Monday, December 31, 2012

Photographer's Journal

Once again, a botanical I can't identify. I intend to remedy that through my new relationship with the ULM Biology Department and documenting the Charles Allen Biological Station near Copenhagen. I've long had a secret life as a wannabee biologist!

This photograph has garnered quite a bit of favorable reaction from other photographers on Google+. Back lighting can be a challenge to work with. On top of that, vines are quite unruly, so isolating a few leaves in a pleasing composition is also challenging.

This image required a bit of what we photographers call "post processing." The image actually contains four leaves--if you look carefully. Four of anything rarely makes as good a composition as three, and in this case, the fourth leaf was truly unruly. It insisted on pointing straight at the camera, rather than turning its back and allowing the light to pass through.

So, I darkened it in my digital darkroom. You can still see it in the upper right corner of the image, but it is hardly noticeable, and that makes a huge difference visually. To put it in artistic terms, I neutralized a non-supporting actor in the story I was trying to tell.

I think my favorite thing about this image is the little rust spots and yellowing edges that show these to be old, winter leaves rather than spring leaves. I identify!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Photographer's Journal

This is third in a series of photographs from my first day spent hiking ULM's Charles Allen Biological Station near Copenhagen, La., and looking for ways light interacts with the environment to satisfy an assignment for my online photography mentorship.

Again, I'm not sure what plant is featured here. Perhaps one of the goldenrods? I know we have a lot of it in northern Louisiana, and that by late December it has turned into this lovely seed head that sometimes catches the sunlight just so, separating it from the background. It almost looks dusted with snow!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Photographer's Journal


In my online photography mentoring program, our current assignment is to "play with light." Two days ago, I made my first trip to ULM's Charles Allen Biological Station south of Columbia in/near the Copenhagen Hills. I went focused on looking for the many ways "available light," in this case the sun, interacts with a diverse natural environment.

This photos illustrates how light will outline an opaque object, like these dried seed pods. It helps, of course, when the opaque object has a halo of fine hairs to be set on fire by the sun! I especially enjoy how the sun also makes visible the cobwebs that I almost never see with the naked eye.

Can anyone identify these seed pods?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Photographer's Journal

The Way Is through Light & Shadow (Always)
What could be more fun for a photographer than playing with light? Playing with it in a wonderful new place!

I'm currently enrolled in an online photography mentoring program, and this week's assignment is to "play with light." 

Near the end of the fall semester, I was contacted by a graduate student in ULM's biology department about helping map and document their field biology lab. This “lab” is approximately 90 acres of natural beauty along the Ouachita River, right next to the Copenhagen Hills Nature Conservancy land. It includes low lands, ridges, bluffs overlooking the river, and a great diversity of plant and animal life.

So I made my first trek to my new playground yesterday. I spent almost 5 hours exploring, but truly have only scratched the surface of what it has to offer. And having this delicious assignment to “play with light,” I focused on photographing how light plays with nature in a place like this. 


Monday, November 19, 2012

Photographer's Journal

This photograph won a 3rd Place ribbon at Art with a View, 2012. I call it "Chicago" because it is reflections of buildings and a bridge on the surface of the Chicago River.

Folks at Art with a View who spoke with me about this photo were amazed that I had not created it on a computer, or done a lot to intensify the colors and so forth. In fact, this image did not require much editing at all. I cropped it a little on the left because the darker colors on that side were overpowering the others. I enhanced the contrast slightly. Otherwise, it is SOOC, or "straight out of the camera" in photography parlance.

However, that does not mean it was an "easy" photo to make. Rather, I almost missed it.

I was standing still and sort of gazing at the river for a moment--indeed, waiting on a friend who was photographing the underside of the bridge to my left. Suddenly I noticed the amazing colors and how they appeared to be paint poured on the surface of the water. I raised my camera and shot one frame, then tried moving a step or two to the right to see if a slightly different angle enhanced the effect. IT DID NOT!

