The velvet cloak…

of darkness.

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Painting is a blind man’s profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.

Pablo Picasso

I can’t believe that there was a time when I was petrified of the dark. Like anything though you can always find ways to work your way through those fears.

I do get some pitying looks sometimes as I show up after the sun has sunk below the horizon and I begin to set up my tripod. Oh, you should have seen it 10 minutes ago! You missed it…

For me though the timing is perfect. I can still see enough of the landscape to decide on my composition and settle in to wait for that black canvas to reveal itself.

This is the time for rock steady tripods and long exposures that can gather the light. In a way it is more like shooting film. It’s more contemplative and I walk away with only a handful of shots due to the set up times and length of exposures.

On this night I had the pleasure of some company, a neighbor who shares in the joy and wonderment of looking at the night sky. I like those nights because it does free me from being as vigilant as I am when out shooting by myself.

One does have to be cautious when out at night and keep a close watch on their immediate surroundings. I always make sure to take frequent breaks to look around and listen for predators…four-legged and two! Close at hand I carry multiple flashlights, cell phone, and bear spray.

I like to light paint into these scenes using a torch with colored filters. Pablo Picasso painted with light in 1949 using a small electric light.

I waited for Mars to move into my shot on the left and gently painted the reeds with light. It’s an interesting feeling. Much more like you are actually directing the shot rather than simply documenting it.

Combine that with the sounds of nature and it becomes pure magic…So what I once feared has become one of my favorite times.

Step out of your comfort zone and you just might discover a new passion.

Turn off the lights…

so much is at stake.

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I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.

Vincent Van Gogh

In a new study one third of the world’s population cannot see the milky way galaxy while light pollution affects eighty percent, and for four out of five Americans light masks the milky way.

Why does this matter?

In ecosystems everything is connected and the effects of artificial light can be devastating to migratory birds, hatching sea turtles, nocturnal animals, and plants to name just a few. The International Dark-Sky Association has a wealth of information on the effects of light pollution and on ways that we can help to reduce it.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I can step outside on a clear night and see the milky way with my naked eye as it arches across the sky.

This image was taken from my backyard.

It is not just a feast for the eyes but for the ears!  It’s a nocturnal symphony in my little corner of the world when on any given night I can hear owls hooting, bullfrogs croaking, the haunting call of an occasional loon, and the coyotes howling.

It goes far beyond the sheer beauty of the night skies and speaks to the health of our planet.

As digital cameras advance its my hope that images like the one above will inspire people to think about light pollution and ways that they can reduce it.

There’s a lot depending on it…

The old truck…

and its soft patina of colors..

20160604-DSC_4324-2In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is – as it physically is. This fact makes color the most relative medium in art.

Josef Albers

On a day when I’m out just photographing what comes, I am often surprised at what becomes that days favorite image.

Was it the beautiful pond with trees reflected upon its still surface?

Perhaps the riot of peonies flaunting their pinks?

The orchard with budding fruit?

No, no, and no.

It was the old rusted truck. You knew it would be.

There is just something about old trucks and their curved lines and soft patina developed over time that pulls me in.

I didn’t fight it. I just shot it…from every angle.

I love those times when a subject draws me in. It’s almost meditative.

Namasté…

Water…

every drop matters.

20160525-DSC_3855Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

John Muir

This time of year as we head into fire season I am grateful for every drop that falls. Memories from last year as smoke filled the air day after day from forest fires are still too fresh.

On this morning as I walked amongst the tall grasses in my pasture that sparkled from the night’s rainstorm I spotted this one drop.

Sheer beauty in its delicate heart shaped form and so transient in its nature. One breath of wind and it would be gone.

I have a friend who connects deeply to heart shapes that she finds in nature and it brought a smile to my face knowing how much she would love this one drop.

Click…its the little things that matter and yes, it’s (almost always) about the water.

A little bad weather…

wasn’t enough to keep me away from this jagged peak..

