Sheer beauty…

in a fragile package.

dsc_7294…the endless repetition of an ordinary miracle.

Orhan Pamuk, Snow

Winter is fast approaching and it does bring its challenges but for me it is one of the most beautiful and picturesque times of year.

I love an opportunity to photograph nature as it appears, these tiny intimate landscapes that are so often overlooked. When you find something this transient that you’d like to photograph, get your shot because this type of subject matter doesn’t linger, but then move around and look at it from different angles. Simply changing your position can make a huge difference with the available light and composition.

In the eyes of those who only see snow as something to be endured perhaps take a moment next time it is falling and appreciate its fragility and uniqueness.

Vapor condensing onto dust particles in the atmosphere…a gift from nature.

 

My day went to the dogs…

and was filled with great moments.

dsc_3039-2Life rarely presents fully finished photographs. An image evolves, often from a single strand of visual interest – a distant horizon, a moment of light, a held expression.

Sam Abell

Yesterday was one of those perfect photographic days that for me was so centering.

It started out with a photo shoot of one of my absolute favorite subjects…dogs. The energy was great, the dogs exuded canine joy, and there was even a little break in the constant rain that couldn’t have been better timed.

As the sun began to sink lower on the horizon, cirrus clouds appeared and I had another treat following my theme for the day…parhelia or sundogs.

Jumping in my Jeep I headed off to see what might develop as the hexagonal ice plates drifted high in the sky, nearly horizontal to the horizon.

As I watched, a circumzenithal arc appeared above the sundogs, lasting only for a brief moment. I shot from several different angles and in today’s shot thought that I’d throw out that you don’t always have to have a straight horizon, sometimes it’s fun to deliberately tilt the camera, Dutch tilt, more often used in cinematography.

Life is about moments and today was filled with them.

Where will you find yours this week-end?

Rain soaked…

and searching for moments.

dsc_2282-editIt is not enough to photograph the obviously picturesque.

Dorothea Lange

This quote really resonated with me. I think we are inundated with beautiful images and while I can appreciate that beauty, it takes far more than saturation to make me want to look twice or even remember that image.

We have had one of the rainiest months on record and it has taken some doing to watch for moments that isolate themselves from utter grayscapes.

Even the clouds have not been cooperative deigning only to show solid overcoats of smooth gray until this morning…

I am reminded of a book I’m reading whose main character is a photographer. She goes out to shoot a sunrise and takes 400 images. Unless you’re doing a startrail, timelapse, or shooting a burst for an action shot I can’t imagine why a person would want to take that many images of a single subject and then have to search through those later for the image that captures it. I would feel like I wasn’t really being present in that moment and looking beyond the obviously picturesque.

My question is just because it’s digital does that mean that we should be less thoughtful about the shots that we take? Would your photography improve if you treated it more like film?

Winter…

blues.

dsc_2043

The deeper the blue becomes, the more strongly it calls man towards the infinite, awakening in him a desire for the pure and, finally, for the supernatural… The brighter it becomes, the more it loses its sound, until it turns into silent stillness and becomes white.

Wassily Kandinsky

This week I felt the first brush of winter and it sent me rushing outside to attempt the first “frozen” of the season.

All around me I hear mutterings from people mourning the loss of summer but all I can think of is…soon.

This season brings with it a partnership with nature and I can’t wait to see what creations I can capture.

I’m ready…bring it!

Photography…

and the photographer’s vision.

dsc_9659The goal of abstract art is to communicate the intangible, that which eludes the photograph and normal seeing.

Curtis Verdun

Hmmm, but does it?

I think that photography is often underestimated and I have found it to be an incredibly complex and fluid medium.

I believe that you could line up a dozen photographers in any setting and come away with a dozen distinctly different images and that to me is one of its inherently beautiful traits.

I don’t know what you might see when you look at this image but for me it encapsulates the beauty of one river from its garnet sands to the play of light on the rippling currents.

My style of shooting begins with a focus on the larger picture and from those images I begin to focus down on the elements that to me speak the loudest.

Sure, I could have photographed the river, as a river, but for me it’s more about the feeling. I like to really pare things down until you simply cannot remove another element.

What thoughts go into your images? When do you feel like you’ve captured the image?

A change in the season…

will your photography suggest or state?

dsc_0600-3

One very important difference between color and monochromatic photography is this: in black and white you suggest; in color you state. Much can be implied by suggestion, but statement demands certainty… absolute certainty.

Paul Outerbridge

Fall has arrived and with it an abundance of beautiful landscape opportunities. There’s a certain comfort that comes with feeling at ease with your camera and confident that you will capture the image that you’re looking for.

I know what kind of images draw me in and I will be watching for those little moments amidst the explosion of colors in the foliage.

Mine won’t be the sweeping panoramas with tamarack ablaze with yellow.

Nor will they be a sea of red from the maples.

Lately I find myself in unfamiliar territory though, so rather than fight it I’m just letting it go where it may.

I’m talking about color. I know that winter will bring me back to my love of monochromatic but every journey has twists and turns  and much like this river I’m just going to go with the flow.

Expressing energy…

can be as simple as losing focus.

dsc_9903-2The modern artist… is working and expressing an inner world – in other words – expressing the energy, the motion, and other inner forces.

