The Key is Under the Mat

There’s something poetic about walking into a strange house and finding the remains of breakfast still on the kitchen table.  It’s November 14, and we were scheduled to photograph a recently remodeled kitchen. There were three of us, a representative from the architectural firm that had hired us, my assistant, and myself. The residents were off at work or school. We were left with instructions to let ourselves in; the key would be under the mat. As it turns out, the key wasn’t under the mat. But in the midst of poking around we discovered that the back door was unlocked. 

My first impression was that the home owners must have forgotten about our arrangements to photograph the place. Why else would one leave things in a total state of disarray. Once we confirmed that the homeowners anticipated our intrusion we got to work. But not before I photographed this cereal bowl with my iPhone.  It feels like it’s an invasion of privacy to capture this photo. An intimate snapshot of how people really live.  And I find myself creating all sorts of stories about what happened at the breakfast table that morning.

Olmstead Point

“Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but Nature’s sources never fail.” John Muir – Our National Parks, 1901

Lone tree at Olmstead Point. Yosemite National Park.
Lone tree at Olmstead Point. Yosemite National Park.

Olmstead Point is located in high country of Yosemite National Park. It’s 30.5 miles east of Crane Flat on Highway 120. It is a popular spot to stop and get a sense for the grandeur of the high sierra. There is also a short nature hike here. It is also away from the crowds of Yosemite Valley, although it is only accessible in the summer and fall. In winter Highway 120 closes.  Prints of the photo above are available in my online store.

This stop always brings back memories of the photography workshop I did with Ansel Adams in 1980. It was Ansel’s last Yosemite workshop, and while he was restricted to the lower elevations, The workshop instructors and students made our way to this point.