landscape

A Giant Thirst: Crow Agency, Montana

Crow Agency, Montana

Crow Agency, Montana

One of my best friends and I made a long photo journey to the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountain foothills recently, looking for those elusive photographic treasures called “keepers.” On the way, we talked about innumerable things, but one of them was the Giant Thirst series, and how it continues to evolve. I channeled George’s wisdom regarding the wider world, and this image is a response.

Thanks, George.

A New Series, Name not Yet Released

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I have just returned from a photo expedition intended to jump-start a new series, which I will not yet name in public. Why? As Robert Adams notes, if we must use words to describe what we endeavored to do in an image, we have failed. So I give you this photograph, and hope it speaks eloquently in the place of language.

Deserted Homestead, Wyoming

Deserted Homestead, Wyoming

Deserted Homestead, Wyoming

I’ve shot this homestead before; it beckons to me time and again as I travel a lonely stretch of road in one of my favorite states, Wyoming. It has a voice, this singular structure, and on a storm spring evening, I gave in to temptation.

Tree, Pond and Fence, South Dakota

Tree, Pond and Fence, South Dakota

Tree, Pond and Fence, South Dakota

I drive a lot of back roads. A lot. It drives my wife—and on trips, my students—nuts at times. But this habit grew from my understanding that back roads offer prime chances at images few people ever see, a chance to unite a rural sensibility with a visual aesthetic that has both meaning and appeal.

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands

Mesa Arch sits 1,200 feet above the Utah desert, the Lasal Mountains in the distance. In winter–the best time to shoot there, in my opinion–those peaks sit snow-covered and veiled in evening lavender colors as the sun sets in the distance. On this evening, clouds on the horizon lit the sky even after sunset, illuminating the arch and the vast layers in the distance in broad crimson and purple brush strokes. It was one of the most magical moments I have experienced in the outdoors, and making a strong image was icing on the cake.

From Days (okay, decades) Past: Wizard Island, Oregon

Wizard Island in Winter, Oregon

Wizard Island in Winter, Oregon

My hope for the next few months (when I’ve finished finals this week) is to select images from my copious vault of slides (yes, kids, once we used E-6, and we liked it), and have them remastered to digital files. It’s expensive, so I’m only having my favorites done, but this is one–from a long time ago. It’s framed and on a wall in my house, a reminder of the days where my wife and I lived in the state which was the target of one of the largest migrations in human history: Oregon. This spot, Crater Lake, is spectacular any time of year, but especially so in winter.

Keep in mind, this is just a macro shot of the un-retouched slide, so the corners are blurry, there is lint, there are scratches, and there is dust. But the image remains.

Sandhills Track, Sheridan County

Sandhills Track, Sheridan County

Sandhills Track, Sheridan County

I’ve always been fascinated with ideas espoused by the photographic movement of The New Topographers, including the work of Robert Adams, but also “Hand of Man” photographer David Plowden. Once one understands the complete loss of the natural landscape–yes, folks, it’s gone–it is moving to contemplate the ways in which our own interaction with the earth has been a symbiotic, destructive relationship.

Aspens, Chaffee County

Aspens, Chaffee County

Aspens, Chaffee County

Aspens moved Ansel Adams, and for good reason. The mountains of the West are fraught with shadows, especially in the early morning and late evening hours of the day, making a dramatic backdrop for the whitewashed splendor of one of nature’s largest communities. What do I mean? Aspens groves are a single organism, connected below ground by an interconnected network of roots. They are as one, a suitable metaphor for our own relationship with the world.

Ranch and Storm, Park County

Ranch and Storm, Park County

Ranch and Storm, Park County

I have a habit of venturing out into the worst kinds of weather: blizzards, electrical storms, violent thunderstorms. Why? Bad weather makes good photographs. So as powerful thunderstorms charged with strong lightning moved east of our cabin in central Colorado, I jumped in the truck and sped toward them, hoping for strong evening light as a visual emphasis as the sun broke beneath the clouds.

I turned onto a muddy forest service road, threw the truck in 4H, turned my back to the sun, and composed my shot–and waited. And with the last gasp of daylight, the sunlight broke from the clouds and lit the ranch. Magic, I say. Magic.