As we have for the past few years, Ken Rockwell and I led a group of photographers along the backroads of California. This year, we explored the northern reaches of California's historic Gold Rush country. Our circular route led us north and east from Sacramento, the state capitol, to the quintessential gold rush towns of Nevada City and Downieville, down the Feather River Canyon to the town of Chico, and back to Sacramento. In between we photographed old mines, ghost towns, local citizens, ourselves, and the sublime scenery of the Northern California.
The Gold Rush began in 1848, with the discovery of flakes of gold at the bottom of a creek flowing through a lumber mill. People are still looking for gold, and still finding it, in one form or another.
Though California's image of late seems tarnished, gold can still be found, and not just in miners' pans or under the ground. More transitory yet recurrent forms of gold can be found in fields of golden flowers, and not infrequently at sunrise and sunset, when golden light fills the sky. And the Golden State is still a land of golden opportunities, drawing now, as it did more than a century and a half ago, people from around the world. In this sense, surely Gold Rush country is as much as state of mind as it is a place fixed by geography.
My photographic approach saw me as often as not restricting my field of view. I attempted to master methods of photographing visual fragments, rather than the entirety of what I saw. In so doing, I hoped to create my own encompassing vision of Gold Rush country.