Colors of Isolation
A journey through solitude. Utah - Big Bear - Pacific Coast Highway - Big Sur - Laguna Beach - Yosemite- Northwest Wyoming - Yellowstone.
A few days before the lockdown I was driving back from Utah. Shooting there was a wonderful experience as usual, however, my working days were filled with anxiety as the news about the spread of' unknown coronavirus began to escalate.
This picture was taken during one of those rare, warm and calming late winter evenings. When a peach colored sunset provides as much needed sense of coziness and comfort and uncertainty of the future was still just an old companion. The sense of danger or extreme confusion had yet to be associated with it.
I always thought colors have an essential influence on people. Most of us might not notice it in day to day life, but even if we don't pay attention to colors specifically, they have a subconscious impact on us. Especially, original colors, given to us by nature. Our associations and memories are born or inspired by the colors around us. Their magic is in everything.
I fell in love with the winters Utah a few years ago, when I first visited it in late March as well. Unexpectedly beautiful, it looks like an actual Fairy Tale. From snowstorms running around the plains to the still blue mountains reflected in the glass water of the unfrozen winter lakes. Doesn't it just look like a Snow Queen's Realm?
The last weekend before the lockdown I stopped at Big Bear on my way back to California. Although these past few months have felt like the equivalent to 5 years, I still remember it like it was yesterday. On Monday everything shut down. Back then I still thought it would be a matter of a couple of weeks trouble. How ironic, this next picture served as a metaphor for the year ahead.
On my way home emails started dropping one by one with the cancellations of all of my jobs. Within a a couple of hours I had absolutely nothing planned past the weekend. No matter what, I decided to stay optimistic and thought unplugging for a couple of weeks would be helpful for everyone as time to breathe and reflect. I put my phone on a plane mode and decided to walk the mountains for 2 days. In silence.
It was serene and quiet. They had a snowstorm on Friday, but during the weekend the weather stayed mostly warm and pleasant. The sun was welcoming and soothing as ever. The air was so crisp and fresh. Snow covered the hills and looked so soft it could pass for marshmallow. Just as the doctor prescribed.
I have noticed and loved how clouds from recently passed snowstorms would appear on the clear blue sky from time to time almost as the picture of what's to come. And as a reminder that all storms eventually pass.
As you can see the last day before the lockdown there were not many skiers around. Only top of the mountain remained to be hidden in thick fog and clouds. 'Lost' would be the perfect word to describe it, I think.
As the sunset was hitting the melting icicles on the trees, as a hint of fast approaching warm days ahead, an unmistakable feel of freshness brought a sense of hope.
And then, there was spring.
Blooming is always thrilling. It doesn't matter if you like Spring as a season or not, it always feels like a beginning. Something new, something fresh, something inspiring.
Of course, the Spring of this year was something completely different. Bouncing from anxiety to confusion, trying to decide if to use this time to do more work that we've been putting off, or to sleep and relax, because we will never have so much time again. More than anything we tried to learn how to live without relying on the future, but completely in the present.
Not a simple task. I decided to spend time in solitude using a familiar and all time working method to beat anxiety - reconnect with nature. Long walks. Alone. Far away from everyone and everything. Just the ocean and a once more mesmerizing pink sunset that turns water into flames.
We all know how cities turned into ghost towns. The land outside them became just as desolated, feeling both peaceful and restless.
San Pedro never loses its charm, no matter what is happening in the world. Although emptied as everything else, it seemed only to enhance the beauty of this place, making it look prosperous and lush.
The evening sun mixed with a light mist, the salt water in the air and the smell of roses, hits the lighthouse. It works just as a recipe to moments of happiness.
The ocean has always had a special place in my heart. Whenever I feel unrested with my own thoughts or have too many questions and no answers, I go to the water. Its vastness has always felt overwhelming to me. I believe it has powers that go well beyond human understanding, however, I always feel safe by the water. Somehow, it calms me down.
And grand golden sunsets of Golden State over the Pacific ocean never get old.
Somewhere in May, depression fed by anxiety and the feeling of claustrophobia got worse. I have enough books, films and photographs to work on so boredom is out of the question for me. Even though by that time it was clear that the situation wouldn't improve anywhere in the nearest future, staying at home didn't seem as challenging to me.
