It was good to get out to the coast the other night. While there appeared to be a chance the whole sky full of clouds would light up as the sun set, the display of color was relegated to a portion of the sky that is invisible from most of Juneau. On the other hand, after rain showers dampened my jacket and gear, the scene in this photo came as a bit of a surprise. Somewhere beyond the Chilkat Range, the sun had actually found a clearing below the clouds. As if on cue, an eagle (little more than a speck in this web version) swooped from behind me and spiraled into the upper-right corner of my composition.
There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” – Exodus 3:2-5 (NIV)
If I think of the place in the photo as “holy ground”, it is not because I want to use the term in a vague or flippant manner. In the passage from Exodus, what made the location holy? I believe God called the area near the burning bush holy because He had chosen for Moses to encounter Him there. I’m grateful for the knowledge that God, The Source of All Joy, has promised never to leave me, but I am so easily distracted. My awareness of his proximity is often severely lacking.
Standing at the edge of the Herbert River with the magenta flames of dwarf fireweed blossoms scattered at my feet, I’m beckoned to take a closer look at the world around me. In view of the terminus of a mighty river of ice, I get the sensation that I am not alone. From the roar of the nearby waterfalls, God is calling my name. How awesome that He would meet with me! He has chosen places such as these to draw us out of ourselves to where we can see, hear, and feel His wondrous power, beauty, and concern for people like us.
What if we took every step on holy ground?
You’ll often hear photographers talking about “edges” when they list things that have potential to produce engaging and meaningful imagery. Edges come in all forms, from the almost overemphasized edges of the day (sunrise and sunset) to the transition between seasons or the boundary of a shadow. When a photograph contains an edge, it necessarily contains two elements, and those elements are often in conflict. I made the above photo at the end of a day that had been dominated by huge and beautiful cloud formations, but as evening approached (and I was finally free to head out into the landscape) the sky was emptying to a pale blue. I had hoped for the earlier weather to hold, but I was excited by this scene because of the clearly visible edge.
Sunshine on a mountainside is a wonderful idea, and rain on a mountainside is a beautiful theme as well, but when mixed…well…that really gives you something to think about. Questions begin to flood the mind, and as is almost always the case with a photograph, the viewer can write their own story. In reality the showers were neither coming nor going. Instead, the rain seemed to fall into that same valley until the cloud rained itself out and simply faded away. I count it as a blessing that I was there to watch it all go down.
The other day I read that “joy” and “trust” are inseparable. I don’t know if I could wholeheartedly endorse that notion. It seems possible to me to experience joy in a moment, but I might be persuaded that “lasting joy” and “trust” are indeed inseparable. We’re not always basking in the warm light, and if joy is to be more than here one minute and gone the next, a certain level of trust must be involved.
Honestly, I was considering something along those lines when I made this photograph a few weeks ago. I say “honestly” because if you knew the rarity with which I think and photograph at the same time, you would have a hard time believing I was engaged in such a deep reflection. Usually I’m very wholly engaged in “seeing” while I make images, seeing and translating what I see into a photograph. On this particular morning, though, I was waiting. The composition had already been determined through a compromise between the not entirely predictable lake ice and myself, and I was waiting for the light…to not quite come. That is, I wanted to record the very last moments before direct light hit my subject, showing the peak of reflected light.
Reflected light is a favorite of photographers, but that is most often because of the potential for light to pick up color from (really lose some wavelengths of light to) the object off of which it is reflecting. For this scene, the landscape all around me and the hill behind me were covered in snow. The slight warmth in the image is owing to the fact that some light from the blue end of the spectrum had been filtered out by the atmosphere. In the end, I felt like there was just enough warmth to get a nice separation from the dark blues in the deep cracks of the glacial ice.
While I was waiting, I was thinking about waiting, and I was savoring the building light. I was recognizing the fact that never once has the Earth failed to spin me out of the night and back toward the sun. There are things that can be counted on even when you can’t see them through the clouds. There is a spiritual side to that as well. Remember that I brought up a “lasting joy”, but how about a joy that is continuous and boundless. That kind of joy requires trust that is only warranted by God. In Philippians 4:4 (NLT), Paul writes, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!” How often and for how long is this joy supposed to take place in our lives? Always. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find myself living with that kind of joy. The reason is not that God has ever been anything less that perfectly trustworthy and abundantly satisfying. Instead, I tend to place my trust elsewhere, primarily in my own ability.
