R. Alan McFarland


As a teen I roamed Yosemite with a 4×5 Speed Graphic in hand following in the footsteps of my idol Ansel Adams. I would then return home to spend hours in my darkroom – an 8x4x8 foot box – developing large prints late at night in our bathtub. Many years later watching a documentary I realized that both of us were trying to capture our spiritual experience of nature on film – always falling short – but creating some beautiful failures nonetheless.

You will find here my collection titled “Light upon Water” including abstracts, a few landscapes, and some in between. The earliest images were taken on film some fifteen years ago. The majority comes from a selection from thousands of digital images from a progression of cameras.

Following an Art Wolfe exhibit my wife and I started looking – really looking – sitting beside a river watching the sun go down. The dancing colors of the water and the patterns were glorious. We called one dance Green Gold Soup.

Then quite by accident some years ago I discovered that my exploration became a meditation on a most amazing “water art”. Sitting on a rock by a stream – a bit bored – I began clicking photos. Later at home viewed on a monitor those images made my jaw drop.

I was seeing water in an entirely new way. Unlike the goal of enlightenment, experiencing the subtleties of nature is relatively easy – just sit and watch and relax and let nature do the rest. In my case the camera helped teach me the focus I needed. Sitting with a friend sharing the awe is even better.