Editor’s note:

This is an edited version of the foreword from the book “the lake,” by Robin Layton

 

THE LAKE IS talking to us every day.

Are you listening?

One of the great fortunes of my life is living and working on the shores of Lake Washington — “the lake” — in Seattle. This 22-mile-long body of water touches nearly every community in the greater metro area. A daily spectacle of breathtaking beauty, the lake is the center of life here in many ways. It is a residential paradise with unparalleled views; a nurturing natural habitat filled with wildlife; a recreational playground for walkers, dogs, runners and bicyclists.

• More information about the “the lake,” including how to buy the book, or artwork from it, is available at thelakerobinlayton.com.

• There are also videos of the lake, including one commissioned by Nikon and Oprah Winfrey, at thelakerobinlayton.com/films.

• Artist/photojournalist/filmmaker Robin Layton will present her book at an event Nov. 21 at Benaroya Hall. Grammy-winning guitarist William Ackerman and musician Todd Boston will perform in front of videos and images from the book. Layton will sign copies of the limited-edition book after the event. For more information, and to buy tickets, go to the Seattle Symphony site.

Many of us live on its shores — or close enough, anyway, to see it every day. Tens of thousands more see it up close twice a day as they commute over the longest — and the second-longest — floating bridge in the world.

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Many Seattleites spend their days on the lake — literally. Glassy morning waters are silently cut by gliding kayaks, paddleboards and community rowers. As the day heats up, so does the sound, with roaring fleets of motorboats, personal watercraft and wakeboards. Sunsets become a Technicolor backdrop for scores of sailboats in our long summer evenings.

The lake shimmers with life and asks us to slow down and see it, hear it and feel it. It is a special place that fills all of our senses, that excites, revives and calms our souls.

We see all that nature has to offer in and around the lake: foggy mornings; diving birds; migrating salmon; squealing kids; screaming eagles; icy water; and warm, welcome sunshine reflecting in the water.

The underside of a lily pad is photographed in shallow Lake Washington waters by Robin Layton, using an underwater housing for this split-water shot. This photo was taken at Hunts Point. (Robin Layton)
The underside of a lily pad is photographed in shallow Lake Washington waters by Robin Layton, using an underwater housing for this split-water shot. This photo was taken at Hunts Point. (Robin Layton)

I’VE BEEN PHOTOGRAPHING Lake Washington since 2008. Every day, as I’ve looked out my window or walked my two dogs, I have seen something new, heard something different. By staying alert and by looking and listening, I’ve learned a great deal about the place where I live and about the lives it shelters.

I’ve learned that the lake is talking to us every day.

I’ve learned that when you hear an angry cackling of crows, there’s a good chance a menacing eagle is hovering nearby.

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I’ve learned all the different sounds that birds make. When geese make a certain sound, and perform a particular gesture with their necks, they are about to take off. (I call the geese and ducks my models.)

I’ve learned that when it’s foggy, droplets of water illuminate spider webs that you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.

I’ve learned there is beach glass along the shores (which was a total surprise — I have a great collection now).

I’ve learned that crows fly north along the lake in the morning and head south in the late afternoon. I see this every day when I look out my window and joke that they are on their daily commute.

I’ve learned that the water is constantly changing. The slate-gray tabletop I see in the morning can become a glittering jewel in the afternoon sun. A blustery wind, a skittering rain shower or a ray of sun peeking through the clouds can completely change the character of the lake. A boat chugging by, a duck taking off or a leaping fish can ripple the water in ways that create intricate patterns, dazzling colors and shapes on the water’s surface.

In a photo shot from a pier in the Mount Baker neighborhood, day breaks softly on Lake Washington as the sun slowly peeks through the morning mist. (Robin Layton)
In a photo shot from a pier in the Mount Baker neighborhood, day breaks softly on Lake Washington as the sun slowly peeks through the morning mist. (Robin Layton)

IT HAS BEEN fun for me to see my work change and progress over the years. My photographic style is ever-changing, but one thing I hope never changes is the emotional response that people feel when they look at my photos. When I can touch something in a viewer’s heart, then we have made a connection that gives all of my hard work meaning.

As for this unique project, I wanted to photograph and share a beautiful vision of the world I am blessed to see every day on Lake Washington. I wanted to create and carefully curate a collection of photographs full of art and soul — and, most of all, life.

I am proud of these photographs. I believe they capture the ever-changing life, energy and vitality of the people and nature surrounding the lake.

My hope is that when people see this book, they will forever look at Lake Washington differently, and see with fresh eyes all the things that make our lake so special.

The lake is talking to us every day. Are you listening?