Once you enter Yosemite Valley its grandeur is overwhelming. The towering granite walls provided some amazing backdrops to forest and still water shooting. Such a change in scenery from my desert landscapes of red sandstone and desert varnish. The sheer size and scope of the cliffs, domes, waterfalls, alpine scenes made it a whole new world.
As I evolve in my photography, I find myself less concerned about simply capturing a scene and more intrigued by the character and depth within the image. I'm constantly in search of textures, layers and patterns in the shadows, background and foreground. I keep in mind the juxtoposition of warm and cool contrasts. I'm looking for lines leading in and around and out. I love patterns within patterns and vertical layers.
“Later, when she sees the photographs for the first time, she will be surprised at how calm her face looks - how steady her gaze, how erect her posture. In the picture her eyes will be slightly closed, and there will be a shadow on her neck. The shawl will be draped around her shoulders, and her hands will rest in her lap. In this deceptive photograph, she will look a young woman who is not at all disturbed or embarrassed, but instead appears to be rather serious. She wonders if, in its ability to deceive, photography is not unlike the sea, which may offer a benign surface to the observer even as it conceals depths and currents below.” ― Anita Shreve, Fortune's Rocks
Heading out in the early morning hours the rain had just started in Southern California where I'd spent time with my family. It's difficult to put into words the excitement the beginnings of a great road trip presents. My mind dances around with images stored of rocky coastlines and ocean leading waterfalls and lush greenery. Coastal dunes and tide pools to explore, the crash of waves and the cry of sea birds.
Technicolor terrain of oxidizing minerals and metals.
Death Valley's abstracts have me captivated and mesmerized. Red, pink and yellow from iron salts. Decomposing tuff-derived mica greens and the manganese shades of blue and purple. A volcanic and volatile history have produced some of the most spectacular landscapes. I predict a life-time love affair in the making.
“Do you have any idea what it feels like to suddenly realize that the reason you’ve have been so lost your whole life is because a piece of you was missing and you never even knew it—only to find that missing piece and know that you can’t have it and so you will never, ever be whole?”
"Everything you look at can become a fairy tale and you can get a story from everything you touch." — Hans Christian Andersen
By the waters edge I stood after the rain. I found a tranquil spot and let the heavy backpack slide off my back. I'd been hiking for awhile, now I suddenly felt light and unburdened. A slight chill of air lifts my hair and the smell of damp ponderosa pine and incense-cedar still lingers after the rain. I set up my tripod and secure my camera and I peer into the viewfinder.
Clinging moss and massive granite boulders. Early morning sun above a quiet forest canopy and the smell of damp ponderosa pine and incense-cedar after a rain. Hiking and exploring Yosemite National Park
I've often noted that on my longer road trips I'm prone to intense dream activity. I think many factors come into play. On the road, I'm usually free of any time restraints and obligations which could produce a more relaxed state. Up early for sunrise shots and shooting often straight through to sunset my level of exhaustion and physical activity is dramatically changed. By the time I finally lay my head down my body and mind are prime for some quality REM sleep. For whatever reason I'm prone to these events, they seem to arrive with life-altering lessons that often make the journey about much more than photography.
Magic Hour That in between moment when day meets the night and the sun bows to the moon. The landscape dims and the sky begins to glow. The land holds onto the last bit of warm tonal hues the parting sun offers yet fades like a dying ember. Spared only by the brief burst of fiery splendor bequeathed to the heavens. It is always at this moment that causes me to pause and ponder. I remind myself how fortunate I am to stand here and be a part of this magic. When the sun bows to the moon and this enchantment befalls me. Contentment.
A photographer friend of mine and I were heading out to hike and photograph in Havasupai and we had hours to chat on the drive ahead of us. He asked me why I called my blog "Wandering On The Edge". Wandering, something I've done my whole life. Wandering, running away, exploring, leaving, hiking and backpacking. Destiny has dictated a constant forward motion and I call myself a romantic wanderer. I see meaning and purpose in every journey and I see light and composition in every scene. I related to my photographer friend that every trip I take, adventure I set out on, there has aways been a lesson involve. It's how I've come to view my photography now. A series of lessons.
I had a couple of hours to come up with a bio and photo of myself for a photography project I was working on. To be truthful, I knew I had to do it but procrastinated hugely. I was actually on my way out to hike with my dog and had to turn around when I got a email to "get it done" today.