Jackson Pollock

Much is made of “tack sharp” imagery in photography and how to achieve the sharpest of detail.

Yet, in the world of photoshop and beyond, there are a myriad of filters to plop over your image to change it into something else.

I’m still holding firm that the image should be created with intention in the camera itself. I think that it is the only way to truly develop a body of work that you are connected to.

I was recently asked to participate in an upcoming exhibit that will be showcasing photographers with distinctive styles. That to me was a huge compliment.

The image above is one that I painted with my camera. In other words, I used soft focus and the motion of the water to create an image that for me highlights the kokanee spawning.

It’s life and death drama with the males staking out the best “beds” for the females to lay their eggs. They defend these beds against other males and towards the end of the spawning it’s rather like two old boxers duking it out in the ring, clutching each other and too tired or injured to do more than go through the motions.

The next time you pick up your camera spend a little time thinking about what you want to say with your images. Play with your focus, your depth of field, change a lens!

I paint with my camera, what do you do?

A final swim…

and a flash of color.

dsc_9246-2

Wherever there is light, one can photograph.

Alfred Stieglitz

Photographing the kokanee spawning has become somewhat of a fall ritual, and one that began a little earlier this year than last year. An early winter perhaps?

As beautiful as it is to see a creek run “red” with these spawning landlocked salmon, I still feel a little sad knowing that it is their last run. At this moment these beautiful, once silvery fish, turn a brilliant red with green heads and fight their way upstream. The males grow humps and extended lower jaws and jockey for position in the best “egg-laying” spots.  A returning visit in a couple of weeks will find scattered pink eggs alongside dead and decaying fish.

The kokanee reaches maturity at 3-5 years and dies after spawning.

20150917-dsc_1450-2

The glass of the lens between myself and the dying fish somehow makes it easier to watch.

The cycle of life…

The stone house…

of the October Caddis.

DSC_8344

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.

Norman Maclean

I no longer flyfish but have never lost the love of wading a river and discovering where it keeps its secrets.

There is something magical and uncomplicated about spending time alongside a river whose waters have flowed there for hundreds of years. The 140 miles of the Saint Joe river in Idaho flows from the north range of the Bitterroot Mountains.

The National Wild and Scenic River System protects 66.3 miles of it with 26.6 miles being designated as wild. The beauty of the area is almost indescribable and being amidst it has a way of putting things into perspective.

At first glance the little cases of the October caddis go almost unnoticed but like most anything, if you look a little deeper its true beauty is revealed. Spun from silk and tiny rocks these cases serve as a protective home. As the larva nears maturity it will seal off its case and pupate.

When sunlight hits these carefully constructed cases it’s as if you’re viewing a small slice of the riverbed. It seems as though I’m not the only one to be fascinated by these either as more research discovered artists who have created environments for the caddis to construct their cases using tiny flakes of gold and precious gems.

To see the final result we will have to venture back in a month or so and weather providing that’s just what we’ll do.

Once again I find it’s (almost always) about the water.

An atmospheric optic adventure…

and a thrilling email conversation with physicist Les Cowley.

DSC_7708-5

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.

Albert Einstein

Do you ever wake up and just know that something is going to happen?

Last Saturday I let the dogs out early in the morning and noted the appearance of some of my most favorite clouds…cirrus and cirrostratus. Those of you who know me well know of my love for photographing ice, snowflakes, and other crystalline structures found in the winter months so it’s only natural that these delicate clouds composed of ice crystal would draw my attention in the summer!

These clouds are the ones capable of producing atmospheric phenomena like halos, arcs, and iridescent clouds.

The first to appear was a 22 degree halo and iridescent clouds. As the day wore on and the clouds showed no signs of dissipating I started to feel excitement building that I might spot a circumzenithal arc, often called a grin in the sky as it looks like an upside down rainbow.

As the sun began to get lower in the sky I walked outside scanning all parts of the sky and discovered the appearance of a sundog. And then I saw it…circumzenithal arc! Moving quickly I tried to capture as many views as possible but couldn’t quell a nagging thought that there was also something in those images that I didn’t understand so after the last light faded I came inside to research halos on my favorite site atoptics. I came to the conclusion that the secondary arc that I was curious about might be a tangent arc but hoping for some clarification I emailed Les Cowley (atoptics), retired physicist and atmospheric optics expert.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled when I got a response back that began with congratulations, you saw two rare arcs-a supralateral and also a Parry arc. The Parry arc is named for William Edward Parry who diagramed this arc in 1820 while icebound on his search for the northwest passage.

This lovely man also took the time to provide me with an enhanced, labeled view of my image.

aoptics, Les Cowley-3

I’m not sure what surprised me the most, that I photographed these rare arcs or that Mr Cowley took the time to do this for me, a novice skywatcher who studies clouds and atmospherics in her spare time.

One of those days that I will remember for a very long time and as I shared with Mr Cowley, I’m afraid that you may have just created a monster!

His delightful response? Feed the monster…and I fully intend to!

If you’re interested in these ice halos I would encourage you to visit http://www.atoptics.co.uk where you will find a veritable treasure trove of information.