2022 06 18
The Russian River

We had been on our road trip for more than a week when we got to the Russian River Valley north of San Francisco.

Up until then, the landscape and weather had looked familiar. But suddenly the dusty tans of Southern California gave way to dark green mountains covered in gray clouds and a delicate mist. It felt abrupt, almost mystical, as if we got dropped unwittingly into a very colorful topographical board game. I liked the change. Sunny skies look great on a postcard but are a challenge to photograph especially when shooting digital. Extreme light overwhelms mid tones, shadows go black. Nothing is subtle.

This afternoon in the Valley everything seemed special and inviting. The soft filtered light, the deep greens and changing shades of brown and red more pronounced. It was miraculously beautiful. An occasional stray spill of sunlight struggled to poke through the clouds. What could I bring to these vistas that hadn't been captured already by lucky tourists before me? I wrestle with a variation of this question every time I take a photograph, which is unhelpful. So I tucked the question away and continued to drive down the valley past the sloping fields of wild grass to the ocean. I could imagine people living in cities but couldn't imagine why.