Archive for August, 2013

A Day on the Wading River

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Last Saturday a group of ten from Central Baptist church in Wayne, PA, went paddling on the Wading River in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.   For some of us traveling as a group from the church, the day began with an adventure on the Schuylkill Expressway that much of the time offers little express. We had just gotten on at the Conshohocken ramp from 476 when the traffic came to a halt.  Both sides were closed because of a serious accident on the other side near Merion.    I admit I’ve never before found an opportunity to walk in the middle of this busiest highway in the Philadelphia region and talk with others parked there! After an hour and a half delay, the road opened and we continued without further delay to meet those who had traveled from other locations.

The Wading River is the second most popular River in New Jersey for paddling after the Delaware River.  A beautiful day in the middle of the summer is a time when crowds of people come for paddling and tubing.   The number of people wanting to enjoy the River that day surprised even the owner of Mick’s, where we rented and got transportation back and forth to the River.   At times the River was jammed with kayaks, canoes, and tubers.  We had to carefully wind our way through the crowds.  At other times it seemed like one of the most peaceful places in the world, particularly the last stretch after many of the other paddlers had left at an earlier takeout point.

The Wading River winds through forest for the entire length that we paddled.   Only a couple of campgrounds interrupt the peacefulness of the woods.  Generally it is a calm River but with lots of water flowing swiftly between narrow banks and many fallen trees and branches, it does have obstacles. These occasionally are not easily seen because the water is a murky, reddish brown from the many pines and cedars.  One of these buried branches caught  Laura by surprise and flipped her kayak.  She continued on for a while but realized the boat was taking in water.   The rest of group waited a short way downstream and  finally found someone with a cell phone.  None of us except Laura had brought ours on the River. When we called we found out that Mick’s was sending out a double kayak and would tow her boat to our takeout.  Even on gently flowing streams like the Wading, the River is always in charge.

The Group from CBC on the Wading River

Tom is happy to be on the Wading River

Joe and Patty and Laura with some of the rest of the crowd on the River

 Laura on the Wading River

Joe and Patty enjoying the day

heading downstream

Typical scenery on the Wading River

Gordon enjoys the River

Neal on the Wading River

 Rick on the River

 Pines on the Wading River in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey

 Kim enjoys a moment of solitude

 Brenda relaxes on the lunch break

 in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey

Pines on the Wading River in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey

 It was a beautiful day

The Creative Process

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

What is the creative process?  This is a question I ask myself regularly.  Where do I get my ideas?  How do I carry out those ideas?  What is my mission as an artist?   For me these question are intertwined but the ultimate source is the natural world.   I want to help people see nature in a different way, to recognize the beauty that surrounds and have respect and appreciation for the wonders of the sacred place where we find ourselves. 

We have built a society that is fundamentally out of touch with the way the universe operates.   Therefore we find ourselves in a world where species disappear every day, where the ice in polar caps is melting, where most rivers and streams carry poisons from our waste, and where we continue to move forward in ways that are blind to the consequences of our actions.  I am looking for a transformation in our attitudes, a mindfulness of what and who are around us,  a turning around from taking interest only in ourselves, material possessions and money to caring relationships with one another and our surroundings.

The creative process is all about getting outside the common place in a way that allows us to look at the commonplace in a different way, one that transforms us.   When the first astronauts looked back at the earth, they saw a unified sphere floating in space.   It changed their lives in a fundamental way.   They saw a living whole, an earth without national borders that divide us. My work as an artist, a fine art photographer, is dedicated to changing the way we see things.    I use digital cameras and lenses  to acquire images that I transform into paintings with light through my computer and digital printer.   These are my brushes and palettes.  The equipment that I use is only an important tool to help in the process.  The final piece is one that I hope evokes new insight  and new responses to what is being seen.

These ideas are not new but they are revolutionary.  Below are three voices from the past that echo various aspects of my ideas.

“Beauty will save the world.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

“A human being is part of the whole called by us ‘the universe,’ a part limited in time and space.  We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, as separate from the rest–a kind of optical illusion of our consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affections for a few persons nearest to us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of understanding and compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of  Nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein

“In the electronic age, I am sure that scanning techniques will be developed to achieve prints of extraordinary subtlety from the original negative scores.  If I could return in twenty years or so I would hope to see astounding interpretations of my most expressive images.  It is true no one could print my negatives as I did, but they might well get more out of them by electronic means. Image quality is not the product of a machine but of the person who directs the machine, and there are no limits to imagination and expression.”  Ansel Adams, An Autobiography, 1985


Moon in Total Eclipse


The Amazing World in the Backyard

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Most of the time the wonders of nature are closer than we think.   Last weekend I was with my life partner, Kim, at her place in NW New Jersey.   I decided to look around the yard before we left for a couple of days. There I discovered numerous Hummingbird Moths enjoying the nectar in the Bergamot or Bee Balm. This insect is an amazing creature resembling a small hummingbird that I had heard about but never seen. Excited, I quickly got my camera and begin photographing.   I continued the exploration on the following Monday morning. 

As I watched the quick movement of the Hummingbird Moths, I noticed other creatures enjoying the delights of the Begamot - Swallowtails and other butterflies, Ruby-throated hummingbirds, dragonflies, and several varieties of bee.  As I listened, I heard the sound of a Scarlet Tanager and soon, a pair came to a nearby tree.   I watched as the Hummingbird rose straight up and hovered, looking directly at me. Later she perched on a branch and continued her gaze.  Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, a Bluejay, a pair of Cardinals and a Carolina Wren sang and flitted around in the branches above the Bergamot. A Red-bellied Woodpecker called in the distance. 

Most of this activity was occurring in the same small corner of the backyard where in early June I discovered a wild Turkey nesting.  Wanting to help protect nature I placed some deer fencing around the area to keep Kim’s Australian Shepherds  and cats from bothering her.  She successfully nested, and four weeks later several infant turkeys emerged.   Kim discovered two enmeshed in the fencing, freed them, and the mother Turkey departed with her young.

We do not have to travel far to find the incredible wonders that await our enjoyment.  Natural beauty surrounds us, yet our busy lives in built environments often distract us from finding a relationship with the places and life immediately around us.  Such relationships enrich our own lives by reflecting the reality of the amazing community of life to which we belong.


Hummingbird Moth Feeding


 Hummingbird Moth Hovering


 Ruby-throated Hummingbird Feeding


Ruby-throated Hummingbird Resting


Dragonfly resting on Bergamot


 Eastern Swallowtail on Bergamot


Wild Turkey on Nest


Wild Turkey Nest with Eggs