Indeed, moving to the right or left just a few inches weakened the image. Moreover, the light was changing as the sun fell. I shot one more frame but it is not as good. And then the moment was gone.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Photographer's Journal

Gulf Fritillary on Brazilian Vervain
Oh, for a 400mm lens! I just couldn't get as close as I wanted to the butterflies today, and I saw a beautiful Great Egret but spooked it trying to get within range. At the same time, had I had a lens that isolated the butterfly in close up, I wonder if I'd have bothered to compose as nicely as I did this shot? Hmmm.....

Today I preached and served communion to the delightful folks of Christ Church in tiny St. Joseph, La. I travel Highway 65 South from I-20 when I go to St. Joseph, and although I didn't have much time today, I couldn't resist stopping to take a few photos on the way home.

Highway 65 travels between the Mississippi River on the east and three nature preserves on the West: Tensas National Wildlife Refuge, Big Lake State Wildlife Management Area, and Buckhorn Wildlife Management Area. I have barely begun to explore all the little side roads that travel toward the river and toward the nature preserves!

To the east toward the river is particularly interesting. In some places, the distance from the highway to the river is 10 - 20 miles, and that space between is a photographer's/hunter's/fisherman's/farmer's dream. It includes flat, fertile fields but is also riddled with levees, bayous, oxbow lakes, and patches of swamp and woods.

I have never wandered too far into it because a) I haven't had time, and b) I wouldn't want to go alone. It would be too easy for me to get lost! But, oh, for a photographer buddy to go with me! Any takers?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Things Unseen

Learning to Die
We do not know where death awaits us:
so let us wait for it everywhere.
To practice death is to practice freedom.
A man who has learned to die has unlearned how to be a slave.

--Michel de Montaigne

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Photographer's Journal

Hundreds of Ways
I am and have always been a documentary photographer. I take pictures to show myself and others the world as it is, in all its beauty especially, but occasionally in its ugliness as well. That means my photos are usually sharply focused with good depth of field and colors as realistic as I can make them.

Of late, however, I have been inspired to play with various ways of processing photos--ways that have become so much easier in our digital world--that make them bit less "realistic."

So here's a current experiment: A close-up shot of the heart of a yellow rose. But I've amped the color a couple of notches. Now it is YELLOW, not just yellow. And I increased the "noise" level--yes, pictures have noise--and that makes it grainer. It emphasizes the fact that whereas the leading edges of the petals are in sharp focus, the remainder of the flower and especially the heart are not.

The title comes for a Rumi poem: "...hundreds of ways to kneel in prayer..." I thought it relevant here because experimenting with ways of showing beauty is, to me, experimenting with ways to pray!

I kinda like it. What do you think?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Things Unseen

Bed of Flowers
If you flee from...pain and failure, then you run into them wherever you go. If you can find some way to open to them instead, then they may bring their hands from behind their backs and lay flowers on your bed.

--Barbara Brown Taylor
An Altar in the World

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Hundred Ways

A Hundred Ways to Kneel & Kiss the Ground #006
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let's buy it.

Daylight, full of small dancing particles
and the one great turning, our souls
are dancing with you, without feet, they dance.
Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?

All day and night, music,
a quiet, bright
reedsong. If it
fades, we fade.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Abe, Holmes County, Ohio, 1980


I'm missing my grandfather tonight. I took this photograph when I stopped to see him on my way to the University of Pennsylvania to begin graduate school. I believe he was 90 and he died before I finished, at the age of 93.

Because he was Old Order Amish, he and the aunt who cared for him did not have a telephone, so they weren't sure when exactly I would arrive. My aunt told me "Dawdy" sat in a lawn chair under a tree in the front yard for three days waiting for me--and that's where he was sitting when I pulled into the driveway.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Photographer's Journal

The Color of Light                                           
I am part of a group of photographers who know each other only through Google+ and who participate in "Photography+ Project." The founder of the project, Christina Lawrie, picks a theme each month and each of us makes two photographs that interpret the theme. We then gather in online discussion groups called "hangouts" and critique each others' work. It is fun, educational and inspiring.

