“Old Stump & Island at Sunset”

Old Stump & Island at Sunset, Flathead Lake, Montana (c) Mike Utley

W53-1(S)—Old Stump & Island at Sunset, Flathead Lake, Montana
During my trip to Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota in 1996, my buddy Jeff and I visited Flathead Lake, the largest natural body of freshwater in the western U.S. This resulted in one of my favorite images. There’s something so stark and mournful about this scene. To me, the stump resembles an animal crying out in pain to the oblivious heavens. This was shot on color slide film but the lighting conditions rendered it almost completely black and white, which lends a surreal touch to the image. I could have used a graduated neutral density filter to hold back exposure on the sky and give it some color, but it was dusk anyway and the sky was a faded, washed-out blue which appears almost devoid of hue in the final image, an effect I prefer for this scene. The water wasn’t completely calm but the long exposure removed all traces of wavelet movement and produced an almost mist-like appearance. My friend Jeff and I were at the same spot at the same time, and his image of this stump was completely different from mine. It’s fascinating how people can interpret the same scene in vastly distinct and personal ways. (Canon gear, Fuji Velvia ISO 50)