Thursday, July 8, 2010

In The End

Every once in a while I hear actors telling interviewers that they never or rarely watch their performances on TV or film.
I always thought this was just hogwash and an attempt to humble themselves in public view. But, I have also learned
over the years that they make a good point too.

I once read about a photographer, an accomplished one, who prints his work, then hides it for a year before looking at it again.
This, I understand. Its no different than the actor really. One needs to step away from work sometimes to allow it to settle. Its not a question of whether the work is good, strong, or significant. Those moments surrounding the capturing of time can affect how we view an image. Putting it away, allowing new experiences to build layers on top allows us to see it in fresh terms.

Today I met with the MHS Press Production Manager, Daniel Leary. He called to inform me the page proofs were in. This is always the exciting part for me. I've stepped away from the project long enough now that I was looking forward to reviewing the pages fresh and hopefully, with less than a overly critical eye.

My job today was to see the pages, examine color, errant marks, ect. and make notes of those for correction. 95% was in good form. The scant few color transparencies seemed to give the separator the most difficulty. I'm concerned, but confident these will all be fixed. Dan Leary was on the same page and had already made notations on those. I feel my back is covered. Amazing how transparencies, now throw the wrench into the machinery. These times, they are a'changin.

My favorite part of the book is no question the Chapter openers. Such a wonderful mixture of image, layout and fonts. I got pumped up to dive into each chapter. I did experience concern over several images that were used too small to be effective. This is true with a lot of photography and one of the worst practices I see in visual communication.

Demands for layout space, other images, type, ect, all play a role in how a page can be designed. Still, the power of a photograph can be killed by using too small or too large. Thankfully, it was minimal in this book.

You'll find when you see the book (due out in October 2010) the images are laid out playing a role in telling the story of each chapter page by page. Greg Breinings' text tickles the imagination and hopefully you'll find the images build on that. I enjoyed the flow and build up of imagery with double spread spreads knocking your socks off with images that begged you to load the canoe on the car and go. See, I stepped away long enough to get excited!

A few weeks ago I was a guest speaker at the North House Folk School ( annual Wooden Boat Festival. A great event and perfect for me to shamelessly plug the new canoeing book. I focused my talk on the making of a book on canoe country. The biggest point was the discussion on the cover choice. It brought out lots of comments and I think the choice of these canoe enthusiasts confirmed my gut reaction (see earlier posts here). I found it enlightening and educational to listen to those people whose lives are centered around paddling. I showed them the entire book on the big screen and the flyers given to me by MHS Press marketing guru Alison Aten at the were all but snatched up. A smile ran across my face. What I considered to be the toughest crowd, gave it their thumbs up!

Aside from the glow of their acknowledgement, and fear they might not like it, the moment I will remember most came from a 93 year old man in the crowd. This gentleman came up to me and gave me a hug before we spoke. He pulls back and tells me he also was caught in the Ham Lake Fire. He said he was putting the sprinklers on the roof of his home on Seagull Lake when the DNR came by issuing mandatory evacuations. He had to leave in ten minutes.

I stopped him from going on. "Are you the man who was in tears on NBC being interviewed about not having enough time to put the sprinklers on your neighbors cabin?"

He told me that was him. I remember the TV News that night. I had just returned to the Twin Cities from the Gunflint Trail where Gus Axelson, Lee Frelich and I were also trapped by the BWCA fire. I watched this sweet old man cry as he told the story of how he was able to save his cabin but didn't have time to set the sprinklers on his neighbors. His neighbors cabin burned and it was torturing him. He cried. And I cried watching him tell this story.

It had been three years, almost to the day that fire started when I gave my presentation. It meant so much to me to meet him. We chatted about the BWCA, the fire, and life. The moment had nothing to do with the book. It had everything to do with what we shared, unknown to each other at the time it occurred. Do I dare expect I'll be lucky enough to hear from others as they share their BWCA/Quetico experiences through PADDLE NORTH?


  1. Gees, Layne... what a blog! I got totally educated about a completely new world (for me) by clicking through your blog list.

  2. "Get the Net" Layne... beautiful insight...


  3. I visited an acquaintance who lives at the end of the Gunflint this spring. The forest on two sides of her house had burned up to her house, including melting a plumbing line on the outside. But her house was ok. I also heard of firefighters who could hear propane tanks blowing up several miles away. Amazing how that fire has touched so many.