Jackson's Alders

Jackson's Alders

20×24 prints are $1,500
30×40 prints are $3,000

January of 2001 we had a short snowstorm in the Coast Range of Oregon where we lived. The storm passed and in the morning the conditions for photography looked promising. We had soft light and no wind. The temperature was about 23° and was supposed to stay near that for the entire day.

The light snow had stuck to the trees, accentuating their forms without obscuring them. I took the day off from printing in my darkroom and went out to see what compositions awaited me. My studio assistant Ian Christopher, an aspiring photographer, came with me to help with my 8×10 camera equipment and to observe how I made photographs.

We stopped just outside of our small town where I photographed “Snowy Alder Forest,” then headed west on the highway that went over the mountain pass towards the coast. We stopped about 25 miles from home where there is a high overpass over a small creek. There’s a narrow sidewalk on both sides of the road that’s just wide enough to photograph from if you’re very careful of traffic.

From the overpass you can look down into the trees. In studying the trees and looking for a composition I saw this view which strongly reminded me of what I had seen in one of Jackson Pollocks big paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. That was the first time I had experienced one of his paintings in person and there was no question that I saw the same patterns of growth that I had observed in nature for many years. And what I was experiencing again at that moment.

I set up my 8×10 camera with Ian’s help and used my 600mm Fujinon C lens to make one exposure at f/45 for 1/8 second on Provia film. The transparency looked good but I knew it would be a challenging image to print and it wasn’t until 2012 that I made Cibachrome prints.

The Cibachrome prints are filled with fine details, soft color gradations, and the snow clumps near the tops of the trees have delicate shape and shading. The image works best in the 30×40” size and even better in 40×50”. It’s an image I find fascinating and has its own complex beauty.

Format: Large (horizontal)
Location: Oregon
Reference key: ja