ne of my favorite parts of the journey between my home
in Bend and the Willamette Valley, is a beautiful marsh
area just east of the Santiam Pass summit. I have always
been intrigued by the way the aquatic plants there turn
marvelous shades of red, brown and burgundy in the fall.
I’d wanted to photograph a scene like this for
a long time. However, my timing was never quite right
to capture the color when it was peaked, the right lighting
on the pond, and enough water in the area all at the
One day in October of 1994 while returning to Bend,
I observed all the conditions in place, except it was
too sunny. So the next cloudy day, I returned to the
pond. I strapped on my hip boots, one of my most valuable
photographic tools, and worked my way through the unstable
footing at the marsh edge. After about an hour I spotted
a potential composition that unbeknownst to me would
require full immersion. I very carefully waded toward
the image. With each step I sank deeper into the thick
debris layering the bottom. A couple of times I had
to stop for fear of going over the top of my boots.
When I reached the leaves of my intention, I worked
with my tripod as it continued to sink deeper into the
soft bottom. After fine tuning the image composition,
my camera sat only a foot above the water surface. While
making these adjustments, I finally reached my critical
limit of movement. At this point ice cold water rushed
in over the tops of my boots. Talk about a wake up call!
After recomposing myself, I was able to create ‘Sweeping
I chose ‘Sweeping the Sky’ as the title
because of the way the leaves and grasses sweep across
the unseen blue sky that is reflected in the upper portion
of the image. It felt right.