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Hidden Images I

Interstate Highways

An inspiration from Eliot Porter changed how I viewed the landscape. His iconic image, Redbud Tree in Bottomland on the cover of his book Intimate Landscapes led to my thinking differently about subject, foreground and background. The usual subject became subordanent to a blend of the three elements and so I began looking for images in which the eye was given only hints where to begin to look. Subtle pathways were intended to attract the eye to every part of the image.

Such images do not happen everywhere, but I found my redbud on an Interstate Highway I drove on regularly. I had begun paying attention to roadsides and found a valley in Weston, Massachusetts that had beeen filled to leven the Mass Pike. It provided an unusual view close up to the tree canopy, and therein began a ten year love affair with views from the northern most east-west highway connecting Boston and Seattle.

Then, by luck (and vigilence) I found my own redbud on I-90 and later on several other locations on the Pike and eventually on other Interstates. You can get an idea of the variety of views on the Pike in the gallery I-90, The Mass Pike.

Poster Porter Intimate Landscapes
Early Buds on Maple Trees I

At this point the Pike ran over filled roadway to keep the highway level. A consequence was a unusual vantage point, high enough to be level with the tree canopy and yet close to it. (I learned over the years to come how unusual this was).

What I saw was a large ensemble of red buds, somewhat like a pointillist painting to be, of maple trees in early sprint, with the buds scattered over a large array of silver gray branches. This took my breath away and although it would mean shooting from the guardrail on a buzy highway at rush hour, I had to do it.

Highways continued to be important, expecially in this image. This was not an overlook but a tiny bridge on I-495 (the outer ring-road around Boston). I had been on assignment for New England Monthly Magazine photographing around a small stream in Littleton, Massachusetts called Beaver Brook. On this particular morning in July 1987, a morning fog obscured power lines (this was before Photoshop) on one of several visits. The image is called Dreamed Brook.

Dreamed Brook
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