Wide views of breath-taking landscapes, close-ups that focus on the details: I’ll take both when it comes to photography.
Broad views at the edges where land transitions to water are commonplace, now that I live on an island again.
1. Clouds over the Olympics. 12/22/18
I remember how refreshing it was when I worked in lower Manhattan, to walk over to the edge of that island after a day at the office, and gaze at the Hudson River. Then I moved to a suburban environment where I didn’t see those broad views as often. I missed the feeling of release that I felt when taking in the world from a wider perspective.
There’s no doubt too, that narrower views which zero in on an intimate part of the landscape have always excited me, and they figure prominently in my work. Since I was a little girl, I took notice of the details around me, and easily lost myself in them.
2. Mushroom, leaves, grass and twigs: a backyard still life. 12/27/18
Of course I’m aware of the middle distance too, but it seems that the polarity of near and distant reflects some inner gestalt, deep inside me. This group of photographs swings back and forth between the two ends of the visual spectrum, within the limits of a narrow geographical range and time frame. Come along with me and take a look:
3. The broken plates of ancient rocks at my feet, the Olympic Mountains in the distance, and the mesmerizing sound of lapping waves keep me riveted. Washington Park, Fidalgo Island, Washington. 12/22/18
4. Gentle waves lap at my feet again, but this distant view reveals the edge of the San Juan Islands instead of the mountains. Three Harlequin ducks perch on rocks rich with intertidal life, and overhead, an eagle’s high-pitched “kereee” cuts sharply through the air. Rosario Beach, Deception Pass State Park, Washington. 12/14/18
5. On this late afternoon walk I only had a long lens and I was struck by the beauty of the distant view, so I used the phone to record the scene as the sun descended. North Beach, Deception Pass State Park. 11/06/18
6. A pair of mushrooms, fallen leaves, and a bed of moss – it’s a world unto itself, and all you need to do is bend down and look. Behind my home on Fidalgo Island. 11/17/18
7. A wild garden composition of weathered wood, Licorice fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza) and the rosette of leaves of a Fringe cup (Tellima grandiflora) graces a rocky outcrop. I see bits of rust-colored bark from a Madrona tree (Arbutus menziesii) and one of its bright red berries, too. The tiny, succulent blue-green leaves of Broad-leaved stonecrop (Sedum spathufolium) are tucked into a corner, and moss, lichens and fallen leaves complete the picture. Pass Island, Deception Pass State Park. 11/06/18
8. A Sword fern (Polystichum munitum) has found a strange home in a rocky cliff. It’s obviously struggling in this location but the scene is compelling, with the tight squeeze of plant and crevice, and the warm colors of lichens and dried fern fronds complementing green leaves and cool, blue-gray stone. North Beach, Deception Pass State Park. 12/12/18
9. Fog obscures the details and beckons me forward, up the hill to Goose Rock. This forest of Western Redcedar, Douglas fir and Western hemlock is set with an understory of Sword ferns, like bouquets from another, more ancient time. Deception Pass State park. 11/22/18
10. A giant has fallen in the woods. Along its flanks mushrooms sprout, and underneath it there are even more, sprouting up suddenly from wandering networks of mycelium that connect the forest underground, throughout the moist, rich soil. Soon moss will take hold on top of the log and Red huckleberry bushes will root there. Perhaps a hemlock tree will find a home on the log too, and eventually its roots will pass the wood and feel their way down into the soil. These ecosystems are called nursery logs, and they’re critical players in the forest symphony. Goose Rock Trail, Deception Pass State Park. 11/22/18
11. On the wooded path it’s getting dark but across the water, afternoon sun picks out the details on an island named Ben Ure. Later, I learn that Mr. Ure was a smuggler of migrants from China in the late 1880’s. It’s said that he tied people in burlap bags to transport them in boats, and if something went wrong, he threw the bags overboard. Powerful currents at Deception Pass swept the victims away to wash up on the San Juan Islands; by then, surely they were dead. Immigration has always presented dangers, but we could do much better at reducing the hardship. Goose Rock Perimeter Trail, Deception Pass State Park. 12/30/18
12. A Western Redcedar’s roots are bared beside a rocky trail. Bits of dead cedar leaves have collected in the crevices after a dry summer, and a single Licorice fern frond has come to rest here too. Goose Rock Perimeter Trail, Deception Pass State Park. 12/30/18
13. A petite Licorice fern frond dangles from a mossy rock at Mt. Erie, the highest place on Fidalgo Island. 11/25/18
14. Calm waters reflect the silvery grays of a December afternoon. Rosario Beach, Deception Pass State Park. 12/14/18
15. Up on Mount Erie, the view stretches for miles across lakes, farmland, and forests, then out past the Salish Sea to the rugged Olympic Mountain Range, 40 miles away. Fidalgo Island. 11/25/18
16. A thin film of oil, or perhaps bacteria, floats on a shallow pool of water in the forest, offering up obscure reflections of the trees and blue sky above. Little Cranberry Lake, Anacortes Community Forest Lands, Fidalgo Island. 10/22/18
17. A bevy of amber-colored mushrooms and one wavy-edged gray one nestle in the evergreen leaves of Bearberry, also called Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). Lighthouse Point, Deception Pass State Park. 11/20/18
18. The handsome Sword fern is ubiquitous in the Pacific Northwest, adapting to a variety of conditions. It’s evergreen leaves turn an orangey rust color as they die. In spring, a batch of new fronds will unwind from tightly coiled fiddleheads. Goose Rock Trail, Deception Pass State Park. 11/22/18
19. Lush even in winter, hardy Salal (Gaultheria shallon) spills onto the trail at the feet of forest giants. Goose Rock Perimeter Trail, Deception Pass State Park. 12/30/18
20. Stretching up for every bit of light they can get, Western Redcedars and Western hemlocks cast deep shade on the forest floor. In the middle story, Red huckleberry bushes are almost invisible; having lost their leaves, their fine twigs form a green haze. There’s magic in this juxtaposition of immense tree trunks and finely cut leaves and twigs. Goose Rock Perimeter Trail, Deception Pass State Park. 12/30/18
21. A bit of root calligraphy rises through the thin soil of a mossy bluff on Fidalgo island, high over the Salish Sea. Lighthouse Point, Deception Pass State Park. 01/01/19
22. Delicate lichens fluff up and come to life after a rain. There are two different lichens on this little twig – and you’d likely find more if you examined the length of it. Lighthouse Point, Deception Pass State Park. 12/10/18
23. I’m drawn to this old Madrona tree with its multi-colored bark that wrinkles just like my own skin. Lighthouse Point, Deception Pass State Park 01/01/19
24. As the sun sets over the water, the torn edge of the Olympic Mountains is in silhouette and the thinnest sliver of a crescent moon glimmers in the soft purple of the evening sky. Dog-walkers are transfixed, waves collapse rhythmically against the shore, and contentment reigns for a minute or two. West Beach, Deception Pass State Park. 11/10/18
Once again, I’ve posted more photographs than I feel I should. It’s hard to whittle them down to a more manageable batch. I hope that rather than feel overwhelmed, you have simply entered into the beauty and enjoyed it.