Ancient Ones

As I work on one of my many never-ending jobs of processing images for stock I came across the Petroglyphs I had captured at Columbia Hills State Park on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, reminding me that progress comes at a price.

One such site, I and millions of others have benefited greatly from, is the loss of a canyon name “Tamani Pesh-Wa” name by the local Indians meaning “Written On Rock”,  and what locals called Petroglyph Canyon. Completion of the Dalles Dam in 1957 created a lake behind the dam named Celilo after the now submerged waterfalls of the same name.  The rising waters filled this canyon changing the surrounding landscape to what we see today.

This section of Federally protected National Scenic Area of the Columbia River Gorge, where one can see in the not too distant foothills, large agriculture grounds of wheat and wind turbines.

3388DKB-web  Views of Mt. Hood

3876DKBweb and basalt rock geological formations which invite one to pause and

3403DKB0-webtake in the open landscapes found in this area, a vast ecological difference from the more popular visited western section of temperate rainforest and multiple falls that cascade over majestic basalt cliffs.

Before the dam this section of the Gorge cut a deep path, known as Petroglyph Canyon, where the ancient ones “wrote on rocks”.  Oh how I would love to have been able to explore this canyon before the rising waters.  To imagine how these people lived while contemplating the Petroglyphs they left.  To ponder their reaction to seeing, what we see today, this area that was their home.  This is what draws me to capture what I call the art of being.  To try to become mentally a part of what I capture.   To ponder what inspired the ancient ones to leave their mark on these basalt cliff walls.  Was it just an artist applying a form of graffiti, or a group of etchings when observed as a group told a story, or something much more meaningful in reference to religious beliefs.  I run through such thoughts in my mind as I contemplate their existence and who the artist/artists were.

I am thankful that as progress continued on the Dam, an effort to preserve some of this ancient work from Petroglyph Canyon took place by cutting some from the walls of the canyon before the rising waters flooded the area.   Eventually these cuttings found a new home along a paved path where one can view them on a guided tour in Washington’s Columbia Hills State Park which I had arrived too late to join that day.  I will return for those seen from the parking lot, shown here, intrigue me and I long to see and capture more.

Dee Browning, photographer/artist 

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Energizing Vibrant Spring Colors

This past winter I became re-aquanted with someone whom I had not seen nor talked to in at least fifteen years.  She had sent a friend request through Facebook.  It is truly a small world, as I found that she lived less than an hour away.   We decided to get together some time soon to get caught up in the happenings of our lives.  As with all good intentions, it was several months before this finally took place.  She lives close to The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, a popular place for viewing and photographing fields of tulips.  It had been years since I had visited this farm so I decided that I would stop there before meeting with her.

The past six months have been a series of trying times, for several reasons.  I find myself stretched thin with obligations, chores and my work.  My favorite stress busters are painting and yoga. I had not had much time for either and I had begun to feel fragmented.  My decision to stop at the tulip farm turned out being a much-needed break in my otherwise rather tedious routine. Tulips in multiple  colors

The unknown weight upon my shoulders lifted upon seeing fields of brightly colored blooms under a canopy of overcast sky.  What an attitude adjuster!  It being a weekday and early morning I had arrived ahead of most of that days, daily visitors.  After parking the car, I retrieved my camera gear and headed to the fields. These days, everyone is taking pictures.  With the wide array of digital cameras, including those in cell phones, it is no wonder that places such as this are popular to anyone taking pictures.  A photo contest, advertised in the hand-out received when one pays the entrance fee, encourages this practice even more.

A crisp morning breeze heightens the feeling of mental freshness as I make my way towards the sea of color.  Well thought-out planting offered a blending of colors and contrast, drawing the eye to specific rows.  Mauve and pinks, reds and yellows, orange and peach,  whites and near black purples, as well as groupings of multiple colors, stood proud.Lone purple tulip amongst pink

Parents captured images of their young, posed amongst the color.  Couples sat on brightly painted benches with cell phones held in front of them for capturing self portraits.   Others would ask a total stranger if they wouldn’t mind taking a picture for them.  No request denied, for here in this magical spring setting life felt good.Pink and white tulips

