and facts called fiction with no objective truth allowed. I’ve become extremely pessimistic during this year about the future of our country, and, for that matter, pessimistic about the continuation of human life on this planet. Nuclear war is not a casual option to be dismissed in the same cavalier manner in which you would a sports rivalry.
So an enormous split in my life has developed: on one hand, I’ve never been more pleased with my photography and have never felt closer to my friends and loved ones. On the other hand, I’ve never been more frustrated with, and mortified by, the social and political scene.
Yesterday Robert Mueller revealed charges against three former Trump campaign officials. Is there a glimpse of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel?