(Tears of the Forest)
I stumbled into the remains of a forest fire that had burned in the ponderosa pines of Eastern Oregon. I photographed for a bit, but was too focussed on the Winter Trees project to give it much time or thought. After I'd returned home and long forgotten the images of the ponderosa burn, I found myself compelled — for reasons unknown — to go in search of ponderosa pines and photograph.
It was an itch I could not resist scratching.
My friend Joe Lipka and I go out photographing every year. I suggested the eastern slopes of the Cascades in search of ponderosas. He agreed. We wandered into the forest, not knowing we were about to find the remains of the fourth largest forest fire in the history of National Forests — the Thirty-Mile Fire in the Okanogan forest. The images from earlier in the year came flooding back to memory. A week of photography later, the images for this new folio had emerged from the whispers of the muse I had first heard earlier in the year in Oregon. I don't understand how this happens in our creative life, but I've learned to stand aside, with faith, and allow the creative subconscious to control the direction my photographic impulses.
I found myself more and more saddened by the story I began to feel in the charred remains of the forest fire. I knew I was simply projecting my human emotions on the forest, a philosophical ﬂaw that was fallacy. Nonetheless, as I photographed a drip of sap on the sooted bark, I began to cry. The tears of the forest were ﬂowing through me.