Roan Mountain Bent Tree in the Mist
Lately, with the threats that constantly besiege our environment, I have been struck with the fragility of it all and a real sense of ominous foreboding. Perhaps things will turn around, but for now trees are not just receiving water and carbon dioxide, they are also imbibing toxic chemicals from more coal plants and acid rain. It has caused me to see the nature I love in such a different way and it is breaking my heart. As a photographer and an artist, all I can do is express what I see with not just my eyes but through my intuition and soul. The image above was take on Roan Mountain on a foggy and cloudy day. The atmosphere was palpable and I suddenly felt how these trees have no escape routes. Their leaves may adjust from season to season to taken in more Carbon Dioxide, but the rain and the wind still pelts down upon them. I processed this image to give it an antique feel, as if this mountainside exists in the past already.
The photograph above was made on the Big Butt Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway near the summit of Little Butt. When I saw this lichen, it looked like a man running. All the other growth was interesting and very dense, but what really stood out for me was the central vegetation so I processed it to set that off. I loved that it resembled a human form, as many scientists believe that lichen will be critical in helping us adapt to climate change through their innate ability to process carbon dioxide and harmful pollutants that find their way into our air.
This image shows the affects of acid rain and why we need lichen and other trees so much. The frightening thing is that this destruction exists in a pristine forest. The harmful pollutants are being carried by air currents from the Ohio River Valley in the midwest.
This year has seen very high levels of rainfall with associated flooding in the mountains of Western North Carolinna. this image was taken on a day following one particular deluge. When I stood on the edge of the bank, I was struck by how much land had been eroded and all the trees that had been sucked into the river. Processing the image in black and white added to the ominous tone and also helped direct the viewer's focus onto the river.
The image above was also taken on the Catawba River. Seeing the water pour down with such force right next to the roots drove home how powerful waterways can be when they are at flood stage. They are truly the shapers of the riparian landscape and forces to be reckoned with.
Though several people have died at various waterfalls in North Carolina lately, from being swept off the top by strong currents, the water in all its force is beautiful to watch from below. Its power and majesty are a testament to how man truly cannot control the forces of nature no matter how much hubris we exhibit in thinking we can.
When I saw the Lower Catawba Falls in the dim light, the environment seemed almost ghostlike to me. The water was of course more turbulent to the eye, but there was something about being in this dim forest with water racing through and erasing its features before my eyes that made me think of apparitions and so I slowed the exposure way down with a neutral density filter to convey the emotions I felt.
It has been a year since I moved to my new home and the Blue Ridge. At first I celebrated all the biodiversity I was witnessing every day, and it is amazing. The Blue Ridge and one location in China boast more biodiversity than any other temperate zone in the world, and this is indeed cause for celebration. But as Scott Dean, my wonderful wildflower teacher at the North Carolina Arboretum said the other day, we may be the last generation to witness this proliferation of life. No wonder I think of ghosts when diversity that has existed for millennia could suddenly be destroyed or greatly reduced in my lifetime. I pray as a people we come to our senses and stop harming that which supports us and make the earth a viable home.