Twelve Months at Fort Ebey is done, completed, ready to be shown to the world. Of course, Fort Ebey is part of the world, so the world already knows about it. For me, Twelve Months at Fort Ebey is the tenth book in a five book photo essay of some of Whidbey Island’s nature, and it only took about fifteen years to complete it.
As I said in the books;
“My few visits spread across twelve months are one small slice of a very long story, yet more than a single Saturday visit and therefore tell more of a tale.“
The photos tell the tale. Forty-eight photos, four per month, two horizontal and two vertical, of Fort Ebey’s shoreline. The best way to see Nature is to get out into it, sit with it quietly, and notice what it delivers. Each of these books (including my three narrative versions in the Cascades) emphasize Nature as nature tends it. There are always a few photos of our impact, because we’re part of the story.
The photos tell the tale, but are not all sunrises and sunsets; which confuses some people. Think back 15 years. Social media was new. Instagram probably wasn’t even operational. Every photo wasn’t going to be a blast of color or hyper-enhanced. Snapshots are good, and they sell well; but my intent was to produce my version of art, and to chronicle various perspectives of Whidbey Island. The island’s downtown waterfronts are attractive, but there are enough photos of them. I am impressed by the Whidbey Island that existed before us. Some of that nature remains.
The shoreline shifts. The whales and salmon swim by. Herons and eagles feast. And yet, I’ve been surprised by people who say there is nothing to do here, nothing’s going on. Look up! An osprey and an eagle may be dueling over territory or food. Look down and see Dungeness Crabs commuting with the tide for their prime dining. See madronas, rhododendrons, and skunk cabbage coloring the landscape in different seasons.
Nothing going on?
Technologically, the era was different. I was able to buy a digital SLR camera. Yeah! Film has its features, but I never liked the chemicals. (But Kodachrome gives nice bright colors. And yes, I bought a Nikon.) With digital, take photos, and don’t have to load more film every 36 shots. Lots more photos. Lots less mess. Much easier to share and print. I bought mine on sale at Amazon for about $600. That came with two lenses, and a sensor that could capture 6 meg images. Six!
Let me do some quick research. Let’s see: Galaxy A10e, circa 2018, 8 meg – and comes with a phone and a computer that fits in my pocket. Buy an SLR today and get an old one for about the same price, 20 meg, superior processing and filters, and more.
Fellow photographers have argued for me to buy a better camera, but I decided to use the same camera so the series maintained continuity. I also decided to maintain the same style: no cropping, no fancy photoshopping (though I made Joe Menth at Feather and Fox grimace as he cleaned up dust and such, straightened horizons, and balanced some obviously unbalanced colors), hardly ever a tripod, natural lighting. Minimalism in action, or non-action.
That philosophy made sense for the first five years. But Great Recessions and Triple Whammies happened, so I couldn’t pursue producing more than the books. A hiatus happened while I began to financially recover. Just over five years ago I decided I liked producing such a photo series. The island has many more sites than the first five:
I decided to fill in with five more:
I may be done. Fifteen years for that camera has meant scratched lenses, a scratched sensor, and enough sand in the gears that the autofocus is slow and grinding. Fifteen years for me has meant older eyes, stronger prescriptions, and somewhat shakier hands.
I may be done, but I hope the idea isn’t. I’d be happy to hear that some island photographer was going to continue the idea with other areas: Ebey’s Landing, South Whidbey State Park, Baby Island, Ala Spit, Hidden Beach? There are limits. I tried to only visit places that were open to the public, were natural, and allowed photography. My main outlier was Cultus Bay. I started there because I live there. Baby Island is worth checking with the Tulalip Tribe.
The photos are available online (Fine Art America). The online site will print them, but if you want a custom job, or simply want to keep the business local, contact Joe at Feather and Fox.
The photos are also available as small, hardback books using high-quality paper (Blurb). I sized them for easy gifting and shipping.
I hope to exhibit them, either individual series, greatest hits, or as a comprehensive show. That last one would take a lot of space. Ten years of four photos a month is 480 photos. That’s a lot of wall space.
I will continue to take photos, but you’re more likely to find me in that crowd of folks trying to look past the glare of a smartphone screen – at least until my finances improve sufficiently. I might also go back to the inspiration for the first three Twelve Months series (Barclay Lake, Lake Valhalla, Merritt Lake), which were more narrative than photographic. Hmm. First the Cascades, then Whidbey Island, – maybe the Olympics? An excuse to visit Hurricane Ridge, Kalaloch, Lake Cushman…
And, as for my fiction and non-fiction books, there’s a story there – or here (Tom’s Farewell To WOWI – Writing On Whidbey Island podcast).
Reblogged this on About Whidbey and commented:
Twelve Months at Fort Ebey + nine others. The ten year project is complete!
(And available as prints and books, of course.)
BTW I am still hunting for someone on Whidbey Island to take over the blog. Interested?
Checking in. Congratulations on the job!