Secret Places, Country Lanes

Sky Puddles on a remote country lane on the north side of Mt. Pisgah where I had never gone before.

 

Sky Puddles: “What does it mean to photograph with passion?”

Once upon a May morning, I was photo walking along the Coast Fork of the Willamette where it flows around to create the boundary of Mt. Pisgah Arboretum here in Eugene, Oregon. I was surrounded by the lush fairyland of waist high blue larkspur and camas folded into the rich green grass starred with buttercups and wild Nootka roses.

Under the riparian trees of the Mt. Pisgah Arboretum, larkspur grows as high as your waist.
Under the riparian trees of the Mt. Pisgah Arboretum, larkspur grows as high as your waist.

I was clicking away taking standard shots I’d taken every spring for decades.

I felt a little depressed by what seemed to be impossible—to see all this with new eyes.

I sat down on a bench by the river and asked myself,

“What does it mean to photograph with passion?”

I didn’t exactly know the answer, but I let the question seep into me. Then I got up and started to really look through the viewfinder for something that satisfied some richness I’d been longing for.

I put my camera in the “pop art” setting that I’d heard others scorn. That bumped the colors of the flowers up into the stratosphere. Then I stopped down the exposure until backgrounds blurred to interlocked circles of green or blurred to paintbrush swatches of barn door red and sky blue.

A half blown Nootka Rose in an afternoon meadow by the river.
A half blown Nootka Rose in an afternoon meadow by the river.

When I could, I positioned flowers against dark shadows, so they would glow with jewel tone intensity on the velvety black backdrop.

Meadow Rue on the verge of opening to its first day in this new world.
Meadow Rue on the verge of opening to its first day in this new world.

At the pond, the lily flowers were radiant little suns about to open against maroon lily pads floating on dark water.

Lilies on the Water Meadow Pond
Lilies on the Water Meadow Pond
Orange lilies on maroon leaves floating over and sheltering a watery world below.
Orange lilies on maroon leaves floating over and sheltering a watery world below.

Suddenly, within an hour of asking the question, I had a method, an approach I could take to deepen my vision of a passionate world.

It was Laura Valenti, my photography instructor for “Light Atlas,” who told me, “Sandy, face it: at heart you’re a landscape photographer.”

So how to bring something new, that “what else” factor to the everyday landscapes of my little snow globe of a world?

I was out yesterday with that question, and as is my habit, I made a little nature video like a journal entry for the day—these grew out of the Gratitude Walks in another of Laura’s classes. This one is “Secret Places, Country Lanes.”

For today, I select this image as the one that seems most to suggest worlds within worlds.

Sky Puddles on a remote country lane on the north side of Mt. Pisgah where I had never gone before.
Sky Puddles on a remote country lane on the north side of Mt. Pisgah where I had never gone before.

Mt. Pisgah

I’m home sick for the second day (cold? flu? Who the heck can tell any of these cruds apart?), but Monday, my husband Peter and I reconnected with an old friend, Paul Hawkwood, who is taking the same online photography class I am (with Laura Valenti: “Candela: Finding Inspiration Through Photography”) class, and took a photo walk together up on the Pleasant Hill side of Eugene’s Mt. Pisgah.

Since I am sitting around the house with nothing better to do, I made a little slide show video of our walk using the Replay video editing app.

 

The photo below of the tree being isolated by a muted shaft of light from the thicket behind it was probably my favorite of the day because of the texture and detail of the chaotic branches–a study in object/field/ground. But more than that, it does what I say I want to do in my photography. In my artist’s statement, I say:

In my photography, I attempt to make things look as if they were imbued with a dramatic underlying force. I photograph to discover traces of the luminous fingerprints of the divine.

Photography takes me out of my head and into the world of light and shadow, form and composition.

I seek source imagery–those images that for me are emerging from some fresh spring of the world right now.There is a relationship with memory, dream, and reflection to be explored, photographed, suggested, and known.

PisgahTree

 

What I enjoyed was that the three of us moved at the same easy pace, talking but not over talking, taking photographs, being fully present in the morning and the rare opportunity it gave us to reconnect around a mutual love of photography.

As a hard working college teacher fully wired into the digital age, like the Old Woman who lived in a shoe, who had so many students, she didn’t know what to do, I intensely value time alone with my camera, and perhaps like-minded others, unplugged for an hour or a day, and I gratefully receive all encouragement to keep on doing what I often have to fight to get free enough to do.

Birds_Fields_Pisgah