Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry
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Friday, April 25, 2008

Where's Waldo


PHOTOGRAPHER'S DIARY: I need to remember to walk quietly. I crossed the crest of the hay field, and sparrows foraging in the grass made their guilty escape. "Slow down, walk lightly," I told myself. "Meeker Swamp is a quiet spot; it's best to go as a swamp thing. Places removed from our daily rush can be skittish."

Then, rounding the bend of the trail with the swamp now in view the bony, hunched thing inflated like a child's kite, and in two long flaps was over into another part of the swamp, safe from my view. I'm not certain why I want to catch the great blue heron in flight or if the kind of shot I want is possible. Can a still image catch the slow beat of those majestic wings gathering air or the slow stride of the long neck gliding across the water?

Such shots take planning. My lens is habitually set for things that stand still. Everything must change when stalking the great blue. I zoomed my lens to 400mm scanned the trees across the swamp for compositions, and a tree limb turned its head. At first I couldn't believe it. There was my hunch-shouldered friend stationed a very safe distance across the pool like a wizened prophet.

There was no lake, but I wasn't about to be too picky. For twenty minutes he did little more than turn his head or shift his weight. I moved less. Twenty-five minutes later the blackbirds arrived, it seemed like dozens of them, to perch on nearby tree limbs and taunt me. One can only withstand their yattering provocations so long. It was in that moment that I turned to see how close the blackbird at my back had ventured. When I turned back the prophet had gone.