We all have special places, places that have key meaning to us for a variety of reasons: where you proposed marriage, where you were when you heard of the 9/11 attacks, where you saw that moose along the edge of the river as you silently rafted down stream, that curve in the road where you almost lost it when driving too fast as a teenager in the rain that night, and so on.
For the purposes of this article I want to address our photographic special places, those that hold importance to us because of what they've meant in terms of our own development or maybe because there is something in a place that works on us in a little deeper way.
Ever find yourself someplace that you know is exceptional? A place that is extraordinary, perhaps to just you? Where the light and the air and the ground and the sky are charged with precedent and history, that whatever is there is frozen in a moment of such sublime beauty or serenity or tension that you must photograph it?
One of my special places is at the top of Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire. I photograph it in the summer and take the tramway to the top. From there I hike to the observation tower and climb the stairs to the deck, position my camera up against the railing in the right corner, over by the coin operated binoculars. I have probably been photographing this for 15 or 20 years.
I point my longs lens here:
This saddleback of a curve, covered in trees.
Partially the "same but different" and partially something that connects with me at a more primal level, a place that is special for me.
My friend Peter Vanderwarker uses a painting by Thomas Cole made almost 200 hundreds years ago to reference a place called Crawford Notch in NH and wrestles with how to convey meaning, emotional weight and wonder in the present with his chosen medium, which just happens to be photography.
This is clearly a special place for Peter. I wonder where yours are.
By the way Peter is certainly one of the top architectural photographers in this century or any other, for that matter. He is Boston based but works all over. His site is here. He also is the co-author (with Robert Campbell) of the "Then and Now"series of pictures of Boston published over many years in the Boston Globe that look back at a scene in the city shot in the 19th or early 20th centuries compared with the same place in the present.
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Is the blog back for real now? Well, I am close to two weeks out from hip replacement surgery and each day is better than the one preceding it. I leave the house now and am in physical therapy. Life is good. We will see.