Category Archives: Travel


It’s hard to believe that three weeks have passed since we returned home from our Ecuador adventure. I had hoped to get some images posted sooner than this, but a long, particularly vicious bout of food poisoning (courtesy of the Mexico City airport) and a couple of upcoming exhibitions, which required my immediate attention, threw sand in the gears. Also, by choosing to travel without my computer, my normal process of downloading images everyday to manage my work flow was severely hobbled, and by the time I got home, with two full camera cards, I felt completely overwhelmed by the task of dealing with all those images.

Yet, I made a start.

Here are some of the colors of Ecuador and the beauty of the indigenous people that caught my eye on the streets of Cuenca, a beautiful colonial city in the Andean highlands; in the coastal town of Puerto Lopez; and at the archeological site of Ingapirca, ruins that were originally used by the Cañari people as an observatory.

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Not a lot makes sense these days. But travel, since it helps me to extend my perception, to open my eyes and my heart, and to escape the habits that bind me at home, is something that still makes sense.

Ecuador is calling.

I’ll be off-line for the entire five and half weeks we’re gone, but you can follow my travels either on Instagram or on my blog, if I can figure out how to post from my iPhone, not an easy task for someone as technically challenged as I am.


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Patrick in South Bend, Washington

Patrick. Photo © Jane Alynn.

























It’s been quiet on this blog for awhile now. I admit it, I’m not one of those photographer-writers who posts while on the road. A big part of traveling, for me, is disconnection from the usual routines, the habits of daily life, the dullness of familiarity. I like being lost.

I like losing myself amid abandoned structures in the middle of nowhere, in the tangle of weeds in the forefront of an urban skyline, in the street life of any town or city. I’d just as soon lose myself in the changing clouds, in the ripples on Roosevelt Lake, or in the cacophony of color on Baker Street than to lose myself in my computer screen.

But in my recent travels I discovered a new way to lose myself.

Wherever we went it was the characters who fascinated me. Though I’ve been a people-watcher for a very long time, I haven’t been a people photographer. But why not? Portraits have an an important place in photographic history. And anything that fascinates is a good subject.

So now I’m thinking about a new project: a series of images of people that tell a story about who they were at that moment in their lives. Patrick is a good beginning.

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Abandoned house with red door, Loomis, WA

Abandoned house with red door, Loomis, WA. Photo © Jane Alynn.

“The open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.”
⁓ William Least Heat Moon

tasting the berries
greeting the bluejays
learning and loving the whole terrain
⁓ Gary Snyder, from The Old Ways

“Most of us have a fire in the belly, a passion or desire that burns brightest in us. It’s the heat and energy from this fire that moves us forward, gives momentum to our projects, and authenticity to our voice…. Don’t you dare neglect feeding the fire in your soul; don’t for a moment allow the embers to grow cold. It’s never worth the sacrifice.”
David DuChemin, from “Tend the Fire,” posted April 1, 2015

Shortly after this post hits the ether, we’ll be on the road again. Some recent events woke me up to the fact that life cannot be taken for granted. If the things that stoke the fire in my soul are traveling and working on photographic projects that excite me, then now is the time. Not tomorrow, not later—now!

As a blogger, I know that consistency matters, and that long absences will lop off most of your readers. To my mind, the greater urgency is making the work. Doing work that matters imparts new vigor to the work and to your mind. And if that means being unplugged for awhile, so be it.

We’ll be traveling for about four weeks, exploring northeastern Washington State and the Canadian Okanagan Valley. Those old towns and abandoned mining sites have interested me for some time. Mostly, I’ll be using my medium format film camera fit with a zone plate to capture their place in time and timelessness, the ephemerality of dreams and memory, the dark beauty of decay.

There are certain images, of course, that are better conveyed as “straight”: the odd juxtaposition, the absurd, the ironic, the out-of-place-out-of-time characters, structures, and details. So I’ll be bringing a digital camera, too.

Just so you know, I’m still a bit of a simpleton about digital file management, and I have no experience in getting my photographs into Lightroom while I’m on the road. So I cannot promise any posts. However, I just opened an Instagram account and will at least try to post some iPhone images. You can follow me on Instagram at janealynn_photography.


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Joshua trees, Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua trees. Joshua Tree National Park. Photo © Jane Alynn.

It’s more than synchronistic that Terry Tempest Williams appeared at the Mount Baker Theater in Bellingham for a talk on the value of public lands, “breathing spaces in a country that increasingly holds its breath.”

