A “pawsitive” few weeks…

in the press for my breed!

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Fall in love with a dog, and in many ways you enter a new orbit, a universe that features not just new colors but new rituals, new rules, a new way of experiencing attachment.

Caroline Knapp

As a lover of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed my spirits have been buoyed the last few weeks by the press sharing some of the wonderful deeds with these dogs in the starring role. So often it seems that they only make the news when something horrendous happens and sadly I’ve often found the breed in question to not even be the SBT.

The AKC has this to say about the breed “the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is known for its character of fearlessness and loyalty. This coupled with its affection for its friends, its off-duty quietness and trustworthy stability, make it first and foremost an all-purpose dog. The breed is naturally muscular and may appear intimidating; however, because of their natural fondness for people, most Staffords are temperamentally ill-suited for guard or attack dog training.”

In Gloucester, United Kingdom,  police Stafford Stella won at the Animal Hero Awards in London for her role in finding 25,000 pounds stolen in a heist. She was a rescue dog fortunate to have had someone take the time to see her potential.

In Sydney, Australia, family pet Stafford Leala is credited with saving her two year old charge after he fell into the water and was drowning. When attempts to rescue him failed she went and got the father who performed CPR for half an hour until help arrived. The boy is making an excellent recovery.

We are quick to judge a book by its cover and often without all of the information that should be required before making that judgement. We rail against that same act when it comes to skin color so why not when it comes to our furred friends?

Sharing your life with a dog brings untold rewards and it is my opinion that when it comes to bad deeds performed by dogs we need to look at the other end of the leash. 

Fall colors are peaking…

and what did I love?

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I think style is just the end result of personal experience. It would be problematic for me to photograph in another style. I’m drawn to places and subject matter that have personal connections for me and I photograph in a way that seems right. Where does it all come from, who knows?

Michael Kenna

On a fabulous fall day with near perfect temperatures it seemed like the ideal time to criss-cross the county and photograph some beautiful fall color. The aspens glowed a brilliant yellow against the evergreens and wild turkey and deer added that pastoral feeling to the landscape.

I’ve been doing a lot of night photography of late and more often than not for me, those final images remain in color. Deep blues, purples, and pops of color from a handheld torch that I like to call my paintbrush. I suppose it would only be natural that I would slip back into my comfort zone of monochromatic landscapes.

Today we found vibrant yellows, deep oranges, and glowing pinks but what did I like the best at the end of the day? A backlit water scene that with its trees and stark remains of a bridge were reminiscent of our lengthy and punishing fire season.

Without the distraction of color I find these scenes to be so much more tranquil and meditative. My eyes are drawn to the patterns and nuances of the shading. Michael Kenna’s work is simply brilliant and his observation of photographing in a way that seems right is exactly what I strive to do.

Developing personal style in photography or other mediums I think just comes with time. I can remember early on sitting on the floor and with my eyes closed trying to change lenses and dial in particular settings. This learning to do things by feel and knowing which way the dials worked to make changes in my settings has held me in good stead for night photography. Once the tools were learned it seemed easier to play with the camera and capture the images that seemed right to me.

How well do you know your camera? Turn the lights out and see!

As the leaves turn…

and the mornings have a chill to them, I begin to wonder when that first snowflake will fall.

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Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

Albert Camus

I love that the mornings are darker and that I can slip outside and revel in the darkness knowing that dawn is just around the corner.

The skies have been overcast, thwarting my plans to shoot the Draconid meteor showers that peaked this past Thursday. As the clouds scudded by one could occasionally see a patch of stars in the night sky and I was at least lucky enough to see four meteors.

The hours between sunset and sunrise have become my favorite hours to shoot. If you haven’t tried it I would encourage you to go out and soak it up. There is a meditative quality about these hours. The tranquility and lack of interruptions is something that I don’t usually find in my daylight hours and that outweighs those brief moments that intrude when I hear a branch snap or see a bat fly by.

This morning I reflected on another loss to our small community that occurred when a Cessna crashed into Round Top mountain killing two pilots and leaving the third passenger, at this point in time, unaccounted for. I suppose that it could be said that they died doing what they loved but for those left behind I am not sure that is enough of a consolation and my heart goes out to them.

I grew up being afraid of the dark so find it empowering that I can now be out in it; finding enjoyment in searching out the photographic opportunities it has to offer.

Although I’ve shot this birch tree before it never occurred to me to try it at night and now I wonder… what took me so long?

 

Additional images of light painting can be viewed by mousing over and clicking on the galleries idaho… after dark and idaho after dark lunar eclipse on this link to my website.

Painting by moonlight…

literally.

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I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

Pablo Picasso

Light painting…those words today probably bring to mind the fabulous wakeboarding images shot by Patrick Rochon in conjunction with Redbull but did you know that the earliest light painting was photographed in 1889 by Georges Demeny and was titled “Pathological Walk From in Front?”

Then again, Picasso is also an artist that one wouldn’t necessarily equate with this form of painting but he was apparently intrigued after seeing the figure skaters shot by Gjon Mili and in 1949 collaborated with him during a Life magazine shoot. These images were later displayed in early 1950 at MOMA.

I find painting with light to be both energizing and soothing and while planning my shots for the eclipse last week I indulged in a little painting by moonlight. Usually I have at hand an assortment of torches and filters to use as my “brushes” but I thought that moon is looking pretty bright… why not!?

