Saturday, April 21, 2012

The practice of photography.

Yesterday I arrived at Burgoyne Bay just as the morning sun was lighting Mount Maxwell in dramatic relief of light and shadow. Last visit here, I walked the farm fields down towards the bay and almost got captured by dense thorny bushes by ‘bushwacking’ off the path. Today I will hike the other way, out to a rocky point along the steep slopes of the mountain. This is a familiar walk in the shadow of Mount Maxwell. Steep slopes stretch up through trees trunks and enormous boulders. At the beginning of the trail I slide downslope to peer into the tops and trunks of fir and arbutus trees that overhang the rocky beach.  Through this screen I can see the red railed wharf and the anchored boats of the ‘alternate fleet’ across the bay; the floating homes of sea gypsies. Look, one even has a wood stove spouting smoke into the still cold air.

I climb steadily higher along the slope until the sea shines far below and then the trail begins to drop back to the shore again:  shadowy tree trunks and no sounds but my own breath and footfalls.  Once out on the rocky point the sun has crested the mountain slope behind me and the landscape is now open to the sky and populated by Garry oak.  Mossy bedrock, an old long-gone homestead`s` patches of daffodils and down the final slope I step onto the startlingly fresh-washed white granite point. The sun slants through the trees and side lights this very old rock so that every line and wrinkle stands out amid stripes of bright light. Here is a world of information:  of line, texture and form right before my eyes inviting me to observe closely. This moment is changing even as I take the photograph, this light, this angle, this rock of ages. This is an act of paying attention through the practice of photography.

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