Tag Archives: Slavomir Dzieciatkowski

Remembering Utah

With the limited time I’m faced with this season, autumn photography is mostly not happening.  We have had a great and long summer but this seems to have not been helpful to possible fall colors.  Bummed at first, I have turned to memories of great times on the road chasing color.  Included here are three compositions from a trip to Utah.

The first from Mt. Timpanogos Wilderness.  As I recollect:

“After many years since our last trip, we were able to return to Utah and revisit a few favorite locations. Although the colors were not as glorious as during our previous trips, this particular grove caught my attention. The soft sunlight was filtering through the canopy giving the leaves a beautiful glow…and I really liked how the branches appear to be reaching out from the glowing boles. I can still remember the sweet aspen aromas and the crisp autumn mountain air.”

Luminous aspens, Mt. Timpanogos Wilderness | Utah

Luminous aspens, Mt. Timpanogos Wilderness | Utah

The second photo is from the Fish Lake region.  A moment that stands out particularly vividly because as I was making this composition an older gentleman was walking by with his very old dog and we shared some good words.  He did reveal with sadness that this would probably be the last walk with his beloved pup….

“After departing from Capitol Reef National Park, Fish Lake was to be the last location to visit before heading back home. The area was mostly deserted and quiet. Although some color remained on a few of the numerous aspen groves, this leafless grove grabbed my attention. The brilliant white of the boles and electric clear blue sky made me actually think of the approaching winter, but I was pleased that the sun’s warmth could still be felt on this day.

I really like how the aspens on the left are almost mirrored on the right, with those on the right bathed in light but not those on the left….”

Aspen sky, Fish Lake | Utah

Aspen sky, Fish Lake | Utah

The final image was made late in the day in the Mt. Nebo Wilderness.  There was a warmth reflecting onto the landscape from the brilliant pink sunset clouds above.

Mt. Nebo aspen forest, early evening | Utah

Mt. Nebo aspen forest, early evening | Utah

I sure would love to be standing among these trees but since that isn’t possible at this point I will reflect on the time I did walk here and will hope to return someday.

The Way Things Were

Sometimes when I look at my photographs I am quite surprised, maybe even shocked, how I used to see the landscape as compared to how I see it now.  When I gave up my medium format Pentax 67 film camera and switched to digital a chapter of my life closed.  It has now been 5 years since I made my last composition using film and I would say I miss the way things were.  Perhaps there will still be grand images that I will capture that will turn out pleasing and memorable to me…but I keep returning to the ones from the medium-format film days. This autumn scene captured along a quiet stretch of Nason Creek in the Cascades is one of those images that melts me and is so achingly beautiful to my eyes that as the years slip away my appreciation for this composition does not wane.  The photograph was also a great seller as a print.

Autumn along Nason Creek | Cascade Range, Washington

Autumn along Nason Creek | Cascade Range, Washington

A framed print of this once adorned our home but was sold…it may be time to have it up again. Perhaps these landscapes are so special because they also bring memories of the years I actively pursued publishing and then (to a greater satisfaction) print sales in regional art shows.  I no longer do these things and don’t travel as frequently as I once did. I often even wonder why I photograph.  Every artist hopes that his work is appreciated, and when it doesn’t seem to be, that hope and excitement of sharing begins to vanish. One late autumn I made a quick excursion to Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum.  It was a rather gloomy day with heavy showers passing through the region.  The place was deserted, it began to rain.  As I found this composition I was moved in my soul and leaving without an attempt to capture it just wasn’t an option.  So I set up my camera, covered it with a bag to shield it from the steady rain and composed.  I think I had tears in my eyes, but if not, I was humbled. The light was quite dim from the heavy overcast and canopy of trees overhead.  I remember my exposures being 10-15 seconds in length…I didn’t know if it would work out but I tried!

Japanese maples in the rain, late autumn | Seattle, Washington

Japanese maples in the rain, late autumn | Seattle, Washington

When the film was developed a couple days later and I got to look at it on the light table, wow, my heart skipped a few beats.  This remains an image that is one of my personal faves. As I often struggle and think of giving it all up, it is these images that bring me back.  Even if it is a temporary ray of light, it is better than nothing at all.  I do hope I will always photograph…perhaps even make compositions that will be added to the favorites.

