The making of Ricketts Glen – Harrison Wright Falls
My recent blogs have centered on artistic development. I begin this series by selecting an image and providing the experience in its creation.
Creating Fine Art Series…..
This first insight will be an image captured from Pennsylvania’s Ricketts Glen State Park in the fall of 2014.
Over a number of years I would meet folks who asked if I had any images from Ricketts Glen. I had not but as I left the world of corporate America to concentrate on my art work I decided the time was near.
I gathered what information I could get on the park, it’s history and geology, and decided a fall trip was in order. Checking the location’s expected peak fall leaf colors I made a camp site reservation and was determined to truck camp at the park and set out early on this adventure.
So I begin
Growing up in the hills of Ohio I had several scenic waterfalls within my range. As the seasons changed the personalities of each evolved. Raging during thunder storms, cathartic in August droughts and ever changing as geologic and erosional forces plied their magic, I found each could elicit a range of emotions inside me. As my range expanded over time and more of these wonders made their way into my world, my fascination continued to evolve.
Back to present day and a graceful journey through colorful landscapes to this location allowed me the opportunity to reflect on this current undertaking.
My inner mental senses began to fluctuate and I began to feel the grandeur of expectations of innate natural beauty, solitude, a sense of my considerable creative latitude, the exertions of the compositional search for my tripod legs, weather and wind patterns, dew points, and a hundred other externalities that loom before me. Internally I have a keen anticipation as usual; thoughts drifting by of potentialities and expectations, my probable methods of capture and options for each.
I reflect on past journeys and the difficulty of maintaining the creative essence as the day wears on plus conditions changing constantly and the physical exertion begin their toll on me. I remind myself that speed is of NO consequence, electrolytes and hydration are paramount and that the journey is the reward. I experience propositional attitude but prior to stalking the visions and allowing my perceptions to come to bear once the actual landscape is in front of me they are often just warm feelings of self. The totality of these impressions emerge from my inner soul/subconscious and begins this inspirational adventure.
I arrive and acclimate to the surroundings, locate the camp site and allow the swirl of nature to embrace me. These solitary pursuits achieve all necessary preparations and soon I am lying in the truck bed on a trusty sleeping bag listening to nature’s songs. Before long a slight drizzle begins as I drift off thinking of the water volume intensity as this moisture leeches gravitationally towards each fall I will visit tomorrow.
Lucid dreams enliven the night and I awake quite early as usual. Attention to hygiene, breakfast and gear veracity/arrangement and I’m ready for an adventure.
The dawn beacons…
The day’s photographic journey began with a good stretch through a relatively level forest before starting down Canoga Glen, one of the two Glens that both drop down into the valley to meet at their intersection, called “Waters Meet”, and then continue further downstream on Kitchen Creek. 24 named waterfalls in total on a 7.5 mile round trip journey.
I began my adventure at a slow pace and began to scout each new fall with an eye to developing what each individual fall was expressing to me at that moment. I would try developing a composition to convey this voice. This swiftly develops into flow and “the zone” is upon me.
Early on the temperatures were quite cool as the overnight rain began slowly wafting away. As I descended, the Glen mists upwards and invokes an adventurous side of me. Time was no little consequence as I cast about the forest. It’s stillness, despite the cascades of water rushing downwards was truly inspiring and spiritually fulfilling. For the first several hours I met only a couple other like type souls on the trail.
As the weather evolved the skies began to fill with numerous white cumulus clouds developing from the passing front pushing along. The winds above appear breezy drifting west to east yet the Glen is north to south. This silent current made the clouds scud along briskly. In the forest bottoms I beheld near stillness and only the occasional slight rustle of the trees. Compositions at each fall develop as I pause often to wait as these clouds made for exceptional soft lighting and intermittent dappling of light across each scene. I am able to capture a number of different illuminations and am consumed within this world.
I descend to the “Waters Meet” intersection of the two Glens and continued down the Kitchen Creek Trail for a distance. There are three memorable falls in less than a mile and I settle into the image making of Harrison Wright Falls.
It would be futile to select a favorite falls from this journey, yet at the Harrison Wright Falls the elements neared perfection from Mother Nature’s hand. Fall colors were considerable in the ever changing light conditions. The falls itself is a geologic beauty. The pool at the base of the falls allows for reflections and flow patterns. The compositional opportunities are abundant. I allow myself time to be absorbed by the visual abundance and slowly feel my expressions evolve. I begin visualizing the tonalities, moodiness, reflected and illuminated edges, sense of depth and atmospheric articulation that combine and initiate a sense of presence and recognition. This sense takes over as each composition develops. Once discerned I step back again and again to evaluate what technical elements are necessary to achieve a subjective yet sentient experience (qualia) Sentience explained .
ISO, shutters, apertures, filters are then invoked and I mind the developing skies and wait as each passing cloud imparts it’s particular magic. A number of compositional variations later, I am emotionally spent and feel the need to move along.
I circle back to the trail intersection above and find several photographers there. We spend a few minutes in discussion as I grab a quick sandwich and electrolytes. Before long I begin the uphill journey, this time along the path up Glen Leigh and its eight waterfalls. Slowly I capture each of these falls and eventually reach the summit and begin the 1.5 mile hike through the forest back to the truck.
During actual hiking I get involved with such a multitude of decisions and emotions that all time is spent on being “in the moment”. The drive home finally releases a reverie of the day’s memories.
At long last I roll into our driveway. Gear and a few accessories get packed into the house with the remainder awaiting dawn for adjudication. Downloads kicked off for the captured images and I eagerly ease into my bed. Before long the lucid dreams begin and I relic much of the night in animated thought.