Sunday, August 28, 2011

Blowin' in the Wind

On Wednesday I went to the Paul Smith's VIC again. It getting to be a habit. As a walk in the woods and photo location it is convenient at about 45 minutes away and with lots of trails and variety. I added more photos to my Flickr photostream, photos of Cotton Grass and a variety of fungus.

At the back of the Heron Marsh, on the Forest Ecology Trail, there is a boardwalk crossing a large bog with lots of grass and the occasional small Tamarac or other plant. The wind was gusting across the bog periodically making wave patterns in the grasses that reminded me of the flow of water so I made a series of images in which I tried to capture the waves. I used a slow shutter speed (1/10th sec.) to blur the movement and framed to contrast the moving grasses with the non-moving Tamarac. The photo above is the best of the batch. I will be watching in the future for other opportunities make similar images of wind motion.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Last Friday our son Ian was flying from Texas to Syracuse to spend our anniversary with us. He had a layover in JFK airport but was due in SYR a little before 2pm. I got there a bit ahead of time, a 3+ hour drive. I checked his flight on the arrivals board and it was listed as "On Time". Twenty minutes after the arrival time it was still listed as on time. I reasoned maybe that was touch down time and between taxiing to the terminal etc. he would be along any minute. Thirty minutes after arrival time it was still allegedly on time but still no Ian. Forty minutes after its scheduled time his flight was no longer on the board and there had been no announcements so I called his cell phone. He was still in JFK. The "On Time" flight had never left there.

What ensued after was almost 6 hours of the plane sitting in a queue to take off, returning to the terminal, repeat and finally having everyone get off to get a meal with the prospect of taking off later. After they had eaten they were finally told the flight was cancelled. In the end he rented a car, drove part way home while I drove the 3 hours plus back from Syracuse and he stopped to get a few hours sleep before driving the rest of the way. A very frustrating day for both of us.

The sole bright spot was that I had followed the advice I frequently give others and taken a camera, my Canon G11. I don't sit still well unless I'm at the computer editing photos so I spent a fair amount of the 6 hours I was at the airport wandering and looking for things to photograph between calls to Ian to see what was happening on his end. I came up with a few, all of which seem to work better as B&Ws. I think the one above is the best of the bunch, a small compensation for an otherwise frustrating day.

Fortunately he went back yesterday and all went smoothly. Had it been today the earthquake happened just as he would have been boarding and all the airports shut down to inspect runways for damage. He'd have been stuck in JFK again.

P.S. It was a very good visit. Thanks for coming Ian.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Living in a Liquid Sky

I've been feeling somewhat adrift lately. Maybe it's the politics that have been dominating the news. Maybe it's that even though I'm retired I'm not through "doing" in the world but am not really sure what direction I want my "doing" to go.

As usual when my psyche has lost its footing I headed for the woods yesterday to realize, to make real again, who and what I am, a child of nature. In one of his blog posts this morning Kirk Tuck talked about his love of portraiture and commented that when other photographers showed him their landscapes and photos of patterns and details it bored him. For him portraits are what photography is all about because in shooting portraits the subject interacts, looking back at the photographer.

For me photography is about connection too but I go to the woods and connect with nature. I consider my flower photos to be portraits. I'm not just trying to get a good enough photo so that the viewer can look at it and say "Oh, That's a ...(fill in the blank)". Rather I try, just as Kirk does with his human subjects, to get a real sense of the energy in my subject matter, that which animates it in that particular moment of its existence, the creative force that gives everything existence. We humans are part of nature too. We depend (although we often pretend that we do not) on nature to sustain us. It is good to spend time seeing the beauty in our fellow humans but we should also seek beauty in the rest of creation, to connect with the life energy in all things.

The photo above is a group of Pickerel Weed Leaves in Heron Marsh on the Paul Smith's Visitor Interpretation Center property, formerly a NYS project but now an outreach of Paul Smith's College. I've made three trips there in the last few weeks and there are other photos from those trips, 'portraits' of plants, mushrooms and flowers that I 'met' while there on my Flickr PhotoStream.