Mallard, Roger’s Pond, Kennebunk, ME, USA — Just a female Mallard…but in an interesting pose and with the rippled reflections of the turning oaks on the water. Sometimes it just all comes together in an unexpected way…and if you happen to be pointing the camera in the right direction you get a shot that goes well beyond expectations. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 320 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
We spent the morning at Estero Llano Grande State Park and World Birding Center in Weslaco Texas yesterday. It was overcast but the birds were still beautiful on the pond by the Visitor Center, there was lots of activity around the trails. This White Ibis is caught in a classic pose over its reflection. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. +1EV to deal with the bird silhouetted against the bright water. Processed in Polarr.
This week’s Supermoon (the last for this year) caused exceptionally high tides all along the coast here in southern Maine. This is Branch Brook at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells Maine, a good mile inland from the sea. All about color and clouds and reflections.
Sony RX10iii at 24mm equivalent field of view. In-camera HDR. Nominal exposure: 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr on my Android tablet.
The Generous Eye: “If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
Early morning light, and two groups of Canada Geese on the Boardwalk Pond at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge south of Socorro New Mexico. (Actually, now that I look at the image more carefully, there appear to be a few Cackling Geese in that far flock as well.) The light, the Geese, both still and gently moving, and the reflections make this, to my eye, a very peaceful image. I have cropped it to accentuate that feeling.
Peace is among the hardest human emotions to achieve. Joy is often thrust gladly upon us by events. We are overwhelmed with sadness. Pain is something we afflict and endure in about equal measures, but peace we have to work at, we have to strive for, we have to surrender to. Peace rests behind every heartbeat, but too often, just out of our reach.
Part of the reason we have such difficulty with peace, I think, is a misunderstanding about its nature. We think peace is stillness…the absence of motion…the absence of trouble. But just as in this image, peace is motion in balance, the harmonious relation of forces. Peace is the untouchable center which moves through the troubles of this world, and is not altered by them. Peace is not a rock in the stream…it is a twig floating at one with the current.
This image, while it has a painterly look, is not lifted out of time. It is not a still-life. It is peaceful because of the dynamic it captures, the second when things are just so, that will, if we let it, flow into the next and the next, without disturbing our equilibrium, our balance, our sense of peace. Peace is in the light, is and inseparable part of the light, in our beings when our eyes are Generous Eye. May peace be with you and yours this Happy Sunday!
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
Happy Easter! I am not sure why this is my Easter image this year. I admit it is abstract, and visually challenging (what is it?). But it is also full of life…full of mystery…full of grace and wonder. It is also highly unlikely. It is a super thin patch of floating ice on a pond along Route 9 in Kennebunk Maine. It was above 40 and had been for several hours when I found it, and this pond has been open for weeks, so I was not expecting ice at all. And the sweeping feather like patterns are more like rime ice on a car window than anything I have seen on the surface of water. And then there are the straight lines, the pattern of triangles among the feathers, like the leading in a stained glass window. And it is so thin, so fragile, so unlikely. Altogether strange and wonderful. It challenges my understanding of what is physically possible.
Then you add the colors of the reflected sky and clouds and trees and it really comes alive. It becomes not just an image of floating ice, but a image in its own right, containing a beauty of its own. Looking at it is almost meditative…it puts my mind into a state of open wonder and receptivity…and something very like peace. Something very like hope. Something very like joy. And so, after all, it is not so strange a choice for Easter Sunday!
What is more unlikely than the resurrection? More challenging to our sense of what is possible? More full of grace and wonder? What greater source of hope and joy?
He is risen. Against all odds. Against every expectation. He is risen and with him hope and joy. And though 2000 years of Christian history have not always given testimony to his truth, yet his truth lives on, and is there to be received by every generous eye. Unlikely as rime ice on open water. Unlikely as perfect triangles in floating ice. And more beautiful than the reflected colors of sky and cloud and trees. Jesus is risen! He lives. He lives in me.
Yes, fall is coming on strong now here in southern Maine. I drove out to the Kennebunk Plains and Day Brook Pond yesterday, and then around to Old Falls and Old Falls Pond on the Mousam River. There was a friendly fisherman at Old Falls Pond and I asked if I could include him in the view. He makes it a classic calendar or magazine cover shot. Maybe on the Post, painted by Norman Rockwell. 🙂
Sony Alpha NEX 5t with 16-50mm zoom @ 24mm equivalent field of view. In-camera HDR. Nominal exposure 1/320th @ ISO 100 @ f9. Processed in Lightroom.
The season between leaf fall and snow fall in southern Maine is not the most attractive of seasons. The weather is often raw, even on sunny days, the birds are silent or already absent, and there is little to attract the eye…little, at least in the landscape, it sometimes seems, to keep the spirits up. And it is hunting season, so the woods are not safe. As it happens I miss most of it. I have a festival in New Jersey in late October, and two in November…in Texas and New Mexico. I am only home like 9 days between mid-October and Thanksgiving. The one redeeming feature of the season is the light. It is not the warmth, though we are thankful for the sun these days, but the angle as the sun drops lower in our Maine sky. Mid-day light in November is the equivalent of early evening light in July. The shadows never do get short. They remain long, molding all they touch. Though the landscape attempts to deny it, the light is even just about the same color as a mid-summer evening.