I took this photo for the September theme, Shadow. It is a view of the vineyard at Landry Vineyards out in west Ouachita parish. I was standing on the edge of the patio in front of the tasting room, and the sun was low in the sky, casting long shadows over most of the vineyard on the opposite hill.

I was struck by how different shades of green in the vines interacted differently with the indirect light of shadows and the direct light of the late afternoon sun coming through a break in the trees behind me. Clearly, the shadow light brings out the blues in the greens and the direct sunlight brings out the yellows in the greens.

I presented this photo to my hangout group in a much wider form, such that the entire image was dominated by shadows. They made several small technical suggestions, but the most important one came from Tamara Pruessner, who said I had included too much shadow. She urged me to crop the image almost square to emphasize the slash of direct light angling across the image. I did and it is much improved!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sacred Spaces

Emerald Water

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Louisiana Wildflowers

Hot Lips (Sesbania punicea)
This is a "macro" shot of a tiny wildflower at the quarry on the east side of Highway 165 just north of Pollock, La. I stop to photograph at the quarry as often as I can; it is a place of strange beauty, both barren and incredibly rich at the same time. I stopped there on my way home from Camp Hardtner about a week ago and found the most amazing wildflowers blooming.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Louisiana Natives

Louisiana Natives: Crepe Myrtle
I'm really enjoying the painterly effects I can get with my iPhone 4G zoom lens.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Things Unseen

Walk in the Land of the Living
For you have delivered my soul from death,
   my eyes from tears,
   my feet from stumbling.
I walk before the Lord
   in the land of the living.
--Psalm 116:8-9

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Iowa Journal

Overcast Sunrise, Iowa
I took this photo many years ago--mid- to late-70s--with my first SLR camera, a Pentax with 50mm prime lens, on Kodak Ektachrome slide film. I was in a boat with either my father or older brother and I'm pretty sure we were on Coralville Reservoir near Iowa City, Iowa. We were bass fishing, probably at a bass fishing tournament.

This is still one of my all-time favorite photographs.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong - RIP

Perigee Moon, 5 May 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Things Unseen

iPhone Diary: 4 April 2012 (Yearning)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Things Unseen

   As Far As She Could Go                                         
Walk this path
with me he said
and she did...

as far as she could go.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Gems of the Sea

Acid-Yellow Sponge
Sponges come in an incredible array of shapes, sizes and colors. They are animals and feed by filtering seawater through their pores. They attach to rock, coral and anything on the bottom that stays still long enough. This is one I think of as beautiful in its gnarly, warty, acid-yellow ugliness!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Places & Spaces


Riverview Park Fountain, Shreveport, La.                                                                

Monday, July 30, 2012

Selfy Sunday Project

Sonata Pathétique
Every two weeks, a bunch of photographers who have found each other through the social network Google+ share self-portraits, sometimes around a theme. It's called the Selfy Sunday Project, and the purpose is to push ourselves photographically and as people. The theme for July 29 was music; we were to interpret ourselves in relationship to music. Here's what I wrote about my contribution:

The location is a quarry about an hour and a half from my home. I have been photographing this place for over two years and it is challenging. It has a stark beauty very hard to do justice to. This is the first time I was able to arrange being there as the sun was going down, and early evening light really transformed the place. You'll find an album called "quarry" on my profile page.

Sonata Pathétique is by Beethoven and I'm learning it on the keyboard/piano right now. To me it belongs here because this place is touched by both sadness and nobility--the sadness of a ravaged landscape and the nobility of nature that persists and regenerates beauty out of whatever is left.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Things Unseen

Beyond Enfolding Darkness
Beyond enfolding darkness
God cries out
with longing;
angels weep for joy
to hear laborious prayers.
--adapted from Suzanne Guthrie

Friday, June 22, 2012

Things Unseen

Wait for Me
I'll wait for you.
If I should fall behind,
wait for me.

--Bruce Springsteen

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gems of the Sea

Fan Tube Worm
Tube worms are filter feeders, and that's the purpose of these colorful feathery fans. The body of the tube worm remains hidden inside its tube. Coral polyps form the background.