The shot of the day might have been if someone had been photographing me wildly waving my camera through the night sky while trying to keep track of my lines! Is this a work of art? Perhaps not but I liked its energy and just like last week’s eclipse, when social media was filled with cookie cutter images of large orange orbs, I again found pleasure in shooting the moon just a little bit differently.

Nothing is ever new but when almost everyone now carries a camera, at least a phone version, it becomes more difficult to create something that stands apart. Are you up for the challenge?

Additional images of light painting can be viewed by mousing over and clicking on the galleries idaho… after dark and idaho after dark lunar eclipse on this link to my website.

An eclipse night trifecta…

or having a plan come together!

the eclipsed moon, the milky way, iridium flare 65
the eclipsed moon, the milky way, iridium flare 65

Everything that you can imagine is real.

Pablo Picasso

On this special eclipse night, the fourth eclipse in a tetra, I wanted to do something more than just photograph a large frame filling blood moon. I kept being drawn to the idea of photographing the stars AND having a full moon in the shot. It just doesn’t happen very often that you can see the full moon and not have the stars washed out by its glow. I also knew that at 8:11 there would be an iridium flare visible for a brief moment. Not a very bright one but having shot these before I hoped that it would be bright enough. Could I capture this trifecta?

A great deal of planning needed to take place. First there was scouting out a location and figuring out where each element would be at that one moment necessary to capture all three. For this I turned to a wonderful ap called Photopills. It gave me all of the tools necessary to plot the placement of the moon and the milky way in relation to the direction and elevation of the flare. Taking some test shots showed me that shooting at 11 mm on my wide angle lens should just barely squeeze these three elements into the shot. What settings I would be using needed to be decided close to the time of the shot as I really did not know how much light would be present.

The one thing that I was certain of was that I would have one shot, just one frame, to get this. The girl likes a challenge though and certainly I filled my time before and after with capturing the beauty of this extra large moon, the likes of which will not occur again until 2033, as it rose behind the mountains, already partially eclipsed.

blood moon rising
blood moon rising

It was a beautiful night, with perfect weather and even a shooting star that exploded during a test shot. How lucky can one girl be? Or is luck when opportunity and planning come together…you be the judge!

More images can be viewed in the gallery idaho after dark by clicking on this link to my website.

 

The kokanee spawn! A photographic experience for my bucket list OR…

be careful what you wish for!

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To the artist there is never anything ugly in nature.

Auguste Rodin

The reality of the kokanee salmon spawn was a far different scene than I had imagined. In retrospect I suppose that I had not really thought this through. I imagined the brightly colored fish valiantly making their way up-stream to lay eggs that would hatch in the spring.

The kokanee is the landlocked version of the sockeye salmon and they spend their entire lives in fresh water. It was magical really seeing them twist and flip, powering their way upstream against a fairly strong flow of water. They glistened and shone with eye-popping color, ranging from strong pinks to deep reds but retaining the dark green head.

I wandered along the edge of the creek armed with bear spray in the event that one should make a sudden, not to be avoided appearance. The sound of the rushing water eliminated the possibility of hearing a bear in advance so I alternated taking shots with taking full scans of the area around me.

I knew that the kokanee died after spawning and there were bodies in various stages of decay beginning to gather at the edges. As I moved in to photograph one such body; tail and fins tattered and gouges scraped down through the skin and into the flesh on his sides, I watched in horror as he tried to draw a breath. It was then that I realized that this was not an isolated case. All around me were fish hanging on by a thread in bodies that barely functioned; where death would be a blessing.

the last breath
the last breath

And so I began to photograph them…these warriors that had conquered the arduous trip upstream to spawn. Did I set out to photograph dead and dying kokanee? Most assuredly not but I recognized that this was a moment, an opportunity that shouldn’t be dismissed, and in finding a way to create beauty amongst the carnage I was able to have some measure of peace with the reality of nature’s cycle of life. Not always pretty, not always kind, but always consistent in the eventuality of death.

 

Prints and additional images from this series are available in gallery idaho…finned by clicking on this link to my website .

Lest we forget, a moment of silence…

and a moment of beauty in the dawn hours.

Sept 11 Aurora Borealis
Sept 11 Aurora Borealis

Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, blossomed the lovely stars, the forget me not of angels.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

On each anniversary of September 11th I am instantly transported back to that surreal moment, watching a television display footage of the attack on the world trade center. I can remember each moment as if it were in slow motion…trying at the same time to comprehend what I was seeing. It is one of those events that never seems to lose its rawness and I feel compelled to mark its passage each year with a moment of silence.

At the time I was a member of a search and rescue team and as I watched it unfold my pager began to go off and I knew that some members of the team would be going into that massive ‘rubble pile’ in search of anyone still surviving. I knew it would not be me as I worked a bloodhound that was trained to follow only the scent of a victim that I provided to her. The dogs going in would be trained to alert on any human scent.

It was difficult to be on the sidelines waiting for any word of a positive find and at the same time being concerned for the safety and well-being of other team members and their canine partners. This many years later I still find it a challenge to articulate what happened on the days following this terror attack on American soil.

My heart goes out to the families that lost loved ones on 9-11 as well as to the first responders, handlers, and canines that later succumbed due to illnesses caused by their selfless call to duty in a toxic environment.

So I take a moment each September 11 to remember and on this morning felt some measure of solace as dawn approached on the west coast and the aurora borealis danced across the sky.

And then there were the stars…the forget me not of angels.