Moving Water…or…water, water, everywhere…


Moving Water…or…water, water, everywhere…

Last winter we fired up the old e420 for another road trip heading south on I-5, negotiating torrential rains and pounding winds all through Washington and Oregon. Wind advisories in Northern California had reduced traffic while the constant rains kept the wipers going full-time. At the time I posted a couple of short videos to share with friends. Once south of the Bay Area the sun returned and we found a verdant landscape of beautiful greens under blue sky, and 80 degree February days in southern California.

Summer in the Pacific Northwest was similar to memories of southern California – dry, clear, warm, and did I mention, dry. It was a summer without rain, not even a day of light mist, which is unusual, as for example, in years past there have been many August days with downpours under dark ominous skies that trigger the streetlights to come on early to mid-afternoon. But this summer, 2015, was beautiful and warm, reminiscent of the much-loved Mediterranean climate southern California is known for. Every few years when these drier than usual summers happen, it isn’t unusual to hear the locals begin to worry, only to see them rejoice at the return of the first hints of moisture in the air.

Those days are but a distant memory at this time. Once the rains returned, they did so in full force! This autumn we have seen the rivers rise, the roads have been flooded, a section of I-5 was closed in southern Washington, and the ground is saturated resulting in standing water and huge puddles.

A small park, Tumwater Falls, is situated next to the Deschutes River, in the shadow of the former brewery; it is a popular place to walk and explore during the different seasons. At times one finds the river low, barely moving, forming large ponds with well maintained trails along either side, and foot bridges that provide access and circle back to one’s starting point. During the fall season the Salmon return to spawn, following the rivers upstream to complete the cycle of life. There is a section of the Deschutes River that flows through Tumwater, parallels I-5 for a short distance, takes a curve by the former brewery, where the wild salmon still leap the falls, or use the fish ladders that lead them to the fisheries. The river cascades down toward Capital Lake before emptying into the southern most inlet of the Salish Sea.

I made several visits to this area during the past few months, initially to watch the salmon as they leapt the falls, and more recently to see the swollen river as a result of unusually heavy rains. Many visits were for the sole purpose of making photographs of this section of river as it grew in volume, swelling to the banks’ edge before crashing down the falls and over the reinforced cement barriers of the fish ladder, closing it to pedestrians.

The photographs began initially as a few snapshots; but as I crossed the footbridge in a veil of spray and mist and walked toward a location that would give a better view, I was overwhelmed by the thundering power of the river. I soon realized it would be wise to exercise caution as I passed along seating areas where on summer days one might sit and observe the tranquility of a calm waterway. But on these days, this usually tranquil area was transformed by a thunderous volume of raging water, transforming the paths to slippery, muddy areas where one could so easily slip over the edge of the bank. On some days the area was further transformed by additional elements of water in the form of rain and hail. I included a few works in color, an overview that sets the location. I soon realized these images were not about color but would be more poetic if reduced to the essence of black and white. I wanted to deal with the basic elements of the form in black and white, playing with the movement of water, the light and dark of nature, the shapes, and time, as the force of the river tumbled over the edge at the top of the upper falls. In this series I’ve included several images that illustrate the way I work, moving a few inches in a fairly restricted space, attempting to find the best composition.

Click on an image to activate/open the gallery:



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