How do we know that the kind of joy Paul was talking about is real? He demonstrated its existence in his life on numerous occasions. In one of my favorite stories of Paul’s life, we find him in prison, in the inner cell, with his feet fastened in stocks…and he and Silas are singing in the middle of the night! I don’t imagine Paul loved pain and discomfort any more than the rest of us, except that I do think he cherished the resulting opportunities for finding joy in anticipation. From where I’m sitting, every day brings opportunities for find joy in the light and joy in anticipation. All I need is to have my trust held firmly by the right Light Source.
I’ve added a new page to the image galleries. This one features photographs that are predominantly from the Herbert Glacier area, but there are also a few photos from Tracey Arm and the Taku River. I’m looking forward to adding new images to this collection over the summer. Actually, I’m just looking forward to summer in general!
The northern lights are undeniably one of our planet’s most glorious and awe inspiring natural phenomena. Acts of terror that result in the murder of innocent children are as vile and horrific as the northern lights are beautiful. Tonight, following the bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, I’m pondering both occurrences and a possible comparison. One thing that I can assure you I’m not doing is taking either event lightly, which ties to the primary point I would like to make.
Last night, I spent over an hour watching a video of a debate from 2011 between Professor Richard Dawkins and Professor John Lennox. During the debate, Dawkins stated multiple times that, to him, the idea of a God who was responsible for the origin of the laws of science and the entire universe also being a God who cared about the moral choices made by human beings was completely nonsensical. I believe that the word he used to describe morality was “trite”. Now, I’m fairly certain that “triteness” is relative in his eyes, as it would be for you or me. In other words, I don’t believe Professor Dawkins was insinuating that the way we treat other people is as insignificant as the color of the car we drive. After all, he was as polite as could be hoped while engaged in debate with someone attempting to undermine and discredit his worldview. No, I think what Professor Dawkins was really trying to say is that morality and speculation about how we “ought” to treat others is of far less significance than the pursuit of truth, or the pursuit of knowledge of the truth.
I think that assertion is much easier to make during a debate at Oxford University than in the aftermath of a tragic event. Some people can’t help it, and some people can’t manage it, but tonight I chose to allow myself to feel a little bit of the hurt associated with the marathon bombing, especially the hurt of the parents whose 8 year old son was killed. The human condition doesn’t feel “trite” at the moment. The choices of the bomber(s) were evil, and it matters. The behavior of those responding in the immediate aftermath of the attack was honorable and compassionate, and it matters. I think it matters even more in the light of stars in the night sky.
The stars above the northern lights in the above photograph provide the human mind with a visual representation of the already enormous and constantly expanding universe. Usually the scale of the universe makes us feel utterly miniscule as an individual, which is reasonable and even important, but we can take another lesson as well. The fact the that world doesn’t stop 50,000 ft overhead could provide a reason to give more, and not less, consideration to each choice we make. If we are as “alone” in the expanse of countless galaxies as we appear to be, and if our choices really are as they appear to be (not random chemical responses to random stimuli), then we might be making the only choices in the universe. I see that as a thought worth pondering.
In the end, I hope that the exquisite spectacle of the aurora, and all the natural world, and tragedy, and all of morality can be seen as signs pointing us toward truth that is beyond the scope even of the universe.
There’s something about light. It is energy, and it is warmth. In a very literal way, light is life here on Earth. While one can hardly believe it’s possible, light is even much more than that. Light caries a undeniable spiritual significance. It could simultaneously be an illustration and a manifestation of divine glory.
The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. – John 1:4 (NLT)
Think about the way a flowering plant soaks in the light of the sun. It turns that light into delicate forms and vibrant colors, but never are those colors more glorious than when reflecting and filtering the light to which they owe their very existence. I would live like a flower, growing out of the spiritual light that has a single source. My actions and my life need serve no other purpose but to reflect the light.
