As the very last winter storm passed through Southern California, I hustled down the Flat Rock trail from the state park above with this photograph in mind. Intermittent rain, big clouds and wind were on the menu. I was carrying a tripod, pack and large format camera – the whole deal – and as the light faded I ran down most of the trail. A few days before, my friend Philipp Rittermann had nailed a lovely sun-drenched picture of the cliffs and that image was with me as I set up. The tide was rising fast and as the sun sat on the horizon it found a layer in the clouds that allowed just enough light to skitter across the ocean and kiss the sandstone cliffs. When you create a photograph, you end up bringing a lot of your interior life to the image and sometimes the camera helps you articulate a feeling in a way words cannot. The dark palette and dangerously swirling water matched my feelings.
I was born in California and since the age of thirteen or fourteen I’ve been acutely aware of the media images of sunny Malibu, lovely surfers and bright blue skies: California is for sale. But there’s another side to the west. Charles Bukowski. John Fante. Jim Morrison said: “the days are bright and filled with pain – enclose me in your gentle rain”. The California I inhabit is considerably more poignant than the well lit television version. It’s contradictory, interesting and sad in a kind of paradise gone to hell sort of way.
Field notes, not blogging. I’m one of those selling CA (literally, working with CA Tourism in my sales role). Nice post and shot. Maybe paradise is paradise. At least that’s what I’m thinking. I’m amazed everyday.
Your image is beautiful and moody. Thank you for mentioning me in your post. You wrote that beautifully, by the way. I didn’t grow up here but your words strike a chord, and echo my feelings about SoCal.
sacred ground photographed with such respect. jd, you truly caught its soul.
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