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Back to Nature

Back to Nature
Photo Information
Copyright: Bob Harrison (BobH) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 40 W: 8 N: 192] (650)
Genre: Landscapes
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-10-06
Camera: Canon PowerShot S2 IS
Exposure: f/3.5, 1/200 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Reflections [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2009-05-05 5:32
Viewed: 6544
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 22
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This image is the seventh in my current series. It was shot several meters away from the previous post, again from my canoe. However, it was taken a year earlier than all the others in the series.

The image shows part of a small island at the end of the sand bar mentioned in my previous post, "Lily Pad Cove". At first glance this is not the pure nature photo specified by TN. However, a close look at the building will show that any human influence is far in the past. Nature is in the slow process of reclaiming the structure and returning the island to its natural condition.

Several of my previous posts have focused on revealing some of nature's gradual processes. In this case, the process of reclaiming the island is also gradual, like trees splitting boulders (my "split island" post from this same lake), lichens breaking down shore rocks ("minimalist lichen art"), or trees helping the process of granite exfoliation ("tenacity").

In the more than 40 years since I first visited this island, there has never been any evidence of human care of the cabin. As far as I have been able to tell, the only human presence has been sporadic short term visits by people taking advantage of the island's privacy. Those people have not seriously vandalized the structure, likely because they want it to remain for their occasional use.

During my decades of observation, the harsh Maine weather has ravaged the building. Aside from the removal of the front wall, the degradation visible thus far seems to be almost entirely natural. The windows went first, blasted by winter's northwest winds, which have nearly 1 km of fetch and hit the far right side of the island hard. The open front of the cabin may have been blown off from the inside, after the back side windows gave way. Shingles were next, degraded by the sun in the summer and pried loose by the same winter winds.

Without windows or intact roof for many years now, the assault of molds, mosses, and lichens on the interior surfaces is obvious. Walls, floors, and ceiling are being attacked from both sides and may fail before the support beams. The structural integrity is clearly compromised, but the roof could hold up for another 20 or 30 years at the present rate of decay. However, at some point, the bottom ends of the wall studs and door frames will succumb to rot, nails will be weakened by rust, and one day a storm will collapse the entire building into a pile of lumber.

When this happens, the degradation process will change and accelerate, much like what happens to a piece of rock broken off a large boulder by frost wedging. The new proximity of everything to the ground will allow easier access by soil molds. Mice living in the pile will assist by scattering nutrient rich droppings laden with mold spores, as well as spreading all kinds of microbes with their paws. Leaves will be entrapped by the wood pile, retaining moisture which helps the molds and other microbes do their job. Soil organisms will gradually move into the pile and accelerate the process, focused initially on the small amounts of soil building up in nooks and crannies.

Winds and storm waves will move the smallest pieces of wood toward the edge of the island and eventually into the water. The leaf mold accumulating within and on top of the remaining wood pile will finally cover the last of the former cabin and become new soil, eventually supporting a progression of grasses, woody shrubs, and trees. In my nearly half century of watching, the process is clearly not halfway done. If human influences are kept at bay, perhaps the return to nature will be complete in another 200 years.

Seeing this natural reclamation process move slowly but inexorably forward is a humbling experience. Humans frequently proclaim their victories over nature, but nature ignores our hubris and seems to always have the last word, often in a slow subtle whisper. Maybe we should all pay closer attention and listen more carefully to such messages. They have something important to tell us if we stop and listen.

Thanks for looking and reading.

tech notes-
shot handheld from a canoe, slight cropping and rotation, one step PS sharpening, slight tweaking of contrast, shadow/highlight balance, and total color saturation

rcrick, eng55, parthasarathi, tuslaw, anel, NinaM has marked this note useful
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Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To NinaM: wear of timeBobH 1 05-06 07:44
To anel: another reader!BobH 1 05-06 06:38
To tuslaw: eye catchingBobH 1 05-05 19:48
To nglen: Aha- caught in the act!BobH 1 05-05 19:41
To LordPotty: thanksBobH 1 05-05 19:35
To saeedabbasi: thanksBobH 1 05-05 14:14
To andykirkland: rocks and mysteriesBobH 1 05-05 14:04
To eng55: tradeBobH 1 05-05 08:00
To rcrick: not a Brisbane postcardBobH 1 05-05 06:01
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Bob,

Stunning mate the colours are beautiful and that refelection is amazing, just picture postcard perfect, really exceptional work t.f.s

Cheers Rick :)

  • Great 
  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2009-05-05 6:09]
  • [+]

Hi Bob,
It's a magnificent landscape.Vivid colors,POV,reflections and composition are perfect.Very well done!
Thanks for posting.

I'm finding a pattern in your images. Greatness. Adding to the other critiques I'll tell what I find to be the solid point for me in this shot. The rock. And I know you put that rock there on purpose. I want to see the shot from the front, to know what is in that shack. But I can't see in it. It's a mystery. That alone makes this a truly unique shot. I am afraid that if I were standing on that rock I would not know which direction to go. Because you have such great patience the reflection is superb. I would dive into the water chasing those refelctions.

Hi dear Bob ,
What a nice shot.
It has lovely reflexion.
Beautiful colours.
Very well captured.

Kind regards

Nice capture of the wild with splendid reflection.

Hi Bob,
Another beautiful image from your idyllic lake At one time TN moderators would have pulled this one for including a building,even if you were just demonstrating natures reclamation of such.
I have lots of amazing shots of old human structures overgrown by bush.
The West Coast was a busy mining area about 100 years ago and the forests around here are full of old abandoned cabins,mining structures and old steam locomotives.
I used to have ome on TL but I quit.
Maybe I'll join again one day.
Cheers & TFS

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2009-05-05 11:49]
  • [+]

Hi Bob . This to me is one of your best picture in the series so far. The colours and the detail in the tress. i like the large blolders on the waters edge. Once again a first class refection. well done TFS . all with interesting notes too.


  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2752 W: 280 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2009-05-05 19:17]
  • [+]

Another eye catching image Bob,
I don't know which I like best the reflection or the actual scene, they make a terrific pair!! The composition is perfect and the colors are magnificent!! TFS.

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2009-05-06 4:35]
  • [+]

Hello Bob,
A very beautiful view on this little island and the reflection of trees and little cabin in the water. Interesting to read your note. In the mountain area where I have my chalet there are a lot of buildings decaying too. Only the foundations are in stone, they remain in general. But it s interesting to follow these evolutions and change of things .
Thanks a lot
Best regards

  • Great 
  • NinaM Gold Star Critiquer [C: 773 W: 3 N: 1157] (4077)
  • [2009-05-06 7:28]
  • [+]

I love the wear of time captured in pictures, it is so fascinating and you describe it so well. Even though you use a scientific approach, there is poetry in your prose, should I say love for nature?! Superb post, Bob. Beautiful place and you make us love this place.


Very much a painting quality Bob. You should try and use a photoshop filter to change it to an oil painting. Love the colours and the folky look to it. Very cool to come upon. TFS Trevor

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