Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best of 2014: December


“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it."           --Confucius

And prattling on about this photo seems to diminish it. So I'll just say my December choice is usually a previously unpublished image. That is true again this year. Thank goodness for my trip to Chicago. 

It's been a good year. Looking forward to 2015.

Best of 2014: November

Home of the Wounded Healer III
I began the year at the quarry, and I was back in November. The light on this occasion--a late afternoon--brought out the dark turquoise of the water and the magenta hues in the landscape.

This panorama is stitched together of three shots. But unlike most panos made by joining shots in a string, I have left the edges of the photos unaligned. Indeed, I shot the sequence with precisely this form of pano creation in mind.

When I posted this pano on Google+, I expected some comment or curiosity about that, but in fact the image received little response. Very little. I was surprised. And disappointed.

Maybe people thought it was just carelessness or laziness, or that I don't know "the right way" to create a pano by stitching shots in a string. Not true.

Indeed, doing it this way is much harder and more time-consuming because the seams must be adjusted and all of the detail work of making them invisible must be done manually, a few pixels at a time. Photoshop has a built-in, automatic stitching feature, but it assumes the edges of the photos are to be aligned. You can't use it to create this.

So... what's my point? Just that whereas I want my landscapes to be accurate representations, I also like the reminder of the unaligned edges of the pano that this is, indeed, a photographic interpretation of that landscape. I want the viewer to see where the seams are, but at the same time unable to actually SEE the seams.

In sum, I want some tension between a highly realistic representation of a landscape and a photographic interpretation of it that perhaps invites viewers to contemplate the nature and relationships among representation, interpretation and photography.

'Nuff said. Like it or leave it!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Best of 2014: October

Autumn's Alchemy
In October, I attended the Arkansas Native Plant Society meeting in Texarkana, Ark., at the invitation of Eric Hunt, a faithful participant in Wildflower Wednesday, a photo theme I started and curate on Google+. Eric is not a botanist but his knowledge of plants and his photo skills are both extraordinary. I was honored when he invited me to attend the ANPS meeting and had a wonderful time hanging out with him at the meeting.

We went on two wonderful photowalks Saturday, in the morning to White Cliffs Natural Area and in the afternoon to Millwood Lake. I came home with hundreds of images, many of which I have not yet had time to process and share.

I have come to appreciate the subtler colors of autumn in the south. Here, a Great Egret (Ardea alba) hunts in the shallows of Millwood Lake in western Arkansas, directly north of Texarkana.  

Interestingly enough, another of the images from that trip is the first photo I have shared on Google+ that received more than 100 +1's. In fact, it has received 349 plus-ones so far! For comparison, the photo in this post has received 77 +1's. (For you Facebook friends, a +1 is equivalent to a "Like.")

So... why didn't I choose the more popular image as the Best of 2014 for October? I had to think about that for a minute, but...: 

1) Popularity is not necessarily equivalent to "quality." The more popular photo is a macro shot of a wild orchid blossom, and it is nice, but in my view, macro shots of flowers are kind of "cheap shots" in the world of photography. It's not that they do not require skill. They do. But even poorly done ones tend to generate oohs and aahs. 

2) The shot with this post was, in fact, quite challenging due to distance from the subject matter, lighting conditions, and having to dodge trees to get the angle/point-of-view I wanted, and in editing, to bring out the subtle colors without making them surreal. Moreover, the egret was a moving target--not very fast, but moving nonetheless.

3) And maybe I'm just a bit of an art snob? As in,  'if it's too popular it can't be that good'? Whatever. My year-in-review selections must satisfy me first, and then I'm delighted if you like them, too!

Best of 2014: September

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus) on Whiteleaf Mountainmint (Pycnanthemum albescens)

My May Best of 2014 selection is a wild orchid I found at Cooter's Bog in the Kisatchie National Forest, and I wrote about my growing and appreciation for this national treasure. Indeed, when I retire, I'm doing a book called Kisatchie Splendors.

So... in late May I visited a portion of the Kisatchie closer to home than Cooter's Bay. It's just west of Alexandria and quite wonderful. Spent a day there and have many wonderful photos. But that still wasn't close enough to get to, spend some time in the woods, and get home again in less than a full day--which I rarely have to devote to photography.

Thus in August, driving home from a diocesan obligation in Alexandria, I was on the lookout for access to that portion of the Kisatchie closest to Monroe that Highway 165 passes through. And I found a great spot just an hour and a quarter from home!

