A different kind of Rückensfiguren from my last post: Teenagers visiting a memorial along the curving roads of the Pines to Palms Highway, far above the desert of Coachella Valley.
A poster of Caspar David Friedrich’s “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog” hung above my bed in college, and I’ve since then developed a love of Rückenfiguren in images. Building from my last post’s theme of self-portraiture, I thought using myself as the POV for an image in Stone Valley might add the right German Romantic vibe.
The first organisms to shift and adapt to a new season have always seemed to me like its harbingers. Here in the North Country, I’m noticing the first buds appearing on the maple trees—several weeks after their sap was harvested to make some delicious New York maple syrup—but back in the autumn, those same trees were the first to display their autumn foliage.
The Thanksgiving evening was perfectly clear, as late-autumn evenings in the desert often are, and I felt like I could see forever: stones and brush in the foreground, over the Pines to Palms Highway, across the irrigated valley floor, before slicing the final bits of sunlight off the tops of the Little San Bernardino Mountains.
Earlier this week, I posted an image that used long exposure to contrast textures in a landscape. This image achieves a similar goal, but perhaps with even more drama and structure. The oblique lighting from the blue-hour sky exaggerates the sheets of stone that have been thrust forth from the Earth.
When I last flew to southern California, I was relaxing in Coachella Valley and spending time in settings like this. This week, I’m back but in a completely different spatial and mental space: I am on high alert as I prepare a presentation on my scientific work and spending time in the urban core of San Diego. At least I can look back on images from a less stressful time.