I have been editing for my retrospective book nearly every day, and I am steeped in my series called Bloom. I shot it in 2015. It was one of the prettiest springs I’ve ever witnessed in the Big Bend area.
Up till now I've produced about 25 to 35 percent of that work, and now I going through it with a fine tooth comb.
This whole retrospective book is just that. Revisiting all this work and culling the images I said to myself that I would print later.
Photographs age well and quickly at times, so an image you may have passed over originally may seem very good now. When I find an image that I shot years ago and think this is very good, is it my realistic mind finally catching up to my artistic intuitive sense that drove me to make the image in the first place, or is it time that ripened it to an image worth printing? Probably a little of both.
Bloom has a special place for me photographically. I had just finished the Ranch Project where I was hired to photograph a ranch for a private citizen to fill a 12,000 sq. ft home the family was building on that ranch.
It was a great assignment. I spent a week a month for a year, so I could be in every season on the ranch. I was given free reign to do anything I wanted, and there were no guidelines. The ranch itself was just land and sky, there were no mountains to get to know like the national park.
But the clear Pecos river runs parallel to the land. Flowing water creates and sustains life in the desert.
I explored every acre of that property I could get to. I found beauty and photographs in places where you might not think an image could be made, as well as sharpening my awareness of the subtleties of light.
It fully fleshed me out as a landscape photographer.
I approached the ranch in the same way I have with Big Bend. Try to know the landscape as intimately as possible, be in a good place for the light. Be aware that the sun may hit a mountain in a way that is more sculptural in November than is does in June. In a nutshell, fall in love.
It is good for me to know a landscape to photograph it. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a very good landscape image if you don’t because nature is a beautiful and happenstance subject. Constantly changing images present themselves for seconds and if you are lucky, minutes.
Sometimes I don’t look up when I am setting up the camera because I don’t want to see what I've missed.
Back to the point. The ranch project honed my skills, and this 100 year spring bloom happened next. I returned to the park with a keener eye and sensitivity that I hadn’t had before.
I would leave Sunday evening from Marathon, and return on Friday pretty much throughout the spring. I had an Airstream trailer parked at Angie and Rob’s and base camped out of it.
It was glorious. There is a succession to the flowering plant life. It starts with the bluebonnets, then the dagger yucas, the ocotillos, prickly pear and so on. The bluebonnets start to go to seed, and the yuccas start. In 2015 it didn’t do that. The bluebonnets never went to seed, and nothing else did either. Instead it just kept building into a symphony of flowers.
Big Bend was covered in little yellow flowers.
Flowers, I’ve never seen before.
Not only flowers, wildlife too. Every living creature seemed in abundance and happy. Twice I witnessed a swarm of honeybees fly by me. I photographed them too.
I would wake up with dew on my sleeping bag.
Being outside is the best.
Oh yeah, I played over and over again Townes Van Zandt singing Don't You Take It So Bad. It's those last two lines "And the sweetness of springtime, and the sound of the rain."