I am not an urban dweller. Living in the city or in a suburb packed with houses leaves me feeling pressed upon, suffocated and constrained by my surroundings. I am one who is renewed by the natural world, whether I am in the woods, on the water or in the mountains close to the clouds. For me, nature is about beauty and renewal, as well as drama and death; it touches my most authentic and primitive self. I try to capture how elemental life makes me feel about myself and my kinship with all things in my photographs.
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A Place for Deer
I love the golden colors of fields in late Summer and Autumn. Unfortunately, the sun never came out in full while I was trying to capture this shot, so the oranges and yellows in the trees are not as vibrant as they could be. Instead, the image reminds us that most Fall days bring clouds and the threat of rain. This view is therefore typical of what we can expect to see. I still find it beautiful and imagine the deer bed down here in the field at the edge of the woods quite often.
This photograph is a good example of what one can do with the right lens, at the right angle, and in the right lighting. Most people would never imagine that I shot this photograph at the cusp of Spring in a city park while walking my dog. The sun was low, the light was amazing, and the clouds brought color and interest into the sky. What made the image, though, was using a wide angle lens and crouching down on a hill to better isolate the tree at the summit. Distracting objects behind the tree dropped below the horizon out of view and the bird just happened to decide to stay put a few seconds longer.
I consider communing with nature an experience essential to the well being of all creatures. Even we humans are hardwired to respond to the natural world; to absorb its beauty and marvel at the miracle of its existence. We are meant to embody the environment; to absorb the sight of vibrant colors, the smell of pine needles, the sounds of birds, the feel of the sun on our bodies, and the taste of rain on our lips. All of our senses are designed to bring the outside in and to incorporate our experiences of our surroundings into our being. Imagine standing, as I did, in this woodland scene, feeling renewed by the spectacle of its tranquility.
I'm so glad I caught a glimpse of this small pond out of the corner of my eye as we were driving out of the park at day's end. The sun was low and would illuminate the trees on the opposite shore for only a few moments more. The air was cooling and very still, and the water had a clarity that I normally associate with more northern climates. It was the perfect set up to capture a double dose of the flaming oranges of Autumn in one image. To learn more about this shoot, read my blog post here.
Reflections often make it hard to determine where a subject ends and then begins again. This is especially true when the subject, like this tree, is suspended out above the water, or even leaning down to touch it. I'm reminded again, water has a special relationship with light; it absorbs and reflects the world in the form of light. As the natural mirror of life, it also absorbs and reflects earth's creatures. Calm, clear water provided humanity with its only reflection of self for tens of thousands of years. We looked better then, when we couldn't imagine ourselves outside of the context of the natural world.
Autumn at Golden Pond
The symmetry in this photograph is important; it's my attempt to comprehend the phenomenon, the mirage, of the same world in two places. The water multiplies the staggering beauty of this deciduous forest actively declining into Winter. A buzzard at the top of a far tree is oblivious to the scene unfolding at her back; she has spread her wings to warm them in the last rays of sunlight before going to roost. As the sun first recedes from the right side of the scene, fog condenses in the cooling air and begins to blanket the surface of the pond.
Houseboat for Sale
I love boats. I always have. To me, there's something special about them, probably because they have signified adventure for me since I was a child. I've always wanted one, but never have been in a position to own one, apart from my kayak. I love the water and wish that I could live next to it or even on it in a houseboat or yacht. I doubt that fantasy will ever become reality, but I still enjoy it when I kayak on the most pristine waters I can find, searching for otters and bald eagles.
Fog Over Shell Lake
This photograph captures the fog rising over Shell Lake at sunset in deep Winter. Shell Lake is probably my favorite place in the world. I've kayaked it in Summer and Fall, fished it in Spring, hiked it's circumference, and even snowshoed across its frozen surface in Winter. It's located in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park in the Northwest corner of Michigan's lower peninsula. It's pristine and relatively remote and, unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to travel there for years. I miss this place, along with the crystal clear waters and wildlife of Northern Michigan.
