Photography 101: Mystery

I can think of no better icon of mystery than the sky.  The heavens in “Big Sky Country”, the American West, give plenty of fodder for pondering mysteries of all magnitudes, from “Do you think it’s going to rain?” to “Are there other life forms on those twinkly planets?”  I wish that I had the proper equipment to photograph the night sky in New Mexico.  The number of stars visible to the naked eye is astounding.  We had a new moon night with a view of the Milky Way that was indeed mystical.  It put my own life into a different perspective.  Here’s a gallery of some mysterious skies:

Photography 101: Warmth

Hmm.  The sun does not seem to be cooperating with Word Press today.  The skies in Wisconsin are a flat gray, and I’m in bed with bronchitis.  Warmth is going to have to come from some stored files.  Let’s start with early morning, shall we?  There’s nothing like a cat for finding the sun’s first warming light.  This is Portia, my brother’s cat:

California Cat

California Cat

California boasts some dazzling sun.  I found that challenging when taking pictures in the middle of the day.  I took several shots of a fallen redwood; its roots were spread out like a sunburst.  The texture and lines were amazing.  In high contrast, it’s rather like an acid trip. (Not that I’d really know…)

California trip

California trip

Seriously, that’s not my style.  I am a Nature Girl.  Here’s a more natural look:

California roots

California roots

At the end of a day of dazzling sunshine in New Mexico, the sun slants in at a low angle, warming the red rocks:

Setting warmth

Setting warmth

Finally, the sun lights the clouds a brilliant fuchsia at its departure.

Waning warmth

Waning warmth

Hey, the sun came out!  Guess it’s time to get out of my sickbed and make some breakfast.  I hope your day is warm, whether from the coffee in your mug or from the sun itself. 

P.S. Later that afternoon….hey!  What’s that flaky stuff floating down through the sky?  Is it?!  Yup!  It’s snow. First of the season, too.  🙂

Photography 101: The Natural World

I don’t believe there are any straight lines in the natural world.  All is “wiggly” (as Alan Watts would say), and we’re told that the Universe is funnel-shaped, a huge graceful curve.  I figure that pine needles are almost straight, but even they exhibit a gentle arc.  Nature is the ultimate Art, in my estimation.  Shape, texture, line, composition, color…every artistic facet writ large on the world around us.  How do I pick one photograph?  Or even a few?  This is the challenge for me.  I have a whole gallery of Wisconsin outdoor shots on one of my pages up there.  Feel free to browse that.  Meanwhile, I’ll put up a few new ones, taken outside of Wisconsin.

Photography 101: Landmark

Rarely do I have an unobstructed view of a landmark.  Typically, those are BIG things, and there’s something in front of them.  Well, if that’s the way it is, then I guess that’s my point of view. 

It kind of makes you think about focal points and how you see the world.  Steve is always saying that he’s ‘holistic’.  He likes to see how the whole picture connects.  I usually try to organize the world in a more linear fashion by taking out the thread that I’m interested in and laying it out flat for observation.  Compartmentalizing, he calls it.  So after I’ve drawn out various parts and examined them, he squishes them together again.  We’ve gotten over fighting about this; now it’s an exercise that edifies both of us. 

Take it apart; put it together.  Try to see the world from someone else’s point of view.  Yeah, that’s a good practice.

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Photography 101: Connect

The prompt says, “There are many ways to interpret this theme: from a gadget to a handshake, from a bridge to a gathering among friends. What’s yours?”  Well, I have two.  One is quite literal, and I think it’s a strong image:

connect 2“Blessed be the ties that bind….” 

If you’re a sailor, there’s nothing more important than well-connected lines.  This is concrete understanding of the physical world.  It means something right away.  Here’s one that’s a bit more intuitive:


How strong is this image?  Well, it is emotionally powerful to me.  These are my two living sisters.  We had just learned that Sarah’s husband has cancer.  I was visiting them in California.  We get together; Dharam greets Sarah with a hug, I pull out my camera.  How do you connect?  (I hugged her, too, BTW)

Photography 101: Solitude

One of the wilderness character traits is Solitude, a dwindling natural resource.  Where do you go to realize your solitude, to find humility, to gain perspective?  Where do you find reminders that we do not dominate the planet?

solitude(And thanks for the tip on the Rule of Thirds…I’d heard it mentioned, but not explained.)

Photography 101: Water

Water in the desert.  It’s a huge factor, and not in the way you’d think.  Water shaped the desert landscape, even though you might think there’s none there.  The canyons and caverns of the American West were formed by water.  I heard a very enthusiastic Death Valley National Park ranger named Jay Snow expound on this amazing fact.  He was right.  Death Valley is all about water.  So is the Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns and all those other iconic desert places.  Many of them were once part of a vast inland sea, believe it or not.  Water is ancient and powerful and wild.  When we’re not tampering with it, that is.  (and that’s a huge topic for another post on my ‘In Wilderness…’ page)

Upper Falls at Bandelier

Upper Falls at Bandelier

Carlsbad Caverns ceiling

Carlsbad Caverns ceiling



Photography 101: Street


Highway 4 near Jemez Springs, New Mexico

The Photo 101 prompt says, “try to capture an establishing shot: a wide-angle photo that sets up a scene. It might mean moving back some steps, or finding higher ground (like climbing stairs) to fit all of your scene in one shot.”  Here’s the ‘higher ground’ I used to get this shot:

scilla in NM

photo by Steve