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Esos lugares

I stood in a fairy-like glen, its grasses partially shrouded by the low hanging branches of paper trees. A mountain brook halved the narrow valley, the source of its gurgling waters a ridge on the Continental Divide less than a half-mile away from whence I had come. A soughing wind continuously stirred some ferns lining the brook’s rock-studded banks. The rocks were covered in tight-fitting jackets of moss, their color an other-worldly green. Tiny lichens sprinkled their rouge tint here and there throughout the scene. Deposited from slowly spinning currents, the froth of watery foam below a small waterfall looked like whisked milk to me as it spilled out in a fan-like pattern. Clouds raced each other through the sky, bent to the demands of strong gusts. The sun competed with them, throwing dappled patches of light across my path. The air was dry, invigorating, its cool drafts gently caressed my cheek. A mountain jay paused to scold me, obscured by gnarled and sinuous branches.

I seek them out, it’s part of my goal-sets to find them, to soak up their unbelievable energies and finish by recording them with camera, pen or both. Esos Lugares, or “those places,” are the ones that have all their ingredients active at the right time. They ooze magic and power of a kind usually only known to the Hobbits and long-bearded dwarves

who inhabit them. But, I seek them on my journeys and likely for similar reasons. I pay visits and tributes to those places yet unspoiled by the hand of man.

Perhaps some noteworthy words penned by a powerful poet and playwright may sum it all up, his words certainly reflect my own sentiments after traveling many a trail-weary mile.

And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
I would not change it. – Duke Senior speaks with Amiens and several other Lords in the Forrest of Arden.

From Act II, Scene 1 of the play “As You like It,” by William Shakespeare.

I’m with Duke, I wouldn’t change it myself.

Bonus: How This Photograph Was Made.

It is rare that I would devote time to explaining how a given image is produced. The reason is simple, most folks don’t care. I don’t blame them. I don’t create my images so that I can technically explain what I do. I create them as ways to preserve and share my memories of the many places I’ve travelled to and all the wonderful people I meet. I also create them to point to and awaken awareness of various social issues. But, since this image contains the element of moving water, and the way I handled the capture was confusing to some who have viewed the piece, I’ve been asked to explain how it was made.

The photograph was captured at 11,800’, one mile south of Caja’s Parque Nacional. There are two types of landscape photographers, those that use a tripod and those that should. You can never make this type of capture without the ability to position the camera in a manner where it is locked in rock-solid position when you decide to open the shutter.

I waded into the cold knee-deep water, erecting my tripod about midstream. My camera was mounted on the same equipped with a wide angle lens. I had an electronic remote release cable attached to my camera so that I did not have to touch my setup, causing unwanted minute vibrations that could spoil the exposure, when it was time to open the shutter.

In my image, moving water is represented as being of a silky texture. That’s because it is moving and nothing else in the image is. Also, the water was moving very, very slow. Because of personal experience in these matters, I used a shutter speed of 2.6 seconds to obtain the effect I desired. As you can see center left in the photograph, there is one small waterfall. The water was mainly channelled to the right after falling over the rocks as you can see. From there it travelled just a few feet where its languid movement and other rocks below the surface caused the water to form two different sets of concentric circles. The downstream one was much bigger and as the little circles of foamy water went round and round, they threw off some of their foam which settled below to appear as gently frothed milk prepared for a heck of a cappuccino. You can see all these bands of foam and froth in the lower center of the photograph. The foamy water that was circling in the little pool was purposefully blurred by the 2.6 second exposure to impart the feeling of movement into the scene.

This is why the photograph appears the way it does. It is a purposeful execution of technique that allows for this to happen. I only record my images in RAW format so they are undeveloped on the cameras compact flash card. I have to use adobe camera raw and photoshop to develop them because of this. However, photoshop is so widely misunderstood to the point that the word, which is a noun, is regularly mis-used by the uninformed as a verb to describe an action…ie, “the image was photoshopped.” In my photography and the development of my imagery, I do not use photoshop to add or subtract compositional elements from the scenes I record. The scene you are viewing today is exactly as it naturally appeared on the day I opened the shutter for exactly 2.6 seconds. If you’ve read this far, thank you. I hope my explanation has furthered your enjoyment of the imagery I’ve created.