Leadbetter Point

“Swan’s Land,” a series of infrared photographs of Southwest Washington by Corvallis photographer Rich Bergeman, will be on exhibit at O’Brien Photo Imaging Gallery, 2833 Willamette Suite B, Eugene, OR, from July 11 to Sept. 10, 2015.

            An opening reception will be held Saturday July 11 from 4-7 p.m. A second reception will be held during the Second Saturday South Willamette Art Walk on Aug. 8 from 4-7 p.m.

Long Beach Wetlands

            Bergeman’s photographs retrace the travels of pioneer James G. Swan, a Boston adventurer who lived on Willapa Bay between 1852 and 1855 and explored the region extensively. His book, “The Northwest Coast,” was the first ever published on life in the Washington Territory.  Earlier this year, Bergeman spent a month at the Willapa Bay Artist Residency in Oysterville, Wash., where he followed in Swan’s footsteps with his infrared camera.

            “Using his book as my guide, I photographed many of the places he described, from the top of the Bay to the mouth of the Columbia, as well as other historically significant sites along the way,” Bergeman said. “This exhibit is the first public showing of some of the fruits of that labor of love.”

Wallicut River

            He added that he chose to photograph in black-and-white infrared for both aesthetic and symbolic reasons. “A landscape dominated by sea and sky can be rendered more dramatically in the infrared part of the spectrum than in the visible range,” he explained.  “And photographing in what is, essentially, invisible light–meaning light our eyes can’t see–seemed a good fit for a subject that invites you to imagine the past.”

            A native of Ohio and an Oregonian since 1976, Bergeman is a retired community college journalism and photography instructor who has also pursued fine art photography for the past 30 years. Much of that time has been devoted to photographing places on the verge of vanishing in the Pacific Northwest, from early settlements in the Coast Range to abandoned homesteads and ghost towns in the high deserts east of the Cascades. More of his work can be seen on his website–richbergeman.zenfolio.com–and his books can be seen at blurb.com.

            O’Brien’s Gallery is open weekdays, but it is advisable to call ahead to make sure it’s open at (541) 729-3572.