Street sweepers, Montreal, Canada, 2009
I followed these street sweepers as they entered a deserted street in Old Montreal and began their work. It was very early on a Sunday morning, and all of the stores and offices were closed – the only activity came from the sweepers and two pedestrians moving in opposite directions. I was drawn to the play of light on the facades of the old buildings, and the translucent flags that carry the eye through the image. The scene seems very Parisian, much of it due to the romantic early light.
Annisquam Light, Gloucester, Massachusetts, 2009
The forty foot high Annisquam Light was built at the mouth of the Annisquam River in 1897, and is still active, although now it is fully automated. I made this image of it just after sunset from the deck of a tour boat. I built the image around the pink diagonal cloud leading from the upper left hand corner of the frame to the lighthouse. The cloud suggests a symbolic beam of light, coming at the moment when day meets night.
Last light, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, 2009
Exposing on a distant sliver of golden sun setting behind a curtain of clouds, I only suggest the vast canyon itself. I tried to barely define the buttes rising from the dark floor of the canyon. allowing my viewers to fill in the details with their own imaginations. It is not what we see here that is important. It is what we think we see.
Church columns, New York City, New York, 2009
The fringe of the day lingers at dawn on the streets of Manhattan. Patches of light magically appear and vanish on building facades as the rising sun seeks a path between high buildings. I had only a few moments to catch the glow of warm light and the play of shadow on this church entrance. I made sure to also catch it on the branches of the tree that point to the ornate capitals on the columns. The image refers both to the work of nature and the mysteries of faith.
Coming home, Douz, Tunisia, 2008
Shooting from the driver’s seat of a horse-drawn carriage, I followed our tour group returning from a Sahara Desert camel ride. As my carriage passed them, two of them waved to me – their silhouettes frozen in timeless salute against the glare of the setting desert sun. From my vantage point, I was able to abstract the camels by merging them into the dark sand below the horizon, while stressing the waving riders outlined against a darkening sky. An image such as this can only be made in the waning moments of a day. The camel excursion has originally been scheduled for earlier in the day, but heavy crowds forced our guide to move it to late afternoon, enabling me to make an image I otherwise never could have made.
In step, Douz, Tunisia, 2008
Douz is where paved roads end and the Sahara begins. Tourists come here to visit the desert and enjoy a camel ride. In this image, the final riders have dismounted, and the camel handlers are bringing the animals home for the night. I made numerous images of this process, and this two-camel shot was my favorite. The setting sun abstracts camels and handlers alike, the sky is aflame with color, and for an instant, the men and animals match each other, step for step.
Sliver of sun, Douz, Tunisia, 2008
I waited for the setting sun to slip below the horizon, catching the last sliver before it vanished. Transmission lines carry the eye deep into image, framing what is left of the day within a field of deep orange.
Farm animals, Douz, Tunisia, 2008
A setting sun provides a bright yellow background for this braying donkey. A camel stands just behind the bush at left. The backlighting abstracts the donkey, yet leaves enough of it visible to convey its response to my presence. The backlighting also illuminates the form of the donkey, creating a thin line of gold under its chest and jaw. I never mind shooting directly into a setting sun – it is a magical time of day, and the photographic results are unpredictable and always atmospheric.
Mt. Jefferson, Willamette National Forest, Oregon, 2008
This craggy 10,000 foot high volcano is the second highest mountain in Oregon. I made this image a few hours after dawn from Timberline Lodge, about 6,000 feet high up the southern slope of Oregon’s highest peak, Mount Hood. I used a 420mm telephoto lens to reach across a fifty-mile distance to bring Mt. Jefferson’s snow-splashed slope into focus. The soft texture of the morning mist carpets the rhythmic flow of the forested valleys that begin in darkness and gradually brighten as they approach Mt. Jefferson. The pinkish glow of early morning sun creates an atmospheric band of hazy coloration across the face of the peak. Later on, a higher sun would render this scene as crisp and clean as a picture post card. But in the early morning light, this hazy image offers more of an impression than a description. The Lewis and Clark expedition named the mountain in honor of US President Thomas Jefferson in 1806.
Shadows in the ruins, Pondosa, Oregon, 2008
The early morning light casts eerie shadows of encroaching weeds along a paint smeared wall of an abandoned structure in the tiny ghost town of Pondosa, the remnants of a once busy lumber mill town in central Oregon. The low angle of the sun brings the shadows into play, as if they were the hands of time itself.
Graffiti, Pondosa, Oregon, 2008
Just a few feet higher on the wall I photographed in the previous image, the splashes of graffiti produce an effect resembling Asian characters. The patches of light, color, and shadow that play upon the wall at this moment seem to energize these characters – they appear to dance before our eyes. The effect lasted only a few minutes. As we left the ruins of the Pondosa ghost town, the light on the wall had faded into a bland shadow, erasing the magic of the moment. This example offers a lingering lesson for photographers – early (or late) light is transient. We have only a few minutes to reap its benefits.
Canada Geese, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Tule Lake, California, 2008
At first, they resemble a stand of reeds in the water, echoing the thrusts of the grass that line the shoreline in the foreground. But look more closely, and those reeds become the necks of geese -- hundreds of them. These migrating waterfowl are resting for the moment on the open water of this 40,000 acre wildlife preserve in Northern California, just south of Klamath Falls, Oregon. It is about seven o’clock on a fall evening, and the backlighting divides the image into six banded layers. The distant hills on the opposite shore fill the top of the image, ending abruptly at the darker band of greenery at their base. An open stretch of water leads to the strand of silhouetted geese. Below the geese, more water and the grassy shore in the foreground fill out the image. My 420mm telephoto lens compresses these bands within the frame, offering an ideal context for the late light that adds texture to the water’s surface.