Some landscapes have good bones. On Nova Scotia's granite barrens the landscape is all bones.
In thickly-forested Nova Scotia the treeless granite barrens are a surprising sight, seeming to belong to another, more elemental time in Earth's history. Constant heavy winds, salt spray, and occasional hurricanes allow few plants a foothold here, leaving a bare stone landscape you might expect to find in the arctic.
The wind gets in your face on the barrens, its salty breath howling in your ear. Windless days are so rare they arrive with an almost supernatural presence. These calm days, or more likely hours, are when I choose to make photographs here—many times I leave at dusk with a wind-rattled tripod but no new photographs.
It's always worth waiting when the calm descends at last. By taking away the wind, which is the granite barren’s dominant element, something unearthly is revealed: a world where boulders float and skies can be stepped in.
The granite barrens teach a sound lesson in permanence. When I began photographing here the solid granite landscape appeared unchangeable by any human reckoning. What could disrupt granite boulders weighing many tons? Then Hurricane Noel hit Nova Scotia’s south shore in November 2007 and the barrens were forever changed. Huge boulders, many known to me as individual characters, were tossed about like marbles by giant waves.