An old , dry-docked and rusted fishing boat makes a great perch for a seabird near Whitefish Point on the northeastern shore of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Located on Lake Superior, the waters here are treacherous and never warm, even at the height of Summer. But the area is an important stopover for migratory birds in both Spring and Fall. It's a great place to photograph a huge variety of birds. I love this photograph because it reminds me of the seaside culture one finds along the shores of the Great Lakes; particularly here, where tales of shipwrecks abound.
Much further South, the emerald waters of Panama City Beach are brilliant off-season and already as warm as bathwater. Unfortunately, the area is an over-developed tourist trap, so one has to think creatively to successfully capture seascapes relatively free of people and objects. Sometimes the best strategy is to work from above with the right lens, as is the case with this photo shot from a balcony. I love the odd-one-out, rainbow beach umbrella in this scene, and the water is absolutely gorgeous!
Land, Sea and Sky
Also shot from above, I appreciate the layering of the beach, water and sky in this photo, as well as the warm evening light. The three people on the beach at either end of the composition add a feeling of immensity to the scale of the scene. The sea is vast and full of life. Walking along its shore reminds me of the magnitude of the oceans, and of the brief, insignificant hum of a single human life. Glimpsing manta rays in the water makes me wish something better for them than a Gulf of Mexico polluted with crude oil and chemicals.
Sand, Sea and Shack
In a different light, the same sands are golden next to the green, swelling sea. Concerned with scale, this composition also captures the loneliness that can plague one, even in paradise. It's not about where we are or who we're with; sometimes we have to be reminded to be content with the 'now'. We have to remember to appreciate where we are and what we've got, even when our experiences aren't shared with other sympathetic souls.
This photograph shot from the dunes introduces more context into the beach scene. The sun is setting over a long pier that is typically packed with fishermen, but is still a great location for spotting manta rays and dolphins cavorting just off shore. The beach grass in the dunes, if protected, forms a natural barrier to erosion and provides habitat for nesting shore birds (as well as hunting grounds for feral, domestic cats). The buildings visible at the right edge of the horizon hint at the fact that this thin line of 'protected' dunes backs up to hotels and car-parks as far as the eye can see.
Seating at the Blue Line
At sunset, sometimes the best seats in the house aren't facing the main event. On this beach they instead provide a front row view of the thin, blue line on the horizon, formed as the water becomes darker with distance. It reminds me of the thin, blue line of earth's atmosphere sometimes captured at sunset in photographs taken from orbit. I love the layers in this picture and the leading lines in the sand, which comprises over half of the composition.
A moment later and the light has changed again. Our perfect seats now showcase the spectacle of pink, billowy clouds on the horizon. A distant storm on the southern horizon? Or just a passing front? Remember the saying: "Red sky at night; sailor's delight. Red sky at morning; sailor's take warning".
In the Pink
In the Dunes
Still, the main event, the sunset, is quite beautiful. The sun is setting over the pier in the distance. Shot at the equivalent of a 24 mm focal length (wide angle), the scene is actually quite a bit closer than it appears. It's challenging to get the right exposure when shooting into the sun. I think the light in this photo is well balanced, with detail in the sky and the foreground and no blown highlights. The sun's rays, split by the pier supports, add to the warmth of the scene and are true to the experience of the moment.
Trouble in Paradise
Shot on another afternoon, this fast approaching storm caught many a beachcomber completely off-guard. We had spent the day off on a boat in another area and had decided to head back into port, then to the hotel, shorty after spying menacing clouds on the western horizon. The storm came in so fast, I barely had time to snap two pictures from the balcony before the wind, rain and lighting drove me back indoors. The clouds were so low and had so much texture; they looked like they were boiling. Through it all, a crazy group of fishermen refused to relinquish their prime real estate at the end of the fishing pier.
The End is the Beginning
Geese at Liberty Park
The Old West
Off the Beaten Path
Garden of the Gods
Upper Slope, Pike's Peak
Photographic Memory I
Photographic Memory II
Photographic Memory III
Sunset Over Lake Michigan
Back to the mid-South and a dock on the Cumberland River in Tennessee. Yes, I want that nice, big boat, but I was really struck by the calmness of the sheltered water and the symmetry of the structure. The garages house river patrol boats. I like this image in black and white, which places the focus solely on form and light.