“Perhaps what moves us most in Winter is some reminiscence of far-off summer …. What beauty in the running brooks! What life!”
Henry David Thoreau
I found that quote the other night while reading “In Wildness is the Preservation of the World”. I think Thoreau got it wrong – at least wrong for me. I personally find great joy in all of the seasons although I have to admit that summer is my least favorite. I think I was able to find some of that joy and winter beauty on Fall Creek near Lowell on Monday – low water levels due to the recent cold snap and little or no rain so the beauty of tumbling water was everywhere I walked.
After hiking up the Fall Creek trail for a while and finding nothing real interesting I went back to the car and then walked upstream on the opposite bank and found this small tributary coming into the main channel. I had tried unsuccessfully to photograph this small stream last year so I gave it another go from a different perspective and certainly at a much lower flow. Tried to capture it set in the little grotto it feeds.
Lastly I went back up on the road bridge and found an upstream and downstream image of the main creek – the low flows really help to define the stream and I think add a lot to help bring out the stark, yet beautiful nature of winter in the Cascades.
Spent a few days with family in Mount Vernon, WA north of Seattle – such a treat for me to get to visit and see everyone before all go separate ways over and right after Christmas – some to the east Coast, some to Leavenworth and some skiing in Bend – the group I will join. While the ladies and the boys went to see a production of The Nutcracker at the local college my brother-in-law and I made a trip to the farm fields in the Skagit River valley. This time of year there are huge flocks of white geese, Snow and I think Ross’s, and additionally there are scattered gatherings of swans but no where near the same number. Such beautiful birds.
We made a circuitous route on the farm roads stopping along fields that looked interesting and held birds. The first stop was to photograph a group of swans in the midst of very noisy conversation. Goose talk done with a lot of wing flapping – perhaps modeling Congress.
Following a wonderful holiday meal and some present opening – especially by some excited little ones – I slept well. We went to breakfast the next morning with icy roads and fog hanging over the fields. The plan was to go on to LaConner just to do some holiday looking – wonderful art galleries and a great little town. However, on the way we ended up at the same fields from the day before and there was just a huge flock of snow geese. They seemed relatively unconcerned with photographers and just lookers in general and in some cases were feeding very close to highway and walking right towards it. Periodically they got spooked and would take off in a cloud of goose – Amazing@!! I don’t know how they found room to fly. The image below if of one of the flights – it is not an abstract although it looks like one nor is it a Where’s Waldo game card!! Be sure to click on the image to get a larger view – it is worth it.
If my photographs are a window to my soul, I would hope that in the future that window reveals a better version of myself than today. Surely that is what the journey of life is all about? Alister Benn
One of my favorite pioneering photographers is Eliot Porter and the other day I went to a used bookstore here in Eugene to see if I could find a copy of his seminal book Intimate Landscapes. I was successful and since they did not seem to be in any rush to get me out of the store I took the time to just spend with the images. His style – focusing on nature’s details – and the resultant images set a high bar for a lot of landscape photographers and while mine come no where near that level I sure am inspired by his work.
I took the image below the other day while wandering along a path near Fern Ridge reservoir. I was taken with the details of the bare vegetation against the fog and while some of you may find this image cluttered and confusing I find it intricate and intimate – at least that was what I was going for.
It was near freezing this morning here in the Valley and the fog was clearly thick (no pun intended) when I left the gym, brewed some coffee, loaded up the camera and headed out. Shooting on cold foggy days can be such a treat and it was for me this morning – my happy place – alone in lovely country. The sun weakly shone thru the fog making for very interesting lighting and some silhouettes of the surrounding fields. Both of these images were taken west of Eugene near Fern Ridge reservoir.
Comments are always welcome.
These are some of the images I liked the best from this year of shooting. If you click on an image you can enter a slideshow mode and easily move through them. I still have the month of December left to shoot so this is potentially not all of the images from this year.
Thanks for letting me share these images from my travels this past year.
Hope you all have a wonderful day filled with family and food.
This is a portion of a blog posting by one of my favorite photographers/philosophers, Guy Tal, that reminded me of a discussion I shared about introverts and extroverts with a friend of mine from NE Washington. Just thought I would share it. While I never intend to go back into the chemically infused darkroom I do find my alone time in the field and with my camera and then in the digital darkroom to fill my spirit.
