Twenty-twenty is coming to a close and it’s a fitting time to take a look back over the year and assess my work. And as I made my way through that assessment, I could not help but pause and think of how the COVOD-19 pandemic was a major impact to my photography work and life in general.
A normal year would have included our annual trip to Palm Springs with photography day trips to Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP). I never tire of JTNP and always seem to find something new to photograph each time we visit. We had planned to go in late March just as the pandemic was starting in earnest, so Palm Springs and JTNP were the first casualties of 2020. Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) was another destination we considered after reading Terry Tempest Williams’ The Hour of Land. We had planned the trip to North Dakota in late May, holding out until mid-April when we re-booked for October before finally relenting and cancelling that trip altogether.
The JTNP and TRNP trips would have been my major photographic “expeditions” of the year. So, what then? Well, like everyone else, we made do by staying home, scouring the internet for new recipes to try, binge-watching The Crown and taking long walks. As for photography opportunities, I had to look closer to home.
One of my long term projects is the Frank Gehry designed Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota East Bank campus, just a twenty minute walk from home. This project started, quite by accident, in early November of 2014. Since then I have focused much of my efforts on the West facade which overlooks the Mississippi River. The West facade is by far the most familiar; however, during the early months of the COVID-19 lockdown I began to explore the less familiar views of the museum. I also took a deeper look in the form of close in, detail images of the stainless steel structure.
Later, as the weather warmed and turned to summer, I once again looked for inspiration in Wisconsin where our cabin sits on the eastern shore of (North) Sand Lake. I have been pointing my camera at the sunrises and sunsets there for nearly fifteen years, never tiring of them since no two are ever the same. But this summer I needed to do more, so began exploring long exposure and intentional camera motion (ICM) techniques.
When fall arrived, I started what could become another long term project. On the southwestern end of the lake there is a pine grove that I have been wanting to photograph for some time, but could never arrive at a composition that I liked. I spent a lot of time there, walking among the tall pines at different times of the day, observing how the light hit the tree trunks and filtered down to the pine needles that cover the ground and was rewarded with some nice images. I am looking forward to returning to the pine grove this winter and capturing it when it is blanketed with a coat of newly fallen snow.