Monthly Archives: September 2014

Palouse Simplicity

The Palouse, the now so world famous part of south-eastern Washington and eastern Idaho, is a treasure-trove of landscapes for the artist.  I could spend a month there at once and not get bored…if I could take a month to do it!

Here are a couple from a trip that’s part of our history book.  In the first one I was attracted to the character of the tree among the fields.  The flowers added a bit of spice and I didn’t even mind the human element of the distant telephone pole.

Lone tree among the Palouse hills | Washington

Lone tree among the Palouse hills | Washington

With the next one, it was all about a simple landscape.  I’m also seeing this as an interesting conversion to black and white.

Two lazy clouds floating above the Palouse | Washington

Two lazy clouds floating above the Palouse | Washington

As the day progressed the heavens were becoming more adorned with cumulus clouds.  I had a lot of fun with this scene as I watched the rapidly metamorphosing clouds.  And I’m quite pleased with the way the “coffee” toning worked on this.

Cumulus clouds dwarfing the Palouse landscape | Washington

Cumulus clouds dwarfing the Palouse landscape | Washington

 

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Autumn Memories

Autumn is just around the corner and I’m excited.  I won’t be able to travel to the hot spots for aspens and maples in other states but hope to make a couple excursions to near-by locations.  If I will be blessed with a handful of stunning images I will call it a good season.

What is it about autumn that is so captivating?  So refreshing?  So peaceful?  Is it the gentle drizzle saturating the colors or perhaps the quiet whispers of a breeze among the leaves?  I know that as I walk among the trees and fill my lungs with the sweet aromas I come alive and quietly smile.

A sunburst on a crisp walk in October |Washington, D.C.

A sunburst on a crisp walk in October |Washington, D.C.

Is it a connection to life, the hope of a glorious season before the final chapter?    Perhaps.  I just know that for me, it is breathtakingly intoxicating.  I wish it lasted for months or that time slowed down….

The images illustrating this post bring back fantastic memories of my wife and I walking in Washington, D.C. admiring the trees and of course the stunning architecture and history.

Glorious autumn trees | Washington, D.C.

Glorious autumn trees | Washington, D.C.

I still plan to do a whole writeup on that experience, sometime, someday…maybe this autumn.

Autumn tree reaching for the brilliant blue sky | Washington, D.C.

Autumn tree reaching for the brilliant blue sky | Washington, D.C.

Yes, I’m truly looking forward to this season just around the next bend.  I can already hear the leaves rustling, inviting me to join them, camera in hand….

 

Search for Simplicity

Last night we watched A River Runs Through It, based on Norman Maclean’s book of the same title.  It wasn’t the first time of course, but each time I’m reminded what a beautiful and human story it is.  There is quite a wonderful feel to it and of course the filming is superb; it fully absorbs me and touches my heart.  By no means are the characters simple, yet there is a certain simplicity and quietness to the complexity.

Grasses in the field | Washington

Grasses in the field | Washington

As Norman and his brother Paul fished the river so I love to spend time along the river, photographing.  The troubles and complexities of life are left behind as soon as I step out there and God’s beauty surrounds and fills me.

Grasses and flower after the rain | Washington

Grasses and flowers after the rain | Washington

The story makes me think about relationships, about how people interacted.  Sure seems very different than today.  But even a few years ago it was indeed more personal.  Imagine writing a letter on paper, with a pen.  Or have a good conversation on the telephone, or better yet, how about in person, face to face.

Grasses and reeds grace the edge of a wetland | Washington

Grasses and reeds grace the edge of a wetland | Washington

We’re so connected now, perhaps fully overwhelmed by technology, with our iPhones and texts and emails, etc., that the human interaction has nearly vanished.  Are we hiding behind this technology, afraid of each other?  Eventually the signals fade and so do friendships.

An old fence post, fading into the field | Washington

An old fence post, fading into the field | Washington

As I walk down the paths along the grassy fields, their delicate simplicity and beauty allows me to reflect on the days past.  On the friends lost to distance and time.  But also to imagine and reflect on the days to come.  The rays of the sun eventually break through even the gloomiest of days….

Afternoon sunshine illuminating summer grasses | Washington

Afternoon sunshine illuminating summer grasses | Washington

I found perfect joy on many occasions among these grassy fields.  All I carried was a little Sony RX100 point-and-shoot camera.  Often in the company of my awesome wife and our sweet dog Stan.  Simple and beautiful and glorious.