I know it’s hard to believe, but I’ve actually been reading more words on paper than on a screen in the last couple weeks. As a result, I’ve spent more time thinking…and less time consuming information from the web. I also haven’t shared much here at the TKM Journal lately, but I’ll to my best to get back on track with that soon. I have seen plenty of glorious beauty in the world around me, since I last posted, but I haven’t seen much of it from behind a lens. In other words, I’ve been giving my camera and creativity a break while I focus on seeing and letting the sights lead me to worship.
With big fat flakes floating down from the sky when I left the house, I dressed appropriately for a heavy snow. By the time I reached my chosen coastal location, I should have realized the wind and dipping temperatures would be the real nemesis to my photographic endeavors. I left my down jacket in the car, and was forced to expose my fingers to the biting cold on numerous occasions while I fumbled with knobs on my tilt/shift lens. Lenses that require precision manual focusing are difficult to employ effectively when your digits are numbed and you’re generally uncomfortable. Add some concern about freezing salt water spray, and I really only managed one composition where critical sharpness was reached in all the areas I intended. Praise God though; it was my final exposure that successfully told the story of this evening at the waters edge.
I passed glimpses of color as I drove to this location under infrequently broken clouds. I wanted to see more of that gentle or spectacular beauty, but I knew the alternative was far more likely. The scene I found was elegant in its own way, dark but not empty. It was cold but not entirely uninviting. The crashing waves were more persistent than frightening in their power, yet they hinted at the magnificent force that an ocean is capable of putting on display. And always the wind.
Beyond the scope of the camera and its lens, there was perhaps an even more remarkable occurrence. I was not at all alone while I worked to craft this image. There were a handful of sea birds, of what specific types I know not. There were numerous sea lions who often raised their heads high out of the water to get a good look at what I was doing on shore. They swam back and forth, and beyond them winter whales arched their backs amidst the waves. While I was clenching my fists inside my gloves and turning my back to the wind, these creatures were apparently perfectly suited to carry out their business along the wintery Alaska coast. I am struck by the fact that neither beauty nor living are relegated only to the moments of sunshine, to the places of tranquility. God equips us to live and love even in the bitter winds.
Sharing this photo was spurred partially by a comment I read earlier today about nature being the true artist. I feel obligated to modify the statement to reflect that God is actually the truest artist. My second reason for posting “Winter Ice Study” was that I came across a collection of images celebrating the beauty of ice in various forms, from all around the world. Can you believe they presented that collection on the National Geographic website without referencing this most incredible phenomenon? The truth is, I’m not surprised. In this culture flooded with imagery of seemingly everything under the sun, I have never seen another photograph of this icy occurrence. I’ve never even heard or read any explanation for all the intricate lines that stand out in addition to the apparent boundary lines between individual ice crystals. (If you know where I can find any information, I’m all ears!)
I’ll have to come back to my thoughts about the artistry of God in a different post. Needless to say, I consider myself continually blessed by the ability granted to humans to savor the transcendent splendor of their surroundings.
Update: I also just realized that this image (and another from the same location) were missing, until now, from the “Mendenhall Caves” gallery. To see this photo a little bit bigger, head there or click this link.
This is what I wish conditions were like at the moment. Instead puddles hide under snow on top of the permanent ice on the Mendenhall Lake, which is a combination that instills just about the least possible confidence in someone trying to travel over that ice. I’ve been avoiding working with this photo for a couple years because I thought I would need both focus and exposure blends to bring it to completion. I also wasn’t sure that the result would be something that justified the post-processing effort. Progress in RAW conversion software allowed me to bypass the exposure blending, so I started working. In this version of the image, I’ve done a minimal amount of preparation. If you have any feedback on how or whether this photo fits into my overall portfolio, I would be happy to hear from you.
