Category Archives: Insights

Looking for Love in All the Right Places

OK, so it’s a play on the song, but it still rings true. When I am out in nature, I am seeking not only photographs, but the love that is out there in nature. By love, I mean that connection to natural things around me. I celebrate the sounds of babbling brooks, the light pouring through the leaves, the frost on dormant plants, the freshness of a crisp autumn day, as well as the bears running after the salmon, the elephants rejoicing in the waterhole. The photographs I make are all gifts that remind me of those experiences, images that I can return to to feel the love, so to speak. And sometimes, I find special gifts, like these hearts of nature – here in the cottonwood leaves of Capitol Reef National Park, and in the Presque Isle River in northern Wisconsin.

They are like little rewards to showing up and being present, and open, to what’s around me. And a reminder that life is good!

 

 

 

P.S. Check out my latest book, Expressive Nature Photography.

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Cleaning up my Act

Cleaning up my act, getting stuff done, losing weight, re-evaluating my goals, – we all know the phrases we use for the beginning of a new year. But this year, I can say I’m achieving at least one goal! It was quiet the month of December 2017 around my office, and I tackled my library of over 188,000 images and cleaned up the clutter. I have only three years to go now, but I have successfully eliminated over 12,000 images from the catalog. I feel lighter already. 🙂  Continue reading »

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Break it up – the pattern, that is

Detail of forest floor, Madeline Island, Wisconsin.

 

I’ve been editing a whole lot of photographs lately, my ‘slow time’ at home giving me the opportunity to process pictures and reflect on the year’s work. Through this process, I always evaluate what works, what doesn’t, etc. As I came across this image that was used in my most recent book Expressive Nature Photography, I was again reminded of the power of pattern, and the need to break it, often.

I was drawn to the pattern of the pine cones, above, but it was really that little piece of lichen that grabbed my attention. I call this ‘lagniappe’ in photography. Lagniappe is technically defined as “a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase; something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure.the surprise gift. (according to Merriam-Webster).  I take creative license with this definition, as I consider that little piece of lichen a ‘gift given to an artist from the universe, or Mother Nature.’ I remember first learning about lagniappe from a good friend, Dewitt Jones, in a lecture he once gave to a photo conference. I had always looked for it, and captured it, but hadn’t a definition for it – until then. So thank you, Dewitt!

Why is that piece of lichen so important? Because the brain is stimulated by contrast.  Think about it; a pattern can be visually dizzying after a while, like a carousel you can’t get off of easily. It  becomes monotonous to the brain, after a while; but if you can find something, -anything – of contrast, it actually serves to enhance the pattern, as that element will create the contrast the eye/brain need. That’s not to say you can’t photograph just the pattern, and I often do – they make great jigsaw puzzles – or wrapping paper (!), but more often than not, for a picture that can hang comfortably on a wall, I’ll find something to break that pattern up to create greater impact.

Maybe it’s just one yellow flower in a meadow of blue lupine; or a sea urchin shell amongst pebbles on the beach; or an interesting window in a stone or brick wall. Whatever it is, you’ll find that often the inclusion of something ‘different’ in the pattern will enhance the picture.

There’s a metaphor, here, too. Just like that contrast in a picture stimulates the mind, a little bit of break-up in the patterns of your daily life can make it a lot more interesting, too. 

Thanks for being here!

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National Park Week – Celebrate Nature!

Vista of Capitol Reef National Park and the Henry Mountains, Utah. (Brenda Tharp)

 

National Park Week is almost here! It’s the week of April 15-23, and the National Park Foundation and National Park service are partnering to offer free admission to hundreds of national parks (and monuments) across the USA on April 15-16th, so plan to get out and LOVE your parks on those days and beyond! Earth Day is also just around the corner, too – April 22 – and those same parks will also be offering free admission on April 22-23.  It’s a great time to get out and enjoy your park(s), but also to take CARE of the earth, and there are local events near you that you can get involved in surrounding Earth Day weekend. 

While I make some of my living from selling fine art landscapes/nature images, more important is that I am passionate about spreading the message of our need to preserve wild spaces, and wild animals and birds. I strongly support organizations that work with landowners, such as the Nature Conservancy, because I believe that in many cases, the land being used privately or commercially can be protected by working with the landowners, in both conservation and education.

I strongly support organizations that work tirelessly for wilderness protection, too, including those that go to ‘bat’ (i.e. court) in defense of public lands, wildlife, or land needing protection, such as Southwest Utah Wilderness Alliance who works so hard to protect Utah’s wilderness. I realize it’s not possible to donate to every group out there – my gosh there are so many – but we can do what we can, and also donate our time, a photo for fundraising or images for educational use. We can also blog and post on social media as a way to educate more people about the importance of preservation and conservation. It’s up to us to spread the word of the need for preservation and conservation, and our images can help do that. 

Love your park(s)!

 

 

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