Sunday, May 12, 2019

The fog of fifty years

Farm in Fog, Mendocino, 1969

The Fog Series was launched 50 years ago though I didn’t know it at the time. I got the one memorable shot shown above and didn’t think about it for almost forty years. In early spring of 1969 we took the first of many drives up the coast to explore the magic of Big Sur, Carmel, the stretch of Highway One from Monterey to San Francisco and the real draw, the Sonoma and Mendocino Coast. In LA for barely a year we were already concocting ways to live the artistic life on the jagged shore where the redwoods meets the sea.

Our ten-year old VW purred proudly as we left Bodega Bay and the road rose steadily till the frothy surf crashed hundreds of feet beneath us. Soon we were abreast of Fort Ross, the early 19th century Russian outpost I first visited in 1948 when I was a camper at Camp Cazadero just over the hill above the Russian River near Guerneville.

Leaving Fort Ross, we continued to Mendocino where we turned inland on Fort Bragg-Willits Road toward Highway 101 and Ukiah. Moments later I spied a sagging farmstead in the dense fog. We stopped immediately and I made the image I called “Farm in Fog.”  An accurate if uninspiring title.

Silent Running, Putney, Vermont, 2006

It wasn’t until I was photographing the Putney Regatta on the Connecticut River in 2006 that the nascent Fog Series had two images. The photograph entitled “Silent Running” is of the over seventy year old national rowing champion on the placid river caressed by fog. It became the second image in the slowly developing portfolio. There’s an eerie calm and the look of total silence.

Presidio Pines #1, The Presidio of San Francisco, 2010

Then in 2010 while waiting for my tardy model Nima Shiraz at the Presidio of San Francisco the fog rolled in from the Pacific as if on cue. As it moved eastward it nearly obscured the Golden Gate Bridge two hundred yards from where I was photographing Battery Godfrey, World War I battlements build to protect the entrance to San Francisco Bay. The fifteen minutes I waited for Nima are among the most photographically rewarding of my life.

Canopy, Point Reyes National Seashore, 2015

Five years later after a visit to Point Reyes National Seashore I could see that a body of work had emerged. I walked toward Point Reyes Light which was cloaked in fog. I passed under a canopy of Bishop Pines that were dripping as if it were raining. I could hear fog horns in the distance and the faint sound of the surf breaking below.

The Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field, 2019

Children at Crissy Field, 2019

Then three weeks ago at Crissy Field in San Francisco I was able to add these images to the Fog Series. At this rate I’ll have book by the time I’m 140.

1 comment:

Blacks Crossing said...

Every image in your "Fog" series is wonderful in its own way and evocative. "Silent Running" in Putney, Vermont, and "Presidio Pines" are absolutely magical and have been favorites of mine for some time. Now you have added two equally compelling images to your series - "The Golden Gate Bridge at Crissy Field" and the "Children at Crissy Fiedl" I don't care when you finish that book, Steve. I am selfishly enjoying the journey on which you are taking us. Thanks for the ride and a magnificent post!