It has been my great pleasure to work from the land down under over the past week or so. Sydney is a beautiful city and, I suspect, is a gateway to a truly rugged land. I can't wait to come back and explore this continent in greater detail on some other trip. Here's to a great people and a long flight.
A tunnel of vegetation leads from the roadway to Ruby Beach. I descended with the sun, bats passing inches from my face, husks of burnt paper afloat in an updraft.
When night falls and the tide rises, these rugged places seem forever capable of shrugging from their shoulders the throngs of tourists and day-trippers.
Behind me was a graveyard of Sitka pine; pale, nude corpses of trees felled by the rain and the surf, pinned to the headlands by the larger storms and embalmed in white by salt and sun. I waded through the creek where it overflows the dike built by the surf and wandered for a few moments amongst the stacks while fog and shadow grew.
It is at night on the beach, alone, that one truly feels what a menace the sea can be. It gnaws forever at the land, turning mountains to headlands, headlands to stacks, stacks to boulders, boulders to cobbles, and cobbles to sand. The chill of twilight, the rush of the onshore, and the cacophony of the Pacific leaves little room for comfort in the 20 feet between brine and headland.
These rugged places shrug us all in time.
Lost and loving it
For those of us who were / are so lucky: is a joyous childhood the result of carefree days filled with learning and play? Or do we simply reflect back upon our children whatever small measure of the deluge of happiness they bring us but we cannot withhold for ourselves?
I watch Oliver growing and learning and I don't know the answer, if there is one. Surely some days, what we so flippantly call "play" is every bit as stressful as what we've come in our adult years to know as work. Yet children smile and laugh and lose themselves in it so readily and we adults push and pull and resist that same measure of devotion as we age.
I'm reminded of Neil Young's "I am a child," ...
I am a child, I'll last a while.
You can't conceive of the pleasure in my smile.
You hold my hand, rough up my hair,
It's lots of fun to have you there.
The little man turned two in mid-March. It's amazing how time flies! As I reflected upon the other day, I've spent the greater portion of my photographic efforts over the past few months on documenting family life rather than making it out to the wild places of the Earth to do landscape work.
This focus has paid dividends in that I have a wonderful collection of photographs of the family I take with me anywhere via my iPhone and an online hosting service. They are terrific pick-me-ups for someone who travels a lot and misses the comfort of home when working late.
As I look through the catalog I'm struck not only by how much has transpired since we left California and by how much he's grown, but also by how quickly the seasons change. Just a month or two separate photographs of my tow-headed toddler grinning from beneath a winter hat and heavy coat and the same exuberance basking in the sunshine of early spring.
It is painfully obvious to me that it's been 2 months since last I posted. There's not much to say about it beyond the obvious: I'm just too busy with a demanding job that requires loads of travel. I make the conscious decision every weekend to spend every moment I can with my family and photography and blogging simply haven't been the priority that maybe they should.
Yet perhaps I should mention that the purpose of this blog is primarily a forcing mechanism for me to reflect on my photography and my experiences. It's nice to share with other people and I'm always extremely flattered by the responses I receive, but the purpose, first and foremost of both photography and this blog is to be mindful.
Photography is a forcing mechanism for me to interact with my environment in a very tangible way, to frame, to reflect and to experience. It's no coincidence that, upon reflection, I've undoubtedly felt more stress not photographing than spending a few more sleepless hours taking photographs and worrying about the exhaustion later.
Back to the purpose
And so, if the purpose of this website is to reflect and to reconnect with places I've been via my images, then I think it's high time that I do so and do so more often. As I dig through the archives from December of 2012, I am utterly blown away by the collection of images. I don't mean this to say that I'm some great photographer, but rather the collection of experiences the represent is unbelievably rich to me now. Valerie and I knew what was coming and we grabbed California, Arizona and points between by the horns in one of our last months out west.
The point of this blog is to use images to reconnect with what Galen Rowell called pools of memories through a visual language that's part color and shadow, part shape, and part shared experience. These images of a misty morning along the park road in Yosemite Valley rekindle in me memories of a time when it was normal to take a weekend trip to a place of unparalleled beauty, of a time when the mountains of California truly felt like home, but also to a deeper set of memories of misty mornings in western Michigan with my mother and father and siblings, of foggy mornings playing in the yard in my suburban childhood home, and perhaps even of memories deeper still. Memories from some shared unconscious of fog and of the geosmin-scented breath of the earth, awakened by the winter sun along the rivers and meadows where our ancestors—unnamed and unremembered—began the unbroken chain that's brought you and I and everyone we know to today.