I’ve probably written about importance of light, of an interesting, beautiful light in landscape photography. And I’ll probably write about it many more times because it is worth it. This is one of those stories.
One of the places that we visited on the recent trip was Canyon De Chelly. When we arrived there the sky was gloomy. The light was flat and uninteresting. The images were flat and uninteresting too.
We started with the furthest viewpoint. In just a few minutes the sky broke into a small rain that within seconds turned into downpour and then into hail. There is nothing to do but to leave.
We dutifully visited every viewpoint on the way back. Eventually, the rain was over. When I walked to the next viewpoint the sun broke thru the clouds and lit up the canyon in patches of soft glow that added volume and magic to the scene.
From there on there were a lot of images worth looking at.
Watching the light moving across the land – there is nothing more fascinated than that for me.
One of the destinations on my most recent trip was Canyon de Chelly. One of the most interesting places it has is a White House, which is a set of ruins from the times in the distant past.
When we arrived there we were met with pouring rain then hail. When it all stopped the sky was grey and the light was flat. While I found the White House be interesting compositionally, in flat light it was looking boring.
Then the sun started breaking thru the clouds. From a viewpoint that I was standing on I could see a spots of light moving across the planes on the other side of the canyon. As they reached the edge of the canyon they quickly dropped off the cliff down the sheer the canyon wall and landed with a splash into the valley below.
I was watching them doing it over and over. With time I started seeing the pattern to the movement: the direction they are moving in and which place on the canyon wall they will pick to take the fall.
Eventually, the spot that I’ve been waiting for came by. I knew it was coming to shine on the White House while it was still wandering the plains on the other side. I saw it highlight one tree after the other slowly crawling toward the edge of the canyon. When it reached the edge of the canyon I leaned to viewfinder anticipating its fall.
The light spot dropped down fast and I caught it just as it was crossing the White House. I was excited as if I caught a magical creature. Well, maybe I did. The light like that brings certain magic to the photo.
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.
Finally, finally, I caught up on the backlog of images I had not processed over the past year. I have no backlog now. Hopefully, I will keep it that way.
With that said, here are a few paths I have taken over the past year.
(Continueing from my previous post.)
On the way back from Columbia Gorge I stopped along the road at Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge. Something caught my eye as I was passing by. Ponds of still water reflecting clouds. I stopped by and decided to stay there till sunset.
I was standing at the edge of a pond waiting for the sunset. My camera was on a tripod next to me waiting for the sunset. Wind was blowing in my face as I looked at the sun approaching the horizon. It was as simple of an experience as possible. And it was beautifully satisfying.
I standed there for an hour, just being there, experiencing it with every sense of my body, recording it in my memory in all its rich beauty. Because that’s what my life is all about.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. –Lao Tzu
Thanks to the modern medicine I’m off on the road in less than 3 weeks after the knee surgery. Just in time to catch the last of wildflowers in Columbia Gorge. That’s where I headed the last weekend.
The first day of the trip I spent stopping at random places because the sky and the light was amazing. I could not just drive by it. I wanted to see it without rushing.
That meant that I got to Columbia Gorge late night and had no time to photograph wildflowers the first day.
The next day, I got on a hike. At first I walked just a little bit, trying to get a sense of it, if the hike was worth it. It was worth it. There was an abundance of variety of wildflowers on the trail. I got back to the car put my backpack, took tripod and went on the hike.
I completely forgot about my knee, hiking, taking photos. Until I got to a top of a hill. I was not even quite at the top yet, when the knee reminded me about itself. It was tired. So, I did something that I had not done since I was a kid. I lied down in the meadow of flowers to rest.
I was lying in the meadow of flowers and the life in the city seemed so distant and remote. All the rush, all the noise, all the chaotic motion seemed so unreal. I was lying in the meadow of flowers and thinking about how I’m trying to make as many pictures as possible on each trip and not giving enough time to take in the experience of being in the place. And just like that I fell asleep.
I woke up a couple hours later greeted by yellow flower hanging over me. I took my camera and captured that simple experience.
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.