The Last American Homesteaders: Pt III

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These photographs depict the otherworldly slices of land built by undefined hands. Each image brings a revelatory peace of mind, one normally construed around the mazes of walls, stop lights and traffic signs. They are the places where the wind blows freely, sweeping across spaces that allow weather to continually shape and form an existence meant to do exactly that – be shaped, formed and changed. There are no bricks, no concrete, no rebar. Only the elements of time appear unnatural.

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The Last American Homesteaders: Pt II

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Country living is dynamic, inside the cabin and out. Things don’t appear the same as if you’re living in an urban environment. Instead of concrete or brick foundations, walls are made of not just wood, but entire logs…big logs. And instead of finding house plants and framed pictures on these wall of beautiful distant locations, you’ll find what was once living in your yard stuffed, anthropomorphized and placed inside. Once again, country living is all about being in harmony, or being one, with nature, and then taking that to a new level.

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Sand rats are friendly despite their appearance once giving a human personality

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A coyote guarding the door

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A black bear and badger go head-to-head for a dead sand rat.

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Stepping outside you’ll spot a frozen land awaken as a river passes listlessly through the valley. Hints of pinks and oranges wash away the purples of night while geese begin to ruffle and hawks take flight. Another day in the country.

Next Post (Pt. III) –>

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The Last American Homesteaders: Pt I

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Life in the country is not an idealized peaceful existence unless you subscribe to the following as elements of such; 5AM start times to milk Daisy Bell the Cow, -5 degree temperatures while hopping on a quad with windchill factors in the -20s, your tears turning eyelashes into frozen shelves, your lips taut and crisp, ears and hands burning as if squeezed in a vice just before numbness sets in, and full days in the field, combing the backcountry for livestock and breaks in the fence line. Add to this clearing pathways of 50 foot toppled trees using a 32 inch chain saw or employing the exhaust of your Polaris’ engine to warm freezing hands after removing three inch thick ice sheets from the numerous watering troughs the cattle need to survive during these cold winter months.

To the ranchers and farmers who thrive out here around the John Day river near Spray OR on the east side of the Cascade mountains, these elements feed their deep spiritual and physical connection to the land. Our rewards for their sacrifice are fresh fruit, vegetables, grains and grass fed beef. Their rewards though are profound and pure. Fresh unpasteurized milk, with warm chicken and duck eggs, and turkeys for Thanksgiving. Here life is shared with elk herds that roam the pristine hills, with bears that hibernate in their caves while cougars and bobcats stalk deer and other game through the sparse pine forests of the hillsides and valleys. The setting sun with its darkening sky reveal, in this high desert, an Atlas of stars, shining with a native brilliance undimmed by the light pollution we’ve all grown accustomed to. A moody fog, lit by that brilliance, courses along the path of the frozen John Day below. As day turns to night, the night crawlers fall into their sleep as the daytrippers awaken.

All around the sounds of the natural world play unspoiled by human industry. The meter of this hard but simple life is not kept by a clock, rather, by the dawn’s early light, the shrunken shadows of high noon, and finally their elongated statures as the sun begins to set are, the timepieces of these hills. As the sky’s hues expand and intensify at sunset and the temperature begins to plummet, the body’s hunger will be satisfied in a kitchen where a pot of steaming milk with honey and spices warms and perfumes the air. Here is a glimpse of life in the high country of Spray, Oregon.

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Daisy Bell the Cow being milked in the barn just after 5AM

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At -5 degrees, this 2,000lb mare had no issue watching the morning sun rise

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Tom the Turkey was the stud

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Micheal F. starts the day with his wife at 5AM and as soon as there is light he is off into the backcountry. Micheal provides full-care to ranch owners; managing and operating a ranch, and learning new ways to evolve the farmer’s marketplace.

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Clearing watering troughs requires thick skin, but the breath and the Polaris offer enough relief. The daily high while in Spray was 10 degrees.

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The John Day River below

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Providing mineral and salt blocks in the backcountry

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Juniper trees are weeds in the high country. They are clear cut to make room for grasses in order to form pasture.

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Sunset in the backcountry pasture at an elevation of 4000 feet

Next Post (Pt. II) –>

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Pastorals Gone East

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“Simplicity is the glory of expression.” -Walt Whitman

A road trip last summer into the high plains off the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

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For more work please visit http://www.CameronKarsten.com

Cameron Karsten Photography

Photo of the Day: The Shop Shifter

Location: Undisclosed

Camera/Lens Specifics: Canon 5D Mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens

16mm composite with a variety of settings, ISO 320, tripod.

Post: Adobe LR4 & PS6

Photo of the Day: Memory in the Myst

Location: Hobuck Beach, WA

Camera/Lens Specifics: Canon 5D Mark III with Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens

105mm, 1/250 sec at ƒ/20, ISO 160, tripod.

Photo Essay: Wood – A Story from the Olympic Peninsula (Pt. III)

Photo Essay: Wood – A Story from the Olympic Peninsula (Pt. II)

As I continue to drive out into the Olympic Peninsula, camera bags full and surf gear packed, I slowly observe the culture of a timber industry unfolding before my eyes.  It is a people’s livelihood, their subsistence within the forest, bringing shelters over families heads and food to their hungry tables.  And for the blue collar, it is not a wealthy industry.  They are the cutters, sawers, operators, drivers and haulers of a civilization taking over the wild places.

With video files and the numerous still images of the cold cloudy spring passing over the Northwest wilderness, this project is evolving into an unbiased perspective of Man vs. Nature, and how the two can equally subsist; prosper side by side and thrive within one another.

Below is the second essay of imagery and visual thoughts from a story of wood deep within the Olympic Peninsula.

Photo Essay: Wood – a Story from the Olympic Peninsula (Pt. I)

Wood; a precious commodity.  Cut, sawed, shaped, nailed, lacquered, stained.  Occasionally it’s replanted, and years later, generations gone, money is made again.  Wood is money.  The forests are for sale, for their resources, for their lands, for their habitat.  The following images are the start of a multimedia project telling the tale of wood, from origin to combustion, and the phases of transition in-between.  How does it effect us?  How does it feed us?  How is the life under our feet and that above our heads impacted today, tomorrow and those generations ahead?

Photo Essay: The Great Scapes by California