To capture the moment in time when you are one with your natural surroundings seems to me the ultimate goal of landscape photography.
As the late Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue once observed, “If you go toward Nature with an open heart and a watchful reverence, you will be absolutely amazed at what it will reveal to you.” One of the gifts of ancient Celtic culture, O’Donohue believed, was that landscape wasn’t just matter, but that it was actually alive.
It’s that recognition of the consciousness that surrounds us in the natural world, I believe, that draws us into it. Somehow sensing that recognition, Nature opens up more, is more trusting.
Maybe it’s the Irish in me — or maybe it’s the twenty years I spent in Hawaii, where the local culture absolutely mirrors O’Donohue’s viewpoint — that causes me to gauge my day based on signals from my surroundings.
That’s what causes me to live up a draw in the Coast Range just a few miles from the Oregon Dunes, a windswept 40-mile stretch of sand along the Pacific Ocean. In this unique place, Nature and its rhythms must be heeded if one is to blend into the natural community.
It is also what caused me to cling to the side of a volcano in Hawaii for twenty years, farming coffee and avocados. I spent a decade as an activist in Hawaii, working to save natural coastlines and protect ancient Hawaiian cultural sites. We were largely successful, but the nature of the work was so contentious, oppositional, political and all-consuming that it took a heavy toll on my life. I decided to take my activism to new levels by breaking out of those bounds, which constrained me to seemingly “low-vibration activities,” and to pursue bettering our world in a different way — by bringing to others more consciousness of its natural beauty and its importance in our lives.
One way I can do this is by capturing incredible moments of natural beauty, and asking people to take a moment to enjoy that space I have depicted, in concert with Nature. I try to stay as true to that moment as I can and shy away from Photoshop alterations. I might make minor adjustments to exposure and contrast but for the most part let the moment stand on its own.
Drinking in these images is healthy for us. Communing with Nature, even with images of Nature, is proven to reduce stress in humans. It is even healthier for me, because I go out and get the shots.
The outdoors, photography and I are a marriage fraught with adventure, intense creativity, relentless pursuit, laughter and love. Nothing is more fun than trekking on a photography shoot. At some point, when things are just right, the boundaries between you and your surroundings disappear and magic happens. My hope is to express that moment of communion in my work. Please take the time to soak it up.
While I’m focusing these days on the Oregon Coast, future forays to the mountains, high plains, deserts, canyon lands and Hawaii will bring diversity to my growing collection of Natural Landscapes.
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