Theme And Two Variations: Theme

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By Katherine Johnson

Palouse Landscape – Along U. S. 195 – Pulman, WA – Whitman Country

One of the goals of my of my latest trip around Washington State was to explore shooting landscapes from a point of view where the image contains a nexus point where the sky and the land are visually conjoined.

This compositional decision grew out of a series of ho-hum landscapes images, while pleasing in a postcard type of manner, felt as if the land and sky were disconnected entities occupying the same space; a state of being that is in complete opposition to what I experience when I am in that meditative state where I am thinking and looking carefully at the land.

A second goal was to apply the classical music form of theme and variation to this exploration. This choice dictated that I had to be careful to employ very different elements in the images while staying within the framework briefly outlined above. It is one thing to make a point and quite another to repeat the same point pointlessly. On the other hand, drawing out the subtle differences between different expressions of an idea, can and should be a sublime experience.

In this image, Palouse Landscape, the composition is to push the eye from right to left based on the direction that the clouds are moving while letting the dark and light sides of the clouds form a funnel, more or less, that drives down to the a single place on the horizon. A second aspect is to let the clouds carry the sense of depth while the land sits static in the lower fifth of the image.

As for what this all means in a cosmic sense is left to the viewer to decide.

Copyright 2016 By Katherine Johnson – All Rights Reserved

Theme And Two Variations: Variation 1

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By Katherine Johnson

Blue Mountain Landscape – Montgomery Ridge Road – Anatone, WA – Asotin County

Some miles south of the Palouse region the land changes from wheat country to one that is defined by the Blue Mountains and the basalt canyons that are exposed by the Snake River that cuts through them. This area is one of the more remote areas of Washington State that can be reached by car with Anatone, Washington, a place that is the essence of a rural town, being the main town between Asotin, WA and the Oregon border. It is so small that the people that live there list the population on a sign coming into town by the number of people, dogs, and various livestock that reside within the city limits.

This image, Blue Mountain Landscape, was taken during a small rain fall after leaving town and on my way to a dirt canyon road that drops several thousands of feet through the basalt walls down to the Snake River.

In this variation the idea was to move the sense of perspective to the land which is accomplished by the receding diagonal lines formed by the land and emphasized by the two tree clusters. The sky in this image has a circular energy that connects to the trees, the nexus point, that sit just over the horizon.

Copyright 2016 By Katherine Johnson – All Rights Reserved

Theme And Two Variations: Variation 2

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By Katherine Johnson

Palouse Wheat Field Landscape – Near Colfax, WA – Whitman County

Variation Two, Palouse Wheat Field Landscape, finds me back in the heart of wheat country, on a spectacular day, defined by the yellow-orange wheat fields, a dense blue sky, and those particular clouds found only in the Palouse.

In early August the wheat is aggressively being harvested by the multi billion dollar investment it takes to reap, collect and transport the wheat to the world. At this time of year the Palouse region runs on a 24 by 7 basis with the Harvest Combines, with their 40 foot cutters, running through the night using high intensity head lights. In a very real sense this race overwhelms that found in France during the 24 hours of Le Mans. This is not an exaggeration.

In this image, the goal was to drop far below the horizon and shoot up towards the sky. The clouds in this case, instead of dominating the sky, are mere islands in a sea of blue while at the same time they drive and connect to the land near the left side of the image.

Of course the unharvested wheat is the subtle star in this photo.

Copyright 2016 By Katherine Johnson – All Rights Reserved

Three Cows Along Dusty Road (Which Is Paved)

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By Katherine Johnson

Three Cows – Along Dusty Road – Dusty, WA – Whitman County

Cows.

Much of the Western United States is open range county which means they, the cows, get the run of the place pretty much like millionaires at some fancy ass health spa. For the record both groups, more or less, mostly more, eat the same thing.

They have specific rules regarding how they wish to interact with people such as only in the middle of some random dirt road. A further refinement of the rules and an example of cow humor is they love to surprise humans by placing the herd just behind the crest of a hill or blind curve. They are quite the scamps.

Once an encounter ensues they love to engage in diplomacy and negotiation for the territorial rights to the road, and much like the North Koreans, consider it perfect form to stomp feet, wag tails, and wiggle ears as part of the process.

Yelling, swearing, horn honking at them is highly counter productive as it only gives the humans high blood pressure; the Cows could care less, and I have it on good authority, that they love it when a human blows a gasket.

What does work is to get out of your car and coo at them with sweet nothings such as “How about coming to my place and be diner?” or “I once was a vegan but I am off the wagon, are we clear.”

Cows.

Yes, Cows.

Copyright 2016 By Katherine Johnson – All Rights Reserved

Chasing A Ghost And Becoming One

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By Katherine Johnson

August Behind OK Bowl – 301 North Idaho Street, Oldtown, ID 83822

A few years past, I spent a number of months traveling around the Western United States, not because I planned doing this but because my entire life evaporated in a gigantic humid mess. As a result of that I more or less found myself homeless and quite alone. Because of all that I too evaporated into the horizon with my 14-year-old truck, a couple of changes of clothes, a few camping supplies, and my camera with three lenses. In those few months I wandered without purpose and found peace in writing and shooting photographs.

I now find myself engaged in a similar endeavor, once again without direction, for different reasons. I left Seattle about a week ago and I have no idea when I will be back though I doubt my absence will span many months this time. As I did before I will spend my days with my thoughts and camera.

The initial part of this trip has been spent revisiting places I went deer hunting with my Dad for a couple of years, beginning when I turned 12 years old. During those trips I got to experience moments when I knew he loved me; this did not last and for the next few years I found my life in complete chaos. We spent the rest our lives enduring a very broken relationship that evaporated into a tropical humidity that overwhelms the atmosphere and drenches you body and saps your strength.

The balance of this trip will be spent becoming a ghost in the world. When you travel alone you fit in nowhere and are more or less invisible; there is space between life’s atoms and that is the space I occupy. Wandering around without a map or goal other than to see what comes next has its advantages. This is the one time that being purposefully homeless and living out of a car makes sense as it allows one to be free; we get lost in the noise and forget what it means to have silence and the Milky Way at night. The pictures I take and the words I write are a direct result of these experiences; they are my meditations realized.

Beware of your treacherous heart, for it will take you to archipelagos near and far, and to islands of love and despair.

I have always wanted to take a photograph of a bowling alley. This one erupted in front of me when the light was nearly gone and I had but a few minutes to grab the camera and take this handheld. I felt a kinship with that young man.

Copyright 2016 by Katherine Johnson – All Rights Reserved