Calendar Stories / by chris miele

The Visionscape selects:

I love reflection.  Sorting through a year's worth of projects, travels, and adventures stirs up all sort of emotions.  Perhaps that's why I love creating an annual calendar.  Aside from those feelings, I'm so humbled by everyone who chooses to spend their year with my images in that printed form.  For the 2017 calendar I chose to refocus on landscapes while continuing to highlight new locations, explore new themes, and pursue wider purposes.  These images range from time spent teaching workshops, traversing America's empty highways, and standing next to protestors in defense of Mother Earth.  These are a dozen defining images from the year accompanied by anecdotes that showcase the nuances of the trip, experience, and of course, adventure.  Cheers and thank you for supporting this aspect of my work.  Much love!

 

JANUARY: Green River, UT.

Sometimes I fight it, but I'm learning to pull over.  Thousands of miles of the road again this year has taught me to really pay attention to the brief windows of light and capitalize.  This pull over was on HWY 6 heading northwest through southern Utah.  It was my second time taking this route and after this image, it's now a staple route.  The shoulder was incredibly narrow, but I found enough room to pull over and shoot this from the drivers seat, window down.  These low angle shadows (crepuscular rays) were magnificent while the mesas in the distant foreground gave scale to how wide open the views are in the west. 

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February: Punchbowl Falls, OR.

This was my first winter expedition into The Gorge.  While it's a very well photographed place, the abundance of water gives you infinite options.  In this case, it meant suiting up in full chest high waders and heading deeper into the water for a better view.  Over-zealous in my approach, I fumbled my footing when setting up and took a dip.  Within seconds my waders were totally full of 45 degree water.  Without panic I held my tripod and camera above my head, floated on my back for a few seconds, and found solid ground again.  Naturally I toweled off and went back in to get a worthy shot.

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MARCH: San Diego, CA.

Winter is when we love to escape Detroit and return to the source, California.  This image was from a typical "sunset session" with our friends Bryan and Allie.  I had no expectations other than sitting on the bluffs watching the ocean shift and pulse against the shore.  In an effort to not miss any quality time with our friends, I simply setup the tripod right where we were sitting, mimicking our exact "point of view."  While this image felt lazy at the time, in reality it was a perfect use of my time. 

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APRIL: Standing Rock, ND.

After 2016, history is something I'm going to seek more in my imagery.  Upon leaving Burning Man, the story around the North Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) was building and I realized I needed to experience the indigenous gathering that was happening.  Instead of focusing on the intensifying protests, I immersed myself in the camp and the life thriving within it. Those three days spent alongside the true Americans were incredibly powerful.  This image was created within an hour of arriving at camp and stands as one of my most meaningful images to date. 

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MAY: Linn Run, PA.

In the spring I headed home to work on a commission project featuring local imagery, something I hadn't done much of in my career.  Childhood memories and family stories led me to Linn Runn State Park where fluorescent green forests and rushing water is ample.  While the work element of the trip was fairly standard, the family aspect was more important.  Standing next to me, shooting and learning, was my 13 year old niece.  Engaged and excited, we shot for several hours, something totally new to me.  That's why this image made the calendar.

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JUNE: Los Angeles, CA.

I still regret not shooting more of LA when I lived there, but I'm more vigilant of the sky when I return now.  After visiting with a good buddy and former neighbor, we raced the changing sky and landed perched high atop Mulholland Drive.  The rare clear day gave view to the Channel Islands as the sky erupted.  I spent many evenings atop this ridge pondering all the bustling life below, so it's no surprise that these were the views that gave me peace and clarity for the better part of a decade.

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JULY: Zion National Park, UT.

This Zion return experience was a first; a family vacation where I was in charge of leading the adventure.  My sister and her three kids committed to a week in the Southwest and I purposed that we didn't skip this one particular thing, hiking The Narrows in Zion.  Outfitted with comically clunky canyoneering boots and wooden walking staffs, we dove into the canyon and trudged along a several mile expedition.  After passing through the (most dramatic) Wall Street section we hit our turnaround point.  This image was from our lunch spot, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1200 ft below the canyon rim.   

 

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AUGUST: Standing Rock, ND.

I couldn't experience the power of the Standing Rock area and the importance of the movement without standing at the water.  I spent this whole day exploring and walking along the Cannon Ball River in an effort to see and understand how vital this waterway is to the Standing Rock Sioux.  To encapsulate this grand view, I stitched 5 images together.  In the distance is where highway 1806 sits.  Also in the distance is the bridge that was blocked by militarized police later in the demonstrations. 

 

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SEPTEMBER: Black Rock City, NV.

I couldn't avoid the temple this year at Burning Man,  Perhaps it was all the architecture I now incorporate into my work, but its design commanded my attention.  As dawn nears on the playa, it's somehow easier to seeing the impending colors forming.  With that said, I was definitely teeing up this shot for at least an hour before the sun rose.   

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OCTOBER: Lake Sabrina, CA.

My last trip to the Eastern Sierras was to lead a five day photo workshop and I spent several days before the workshop assessing the conditions and my favorite locations.  Upon arrival, Lake Sabrina was my first stop.  The higher elevation of the lake and its central proximity within the Eastern Sierras provides a pretty good look at how fall is progressing.  The drive up alluded to some potential snow, but the real magic was seeing the full gamut of fall unfolding.  Snow had just kissed the 10k ft peaks while the aspens progressed at various speeds, all combining to give me my best look at fall to date. 

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NOVEMBER: Wahclella Falls, OR.

My first Pacific Northwest waterfall.  With water roaring all around me, I cautiously waded up to my waist to find my composition.  On this expedition I fell in love with Oregon and The Columbia River Gorge. 

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DECEMBER: Taos, NM.

Taos had been out of our reach for quite awhile, but despite two vehicle breakdowns in less than a week, we made it to the reclusive northern New Mexico hideout.  We battled several intense moonsoon thunderstorms on our ascent from Santa Fe, but managed to chase down the last bit of summer light.  As the panic of missing a shot consumed me, we pulled over on HWY 64 north of town and reveled in the final moments of the day.  

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