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Historically, I have not made it a point to wake early in order to shoot in the morning twilight.  My preference has typically been to remain out in the evening so that, after the potential for golden light in the evening, I can then be privy to a sky full of stars.  Nonetheless, not too long ago I was hiking in the Bay Area for an early morning walk.  The temperature hovered in the low 30s, and the sun was not to come up for awhile.  Sometimes, a day can begin very, very well.

There is simply something special about San Francisco.  I have felt it since my first visit as an adolescent, and it is a sentiment that has only grown with the years.

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.

Occasionally, auspicious weather can afford the opportunity for beauty even amidst the city.  Those are the mornings it pays to carry one’s camera.

Due to a confluence of factors, redwoods hold special meaning for me.  I think redwoods beautifully reflect the concept of wu-wei.  Tall and strong, yet soft and bending, the redwood manifests an ability to grow while weathering adversity not over the minutes, but over the millennia.  There is much to learn here.

Increasingly, I have come to understand that for me a photograph is an encapsulation of an experience with nature.  It is a method of not merely facilitating my attention to the moment as I stand upon the rocks of a wilderness lake, but an almost visceral reminder of time and place.  I have come to understand that the practice of photography is for me a way to internally as much as externally document my travels and the learning that ensued.  It is an invitation to take a moment to pause and consider the myriad ways in which beauty manifests all around.  I am truly grateful for all of this.

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.

It was a busy semester, and a recent weekend in Duluth was the first time in months I had been behind the lens for more than a few minutes.  A more interesting trip in a few weeks holds the promise to spend some quality time in nature with camera in hand.  I am looking forward to it.

As evinced by the absence of new posts these past few months, things have been busy.  I finally went out today to spend some time behind the lens as the weather turned unseasonably warm.  Upon returning home and reviewing the photographs I made on the hike, I discovered that this last one is the 4,000th shot I have made with the Canon 450D.  Remarkably, tomorrow marks three years to the day since I purchased the camera.  I realize that 4,000 shots is nothing for a professional photographer.  So what?  I shoot for myself, for the joy of connecting with what I see and experience in nature.  I have averaged better than 1,300 a year, and a few of the photographs have even been pretty good.  I probably shot less than 1,300 photos on chrome over the seven years that I was working with a Canon A-1 and Velvia.  It has been a good three years.

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.