Saturday, November 22, 2008


Little Fourmile Run, Pine Creek Gorge, Pennsylvania April 1990

Expired animals, do to whatever cause, have appeared in my images since I first began photographing. I wouldn't say that I'm fascinated with death so much as I'm interested in how death and the dead fit with my concept of landscape. I once read a definition of "landscape" as a view of the land and all things seen within that view. I further defined it for my purposes and my images as "social landscapes" meaning the natural landscape and how man has interacted with it. It has been difficult finding unfettered landscapes here in the east, and as I mentioned in a previous post, landscape photography in these parts generally will include water. Pine Creek Gorge is known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. I saw it on a map and decided to go see for myself. The main trail from the canyon overlook meets with Little Fourmile Run about halfway down into the gorge. I had walked this trail several weeks earlier with only a 35mm camera, but wanted to go back and try my hand at photographing with the 4x5 the moving waters of two large cascades -- on maps they are listed as waterfalls. This may sound pretentious, but sometimes I feel like a "photo" God and that offerings are laid before me. I went down the trail expecting to photograph cascading waters and was presented with another scene of way more than just water tumbling down a hillside. At this point the creek's cut is extremely steep sided at about 45-degrees and populated with smaller trees. With my 4x5 camera pack on my back and my large Gitzo tripod extended to help steady my decent, I worked my way into the cut. I stopped next to a double trunked tree and took off my belt and strapped one leg of my tripod to it. With one hand holding onto one of the trees I was able to off-load my pack and rest it against the base of the trees. By reaching around the tree with arms on each side, I was able to get the camera on the tripod, a lens on the camera, and the dark cloth over my head. I remember well that I first put the 180mm lens on, but decided to switch to the 240mm to better contain the edges. Just as I was finally ready to make the first exposure, the sun started breaking through the clouds. I was able to get two pieces of film exposed before the sun decided to stray fully from behind the clouds. After packing up, and climbing back to the trail, I realized I was trembling both from the exertion of getting the image, and from the thrill of what I had just put to film. Wonderfully exhausted I went back to the truck and called it a day.

1 comment:

Steve Williams said...

This continues to be one of my favorite images. And not just because it was made in Pennsylvania. When I look at it I feel a lightness of spirit. No heavy feelings of death. It just presents a powerful flow of living and life from beginning to end.

A visual metaphor I suppose. Someday I am going to get a print of this.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

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