The Owyhee Witch

Story and imagery by Shane Davila  |  April 27th,  2022

Nearly 200 years ago as a wagon train passed this very fingered butte two children wandered away from the wagon train. Despite a two-day delay in order to search for the children, they were never found. Over the years pioneers and modern-day explorers have reported hearing small voices echo across this vast landscape, the calls of these children, still looking for their parents.

Three Finger Butte is a prominence among these rolling sagebrush hills, a landmark jutting above to be seen from miles. Intending on photographing this unique desert formation I made sure I found my shooting position the day before, a place from which I’d be able to capture her character, her majesty. The next morning while driving the familiar area on my way to photograph the butte, I suddenly realized that I must have missed the junction. As I backtracked it occurred that I had lost sight of the butte. “How is this possible?” I thought. Checking in with the map and compass I was somehow turned around and did not see my location on the map, my compass seemed to have a mind of its own. I was lost! I began to feel a sense of hopelessness and isolation when suddenly her ghostly shape came rising out of the desert in an altogether unexpected direction. How did I become so disoriented as to be miles off course and in such a fray of disorganization? How had the butte shifted from view so as to confuse me, causing me to wonder, nearly trapping yet another soul into the mysterious Owyhee expanse, into another hidden dimension of time and space?

That evening, as I sat by my campfire, off in the darkness soft echoing sounds, faint voices of small children mixed in with the shifting desert breeze, calling as though lost, yearning for me to come and find them – beckoning me into the darkness of the sagebrush, the rolling hills, this shifting land – the Witches enticements.

Listen closely while in the land of the Owyhee, for as evening begins to settle over the landscape, mixed in with the sounds of coyote yips, rustling grasses, and meandering streams can also be heard the gentle murmurs of prehistoric people, the eloquent notes of Shoshone and Paiute, and soft voices of children still searching for the wagon train.

Story and Imagery by Shane Davila

Please let me know if you'd like me to email you this printable pdf.  I'd be happy to share, this or any other of my blog stories. 

In the Throes of Love

Landscape Photography as a way of deepening your experience with nature. 

by Shane Davila  |  April 2022

In the Throes of Love-0800

In the Throes of Love IMG 0800

A desolate place in Oregon's Owyhee expanse

I often ponder why I love to photograph nature, its great landscapes. I've written about the sensational feelings I have while in nature, we've all had these.  It's more than just feeling good because of the beauty and fresh air surrounding me.  It's the moments when light fades and shadows emerge from hiding as they slink over the land reclaiming the night. A mental shift as the artist becomes aware of the moments to come, the transition from reality to spirituality.

Gently gliding clouds also enter this spiritual realm as everchanging hues and tones shift from bright, then dark and filled with color. This color -- never the same from one moment to the next -- unique moment by moment. Unique not just this time but never having occurred before, ever -- a heavenly fingerprint. Watching as she always changes, flows across the landscape and into me. This lover, again stealing my heart, captivating my soul.

My camera, now part of my body, not my brain, but my heart. It's been so long since I've felt her loving touch, the caress of her whispering rivers, the sweet fragrance of sage, now driving me mad with passion. Watching, feeling, smelling, I gaze upon elegant curves and see her unclothed body stretched out before me. The lovemaking begins as I measure the light and examine which parts of her to include and in what way. How can I capture this romantic moment with my camera so that I can live it forever?

Now her bold mountains, kissed by departing light, heave to the sky. The harmonious transition of fading light, brilliant color, and long shadows reveal more of my lover, now in the throes of lovemaking. Finally, her climax, and with it, the intoxication I've been gripped with begins to fade as the realization that she is now gone, only a whisper over the horizon as her last kiss disappears into darkness.

This is why I go back. I must find her again, and again, and again for I am never quenched of this thirst for her and what she does with me, to me.

To me, landscape photography is more than taking pretty pictures of nature. It is a deepening connection to nature and the exhilaration of being present with heightened senses and blazing emotions. Photography is my way of self-expression and creating meaningful moments-- capturing meaningful moments.

I am never on the hunt just to take a picture. My camera records light in degrees of intensity onto digital photocells as pixels of data, lacking the spiritual and emotional details I experienced while there, with her. I later examine these pixels, searching for her, longing for her return. What was it about her that made me once again fall helplessly back into love? Searching for aspects of the scene, my lovemaking, the image's soul. I slowly work the pixels into a clearer representation of that spiritual moment.

My reality in those moments of the cosmic timeline. Reality? Mine is different from yours. I record and shape these moments -- preserve them so that I may revisit them in order to help me recall all that I was, saw, discovered, felt, and became while in the throes of love.

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