Lone Pine & Sage

We were traveling east of Washington’s Cascade Range when we made the decision to go near the Canadian border and check out some roads we have never set foot on.  It was fantastic, felt desolate and beautiful.  The day was warm, enough so that snakes were coming out of their holes to sun themselves on the pavement.  The air was filled with intoxicating aromas of spring sage, the sky was graced with floating cumulus clouds and plenty of crisp blueness.  The whole place was just breathing with life and we had big smiles on our faces.

I really loved the gentle folds in this sage covered hillside and of course the lone ponderosa pine.  But what really was the icing on the cake was the light.  As the clouds moved across the face of the glowing sun the landscape changed by the second. I had my Sony a900 camera on the tripod with the fantastic Minolta 200mm 2.8 APO lens and made several composition as the light played on the hillside.  This one is one of the favorites.

Lone ponderosa pine thriving in a sage landscape of north-central Washington

Lone ponderosa pine thriving in a sage landscape of north-central Washington

As we slowly meandered and enjoyed the landscapes we were just filled with awe and inspiration.  So much majesty and splendor.  Yes, we would love to travel parts of the world, like Africa and Iceland and Australia and New Zealand, but it is just awesome to be moved by landscapes near home.  It doesn’t matter if they are grand or just below one’s feet.  We just need to open our eyes and breathe in the splendor.

 

Idaho’s Shadow Falls

We’ve had a few wonderful sunny and warm days.  It is actually 81F inside of our home as I write this…but that’s just fine.  The days are rapidly getting shorter and summer, even though still here, is coming to a close.  I’m looking forward to autumn, but not the long dreary winter that is quite close now.  But I’ll put that thought aside and reminisce about a more favorable time and continue to enjoy the summery warmth embracing me.

Time sure flows too quickly.  It has now been almost four years since I made this composition.  We were visiting our good friends Chris and Connie in Idaho for a few days in September when they offered to be our tour guides and show us a few spots in their new backyard.  For early September the weather was getting a bit funky: warm, cold, foggy, snow dusting at medium elevation, rain, and then a bit more sunshine.

We followed a twisty road here and turned at a bend there, stopped along the river to admire the ripples heading to a larger river.  Then continued on a bumpy dirt road to the trailhead.  Our friends brought some fantastic snacks so we greatly enjoyed them before going on this short trail to a couple attractive waterfalls.

The upper waterfall on the same creek is called Shadow Falls.  It isn’t big but is for sure charming.  I studied it from various angles and chose this particular view after scrambling up just a bit.

Shadow Falls plunging into a shallow pool. | Idaho

Shadow Falls plunging into a shallow pool. | Idaho

I liked how the mossy cliff on the left leads to the waterfall, the fact that the pool is shallow, making the multi-toned rocks visible.  The scene was overall very green and perhaps not so breathtaking as it could have been, at least from the color point of view.  But did I think about these things while there?  Not so much.  I remember admiring the beauty of this little charmer, the experience of getting there with our friends, enjoying it with my wife.  I simply then responded when I saw this vantage point.

I used my then Sony a900 digital camera and the 20mm wide angle lens to capture my vision.  The image remained hidden in my files for quite some time before I was inspired by it again…and I immediately saw its potential in black and white.  So here it is…I like it.

A big thank you to our friends!

 

Autumn Remnants

I have many fond memories from the days when I made compositions using film, and specifically from the 10 years I used my medium format (6×7 cm) Pentax 67II.  It was a time my wife and I traveled quite a bit.  It wasn’t uncommon for us to go camping three weekends each month; it was fantastic and we miss those days.  I also concentrated on publishing my work and later selling my prints at art shows.  I know that those were the peak years of my creativity.  Not to say that since then I haven’t made or won’t make meaningful images, but there is something that is gone.

