A family friend came over yesterday, and when I mentioned my intention of spending weeks photographing only one single place, Ballena Bay, he laughed and informed me “you’re gonna get sick of that fast.” I’m not convinced. And if you’re reading this I hope I can un-convince you too.
Biologist and writer David George Haskell documented a single cubic meter of old-growth Tennessee forest in his Pulitzer finalist book The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch In Nature. National Geographic photographer David Liittschwager narrowed in even further with his project A World in One Cubic Foot: Portraits of Biodiversity. Specific places have been the focus of some of the most notable pieces of nature writing: Walden Pond for Thoreau, the family farm for Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. Perhaps the idea of learning about nature by looking carefully at one place has some merit.
It is not always so easy to believe this effort will be worthwhile. And the patience required is trying. In the past two weeks, I’ve spent many hours sitting in one place, with my broken ankle screaming at me to elevate it, waiting to see something. And mostly I don’t see much even though I know there are lots of things to see, lurking under the water or flying around the corner. In his Ted talk, biologist and photographer Paul Nicklen recounted spending months sitting in one place in search of his subject: the spirit bear. It took so long he began to fear it would never happen and that he’d lose his job. Eventually, his patience paid off, and he captured stunning images of the elusive animal on film.
This week my reward was a rare lightning storm. It’s highly unusual to get electrical storms here. And I’ve never witnessed one like this one. I was waiting for other things like seals and sting rays, but the storm is what came. The photos are below. Here’s to hoping next week brings more surprises.