As I get older I search more for this elusive simplicity.  I still think of the days I traveled a lot chasing landscapes but now see that I’m greatly enjoying the little things so much more.  There is more excitement in walking down to the river I know than to go chasing some far off lands.  It is like getting a letter from an old and true friend.  There is history there, memory, personal experience, connection.

Frosted grasses and reeds | Washington

Frosted grasses and reeds | Washington

In the end then, I love the way Norman put it:

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.  I am haunted by waters.”

Early Autumn Pond & Reeds

An artist doesn’t always need to look far for inspiration.  No denying, sometimes, being somewhere new and exotic really gets the juices flowing, the heart racing, all the senses throbbing with new life and excitement.  For most of us it just isn’t realistic to be traveling freely whenever the heart desires…so what’s there to do?  Well, breathe, pick up the camera, open eyes wide and see!

On this particular warm and sunny day my wife and I and our dog Stan went for a walk through our neighborhood.  There were lovely cumulus clouds floating in the sky so I thought, why not, bring the cam and one lens and see what happens.

As we got to this pond, I found inspiration in these reeds and reflections of the sky and clouds.  I put my Fuji X-Pro1 with 35mm lens to my eye and made the composition.  Ducks were eyeing me cautiously, just in case I had other intentions….

Pond with reeds and reflections of the heavens above | Washington

Pond with reeds and reflections of the heavens above | Washington

 

Autumn Tapestry

As various obligations take priority over photography it is often difficult to be creative.  There is no time or energy to get out and make new compositions, no time to work on more recent digital archives and definitely no time to scan transparencies from years past.  Then I begin thinking and wondering why I even bother with this blog.  Very few people look, almost nobody comments as the attention span of the average viewer may be no more than that of a hummingbird pausing at a flower…on to the next thing.  There is no engagement, no conversation, no thought that lasts more than 7 seconds.  And perhaps most viewers want to see very cooked up and unrealistic images that have flooded the digital world.  Does anyone care to see something more honest?  Or is a sunset with colors never seen by the human eye somehow more fascinating than the one that can take your breath away while you are witnessing it?

Does anybody get out to see the real world and appreciate the beauty?  Perhaps not.  Some questions for thought.  I know, I shouldn’t care, but somehow, at least at some moments, I do.

. . .

In the meantime, here is an image I made several years ago along a busy highway (not a pleasant experience at all).  It was drizzling and the colors were saturated from the wetness.  As this scene was farther away and not very accessible I set up my camera with a 200mm telephoto lens.  The rain began to increase and within seconds after capturing this scene I had to quickly pack up and run back to the vehicle.

I love the myriad of colors here, the blue berries on the bush toward the bottom left, the depth beyond the aspens.  There is a peacefulness to the scene…and looking at it I see the beauty and hear the gentle rain.  The noise of the road has been forgotten and erased by my mind, there is just the glory of the scene and thankfulness for witnessing something real….

A beautiful forest scene in late autumn | Central Cascades, Washington

A beautiful forest scene in late autumn | Central Cascades, Washington

 

Quiet Aspen Grove

After a stunning warm and sunny day yesterday things went south.  Rain is coming down in sideway torrents and thunder is cracking overhead; temperature has plummeted.  It is nice and cozy inside though and I have Cedar Walton’s “Composer” jazz CD spinning.  His amazing piano sets the mood nicely for this weather.  All is good.  And Stan the dog is cozied up on the couch, with a blanket, relaxed and not too concerned.

As for the photograph, we were looking for Buck Mountain.  We were going to check up on glorious balsamroot flowers.  We thought we were in the right place even though things were looking rather suspect.  We kept getting higher and higher until we realized it couldn’t be the right mountain.  But it was great, we probably would have never driven down these roads otherwise.

Not a soul seemed around, and the trees were magnificent.  The road kept going but we figured we went far enough when a small grove of aspens showed up in a gully, thriving at the edge of a dark coniferous forest.  It was wildflower season at lower elevations but up here the temperature was just beginning to thaw out the landscape and the branches remained bare.

I made several compositions but this was the one I knew would be my favorite.  I envisioned it right away as a black and white and it takes me in thought to John Sexton’s fine compositions.

Not sure we’ll see aspens this year.  I’ll have to thrive on memories of past journeys….

Quiet aspen grove at the edge of a dark forest |Okanogan Forest, WA

Quiet aspen grove at the edge of a dark forest | Okanogan Forest, WA