I've been there three times, first in August, then in September when I encountered this beautiful little Gray Hairstreak feeding on the very plentiful Whiteleaf Mountainmint. I stopped for a few minutes again in November,  when very little was blooming, yet I found plenty to shoot: longleaf pine saplings, spent blooms of various kinds, gorgeous grass heads.

Hmmm. Wonder if the National Forest Service would be interested in helping fund the book project?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Best of 2014: August

Louisiana Black Bear (Ursus americanus luteolus)
What can I say about this experience? Wow! It's obviously not a prize-winning photo, but it sure was an exciting moment.

I was approaching Tensas National Wildlife Refuge down a gravel road from Highway 65 in northeast Louisiana. I was moving very slowly looking for wildflowers, dragonflies and butterflies in the ditches and field edges along the road.

I came past the end of a line of trees perpendicular to the road that ended very close to the road. Those trees had hidden my approach from the bear, who was feeding along the edge of the next field. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing those are soybeans behind the bear.

I recognized the silhouette of the ears at once and slowed to a coast. My first shots were taken through a very dirty windshield, but I was able to coast into position to lower the passenger window and get four shots through the open window. This is the last one.

Of course, lowering the window also allowed my scent to leave the car, especially since the AC was running full blast on a very hot August afternoon. I remembered to turn off the radio before lowering the window; had I thought to turn off the fan, who knows? I might have gotten even closer!

In any case, the four shots I got with the window down show the bear putting his nose into the air. The moment I realized the bear was sniffing me is the exact same moment it bolted into the field!

Best of 2014: July

Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)
It is entirely appropriate that one dragonfly shot should make it into the Best of 2014! I love shooting these creatures. They are the jewelry of the insect world. Butterflies have a softer beauty, IMHO. Drangonflies are all a-glitter, some with gold filigree woven into their wings and bodies seemingly carved from precious metals.

And I love attempting to capture them with a camera. Depending on the species, that can be no small feat. I actually have a number of excellent dragonfly shots from 2014, but this one makes in into the year in review because it is a Wandering Glider.

Wandering Gliders rarely perch. I have sought to capture them in flight often, and occasionally gotten an acceptable shot. But the ratio of clicks to acceptable shots is about 20 to 1!

But on a hot Sunday afternoon while returning from leading worship at St. Andrew's in Mer Rouge, La., I stopped to explore the edge of a fallow field. And in the shade of trees along the fence line, this female Wandering Glider finally posed for me.

BTW, if you, too, are fascinated by dragonflies, you might enjoy a visit to Odonata Central, a database constructed by the University of Texas at Austin to make available "what we know about the distribution, biogeography, biodiversity, and identification of Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) world-wide."

I have submitted 33 records to the database, each consisting of a photograph and notes about location and species. To view my records, follow this link to Odonata Central, click on the "Records" tab, select my name from the "User Filter" drop-down menu, then click "Apply Filters."

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Best of 2014: June

Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

In late June 2014, I made my first trip to Lake Charles, La., in the southwest corner of the state. The official excuse was an ordination I participated in as deacon, but I spent an extra day and a half to explore the awesome ecology of the area.

I have many wonderful photos from the trip. A number of photos from a day with a guide exploring a marsh rookery by boat have been very well received on Google+. A shot of a little blue heron has been viewed almost 5,000 times and held the record of 88 +1's for a couple months.

But the one above is my favorite. What could be more ordinary than a red-winged blackbird among cattails? What could be more satisfying than seeing and showing the beauty in the ordinary? 

This encounter happened at a spot I found on my own. If you're ever in the Lake Charles area, I highly recommend a drive south from the city toward the Gulf on a highway called the Creole Nature Trail (Hwy 27). The field edges, irrigation canals and road ditches of the upper stretch of the highway offer plenty of dragonflies, wildflowers, grasses and birds. 

But you'll soon come to the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge, and within the refuge on the east side of the highway, the Pintail Wildlife Drive. This is a marsh with an elevated loop road meant to be driven at a slow rate of speed. You will be rewarded.

The instructions at the entrance are to stay in your car--for good reason. If you sense eyeballs lookin' at you, it will most likely be one of the many curious 'gators that raise their heads and come to check you out!

But at one point along the drive, a parking lot and a large loop of boardwalk enable you to walk right out into the marsh. I had it to myself that Saturday afternoon. Moving slowly and quietly, pausing to enjoy the breeze, look and take photos, this red-winged blackbird allowed me to get within range of my 70-210 zoom. 

