Deep night colors on the snow cliffs contrast with the warm glow of the hotel; this could be an infrared image, mapping the local temperatures.
The composition and content of the photographs brought to mind the works of early/mid-twentieth century naturalists, and I tried to envision what their take on Piper’s work would have been:
Not far from Muir Woods, the Pacific coast cliffs of California are a starker, steeper, and foggier place than I expected. The nearly sheer cliff face, the scraggly trees hanging on for dear life, and the weather- (and person-) beaten railings make the whole place feel mythical. The fog density hit just the right soupiness on this particular day; we could just barely see and hear the waves crashing on the rocks below.
Early in the morning, before another human has arisen, in the fog and rain and the sound of crashing California surf, the cliffs of Marin are strange and alien and haunting. They stagger out of the fog, all stunted shrubs and jagged rocks and decaying 20th century gun emplacements. I’ve always rather fancied the idea that America kept expanding until they reached the end of the continent, where the cliffs and the alien landscape drove us all a bit mad.
On the same European adventure to the alpine village of Obergurgl in Tyrol, Austria, I was out for a walk when I captured this shot of a creek running near the village in the process of freezing over. The ice is interesting to look at but the semi-abandoned outbuilding on the bank. It doesn’t appear to be in active service, as evidenced by the partially ajar door, nor is there an obvious way to get down to the entrance, though perhaps without the snow and ice there’s path down the cliff face or maybe even some sort of connection to a cave in the cliff. One can only guess at what function this building does or once did serve.
Once you venture even a few miles from the suburban world of the East Bay into the hills surrounding, all sorts of weird little “model train set” vistas appear. On a rainy, gloomy day, with low cloud cover penning in the view, you could almost be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled into a giant’s basement hobby space.