Trails, Paths and Perspectives

November 11, 2002


An interesting byproduct of my giant photo project is that the rummaging has helped me uncover a couple of different sets of images that have been "misplaced" for quite some time now.

I have been searching for the one image for two reasons, first because I found a quote that I thought was a perfect for it, and second, because the slide is one of a series that tells one of three stories, all tied to the same place.

After I scanned the missing image last week I coupled it with the quote, posted it on my web site, and just didn't quite get to writing about it.

Saturday morning dawned unusually warm for November and I decided that I would head out and try to capture a couple of images before the fall slipped entirely out of my grasp.

The trees have not had their usual color this year, primarily because of a drought, and although there have been some beautiful bursts of color, they have been fleeting and always seem to be at the side of the freeway as I race past on my way to one thing or another.

I also read something early Saturday morning that caught my eye, a description of fall by a writer in Belgium, Edelweis, wrote: "Autumn is growing old. A gray blanket of misty clouds covers the city today and the tree in front of my window looks sad."

Autumn is growing old. I thought about that line as I headed out to the park where I often walk, and I figured it would not really be difficult to illustrate that thought, for here as well as across the Atlantic, many of the trees have lost all their leaves, and Autumn stands on it's last legs.

I have taken this particular walk around a small lake many times, and in fact I have quite a selection of images from this very path, "saved" for the time when I take the time to tell some of it's stories.

My travels around this particular path took on a special significance one day late in January of this year. The temperature was, like this past Saturday, in the 60's, which is highly unusual for that time of year. I remember as I took my camera in January that it would be "low drama" day, full of gray clouds and melted snow.

As I walked around the lake however, I decided that I would be very deliberate in trying to find things of interest to photograph, a kind of stretching of the photographic eye. It's a lot easier to work with vibrant color than a landscape of barren trees and a dull gray sky. Which brings me to the image of the path, colorful and full of the sights and sounds and smells that are the wonder of fall.

Care to know how I got that shot?

I was carrying my very heavy motorcycle jacket on my left shoulder, and a small camera bag in my left hand. I had just looked at my watch and said "Oh *#[email protected], because I realized I was running late for my son's hockey game. I rounded a curve in the path, saw the tree, and shot the picture one handed, as my jacket fell to the ground.

I had already been composing, shooting close ups, a little of this and that, and at the end of the day, how is it that the rapid fire one-handed image is the one I like the best?

So what's the path got to do with the trail and the perspective?

Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying the following: "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail."

As I got to thinking about the image and the quote, I began to realize that perhaps some of my fondness for quotes is linked to our "sound bite" society, and the constant attempt by both media and advertisers to leave us with a line we will remember.

The image of my footprints was taken in May of 1980, in an area just outside of Palm Springs known as the San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness. Covering over 14,000 acres of high country, the park includes the San Jacinto Summit which looks down on the Palm Springs valley from an elevation of 10,804 feet.

The view from the high country to the Palm Springs valley floor is truly one of the most spectacular vistas I have ever seen.

It's even more impressive at night.

Sometimes you see, when you go where there is no path, and you leave a trail, you just might get lost.

I found out the very hard way, that it's called a wilderness, for a reason.

But that will have to be another story, for another day.

Over the weekend I worked on my Fall Color gallery that has larger images from this page, and you can see the larger quote image here.