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.
Don’t ask, don’t tell,
Sweet coyote, desert owl.
Cactus eyes, sand-dune skin
The warmth throughout, the heat within.
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.
Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
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
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,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.
I have never seen them again.
Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won’t.
It doesn’t matter.
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.