Stonington Harbor I

Stonington Harbor I, The Coast of Maine

Stonington Harbor I, The Coast of Maine

What am I doing climbing around between lobster traps and seaweed piles on the edges of Stonington Harbor on the coast of Maine?

This whole photography thing started out as a way to make pictures of my children, to capture their various physical forms in two dimensions as a record of where they (and I) had been as they quickly grew up.  Then I began to notice the incredible physical forms on earth — mountains and canyons and waterfalls and vast deserts.  Then it became simply a reason to get out alone and enjoy nature, to forget my self while wondering at all the variety of beauty and physical forms we live with.

But it is more than that.  A puzzle, a game, a challenge to focus my mind and seeing.  To see what can be beautiful in a rectangular frame.  To look at it again later in my development studio and see the image shooting its light back at me.

It is also a way to bring joy to others.  I know I don’t always hear from he hundreds of people who do enjoy my images.  So many are so busy, and so bombarded by the day-to-day digital  deluge of sights and sounds.

There is joy in feeding a hungry duck.  Sometimes the duck is me — shooting and seeing the images shoot back again on a digital screen.  Sometimes the duck is you, my sharing with you, you sharing with me.

As we get older, we need to stay connected to life, or the body will begin to decay and let go of it.  I use photography to stay connected to life.   And hopefully it helps me stay connected to you.  During this season of Gratitude, I am blessed by  your Light, my  friend, and by  the Joy of simply seeing and being a part of Life.

Seeing Beauty

Seeing Beauty

Seeing Beauty

I see these things with an intense joy,

and while I observe, there is no observer, only a beauty almost like love.

For an instant, I am absent, myself and my problems, my anxieties, my troubles,

nothing but the wonder exists.

— Krishnamurti

This poem is a word-painting of how I felt in the dance of capturing this photograph at sunset on Schoodic Point at Maine’s Acadia National Park.  It had been a long day of driving, hiking, scouting locations.  My daughter Helena and I had been to this spot earlier that day, in harsh, bright light.  Then, the pinks in the granite were hidden by the sun’s sharp glare.  But we got back for sunset.  As the sun was dropping below the horizon, the eastern sky charged up its soft pink glow, blushing these granite rocks, staggering a cracked rugged pathway to heaven before us.

For several minutes as the sun was setting I quickly jumped from spot to spot, setting my tripod, arranging compositions in my camera’s viewfinder.  You’d have thought me a mad scientist or a skittish mountain goat.  But I knew the light was changing quickly, that each minute brought new shapes and colors into presence for my wondrous black box to record for later viewing and digital development.  And in all of this, I was an extension of the camera, or, it was an extension of me? Like a dancer given a wondrous symphony to move to,  I was glad I had practiced my steps.  I moved from composition to composition, arranging the shapes and lens zoom, adjusting focus and exposure by feel.  My fingers had learned where to poke and push, and my ears had learned to listen for the peeps and pops,  confirming the camera’s syncopation with my artistic vision.

For that instant, my worries and troubles drop away, replaced by the joy and love before me.   My gratitude is unspeakable.  My self dissolves at the wonder.

Rock Legends

Rock Plus Two

Rock Plus Two

On a recent trip to Lake Powell, Arizona/Utah, I was hiking and looking for a photographic composition to capture my wonder at this place.  And I saw these two rocks holding hands on a great smooth rock.  I took the shot and have wondered why I so much like to photograph rocks.

Being of Capricorn persuasion, I am inclined to structure, tradition, achievement, austereness.  Of the four elements — fire, water, air, and earth — I am earth.  To me, a photograph of a rock is a small record of an instant in time on earth.

I have come to revere the silence and relative permanence (or simply the extremely slow rate of change for human perception) of the rocks.  My car may last 10 years, my home 100 years, my city 1000 years, my planet – I don’t know.  The rocks are changing too.

The pace of change we humans have now created flashes by in a world of tweets and likes, facespace, mybook, mytube and yourtube, and news cycles that are shorter in life span than a fruit fly.  We love seeing people get kicked off the island (or the runway, kitchen, dance floor, etc,) .  We can now make a video of ourselves and loved ones.  An almost instantaneous record of what is happening NOW, for all to see for as long as the bits are stored on a disk drive in a computer, and the facebook accounts are still open.

But who sees the changes of the rocks?  And how did they get that way?  They have left us a record of their state now, but how did they get here?  These two rocks were (and probably still are) sitting out on a smooth place on another rock, brought here by – an avalanche?  — a flood? – a thawing iceberg?  And how long will it take for them to become sand, scattered over the surface of the earth by the chaotic movements of the wind and rain?  What really is their history?  Are they brothers, sisters, lovers?

When we are young, we think our physical bodies are immortal, like the rocks.  As we get older, we know that we are here in these bodies but a nanosecond compared to a simple rock.

I do appreciate their history and mystery, even though it is unknown, as much as the history and mystery of my very own soul.

Muley Point Red and Blue

It’s funny how we humans like to rate other humans with “best” lists like the Academy Awards, or the Person of the Year, or the Superbowl winners, or even   The Biggest Loser. Maybe we just need to deal with a finite number, because we would feel overwhelmed by considering everything or everybody.

Muley Point, View from Muley Point into canyons cut by the San Juan River, near Mexican Hat, Utah

“Muley Point”

To manage our comprehension of the wonders of nature, we have them in a list called the Seven Wonders of the World. Really?  Are there only seven?   Of course not.  Every day there are wonders all around us if we but open our eyes to them.

My practice of creating landscape photographs has made me more aware of seeing what is around me, and I am hyper-aware when on a trip to a place I’ve never seen before.  My last trip to parts of Utah and Colorado was to photograph some of the most beautiful and spectacular sculptures of nature I had never seen.

Trust me, there were many more than seven wonders!  Here’s one of “The Seven”  — watch for the other six that I’ll post over the next few weeks.

Pack’s Gold

Do you edit your images?

I am often asked if I edit or enhance my images.

Absolutely!

Ansel Adams edited his film images in his film development and printing.  I edit in my digital images on a computer with software.

Pack's Gold

Pack’s Gold

Here’s my image titled “Pack’s Gold” from my New Mexico portfolio.  This image was honored with an award at the Mayslake Nature Study and Photography Club on December 6, 2010.

It’s my artistic expression of that scene, that night.  It has a “wow” factor.  Its contrast, color, and composition strikes a bit of awe and wonder in me and probably the judges too.   Someone commented to me later, “I bet it didn’t look that way.”  Right!  As an artist, I created this image to reflect the feeling and the impact of that magical evening — setting sunlight on the land against a dark stormy sky.

Do You Have Blue in Your Carpet?

Here’s another version of that scene:

Pack's Gold for Blue Lovers

Pack’s Gold for Blue Lovers

Not bad.  This one you might like if you prefer blue, or if the blue in the photo matches your carpet.

Both images were developed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.  Did it really look like either of these that evening?  Who can say?  I am the artist, and the first image is what I saw that night.  My will to create and my artist tools (the camera and software) allow me to render an image of awe and wonder that attempts to show how that scene in that evening moved my soul.

Is your camera an artist?

Below is the image as the camera processor recorded it, “camera neutral”.  A machine’s view of things, not an artist’s view.

Pack's Gold Raw File

Pack’s Gold Raw File