We’re being pummeled by rain this week—flood alerts are out, especially for the northern Willamette Valley. It’s fine weather for catching up on indoor projects, reading, or simply thinking about things. I packed my photo bag and drove to Thompson’s Mills yesterday morning, my first visit since returning from the Southwest—I needed a breather from editing sandstone.
Inclement weather is also disruptive—when I went to the basement (the millrace was rising almost imperceptibly and, I suspect, flooded it in the evening) I drew a blank. My thoughts swirled like the cold waters outside. Nothing looked picture-worthy. I returned to the office, warming my hands on a mug of coffee. No reason to push—I had ample time. People came and went through the outer office door, and during a short break in the gloom bright sunshine fell across the glass door knob—and in that instant I found clarity again.
Back home, I started editing photos from the Moab, Utah, area, where Ulrich and I had driven after Hanksville. I’d done a solo walk at Delicate Arch, and the following day we’d joined local photographer Craig Carr for a strenuous hike to False Kiva, in Canyonlands National Park. Suddenly, with images crowding the computer screen, I had the same feeling I’d experienced in the morning as I began photographing at the mill. None of the pictures jumped out with flair. Antidote? Coffee, again. I opened a shot from the kiva and realized (not for the first time) that clarity—not unlike simplicity—doesn’t require details to be effective.