Rules are meant to be broken. At least, some rules. Rules are not laws, rather they're guidelines to lead us toward making a conscious decision. A well thought-out decision, maybe not, but a thought process nonetheless. Composing this image while on a visit to the Oregon coast, I tried to keep the horizon from being centered, but decided to break that rule so the other elements of the image worked in harmony. I've come to realize, over time, that I'm not trying to please you with my photography. I'm trying to please me. It pleases me when you enjoy looking at my images, and even more so when you're moved enough to buy a print from my Etsy.com gallery. This is the magic that is the internet. We're able to enjoy the visual arts at no additional cost.
Have you ever found yourself drawn to an antiques shop? What is it about the leftover artifacts of someone's life from fifty or a hundred years ago? In a small town in middle America, the shops often contain pieces of personal history that I find fascinating to explore and wonder about. One time, a few years ago, while in an antique store in such a small town, I came across an olive-drab painted wooden case stenciled "U.S. Army" on the cover. Upon opening the case I found a wonderful old surveyor's level with a telescope that must have been 24 inches long. Next to the case was a wooden tripod with brass fittings that had turned green over time. Having some experience with old surveying tools, I thought if only this instrument could talk, what stories it could tell us! Later, outside at an old railroad station, lay pieces of history likely in use when President Grover Cleveland's re-election train came through. Now, I'm not one to spend too much time browsing through antique shops, but from time to time, as I find myself doing so, my imagination runs wild with the stories that each piece might share.
The year was 2002 and I was out shooting with my first digital camera when I came upon this cute door decoration on a country house in Saline County, Kansas. Nine years have passed by since then, and I'm glad they're behind me now. Adobe Photoshop 6.0 was my entry point into the world of digital photo processing. Fortunately, this image didn't need much straight from the camera, and today, in CS5's Adobe Camera Raw, this delicate little JPEG file was processed non-destructively.
So, have a look back in time, and remember that while hindsight is always 20/20, tomorrow will bring new challenges and excitement to your photography. Take hold of your photography. Grab that camera, whether it be an SLR or pocketcam or even your cellphone, and get out there and shoot some frames!
Autumn. That time of year in the northern Rockies when the air is crisp, smoke from wood stoves is wafting in the breeze, the quakies having already turned to their yellow-gold pastels, and the montañas are blanketed with their first covering of snow. Ahhh, to be there on the western side of Glacier National Park, in a quiet meadow, sitting upon my iron steed, listening to the burble of the stream, the sound of the wind through the pines. A special moment in time for this city boy, where the cares of the day seem so far away and unimportant. I revel in the luxury of the moment. The inside road along the western boundary is an easy go today, now that the throngs have weeks ago abandoned the Park. Small herds of deer and elk are less skittish now. I admit to enjoying the warmth of my heated seats and my thermos of coffee. Clearly, a backpacker I'm not.
Last year, early in autumn, Jan and I had a wonderful opportunity to visit Vermont, a state that I hadn't seen in more than fifty years. My early childhood memories of summer vacations in New England are a blur of roadside cabins, lakes, mountains and forests. My Long Island grade school history classes with emphasis on New England and the Revolutionary War were my favorites. Deplaning in Burlington more than a half century later, I find much of Vermont's history well preserved. From the early French influence to the maple syrup tourist industry, my expectations were well satisfied. Sure, the 20th century did manage to add luxurious ski resorts and other outlets for winter recreation, and at the same time added lovely year 'round sightseeing opportunities for the masses. For me, driving on winding roads through the countryside, the little villages with their 200 or 300-year-old churches, the laid back ambiance of rural Vermont was an added bonus. No cell coverage? Tough shit. The road you're driving on was likely first laid out by a frenchman named Champlain in the early 17th century. So to all of you Vermonters I say, "Carry on and don't change a thing!" You have one of the most ideal places to live in the Republic.
The bears are the only ones who know spring is upon us. They're hungry after their long hibernation. There are NO other indications here on the west side of Glacier National Park. The snow is more than five feet deep along the road past the Lake McDonald Lodge. None of the deciduous trees have even begun to bud. Overnight temps are still in the twenties. The sun, going in and out amongst the billowy cumulous clouds, is warming the scene here for a few moments before the next snow squall arrives. And arrive is does, snowing furiously for a few minutes before pausing, as if to take a breath of the crisp mountain air. Then it begins again, and then the sun is out again, too, at the same time. It's good not to plan too carefully one's outdoor photography, rather to just go with the flow, waiting for moments to uncover the gear and capture the fleeting scenes of April in Montana.
I find there is something quite introspective about watching the snow fall. Sometimes the snow is driven by the wind, as our own lives are sometimes driven by forces beyond our control. Sometimes the snow just floats down from the clouds, not in a hurry to join the others, just meandering through time. And through the snowfall the landscape changes minute by minute, then hour by hour. This transformation is not unlike the tracks we've left upon the world, some deeper than others, some longer lasting. Perhaps now, as time melts away, we can enjoy each new snow storm as a new beginning.
I've often wondered how our lives can be much like a piece of driftwood, beginning our journey far from where we find ourselves today. As I sit upon this ancient log on the shore of Lake McDonald in Montana's Glacier National Park, a gentle snow flurry begins to swirl in the crisp, clean air, and I try to imagine the journey my perch has taken over the last fifty years or so. Perhaps not together in time, we both will have encountered a few log jams that delayed our travels and then altered the route to our most recent destinations. Have we reached our final resting places? I should like to think not, there being many places yet to explore. With a heavy rain after a big snow melt, and the glacial winds driving the lake onto the shore, perhaps our driftwood log still has a bit of wanderlust, too.
Living in the west for so many years now, I've come to appreciate neo-colonial Spanish architecture whenever I've encountered it. There's something in the style that's pleasing and comforting while, at the same time, being visually stimulating. The angles and curves, the way light and shadow play with each other against the elements, it's in a word, charming. Towns such as Santa Fe and Sedona offer so much eye candy for me that just a slow walk about the streets will provide all the entertainment I need. In Sedona, the shopping village of Tlaquepaque is a faithfully and wonderfully reproduced collection of restaurants, shops, plazas, fountains and cobblestone streets. The Chapel at Tlaquepaque, sitting at one corner of the village, brings a feeling of Mexican culture to the scene, and with its bell tower, becomes an anchor of the village. May all of you one day visit this place and enjoy its romanticism as much as I do.