Day 71 – Spirit Bear

SpiritBear2

Untitled Shaman Song

The great sea
frees me, moves me,
as a strong river carries a weed.
Earth and her strong winds
move me, take me away,
and my soul is swept up in joy.

-Uvavnuk (Iglulik Eskimo, 19th century) [translated by Jane Hirshfield]

I was going to go out for a camera walk but it was so windy I thought I would never get a good photograph because nothing would hold still. So I started looking around the house and decided to photograph some of my knick-knacks. I think I came by this Spirit Bear at Indian Market in Santa Fe one year but he has been with me long enough, I don’t really remember. I wanted to give him a more ethereal quality so added some textures and gave him a Georgia O’Keefe treatment in Topaz Impression (how appropriate!) Then I started looking for a poem. Not many poems about spirit bears and surprisingly few about bears, spirit animals, etc. I finally turned to gratitude in homage to Thanksgiving and nothing tripped my trigger there either. I finally found an anthology of Spiritual Poetry on the Poetry Foundation website and while Eskimos and spirit bears may not be a good fit, the Native American connection with nature and spirituality worked for me.

Day 35 – Coyote

Coyote

Sweet Coyote

Don’t ask, don’t tell,
Sweet coyote, desert owl.
Cactus eyes, sand-dune skin
The warmth throughout, the heat within.

-Sarah Spang

I decided that I had invested enough time at the wildlife refuge yesterday to skate a little today. And there were so many good pictures that I hated to not share them. This coyote is marred by the bit of out of focus weed in front of his/her face but given that I had only a split second to get the shot before coyote moved I think it turned out pretty well. I was convinced that I had not held the camera steady enough but the eyes are sharp and that’s what counts.

Day 34 – Snow Geese

SnowGeese

Snow Geese

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last! 
What a task
to ask 
of anything, or anyone, 
yet it is ours, 
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours. 
One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was 
a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see, 
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun 
so they were, in part at least, golden. I 
held my breath
as we do
sometimes
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us 
as with a match, 
which is lit, and bright, 
but does not hurt
in the common way, 
but delightfully, 
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt. 
The geese
flew on, 
I have never seen them again. 
Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won’t.
It doesn’t matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them, 
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

-Mary Oliver

I’ ve been trying for months to find the time and right weather conditions for a trip over the mountain to the Klamath Basin Wildlife Refuges. My calendar and the weather forecast finally aligned today so I said “I don’t care what else I have on my to do list. I’m going.” And I’m glad I did. I came home with over 300 images though I suppose most of them will have to go to the recycle bin. Those critters just refuse to sit still. But I was pleased to see some snow geese at Tule Lake and though I did see a few bald eagles and even got their portraits this image spoke to me most about the joy seeing the birds lift off in a flock as one. I thought about using Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese, which is my all time favorite but I thought “No, everyone has heard that one.” So when my google search turned up another Mary Oliver poem about snow geese, I was delighted, as I am delighted to share it with you.

Sunflower with bee

Sunflowerwbeew

I’ve been having a great time doing an online flower photography workshop. While I’m already a pretty good flower photographer (IMHO), I have been motivated to try out lenses I forgot I had (shot this one with a 50mm and one extension tube) and look for new locations to shoot. This one I just had to walk down the street to where my neighbor has an amazing patch of sunflowers. Nice of the bee to show up just as I was shooting. Very minimal post processing required.

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch

Just started a flower photography workshop so I was out photographing in the butterfly garden at North Mountain Park when darned if a Monarch butterfly didn’t show up. It took its time exploring the butterfly bush and I was very happy to have my 180mm macro lens on the camera.

A little cropping, a little vibrance and saturation, a little sharpening. But really not much post processing required. Of course, I have another version that went through a full blown Photoshop artistry treatment.

Monarchw

Flamingo

Flamingow

I have been systematically working my way through old photo files to find opportunities to create new art. Found this one from a trip to the Albuquerque zoo in 2009. I added a background paper from Anna Aspnes that perfectly complemented the color and did some brush work using water color brushes.

Deer in Snow

DeerinSnowW

Not much time for photography this week but this image I shot in New Mexico some years back on the east side of the Sangre de Cristo Range. It had just started to snow. Unfortunately it turned into a full blown blizzard and I was on the wrong side of the mountains!

I did a watercolor treatment on a texture to get the effect. I think this one might look good printed on wood.

Mallard

Mallard

I’ve been working on a book of my favorite images from 2016 (of which only one will be printed). I already have 16 pages and I’m only on February. Yikes! Anyway, I came across this one this morning and went Wow. I guess I had passed over it previously because I was intent on capturing Wood Ducks but this Mallard turned out beautifully. I love the soft colors of the reflections in the pond and the perfect mirror image of the duck. I also love the drops of water on the duck and the detail in his feathers. Just Wow.

In post processing I gave it come clarity and vibrance and just a touch of saturation. Also a little sharpening and I boosted the exposure a little.

Bullfrog

Bullfrog2_glow

I was looking for birds to photograph but I kept hearing these bullfrogs so went over to the pond to investigate. Took me awhile to find them even with the 600mm lens but I finally did. I took this one into Topaz glow to soften up the pond scum a little.

Bee on Coneflower

Bee_onconeflower

I have been neglecting my photography in favor of genealogy lately so I made a special trip to North Mountain Park this morning. I was thinking birds but the bees were more cooperative and cone flowers (aka echinacea) are always so photogenic. This one had the usual post processing in Color Efex Pro.  A little detail, a little saturation a little darkening of the corners.