Bloganuary Day 27: Solitude

Photo by Denise Ruttan

Bloganuary Day 27 Prompt: Where do you go when you need solitude?

I go to the woods. Maybe this is not true solitude as I always have my partner with me when I go hiking, but I always feel calm around him so I think it counts. I’ve been out there alone, too. I am lucky enough to live in a city called Corvallis, Oregon, just an hour and a half drive southwest of Portland, in the heart of the Willamette Valley. It has a swathe of wonderful, uncrowded hikes just a five minute drive away. It is one of the best perks of living here.

Just five minutes and I can reach world-class beauty that people travel around the world to see. One of my 2022 goals is to go on a hike somewhere new every weekend; or even if it’s a favorite trail, to just go get exercise, fresh air and be among the trees.

I get some of my best story ideas while hiking, too. Just that meditative action of walking along a trail and avoiding tripping on tree roots puts my brain in story mode. I just keep thinking “What if?” and drive my characters to impossible situations in my head, then I must race home and write it down in my process notebook so I do not forget it.

I even got new hiking shoes to make my new goal more tangible. It not only gets me out of the house in a covid-safe way, but it gives me a sense of adventure, gives me an excuse to do photography, and helps my mental health. Hiking is great on many fronts.

Following are some photos I took from a hike last weekend on a trail called Vineyard Mountain. This is a trail through a vast wilderness that is owned by the local land-grant university. Unfortunately, it is also used as an experimental forest for forestry programs so it is not entirely pristine. But it is beautiful and I am glad a small section of it has been preserved for local residents to enjoy.

The rest of my photos will speak for themselves.

Photo Challenge: Black and Gray

I’m trying to make myself go out and shoot photographs at least once a week, so as part of that I am hoping to do more photo-blogging. Through investigating other photoblogs, I have discovered blogs that host challenges on various topics, which I found inspiring for my own photography.

The plan is to make myself go out to a local park or some location like that and shoot either according to what strikes my fancy or along the lines of a theme to focus my eye. I have enjoyed urban photography in the past, but when you live in a semi-rural suburb there is not much variety to photograph; you end up running out of town. Not shooting models any more, when your subject is readily provided in the form of a portrait, I was struggling to come up with ideas and consistent motivation. So in comes photo challenges.

For this week’s shoot, I was inspired by Life in Colour’s weekly Black or Gray challenge. I went to a local park in the rain, and at first I was thinking, what blacks and grays can you find in nature? Turns out when it is nearing the middle of November, there are quite a bit of dying things and shadows to explore. Without further ado, here is my take on Black and Gray. All photographs copyright Denise Ruttan.