Where Trees Give Way: views from the Northwest Coast
After having spent the previous fifteen years photographing urban and suburban landscapes, I found myself in need of the succor that only Nature could provide.
And so for the next ten I pursued the natural world beyond the pavement, focusing on two distinct and disparate locales; the coast of northern California, Oregon and Washington and the alpine High Sierra of California.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to the edges of things, where lines converge and tension dwells. And this inclination led me to these two places where the lowest land meets the sea and highest land, the sky. Though separated by hundreds of miles and 11,000 feet worth of elevation, within each could be found that provocative edge where trees – and the psychic and physical comfort they afford – give way to a wide open and exposed world without them.
The coast of Northern California, Oregon and Washington is one rugged and wild place, nothing like its counterpoint to the east. And the winter storms that pound it are legendary, unleashing more energy upon this one exposed stretch of coastline than upon any other of equal length on earth. Yet as tough as is winter’s call here, tougher still is the land’s response to that call. To say nothing of the beauty evoked by that call - as delicate as are brutal the forces that shaped it.
The ferocious life force that defines this coast also defies our humanly efforts to make it our own. Ken Kesey, in his brilliant novel about this coast, Sometimes A Great Notion, described it this way: “The flora and fauna grew or died, flourished or failed, in complete disregard for man and his aims…a man might struggle and labor his lifelong life and make no mark! None! No permanent mark at all!”
As our collective human impact casts an ever darker shadow across this earth, it’s reassuring to know – even if we are no longer around to be a part of it - that there will always exist this one place, this one edge of continent, where we are nothing if not small and our trespass, in time, forgiven.
About The Photographs
The photographs represented here were obtained with medium and large format equipment and derived from negatives printed on Agfa Portriga and Ilford Galerie paper toned in selenium for both visual enhancement and archival permanence.
Photos measure 19 x 14¾ inches.