I spent a couple of hours there, bending, laying down and sitting on the moist ground, taking several shots of the beautiful tulips, their variety and colors cheered me.  It didn’t matter that I was one in amongst a multitude of photographers that day, nor that my images would most likely not be unique   Participating in capturing the art that man and nature had created provided a renewed love of life.Purple TulipsPrints Available at     www.deebrowningphotography.com

River Rock Tribe: Journaling In The Practicing The Art Of Being

First Published September 2012

DKB7713-webThere are times when I find myself overwhelmed with negotiating everyday living, especially in today’s economic climate.  I feel fragmented with the here and there of photography jobs, taking care of and maintaining a home and yard, making time, willingly,  for loved ones and friends, and of course assuring Sir Clarence James reclining years are comfortable.   He is doing really well and will write a blog soon.

Camping with family at Silver Falls State Park  Clarence James Browning

He now has his own blog  http://sirclarencejames.wordpress.com/

I feel I have been pretty successful in these tasks but find myself tense from the effort despite my near daily yoga and meditating rituals.    My husband recently reminded me that I had not been out in some time practicing my Zen photography.  This is where I go off by myself to capture images that fascinate me.  It requires that I find a spot, whether it be in nature or a bustling city, and spend the day there.  I do this to clear my mind and become more receptive to my surroundings.  Children come by this naturally and I refer to it as “The Art Of Being”.

Early Sunday morning I drove to the Sandy River, one of many rivers near my home here in Oregon.  Water draws and soothes me and not wanting to spend a lot of time driving, I had in mind a day spent along this river looking for great spots to view and capture images of the spawning salmon when the fall run is in full swing.  This run has already begun but it is still too early to get much opportunity to capture some images.  Planning ahead I will pick my spot and return at another time for ‘Nature’s Cycle of Life’ show.

Fed by glaciers on Mt. Hood, which has slowed considerably this time of year, the river’s water levels are quite low leaving wider beaches where one can explore.  Due to recent years of floods the river has forged new paths removing trees and boulders from its banks.  Massive roots of the down trees washed clean from the flood waters, then dried and bleached from the sun, litter the beach.  Some of the exposed roots still linger in pools of water at the river’s edge providing a safe place for the spawning salmon to lay their eggs.   This is the type of settings I am looking for.

Hiking high above an old landslide area, I look down along a stretch of beach and notice what looked like stalactites, those icicle looking formations one sees in a cave, only these were pointing up.  Curious, I made my way to the lower end of the slide before slipping and sliding the rest of the way to the beach.   What looked like stalactites from far above were river rocks stacked on top of each other.  This beach was approximately a quarter of a mile long and covered with river rocks, none stacked more than knee-high.   As I walked around taking in my surroundings, I saw that these stacked rocks represented people.  To my delight I had stumbled upon a village of River Rock People!  Retrieving my camera from my backpack I began immersing myself in capturing this amazing village.  All alone on the beach with only the sound of the river rushing over rocks, my fragmented thoughts drifted away.  I became more receptive to the spiritual feeling I was receiving from this mystical village.  It had to have taken a long time to build this scene I found myself in.  Had it happened over a time or had it been recently done by a large group of people?    As the day moved on, I would soon get my answer.

River Rock Village

With camera in hand I went about capturing this River Rock Tribe.  There were families, individuals and groupings.  I saw a Navajo Squaw I recognized from a painting by the famous artist Rudolph Carl Gorman.   Others faced the water edges, in miniature form, like those giant stone monoliths, called Moai on Easter Island, looking out towards the sea.   Another ancient culture entered my mind when I came across a group of stacked rocks that formed a circle.  I became aware of how alive I was feeling immersing myself in this mystical world of river rock.   Amazed by the fact that there are still people in this world of advanced technology that find enjoyment in nature’s simplicity and being creative in using her wares, such as this creation with the use of these rocks.   It further more amazed me that they were seemingly left untouched, even though there were other signs of human trespassers in an occasional left behind soda can, plastic bottle and a flip-flop shoe.

