Dry Season

It was while living in Tucson, AZ in the late 90s/early 2000s that I started trying to wriggle out of my computer programming job and make a go at photography. I was shooting film then, mostly 35mm and some medium format and I would shoot weddings (poorly), portraits (not bad) and climbing (pretty good). I think I was shooting mostly with a Nikon F100, my first “serious” camera purchase after the N70s my brother handed me down after he quit the newspaper biz and went to law school. All of these are slide film, probably Fuji Provia.

I watched established photographers closely – and owe a huge debt to them, particularly Peter Noebels who gave me the right harsh criticism and encouragement, and who embodies both the classic hard core climbing and photography spirit in one. I remember being hunkered in a cave with some climbers on Mount Lemmon, waiting out a terrible lightning storm and I’d look around and shout “Where’s Peter?!” and he’s out in the maelstrom snapping photos of us, looking like the creature on the wing of the plane in the Twilight Zone. (Would love to see those). Another time I was assisting him on the summit crags above Tucson getting bored and unsure of my place in things, and once again wondering “where the hell Peter went” to find him hundreds of feet above, free-soloing off-route to find a good angle.

I read all I could and asked a lot of questions. I’d submit a sheet of 35mm slides to the magazines and usually get them back without comment until one day in 2002 I got a check and a nice letter from then-AD Rob Haggart, for a two-page spread in Outside Magazine featuring a self-portrait of climbing at Dry Canyon. The Dry was getting HOT and everyone in Tucson bought 4wd trucks so they could join in the new-routing frenzy. We got a Frontier and a Ryobi gas drill and I shot stacks of film for a season or two before all the good routes were taken and anything left was too hard for me to justify the hike but damn I miss The Dry. What a spectacular place to just wander around and be, especially up in that big cave at sunrise.

Now I’m scanning a lot of that old film and I find once I get them set up digitally I can dive much deeper into the edits, where before I’d pick one or two selects and file the rest away forever. A couple of these have been published, but many have never seen the light of day. I’ve been posting more climbing photography lately at my Instagram page and I’ll try to dovetail that with deeper cuts here.

Published on Feb 25, 2019
Filed under: Climbing,Outdoors,Photography,Uncategorized
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