Inertia

The dictionary defines ‘inertia’ as “disinclination for activity, change, etc” and “that property of matter by virtue of which it tends to remain at rest, or, if in motion, to continue in the same direction unless acted upon by an outside force.” In other words, it’s a force that tries to keep things from changing. When it comes to photographers, ‘inertia’can be defined as “the force that keeps a photographer sitting on his/her ass instead of going out and making some photographs.”

Such was the force I faced when I visited Montreal in February 2004. Going back to my last posting, I had photographed Kitty in my hotel room on a Saturday afternoon, after which we went out to get something to eat. Being the winter in Montreal, it was very cold out, so after escorting Kitty to the metro station, I headed straight back to my hotel room to warm up and rest a bit.

I wrote last time about how nightmarish it was to drive to Montreal in the winter, but I have to say that I was rewarded with the sight of the old city of Montreal (my hotel’s location) in the winter. Everything looked beautiful covered in snow, especially when lit by the warm glow of the street lamps in the evening, and there was a quiet sense of stillness, too. It was really a wonderful way to experience my first visit there.

On the other hand, as I’ve said, it was also awfully cold. Part of my reason for the trip was to photograph some of the city as well as a couple of models, but as I sat resting in my hotel room, nice and warm, I began to think to myself, “Do I really want to go out into that freezing cold, at night, when I can stay in here?”

Of course, laziness— er, um, I mean ‘inertia’ – often requires an excuse, so my reason for staying in was that I had forgotten to bring the spot meter attachment for my light meter. I normally use this when photographing at night to take readings off of buildings or things, and I really thought that I might have left it at home. Of course, I needed to be sure, so I began to look through my camera bag to be sure that it wasn’t there – and it was with a heavy heart that I actually found it!

So much, then, for excuses. I got dressed, put my boots on, picked up my camera gear and tripod and headed on out into the cold, dark night. I don’t know how long I was out – an hour, maybe two – but I can remember how cold the legs of my Gitzo tripod felt when I picked it up with my bare hands. I can also remember how my toes began to feel as if they were freezing when I walked up to mid-thigh in snow drifts to get a photo in a park by Place Jacques Cartier (photo #2). And I can remember that it was so cold that the battery in my camera began to fail and the mirror wouldn’t come back down after I made some exposures of the beautiful Hotel de Ville (aka City Hall, photo #3). The photo at the bottom here shows some steps leading up to a side entrance of the city’s Notre Dame cathedral, and the image at the top shows a ship docked at the old city’s harbor.

Despite the difficulties involved and the harsh conditions, I was ultimately glad that I had done it – not just for the good photos that I had made, but for having actually overcome photographer’s inertia!

About Dave Rudin

Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.
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