The harmony of rock and water.

scarred marble, Italy

scarred marble, Italy

I have always enjoyed  photographing rock formations, giant boulders, slabs of weathered ancient marble, canyons, rivers and streams. I think I first realized it on a trip to Italy where I found myself in Carerra. They still mine marble in quarries up in the mountains. I spent some time shooting old scarred pieces of marble that fascinated me. The photograph I produced is till a personal favorite of mine today.

I do quite a bit of hiking in the Canadian Rockies year round and have an abundance of mountain and valleys to satisfy my mild fetish for ‘rock and water’ any many more yet to be discovered. With most adventures I am only able to take a preliminary shot and return when the lighting has the quality I seek to capture the vision in my minds eye. That photograph waiting to be dug out of the landscape and polished to perfection.

Water is a humbling force in nature, carving canyons out of rock with a sheer will to travel downstream, yet soft and fluid to the touch. It smooths, polishes, exposes, gorges ever deepening the scar as it continues it’s journey. Rock slowly begins to reveal its many layers, colors and hues as it is eroded away over thousands of years.  To me the rock, in all its forms provides the face, shadows, shapes and dimension necessary in sculpting my image.  The water provides flow and motion in contrast. be it from a stream a raging river or a shoreline, adding the direction and feel to the photograph. Water takes on many moods in the hands of a skilled photographer with a vision. The result to me is a photograph with both soft and hard edges, smooth and rough textures and a quality of light that nurtures the subtle warm colors hidden within the scene. With the application of creativity, skill and dedication I am able to put myself exactly where and when my vision can be fulfilled.

Arriving at a location, that may be anywhere from 2-8 kilometers away, for first light can be a bit unsettling when it requires starting down a trail in the dark while traveling in grizzly bear country. Note to self:  Add ‘fear factor’ into the pricing of the prints. I have taken to packing my fly fishing waders and boots as part of my outdoor arsenal, adding considerable bulk and weight to an already heavy backpack. Never will I be stuck on the shore when I know the shot is in the middle or opposite side of the stream or river. My personal payoff comes standing ready to shoot in the flowing water of a stream or river in a slot canyon as the sky begins to glow with the anticipation of sunrise,  no wind, only the sound of the water running out of the canyon. Okay, reality check, by this time my feet are getting a bit cold in glacier fed water and my coffee long gone. That inner voice, on particular days, lets you know you will come back with your photo. Everything in nature is cooperating, the alarm went off at 3 AM,  your truck didn’t break down and the fact that your gear is still dry and functioning makes it all worth while as you capture the first image. I tell friends that if I can come back with just one great photo I am content and consider the venture a success. They usually agree when they see the results of my efforts, but most are content to let me trek down the dark trails while they slumber. My day is usually done, my gear packed and I am already heading back to the trailhead when I greet the first hiker coming up the trail.

This year I have already accomplished much and amassed a shot list for next spring. I will be repelling about 50 meters into a canyon next year with more experience in rope skills and the aid of mountaineering friends. A few snowshoe trips in the coming months are already planned to locations that deserve a second look in a different season.

To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.Elliott Erwitt

canyon study

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