I spent a couple of days in the forests and mountains around Seattle a few weeks ago. I hope to go again.

I am a desert guy. Lived in the deserts most of my life, and I find them fascinating – maybe due to my design predilection for minimalism. Not sure really, but the ability to see hundreds of miles from the Vermilion Cliffs, or to watch a the sun set over vast distances of open earth is something of a wonder to me.

I also find that deserts are hard to photograph. Well, at least hard to photograph well.

Some have been able to make astounding photographs of the desert southwest, but I am still working on it.

So get me in an area where you cannot see more than a couple dozen yards through thick, dark, and somewhat mysterious forest, and it is a whole new ballgame.

We took the “Mountain Loop” road out of Granite Falls, WA, and set out to just be three guys with cameras having fun. And we did. Charles, Bret and I spent a good long time not saying much, just taking in the wonderful environment.

And the quiet. The incredible quiet.

Rock and Tree: Washington State

I thought this was so interesting. The tree had obviously gained a foothold in a small crevasse on the rock. As it grew, it split the rock and enveloped it with the roots and trunk. Note: there are chains and other human artifacts on the rock, and I don’t move this stuff when I shoot.

It was a semi-cloudy day, and I was struck by how little light made it through to the ground. I had to bump some ISO as I looked for some interesting things to photograph.

I didn’t really have to look that far, but I did have to think about the light. Lots of contrast in the scenes. With the sun being nearly full on, and the dark backgrounds that were naturally occurring, I did have to think closely about exposure and processing.

Aspen trees against the backdrop of forest.

You can see the widely varying exposure from the light cloud cover foreground, the white Aspen trees and the dark forest just beyond. I like the way it seems to make heroes of our intrepid trees.

The silence of the area was punctuated by the sounds of birds and rushing water. Everywhere there were small creeks leading to larger ones with waterfalls. Below us was a river that flowed with abandon with rapids seemingly at every turn.

Rivers with water in them… coming from Phoenix, I can tell you how rare that is there. LOL.

Erosion and Tree Roots, Cascades: Washington State

Rushing water can take its toll as well. A slide has taken this trees base and washed it away. The exposed roots hang far above the water’s edge. Tenaciously it hangs on… but for how long?

I was also in love with the forest floor. So many colors of green mixed with the light that would fight its way through.

There are places where thoughts run to change, and the patterns of a fast moving world. And there are places that give us pause to consider that not everything moves at that pace. Some things take their time.

Time. One of the most misunderstood values of our lives.

I see people wasting it, taking it for granted, and ignoring its value all around me.

I see it in myself.

The forest floor takes its time. Things happen slowly there, and with great purpose. And while that purpose may be not totally revealed to me, or you, it is still the guiding hand.

At the Forest Floor: Cascades, Washington State

Light, shadow, design and purpose. Are there metaphors in the images we are drawn to make? Do we see beyond the surface with our subconscious and make photographs that have a deeper meaning than the pretty colors?

The image as metaphor? The image as an allegory, as Minor White suggested?

Yes, I think so… but I also know that the allegories can have different meanings for each that view. Perhaps the underlying basis is there, but the stories we tell ourselves are different from each other.

As similar as the leaves in the above photograph, but upon close inspection no two leaves will be an exact match – and that is where the true understanding of the allegory comes into focus.

I have no idea what your story will be when you see my photographs. I only want to make photographs that are capable of creating a story inside you.

One last image and I am off to a busy Saturday.

Pines on the Olympic Peninsula

We found these trees on a road through the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula. I will post more images from that trek at a later date. I felt the image belonged with this group, though, so I included it.

Yes, I kind of fell in infatuation with the forests and mountains of Washington State. It would remain to be seen if I could actually go from the wide open spaces to something so nearly claustrophobic as these mighty forests.

I don’t know. My affinity for the desert, its dry wind and open skies is pretty deep.

But I do love the forests, I do.



I was recently on creativeLIVE and have received some rave reviews of the workshop. If you are interested in taking a look at the workshop, you can find it on creativeLIVE’s web site here. I think it is a tremendous value and if you are unable to attend any of my workshops, this may give you a ton of information you will want to have to push your photography to the next level.

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