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The beauty of the BWCAW is in the experience as much as the landscape; everyday life quickly feels like a distant memory when you are surrounded by such peace and stillness. It makes you look around and recognize your surroundings, it forces you to be present, and it naturally encourages a slowing down of your attention to fully grasp its beauty.
Capturing this beauty, it turns out, can be challenging; the BWCAW is not about dramatic landscape elements and easily Instagramable locations. Its beauty is often in the details and in the subtle variations of natural elements that might seem very homogenous, even repetitive, at first sight while paddling from lake to lake. My initial attempts often resulted in relatively boring captures, images which I felt failed to convey the serenity and the experience of this not-so-distant wilderness. Sometimes you need to get to know a place better, to identify what it is that makes it special to you, in order to better represent it. Then, you can say something about it through your photography.
For me, the BWCAW is about being enveloped in nature, and being observant of every variation and detail in the subtly changing landscape around you. As I’ve paddled along lakes with picturesque little islands scattered about, I’ve attempted to identify what I’m seeing and to understand what I want to capture. The subtle layering of elements and the contrast in textures have jumped out at me: pebble beaches alternating with large smooth rock formations, deep evergreens juxtaposed with the delicate white lines of birch, and jagged cliff edges set against gentle forested hills. The often crystal clear water adds another layer, as underwater boulders and driftwood play peek-a-boo through the surface, and the glimpses of submerged rocks and logs are juxtaposed with the reflection of pine tree shorelines above. Over the course of my trips to the Boundary Waters, I’ve come to realize that for me it’s about subtle discoveries, about observing patiently and seeing more - noticing more - the longer and closer you look. After a few visits, I feel that my images are finally capturing the layering of these elements and the almost meditative feeling that they provoke.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor