Across the Way

SSA Photography (345 of 400)

This photograph was taken mid-morning from the top of the driveway of the home that my wife’s grandfather built stone by stone over decades from a ruined ostler’s barn that sat on a hill overlooking the home in which my mother-in-law grew up in West Yorkshire, England.  When the Worth Valley Railway was being built, many of the horses used to build the rails were kept in the ostler’s barn on the property, just a short walk to the eventual railway station in Oxenhope.  Anna’s grandfather was a fighter pilot in World War II, and later a textile mill owner, as well as a self-taught stone mason, who worked and kept adding to the home (nicknamed “Ostlerhouse”) quite literally until the day he died.

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Grace among the Ivy

SSA Photography (196 of 400)

I found this young seraph in my in-laws’ garden in Carmel, California, where the sound of the rolling waves of the Pacific drifts in laconically from just two blocks west.  Carmel is one of my absolute favorite places to take photographs, as you can see from my “Carmel” gallery.  The dense, dark verdigris of the ivy creates a perfect backdrop for the stone statue, which holds fresh sprigs of lavender which grows thick throughout the garden.  The angel’s head is bowed in a such a way that I feel as if I captured it tacitly considering the offering of lavender that my mother-in-law provided earlier that morning.  Despite the sharp monochromatic contrasts of the photograph, there is a deep sense of serenity to it.

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SSA Photography (149 of 400)

Taken in the Pisgah National Forest near Asheville, North Carolina, this close-up of a small waterfall along the Daniel Ridge Trail evoked in me the image of a medieval gargoyle, like those on the Notre Dame de Paris, featured in Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.   This little gargoyle is a perfect example of life imitating art.

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SSA Photography (378 of 400)

This photograph was taken outside of Haworth, West Yorkshire, England during a walk about the moors.  The beautiful wall has been disassembled by hand in the middle to make a small passage for wanderers, like we were, to pass through.  Many, if not most of the walls were installed in the Victorian era as a result of the Inclosure Acts, which required landowners to enclose their land to stake a claim to it – a departure from the manorial, open field system, an antiquated remnant of the feudal system.  As with many of the sturdy walls in Yorkshire, this one has no mortar, but instead relies on the skill of the stonemason to create an edifice that has lasted and will last for many generations to come.  Notably absent from this picture are the two curious Swaledale sheep (the breed most often found on the moors) that accompanied us assiduously through these large, adjoining acres.

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Ordo Saxae

SSA Photography (197 of 400)

I find patterns in nature fascinating.  “Ordo Saxae” is Latin for a row of rocks.  As is always the case, there is something lost in translation – not only is it a row, but there is an order (ordo) about the perfect arrangement of the outcropping.  These particular rocks reach out across Carmel Bay towards Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.  The linear quality of the jagged rocks is offset by the jumbled ones in the foreground, but my eye keeps going back to the organic ordo ab chao of the rocks that stretch out towards Point Lobos in the distance.

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Marine Layers

SSA Photography (177 of 400)

This photograph was taken just after dawn in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Carmel, California.  The stratification in the photo is a result of the low “marine layer” rolling in over the bay, which layer forms in the summer months as the warmer air above the Pacific is cooled by the ocean waters.  The resulting gradient was interesting in full color, but I felt that the monochromatic layers gave the photograph a more distinct presence, which is set off nicely by the black and white gull.

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I had to admire (and endeavor to capture) the symbolism of this little “resurrection” fern growing on the outside wall of the priory at Bolton Abbey in North Yorkshire, England.  An epiphyte, the resurrection fern curls up and appears desiccated and dead during periods of drought, but at the first rain, the fern is restored to the verdant little plant you see here.  The presence of this rebirth clinging onto the stones of the still-intact wall of an otherwise ruined monastery struck me as a fitting metaphor for an ever hopeful, resilient spirit.  I find poetry in the littlest things–but only if I permit myself the time to look.

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