I walk the first ten or so feet with eyes closed. It’s a straight path with little to no objects capable of tripping me or grabbing me as I step by. I just want to see without my eyes and fine tune the image in my head. I do this often before I actually make any pictures, most of the time they turn out to be the best images I make all day. For the mind is so much better at making an image than my trusty Nikon is. Not a knock on my camera, just a fact.
Those few steps I take while seeing with my eyes shut are incredible. As I actively use all my senses, minus sight, I develop a picture simultaneously. The peacefulness of it all is the first to hit me. No traffic to be heard, no bikers yelling “left!, left!”, and no other steps of fellow walkers or runners is heard. Just the sound of my breath and the rocks, dirt, weeds, and sticks that crunch under each of my steps. An occasional bird communicates to the masses and off in the distance one of his friends replies back, then another, and another. Then silence takes over once again, until the creek makes itself known. It’s beautiful. The soft sound of running water over the rocks and around the logs that have settled in along the banks for the long hall team up to make natures tunes come alive.
There is sweetness in the air. Perhaps a mixture of pine, anus, and the scrub brush covering the hills. The damp hillsides and moist spots under the redwoods smell of earth. It is comforting. I feel connected and I feel at peace and I feel safe here.
Four steps later I open my eyes and take in the visual display before me. I am a bit discouraged initially to know that no matter how good of an image I make with my camera it will not compare to the one that has just been made in my mind. I am eventually OK with that though. Because it is an image that I’ll have forever, I hope, stored away in a data filing system distributed conveniently in my cortex. There may come a time I do not fully remember the mental images I made today, which is until a smell, sound, or scene triggers my internal filling system and the pictures rush forward faster than I can count to one.
The trail I walk upon has begun to parallel the creek and through the trees I can see it dancing around the rocks, limbs, and the light finds its way down to the water here and there. I see a narrow path leading down to the water and I follow it until my next step would make my shoes, socks, and low pant legs wet. I look up stream and down, each way offers its unique perspective. I like both. I follow the bank of the creek downstream for about twenty yards and as I look up and stop, I see an amazing burst of light shooting through the tall magnificent redwoods. It has a natural vignette around it as the light makes a group of cottonwoods glow. I want to make an image of this scene. I look around to find a better location where I can truly capture the beauty before my eyes. After a few minutes I realize the best perspective I can get will be from the middle of the creek. I look into the clear calm water and debate whether or not to take off my boots and socks and roll up my pants. It is rather rocky and I don’t feel like stabbing my feet with what I can see and what I can’t. So I leave the boots and socks on and I don’t bother rolling up my pants.
The first step is nice and easy, as I feel out the bottom of the creek, to ensure I do not sink further than expected. The water is cold, but not to a point that my toes will freeze anytime soon. In fact, after a few steps it begins to feel good. I gently wade to the middle and stop. I watch as the ripples I created fade away and the water once again stands still. The reflection of the vision I am currently obsessed with re-appears. I look around and take a panoramic of the picture before me and like that it is stored away. Then I pull out my iPhone, hold it steady in front of my face and with my right index finger I tap the small white circle to capture an image. I move the phone up and down, left and right, and adjust the exposure here and there. Then I tuck the phone away in my breast pocket. A deep breathe in and slow long breath out. Then I gently step back towards the banks of the creek.
Stepping out of the water the squishing-sloshing sounds coming from my feet begin to feel the air. I find it a bit humorous and quietly laugh to myself; it reminds me of a cartoon. As if I fell off a large desert cliff, with a brief pause of course, and landed point blank in the middle of a river. I bob up and down as the river carries be downstream to a point where I can finally walk out to the land. Dripping from head to toe and as I walk all you hear is squish-slosh, squish-slosh, and squish-slosh. Then out of nowhere a semi-truck runs me over.
Back up the path I go to the main trail and I head back towards the parking area. I take my time, no rush whatsoever. Here and there I stray off the trail to make an image and to take in a new scene. Once I reach the car I open the door and pull up a seat behind the steering wheel. Place the key in the ignition and only turn it one notch to get the power on. Then I slide down the windows and relax. In a few minutes my middle daughter will come running up, finishing her scheduled eight miles for the day. It is still relatively quiet; an occasional car goes by and then fades away amongst the trees. The squawking of a group of bikers going by briefly ruins the peacefulness. I could never quite comprehend how everyone can talk at the same time and do anything remotely close to listen, yet the group of bikers do just that. I feel sorry for them, briefly, for they will have missed so much on their ride today.
About the Author
I’ve always been involved in the arts. My grandmother and father were both portrait painters, so it was something I was immersed in. However, something about photography captivated me. The ability to capture a visual story entices me, for I have always been a bit of a storyteller and I enjoy writing too. My photography has received numerous awards; from publication in Popular Photography to 2015 Best in Show image at The Texas State Fair, regional and national awards in photography, my artwork is in private collections around the world, and I have two books out “Beyond The Image” and “Finding Myself: Visual Tales of an Explore”. I continue to challenge myself and I’m always looking for a new story to make and capture.