The problem was lying in effect that lockdown leaves on mental health. As I have already been struggling with certain problems, claustrophobia just exaggerated them. Sometimes stopping racing thoughts became almost impossible, so the only solution I had found was to get in the car and drive forward.
One of those days I drove all the way up the PCH to Big Sur then all the way down to Laguna Beach. As many gorgeous sunsets that California grants us almost every day, this was the winner of them all, in my opinion. I literally felt that I got into CGI world of Disney life action films. With the waves viciously hitting the rocks, water that filled the laguna once again looked as if it was on fire.
Honestly, if a mermaid popped out of the water I wouldn't have been surprised at all.
Not too shabby.
At the beginning of June I went up to Northern California to visit my Special Place. Although I don't want to disclose the location, I would love to share that I drove through empty Yosemite. I visited the park last Summer and it was filled with people engaging in favorite Summer activities. This year it was so still. As the waterfalls kept running, the forest of the valley oozed with vivid green and the rivers were cold and rejuvenating. Tranquility only emphasized the beauty of the place, reminding once again that nature isn't concerned much with human noise.
I will only say that my Special Place is located by the water (no surprise there). Its sky takes the color of the candy floss at certain hour, when the wind calms down and the air is filled with smells of dry sage and summer blooming.
One ordinary evening, ruminating at my apartment I went to to the balcony for a moment and saw this:
There was absolutely nothing special about that day. However, unexpected wonders like this sky serve as a reminder that ordinary things can always become special. I saw many beautiful skies. This one, out of nowhere, looked like it should be painted on the ceiling of a medieval castle.
It was a pleasant night. Warm winds suggested summer was just around the corner.
By the time summer had come I completely lost any hope to see the end of the quarantine. I even started contemplating a move to another state, but first I had to scout places. My wonders brought me to Wyoming.
Northwest Wyoming sounds like one of the most boring places on earth. Surely I didn't expect what I would find there. Rolling hills of spring fresh grass occupied with cows and horses, surrounded by rocky mountains still covered in snow (in the summer!). Meadows with wildflowers, massive puffy clouds and crystal clear fast rivers. Wow. Once again I thought someone must have painted it, because I had no idea how such a place could possibly exist in our reality.
Evening stormy clouds fighting with rays of bright orange setting sun felt like they were conjured by witches. No joke.
I think it is very possible that in a parallel universe, the events of Lord of the Rings took place in Wyoming area, not England. You will get all kinds of strange and/or marvelous thoughts, because the beauty of this place is unreal. Enjoy.
Of course, I thought since I had already gone all the way up, it only made sense to stop by Yellowstone. One of the best decisions of my life.
I have always had a fascination with volcanos. When I was five, I couldn't stop watching 'Dante's Peak', but let's forget about this remark. What I saw in Yellowstone completely exceeded all of my expectations.
It is such a colorful place! Deep teal blue geyser basin encircled by bright golden-copper mineral soil, that leaks straight into azure hued Yellowstone lake. Once again, I felt as if I was inside of a painting.
The water of Yellowstone lake is crystal clear, still, and gives you an opportunity to see little craters on the surface of the water.
The main thing about Yellowstone is that it appears to be a place where Earth is breathing. I can't imagine the depth of the craters, God knows where those lead to. My guess would be the very center of the Earth. At least that is exactly what the Grand Prismatic Basin feels to be. With its bottomless crater and massive fiery red mineral circles, the scene seemed to be where all the life starts. The steams absolutely adds to the idea of Earth breathing.
It felt like you could almost communicate with the planet. There was something healing in the atmosphere. Something magical.
Yellowstone is full of random small geysers and not only Old Faithful deserves your attention.
There is a strong reason why you are supposed to only walk on specially built sidewalks. One step aside, and you might become a buffalo's dinner, as you never know where it is going to burst. And once they burst there is no stopping it. It looks very entertaining, almost like geysers got into a heated argument between each other and just wouldn't quit.
Eventually, there is always a time to go home. After taking multiple journeys to the most scenic places, I realized that even though the world seems the most uncertain today, I am not afraid anymore. From spending a time in solitude, stillness and the beauty of nature, I felt stronger than ever life is built in harmony and balance and everything that exists is valuable and tied together, even moments that seem to be the darkest. I have a strong feeling that good things are yet to come.
Life is a rainbow.