Landscape: Meadow


San Juan Meadow

I know. It’s a little confusing to look at. It’s a mess, really. But I like it. It’s one of my favorites from this portfolio.

It is supposed to give the feeling of being there in the moment. A meadow high with grasses and weeds. It was photographed in a refuge that I always found myself going during my 4 year stint in Southern Orange County California called the San Juan creek bed.

Everything in Orange County is organized, categorized and labeled. Tracts of unused land don’t really exist there. Land is too expensive to be ignored and every square foot is planned. The problem with that is that open, unused ground is soothing to me. So San Juan Creek served as a sanctuary for me in SoCal.

I spied it on the way to work one day rushing in my suit and tie. I’d always catch myself staring at it from the freeway from then on. It just pulled me in. When you get down in it you can hear the roar of the cars 500 yards away from the freeway. Walk another 500 and you only hear the birds and buzzing of insects.  The radiant sun above and the sound of mud sucking my shoes beneath added to my pleasure.

I loved my time photographing that place. I never grew tired of it. No matter how stressful or messy things were in my life, that creek bed was there for me willing to reveal its secret wonders. Nature’s secrets are only a pause away.


Technical information, photo tips and philosophical ramblings:

Shot with my trusty 5×7 Crown Graphic view camera on Ilford 100 delta film. Hand processed in trays in my laundry room while listening to Bob Dylan on my Ipod. Good times. Contact printed on Ilford matt surface fibre based paper. In my laundry room. Listening to the Killers this time though.

If you squint while looking at this photograph you see the diagonal line running left to right. That’s the dominant line of this photograph. The texture created by the weeds give vertical activity and I hope that it makes you feel like you are standing in a meadow of deep weeds. If you don’t than that’s OK.

The exposure was……Sunny16. I wanted a little more depth of field so I shot 1/15th at f32.5

A favorite photographer of mine Lee Freidlander made a lot of photographs like these. He did an entire book with a wide format Hasselblad camera in the Sororan desert in Arizona. He said in the forward after a lengthy explaination of his philosophical reasons for the photographs that “most likely they will be like a long scratch of a nail on a blackboard”.

Thanks for reading photo tips. Jon Ball is a portrait photographer living in Boise, Idaho. You may admire his portraits at

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