I say synchronistic because I have this urgent dream to visit all our National Parks, not just the ones I return to again and again. And Tempest Williams came to share her new book, The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks, described by publisher Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux as “a literary celebration of our national parks, an exploration of what they mean to us and what we mean to them… Part memoir, part natural history, and part social critique, The Hour of Land is a meditation and a manifesto on why wild lands matter to the soul of America.”

Among the impassioned essays in this book are photographs from Lee Friedlander to Sally Mann to Sebastião Salgado.

It was a special, and I mean special, event co-sponsored by Village Books and North Cascades Institute.

I’m not sure how to attribute the following quotes, which I took from VB’s and NCI’s websites. I believe they are Tempest Williams’s own words and possibly appear on her book jacket.

“For years, America’s national parks have provided public breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadily disappearing.”

“By definition, our national parks in all their particularity and peculiarity show us as much about ourselves as the landscapes they honor and protect. They can be seen as holograms of an America born of shadow and light; dimensional; full of contradictions and complexities. Our dreams, our generosities, our cruelties and crimes are absorbed into these parks like water.”

From beginning to end, Tempest Williams, her vivid language and her presence, transported me. Several times I was brought to tears, listening to her experiences. One story, which is narrated in her book, she described a visit to Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley with her husband. While there, this is what they witnessed:

“A silhouette of coyotes feasting on a bison carcass, surrounded by bald eagles and ravens, appeared in our binoculars. As the light grew stronger the coyotes became nervous and left. The eagles flew. The ravens vanished. A large gray wolf entered.

Morning light illuminated the bison body, now more bones than flesh. We watched the wolf disappear into a red cavern of ribs. He emerged stained. In the several hours we watched, the wolf’s stomach expanded with each mouthful of bison ripped from the scaffolding of bones until he stopped eating, looked over his shoulder, sniffed, and walked back into the woods.

At dusk, we returned to the Lamar Valley. We wondered whether the wolves might be back on the carcass. Instead, two coyotes were picking on the bones covered by a buffalo robe. The coyotes disappeared into the the shadows with the last light of day.

An indigo sky deepened. A mile away, a herd of a hundred bison or more grazed unconcerned. Seven left and walked single file toward the remains of the mother bison. They circled her twice, sniffed her, nudged her body, and tightened their circle as they lowered their heads. They stayed with her until twilight. Then the bison left as they came, walking single file back toward the herd–save one lone bull who stayed behind.”

Her conclusion? “We are not the only creatures on this plant who love.”

“We are” she said, “but one species among many.”

Raven, Joshua Tree National Park

Raven, Joshua Tree National Park. Photo © Jane Alynn.

“Humility is born in wilderness,” she said. The lesson, of course, is that we must be good stewards and preserve what we can of the wild.

Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park

Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park. Photo © Jane Alynn.

Split Rock, Joshua Tree National Park

Split Rock, Joshua Tree National Park. Photo © Jane Alynn.

Several moments of silence followed her closing words. A bow to the power of her message. . . and to the truth of it.

“Nature,” she said, “is the pathway to peace.”

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Tulista Gallery, Sidney, BC

“Art Across the Water” exhibit at the Tulista Gallery in Sidney, BC

I’m just now back from a spectacular four days in Sidney, British Columbia, sister city to Anacortes. The primary purpose of this trip was to attend the art exhibition, “Art Across the Water,” at Tulista Gallery, a show that included one of my photographs, and to go to the opening reception for the show which was held at the amazing Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre/Aquarium of the Salish Sea. All those orphic and beautiful creatures on display are residents of the adjacent waters of the Salish Sea.

The town of Sidney is a small, vibrant seaside town located on the east coast of the Saanich Peninsula, a long promontory north of Victoria, B.C. that has become known as the “Provence” of Vancouver Island. I was so smitten with the place and time was so short that all I wanted to do was be there, unencumbered by camera, fully present in the town to experience its visual beauty, cultural vibe, and friendliness. So, other than a few quick digital images I made no film-based photographs. Here’s a glimpse:

Beacon Wharf Fish Market, Sidney, BC

Beacon Wharf Fish Market in Sidney, BC

Hungry seal at the Beacon Wharf Fish Market, Sidney, BC

Hungry seal at the Beacon Wharf Fish Market, Sidney, BC

Public art along Sidney’s waterfront walkway provides, like punctuation, stopping places for the eye and mind. Here is a sampling:

Jake James's Pirate sculpture

Jake James’s “Pirate” sculpture, Sidney, BC

Michael Robb's Ponticus sculpture in Sidney, BC

Michael Robb’s “Ponticus” sculpture, Sidney, BC

Sculpture in Beacon Park, Sidney, BC

Unknown artist’s sculpture in Beacon Park, Sidney, BC

Louis-Marc Simard’s “The Muse,” Sidney, BC

And then there are the “bench people,” sculptures created and installed by Nathan Scott. “Old Salty is looking to the sky and warming himself in the sun:

Nathan Scott's Old Salty sculpture, Sidney, BC

Nathan Scott’s “Old Salty” sculpture, Sidney, BC

When we finally tore ourselves away from downtown Sidney, we drove around the north and central regions of the peninsula, hugging the coastline as close as was possible, and meandered through the pastoral communities of the peninsula. Then heading south and west, bypassing Victoria this trip, we drove the old island highway along the Strait of Juan de Fuca as far as Sooke Bay. There we discovered the magnificent Sooke Harbour House on Whiffen Spit Road.

