As much as I enjoy making images, I’ve been journeying to the kinds of places I go now to take pictures long before I got serious about photography. In fact, one of the things I like about image making is that it allows me to capture a moment and relive the experience whenever I view the corresponding image.
An acquaintance of mine once told me that when he saw my images, he often had the feeling that he was seeing a pristine landscape—as though he was the first person ever to see the setting. I’ve rarely, if ever, received more meaningful praise, because one of the most appealing aspects of most of the photo shoots I go on is a sense of quiet—at least, in terms of man made sound. I frequently find myself listening to the sounds of running water, the wind, birds and other wildlife…or nothing at all.
Each of the images accompanying this entry reminds me of a peaceful, bucolic experience.
On this morning, I was third in line at the gate to get into Cades Cove at sunrise. When the rangers opened the gate, I made a beeline for the back side of the loop road, while others stopped at Sparks and Hyatt Lanes. That gave me the rare opportunity to experience this open meadow with no one else around which made for a very quiet setting…except for some deer moving through the fields and the occasional gobbling of wild turkeys.
I spent almost two hours at this overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, during which time only three cars passed by. The rest of the time I heard nothing but the sound of the occasional songbird and the rustling of leaves in the light breeze.
I hiked into the “Heart of the Dunes” at White Sands National Monument about two hours before sunset and returned after the sun had gone down. I never saw or heard another soul. In fact, the only sound I ever heard was my own feet in the sand. When I stood still, the silence was ear-splitting.
I didn’t see a single person during the late morning/early afternoon I spent at Cataract Falls State Recreation Area. I heard the unfettered sound of the rushing rapids of Mill Creek, and nothing else.
I could hear—but not see—the distant waters of Swift Creek, far below the narrow rock outcropping that I had all to myself on a morning that found the Red River Gorge choked with fog.
There had been a few other people at the Fire Wave during the hour-plus that I had been at this location, waiting for the light to improve. Fortunately, by the time it reached its apex, I was all by myself. I could have heard a pin drop a mile away, but there wasn’t anyone there to drop one.
I was all alone on a morning so quiet I could hear myself think at Red Jack Lake, miles into the Hiawatha National Forest. It seemed like the epitome of irreverence to make a sound.
Depending on the time of day, you can wander for miles on Bandon Beach and never see another soul. Not long after making this photograph, I hiked roughly three miles back to Coquille Point, in the gathering gloom, with only the sound of the surf as a companion.
I don’t know if these are among my best images, but they are among my favorites, precisely because of the memories they trigger. Perhaps that implicitly makes them among my “best”…
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