A long time coming…

a self portrait.

DSC_1677-Edit-2Photography is an austere and blazing poetry of the real.

Ansel Adams

I’ve been playing around with portraits lately, you know, part of that exercise to do those things that you’re the least comfortable with. Replacing fear with confidence allows you to make choices that aren’t predicated around a feeling that you could fail.

When your life has gone through a complete upheaval the tendency is to analyze every choice that you made and to find reasons why you made the choices that you did.

I think that it’s a necessary part of recovery but there also comes a time to let those things go and take a good long look in the mirror. I’ve found through chance encounters that my story is not all that unique and with that discovery comes a sense of relief. I am grateful to those women who have shared their stories with me.

The photo above is about looking in that mirror. It is a self portrait of where I am right now in this moment.

Every so often in nature, with jaw dropping vistas a far as the eye can see, you encounter a tiny intimate landscape that just speaks to you on a whole different level.

This was one of those defining moments.

And how unusual…

It’s almost always about the water.

Is it art…

just because we say it’s so?

DSC_1027-Edit-EditBefore the people at large, and for that matter, the artists themselves, understand what photography really means, as I understand that term, it is essential for them to be taught the real meaning of art.

Alfred Stieglitz

Had some interesting conversations lately about art; what it is and what it is not.

Is it the piece of dryer lint tied with thread and given space at a gallery? Or perhaps it’s the old sheet hung on the wall with a word written on it? Is it assembly line production of paper and glue?

Is it art because it matches your sofa cushions? Is it art because you cut an old RV in half and applied social commentary to it? Does the quality of the material used elevate the work?

The very definition of art, the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination would lead me to believe that there are more components involved than the simple desire to be called an artist.

Recent art exhibits seemed to be accompanied by lengthy bios on the artist and the creative process that resulted in some of the exhibits mentioned above leading me to wonder is it art if it has to be explained to you in advance of the viewing?

For me whatever I’m looking at, my own work or that of others, first and foremost it has to evoke some sort of emotion and secondly the creation of the piece has to have some component of skill and intention involved.

Art or craft…always a hot topic. I’m grateful for artists like Stieglitz who paved the way for photography as an art form.

There was a man with great passion, talent, and intention and I would have loved to shadow him for just one day as he worked.

Who moves you? What motivates you to create and not just replicate?

Not just a photograph…

but a memory.

DSC_0879-EditPhotography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation, and execution.

Ansel Adams

Winter landscapes are for me some of the most beautiful to capture.

Like a blueprint of time they contain a wealth of information; information that remains until the next wind blows and covers the tracks, or snow continues to fall burying that day’s history.

I knew immediately when I saw this image that I would render it in black and white.

Ansel Adams used a red filter to darken the sky in one of his photographs of the monolith in Yosemite. He already had in his mind the final image, not as he saw it but how he visualized it being.

Photography is a medium that allows for an immense amount of growth and how we choose to interpret that which lies on the other side of our lens is an intensely personal process.

Knowing this, accepting this, and staying true to this is the difference between a snapshot and a photograph.

A photograph is not only the image that it portrays but the memory that it holds.

When I look at this I am reminded of a very gentle man, a farmer, who several years ago during a challenging time showed me the true depth of his spirit and I hope that when he sees this he will recognize himself in the description and know that he made a difference.

The apex…

of scenting ability.

DSC_0770-3Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Years ago while involved in Search and Rescue I was introduced to tracking by a man named Jim Marshall. He cultivated in me an appreciation for awareness and personal space and the second nature to be always looking for indicators.

Today, one of my greatest joys is to find signs of animals passing through the wilderness and letting my imagination run wild with the back stories.

The discovery pictured above, along with a huge pile of hair laden scat, was heart rate elevating!

I searched for the perfect track to photograph and my mind raced with thoughts.

As a former bloodhound handler and instructor of scent theory, I’m well versed in the abilities of certain animals because of physiological makeup to be scenting machines.

Here I was in close proximity to one of the animals at the apex of this description…the grizzly bear. An animal purported to be able to scent 300 times more than a bloodhound.

This is the beauty of photography. Each time I look at this photograph I will remember the cold, the heightened awareness, the silence, and the joy that we felt when we saw it.

I had hoped to see elusive bear number TENĀ  of the year but I’m okay with it not being this particular bear.

Was he watching? Very likely.

Was I? Always.

Nature’s magnificence…

and coming back.

DSC_0446-Edit-2-Edit-3I wish that all of nature’s magnificence, the emotion of the land, the living energy of the place could be photographed.

Annie Leibovitz

This week has been a reminder of and an eye-opener to the scars that we bear.

This stand of trees still soars majestically skyward but bore not the brightly colored leaves of autumn, only blackened trunks and open wounds from the Kenow fire that swept through last year.

I find myself listening more and looking beyond the outer shells.

I find myself more willing to speak openly and wonder if that energy is being felt.

I find myself coming back.

Just…

be.

DSC_1848Dream, struggle, create, prevail. Be daring. Be brave. Be loving. Be compassionate. Be strong. Be brilliant. Be beautiful.

Caterina Fake

It’s been a long time since I sat at this desk and it feels really good.

I’m taking time to be.

To enjoy the colors of fall. To inhale the scent of leaves as they change from green to bright red, yellow, and orange.To gaze upon the sunlit waters where the salmon spawn.

But most of all. I’m taking time to just breathe.

 

Resilience…

in the aftermath.

DSC_0011-2In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.

Aristotle

We were in Waterton National Park last fall and left the day before the park was closed due to a rapidly approaching forest fire that ultimately burned over 47,500 acres.

This summer upon my return I was pleased to see the resilience of nature. Bright bits of green and wildflowers brightened the scarred landscape and all around you could see signs of recovery.

Life is about challenge and waiting for a completely clear path is immobilizing. For every obstacle that is removed another will inevitably take its place.

For me this image is a visual reminder that not everything is permanent and that the quality we need to strive for is resilience.

Adaptation in the face of adversity.