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.
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.
Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Badlands at Sunrise
Death Valley National Park 2014
Tuesday, January 07, 2014
"I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of. " — Joss Whedon
Artist's Palette is on the face of the Black Mountains located in Death Valley National Park. The beautiful variations of color are caused by the oxidation of different metals in the ground. Red, pink and yellow are from iron salts, green is from decomposing tuff-derived mica, and manganese produces the purple hues.
Monday, January 06, 2014
Desert Floor at Mesquite Dunes
Zabriskie “I live my life until I start the cycle of my dreams,
“Things don't go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.” ― Charles Jones, Life Is Tremendous
…and what a year it was! 2013
A pivotal year in my exploration of landscape photography. The ongoing desire to be more proficient technically at a very exciting time within the photographic arts as technology is changing by the day, minutes…seconds.
Last year I picked my favorite photo of the entire year and I thought I'd give it a go this year also. To be honest I don't put a lot of thought into the process but rather go with a completely visceral response and then work my way back and see if I can explain it intellectually. I find this image to be a bit complex and perhaps why I'm drawn to it. It also is rich in emotion for me. The minute I shot it, I knew it was my favorite.
Earlier this month I made my way into the canyon to witness the seasonal change of colors in the trees. What I really fell in love with was the lesser photographed Navajo Falls area. The water has constant 70 degree-ish temperature and with the outside temps in Autumn being in the low 30's in the morning this whole area was shrouded with an ethereal mist. As the morning sun starts to illuminate the canyon walls, the scene was spectacular.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
I use an Induro tripod and ball head in my photography and it
has no doubt simplified my shooting process. It's been dragged through the
mud and snow, banged, beaten and taken a licking. Still ticking.
I was recently interview by Marisa Getz of the Induro Company about my
photography and the article is featured on their blog.
"The winds that blow they go away And seasons change"
On this first day of Winter, It amazes me how effortlessly things change sometimes. You start down the same path, the one you've always taken and suddenly nothing looks familiar. On false step, one uttered word out of context, and you end up with new friends or a bad reputation or a new career or the loss of someone you loved. Never thought much about it but in hindsight perhaps I've missed something. Maybe all these stories exist at the same time, like each moment we live has thousands of other moments layered underneath it waiting for their queue or the wrong word to be uttered or a new love to be found.