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Water-shields And Reflections

There is memorable and there is unforgettable.

I had first come to Walden Pond in early April 1991. Trees were bare, but I did find some beautiful roots on the path encircling the pond. These are in the Walden Pond gallery.

However, about noon, on October 19, 1991 I was on the Pike looking for images when Walden came to mind again. Now was prime fall time. I packed up and headed to Walden Pond. I took the same hike as in April and came to a small pond opposite Thoreau’s Cove. It is the first image below. I took note of some glimmers in the water but decided to look around the area a bit more. Just a little further on was the site where Thoreau had built his cabin and I thought it deserved a look.

After an hour or two I remembered the glimmers.

From a distance they did not seem especially dramatic, but I planted my tripod on the edge of the pond, chose my lens and looked on the ground glass.

This one moment encompassed all of the reasons why I photograph. It seems now something like “From Glimmer to Glory.” I don’t remember the exact first view, but I do know that I recognized that what I hunted for was there by the well trod path encircling Walden Pond.

The water-shields were mixtures of green and purple and scattered in many packs, some dense and others sparse, around the whole pool with their tangled roots somewhat visible. But what made all the difference was what was happening on the north side of the pond where small fall trees were beautifully lit by the mid-afternoon sun and reflected in the water nicely surrounding the water-shields with various shades of orange but leaving room for reflections of the blue sky.

I like to compose with only a subtle center of interest while leaving just enough structure to guide the eye. The arrangements of water-shields was perfect for dozens of images. I forgot about a meeting back at my gallery and exposed every sheet of film I had with me.

The image Water-shields And Sky Reflections (formerly and erroniously, Water-lilies And Sky Reflections) has hung opposite me at our informal dining table as a 32" x 40" print on water-color paper for 15 years. I have come to appreciate it more over the years. Recently we were listening to Robert Schumann’s’s Piano Concerto and I noticed that the strokes of water-shields had a remarkable resemblance to the phrasing in one part of the concerto.

This image was purchased by the famous singer Tony Bennett from a gallery in New Orleans. I know that for a fact because I met him at an event at Walden Pond for the opening of their new museum.

I had done a book of Henry David Thoreau’s writing called Walking and published by the Nature Company. It was reprinted six times.

In 1992 I discussed with the president of the Thoreau Society doing another book. For the next 10 years I photographed Walden every chance I had, but Wyman’s Meadow never looked the same again. There were some wonderful images but never the brilliance of that after noon in 1991.

In 2002 Barnes & Nobel published The Illuminated Walden. Global warming has since diminished the brilliant red leaves. I have not seen a collection of color photography comparable to what I have done. All with a 4“ x 5" view camera. Additional images are in several other galleries.

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