Photographs of our natural landscape expose the profound relationship between who we are and where we live.
Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from Bruce W. Heinemann’s book “Washington: The Art of the Landscape.”
WASHINGTON IS A magnificent land of dynamic contrasts. It is a land born of fire, sculpted by ice and molded by the forces of time. It’s a landscape of diverse microclimates and geological features and expressions that arrest the senses.
At the same time, it is also true that over time the people of this state have dramatically shaped the face of its landscape. We have turned the soil; changed the course of its mightiest rivers; and, from the Pacific Ocean to its other three borders, built our cities and communities in ways and forms that represent our own unique expressions in this landscape.
Yet, in a more profound way, I believe that this land has shaped us. For after all, like all cultures throughout history, ours is but a reflection of the natural environment that sustains us. How does the landscape influence and impact those who live and work within it? I believe that each of us has a personal answer to that question.
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We are interactive brush strokes across the canvas of this landscape: the furrowed fields of wheat; the radiant splashes of color of spinnakers as they propel their ships through the saltwater curls; the whitewater kayak as it bobs and twists its way down a surging spring river; a rope-secured team of climbers as it makes its way up an ancient glacier to the peak of its dormant volcano; the giant windmills that stand majestically, stretching across the barren, arid landscape of our high inland desert.
These are but a few of the visible manifestations of a vibrant, imaginative and energetic people living on and in their land. As I have grown and experienced more of my life through the lens of a camera, I see more clearly than ever the profound relationship between who we are and where we live. I like to think of the magnificence of this land as a vision of the land we see all around us, and a vision of our imagining, of considering the greater possibilities in our lives.
Looking out across the landscape of our communities in this state, one sees an impressive gathering of people, ideas and achievements of global significance. Washington is the spawning ground for innovation and success in the realms of aviation, high-tech, agriculture, international trade, scientific research and the arts, to name a few. I believe that people, individually and collectively, seldom venture far from the reach of their vision. As I look around this state, I see the vitality and richness of this land expressed in the lives of its people.
The images in this book represent my best work in the past 10 years from many journeys across the landscape on both sides of the Cascade Divide. Some places you might recognize; others might be a delightful revelation. The beauty of our state is all around us, out our back door, at our feet. Consequently, I went to no extraordinary lengths to photograph the vast majority of these images. In fact, most were taken standing on or alongside a road, or a short walk from it. These photographs are quite literally: “What the Road Passes By.”
The titles for each of the three chapters and my descriptions introducing them are meant to be experientially and metaphorically descriptive from an artist’s point of view and not intended to be strictly scientific.
This is an exciting time to live in Washington, to participate in the unfolding and still-developing vision that we hold for our state. I hope that you might find in these images a collective vision we can all share — one that holds the promise of prosperity and inspires us to nurture and protect the health of this land as we would nurture and protect our own well-being. For in the very truest sense, they are one and the same.
In that spirit, I sincerely hope that you enjoy “Washington: The Art of the Landscape,” my personal portrait of this visual masterpiece, this living painting that we call home.
Earth and Sky
Light, distance, texture, the bones of the Earth, the bounty of flora, lush, sparse, barren, palettes of hues, the ever-changing drama of sky, where does the sky end and the Earth begin?
Photography, among all of its noble characteristics, is perhaps first, and foremost, about relationships … between ideas, themes, colors, shapes, textures, metaphors … I find the visual and metaphorical relationship between Earth and sky the most powerful and inspiring of all subjects in nature.
Preparing for and capturing such an image never fails to illicit the deepest of primal instincts and emotions within me … beautiful and deeply moving, yet always the profound and poignant realization of the vastness of life and the universe and my very small but meaningful place in it. This is my greatest joy.
The blue Earth from space, almost all water … clouds, ice, snow, rain, frost … our own being … the blood of the Earth body, the circulation system … metaphor of our emotions, our spirit … never can set foot in the same river twice, sometimes violent, placid, serene, trickling in winter, rushing in spring … reflecting light back to the sky and reverberating back to water once again, and again … illuminating everything before you.
It’s difficult to pick my favorite subject, but here it is … water. It comes in so many forms, shapes, textures, colors and moods, and those forms are ever-changing, infinite. It delights in being a lens, a projector of sorts, like a dynamic and playful conjoiner for all things above and below … never a dull moment in its presence.
Forests, meadows, marshes, ponds, flowers … wind breathing through the trees … giving its song a voice … deep, dark, foggy, cool, refreshing, comforting, spooky, shaft of light and spirit … faint essence of moss, cedar, pine … photograph a portrait from the roadside.
Standing among giants … A forest represents many things … shelter, strength, continuity, evolution, timelessness, fertility, life cycles …
Like a river, you can never visit the same forest. Though I may go back countless times to a favorite place among the trees, it always shows me something that I have never seen there before … maybe different light, perhaps it’s raining or foggy, maybe a tree has fallen down, or maybe the colors are more muted this autumn … like a box of chocolates … you never know what you’re going to get.
I love ponderosa pine, aspen, red alder, madrone, pinyon juniper, maple … each its own character, spirit and visual expression. Flowers … the emotional expression of Earth spirit … and us … what can’t be said with flowers?