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Wyman’s Meadow

Walden Pond State Reservation

As I see it, my job is to look for images that are hidden, for that is what a photographer does. A photographer looks for and (hopefully) sees what others do not. It took me some time to learn how to do this and it has defined my life in photography.

In 1991, sixteen years after I purchased my camera I had already learned some important lessons, but I was not quite prepared for this one.

My wife, Susan Ziegler, worked for the state of Massachusetts parks department. One of her colleagues, knowing I was a nature photographer asked “Why doesn’t John go to Walden?” for he was one of the staff responsible for the Walden Pond State Reservation.

By that time I had learned that good and even great images turn up in unexpected places and at unexpected times. So I said I would have a look.

In early spring of 1991 I made my first visit. Not much was yet happening, but I did find some interesting roots and mosses along the path that encircled the pond. Then I forgot about Walden until one Saturday in October when I was photographing on the Mass Pike and I remembered Walden drove there and began to hike on the same path around the pond as in the spring.

I reached a bend in the path at a small bay in the pond called Thoreau’s Cove but just before the Cove I saw this much smaller pond that I later learned was known as Wyman Meadow, named after a local farmer. I noted some glimmers in the water and told myself I should come back and have a closer look. But I was close to where Thoreau had built his cabin and wandered in that direction.

I don’t remember if I made any photographs before I remembered the glimmers and headed back. There are moments that are memorable and occasionally those that are unforgettable. This was one of those.

I looked around and found a spot that looked promissing and planted my tripod at the water’s edge. I was not prepared for what I saw, but it was along the line of the image below.

The short version of the story is that I blew off a meeting back in Worcester (this was before cell phones) and exposed every sheet of film I had with me.

I erronously named this image Water Lilies and Sky Reflections for the petals on the water are known as water-shields. They do flower and their roots extend to the bottom of what is really a pool. Other images from that afternoon and from return trips days later are in the gallery Wyman-Meadow, Water-shields. As I recount on the gallery page, I returned every year for the following ten years and Wyman Medow never looked the same again. I made some favorate images several times, but the brilliant reflections were missing, the water was too low or too high or there were too few or too many water-shields.

The moral of the story is that it is important to visit a place again and again (although it is rare for the first visit to be the winner) but that certain places have for me been fruitful again and again, but always in a different way. A good example is the image below.

This was an afternoon several years later and rain had just stopped and the sun had come out. The water-shields were covered with rain drops. I had to wade into the water to get the right angle but then I could be close to the water-shields and rain drops as in the detail below.

Dew, Light And Water-shields I
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