From Canyonlands National Park. Island in the Sky District. The First of my new Limited Series. A selection of Master Prints that will be available in runs of 25.
Sometimes images wait in my archive to have life breathed into them. I had known at the moment of capture that this would be the image of the day…..an good indicator that it will get immediate attention. Life might have other plans, I was on my cross country trip from Seattle to West Palm Beach and soon after my Mother went in for surgery to repair her broken vertebrae. I took over caring for the horses here on the ranch, the heat and work can be exhausting, leaving little time for creating images. So there it sat until yesterday, around noon, when I needed an image of my truck with storm clouds over head…….it made me think back to the day, watching the clouds first build over the La Sal mountains. The storm seemed to grow….to radiate from the peaks….making an improbable journey West against the wind….against the jet stream……until it was over head, some 100 miles as the crow flies. In times like these there is often a bit of inner debate. What’s the light going to do, is the storm going to break……how long before I can get to shelter. If nothing else I’m a good judge of weather. It’s an obsession. One that comes from spending countless days backpacking, with nothing but stretched nylon as a shelter. This day I was lucky, I had my truck within a close proximity. This enabled me to wait until the very moment the storm broke, so I could make this image, and then sprint for the safety of good Detroit Steel.
A very fine start to the day, deceptive, for the afternoon would bring heavy winds, rain and battleship gray skies…in other words fantastic light. A Nature photographer has to wear many hats, and more are being piled on all the time. One that is well worn and servers the Wilderness Traveler and Photographer equally well is Meteorologist. Being able to read the weather means that for the photographer you are ready for the great light that comes just before and after a storm. For the Traveler, it means you get to set up a dry camp.
Keep an eye to the sky. In the Canyonlands this can be difficult if you are down in the Canyon, which was the case on this day. Having spotted a sand bar, let’s call it a beach, my companion and I decided to make the two mile hike to it. An afternoon at the beach sounded like a perfect antidote to the stress produced by days of four wheel driving the white rim road. Traveling the white rim road is a journey that you will talk about for all your days. So after navigating the green belt a thick jungle like band of vegetation that exists next to the river my companion and I reach our reward. A glorious little oasis of sand that held true to all the promise it made when viewed from afar. After a bit of nap I awoke to gray skies overhead and a bit of a blow. Down in the Canyon you can’t see the weather coming.
I said we’ve got about 15 minutes to get back to the truck. We left our little beach with haste. Back, we went, through the Indiana Jones movie set that is the green belt. Seriously some unique sounds coming out of the densest brush I’ve ever traveled. I was being generous when I said 15 minutes it was more like 10 and sure enough with the truck in sight the storm opened up, hard rain blowing sand, the works. This was the kind of storm you are glad to have a truck available for shelter.
The story continues with more images from the series.
The color of the lake.
In summer the Pacific North West has a long evening of twilight. Lake Union will sometimes take on this brilliant blue. Photographed from Gasworks Park, Seattle isn’t just the Emerald City. Lake Union is many things to the city. Some of the more interesting are an airport for float planes, a living space for house boats and a place for kayakers and the university crew team to hone their sport. Lake Union also hosts Seattle’s Fourth of July celebration.
Resilience at Mesa Arch.
One of my favorite photos this was taken in the spring of 2000. It was a very windy morning when I saw this tree being blown around I thought what a resilient little fellow. I knew I had a shot. Working carefully because this was the last frame of film I had, I made this image. Although it had been in the 80s the day before there would be 3 inches of snow on the ground by noon.
For a decade now my family has run a ranch on the northern tip of the Everglades. This ranch provides a home for rescue horses, dogs and the odd cat or two. We are stewards of the land, care takers of the endangered Cypress. The ranch is a habitat provider for Snail Kites, Alligators and a pathway between protected park lands for the Florida Panther. We plant native species to provide cover and food for the wildlife and eliminate invasive one. Sometimes it feels like a tropical Ponderosa, the Cartwright’s never had to deal with Hurricanes.
Falls in Winter.
Denny Creek is an hour from Seattle and a favorite family hike. The trail is an easy walk with a beautiful little gorge providing a view. After making this image and being pleased with the winter scene a friend and I stared back toward the truck. I stopped by the gorge to peer over at the rushing river one hundred feet below. Standing next to a wooden rail fence my feet shot out from under me. I had failed to judge just how slippery the ice was. Next thing I knew my legs were dangling over the gorge. Reflexes had kicked in and without knowing I had hooked my arm on the lowest rail of the fence. Lesson learned even an easy hike can under certain conditions prove most challenging, a failure of observation. “Keep your head in the game” would be the operative words here.
Part of a Colorado beaver pond. The animals had a unique solution to limited terrain, terraced pools. Picture the farms of a Southeast Asian hillside and you’ll get the idea. This would be a landscape architect’s dream. Amazing.
A book I read well before I set foot in Arches National Park. I remember a passage on how Abbey escaped the summer heat with a trip into the La Sal Mountains. Celebrating he glissaded down a snow field with reckless abandon. Instantly I recalled the joy of sledding in my youth. Desert Solitaire is a fine book to inspire a visit to the American South West. I recommend this read it while you are in the park. I bought a copy in the visitor center to have something to do while escaping the heat and sun of the mid afternoon. I found that it was almost like having Abbey there in his Ranger “uniform” leading a naturalist’s tour. While photographing in the morning or evening I would wonder about some of my subjects. Abbey would invariable answer my questions as I sat in the shade of a juniper.
If it’s one thing I’ve learned is that the Landscape photographer has to move fast. Good light particularly storm light changes within moments. This is the first image that I was truly proud of. Taken during a workshop with Art Wolfe I had woken up late. Luckily the motel I was staying at in Port Angeles had roosters. I was supposed to be on the Coast already. Coffee deprived I threw the gear into the car and headed toward the sea stacks of Rialto Beach. Passing by Lake Crescent my rear view mirror blazed with color. Below the low clouds and between the hills shot these rays of light. To this day I haven’t seen anything that rivaled this display. As luck would have it the perfect location was at the west end of the lake. I pulled over and grabbed my camera and tripod. I had tossed the tripod in the car and the release lever was jammed, there was no way to budge it. Time was running out. The light was fading as the sun rose. Screwing the camera on the tripod would have taken less than a minute but there would be nothing left to capture. In the lecture the night before Art had mentioned, first get the shot then refine it. I held my breath, braced the camera on the tripod, and hand held a 200mm lens for a 15th of a second. This is an eternity with a long lens. That anything is sharp is a wonder to me. One frame was all there was time for before the light dulled.
Convinced I had missed the shot I soldiered through the day. Met Art on a trail to Sol Duc and asked him had he ever missed the shot. With a laugh he said “of course.” We had one roll of film. From that we could enter 2 slides for the competition held at the end of the weekend. I would cover much ground before the deadline of 4pm. Exploring the park for images that day was the true reward. At some point battered and muddy from a fall I thought this is really it this is what I want to do. When the image was projected large onto a movie screen, selected by the judges I felt honored and surprised to see that burst of color again. It was the first frame I had taken that day and the light was truly something special.