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Category Archives: Nature

I once read that flowers are Nature laughing.  Likely a bastardization of a statement made by Emerson, this quotation has remained with me over the years.  It is a testament to the joy that I recently experienced while attending an orchid show on a bright winter day.  The photograph below is indicative of what can be captured with an inexpensive 50 mm f/1.8 lens set at f/2 on an APS-C body.  This is a lens I very rarely use, yet its shallow depth of field coupled with a close focusing distance lent itself as expected to the close-quarters shooting that was possible during the show.

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The lens allows us to limit our focus onto the most salient aspects of the environment.  Per the translation of Stephen Mitchell, the words of Lao-Tzu seem apropos:

A good traveler has no fixed plans
 and is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition 
lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts 
and keeps his mind open to what is.

Thus the Master is available to all people
 and doesn’t reject anyone.
He is ready to use all situations 
and doesn’t waste anything.
This is called embodying the light.

There is wonder in what lies beyond our ready imagination.  Sometimes, that wonder shows itself, however briefly, and reinvigorates the innate drive to explore and know.

There are certain places on Earth that have moved me more than others, places that motivate within me a sense of awe and humility.  On a recent first visit to Glacier National Park, hiking Logan Pass as the sun set was one such place.

Looking closely at the photography above will yield a place carpeted in wildflowers of myriad hues, surrounded by mountain peaks, and dotted by a taiga of conifers.  Logan pass is one of the most beautiful places I have yet to experience.

There are also special views  that remind one, however briefly, that we live on a Planet imbued with beauty beyond measure.  Mt. Oberlin at sunset is one such reminder.

There is something peaceful about the sound of snow falling upon one’s hat and through branches of overhead.  There is something wonderful about the first major snow of the season and the way is transforms the land.

During a week this past summer on the Gunflint Trail in the far reaches of northern Minnesota, my wife and I ventured for an overnight into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) Wilderness.  I had hiked into the BWCA a few times over the years, and my wife had paddled there in her youth, but this was the first time I would actually “do” the Boundary Waters.  So, with the little time we had available to us, we paddled several miles in, camped overnight above the shore of beautiful Alder Lake, and then paddled out.  We paddled into the wind both ways; the paddle out was especially vigorous and offered a real taste of the range of Boundary Waters weather.  Yet, there was beauty all around and true joy within.  It was a simply wonderful experience.  As we completed taking down camp that next morning and loading the canoe, my wife called for me to turn around.  There over the lake so close it seemed we could almost touch it was a double rainbow glorious to behold.  It was as if the Boundary Waters had welcomed us.  It was as if the gratitude I felt within was mirrored all around.

As evinced by my absence from posting, it has been a busy semester. I finally found time this morning to go for a rather long walk into the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is a far cry from the silence of the Badlands or the grandeur of Yellowstone. Nonetheless, its presence demonstrates that natural beauty can readily be found within a metropolitan area of three million people. Just a short hike down the hill from a busy freeway, these trumpeter swans gave me the opportunity of temporarily leaving the city for a place a little more remote.

My family and I journeyed west in August to Yellowstone National Park, among other places.  What I experienced was nearly two weeks of perpetual awe, both of what we saw beyond the car and what we shared within it.  There is such wonder to behold on this little planet we call home.  How fortunate I am to be able to participate with camera in hand.

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to be outside during a torrential rain.  This good fortune was compounded with the fact that I was standing there with two of my best friends.  Many people eschew inclement weather, but nature photographers know there is magic to be found in such moments of “bad” weather.  No, “magic” is not the appropriate term.  Inclement weather can help one to experience almost viscerally a deeper connection to the natural world around him.

One of the beauties of looking through the lens is that it can quite literally help one to focus on what visually matters in the surrounding environment.  For example, the leafy hanging branch in the photograph below provides a nice juxtaposition against the lake in the background.  The rainstorm that surrounds it all provides further detail and movement.

Even the most mundane of scenes can possess visual import, especially during times of dynamic weather.  The photograph below is one such example.  Heavy rain on pavement is about as simple an image as can be, yet there is a charge to splashing of the raindrops and their resultant little splashes.

Yet, it is sometimes in that ephemerally fleeting moment as the weather just begins to clear that the most sublime of photographs can be made.  These are those little moments I often treasure as a photographer.

 

 

There is something visceral about spring’s first hints of color that remains semantically elusive.  The return of vernal blossoms in the form of flowers and newborn leaves instills in one a sense of vitality and a heightened awareness, if only temporarily, of promise.  Those first weeks of spring are special, when the colors are fresh and the landscape has not yet settled into the darker green that will persist for the duration of summer.  Such moments are fecund with the potential for growth and renewal.  That is the promise.