Post-Storm Daze, Ruby Beach, March 2009
Ruby Beach got fairly beat-up by a storm a few weeks ago. This weekend I went out for the first time since the storm and many of the great spruces that make up the battered yet stubborn treeline there finally succumbed. The monumental Sitka Spruces are down everywhere, knocking one another down, across the trail, buried in the salal- even the lovely canopy of Slide Alder at the bottom of the trail along the creek was half uprooted.
I considered taking some ‘post ruby’ shots, but honestly was too stunned about the damage, and the windfall made any obvious approaches or re-shoots awkward. Looking over the negatives today, I’m relieved that I didn’t make any outright before and after shots, but I am disappointed overall in what I took away from the experience just the same.
The lack of my documenting this event in any significant way really put this project in a new light. I suppose the obvious extenuation would be to draw similarities with a portrait photographer coming upon a crime scene involving some regular sitters and trying to document it. You know these subjects and the violence to it is so evident and visceral there is no apparent need to document it.
Does that suggest a very superficial relationship with the subject? Perhaps just a sentimentality that’s in lockstep with the pretty, and the convenient, and the pigeonholed. Is nothing else useful? My first shot of the day didn’t even involve the treeline principally, except in brooding peripheral loom. The shot of the forest proper is similarly veiled, both in intent and execution- even the one downed tree I managed to frame is relegated to the margins. And then, as if that wasn’t enough: the shot of the chronically misused crow, like the very zoomorphism of denial, turning its back on the brute continuity of it all.