Isolation invites introspection


Sophia Eaton

Sitting at an altitude of 7,120 feet is mind bending. The weather is cool and crisp, and any whisper of wind bites through my gloves like they’re made of parchment paper. I’m short of breath even while sitting at rest, and my joints ache if I sit too long. Still, these complications stopped bothering me, and I soon learned to ignore them, impressed with the scenery.

Jotunheimen is a protected National Park in Norway. The name means “home of the giants,” and it makes perfect sense. The story goes that people used to see the mountains shift and move. Sometimes they would wake up to a different valley than they saw the previous night. It was a common folk tale among Nordics that the mountains were alive and the steady wind was the heavy breathing of cold stone giants.

For this shot I wanted to capture how small it felt to be at the bottom of the valley. Also, the contrast of the rushing river with the standstill mountain landscape. Within the few seconds the shutter was open, everything about the river changed: water flowed, carrying pebbles and eroding the sides of the river. Meanwhile, the mountain range remained perfectly still. I set the tripod in the river bed and weighed it down with my camera bag. Looking back I wince at the idea. The current could have easily knocked my camera and gear down the river. It was my intention to capture the terrain in as much detail as I could, so I set my aperture (depth of field) to 22, the highest my lens could reach in an attempt to capture as much of the scene as possible. My ISO was 100 to capture the mountain side without grain (the lower the ISO the more info the camera takes in), and I set my shutter to open for six seconds (setting your shutter speed to something as low as six seconds captures any movement.

This photo reminds me not to be oblivious to the passage of time. I live in cycles: wake up, get ready, study, sleep. The repetition can feel as if its sending me into oblivion. Days blend together and the timeline of my memories gets scrambled. I see the rushing river as short term memory because it is easily manipulated, while the mountains represent long term memory: sure, anchored, uninfluenced. 

Where do you go when you want to escape the hum-drum of daily life? Let us know in the comments below.