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By noon, distant voices drifted my way.  Looking around I saw a small family making their way to the beach using the same route as me.  The children squealing with delight as they descended the slide on their bottoms ahead of their parents, packing blankets and packs, as they side-step precariously down the sandy slide.   I began to feel anxious for the River Rock People fearing the intruding humans would be the beginning of their demise.  Realizing that I could not stop what fate they would be dealt, I returned to capturing what I could before it could be destroyed.4004DKB-web

As the sun warmed the beach on this early fall day, more and more voices intruded my thoughts as more people arrived.   Taking a break, I sat among the River Rock People and observed those of my kind as they enjoyed a day on the beach.  I became relieved to see the young and old alike, instead of destroying the Village, were adding to the landscape by building more stacks of rocks.  I finally had my answer.  This special place had evolved over a time and was still evolving.   I felt blessed to have found this mythical beach and to see its effects on others for it gave me hope for humanity. 4008DKB-web I hope to see this village soon for I will be returning in a couple of weeks for the spawning of the salmon.

If one allows our media, and doomsday Sayers to depress our mental being we are to blame only ourselves.    We all need to set aside time in our hectic lives to practice “The Art Of Being”  a spa for the mind.DKB7729-web

To purchase prints of these and others taken that day please visit my website,  www.deebrowningphotography

Hiking The Scenic Westside of Mt. St. Helens

Previously posted in August 2012

It has been some time since I have posted but, I haven’t been idle.  Sir Clarence James is doing really well and this has allowed me to get out and do what I enjoy doing, hiking and photographing.  Just last week my son-in-law took me on a guided hike, of the west side of Mt. St. Helens.  I have looked forward to this adventure for some time.  Joel is a great outdoors man and I was grateful for his company as he came in handy when my back and neck started giving me heck on the return stretch of our hike.   He strapped my camera bag backpack, a good 30 plus pounds, to his and carried both the rest of the uphill hike back to his pick-up.  Did I mention that the weather that day was near 100 degrees!  He is a great guy to have your back.  In this case backpack 🙂

Me and my son-in-law Joel

We began the day at 4:00am for I wanted to catch the sun rising.  I love silhouettes.   Here near the trail head of Castle Lake, I used a strong filter to capture the sun rising over the crest of the Cascade Range silhouetting the crest and renewed forest growth.

Silhouette of Mt. St. Helens Sunrise

On the trail, my son-in-law frequently scopes the terrain for wildlife as the sun continues its rise in the east.  He is hoping to catch sight of a bear forging for food.   Sweet huckleberries, blue berries, and strawberries gave me no doubt of their existence.  The sun ripened fruit was so tempting we often stopped to gather small handfuls of these mouth-watering sweetness.  Later along the trail we came upon claw ripped wood, where the bears had searched for a meal of bugs, and bear scat both evidence confirming that we had indeed entered their territory.

Joel scoping for wildlife.

We never saw a bear but instead spotted  two herds of elks at such a distance away that made me long for a more far-reaching lens.  Who am I kidding, I would not have been able to lug one that size around while hiking :(. A large herd of elk quite a distance away.

Another herd on a knollSt.Helens erupted in 1980.  I flew over the crater as soon as the air space opened up, with my father in his Maul, a fixed winged airplane.   Seeing the destructive force of nature from that altitude made one aware of how insignificant we humans are.  I captured many film images that day and I only mention this because as I hiked past remnants of that destruction, as seen below, I remember those captured images and how even though it is taking many years nature is rebounding in this area.

Remnants of devastation from Mt. St. Helens eruption in 1980.

We came to a cross-road of trails and Joel headed down the Castle Ridge Trail.  Below is an image of him on the edge of a hill, a tiny speck,  overlooking a cavern where one can see and hear boulders tumbling down the west flank of the mountain.  One can track their descent by the trail of dust and the sound of their impact against other boulders resembling that of a rifle being discharge.  All very humbling.

Joel looking at the boulders crashing down the mountain.

To purchase prints of the images I captured that day   www.deebrowningphotography.com

Cheers,

Dee Browning, photographer

Miksang

0027DKB-RGBI started this blog with the short story I wrote describing what I experienced on a photographing outing. I am now attempting to write a little about me, not my favorite subject, as a way of introducing myself. I am a very private person blessed with a full life as a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, and friend. I love to create artistic spaces in my yard and home that flow together providing little retreats for me to go to when I need to clear my mind. I have an aging cat, named Clarence, you can visit his blog  http://sirclarencejames.wordpress.com/    who supervises my office here in my home from his lofty perch over-looking my digital darkroom/desk. I don’t know what I will do when he will no longer hold this position, as he keeps me on a schedule of much-needed breaks with his persistent demands of attention when I have had my nose to the grindstone too long.