This photo was taken with a Nickonos II underwater camera with extension tube.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Things Unseen

Beyond Ideas
Out beyond ideas
of wrong doing and right doing
There is a field.
I'll meet you there.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Flower Power

Turn Me Loose
Recently, the Google+ international community of photographers learned that one of our number has been diagnosed with lung cancer. As a self-employed, free lance photographer, she has no medical insurance. The G+ photographers community is raising money for her medical bills, both by donating funds directly and by donating images to be sold, with all proceeds from print sales to go to her medical expenses. This is my contribution. Should you like to own a print of this image, go to . The Google + international community of photographers does this kind of thing.

By the way, this is a "macro" photo of the poppy mallow, which grows everywhere in Louisiana. I never noticed the beautiful stages of development of the stamen until I got up close and personal with my camera.

Monday, May 28, 2012

What's Saving Her Life Right Now

iPhone Diary: 23 May 2012 (God Play)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Things Unseen

Unguarded Moment

Monday, May 14, 2012

Flower Power

Some Days Flowers Are More Necessary Than Others
This is Plumeria, photographed in Hawaii in January of this year.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

iPhone Diary Series

iPhone Diary: 30 April 2012 (Into the Abyss)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Things Unseen

Keep Reaching for the Light

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Things Unseen

Lean on Me (Japanese Magnolia)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Barren Earth


barren earth

barren earth
does it dream? in technicolor
of vibrant flower..........
the clouds that never pause to pour
the wind that ever moves on
forever the dust
forever the lust
the unfulfilled desires
the uncalled for fate
barren earth
in its sleep, in its countless
colourless waking hours
does it weave with 
scores of scents
a deathcloth to cover 
its forever life..........
--by flyingdreams

Monday, April 16, 2012

What's Saving Her Life Right Now

iPhone Diary: 15 April 2012 (Encroachment)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Postcards from the DR

¡Ha Resucitado!
Iglesia Episcopal San José, Boca Chica, Dominican Republic

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Landscapes: Louisiana

Blue Sky Swamp
A Sunday in February along Highway 65 south, the intense blue of the sky and perfect conditions for reflection overcame the usual drab colors of swampy water.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Aqua Tower, Chicago
Aqua Tower is a residential building on North Columbus Drive in downtown Chicago. It is the tallest building in the world to have a woman, Jeanne Gang, as chief architect. I thought the building interesting, but it looked dated to me. I'd have guessed it to be 1960s, but it was built in 2008. It received the Emporis Skyscraper Award in 2009 and was shortlisted in 2010 for the biannual International Highrise Award. I took this photo when I was in Chicago in March to see the Lyric Opera performance of Aida.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rural Ruins

Disc Death
I've always been fascinated by how the natural environment seems to reclaim human contrivances when they are left unattended, uninhabited, unmoved for a period of time.

This abandoned, rusting disc rests in a side yard in Georgetown, La., its wheels and half of its blades half buried. The slender vines tying it to the ground did not seem overwhelmed at the enormity of their task.

Monday, April 2, 2012

iPhone Diary Series

iPhone Diary: 2 April 2012 (The Color Purple)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Landscapes: Louisiana

Between Levees
This swamp surrounds a hunting camp between the primary and secondary Mississippi River levees just north of Newellton, La. I access it by a road over the secondary levee off Hwy 65 south. In fact, I haven't explored it as deeply as I would like. I usually stop on my way to or from St. Joseph, La., where I preside over the principal service at Christ Church about once a month.

Swamps are visually chaotic. For the first few years of living in Louisiana, I could not see their beauty. I still struggle to photograph them well, and that is partly because of my wariness of the critters I know that live there. I need to go wearing my snake boots rather than my Sunday-go-to-meetin' pumps!

This photograph was taken with my iPhone 3G and processed in Photoshop.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

iPhone Diary Series

iPhone Diary: 31 March 2012 (God's Peephole)

iPhone Diary Series

iPhone Diary: 20 January 2012 (How the Light Gets In)

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
--Leonard Cohen

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Krewe of Janus, 2012

Elvis was in the house.
Who is that masked man?