Posted in Photography

Clarity Is The Key

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.

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