This coming May, it will have been one year since I discovered a small grove of California Buckeye chestnut trees. A place to which I remain strongly drawn to and I look forward to revisiting before the heat and drought of summer sets in and changes the environment into a fiery wasteland.
On my way to the Old Pioneer Cemetery in St Helena, California, along Highway 29, where I was going to document the site for an on-going project, that I had passed the Bale Grist Mill and noted that on the way back home I should have a look at the historical site.
After looking around the Bale Grist Mill, it was by now late in the afternoon and the sun had started to set low behind the mountain ridge, rendering the area across the street from me, in a warm golden aura that grabbed my attention.
Once I crossed the street, I needed to make my way through some dense tall shrubs in order to reach the trees I spotted from the mill. I did not know what to expect and I was not prepared for what I discovered.
Ever since childhood, trees played an important part in my life and even today, I take every opportunity to grow a tree from seed. So when I entered this area that was mostly obscured and hidden, it was as stepping back in time, when California was only inhabited by Indian tribes and a few grizzly mountain men, when California was virgin country and mostly unexplored.
I turned to MPro, one of my four favorite camera applications, trying to capture the scene in Black & White, as if it were photographed in the early days of photography. Not content in the results, I tried Hipstamatic, using the Jane lens with D-Type Plate film and after 24 exposures, still nothing felt right. Normally I would use the Jane lens with DC film, but it would be simply to modern, so another try, another combination.
In the end, most of the remaining one hundred and eleven shots were captured using Jane lans with C-Type Plate film, as it not only captured the mood but also the essence of my discovery.
I left the protected grove of chestnut trees with a sense of awe, feeling I have been privileged to witness a living time capsule, where time just stood still, uninfluenced by human touch. I knew I would have to return to observe the passing day, view the changing light’s effect upon these few acres of land and see if it would reveal any secrets, stories long forgotten by those who passed here before.
All photographs taken with an iPhone 4S by
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