River Tree


For the past year, I’ve been working on a new series that captures one small “slice” of a landscape as it changes through the seasons. I’ll give more detail as I get close to releasing it, but for now I am standing by the Potomac River watching the light crawl up the opposite bank. I’ve jumped at the arrival of a cool, dry day to make this early morning foray through the woods. It’s difficult to photograph in Virginia in the summer—the temperature is unbearable and the humidity makes it worse. I can stand some heat when I’m photographing in Southern California (the so-called “dry” heat that requires good sunglasses and a lot of drinking water), but the humidity here does funny things to light. It makes it “muddy”—heavy and opaque—and it’s hard to get any clarity in the colors, even early in the day. So I’m glad to take advantage of this clear morning. I stand next to my tripod and listen to cardinals chirp, and watch geese dawdle, and chuckle at the antics of a flycatcher as it launches itself from a nearby branch to dive for mosquitos over the river. The insects haven’t found me yet, but there are so many of them that they’re creating a prickly texture on the surface of the water. A fisherman walks by, and asks me cheerfully what I’m looking for. I want to answer “peace and contentment” (because I’m surely finding it at this moment), but I explain my serious artistic purpose.  Then I realize the truth and laugh. “This is just a good excuse to hang out in the shade by the river and relax.” He holds up his rod and nods enthusiastically. He understands completely.