Sometimes you’re rewarded just for showing up – just for being willing to put down the computer and enjoy the world that has been created. When I left work and headed to the coast, I knew I could be completely content with just a little bit of light. I knew I was looking for a place at the water’s edge, but providence allowed me to stop (out of several options) at precisely the location where I would be able to witness the fullness of a show of light that was far beyond my expectations. I had the idea that the intersection of rocks and water might lead into my photo, but it took a while for me to stumble upon the rocks in this image. They seemed to have been laid out for the sole purpose of moving eyes from foreground to background. Just stand there surrounded by a splendid evening (3:00 pm) and look for the look for the most savory piece. That’s it!
It’s true that ending well caries much more significance in most endeavors, but there’s also something to be said for starting well. This year, I have many personal goals, but my main photographic goal is to make photographs at more times, on more days. I don’t necessarily want to take a greater total number of photos than I did in 2012, but photography is my primary creative pursuit. I just want to have less lengthy stretches of absence from it. I’m pleased to say that today I made new images, and it was a day I would have traditionally stayed in because of the weather and available light. My outing didn’t produce anything groundbreaking, but neither did I come away empty handed. In less than an hour, I made some connections and hurried home happy. I hope you too saw a pleasant beginning to the new year.
This past year saw a distinct reduction in my pursuit of photography, and while that may seem like a disappointment, I have no reason to complain. Less photography only means more time for the other critical, and often more valuable, components of my life. I loved being able to spend an abundance of time with my darling daughter, Della, and being a more effective teacher, and maintaining my commitments to service in my local church. It was a year full of blessings…and by some people’s standards, I still spent plenty of time outside with my camera. Certainly there were some incredible moments behind the lens!
After several years, the death of one cave, and the discovery of another; I finally got another chance to photograph this intricate ice phenomenon. When conditions are just right (first you need a subglacial cave) the most fascinating patterns form on ice deep under the glacier. It looks almost as if the ice were covered in very pronounced thumb-prints. Then, from another angle, it has the look of some kind of electronic circuitry. Successfully composing near-macro photographs in the dark can pose a considerable challenge though, and I have not always overcome those challenges in the few opportunities I’ve had. This past January I made two or three photographs of these ice patterns that I’m pleased with, but I’m also praying that some future day will provide me the opportunity to make something even better.
For spring break, Breea, Della, and I enjoyed a “warming trip” to the California high desert and Phoenix to visit family. This photo shows off a glorious sunrise on a morning that I skipped the long car ride to explore areas around the old farm that used to produce alfalfa for my great grandparents. Besides a few photos and a fun drive to the Kelso Dunes with my mom, it was awesome to have five generations together in one place again; Granny turned 97 just a month before our visit.
I’m not much of a wildlife photographer. I think I lack a level of patience, and I haven’t invested in the necessary equipment, but this year my friend, Corey, and I made the third of what has become an annual trip to visit the Benjamin Island sea lion haul out. It’s a pretty smelly sight, and yes, you read that right. A sea lion roar sounds an awful lot like a belch and it smells significantly worse. My wildlife photography skills require animals to be predictable and slow moving, and those two things are abundant at this location.
Using lens shifts to record this mesmerizing scene in great detail was a special experience in an of itself, some of the best hours of photography I’ve experienced in my life. That was just the beginning of the fun with this image though. I had never experienced the level of internet “fame” that was mine on the day that I posted this image to G+, and to be fair, I will probably never experience it again. I told friends that I new I had hit the “big time” when there were even comments degrading me for taking the photo and other G+ users for providing positive feedback.
Remember when I said that we warmed up down south over spring break? Well it was a good thing because Juneau set records for coldest average monthly temperatures in both May and June. It’s a tiny aspect of the above image, but you can probably just barely make out the results of those temperatures on the distant Chilkat Range. After a winter of record snowfall in the mountains, it still looked like early April at elevation when I made this photo on the summer solstice. I don’t feel like this image is my most artistic effort, but it records a defining moment of peak color on one of my favorite days of the year. Several hours earlier I was having success photographing a different location, and by the end, it was one of those days that can make an entire summer of wet, cold Juneau feel well worth it.