And yet it is unique. There is no mistaking November light across the landscape for the light of any other season.
I suppose, in a way, my whole life is in just such a season. I had a heart attack in April and I retired in July, but I am still active with ZEISS on the festival circuit. I have made some moves toward the next phase of my life, putting out feelers, making tentative plans, but I am mostly coasting, enjoying this interval when there is nothing much happening, this time between. Trying to find enough in the slant of the light across the landscape to keep my spirits up while I settle into my winter…trying to imagine a winter that I might enjoy. No worries really. As long as I can appreciate the light of November, I think December and January will pretty much, spiritually, take care of themselves.
Sony HX400V in camera HDRs. Processed in Lightroom. Assembled in Phototastic. On my Lenovo Miix 2 tablet.
Yesterday was a dreary day, just on the edge of rain when it was not raining, and today we are promised thundershowers until mid-afternoon…but this is typical Maine fall weather…and not without its drama. Wonderful skies for a few moments here and there as the front passed over us. I kept my weather eye on all morning, and took the camera out when it seemed there might be something special in the offing. It is wonderful not having to watch the clock and work my photography around real work. Photography and writing are my real work now 🙂
This is the view back to Route 9 from the Kennebunk Bridle Path…which, again, I have photographed in all seasons and all weathers. I love the weathered posts, and the tree line, and, often, the sky. This is a more static composition than I favor…with the horizon too close to the middle…but I find that I can not sacrifice anything at the top or bottom. The shadow of the post needs room at the bottom, and that patch of blue sky at the top is essential. I will have to trust to the detailed cloud-scape to provide dramatic tension. I think it works.
Sony HX400V at 24mm equivalent field of view. In camera HDR. Processed in Lightroom on my Surface Pro 3 tablet.
I have photographed this pond many many times. It is only a few feet from, a busy road (busy in the summer, that is) connecting the beaches of Wells and Kennebunk, but it always has the atmosphere of a secluded pool somewhere deep in the wilderness. Give it a good sky for reflections, and the right light, and it never fails to please. The Wild Iris is just a bonus, of the kind that is likely to turn up in the foreground at this pond. The low angle and the wide lens here puts everything into perspective and completes the composition. Even the overhanging tree on the upper left makes its contribution.
I have attempted this kind of shot so many times in the past, with a strong foreground element against a landscape with interesting sky, without, I must say, much success. The ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8 lens is the first lens I have used (I don’t own it…yet 🙂 that makes the shot not only possible, but easy. You can not (propably) imagine how close I was to that flower. I had to drop the camera in from the top, with the flip-up lcd out, down among the lily fonds to frame the single flower. And to credit the Sony Alpha NEX camera (5T in this case), it was able to find focus and set exposure (using Superior Auto) for an image that I could process in Snapseed using the HDR Scene filter to a fairly accurate rendering of the visual scene. To some eyes it might look a bit pumped up…but this is Maine in early summer…the way life is supposed to be…and I can attest that it is actually pretty realistic. It is just that we are not used to seeing this range of light and shadow, of color and contrast, in an image unless we are looking at a painting…at an obviously artistic interpretation. (The extreme depth of field is also unexpected in a photograph and adds to the painterly look.) In my HDR work, I strive for realism, not for obvious effect, and this image is, at the very least, life the way it is supposed to be. 🙂
Sony NEX 5T with ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8. ISO 100 @ 1/100th @ f11. Processed for HDR effect in Snapseed on my tablet.
On Sunday, it rained all day, sometimes hard, sometimes just a spattering, but always wet. There were aerial and coastal flood warnings from the National Weather Service office in Grey. But, at least in part, because I had only that morning written about finding the wonder in every season and every day, I forced myself to pick up my cameras and head out to see what I could see. If I can’t take my own good advice, well then it is not that good, is it? I took an umbrella, but the wind was blowing hard enough so that I knew I would mostly photograph what I could see from the car. I drove down to our local tidal marsh behind the dunes at the beach, and then down past the Rachel Carson NWR Headquarters to Laudholm Farm and the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, then back up the coast to sit at Mother’s Beach in Kennebunk and shoot gulls out the window of the car. I took a few scenics along the way, trying to capture the wet day/late winter/early spring atmosphere, and hoping for some interesting HDR effects.
This is along the road into Laudholm Farm, where it passes through a thick stand of second growth firs and pines. With the rain, the little brook that passes under the road in a culvert, was brim full. The wet leaves, blown in there from last year, the reflective water, the evergreens and patches of old snow, all framed against a background made soft by the water in the air…well, I liked it enough on the way in to pull over and get out of the car on the way back out, sheltering the camera for a couple of shots. HDR processing and some image tuning in Snapseed brings up the effect very nicely. Or that is what I think.
Sony NEX 3NL with 16-50mm zoom. 24mm equivalent. ISO 200 @ 1/160th @ f4.5. Processing as above.