Moving Water

When this retired surfer left southern California, I thought of San Francisco as the far north. Everything we owned was in that coral orange and ivory VW bus, two small kids, books, and a record collection. We took Highway 101 out of San Francisco, camped in the Redwoods, and finally navigated to the then new interstate highway, I-5, which we found was still under construction north of Seattle. Between Grants Pass and Seattle it was a nice ride, divided, wide, new, and smooth. It was during that beautiful time of year in the Pacific NW, August, known for long daylight hours and a special kind of light. When we approached Olympia, we saw the popular Tumwater brewery alongside the interstate. This was at a time when the slogan, It’s the Water was well known in popular culture. I have since learned that the Washington State Fishery had a hatchery at the falls next to the brewery and was a popular rest stop for travelers.

Several years ago, I began regular visits to this roadside attraction at various times of the year, especially in the autumn when the salmon were spawning. During the summer months the Deschutes River flows gently, the complex of fish ladders is clearly visible. When the rains return the river rises steadily and forcefully cascades down a series of falls until it levels out near the old brewery. When the winter storms bring so much water that rivers reach flood stage, the interstate is occasionally closed further south because it is under several feet of water. During these torrential rains, the power of nature is stunningly on display at Tumwater Falls. 

I have assembled a few photographs taken at this location over the past years. This autumn I wanted to see what the falls look like before the rainy season returns, and I wanted to continue this series of images using the force of nature as a paintbrush. And as many of you know, I am fascinated by repeated visits to locations to better understand, see and record changes in time, of physical space and light. One element missing in this set of images is the roar of the river as it courses and winds its way to the Puget Sound.



i like “using the force of nature as a paintbrush.”

The movement, texture and color (b&w images notwithstanding) support a wonderful visual narrative you have provided here! And fun reading to get your personal perspective and story.

Dear Favorite Retired Surfer

Sitting in my little room, the one you guys stay in, the one with two of your photos hanging on the wall, grateful for your obsessive eye.


T, I was thinking of forwarding an article that reminded me of you and your love of cameras….exactly at the moment the Deschutes River and Tumwater landed in my email box! Since I do not believe in coincidences, it must mean that it is time to give you and Annie a call. BTW the photos are awesome! xoxo

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