Mixed in with the recurring trips to my favorite Juneau locations was this day of awesome adventure. It wasn’t the length of trip (under 12 hours) or remoteness of the location (right next to a glacier tour helicopter landing site) that made the time special. It was the grand an unimaginable beauty that we were alone in for a couple hours. The fact that there were a few hundred people, over the course of the day, milling around 100 yards away with no knowledge of what we were doing or seeing only added to my enjoyment. With Corey and another friend, the kayak back across the Mendenhall Lake under the stars (near 11 o’clock) was priceless!
I spent enough wonderful evenings at the end of the Herbert River Trail that I would be remiss not to include at least one photo in this year-end collection. On this occasion (as with most) I was looking for the greater view of fall color, Herbert River being one of very few places in Juneau where fall color means much of anything, but there were only scattered details to be found. I had the good fortune of adding two new lenses to my collection in the past year, and macro lens was one of them. While an image like this one would have been difficult or impossible without it, I haven’t used the macro lens as much as I would have hoped. That is something to add to my list of goals for next year.
Toward the end of the year was when things really slowed down, and I actually went over two months without taking a “nature photograph” for the first time in many years. Taking this time to look back, I’m surprised and very pleased by how many of photos I made over the course of the past twelve months still feel very valuable to me. Beyond photographs, witnessing another year in the life of my daughter and watching her grow in appreciation for God’s creation has been a consistent blessing. Spending time outside in simple pursuits with my wife and other fantastic friends is a true reason for gratitude. And if I want to take more photographs next year, I can always start by not leaving memory cards or batteries at home when I go on awesome hikes with sweet light! May God richly bless you in the new year!
I’ve not been making new photos lately, so I dig into my archive of old images on a pretty regular basis, looking for something. Usually I don’t find anything.
I’ve shared a huge number of images through this blog over the last couple years, but in this post I’m going to try and give more of the information about the creation of a specific photograph than I ever have in the past. If readers find it valuable, I will try to make this type of post a regular feature of the TKM Journal. Yes, that means I could make extremely sporadic posting a thing of the past, but we’ll have to wait till school starts in a few weeks to see how that really plays out.
Most of the photographic work (at least in landscape and nature photography) comes after a subject has been identified and the lighting possibilities have been evaluated, but it isn’t as easy to identify a valuable subject as one might think. Of course, there are times when the drama or colors of a vast scenic view stop you in your tracks, but clearly the photo above does not show one of those cases. When it’s not enough just to have your eyes open, you have to be conscious of the act of seeing. While preconceptions can get in the way, there is immense value in having experience in and understanding of your surroundings. My most recent visit to the Herbert Glacier was not my first or second. Rather, I’ve been there more like a dozen times in the last few years. I’ve been there enough times to know that shadows from the surrounding mountains cross most of the valley by early in the evening, so there isn’t much chance of finding your subject bathed in the last golden rays of the sunset. I know that clouds are almost never cooperative even if they look promising in the time before the light is ready. Most importantly for this particular image, I know that there are often splendid patterns in the glacial silt on the edge of the river.
At first glance, when I arrived at the head of the river, it didn’t appear that silt abstracts would be an option. The river was flowing furiously, and it was over it’s normal banks in many areas. I was glad I had come prepared by biking the first portion of the trip in my Xtratuf boots. I used them to wade through shallow edges of the river as I made my way upstream, and being able to stick close to the river instead of going up into the trees allowed me to keep my eyes searching for possible images. I made about 100 other exposures before finding this small scene (mostly as a result of bracketing for both exposure and focus), but at the first sign of rippled mud under my feet, I was scanning the whole area for possibilities. It was none too surprising that the very best patterns were submerged in water, but that is what gives this photograph its unique and special qualities. Now, how would I best record this subject?
One of the first considerations for a photo is the choice of focal length, or in other words, how much should I show? On this trip (as with most) I had options ranging from 17mm to 200mm and just about every point in between. On the one hand, wide-angle views can be problematic with flat subjects like this one. On the other hand, even short-telephoto would probably exclude to much to tell the complete story. At the end of my thinking, I stuck with the focal length of the lens that was already on my camera, my TS-E 24mm L II. But I promise, it really was the right lens for the job. I already mentioned the flat subject and that is where a tilt-shift lens can work like magic. I didn’t want to compose straight down, and I was worried that 24mm might be too wide, but I was able to work close to the subject and still maintain focus by tilting the lens.