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Many feel that a photographer just goes out with camera in hand and takes lots of pictures then uploads them on to a computer, then puts them on a website and/or prints them out. That is only a small part of our work.  Photography demands, like other professions, a dedication and passion to sustain being a photographer. In my blog one will not find the technical writings that involve how to use a camera or the technical details of a workflow. I feel this subject has been successfully covered by those much more capable than I.  Like all serious photographers I spend more days in my digital darkroom/office than I do looking through the view-finder of my camera. With the ever-present sorting, culling, processing and adding metadata to all the images I have captured, to the updating and maintenance of a websites and now this blog/s, all this keeps me very busy in my office. I know members of my family and close friends just sigh when they hear I am working in my office as that seems the norm for me.  I am often asked when will I get caught-up?  I reply, ‘Hopefully soon.’ The reality is, this sometimes grueling work will never be ‘caught-up‘, mainly because I keep taking photographs!  I have wasted some of my time on the writing a blog as I often fine myself fretting over what to write about.

After writing ‘A Mental Retreat’ and starting a painting inspired by a photograph taken on that day, I realized I possibly had my blog figured out. All my life I have always had a deep-seated passion for creative writing, photography and art.   Now I have found myself combining the three.  I will not call myself a professional artist in regards to applying color on a canvas or paper, but I do feel it plays an important part in who I am as a photographer. When painting, I have a better understanding of color, contrast, texture and composition, thus allowing me to look at my subject through the view-finder of my camera, as an artist would.  As all artists, there are times when I feel disconnected from my work, and I find myself in a slump.  When in this mental fog, writing about a good photographing experience is a much-needed mental boost.  Allowing all three of my creative sides to work together has a meditative effect upon me, thus allowing all my senses to heighten, to become one with all, allowing me to see things I ordinarily would not see.  I aspire to lead others towards what I have learned.  To experience their enthusiasm and pride when they point out discoveries in their surroundings. Their discoveries bring to me a different perspective and more appreciation of what others perceive when using all their senses within the same surroundings.  A photographer needs to capture what others don’t see.

“Miksang” a Tibetan word meaning good eye, is a term used regarding my work.  It comes naturally for me, something I took for granted, until others began asking about it. In writing about my experience in capturing an image, I realized that it is because I become one with my surroundings and look at it in it’s entirety and thus develop ’Miksang’ so to speak.  Writing about this, I feel others will begin to see that photography is a very personal and solitary experience which sets all of us photographers apart in regards to our work. To write about how I use my senses, when photographing, I feel I can lead others to do the same. I hope to share with those who aspire toward photography, how to slow down and allow not only their eye, but their other senses, to absorb the space that surrounds what captured their eye, thus capturing a more interesting image. To be good at what you do, you must have passion, for it is that passion along with your own perspicacity is what comes through in an artist’s work. You can take several photographers and ask them to photograph the same subject and you will get different, though similar pieces of work, much like a room full of artists painting the same model. No pieces of work will be the same for we, as individuals, are different and perceive things differently. Knowing the technical side of photography, like operating a camera and processing film or files, is not what distinguishes a photographer’s work from others but the way one uses this knowledge to capture images that appeal to their individual senses. That in itself is a form of art, and like art, some will appreciate it and others will not. Artists come in all forms using all kinds of tools and canvas. There are painters, sculptors, writers, designers, the list goes on. To a photographer, our lens determines the size of the canvas. Our camera settings and equipment are our brushes and paints. Because I spend so much time photographing a subject, many ask, “Doesn’t this bore you?” Just the opposite! I find myself in awe at how time just slips away, and the added thrill in discovering a new subject in the same area to focus my lens on, or a different technique that would have been over-looked if I had not taken my time. After a shoot, I feel on top of the world.   I find any anxiety, self-doubt and/or worries I might have experienced at the time,  dissolved with ease as I immerse myself into my work experiencing a ‘mental retreat’.

I hope you will continue to journey with me as I add to my blog what inspires me to press down on the trigger-release and take a shot. As I wrote these three lines, “To share a mental perception.”  I realized that this was my goal.  So, the purpose of art whether captured or created is ‘to share a mental perception;.

To see more of my captured images and paintings

www.deebrowningphotography.com

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