I like to work slowly for the most part.  I don’t like to arrive at a place and make some compositions and move on.  I linger, look, feel and see and touch and smell and look some more.  When I first got into digital “pro” format in late 2009, I all of a sudden felt a rush.  There was no more expense in film purchase and developing so I got an illusion that I need to shoot more.  It didn’t work.

Anyways, after quite a few years, maybe three or five, I haven’t worked on any of my film files…and it bothered me since there are a lot I really love.  It was time.  I got all the needed adapters to make my Nikon scanner work on my Mac and purchased new software since Nikon has refused to support the scanner as computers evolved.  I loaded the beautiful transparency into the holder and began the process.  I was giddy, to say the least.  It was like opening a candy bar that has been long discontinued and fully remembering the taste before taking that first bite.

A new chapter has been opened for sure.

This particular image I’m calling Autumn Remnants is from the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River Valley.  We used to frequent this valley, before it became overcrowded.  The season was entering into winter as I found this grove of red alders with remnant leaves from sapling cottonwoods.  I don’t remember what year it was, but I remember standing there making the composition in early evening light.  The exposure was long and a breeze would stir things up so I had to use a shallower depth of field than I normally would to capture the scene.

I remember the anticipation of waiting to get the film back, the excitement after the first look once I picked it up and then the final analysis on the light table with a loupe…everything came into focus and I knew I captured something that moves my heart and soul.  And I am thankful for this moment….

Remnants of color in late autumn deep in the Snoqualmie River Valley | Washington

Remnants of color in late autumn deep in the Snoqualmie River Valley | Washington

 

Beauty in the Extremes

My truck wasn’t happy driving up to 11,000 ft elevation in California’s White Mountains.  The air was thin and I guess the onboard computers weren’t programmed to add more oxygen to the fuel.  We were crawling up in third gear, which was pathetic for a V6 engine, but at least it is a funny memory and we got to enjoy the scenery.  And the reward was worth the effort.

I had heard about bristlecone pines in my high school wood shop.  The instructor had a newspaper clipping story about these amazing trees capable of surviving more than 5,000 years, twisted and gnarled, often with just one branch clinging to life.  I made a mental note to see them someday.  Some 15 years later, here we were, slowly scrambling to the top.

At the end of the road, maybe an hour before the sun would sink below the magnificent peaks of the Sierra Nevada to the west, we put on our winter coats and hats and got to admiring these absolutely gorgeous trees.  It was a humbling experience to see these twisted beings clinging to life in poor rocky soil.  And yet, they were given the strength to survive and to bring absolute joy to the admirer.

John Muir put it eloquently:  “While on the roughest ledges of crumbling limestone are lowly old giants, five or six feet in diameter that have braved the storms of more than a thousand years. But whether old or young, sheltered or exposed to the wildest gales, this tree is ever found to be irrepressibly and extravagantly picturesque, offering a richer and more varied series of forms to the artist than any other species I have yet seen.”

Once the sun disappeared for the day I noticed clouds swirling, appearing from thin air and blushing with color.  That was unexpected considering the day was graced by clear blue skies.  I immediately changed my focus and we tried to run around at the 11,000 ft elevation looking for a strong composition…huffing and puffing and feeling like we’d collapse from lack of air.

Now, 13 years later, the memory of this place is almost as clear as was the mountain air….

Reaching bristlecone pines and fiery sunset sky | White Mountains, CA

Reaching bristlecone pines and fiery sunset sky | White Mountains, CA

Another place that is dear to us is the Columbia Gorge, along the border of Washington and Oregon.  It is a place shaped by the fires of ancient volcanos, a place of amazing raw beauty.  Despite all the basalt rock, life clings seemingly with much joy.

I spotted the gorgeous color of these penstemon flowers, growing at the base of a crumbling basalt cliff, through thick oak trees and poison oak shrubs.  It took a little doing to crawl in there but it was worth the effort.

With these two images and two drastically different regions, I am humbled to know that God planted the seeds of life from the highest mountains to the lowest deserts to the most arid places and the deepest oceans…just absolutely amazing.

Penstemon surviving among crumbling basalt | Columbia Gorge, WA

Penstemon surviving among crumbling basalt | Columbia Gorge, WA