A hazy late-summer day at a subalpine Sierra Nevada lake, Yosemite National Park
With all of the recent urban and street photography I have been posting — which is a bit seasonal pattern, given my travel tendencies — I’m also making an effort to go back through some older photographs from last year to find landscape photography that escaped my notice on the first pass. This always happens with photographs — for some reason certain images don’t make sense right after I make them, but when I come back to them later on with a fresh eye I see potential that I missed. Right now I’m revisiting late-summer photographs from a week-long backcountry stay at a Yosemite lake.
For me, this photograph holds many of the subtler elements of the High Sierra experience — not the spectacular grand vistas, but something deeper and ultimately perhaps more powerful. In this beautiful late-season time of year, the meadow grasses around this quiet lake have finished the wild growth phase of summer and have already turned golden-yellow in preparation for autumn and then winter. Lower angle light comes over the shoulder of the granite ridge whose base is visible beyond the trees. Widely spaced trees stand at the edges of the meadow and even trace weaknesses in the granite slabs on the higher slopes.
Morning light and reflections on the rocky shoreline of a subalpine Sierra Nevada lake
A wonderful thing about making photographs is that I get to travel backwards and forwards in time almost at will. Here it is in the middle of winter, and by looking back a few months in my archive I can go right back to a beautiful late summer week spent photographing around a Yosemite subalpine lake with a couple of friends. All of the sensory memories come right back: the stillness of the morning lake as the first sun worked its way through high clouds and haze, the memory of carrying my camera around the perimeter of that lake every morning as I looked slowly of subjects, the first colors of Sierra autumn.
We camped here for a full week, working intensively to photograph in and around one small area. If you haven’t done this you could be forgiven for wondering how in the world one could spend an entire week in area not much larger than a mile or two across. In fact, I still have those doubts at the start of any trip like this. All I can say is that, inevitably, the end of such a week comes too soon, I depart with many things left unphotographed, and I often return to these places again and find even more to see and photograph.
A woman stands on a bench to photograph a brick wall along the High Line Park, New York.
I made this photograph on a winter’s day walk along the High Line Park in western Manhattan — the increasingly well-known park that extends along the abandoned path of an old elevated railroad bed. The park is very popular, and even on a winter day there were many, many people out walking along it, and the surrounding neighborhoods were also filled. Of course, there is a lot going on in this Chelsea neighborhood — the Whitney Museum is now open at the southern end of the park, there are lots of restaurants and more along its length, and the north end now terminates at the busy construction site of the Hudson Yards.
When I made the photograph I probably wasn’t thinking consciously about much or than the possibility of isolating the figure of the woman, engrossed in making a close up photograph the bricks, against the small and large patterns of the background wall, with the slight natural intrusion of the tree at the right edge. Later I thought about what she was photographing, and how most people might simply wonder what the heck she sees there, in a place where there is nothing apparent to photograph. This might be a bit of a metaphor for lots of photography, where the act of capturing “something you see” defines your world and presents a personal vision of it to others. And I still do like the complex set of interlocking patterns of the wall, the wooden structure, the window, and the single figure.
Expect a wide-ranging mix of photographic subjects over the next few weeks. There will certainly be more from the San Joaquin Valley, both landscapes and wildlife. I still have some older photographs from the Sierra and other locations in the queue. This photograph is part of an inevitable series of “urban landscapes” and urban/street photography from our recent visit to New York City. The latter is a favorite subject of mine. As a west-coaster, I only get to photographer there perhaps once per year, but when I do I like to take full advantage of the opportunity.
This photograph feels like an urban landscape to me. On the final day of our trip we found time to revisit the High Line Park, a place that has a different feeling at each time of year. The park, for those who may not already know, runs along the path of an old elevated railroad bed on the west side of Manhattan. It has become an incredibly popular place, but with good reason, as it winds through all sorts of interesting urban terrain a few stories above street level. A new section has opened since our last visit, and it extends the path northward to and past the Hudson Yards area. This photograph was made along the new section where it crosses 11th Avenue, and where I saw the same beautiful light that might stop me in my tracks anywhere.
Yes. That sign. I suppose that everyone (probably) needs a photograph of the thing and, believe it or not, this is my first. There I was. There the sign was. The light was attractive. I photographed it. ;-)
During a four-day visit to Southern California we ended up making a drive up north to central Los Angeles to visit a museum, and since I had never been to the Griffith Observatory before — really! — we decided to correct that. In the late afternoon we headed to Griffith Park with, or so it seemed, about half of the population of the Los Angeles basin. We eventually caught a shuttle and soon found ourselves among the crowd at the observatory. Crowds aside, it is quite a place… and there, off to the right, was the famous sign. As something of an iconophobe, I have to admit that I did not realize that it would be visible from here!
Visitors to Griffith Observatory overlook Los Angeles twilight.
We were in Southern California over the Thanksgiving holiday, visiting our daughter and son-in-law. On the weekend we decided to head up to Los Angeles for various things, including a visit to the Frans Lanting show at the Annenberg Space for Photography. We finished up there, headed out for food (of course!) and then decided to head to Griffith Park.
We were apparently among approximately 350,000 people with the same idea! I’m not sure what a typical crowd looks like here, but this one was huge. We finally abandoned our rental car well below the observatory and found a shuttle bus that went up the hill. We arrived a bit before sunset and found that hordes were already there. But I can see why — it is a spectacular location. Although I was only carrying my “little camera,” I decided to see what I could come up with. Eventually I photographed the actual sunset, but first I turned the camera towards the people crowded onto the walkways around the observatory and standing in the beautiful light watching the evening develop.
The shoreline of a Yosemite backcountry lake in the late season
This lake was our home for a good week this past September. I was among a small group of photographers who spend a week or more doing this every year. This year we camped by the shore of an accessible backcountry Yosemite lake. We woke up every morning to views of this lake and we went to bed in the evening with such images still in our minds.
At times on this visit the light was very subdued. Early on this was because of intense wildfire smoke — some of the worst I’ve encountered in the range. Near the end of the trip a Pacific weather pattern swept through, and in its wake there was a period of several days of raining, cold conditions.