Oh, and I did see a pintail, but did not get within range of it!

Best of 2014: May

Lady's Tresses (Spiranthes)
The magnificent Kisatchie National Forest occupies 944 square miles of western Louisiana. It sprawls across seven parishes from just a few miles south of I-20 to just below the center of the state.

This past summer, I began to appreciate the splendors of the Kisatchie as never before. My May birthday gift to myself was a 3-day plant identification workshop with my friend Dr. Charles Allen, botanist for the U.S. Army at Fort Polk. He and his wife run Allen Acres, a B&B surrounded by gardens just a few miles south of Cravens, La., along Highway 399.

The plant workshop included several field trips around Allen Acres and into neighboring Kisatchie National Forest land. But my driving route to Allen Acres includes Highway 436 through the eastern edge of the Kisatchie and past an area called Cooter's Bog.

I left for the workshop in plenty of time to stop and shoot along the way if I saw something interesting. So when I got to Cooter's Bog in the late afternoon, I stopped.

Wow! What a beautiful spot! Not huge, but in 30 minutes and within just a few yards of the access road, I photographed more than a dozen wildflower species, plus long leaf pine saplings and ferns.

But my pride and joy is the shot of above. When I spied this plant, I was not sure but I thought it was a wild orchid. Imagine my excitement when I got to Allen Acres, showed my shots to Dr. Allen and he indeed identified it as a wild orchid, common name "Lady's Tresses" of the genus Spiranthes.

Unfortunately, I did not photograph the leaves, so he could not name a species, but I'm still excited about my first ever wild orchid find. Since then, I've seen many more, but nothing compares with the first!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Best of 2014: April

Nana Buruku

This ancient, immense cypress tree presides over Lake Martin in south Louisiana on the edge of the Atchafalaya Basin. To be more precise, Lake Martin is south of Breau Bridge and east of Lafayette. It is more swamp than lake.

I am in awe of the place. My second trip in April 2014 I went on a swamp tour--a mere $20 very well spent--and hiked part way around the lake. And although I came home with more than 200 photos, of which several are outstanding, this one is my favorite.

All while processing the photo I kept thinking "spirit of the swamp." And so, with some searching, I found Nana Buruku, a large, strong, dark-skinned wise old woman from Yoruba religion who presides over waters, especially swamps. Surely this is she!

A couple of photographic notes:
     1) This looks like a pretty straight documentary shot, and it certainly is "documentary" in intent and result. But swamps are over the top in terms of visual distractions, and I spent several hours in photoshop using a variety of tools to make the tree stand out and bring out the texture and light, but keeping the fullest sense of context possible.
     2) The January and February photos I shared can't be anything but color. This one for April and the one for March are black & white, and really can't be anything  but black & white. They just don't work in color. In perusing my swamp tour photos, I passed over this one again and again, until one day I was looking with an eye toward black & white, and it popped out. I couldn't even see it until I was seeing it in black & white!

Best of 2014: March


I have no idea why shooting photos through the windows of moving trains fascinates me. Maybe because where I live, moving trains for people to ride in are pretty rare!

So when I'm in a moving train, it usually means I'm getting a city fix of some kind. This one was in Baltimore last March where I attended the annual Archdeacon's Conference.

Of course, when shooting from a moving train, I waste a lot of clicks--altogether way more affordable than wasting film! I guess that's why my fascination with shooting from moving trains did not emerge until after the digital revolution.

In any case, I don't just hold down the trigger and let the camera auto-fire multiple frames. Rather, I keep one eye on the passing terrain and one eye in the viewfinder and shoot one frame at a time.

Now that's still a gamble on what Henri Cartier-Bresson--one of my photographer heroes--called "the decisive moment." It is a lot of luck when things come together in the frame and my timing is right on. Nevertheless, it is more satisfying to me than the alternative.

So... I love this one. It is the underside of a huge cloverleaf intersection somewhere on the edge of Baltimore. But to me it's kind of cathedral-like. Mundane and majestic. The magic of "and."

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Best of 2014: February

The Shining Word "And"

"And" teaches us to say "yes"
"And" allows us to be both-and
"And" teaches us to be patient and long-suffering
"And" is willing to wait for insight and integration
--Richard Rohr

February was slim pickin' in terms of photographs. I shot very little and most of the take was pretty ho hum. 