Proton Arc and Aurora Borealis-“To the complaint, ‘There are no people in these photographs,’ I respond, There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.”

Ansel Adams

There’s something about the mountains that puts things into perspective and I don’t think that I will ever grow tired of looking at them.

There is such magic in capturing a moment that is only fleetingly visible.

This was one of those times on a recent trip to the Rocky Mountains in Canada. Rain, clouds, and fog can be a little more challenging to work around but they also provide opportunities like this one where a crack in the clouds revealed this peak still frosted with winter snow.

I like to find the unusual in a landscape. That might take a change of lens, direction, perspective, settings or all of the above.

If you’re not afraid of getting wet the rain seems to add a vibrancy to foliage and a simple trash bag with your lens poked through a hole in the bottom can keep your gear dry if it isn’t weather sealed.

Great photo opportunities can happen anytime under any conditions so don’t let a little weather or less than perfect light keep your camera in its bag…

A rare proton arc…

was what appeared in the night sky alongside the aurora borealis!

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Proton Arc, Northern Idaho, USA

To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Proton Arc, Northern Idaho, USA
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Aurora Borealis, Northern Idaho, USA
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Proton Arc, Northern Idaho, USA

“GET IN THE JEEP” I shouted to my husband, “I need you to take me to the lake right now!”

Moments earlier…

Not being able to sleep and unable to concentrate on the book I was reading I started checking my apps to see what I might be able to see in the night sky. The moon wouldn’t be a problem and for once the skies looked like they would be clear.

There was an expectation that in a couple of days we might be seeing the northern lights so I was looking forward to that having been shut out by clouds from seeing the Eta Aquariids meteor shower. When the aurora app showed a pretty distinct area of red I jumped out of bed and ran for my camera and tripod.

I quickly dialed in some settings, plunked the tripod down on the deck and took a test shot to the north, I could see that there were light fluctuations but my eyes had not yet adapted to the dark.

Sure enough, aurora borealis, and looking strong! Turning around I looked up and saw flowing from east to west overhead the most incredible arc. I didn’t know what it was, having never seen one before, but I knew that it was one of those moments not to be wasted. I had no idea how long it would last and wanted to get into an area that was not rimmed by towering cedars and grand fir to photograph it.

I didn’t bother to change out of my pj’s but threw a hoodie on to ward off the night temperatures.

Firing off shots to document overhead and to the west I yelled at my husband to hurry, which thankfully he did, ignoring my agitation and occasional expletive.

With camera already attached to the tripod I leaped from the jeep and ran to the water’s edge to start shooting.

And then the magic began…

I wish that I’d had a recording of the animals that night. On other occasions while photographing strong aurora events I’ve noted their heightened response to these energetic events. Bullfrogs croaked in deep, vibratory tones, coyotes howled, two different species of owls hooted, and a grebe’s haunting notes echoed from across the lake.

The aurora borealis themselves were spectacular, but the arc, that was simply unforgettable. My search for confirmation of the proton arc had me reaching out in many directions (thank you Lucy, my go to person for night sky questions!)

A proton arc occurs when massive protons ejected by a solar event bombard the earth’s atmosphere…and they’re rare events.

This is exactly why I shoot every day under all conditions. There wasn’t time to mess around with settings and fiddle with focus. This was a time to hit the ground shooting, quick check of the histogram and take full advantage of an opportunity that I might never see again.

Trifecta…new moon, clear skies, proton arc.

I’m a lucky girl.

The dragonfly…

on a dew laden morning.DSC_2721-Edit-2

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.

Aristotle

A foot to the right and I might have stepped on him. I love the mornings when the landscape is covered in dew. It’s rather like looking for a needle in a haystack but I set out into the pasture to look for this shot and there he was, clinging to a blade of grass.

They are very vulnerable until their wings dry and every so often he would flutter them to shake off more dew.

It’s the tiny moments like this that I enjoy…truly something of the marvelous!