The travel writer Paul Theraux wrote in his book “Dark Star Safari: “You go away for a long time and return a different person–you never come all the way back.” I find this short sentence to embody much truth. And one of the great benefits of traveling is getting out of your circle which allows you to look back in with a greater degree of objectivity. Most of my photographic work occurs in Alaska, but I venture abroad occasionally. 2010 offered some very enjoyable journey’s south and I’ve gathered a few images from these due to expressed interest. The selection process is always difficult as there are many ways to interact even with your own photos. Sometimes it’s the experience, sometimes the light, sometimes the color, sometimes the emotion. There is a motive-mix in this selection, with a few comments, quotes and excerpts taken from some writing I did about my experiences.
The Southern Ocean
“I spent the month of January, 2010 on an expedition to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, and the Antarctic Peninsula. Reflections on such a trip are not easily summarized, and fall elusively and appropriately shallow when embodied only in small letters. Photographs help tell a story, but much of a journey’s grand experience happens inside, where epic landscapes and encounters tumble around the soul leaving marks and impressions that seem to leak out only as a dim shadow of their original copy. Notwithstanding, it is the images themselves that help kindle the memories and rebuild a space that threatens to fade with time. These few pictures represent some of the scenes that moved through me during my visit to this mysterious and fabled landscape–that at times even now, so soon after my return– feels like a dream itself. Art is both a jester and a tonic to the soul. (excerpt from my book on Antarctica)
I woke just before 4:00 a.m., because this was the predicted arrival at the South Orkney Islands. I stepped foot on the deck of the ship and this befell my eyes. And in return, I fell deep inside the dramatic unfolding of a morning I will not soon forget.
I called to the other men that the sky was clearing,
and then a moment later I realized
that what I had seen was not a rift in the clouds
but the white crest of an enormous wave.
~ Ernest Shackleton
I crested the snowy saddle on Peterman Island, which offered a view in all directions. A view that provoked irregular breathing and an irrepressible stare. Giant icebergs dotted the seascape in all directions. I felt surrounded by the pure magic of Antarctica.
While standing on the long sandy beach filled with fur seals and king penguins, I felt that familiar overwhelming sense come over me again. What do I photograph, where do I turn, there was so much happening. Looking into the light and into the home of these birds provided a context that moved me out of stimulus overload and into a picture.
I circle around God, the primordial tower,
and I circle ten thousand years long;
and I still don’t know if I’m a falcon, a storm,
or an unfinished song.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
The great omission in American life is solitude;
not loneliness, for this is an alienation
that thrives most in the midst of crowds,
but that zone of time and space,
free from the outside pressures,
which is the incubator of the spirit.
~ Marya Mannes
The albatross hit the top and
canted her soft belly to the storm,
and made a screaming banked
peel-out downwind and over the other side.
I don’t know if anyone else on the ship saw her.
To me, she was a visitation.
Not harbinger or annunciation,
but a simple reminder of a world that worked,
that was at home with itself
and friends with storm.
~ Peter Heller (The Whale Warriors)
The Ancient lost city of Machu Picchu in Peru has seen no shortage of photography. More than photographing it, I wanted to see it with my own eyes. I was remarkably taken back by its amazing location and mysterious beauty. The gray rainy morning that I awoke to slowly dissipated into broken cloud layers and eventually some hints of sunshine. What an amazing place…
The Galapagos Islands
My second trip to the Galapagos was largely fueled by a desire to try some underwater photography. And my favorite photo from that trip was taken in a small cove that serves as a resting spot for green sea turtles. I think there are 14 visible in the picture. Between my return from Antarctica I had shoulder surgery and recovered in perfect timing to be active in the amazing waters of the enchanted islands just a few months later. If you have ever been to the Galapagos you probably recognize these locations.
If you are a regular visitor to this blog, thanks for visiting and sharing thoughts and comments. In 2011 I’m looking forward to some travels and adventures both in Alaska and beyond and I’ll be sharing photos and experiences along the way.
A journey is a person in itself, no two are alike.
And all plans, safeguards, policies
and coercion are fruitless.
We find after years of struggle
that we do not take a trip,
a trip takes us.