Indeed, I would not usually include a sunset in the "best of" album. That's not because I don't love a beautiful sunset. I do. But beautiful sunsets require relatively little from either the photographer or the camera. Point and shoot, or so it seems to me.

I do love this one a lot because of the cloud patterns and the relative subtlety of the colors, which I brought out by adjusting contrast. You will find this image on the home page of the Episcopal Mission of Northeast Louisiana.

This beautiful moment happened while I was driving on Highway 15 between I-20 and Winnsboro, La. And it resonated with the Richard Rohr I was reading at that time.

The sky speaks to me. It saves my life.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Best of 2014: January

Turn on Your Heart Light

It's time once again to have a look at the winding-down year by picking one photograph from every month's take. In January, it took me 'til the last day of the month to get something I really, really like.

I call this "Turn on Your Heart Light" because the sun reflected in the water appears to me to be coming from within the earth. Processing it, I was reminded of E.T. and the "heartlight" that glowed from within his chest. Here's Neil Diamond singing the song: Heartlight

This location is a quarry on the east side of Highway 165 just north of the turn-off to Camp Hardtner. The quarry was dug to get fill dirt to make 165 four lanes. But they struck a spring and the hole filled with water--beautiful turquoise water.

It is one of my favorite places to shoot. I call it "Home of the Wounded Healer." And to understand that, well, I guess you need to read some Henri Nouwen!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Kisatchie Splendors: Happy Thanksgiving!

Circle of Life
This... on a summer day walking the Wild Azalea Trail in the Kisatch National Forest, Calcasieu Ranger District. This amazing trail can be accessed various places a few minute's drive from Alexandria in Central Louisiana.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Photographer's Journal: Charles Allen Biological Station

Glory, Glory

Sometimes I allow myself to think about the possibility of one day being able to spend all the time I want in the woods or on a prarie or in a swamp or around a lake or... wherever... even in the cleared way beneath power lines... with my camera, seeking.... what? I hardly know how to express what it is I seek... moments of total presence, God's presence in creation, my presence to creation... I call it "prayer."

And when I'm out there with my camera, I find those moments all around. Like in these cypress needles. I mean, have you ever really looked at cypress needles? Especially when they are still in the process of turning, as they are right now? Oh, my God! And I mean that quite literally.

But right now, my life is kind of insanely busy, and I have to settle for snatched time--like the hour I managed to grab last Saturday morning to walk into the Charles Allen Biological Station in the Copenhagen Hills to.... this.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Photographer's Journal: Winnsboro Lake

Bee Mine

So... now my son lives in Baton Rouge. And, oh, do I miss him! Well, not his laundry piled in front of the washer! But, mostly, I miss him.

The upside is now I have an excuse to drive to Baton Rouge with some regularity. Did that last weekend and spent a lovely 24 hours with him.

The drive to Baton Rouge and back is actually rather fun. I have found many places to stop along the way to do my favorite thing, the thing that is for me most like a ceaseless prayer of gratitude to the Creator of the Universe.

And one of my favorite places to stop is a small lake just south of Winnsboro on the west side of the highway. Last Saturday afternoon, not much was blooming anymore, except these little lavender asters that were covered with bees and butterflies.

I've gotten much better at identifying the flowers, butterflies and dragonflies I photographe, but I'm still pretty hopeless on the bees. Can anyone help with that?

BTW, I'll be at RiverMarket this Saturday with prints. Not this one, but lots of nice ones!


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Kisatchie Splendors

Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) on Large Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata)

I want to do a book of the splendors of the Kisatchie National Forest. If you have never been there, come for a hike with me some day.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Once in awhile I get lucky!

Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)

These beauties almost never perch. Catching them on the fly takes patience and persistence, at least for me. I got one shot in focus from among many whilst standing at a drainage ditch at the intersection of soybean fields, no shade in sight, sweat running into my eyes and down my spine. I suppose that is why I am inordinately proud!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Photographer's Journal: Bear Encounter!

Louisiana Black Bear (Ursus americanus luteolus)

Let me tell you, this was one of my most exciting moments as a photographer!

I drove slowly down a gravel road through acres and acres of corn, cotton and soybeans toward the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge. At one point I slowed to a crawl where a tree line bordering a drainage ditch intersected the road. I was looking for wildflowers in the ditch.

As I eased across the bridge over the drainage ditch and past the end of the tree line, a field of soybeans opened out to my right. Instantly I saw a dark blob with big rounded ears pointed at me on the edge of the field. I stopped and grabbed my camera with the 70-210 zoom already in place. Yes! It was a bear.