Flashback. Nineteen years ago I had written to Sinclair Philip of the Sooke Harbour House to ask about his use of edible flowers in his entreés. I was writing a piece on edible flowers, and someone (I can’t remember who) had recommended him as the best resource. At that time I assumed he was the executive chef. He responded, kindly and generously, with recipes and expressed an interest in seeing the finished piece. I regret never following through with the project or my communication with him.

Haunted by the memory, I searched for the Sooke Harbour House as soon as I got home. Turns out, Sinclair Philip and his wife Frederique own the place and have for the last 38 years.

I didn’t meet him this trip either, but I made a parting shot of the driftwood arbor that marked the entry to the grounds. Its intricate latticework seemed, somehow, to be a metaphor for the riddle and weave of this synchronous discovery.

Driftwood arbor, Sooke Harbour House, Sooke, BC

Driftwood arbor at Sooke Harbour House, Sooke, BC

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Roads are a record of those who have gone before. ~ Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking


What am I doing here? ~ Arthur Rimbaud, writing home from Ethiopia


The open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself. ~ William Least Heat Moon, Blue Highways, 1982. Preface.


I’m amazed to think how many times I’ve traveled this highway and never considered making it a project. I love places that seem as if time has passed them by.

Even though US 2 is a transcontinental highway, it’s often only two lanes wide, a thin ribbon of road studded with small towns that remain outposts of nostalgia. General stores with faded signs still rent videos; old filling stations are adapted for quirky businesses; ramshackle houses and boarded-up buildings stand in the prevailing winds of decay. And yet, the folks who live there are proud of their history and don’t want to leave.

But change is inevitable. And I feel an urgency to capture what remains of the towns along this highway, where Main Street cuts through a landscape of simple beauty.

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Rural Road, Douglas County, Washington

Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.

Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself, Leaves of Grass

Also posted in Inspiration, Photographs, Poetry, Uncategorized

Giving Thanks

On the Church Steps, Lourmarin, France

On the Church Steps, Lourmarin, France. Photo © Jane Alynn

Today, I want to share an image for which I am especially thankful.

I took this photograph several years ago when I was lucky enough to spend several weeks in Paris and also in the Provençal countryside. For that opportunity alone gratitude was in the front of my mind.

While I am always grateful for photographs I make when everything comes together—the right light, a captivating moment, the relevant compositional elements—so that what I am seeing and feeling gets communicated, sometimes an image that is less than exceptional can have a large impact and can change me.

This photograph was one of those. What made it so important was:

1. I was in France, a country that filled me with wonder and love, and I was changed by being there.

2. I had never before focused my lens on people and in doing so realized a long-buried ambition to capture moments of humanity. This has added a whole new dimension to my work that pleases me.

What photographs have you taken that changed you or that impacted you in some way?

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Roll with the Punches

Carpe Diem, Port Townsend, WA

Carpe Diem, Port Townsend, WA. Photograph © Jane Alynn.

I just spent several days in Port Townsend. The main reason for my visit was to make images. In particular, I wanted to photograph Fort Worden’s extensive system of large, abandoned bunkers, creating new work to add to my What Remains portfolio.

As I stood among those fascinating structures, awed by their complexity, aware of their dark history, I set up my tripod and camera, loaded my film, and turned the crank. Instead of stopping at the first frame, the crank advance kept turning. Oh, no! I thought. My camera is broken! Indeed, after several tries, it was clear my camera’s advancing mechanism was not working properly. Shortly after that I took a hard fall and my camera and I went tumbling. It took me about five seconds to call it a day.

But life is like that. It requires flexibility. By accepting this and adapting to the circumstances as they are instead of what we want them to be, we open ourselves to new possibilities. So, I decided to roll with the punches and see what I could do with my digital camera. I was too bruised and achy to do anything more at Fort Worden, but the accessibility of the boat yard offered me exactly what I needed.

Carpe diem is usually understood to mean “seize the day”; its more literal translation is “enjoy the moment.” And I did.

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