Sunday, February 24, 2013

Silent Metaphors

"The greatest aesthetic beauty, the fullest power of expression, the real worth of the medium, lies in its pure form," John Paul Edwards

With the days of Winter numbered I've been looking back on the season and recalling the finer moments and not so fine moments. This was my second Winter photographing and just the step up in wardrobe made this year possible. I give a full standing ovation to my more seasoned mentors who gave enlightenment and saved my fingers and toes this year.  Being more prepared meant being able to stay longer out in the elements which proved to be the winning element for me.

I spent many many hours this season in the snow and ice. Treading untouched trails and wading through knee-high snow with no trails. Standing on ice, sometimes standing on thin ice. Icicles and frozen falls, silvery scenes and icy rivers.  The sounds of frozen water moaning and cracking as it made it's way downstream. I came to love the Winter treks as exhausting as they may have been.

I'll admit, my first foray into a full-blown Winter scene left me speechless and as a newer photographer a bit "dazed and confused".  Composing Winter scenes seemed almost impossible for me at first but with each encounter it made a bit more sense.  The photo above is one of my favorites this season and one of the last that I took.  For me, it sort of signifies the culmination of the learning process this Winter and reminds me of what I need to do better next year.

The education aside, the Winter season had a more significant impact on me emotionally than I had expected. The time spent, often hours, sitting in the snow and waiting for the snow to stop falling  or light to change touched me profoundly.  Often the scene would be almost pure white and the backdrop may have been only the sound of a canyon raven or wind moving through the trees. There is a softness and sometimes a sadness in the sounds heard in the lonely Winter landscape.  The silent awareness of just simply "being" in the midst of a grand Winter scene changed many of my views on photography and the type of photographer I would be proud to be.

I never take lightly the lessons I learn in nature. What I came to learn this Winter was that true grandeur, true majesty, true landscape splendor has no ego.  It simply is.  It doesn't call attention to itself, it doesn't pat itself on the back, its colors aren't amped and its sky is happening right now. It simply is. It isn't loud, it doesn't blare.

It is a whisper.  It is humbly and silently perfect.

In many ways, my experiences out in nature this Winter became metaphoric lessons for guiding my photography and how I view myself as a contributor.  It's a solitary personal journey to document the landscapes with great respect. To keep ego from obscuring my vision. To compete only with my own last shot and to continue to keep searching for the most  honest and amazing "moments" humbly and silently.