I fired off a couple of frames from a distance through my ultra-dusty windshield just to make sure I had proof of this momentous encounter. Then I eased closer. The bear went back to ripping down and eating tendrils of greenery. I stopped again, ran my windshield washer briefly and fired off a couple more frames through my not-quite-so-dirty windshield.

Then I eased my foot of the brake and rolled silently forward until I could power down the passenger side window. The bear looked my direction momentarily, then moved closer along the edge of the field. The first couple of frames I got through the open window are broadsides with the bear's head turned away feeding.

Then the bear sort of hunkered down at the edge of the field and I could see less of the body but it looked my way and put it's nose in the air. It did not occur to me immediately what was going on, but it should have because I have seen deer do this!

Three times the bear sniffed the air and three times I clicked. This is the third and the best. And at just that moment I realized that I had left my AC fan on--it was a blistering hot day. And the AC fan was blowing my scent out that open window. A split second after this shot, the bear got a good whiff and bolted into the field.

Louisiana Black Bear is on the threatened species list. The largest population in Louisiana is at the Tensas NWR. 


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Things Unseen

Let There Be Peace


Friday, July 4, 2014

Things Unseen

Or Else Alone

"I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone."
--Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, June 30, 2014

Photographer's Journal: Grosse Savanne

Dream A Little Dream of Me

Just returned from my first ever trip to the southwest corner of the state, where I spent this morning touring marshes and wetlands with Bobby Jordan of Grosse Savanne, a massive farming, fishing, hunting and eco-touring operation.

Beautiful and fascinating. This is the marsh we did by boat. Have many wonderful images to share and this one is a departure from my usual style.

The sedges, rushes and grasses of the marsh form lush patterns and textures, and the slightest breeze sets them in motion. So calming and restorative, like a good dream!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Photographer's Journal: Cooter's Bog

Snowy Orchid (Platanthera nivea)

I have a new favorite place to shoot wildflowers! Cooter's Bog is located in the Vernon Unit of the Kisatchie National Forest Calcasieu Ranger District, east of Highway 463 just a few miles north of Pitkin, La. It is an awesomely beautiful spot--always! But last Saturday, I and a few other wildflower-crazy friends from down that way hit the jackpot.

The bog is now dry enough to walk through and even kneel in without getting wet and muddy. And it was covered with blooms: white-topped sedge, bog buttons, bog pinks, rose gentian, colic root and more. But most impressive of all were the snowy orchids. I mean everywhere!

The first one we came upon was kind of by itself. So of course I got down on the ground and took every angle, plus both macros and full views. And then we walked farther and found bunches! I actually got to the point of passing them by without raising the camera! What fun.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Things Unseen

RIP Maya Angalou


Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don't believe I'm wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can't use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They've got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I'll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
'Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

--Maya Angelou

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Things Unseen

Take this Waltz

Now in Vienna there are ten pretty women
There's a shoulder where Death comes to cry
There's a lobby with nine hundred windows
There's a tree where the doves go to die
There's a piece that was torn from the morning,
And it hangs in the Gallery of Frost

Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take this waltz with the clamp on its jaws
I want you, I want you, I want you
On a chair with a dead magazine
In the cave at the tip of the lilly,
In some hallway where love's never been
On a bed where the moon has been sweating,
In a cry filled with footsteps and sand

Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take its broken waist in your hand

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz
With its very own breath of brandy and Death
Dragging its tail in the sea

There's a concert hall in Vienna
Where your mouth had a thousand reviews
There's a bar where the boys have stopped talking
They've been sentenced to death by the blues
Ah, but who is it climbs to your picture
With a garland of freshly cut tears?

Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take this waltz, it's been dying for years

There's an attic where children are playing,
Where I've got to lie down with you soon,
In a dream of Hungarian lanterns,
In the mist of some sweet afternoon
And I'll see what you've chained to your sorrow,
All your sheep and your lillies of snow

Take this waltz, take this waltz
With its "I'll never forget you, you know!"

