This year, to date, most all of my photography has been confined to my living room and small garden. I focused in the early evening hours, as the days grew longer, on using a Voightländer 65/2 Macro lens and capturing flowers in bloom and trees as they began to grow leaves on the hill behind my house.
A rainy spell interceded and I grew tired of taking pictures of my turntable and speakers, and film camera, and cat. I grew frustrated with being home bound, as I imagine many people are, and continue to be. To distract myself (with little success) I even performed a fairly extreme gear swap to shake up my habitual patterns of behavior.
After what seemed like far too long, my wife and I ventured out carefully, into the dangerous world, for a weekend-long road trip through the local geography of Washington and Oregon. Keeping to ourselves, we drove first South down the coast of Washington and Oregon to Cannon Beach, and then East through Eugene to Bend, and then North past Smith Rock and Mt. Hood and Portland, before returning home.
I share with you this undestination, having never quite gone anywhere, except in a wide circle through several different climate zones and altitudes. Maybe it is for all of us wanting to feel free again, and those of us who also hope that we might learn something from solitude and contemplation, in whatever way art might manifest itself in our lives, while things might rage around us.
The journey began in a conversation looking out towards the Olympic Mountains, wondering if we would brave the wind to catch a glimpse of Neowise, and realizing we were not dressed properly, and had not planned, and what were we doing not having gone anywhere in six months. Would it, could it, be possible, to safely explore our surroundings to the extent we are allowed, under current circumstances?
The gear swap found me deciding not to hold out for the Fuji 50Mp camera bodies that seem to be at times on sale and to embrace the apparent idiocy of moving from the Sony A7R III to the A7R IV with megapixels I might not ever need, but in a package I was familiar with, having first moved to Sony with the A7R.
Many adapted lenses left my home as well, such as my beloved Leica R lenses, leaving me momentarily with the Voigtländer 65/2, 50/2, and Zeiss 135/2.8 FE mount lenses. I love the 65 Macro and yet this time left it home to explore its 50mm sibling.
The cold of the wind on Cannon Beach, hitting us from the Pacific Ocean like something alien to the concept of summer, but with it bringing fog and light and shadow.
Bend, OR is located in the high desert, on the eastern side of the Cascade mountain range. The heat and dry air took me aback at first, soft tones giving away to contrast of low shrubs, hardened lava, and dormant volcanoes in the distance. A former ranch turned into a city park sits next to the Deschutes River, the earth a fragile form of soil crust formed by symbiotic organisms including cyanobacteria.
Traveling north, nostalgia for my youth spent rock climbing in the Shawangunks mountains near New Paltz, NY, took us to Smith Rock State Park. I braved the harsh midday sun and strange directions from my phone and wondered if I could tame, or take advantage of the resulting contrast. I could not imagine climbing in that heat — visitors must arrive early and shift routes to chase the shade.
The larger mountains lie quiet in the distance, calling us towards them. Mt. Hood is not far away, accessible and disarming and quietly dangerous, much as the world seems to be.
So far on the trip we managed to feel safe in our wanderings, staying away from others within our shared American pandemic experience, but Mt. Hood was crowded with tourists and our brief time in Timberline Lodge was limited and uncomfortable.
What if everyone who approached one of these mountains had to sit in quiet contemplation of their grandeur, for some set time less than an hour, before striding through to interior or beginning their activity? How would it change their experience of the place?
I feel grateful I was able to move through the natural world and look forward to another small travel. For now, we return to stillness, and wait.
Gear: On this trip, pictures were shot with Sony A7R Mark IV with Zeiss Batis 135/2.8 and Voightländer 50/2 APO lenses, developed in Capture One. Garden pictures were taken using the Sony A7R Mark III and Voightländer 65/2 Macro.
Some more of my work can be found at http://innercapture.com.
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