Not only could I keep the whole subject in focus, but I could do it with an aperture of only f/5.6, and that provided two more perks. First of all, most lenses are sharpest at apertures one or two stops down from their widest (not all the way down where diffraction smears all details). The second thing was that I wanted to freeze (at least mostly) the ripples in the water moving across the frame. With the wide aperture, I could choose the right shutter speed for the exposure and not even have to think about the water movement. It shows up perfectly clear. Still, anytime there’s water moving, I like to take a handful of exposures in order to choose the best when I can view them more carefully on the computer screen.
Though you see a striking difference from the beginning to the end of the RAW processing, the thought process and execution were both very simple. I knew that the scene actually had very dark silt and very light sand in the patterns, so I made adjustments to the “black clipping” and “white clipping” to work against the flat light and bring out my subjects natural contrast. The rest of the adjustments were about color. When a scene has colors as subtle as there were in this one, it’s a difficult choice between decreasing (completely) or increasing the saturation of colors, but you definitely can’t leave them alone. It tested some monochrome options, but in the end, I decided there was a beauty in the colors that I wanted to bring out.
Aside from a further enhancement of the color, the final adjustments in Photoshop are so subtle that they don’t warrant much comment. The colors were achieved through the use of Tony Kuyper’s “Make it Glow” action, and though I often find that particular action to affect the blue tones too severely, it worked perfectly in the case of this image. Picking a title for the photo was easy because I consider silt patterns and designs to be great works of art in and of themselves, and here I was actually watching the water roll little grains of sand through this scene. The end result is one of my most personally satisfying images of the last couple months, and I hope you enjoyed getting this behind the scenes looks into the discovery, record, and processing of the photo.
I’d love to get your feedback on this type of post in the form of a comment. Thanks so much for your time.
I came home from tonight’s quick trip to the Mendenhall Glacier empty handed…but not with an empty spirit. It felt good to get out on the lake for one of the last times this spring, break through the soft top crust into five inches of slushy water, and then keep walking. It really was beautiful too, with clouds lingering in a clearing sky as the sun set. It’s just that the special light never showed up…no big deal. I’ve got archives.
My lone “exotic location” visit during my spring break trip was to the Kelso Dunes of the Mojave National Preserve. My primary reason for choosing the Kelso Dunes was a desire to find the wonderful forms and lines provided by sand without having to travel too far. It turns out that while I allowed ample time for the early morning drive, I also needed to anticipate a fairly grueling climb to one of the highest points in the dune field. Even after reaching the top, it appeared that the best the Kelso Dunes have to offer was well out of reach in my time frame. I made two photos…and thoroughly enjoyed myself thanks to the fact that my mom had agreed to accompany me in spite of the early start time. While the Eureka Dunes of Death Valley are much easier to respond to with a camera, we probably wouldn’t have had the entire place to ourselves, and it was a great view.
What exactly is an “abstract photograph”? The question has been answered by hundreds or more, and no doubt, many of those who have offered answers are more qualified to do so than I am. But I’m not as interested in defending my stance on what is and isn’t abstract photography as I am in looking into the consequences of calling any photography abstract. For those who place a great deal of importance on the photographs we make (especially if we’re called artists), it’s worth taking the time consider how word choice prepares our audience to view our photographs and how it can affect our own perceptions.
To my ears, the word “abstract” signifies an attempt to separate the resulting image from whatever objects were actually there before the lens at the time when an exposure was made. Then think about the goal of a nature photographer. Almost exclusively, our desire is to present some insight into the subject that is being photographed, whether sparking an intellectual understanding or an emotional response. If you accept something close to these definitions, it’s no wonder a nature photographer would feel that while an “abstract” photograph may please their clients, it can’t really bring the personal satisfaction they get by laying out a landscape as a clear and worthy subject.