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz
With its very own breath of brandy and Death
Dragging its tail in the sea

And I'll dance with you in Vienna
I'll be wearing a river's disguise
The hyacinth wild on my shoulder,
My mouth on the dew of your thighs
And I'll bury my soul in a scrapbook,
With the photographs there, and the moss
And I'll yield to the flood of your beauty
My cheap violin and my cross
And you'll carry me down on your dancing
To the pools that you lift on your wrist
O my love, o my love
Take this waltz, take this waltz
It's yours now. It's all that there is

--Leonard Cohen

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Things Unseen

The Forgotten

Nonsense XX III

Vibrant violence
come closer, dear.
Do you see me?
Walk slower to be
noticed by no one.
Find me a place to
sleep; I care not
for shelter, just
My pillows are

--Adel 156

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Chi-town


Saturday, March 22, 2014

My Chi-town

Ripple Effect III

Monday, March 17, 2014

Things Unseen

For A Moment You Were There

Monday, March 3, 2014

Photographer's Journal: Louisiana Landscapes

Palmetto Fields Forever

Yesterday I had the great privilege of preaching and leading Morning Prayer at Christ Church, St. Joseph. I love doing that. Beautiful church, lovely folks. Inexplicably, they also seem to appreciate my sermons. I mean, they always take me to lunch afterwards! :)

But I confess there's another reason I love to go to Christ Church: I leave a little early, take along a camera, and turn it into a bit of a photo outing as well. And if I'm really fortunate, as I was yesterday, the weather is beautiful and I had no Sunday afternoon obligations to force me home.

And so I spent a gorgeous afternoon stopping and shooting all up and down Highway 65. You'll see more of those photos in the coming weeks.

For the moment, this one I took on the way to St. Joseph. I have observed many times that while the trees are yet gray and leafless and most of the undergrowth has not yet come to life, the palmetto fields along Highway 65 are vibrant, glossy, dark green. And they extend as far as I can see standing on the roadway.

This photo looks like I've done a process called "selective color," which is to take out all of the color and then replace the color in only those items you want colored. But I didn't do that here. This is a full color photo. I love it precisely because it so clearly illustrates how the fresh, new palmettos--and a DMAP sign, of course--stand out in the otherwise gray landscape of early March woods in Louisiana.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Photographer's Journal: The Quarry

Home of the Wounded Healer II

So... this is three photographs stitched together in Photoshop--a "pano" in photog lingo. This is not a perfect job of stitching. I can see one of the seams. But I'm not telling where because I doubt if any of you will be able to see it!

But I want to try something a bit different. I want to make some pano landscapes where I stitch the images together like this, but don't line up the horizontal edges. Kind of like the WATERLINE montages. I like the idea of drawing attention to how the camera frame interrupts reality.

And this location is, of course, my beloved quarry.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

An Altar in the World

Dances with Wind

I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.
Isaiah 49:6b

Saturday, February 22, 2014

What's Saving Her Life Right Now

The Shining Word "And" I

"And" teaches us to say "yes"
"And" allows us to be both-and
"And" teaches us to be patient and long-suffering
"And" is willing to wait for insight and integration

--Richard Rohr

Monday, February 3, 2014

Things Unseen


I lay my wing
As a bridge to you

So that you can join us


Monday, January 20, 2014

Photographer's Journal: Surprise!

Periwinkle Perfection

This photo has a spider in it, really a quite large spider. I did not see the spider until I had the photo on my computer and had zoomed in to re-touch a couple of dust spots in the sky. The bane of digital photographers, in case you don't know, is dust spots on your camera's sensor. They show WAAAAY more than dust spots on film or a lens ever did.

Anyway.... zoomed in to perfect this lovely periwinkle sky, I saw--unmistakably--a spider. And knowing where it is, I can now see it zoomed out. So... that's my challenge to all the sharp-eyed this morning: Can you find the spider? Hint: He is not a flying spider. :)

BTW, I shot this at one of my newer favorite sites. It's a small private lake just a couple miles south of Winnsboro. When I make a day trip to Baton Rouge, I try to allow time to stop on my way down and again on my way home.

On this occasion, I got back to the lake in the late afternoon and had about an hour of wonderful light. The grandson of the owner came by and told me he has always heard it called "King Lake."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Best of 2013: December

Letting Go

On this Twelfth Day of Christmas, the Eve of the Epiphany, this. Just this.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Best of 2013: November

Not Two

“The fact that life and death are ‘not two’ is extremely difficult to grasp, not because it is so complex, but because it is so simple.”
--Ken Wilber

On this Eleventh Day of Christmas, it is good to remember, even as we face forward. I shot this in Philadelphia on what was both a journey down memory lane and a step forward in the expanding role of photography in my life.
Learn more at www.katrinawaterline.com.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Best of 2013: October

Eye of the Whale

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, I chose one of the few selfies I took this year. I kind of got burned out on selfies, plus I had so little time and The Selfy Sunday Project on Google+ seemed to roll around when I had no time.

