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Oak Arch --  Chris Carvalho/Lensjoy.com

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This area of the Columbia Gorge is a favorite hike of mine as it reminds me of my childhood home in California.  We lived in the Bay Area, and our home was next to acres of parkland with rolling hills and oak forests like this one.  Oh yes, the poison oak we had there is here too.  As a kid I spent many days roaming the trails of those hills and learning to appreciate nature.  It was a way to escape from the stresses of growing up:  bullying, homework, family quarrels, learning to make one's way in a world where I seemed different from everyone else and feeling that relating to others wasn't easy or natural.  

Those times weren't all bad and we had a lot to be thankful for as a family.  Things turned out just fine in the end.  Now I walk trails in another state, living a life I've created from the wisdom I learned in those early days.  The canopy of this tree represents the comfort and protection nature has provided my whole life, while the view beyond reminds me of goals and future achievements.  The work to reach them is much like the hike:  hard at times, but rewarding and satisfying, and full of surprises when one is watchful of the little things along the way.  

I passed by this tree many times and it drew me in with my camera.  Over several years, I found the right time in spring and the right lens and film to create the scene that was so easy to see with my own eyes.  It turned out that making it on film wasn't that way at all.  This location is windy and the light is harsh most days.  I had a 4x5 camera set up but with too much wind to shoot, I was running out of light with a large shadow entering the foreground.  Finally, there was a pause in the breeze and everything fell into place.  I had to let out a triumphant shout when I snapped the shutter.  Later when I looked at the film, I noticed a surprise.  There was a lizard perched on the lowest large limb, a few inches from the trunk on the left.  The full detail view shows it close up.  It seemed to be looking out on the same vista and enjoying it as much as I did.  

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Info:  Chromira digital print of Provia 100F 4x5 chrome, Fuji Crystal Archive CD paper
 

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