So why would other nature photographers, with the same overarching goals, find the deepest fulfillment in isolating the lines, colors, textures, and shapes of their natural subjects? Are they functioning with some kind of artistic schizophrenia? Not exactly. Personally, I don’t perceive a single one of my photographs as “abstract”. Even at the times when I’ve wanted an image to suggest something entirely different than what was literally in front of the lens, I still don’t want the viewer to miss what is actually there…making the suggestion. Instead of trying to separate the colorful patterns of the ocean’s surface reflections by isolation, I isolate the reflections in order to focus attention on that specific subject. People are generally likely to overlook the very best of what our visual surroundings have to offer, and the tendency is only compounded when viewing an artificial representation of the world, like a photograph. While there may be splendid nuances nested inside the vibrant sunrise scenic, they are often difficult to engage with in the midst of everything else going on. Seeing the best the world has too offer requires study, and study requires intentionality.
This is precisely where the photographer comes in. A little intentionality of the part of the photographer (one who has trained him/herself in seeing through a great deal of practice) helps the viewer to make that first, sometimes most difficult step. For this reason, I choose to wholly replace the word “abstract” with the word “study” in all reference to my photography. It’s more than semantics because calling an image a “study” helps to reveal my intentions, and as much as I know we like for photographs to “stand on their own”, I can’t convince myself that clarifying artistic intentions is at all detrimental. If my thoughts make sense to you, feel free to join me in stepping out from the cloud of misguiding terminology. Who knows, maybe you’ll even feel less inhibited in creating a very valuable style of nature photography.
It took me a while to get warmed up, but I had a pretty fun evening at the beach. It’s amazing that there was virtually no snow there, which allowed me the opportunity to appreciate the world under my feet. While there are aspects that I like, I also have some misgivings about this composition, primarily the upper left corner where nothing is in focus. Still, the light was absolutely perfect for this image. The sun was setting out of a clear sky into a thin layer of clouds.
Have a wonderful weekend.
I knew that the title of this post would be cliche before I was even done deciding exactly how it would read, and I don’t pretend to have any special vision for what Heaven will really be like, but I do think that we catch glimpses of God’s idea of perfection here on Earth, and I do live a short drive from a place for which superlatives feel inadequate. I was so excited to share this photo from last night that I worked hard to get it prepped enough by eight o’clock this morning. Then I rushed off to an especially long day at work, and now it’s nearing nine at night. Well…better late than never.
As you may have already noticed, I’m always looking for silt while visiting the Herbert River. Sometimes the right conditions (shifts in the river’s path or level) have planted fascinating patches all over the place, and sometimes there’s nothing to be found. While my most recent trip did include finding a couple nice sections further downstream, I wasn’t having any luck where the river flows over the smooth granite bedrock. That is, I wasn’t having any luck until I noticed these wonderful ripples hidden underneath this shallow pool. In this case, I was provided with an opportunity to try something different than what I’ve done in the past. Instead of isolating the patterns in a small section of silt, I tried to contrast the main pool with another, further away, that featured a clean and colorful reflection. At the same time, the hint of fall foliage at the back is set against the cool blue of the granite under a clear sky. I hope you enjoy it.
In order that I might have no reservations toward being a dutiful husband today on my lovely wife’s birthday, I stole some time last night for another visit to the upper Herbert River area. More of the leaves had turned since a couple of weekends ago, but the severe storms we’ve had have also taken their toll. With a fairly significant frost this morning, it seems clear that Autumn is practically over around here. Still, it was a gorgeous and tranquil night. Big shifts in the path of the river uncovered some wonderful patches of sculpted silt, which is the featured subject of this post’s photo. I made it right before packing up my camera and hurrying back to my bike, long after the sun had gone down and nearly all color had left the sky. The highly reflective surface of the silt picked up the deep, night sky blue in place of its typical neutral tones.
There are more photos from the trip to share I think, but they will all take more time to prepare than did this one. Until they’re ready, have a great start to your week!
This morning I noticed a significant dusting of fresh snow in the mountains behind the Mendenhall Glacier, and there’s no doubt, a chill was in the air. It’s hard to believe how quickly summer runs out here in Juneau. Sure, there’s a chance we could see a handful of gorgeous days in the next month or so, but they’ll be colored for a different season even so.