Experiencing a Place

Lately I started doing something different on my photographic road trips. Staying somewhere for a while. Somewhere quiet with only sounds of nature around.

I don’t mean like backpacking or camping which I like to do a lot. But sometime whether is not very enjoyable for those activities. Rain or snow makes backpacking rather a serious ordeal.

Instead I just drive into remote enough location, open the back of my SUV and sit in the back, looking outside, enjoying sounds of nature, reading a book or typing this blog.

Right now I’m in Steptoe Butte park in the Palouse. It is snowing lightly with sun breaking thru the snow. It is a beautiful winter day. I’m sitting in the back of the car and typing this blog.

I’ve tried to get to the top of the Steptoe Butte… unsuccessfully. The road is not maintainable in winter with lots of snow on it. The temperature is just right for packed slick snow under the tires. Even with all wheel drive I was sliding down instead of driving up.

So, I backed down to the small parking at the bottom of the butte and decided to just enjoy this beautiful winter day.

As I sit and quiet down I start noticing signs of coming spring. The sun is warm and pleasant. Birds are chirping outside. Somewhere under the white cover small streams of melted snow can be heard running briskly and happily.

I’ll probably take a few pictures later but for now I’m just enjoying the place.

New View in Familiar Place

I return to the Palouse over and over. I love it. It make me feel at peace. I like to sit at the top of Steptoe Butte and follow the lines of the hills in a rhythmic pattern. Up and down, up and down. It has meditative quality.

And each visit I find new a new scenes. Sometimes along the roads that I travelled many times. The color of fields, the light, the clouds, the patterns – all change, all the time.

And sometimes it is simply taking a look in a different direction. Like in this case. I drove this road many times but always in the opposite direction and had never seen this tranquil scene up until now.

Follow Your Heart

When I go on a photographic trip the hardest decision is always picking a destination.

Last week I had a knee surgery (which went quite well and I’m recovering quickly). The weekend before that I was going on a photo trip. I knew it would be a while I’d go again, so the choice was really hard.

The way I often make such decision is first decide whether I want to explore a new place or visit again a place I’ve been too. Once that is over I decide within that group which place to go based on time of the year, weather, etc.

The way I decided this time was simply by following my heart. So, I went to the Palouse. After so many years and so many visits I still love this place.

It’s rolling hills have calming, meditative influence on me. Despite its growing popularity I still have my places where I can be alone. And I keep discovering dirt roads I’ve never visited before.

When I arrived there I realized it was the right choice for me. Calm and peace filled my heart. First day I did not even get the camera out. I was just looking at the hills following their lines in their slow rhythm of a heartbeat.

An Old Clunker

A few weeks ago I went to the Palouse. I’ve been there many times. I find the experience of spending hours in the fields listening to wind and whispers of wheat moved by the wind relaxing and meditating.

Despite visiting the Palouse every year and some years several times a year I find something new every time. This time as I was driving on one of the Palouse roads I passed a blue old truck left rusting in a field. Had it been there before and I simply had never driven that road before? Or was it dragged out there recently? No idea.

My thought was that it is kind of interesting but it is not what I came for. I came for beautiful landscapes that the Palouse is rich with. The old rusty clunker was not quite a beautiful landscape. Neither it was making landscape beautiful. After all I could photograph it on the way back if I wanted. Thus I passed it by and kept on going.

As I was returning on the same road I decided to stop and take at least on photo – just to pay a tribute to the old clunker. I was stuck around it for about two hours. I could not stop photographing it. There were so many images, so many stories in that old truck.

First, I liked the truck filling the whole frame, leaving little room for anything else.

Then I wanted to show it in the field.

Then I realized I like its symmetry. While having background almost symmetrical.

The I liked how the blue truck blends with the blue sky. I wanted more sky.

Then I got closer to the truck. (I always start from a distance and then come closer to the subject. That way I don’t ruin anything I might want to include in wide frame.)

I liked the rhythmic change of blue to yellow and yellow to blue.

Then even closer.

That was too close. As I saw shadow of a rear view mirror I realized that I missed  those strong lines before. I had to step back to get them in.

Now really close. Focusing on individual details of the truck.

Lines, shapes and colors.

Lines and shapes. Lack of color.

Now closing on rusty patterns. This looked like Chinese characters to me.

And this looked like a map of some islands surrounded by water.

And of causes needed to capture the truck make and model sign.

“Ok. Enough.” I told myself and started walking back to the car. Only to see something interesting on the other side: bright white lines of the side mirror supports against dark black shadow of the truck.

Thanks for following thru all this store to the end with me. Times and times again I find that there are infinite possibility around us. No need to drive around. There are lots and lost of images in each and every place.

Point of View

There are many infinite number of ways to see the same thing. There are many infinite number of angles to look at the same things.

One of the popular photographic spots to visit in the Palouse is a fence completely made out of rusty remains of wheels. There are all kind of wheels in it dating to who knows how old.

A few years ago I went to photograph the fence too. (Hey, after a few years I’ve finally got around to write about it). I’ve started with the classic shot of fence going into the distance.

Then I’ve started looking at all kind of shapes in the fence. It was fascinating. Hay here are only spikes left from the wheel. It looks like the Sun to me. So, I’ve looked at it from very low angle, because the Sun should be in the sky.

The I’ve started looking at what can be seen thru the fence. Here is only rim left from the wheel (it might even matched the spikes above). It frames very nicely the nice white building behind the fence.

The point is: look at any scene and find as many images as possible in it.

Last Ray

I had quite an interesting dialog with my seven year old son about this photo.

Adrian: Dad how did you get to capture the last ray of the Sun on the flowers.

Me: It is not a sun ray. I used flashlight to highlight the flowers as if the Sun was lighting them up.

Adrian: Cheater. It is not a real landscape. Nobody is going to buy it. People like real landscapes.

Beauty is in Details

I’m still experimenting with this technique of multiple exposures over long period of time combined in one image and I like  results better and better. I think I’m onto something. Look at this image. Pretty trivial and  obvious composition. The first thing to note is that clouds look like they are painted.

Then I looked closely at different elements in the image and liked this technique even more. Here is a fragment of a field on the right:

And here is the tree enlarged:

Both elements look like painted. The road is the only element that remains looking as a photograph. This combination of photographic look and painting look creates quite an interesting effect. I’m eager to start printing this to see how it looks in full detail print.