Proof of “Living”

  My mother loved to write.  It’s a passion she passed on to me when she handed me my first notebook and explained what a diary was. This past weekend, as I was sorting through the many boxes at my mom’s house and trying to decide what needed to go or stay, I came across a folder of writing that stopped in my tracks.   It contained typewritten and handwritten stories that I had first looked for in the first few months after her death and could not find.   And now here it was amid the old grammar school workbooks from our childhood.  I am always amazed at how “things” do or don’t show up until the right time. She had taken a creative writing class many years ago when we still lived in New Jersey in the 60’s. As I read through some of them, I realized what a treasure these were.  One story in particular caught my attention, about a young couple with a child who emigrated from post-war Germany.  After a few paragraphs, I realized that even though the names were different, this was our story.  She wrote what she knew . . . I carefully placed all the typewritten pages into the folder and brought them into the house where they would be safe. Technology is such a wonderful tool, toy, addiction . . . whatever you want to call it, and I certainly appreciate every bit of it.  But I worry that we are losing something very substantial and critical not only for our evolution as a species but for our own personal and spiritual growth. A photographer on one of the national news networks claimed that in 10 years, there would be no “photographs,”  that for the first time in history, there would be a generation that would not have “visual proof” of their lives.  Everything, images as well as writing, is trapped in a cell phone or some other kind of device.  When people show you photos of their grandkids, it’s on a cell phone.  My mom carried a little package of photos in her purse . . . that’s how she shared her photos. There is something magical about holding an actual photo, or piece of paper...

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The Path to My Soul

  If you’re lucky enough to have a horse in your life, you know it isn’t just a phase. . . it’s a “forever thing.”  You know that the trust and love that is shared between the two of you transcends this reality, and you quickly recognize this kindred spirit that continues to share the fabric of your soul. Between the two of you, there are no questions or doubts, and fear does not exist. You both know that you were born to find each other.    ...

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A Morning to Remember

  It was the coldest night of season and I awoke at 5:30 this morning and turned on the TV to watch “Balalaika” with Nelson Eddy, from under a warm down comforter and snuggled among my doggies.   A point of clarification, Nelson Eddy is in the movie, not in my bed. I grew up with the Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald musicals, and Balalaika (costar is Ilona Massey) was always one of my favorites, and my mom’s, because it reminded her of her childhood home.  Even though I have most of the movies on tape or DVD, it always feels like a gift from the universe when a network decides to show one. The film ended in time for to hop out of bed, feed the horses their breakfast, and grab my camera to check out what wildlife were visiting. It was one gift after another . . . a small herd of deer against the morning sun peaking behind the hill, ice sparkling in the snow like tiny precious jewels, a couple of bluebirds perched in the sunlight,  a cheery robin promising that spring is truly on the way, frost clinging to the heads of dry blue gama grass, a brilliant blue sky, and crisp, clean mountain air.       What a beautiful world!  So full of treasure and magic . . . as long as we take the time to notice and accept.            ...

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A Woodland Whisper

    On a recent day trip to the forest to find autumn colors, I made the photo above.  It’s an HDR (high dynamic range) composite of five photos.    We don’t have many maples here in New Mexico;  lots of gorgeous golden aspens, but not the vibrant red of maples.  I was quite focused on finding red, so I was somewhat surprised that I was drawn to this scene, apparently for some unconscious reason.  There were several moments on my hike that I would just stop and listen to the silence or to the soft breeze through the tall evergreens,  look and admire.  It was a glorious afternoon to  just soak in the beauty and tranquility. When I post-processed this photo, an amazing feeling came over me.  Processing an HDR photo has been likened to “wet” development of a photograph from the days of film.  You hope and wait, and the picture emerges.  Sometimes it’s better or not what you expected.  Other times it takes your breath away.  When this photo “emerged”,  the adjustments seemed to be just right, and I thought to myself,  “Hmmm.  This is nice.”   I imported this photo back into Lightroom for some additional tweaking.  It was at this point that I realized that I had something sacred.  There was not one thing that I wanted to or could do to the photo without feeling that I was somehow desecrating it.  I could not even watermark or sign it.   I had made other photos that were much more colorful and accurate depictions of the season.  So what was it with this photo? Perhaps it was the distant light in the depth of the forest, or the way the late afternoon sun glistened in the blades of grass.  Maybe a part of me recognized it as a portal into another dimension.  I don’t know and it didn’t matter. I could feel this photo in my soul and it didn’t matter if anyone else felt the same, or if they even liked it.  It verified for me how much of a spiritual journey photography is, and how important emotions and feelings are in the process. I don’t always know why I make a photo, but when the voice inside me says...

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Project 365

  On January 1st of this year I embarked on my first 365 day photo project.  There are a lot of hints and suggestions about themes and how to stick with it; however, I have learned that if you’re going to be successful in this or anything in life, you have to customize it to your preferences.  Today is Day 228 of the project, so I thought I would share some of what I learned. At some point, probably between day 35-50, there is critical point: is this a chore or do I really love photography? You can call this, “the dark night of the photographer’s soul”. If you don’t hit it, you may not be putting your heart and soul into it. When you do hit it and search your “photographer’s soul” and work through it, your art will leap to a new level.   I learned to work through my creativity blocks. Keep shooting until you find something you like. I’ve learned to operate more from the intuitive/feeling side and let a photo “evolve”   Don’t stay in your comfort zone . . . in other words, 365 photos of the same kind or thing isn’t going to make this worth your time.   I can no longer go even one day without shooting something, and I’m able to put all my love and energy into every shot, regardless of what I use the photo for.   I know my equipment and which lenses, settings, etc. will give me the desired outcome.   I know my weak areas and my strengths.   This project has done more for my photography than anything else, simply because I am shooting every single day, and it has only validated my love of photography. Photos for my 365 Day Project can be found here,...

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Finding the Muse

  Artists, writers, any creative professionals refer to the “muse” as the source of  inspiration.  We all hit a blank wall at some point.  For the writer, the words just don’t come, for the photographer, it’s “I don’t know what to take a picture of.”  It’s what we do at that wall that defines as an artist.   Unfortunately, inspiration doesn’t come if we sit and stare into space and wait, or drink or smoke or whine, or whatever else we do when we avoid doing the work of our life. David DuChemin is one of my favorite photographers and writers, and often tackles these philosophical issues in his blog.   His latest  post, “Do the Work” pretty much sums up this artistic dilemma: “There is no muse; at least not one that is beckoned by anything but work. There is no amount of talent that compensates for lack of work. Everything I have read about creativity echoes the same thing. And it is that we do the work. Our work.” —David DuChemin   I love so much about my life, and photography is right up there with my top joys.  I have two simple rules about being creative.  The first is  to take my camera everywhere, and the second:  don’t come home without acceptable images.  Acceptable works for me, because I’m a tough critic of my own work.  Besides that, “great” is such a washed out term and is subjective and relative to the viewer and to history. So,  at least once a day  I find my self on a back road or at an out of the way place to make a photo that I hadn’t made before or if I did, to make it better.   I have learned to look at my “backyard” with a fresh set of eyes.  For me, this is my spirituality, my inspiration,  and it’s so good for my work . . . and  so good for my...

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