Stump, Chaffee County

Stump, Chaffee County

Stump, Chaffee County

One might think I’d spent much of my three weeks in the Colorado high country looking at trees, both living and dead. And that would be correct.

Poets have spent lives musing on trees, including Robert Frost:

“I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.”
– From the poem “Birches”

Edward Weston, too, found deep muse in the arms of trees:

“Cypress trees, like peppers, do not repeat a family pattern, each one facing a different problem in battling wind and finding foothold…it breathes mysteries, and I know there must be fairies in the deep dark recesses…”

– From My Camera at Point Lobos

So too do I find romance, magic, and mystery wrapped into the swirling eddies of the nooks and crannies of trees, honored to march on in the company of poets, painters and photographers throughout the eons.

Retrospective: Cascades Trio

Cascades Trio, Chaffee County

Cascades Trio, Chaffee County
July, 2009
7:15 p.m.,

My mentor has told me reviewing old images is sometimes even more fun than making them, and in the case of “Cascades Trio, Chaffee County,” that’s certainly the case. I’ve been visiting this spot since I was very small; the dust of the area permeates my soul. But the place, like all in nature, subtly changes even from moment to moment, and I knew these three granite souls would be gone the next spring, moved to newer pastures by the rushing snowmelt, one more stop on the way to becoming so much mountain dust. And so one evening, as the red light bounced from canyon wall to canyon wall, the high summer water rushing past, I set my tripod for a long exposure to still the waters and record the light.

And, for a single moment, I could record the answer to the question, “What is this place?”

Isolated Pool, the Cascades, Colorado

Isolated Pool, the Cascades

Isolated Pool, the Cascades

Go back.

In an earlier post, I presented a detail from a spot that I’ve visited since I was a boy, and to which I have returned countless times to make photographs. On this occasion, just one day after I made the first image of rocks, Chalk Creek, and lichens, I found this trio of boulders guarding a small pool from the furor of the snow-melt stoked creek, and resolved to contrast the calmness of the pool with the anger of Chalk Creek in early summer.

Detail, The Cascades, Chalk Creek, Colorado

Detail, The Cascades

Detail, The Cascades

I’ve been visiting The Cascades since I was a small boy, so my photographic fascination with them is a lifetime marriage; they change each year as the snow melt moves huge boulders, reshapes eddies and reroutes the creek.  This lichen-covered stone was there last summer, but I expect it’s not one I’ll see again.

I used a long exposure with a neutral density filter to capture the movement of the creek, as well as the red evening light bouncing off the enclosing canyon walls.

Storm over Chalk Creek

Storm over Chalk Creek

Storm over Chalk Creek

I don’t often work in black and white, although I own the requisite red filters for proper landscape work (thank you, Ansel, for beginning that trend years ago). But during a torrential rainstorm in central Colorado, I ventured out hoping for a gift of light.

I got it.