Even though at one point in my years as a California beach girl, I did print work. I was never prepared for the industry. I'd been "scouted" one day at a gym and didn't give it much thought. A "particular" shot went viral on AOL and driving one day in my car, I actually heard the local DJ's talking about my photo, I became suspiciously fearful of attention. I loved the photography but after a while, the act of having the camera pointed at me created a full-blown phobia. I have no idea why, I just know the anxiety it produced. If you want to get rid of me, you'll never have to insult me, just aim a camera at me and I'm gone.
How do you explain such a fear. At a breakfast meeting with a group of photographers, one literally sat across the table and aimed his camera at me while I tried to eat. I left. I now found myself avoid meetings, meet-ups, anything like that, and yes, I know it's my loss. I'm trying to work through it.
After delving into a crash course in self-portraiture this weekend, I realized the whole time, my heart was pounding! I'd get the camera in focus and my face wouldn't be. I'd get my face in focus and my tripod wouldn't be. I had a tough time with focus and this is what I got!! . I know I had this naive notion that as my photography was getting more and more exposure, I could still live in an anonymous role as just the person behind the camera or behind the pen. My theories were starting to break apart, into reality. Especially with the advent of social media, obscurity is an obscure notion. Recognition happens, albeit uncomfortably.
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
Sunday, January 26, 2014
20 Mule Team Canyon in the morning light. Color, light, texture and hiking in complete solitude this morning. Some of the most breathtaking, unique and complex landscapes I'd ever seen. I'll never be able to convey, I fear, the beauty that was in Death Valley.
Seems so strange that an innocuous gesture could spin a life in such a direction. One of the only times I ever remember my parents posing as a family was on a trip to the Grand Canyon when I was perhaps 8 or 9 years old. While I carried remnants of that trip with me my whole life, there were pivotal moments that in the end steered a course.
My mother at some time in the trip had gone to the visitors center and bought a little plastic box of polished rocks. One of things I remember fondly about my childhood was that my mother was gift giver and when times where difficult she seemed to be able to distract from the moment by an impromptu gesture of delight.
Inside this little plastic box were dozens of beautiful little worlds of color, lines and patterns and what seemed so significant to me was that they were real. I could hold them in my hands know that they came from somewhere out there just as beautiful, just as real and I wanted to know everything about them. I studied them, read about them and knew the names for all of them. Tigers eye and Apache tears, yellow jasper and polished agates, rose quartz and turquoise. It sparked a curiosity and lifelong love affair with rocks, rock formations and hiking. I didn't know until after my mother had passed as I going through her things, that she too collected rocks as a child.
Death Valley was about the light. Certain landscapes just lend themselves to an almost animated state washed in the first rays of a sunrise or the simmering glow of a sunset. No doubt about it, Death Valley is one of those places.My itinerary was this; Sunrise, Sunset and canyon exploration in between and I did this for 5 days.On several occasions I missed a sunset by misjudging distances but these things happen. A location of note in that I kept moving, hiking, working and exploring from sunrise to sunset in a state of complete and utter blissful exhaustion.I'd stop into town to eat occasionally, charge camera batteries and when the electronics would spring back to life I'd connect with family and the outside world. For the most part I found myself alone and content.
“A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.” ― Diane Arbus From the Emerald Pool hike in Zion National Park in Utah.
Photographer in Death Valley
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
I dreamt of you,
those days ago, those eyes of blue.
Now I'm lost on this land
Sitting here atop this sand.
Lost in life, in love as well.
Living in a private hell.
All those things I never knew
about the man with eyes of blue.
When I move on to another world,
I'll still dream of
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Mesquite Dune, Death Valley National Park I camped out of my SUV inside Death Valley National Park. One night, nestled in my sleeping bag and quite comfortable, I pulled back my window covering to see the stars. The most perfect vision of The Big Dipper was just outside my window. I rested my head back and watched the heavens. In the background I hear the coyotes breaking the desert silence.
"It is a dull sensation, your heart breaking, like the sound of a pebble dropping on the sand. Not a shattering, not a tearing apart, there is nothing shrill or grandiose about the sensation. It is merely an internal realization that something treasured you never knew you had is leaving forever." — Samantha Bruce-Benjamin
Thursday, January 09, 2014
Death Valley has a complex geologic history. In the Tertiary Period (65.5 - 2 million years ago.) a chain of volcanoes from Furnace Creek to Shoshone, buried the ancient rocks of the Black Mountains. The mineral deposits from the volcanic activity created the beautiful colors we see now in the Artist's Palette area.
Fast forward all these years and wander around this area the you'll be transported back in time when the lands around you reveal their past secrets. I loved hiking around these structures (they're huge) and feeling the ancient spirit of the landscape. I was mesmerized by the fluidity, color and texture. I was inspired to capture it photographically and I was honored to be present in its spectacular timeline.