Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Granite and the Grisle

It has been a wet start in Yosemite. The things my team and I work hard to do are at times tangible, and at others more slippery around the edges. We teach hundreds of people how to photograph, how to look at the world around them, from the very big to the very small. My mind has been everywhere while attempting to manage it all. My bones and muscles are tired, and everything is on overdrive, but I keep on making the photographs, nomatter what.

It was a special thing to be able to share this place and experience with friends. Some will become lifelong, some I feel I have already known forever. One thing is certain, that here memories are made. Each step on the path draws forward another solid wall of granite, a mogul, or human obstacle of the physical or mental.

With each push through another day, I have had little time to trust my thoughts to words, to share any of this, to even make a moment for me. I don't really make these moments for myself, I am thinking about how to tell these stories to the friends who don't get to visit. Can I get any closer with each year of experience, to translating human vision into a rectangle?

These are snowplants, western fence lizards, lichen, granite arches, needles, puddles, and things that fill the everyday in the life of Yosemite. This place is special, but I have cropped out parts that are ugly, human, and created a misleading perception in a way. This appears as a naturalist paradise, where animals and plants are abundant in their habitats, but this is not the whole story.

It is in fact a modern version of a place that once was. The National Parks are amazing places, but they are also a dollar amount, they are a part of our society and politically pushed and pulled to suit the needs of our modern environment. I sincerely hope that future generations try to point the direction of our sacred natural spaces to a period of revitalization, expansion, and reduced human visitation.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The High Country

This burn area, called Foresta. Years ago when I came here it was lush with bushes and plant-life regrowing from a past burn. Now, it seems as though a second burn has come through and torched what had rooted and the cycle of burn and regeneration continues. From an easterner's point of view, I was never use to seeing so much burned forest until I came out west, but here it is a way of life.

Large trees decay, and create a bed of minerals for the flora in this meadow. We stop along the road through the high country, seeking out these little places where snow-melt trickles underneath every step, and entire fields of grass become streams feeding into the valley waterfalls.

Up in the high country, plants and animals awaken for the short summer. Life cycles in and out in this harsh yet at times forgiving environment.

Is there another place? What is left for us to find besides these old-growth forests and green glades beneath snow capped granite peaks?

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Finally, I have made it to Yosemite. Time to post and internet use has been sparse, which is really an amazing thing. Here is an unusual image of Half Dome, one of the most iconic of Yosemite's granite monoliths. 200mm f/3.5

This was an incredibly wet June, where the heavy snowfall from winter is drowning the meadows. All of this makes for a very late spring. Here is a fern ready to uncurl. Macro 100mm f/16.

All of the falls, rivers, and streams are gushing in torrents. They can be heard from afar, and sometimes the mist travels and lands on you in a welcoming spray. 50mm f/8.

Unlike many years in the past, I have been taking a picture of everything I see. For some time, I was bad about practicing, and photographing just to photograph. I had to remember that even the basic things I see all around me are not always seen by others, and need to be translated through my own vision of them. 50mm f/16

The macro has been my tool of choice, in which the microcosms of texture and life are brought out in a way unlike they can be seen. Macro 100 f/11. I am going to try harder to post more often.

Friday, June 4, 2010

One last taste of humanity!

After 3000 some odd miles of construction, semi trucks, rest stops, and now Nevada Casinos, I have had enough humanity for one week.

As small as slots in gas stations, or as big as the downtown casinos in Reno, I have never enjoyed gambling so little, or what surrounds the gambling world. It attracts the chance for people to change their lives drastically by the pull of the lever, or turn of the card. It is a shortcut to another life that many pay dearly for, and few actually attain.

I am ready, more than ready, for the parks than I have been since I last left. Tomorrow is the beginning of the adventure, and we all gather for the next chapter.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Finding what you are looking for, and what you aren't

The Badlands hold a special place in my heart. 5 years ago, in my first trip to the American west, the Badlands were the gateway to the other side of this country. The first in a string of true open spaces, where the land is almost desert. Though this place is largely inhospitable to us, treasures of life are to be discovered if you only know where to look, or if you are ready to look without a particular destination or goal in mind.

In a dried river bed, I almost stepped on this nest. The nest did not look abandoned, but I saw no parents land while I was in the vicinity. I will soon confirm with our bird expert on the species that these eggs belonged to.

The Badlands were once an ocean bottom, and here fossils can be found almost anywhere, from petrified trees to actual bone fragments. The dark matter littering the ground was a glassy layer of matter that crumpled at the feet, and broke with a crisp volcanic sound. Walking across these beds turned my curiosity into discovery, giving my walk a sense of timelessness.

With a sense of awe and marvel, I stooped at a pile of fragmented fossils to discover two pieces that when rejoined, perhaps for the first time in ages, created a ball and socket joint. The urge to pocket these parts came strong for a moment, but the rush of wonder and discovery were enough to take home without a physical keepsake. If you step off route 44 at the southern edge of the park, west of Interior (this a town name), you may find small moments of history like these.

This car was not found in the Stronghold district of the park, but serves as a reminder to modern human presence in such areas of the country. When the land is forgotten, misused or unused, relics of another past remain to tell stories of man's presence within the most secluded nature we have left.

It is almost unfortunate that these desert bighorn sheep let me get so close. It made for one of the best wildlife photos I have ever taken, yet wouldn't have happened without these animals being so accustomed to people.