Friday, January 29, 2010

Sunsets with Mom

Our last stop when Mom and I were on our recent Christmas Holiday road trip was Ocean Shores, Washington. At sunset we hung out on the beach and watched the fiery ball drop into the Pacific. I made photographs.

Over the years my photographic habit has gotten to be something Mom teases me about, in a good-natured way. We’ll be talking on the phone and I’ll say “I cut firewood today,” or “I cleaned the gutters,” and Mom’s reply is usually: “Did you take pictures?” The subtle humor underlying Mom’s question is that there are no obvious photographs to be found in the firewood lot or up on the roof of my house, but Mom knows my image-seeking quest means that I’m always keeping my eyes open.

You never know what you might see.

I’ve been thinking about past trips where Mom and I watched the sunset and I made photographs. When she was in her 70’s, Mom and I hiked to Second Beach in Olympic National Park (a walk that some people in their 40’s would not be adventurous enough to do.) We hiked the mile-and-a-half forest trail in fading light, emerging from the trees to the sight of a sandy beach, sea stacks, and tide pools. After we watched (and I photographed) the sunset, we did the hike back to the car through a pitch-black forest, using flashlights to follow the trail.

Another time Mom and I watched the sunset in an even more exotic locale -- we were on a beach in Maui -- and the memory of how that trip came about warms me as much as any sunset. Mom and I had been having one of our daily Seattle/Ohio phone conversations and I mentioned that many of my wedding clients seem go to Maui for their honeymoons. Mom said she’d always wanted to visit the Hawaiian Islands but she doubted she’d ever get there. She said she thought the tropical flowers would really be something to see. She sounded kind of wistful.

“We should go,” I said.

And we did.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pictures for Mom

My sweet Mom’s favorite flower is the calla lily. When I go back home for a visit, I shave and shower every morning in a girly-ish guest bathroom with pink calla wallpaper, calla designs on the towels, and I wash my face with calla soap.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s not like I need NFL-logo graphics on the walls in my shower space to make me feel like a Manly-Man, but wallpaper? Geez!

Over the weekend a florist friend gave Leah and me a flower arrangement that included callas, and I knew I needed to photograph them so I could send a print to my calla-loving Mom. I can tell you exactly what will happen: Mom will frame the print I send (she has calla-motif picture frames, I’m not kidding) and I’ll hafta look at these pictures every time I visit. I mean, I like these pictures and I’m happy to have done them for my dear Mom, but...

Maybe I should pick a different subject-matter for my next photograph. I could send Mom a print of a TRUCK! Or a HOT BABE! Or a can of BEER!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Animal Friends

I was sitting down to write text to accompany these pictures I shot this week of our shadowy, mysterious cat Basil when an email arrived from the Humane Society of the United States.

Though it certainly goes without saying that human beings are suffering in Haiti, the Humane Society points out something else that we should keep in mind: Animals are also in need.

So...I’m going to keep my text short and sweet and put a link below that you might consider acting on.



(Click HERE for Humane Society Link)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Seeing China

My mother lives in Ohio and was here during Christmas for a visit. I wanted to be a good son/host and take Mom around and show her some of the sights of the Pacific Northwest, but unfortunately over the years we’ve already “done” the San Juan Islands, the North Cascades Scenic Highway, the Pacific Ocean, the rain forest, and the east-of-the-mountains desert.

I got it in my head that this time we’d go spend a couple of hours in China.

We drove to Portland. I’d done some poking around on the Web and learned that Portland has what appeared to be a pretty cool Chinese garden, and it turned out that it was indeed quite a place. Though the weather was chilly and a bit rainy when we visited and it wasn’t really the best day for a garden stroll, the winter season look of the place reminded me of Asian brush and ink art.

And Mom and I can add China to the list of places we’ve visited.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Seeing Joy

The news stories and pictures coming from Haiti have made me restless and antsy this week, and I know I’m not alone in wishing I could do something meaningful to help the Haitian people.

