Artist Statement

As a teen I roamed Yosemite with a 4x5 Speed Graphic in hand following in the footsteps of my idol Ansel Adams. I would then return home to spend hours in my darkroom – an 8x4x8 foot box – developing large prints late at night in our bathtub. Many years later watching a documentary I realized that both of us were trying to capture our spiritual experience of nature on film – always falling short – but creating some beautiful failures none the less.

You will find here my collection titled “Light upon Water” including abstracts, a few landscapes, and some in between. The earliest images were taken on film some fifteen years ago. The majority come from a selection from thousands of digital images from a progression of cameras. 

Following an Art Wolfe exhibit my wife and I started looking – really looking – sitting beside a river watching the sun go down. The dancing colors of the water and the patterns were glorious. We called one dance Green Gold Soup.

Then quite by accident some years ago I discovered that my exploration became a meditation on a most amazing “water art”. Sitting on a rock by a stream – a bit bored – I began clicking photos. Later at home viewed on a monitor those images made my jaw drop.

I was seeing water in an entirely new way. Unlike the goal of enlightenment, experiencing the subtleties of nature is relatively easy – just sit and watch and relax and let nature do the rest. In my case the camera helped teach me the focus I needed. Sitting with a friend sharing the awe is even better.

R. Alan McFarland
Spokane 2015


R. Alan McFarland was born in Kansas and has lived in California, Massachusetts and now Spokane. He completed degrees in physics and math, including a grad student summer doing particle physics at CERN in Switzerland. Now retired, he worked much of his life as a software engineer, most recently twenty years with SNAP. In between was five years as a lay psychotherapist, and two years as an energy store owner. The last 25 years has included learning and teaching tai chi. A couple of other adventures have included rebuilding and sailing a 50-year-old 28-foot gaff-rigged wooden sloop, and building and flying a Q200 two-person fiberglass airplane. Photography has been a lifetime hobby which mixes well with a love for the mountains, rivers and oceans. Alan is married to Birgitt Krause and has spent a lot of time with her in Germany near Cologne hiking locally and also in the Alps.