But October is when I make my fall trip to Chicago, and this selfy is special in two ways. One is because I have loved and studied and collected whales and information about whales most of my life. Had I the aptitude for science, I would have been a marine biologist instead instead of a communications professor because of whales!

(Figurines! I collect whale figurines, of course, not whales, and I need to photograph some of them.... Hmmm. Sounds like a fun project.)

The second reason this is such a special selfy is because I was photowalking with a G+ friend, Lauri Novak, and we happened on to this wonderful whale sculpture totally by accident. And Lauri took a companion shot. And we were wearing nearly matching jackets, except mine was bright red and hers was bright green! (And if G+ hadn't totally screwed up the albums view recently, I'd post a link to hers, but as is I have no idea how to find it!)

And Lauri and I had just left G+'er Rafael Canabal, who had to cut his photowalk with us short for another engagement, and we were soon to meet up with G+'er Tom Tran, with whom we spent the afternoon. All in all, a lovely set of memories for the month of October.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Best of 2013: September

Mer Blanche

On this Ninth Day of Christmas, my choice was easy. I took other good photos in September, but when I shared this one on Facebook, it was an immediate hit with my many local friends.

Great expanses of cotton ready for harvest is not such a common sight in Louisiana anymore. Many farmers are growing lots of corn instead. Or they are rotating corn and cotton, such that the landscape is more of a  patchwork of colors and textures.

But back in September on my way to Baton Rouge, I suddenly found myself in the midst of a white sea. Huge, fluffy cotton bolls extended as far as I could see on both sides of the highway.

I posted a color version of this on G+, but it is stronger in black & white, IMHO. This is another in the Louisiana Agriculture project.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Best of 2013: August

Building the Pod
On this Eighth Day of Christmas, a photo from my Louisiana Agriculture project. I grew up on a farm in Iowa. It's a cliché but true: You can take the girl off the farm but you can't take the farm out of the girl! And in 2013, in part because I made such a successful image out of an irrigation unit in the fog (see Best of 2013: January: Delta Dragon, I began working seriously on documenting Louisiana agriculture. Going for publication in some form this year!

Best of 2013: July

In Memorium

On the Seventh Day of Christmas, I offer a new b&w edit of an image shared last summer. The color of this monument is warm cream--or at least that is what I saw when I visited after dark and it was flooded with artificial light. So I found the color pleasing, but it is another of those images that kind of demanded to be converted to b&w.

Interestingly, this image got little response on G+ back then, but I choose it as one of my best anyway. I admire minimalism, but have trouble doing it. So much to see! Color and light and clouds and botanicals and machinery and critters and people, etc., etc. It all cries out to get into the camera frame! So I go out determined to shoot minimal and I come home with frames packed full of stuff!

But on this occasion, minimal spoke the loudest. This is the memorial to those who died in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Being there commands silence, reflection, prayer (however you define it).

And a resolution on this brink of a new year to live every day as if it is my last. To get rid of clutter and go for what matters.

Best of 2013: June

Enders River, Connecticut
On this Sixth Day of Christmas, I chose this memento of a totally wonderful and fun trip to Connecticut and Massachusetts. The official excuse was to attend a friend's wedding, which I did and it was great fun.

But for three days before the wedding, I roamed and took pictures, and spent one wonderful day climbing mountains along with Google+ friend Craig Szymanski and his family. What a blast! They were so nice they didn't even walk off and leave the oldster struggling along in the rear! Truly great folks!

This is Enders State Forest. Craig put me on to the site and I spent a half a day there. Inside the State Park, the Enders River is mostly a series of lovely waterfalls. I take pride in this shot because I really had to innovate to get it. No tripod, of course, and it was cloudy, plus the tree canopy filters out lots of light.

So... I'm perched on a rock over the falls. I put the camera on a bit of bubble-wrap on the sloping surface of the rock, ease it over the edge to point down but keep it from falling with a foot on the strap, and take the picture with the cable release. Miraculously, it took only three tries to get the framing I wanted.

A 1/4-second shutter produced just the right balance of motion blur and texture in the water--at least for my taste! And in celebration of my continuously improving editing skills, I just did a bit more post on the image and it is better than when I first shared it last summer.