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Sunday, March 10, 2013


I've struggled a long time trying to articulate a theme for pictures I take.
I take pictures of landscapes, but I'm not a landscape photographer. I take pictures of nature... but that's so vague, one might as well say, "I take pictures."
I take pictures because I want to be able to share what I've seen. And the pictures I'm most proud of are the ones that reveal something about how nature works.

If this fellow is re-productively more successful than his counterparts, might our descendants one day share earth with bipedal beavers?

An early candidate for a photography exhibition theme was a phrase that my friend Bernadette shared with me. She's a big fan of 'river dancing' but her enthusiasm for Irish step dancing, in particular, has gradually generalized to all things Celtic and the phrase she shared was, 'thin places'.
"Heaven and earth, the Celtic saying goes, are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is even shorter." (See the article by Eric Weiner, Where Heaven and Earth Come Closer)

Saturday I hiked in the snow along Cold Spring Creek with the intention of seeing Tamanawas Falls. I suppose I could get all poetical and pretend like I was enraptured with the spectacle of the world waking up from winter, or marvel at how snow sits heavy but tranquilly in surrealistic configurations, unconcerned about its inevitable demise, or surmise how the hydrologic cycle and seasons contribute to erosion on the sides of a strato-volcano...

...but really I was freaking out because, as usual, I had timed this hike close to sunset and the snow that had been melting on the way in was spitefully turning to ice, and the Yak-Trax traction devices that had (at first) served me well on the way in were rapidly disintegrating, their rubber components evidently long past their optimal flexibility.

Heaven and earth may be three feet apart, but here it was beginning to feel like heaven was as close as my ability or inability to make a snow-cave with my bare hands and survive overnight if it turned out I wouldn't be able to walk out of here before dark.

The golden shafts of light that had dappled the cold blue snow on the way in were long gone by the time I set up the tripod for this shot. The traction devices were wrapped around my shoes in a fashion unintended by their designers. I rushed to make some exposures before I grew too chilled. Sadly, the mist that correlates with most waterfalls quickly turned what was supposed to be a lens into something more like a special effects filter. Many of the images were unusable. 
And so, there behind my tripod, I briefly kneeled before a scene that I found both beautiful and threatening. I realized I was in a situation where one misstep, one unforeseen circumstance, one bad decision, could change a short pleasant hike into a really embarrassing way to die...  

...which counter-intuitively, made me somehow grateful, just to watch...and listen...

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