At first I blamed my cameras and my background in photojournalism for my feelings -- after all, I have nearly 30 years behind me of believing that photography can often illuminate many of our world's needs. If only I could be there, maybe I could use photography (or my strong back) to be of help. Then I realized that it’s not my cameras that ached for the Haitian people, but my heart, and I got it that I’m not alone in the way I feel...that compassion is a human trait that we all share.

It occurred to me that even my simplest, everyday pictures are made with an open heart and compassion. Photography communicates because others view pictures with those same two qualities.

Several years ago I attended a lecture given by a much-respected, veteran journalist, who said: “I see things feelingly and sometimes it hurts.” People in the auditorium nodded in understanding, not because they were all journalists (they weren’t,) but because they were human.

This week I'm thinking it's important for us also to remember that we see things feelingly, and sometimes it brings joy.

I shot the two pictures you see here last spring when new lambs were born at my neighbor’s place. I didn’t post the pictures then but today feels like a good time to share them. I suspect we can all use a bit of innocent joy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Seeing Changes

If my neighbors and I had a contest to determine who has the Most Magnificent Puddle in their driveway, I’m pretty sure I might win. After 24 hours of gentle but nearly nonstop rain, the dog and I headed out for our walk this morning and had to figure out how to get around our newly-formed small pond, and to see whether perhaps wild salmon had migrated onto our property.

The funny thing is that, as I sit at my computer and type these words some two hours after walking the dog, I can see from my office window that the sun is now popping through the clouds. The pictures I’m posting below are evidence that the weather doesn’t stay the same for very long around here. Two days ago there was no sign of rain and I stood exactly where our mega-puddle now exists to shoot the sunrise picture you see below. Two weeks ago we had chilly temps and there was amazing frost on the ferns in the nearby woods.

When I was a little kid and my parents would take my sister and me to visit our grandparents at their farm, there was so much to see and do that I apparently couldn’t remain focused on just one thing for five minutes -- petting a dog, or visiting a newborn calf, or hiding in a cornfield -- before moving on to something else. I remember my grandfather telling me: “You’re as changeable as the weather.”

I guess it’s good that I grew up and became mesmerized by the magic of the camera. Every five minutes there’s something new to see and photograph.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Far Out, Man

I was in another part of the house and heard a “Woo-Hoo!!!” coming from the kitchen. I went to investigate and found that Leah had made cookies and now was standing at the kitchen sink, washing the baking pans. She was playing with soap suds bubbles and having way too much fun.

Poor Leah. There’s very little she can do around here that I won’t turn into a Photographic Project. When I saw the bubbles she had in the sink, the “Photo” light went on in my head, and glowed BRIGHT RED. Warning horns rang in my ears...WAH-OOH-GA...the kind of horns you hear in apocalyptic movies where there has been a catastrophic accident at a nuke plant and neighboring townspeople are supposed to Run For Their Lives. Leah's bubbles were reflecting light in a 1960’s, psychedelic, White Rabbit kind of way.

Those bubbles were WAY cool!

I pulled out my camera, a macro lens, and a tripod. There have been so many times in the past when Leah has seen me in this Possessed By Art, Red Alert kind of dream-state that, without me even having to verbalize it, she knew to "step aside little lady....make room for Mister Tripod."

I was MY turn to play in the bubbles.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The New Year

I walked into our kitchen during the holidays and noticed nice light falling on some antique bowls that Leah uses when she is baking. There were Satsuma oranges in one of the bowls: Circles of bright color, surrounded by other circles.

It seems like this is a good picture to share in the first week of 2010. In the small Puget Sound town where I live, my neighbors and I meet in the post office or the bank or the grocery; 2009 was difficult for many folks, so we exchange pleasantries and wish one-another good luck and good fortune in the New Year.

There’s a kind of circle to a community, and this picture reminds me of that...circles of families, neighborhoods, schools and churches...circles within circles within circles.