20 July 2009
Lines, Angles and Patterns
I was either 3 hours too late or several hours too early -- depending upon one's perspective and preference -- to catch Lake Blanche with a gentle photographer's light. Starting later than expected, I knew that as pretty a sight as it would be, the lake and looming Sundial Peak would also be cast in the particularly harsh glare of mid-day sun and shadows. It wouldn't help that the lake basin framed by Superior, Sundial and Dromedary Peaks was also north facing, meaning shooting into the sun was de rigueur. Naturally, it was also the hottest day of the year. What was I thinking?, I thought.
The original plan was to meet the newly joined Wasatch Camera Club up at Albion basin for a short hike amongst the wildflowers. I daddled and missed the cut-off for that group venture so instead opted to check out the wildflowers up Mill B South Fork. And, were they ever out! A long wet Spring has given us a multitude of flowers this year. I could have used my friend Gitte -- with her ever-present flower book -- to help me name the various varieties. Indian paintbrush, fields of yellow sunflower-like flowers, lots of small purple blooms and my favorite, the bright magenta-ish pink of the wild rose.
My hope was to capture some long depth-of-field shots with flowers in the foreground, lakes in the middle distance and high peaks in the distance. The tough and in the end rather uninteresting lighting yields only so-so results.
Even with the sun to my side and a nice refreshing spray of a waterfall, the light remains challenging and photographically mildly unappetizing.
What to do, what to do? If the big vista just won't work for you, look earthward; look for lines, angles and patterns. They abound, if you open your eyes. Sometimes you have to see "small," meaning below your feet. In this case, just off the trail crest to the west is a remarkable series of boulder outcroppings. Criss-crossing them are a plethora of glacial scrapings. Over 10,000 years ago glaciers "poured" down the valleys of most North American mountains and, once receded, left behind remarkable signs for scientists and photographers alike. These deep lines are the gouges of moving rocks upon stationary rocks, with the added weight of thousands of tons of deep ice. Crouching at a low angle, almost laying down, the lines and patterns revealed themselves in this worm's eye view. For me, this becomes the "winner" image of the day: a B&W abstract of patterns cut into solid rock. Knowing what caused these etchings adds to our intellectual understanding of the image and so helps define it as a document. But to move beyond mere documentation, it must be able to stand on its own, without intellectual baggage. Perhaps this is a subject for another post!