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January

2024

The Viewfinder: Framing the Forest

By Gary Randall

The Viewfinder: Framing the Forest

I’m so at peace while I’m in the forest among the trees, old, new, even those that have fallen, nourishing the earth for the next generation. The aroma of the trees and plants blend with the decaying organic matter creating an earthy aroma that is just as beautiful to me as a finely crafted perfume.
When the sun is shining I love how it filters through the branches of the trees, casting dappled light, illuminating the lush green plants and mosses on the forest floor. I love a foggy morning when the same sunlight cuts through the mist in the trees, creating epic beams. Even a rainy day that moistens the forest and feeds the creeks and creates a beautiful, more colorful green, while the filtered light works to blend shadows and light into the even tone characteristic of a lush rainforest is magical. A forest has something to give no matter the weather.
Here around Mount Hood we’re fortunate to have some incredible forested trails, most with beautiful creeks or waterfalls. All of the forests that encircle Mount Hood are world class in their beauty. This includes the epic Columbia River Gorge.
On a typical day on a trail in a forest I don’t consider myself hiking. It’s more of a walk because I usually have no destination nor do I have an urgency to be somewhere at a certain time. I like to walk casually, observing the details of the forest. I try to absorb the experience and the feeling of being there. If I find a beautiful grove of trees, a creek or any kind of scene that stands out to me I stop and look around. I don’t pass it by without noticing its beauty. I’m not just in the forest, I am trying to become a part of it.
I’ve always had an interest in hiking and the outdoors – even as a child, hiking with my family was a special time. But there have been eras in my life when I just didn’t have that luxury. Reflecting upon those days I remember how I lost some of my connection to the forest and the outdoors. I think the more time one spends in the natural world, the more they become a part of it and want to protect and share it with others in hopes that they, too, can feel that connection. Unfortunately not everyone is able to walk the trails due to physical constraints. These are the people I like to share my forest experiences with the most.
Because I’m a photographer whose main interest is landscape photography, I’m in a unique position where I can show people these places. Forests are my favorite type of landscape to photograph. Usually when you pass by me in the forest I’ll have my camera and tripod with me, trying to do justice to the scenes that I come across. I’ll photograph a wide angle scene that will include the whole forest as well as use a macro lens to photograph the small scenes that are typically overlooked. It’s in this way that I observe and notice all that the forest has to offer.
It really doesn’t matter what brings you to a trail through a forest, just remember to relax and try to feel a part of it. Walk a little slower and don’t forget to stop and absorb the scene, its smell and its light. Notice the details, the small plants, flowers, mushrooms or even the critters that reside there. In these days of stress and tension, how much better would the world be if people were able to take some time and go for a walk in the woods? Most of us living here on The Mountain have no reason to not go and clear our minds and our spirits by taking a walk in the trees. Make the world a better place - go for a walk in a forest.

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