Well, with me it's always about hunting for photos and searching out interesting trees (first loves always), but I do love minerals. Given the sad state of my knee, this was a rare outing to go rock hounding (with my guy and our dear friend) on Obsidian Ridge amidst the remnants of the 2011 Las Conchas Forest Fire in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. Situated between the supervolcano of Valles Caldera, Bandelier National Monument and the city of Los Alamos, obsidian lies in abundance on the ground, produced by a volcanic eruption 1.4 million years ago. Hiking along the exposed ridge among the burned stags, smoke from a distant forest fire and sweeping mountain views it feels eerie, old and earthy. No cell service, no people save for us three, just the sound of the whistling wind rushing though the valleys and glossy black obsidian winking in the sun.
“In all the activities of life...our whole effort must be to get out of our own light.” -Aldous Huxley
Taken the day before the August solar eclipse, these photos of a long-favorite forest walk in Olympia, Washington got me thinking about the intersection of light and dark and how it's a symbolically and physically dynamic space. How the light punctuates the deep shadows, which are the greater substance in the frame. How the light is what more draws the attention, distracting from the peripheral shadows.
Shortly after, I came across the above quote by Aldous Huxley. It reminded me of these photos and also philosophically embodies my thoughts about growth and potential and how our shadow selves play an intrinsic role in those processes.
More and more I feel like our substance and depth, our largeness and potential, lies deep and wide outside the narrow focus of our own light, in the unexplored and undeveloped parts of ourselves that we are hesitant to engage. That our light is a boundary marker between our current limits and our untapped potential.
Not that "letting our inner light shine" isn't important, but to see it as only one facet of our development, to know it’s place in the expanse of our potential. Not to see it as the end-goal, but a jumping off point.
Following that thread, one could say that we hide in our light more than our shadows. With such cultural emphasis on "shining bright" we often end up fetishizing it, missing the greater opportunities that lie in the shadows, the uncomfortable edge places that can lead us to deeper wisdom and capabilities.
Anyhow, these photos are a visual metaphor for some things I've been thinking about lately as they relate to a different photo project I'm working on.
And Woodard Bay Conservation Area is a wonderful place to visit.
I watched the recent solar eclipse with my mom and step-dad in Olympia, Washington, which was in the path of 95% totality. While I wasn't interested in photographing the actual eclipse, I was inspired to photograph the watching of it and to document my little family’s experience in a way that uniquely captured us and the moment.
First Half: Impromptu viewing with my parents and the neighbors
Upon seeing the across-the-street neighbors pull out lawn chairs for viewing, my mom decided we should join them and said neighbor joyfully dragged out chairs for us and another neighbor who had wandered over. It was all unplanned, a bit haphazard, friendly and giddy, and over in a proverbial flash. Some of these were shot through one of the many crystals in my mom's windows. After reaching it's 95% peak, having seen the height of the show, we all wandered back to our respective homes. For such a grand and rare event, it was also surreally normal. Just a handful of Americans out on a lawn staring at the sky and playing with improvised viewing devices.
Second Half: Mom's lace and glitter
Upon returning to my parents house, while the second half of the eclipse was occurring, my mom and I decided to pull out bits of her lace and linen collection, me spilling some glitter in the process and us randomly playing about with lace scraps. By the time the eclipse was over, we were already moving on to preparing a late breakfast.
While the rarity and wonder of the astronomical event is a memory I’ll not forget, it was really how the morning and viewing unfolded, unplanned and improvised - how it reflects what it’s like to drop into my mom and step-dad’s wonderful world when we're all together - that I’ll remember most fondly.
NOTE: At 95% totality it wasn't as dark as I thought it would be, but it got quite cold. Surprisingly so. At only 5% strength, our sun still gives off quite a bit light, but not much heat. The light was strange though, not like sundown with it's golden, slide-y light, this was just a significant all-over dimming with super deep shadows but still glare-y-highlights (it was a cloudless, sunny day in Olympia).
This past April I had the tremendous pleasure of attending a week-long workshop taught by the talented and generous, Aline Smithson (photographer, founder and editor of Lenscratch, educator and reviewer), at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.
The assignments during the class were not so much about creating lasting work, but to practice specific concepts that we could carry into our future work. One of our several field trips was to Meow Wolf and from the photos I took there I created a short, narrative story - a surreal, sci-fi take on an experiment studying cell phone use. I still rather like it.