“I want to see the trees...”

Finding an Overlook

I want to see the trees like this, I want to see the trees—

birds do it, perhaps flying insects too. However,

the speed of the Interstate had taught my eyes not to drift.

But the camera changed me: I slowed down

and soon discovered how I could photograph in a new way.

A canopy of trees can protect and hide, but those above

it see that which gives a thrill for its mass

suggests the miracle of the breathing of leaves.

Each spring thrills with portents and we know there will be

not just buds and flower, but leaves in congregations that

if we are of suitable mind will bring a worship of creation.

Trees do not just exalt in sunlight and rain,

they breath for us,

so the sea of carbon becomes the sire of all that grows,

and for our lungs and spirits it provides, and —

Oh! a tree with the spirit of Van Gogh.

My god...I cannot tell you of the glow in me to see

from all places The Pike!, and sitting on a steel rail

with Boston’s morning business roaring by a photograph

now forever in a museum. What fortune to find hidden

so nearby, I had never thought to look.

New England Monthly called them (naturally, although the publicity was welcome nevertheless) “Pike Pictures” for an article featuring several full page spreads.

I went a bit bananas when I first looked over the guardrail in Weston, Mass. and saw acres of what I think of as pointillist because of the dots of buds. The view was up close and high because the design of the Turnpike called for several valleys to be filled and so provided me a place to stand and see.

These photographs changed me forever. They tapped into an aesthetic where the texture (often fine detail) of the image became the motivation to create a composition. These images also triggered the notion of images that were hidden although nearby.

As I discovered more overlooks of overlooked images I wondered how many, if any, of the thousands of commuters had a hint of what I saw.

I thought at first that shooting with a view camera from an Interstate highway a handful of feet from high speed rush hour traffic and 18 wheelers was not exactly an idylic (or safe) experience and I tried every which way to avoid it, particularly if I had to park in the breakdown lane. In this case I got lucky for an entrance ramp provided parking space well away from the breakdown lane. It left a walk of a few hundred feet although with a very narrow foothold.

Click The Tree Canopy Gallery or click on the picture.

But this was just the beginning for the various species of trees turned various colors at various times and provided something that felt like fall, but was so beautifully painted and finally detailed that they suggested a kind of pointillism.

Then there were several conversations with the Turnpike police that eventually required a visit to the Turnpike Authority for formal permission.

However, the encounter I remember most was standing next to my camera which was pointing at the valley of trees. “What are you doing?” Taking pictures. ”Of what?” The trees, and then a look of puzzlement.

After signing a release that I would not blame the Turnpike Authority if something should happen to me, I continued shooting the Pike for a total of ten years.

But that was not all as I discovered overlooks on other Interstates. An overlook on I-190 in Holden, Massachusetts over the Quinapoxit River was too good to pass up. I took my chances by hoping no police would came and then with more risk.

However, this overlook (below) was on a high bridge with no guardrail and serious shaking as the 18 wheelers passed by. But what the hell. I had to time my shooting between the trucks for they shook the bridge and hoped that no one needed the breakdown lane while I was focusing under the dark cloth. This eventually led to several outings. One I remember was after an afternoon of thunderstorms and guessing there might be a nice mist at sunset and I was right.

The Weston Overlook on the Mass Pike

Weston Overlook from ground level

From the Entrance Ramp in Millbury

Spring Sunrise I
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