Friday, July 23, 2010

Expedition Success

One week.  Torrential rain.  Miles of bushwacking.  Early mornings.  2400 photos.  One amazing experience.  That sums up last week's photography expedition of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.   Exploring was the name of the game. We hiked and paddled the stretch from Gordon Dam to CCC Landing, then drove south and explored the backwaters and dalles between St. Croix Falls and Somerset, and finally we ended the trip by exploring the Upper Namekagon between Namekagon Dam and Pacwawong Dam. 

What made this trip truly unique was the manner in which the boys got to experience the river.  Most people experience the Riverway from the seat of a canoe.  However, we have discovered over the last few months that photos area easiest to create from the river banks.  When you slow down, photos begin to emerge that you would otherwise miss: a bee on a flower, the playful way water trickles over some rocks, a songbird resting in the shadows.  It is from this place of stillness and patience that the deeper spirit of the river begins to reveal itself, and we tried to maximize such opportunities for ourselves on this expedition.    The experience was more than can be described in words, so I'm thankful this a photo blog.  Below is but a small sample of the amazing photos the boys created last week.

I want to extend a special thanks to NWP staff members Tim Eckert and Jason Greatsinger for making this venture a success.  Jason was able to capture some amazing video, Tim proved to be the most talented fish filleter I have ever met, and both were passionately dedicated to the cause. 

-Ben Thwaits, project leader.

"I love this picture because when I took it, the ducks got so comfortable with me.  I was able to get really close, and it almost seems like you can reach through the photo and pet them."  -Devante, age 16.

Devante revels in the feeling of a good shot near Namekagon Dam at sunset. 

Life is like a sunset
Beautiful and quick
Never knowing when it will be laid to rest
So I take this life and try my best
But always seem to do the worst.
To get through this there needs to be more
Of the things that make me feel whole
-Photo and poem by Lee, age 16.
  Lee gets acquainted with a new friend near Buckley Creek Camp on the Upper St. Croix. 

"I took this picture as the sun was setting.  I snapped the picture knowing that the sun would reflect off the water.  This picture means a lot to me because it shows that if something shines on you, you can shine it right back and make it more brilliant and peaceful."  -Matt, age 15. 

Matt settles in for some low-light photos at Pacwawong Dam. 

"This picture was taken at Interstate Park, near St. Croix Falls, which is my hometown.  For me, the river is a place I go to fish and relax and get away from it all.  I just loved being on top of this cliff looking down on the river with the beautful trees and sky.  It makes me feel at one with all the beauty of nature."  -Mike, age 17. 
Mike get up close and personal with a turks-cap lily on the Upper St. Croix. 

"I was taking a picture of a lily pad as we were floating in a canoe a couple miles below Namekagon Dam.  I looked up and saw the the deer walking real slow.  I was so excited, and I was able to get a picture!  She probably was wondering "What on earth are these people doing?" but she didn't seem scared.  When she got to the other side of the river, she just layed down in the grass and looked like she was napping.  It was an amazing experience to see."  -Travis, age 13. 

"I call this picture "Streaming Life."  I was laying in the water at Pacwawong Dam to get the shot, and I was worried I wouldn't get it to work before it got dark.  But I knew I had to keep trying.  I was using a 15 second shutter speed and tripod to get that blurred look of the water I was going for.  I finally got just the right shot.  To me, this picture shows that the river is full of energy, full of life in a constant flow.  And I feel like my life is just like the river--I have all this energy, and my life is now just beginning for the first time." -Derek, age 17. 

Derek always did whatever it took to get the shot.  Here, he sits in the current as Jason looks on with the video camera.

1 comment:

  1. Derek is an amazing photographer! His pictures are very evocative and beautiful. Keep up the good work Derek. The future is very bright for you and this group of amazing travelers you are with.