As I think about what makes one a traditionalist, I realize that the distinction goes deeper than merely the knowledge of some processes, or having an interest in the history of the medium. Indeed, I think that the world of photography has transitioned into new hands. It used to be that photography was the favored avocation of introverts, allowing unquestioned solitary time in a darkroom—a private world behind a closed door where magic unfolded in development trays under the eerie glow of a safelight, and where one could be alone with their thoughts, disconnected from society, without having to explain. The photographer then was an eccentric, an alchemist, an observer. Today’s mainstream photographers seem almost the opposite: bold and outspoken and public; no longer experiencing, observing, and reacting, but planning and executing, broadcasting and marketing not only their photographs and thoughts but also their travels, corporate sponsors, and lifestyles, and even their most trivial accomplishments, to the widest audience they can reach. Most of today’s photographers no longer spend intimate hours processing and printing their work, and often go out of their way to promote tips and tricks and commercial services for minimizing and shortcutting such prolonged and solitary aspects of photography. In a sense, the tradition perhaps most obviously lost is that of finding profound pleasure and value in the photographic process, not to the detriment of the finished image, but as an indispensable and immensely pleasurable means to it.
The worlds of introverts and extroverts are difficult to bridge. One does not fully understand the other and often considers it anathema. And yet, having observed both for some time I lament some of what was lost, not in terms of tradition, but in terms of lessons once learned, and now forgotten or unknown; and which can greatly enrich one’s joy of photography in ways not usually explained or taught in today’s photographic classes and texts.
And so, my advice to those not versed in the traditions of photography is not necessarily to practice them, but to learn the histories and philosophies of those who did. It is hard to explain the value of finding contentment and flow in one’s process to someone who had not already experienced them, or who does not naturally gravitate toward such states of mind. And yet, there is no denying their power. There is more to tradition than mixing chemistry or using certain equipment. Today, photographers no longer are forced to slow down by the nature of the technology available to them, but can still choose to do so and reap the associated rewards.
Thanks for reading – all the best to you.
Spent this morning in the McKenzie River drainage especially at Trailbridge Reservoir and at Clear Lake which is one of the sources of flow for the river. I went today because the forecast called for a relatively clear and dry day and for the most part they got it right. I was hoping to shoot snow covered conifers reflected in the still waters of Clear Lake but that was not too be. There was snow on the ground and on the trail along the lake but it had been rained on and was just a crusty mess.
On the way to Clear Lake I noticed the scene below at a pullout near Trailbridge Reservoit. Nice way to start the morning.
It was dripping rain when I got to Clear Lake but there was sun scattered through the clouds and it lit up portions of the bank and the lake. I first thought the boat in the image below was a rental from the resort but it turned out to be privately owned. Met the owner – he was out for some fishing – may be the last time this year as more storms are headed our way beginning tomorrow and continuing all week. To me the boat added some nice interest to the image and I was glad I was there in time to include it.
A few years ago my Mom passed away on Halloween and so it has become a special day of remembrance for me and to top that off my nephew, Tim, and his darling daughter, Gwen, were both born on this day.
Over the last few years I have taken the camera out to see what treats Mom has in store for me that I can pass along to Gwen and Tim. This morning I met my friend Leslie from Sisters at Big Lake up near Hoodoo Ski area. We got there in time for sunrise – painting the sky and just casting a bit of light on Mt. Washington. Very cold up there – Leslie said it was 17 when she left Sisters, it was in the mid-20’s when out shooting. That is a rim of ice along the shoreline. I have noticed that one tends to forget how cold you are when framing up a shot – that is until you finish.
Thanks for the Halloween treat Mom.
“Fog comes on little cat feet”
fog has a way of softening a scene and at the same time adding interest making one wonder what is at the end of row of trees. This morning I saw an image “Afternoon Tea” taken by David Brookover at Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana. David’s Black and White images are so well crafted and inspirational – so glad I found this current image as it nudged me to get out and shoot this morning in an old stand of deciduous trees out by the industrial park on the NE side of town. The weather guessers predicted heavy fog in the valley this morning and they got it right. I think the fog adds so much interest to this scene. Converting it to Black and White was in my head all along.
I think I will print this image and I have some paper that I really want to try out – Murakumo Kozo Select Natural – hope I can show the print to Mika Aono after I get it matted. As always click on the image for a larger view on your monitor.
FYI: David Brookover has a wonderful gallery in Jackson Hole, WY that is such a treat to visit and I hope you can.