Ward World Championship

April 25th, 2014

I’m sitting here in my booth with my bird photography in Ocean City, Maryland, at the Ward World Championship Waterfowl Carving Show. It’s open through Sunday, 10-5 pm each day, in the  Convention Center. If you are in the area come by and see some incredible bird carvings and some great art and photograpby.

my booth

The Beauty at Black Rock Retreat

March 30th, 2014

My church had a weekend retreat at Black Rock Retreat Center near Quarrysville,  Pennsylvania, this weekend.   In spite of the rain Saturday morning I led a nature photography workshop.  In the bare winter woods where there was little green, I looked around for some interesting subjects and came upon a steep section that led down to the Octoraro Creek.  It was an amazing place, filled with rocks covered with lichens and moss.  Nearby a small stream flowed down from a pond and was a tumbling cascade of small waterfalls.  As I was exploring the area, I heard a large number of frogs in a wetland area near the creek.  My adventure  shows that there is something interesting to be discovered anywhere one is.  It only takes some looking.   Here are a few images from my time there.

Looking Down Toward the Octoraro Creek

 

Trees Growing Out of the Rocks

 

Moss and Lichens

 

Waterfall

 

 Split Rock

 

Looking Uphill at the Woods

 

The Woods, New and Old

 

Kathleen looks at the Big Rock from below

A Winter Morning at Jenkins Arboretum

February 4th, 2014

This morning I awoke to a winter wonderland at my house after the largest storm of the year.  Very heavy and wet, it was the best possible snow for photographs.  After looking around my own yard I went to Jenkins Arboretum, less than five minutes from home.  It is a wonderland any time of the year and gives me renewed energy every time I go. Jenkins is a protected watershed flowing into Trout Creek, the Schuylkill River  and eventually the Delaware River.   It is open to the public without charge every day.  Today I spent almost four hours wandering the paths and enjoying the beauty of snow, woods and sunlight.  Here is a selection of images from my morning.

The View from my deck this morning

Snow Balls

Winter Scene at Jenkins

 The Swirl of a Dogwood

The Great Oak in Winter

 The Brook at Jenkins in the Winter

Twisted Tree by the Pond

 Snow Shadow

Tryon Creek State Park

January 16th, 2014

Near Lake Oswego, Oregon, lies an urban treasure, Tryon Creek State Park.  Almost 700 acres of preserved forest around Tryon Creek, a stream protected for Steelhead and Salmon, it is easily accessible. The only Oregon State Park within a major urban area, Tryon has many walking paths and holds numerous treasures of a typical forest in the Willamette ecosystem. About ten minutes from where my Mother lives, I had a wonderful walk yesterday for several hours, exploring a few of the wonders. Below are some examples of what I found.

 Transformed Stump

 

Moss Sculpture

 

Ferns on the Tree

 

 Moss and Ferns

 

Like a Rain Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle Sunset

January 7th, 2014

Sunday I arrived in Seattle after leaving freezing rain in Philadelphia.  It was a beautiful sunny day here so after checking in to my hotel I walked a few blocks to the Space Needle.   Having been to Seattle numerous times this was my first time to go up and get the wonderful 360 degree views of the city and surrounding mountain ranges. I could not have had a greater reward-clear views in all directions to Mount Rainier, to Mount Baker, to the Olympics and a colorful sunset.  Below are a few choice shots.

Seattle Space Needle

Seattle Skyline at Sunset

Seattle Sunset Looking South

Seattle Sunset Looking North

Seattle Skyline at Dusk

Snowy Owls

December 12th, 2013

Snowy Owls (Bubo scandiacus) are one of the most majestic creatures in nature.  These  large owls live in the Arctic.  Most people seldom get the opportunity to view them in the wild.  This year we have a rare treat as more Snowy Owls than ever in the recent past have appeared.   This phenomenon is called an irruption and occurs every few years when the food supply, mainly lemmings, is too low to support the owl population in its home territory.   The owls often are stressed when they come South because of the long flight and seek places similar to their home like beaches and open fields to roost and hunt. Unlike most owls they can hunt during the day since the Arctic has 24 hours of daylight in the summer.  Several Snowy Owls have recently appeared in areas near me including Wilmington, Delaware; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and the coast of New Jersey.  Yesterday I had the opportunity to observe and photograph one owl at the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville, New Jersey, and another at Stone harbor Point, New Jersey. 

 

Snowy Owl at Forsythe NWR

Snowy Owl at Stone Harbor Point NJ

Snowy Owl in Flight

  

Conowingo Dam

December 5th, 2013

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River.   That is most likely the best place on the East coast to view Bald Eagles in the late fall and early winter.   I was not disappointed although the day became cloudy in late morning.   Eagles of all ages visit  the dam, offering an easy comparison of different feather patterns of the first five years.   The dam is a huge cafeteria for the eagles with many fish stopping their trip upstream and others coming through the turbines, offering easy meals.   The morning did not have much action of eagles fishing but many were there, often flying overhead or sitting on the towers on the island.   The picture offered below is  a good view of a third year eagle in flight showing the dark upper breast band and patterns on the lower breast.  By the third year adult sized feathers have replaced the longer wing feathers of the first two years,  giving this age the size and shape but not the colors or patterns of an adult.

jas131204__w3p5407crop.jpg

A Day on the Wading River

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

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

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