Arches National Park, Utah

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“Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit…”

-Edward Abbey

Photo Location: Arches National Park, Utah

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Sparrows in Winter

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“I do not live happily or comfortably
with the cleverness of our times.
The talk is about computers,
the news is all about bombs and blood.
This morning, in the fresh field,
I came upon a hidden nest.
It held four warm, speckled eggs.
I touched them.
Then went away softly,
having felt something more wonderful
than all the electricity in New York City.”

-Mary Oliver, “With Thanks to the Field Sparrow, Whose Voice Is So Delicate and Humble”

 

Photo Location: Cedar County, Iowa

Earth Day 2016

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I shared this “dandelion”* photo on Facebook a few years back as part of an impromptu Earth Day post. Soon after, a friend questioned its appropriateness.

“Really?!!! A dandelion on Earth Day? Think about all the chemicals people pump onto their lawns trying to get rid of these things…”

This reaction caught me off guard. I’d chosen the image because I felt it portrayed a certain beauty and fragility emblematic of our natural world; and under the working title “Make a Wish…” I thought of it as a symbol of hope for a more sustainable future. I honestly hadn’t considered the extensive environmental damage caused by efforts to control what so many people consider a noxious weed. In my friends defense he wasn’t advocating these practices, but instead reminding me of this attitude and what results. And he had a point. Each year the mere sight of dandelions contributes to millions of gallons of herbicide being unleashed on the environment.

I’ve thought of this often in the years since, and have come to the conclusion that this actually IS a really good Earth Day image. Not just for the reasons I stated above, but for what my friend alluded to as well. Dandelions are actually extremely beneficial plants. They are edible and contain high nutritional value, and also contribute to soil health through nitrogen fixation. Yet most people fail to see this. Instead, they’ve been told that these are wretched weeds- something that cannot be allowed in a responsible homeowners lawn. Thus we must take any and all measures to eradicate them.

Why?

Because somebody said so? As children most of us loved dandelions. They emerged on those warm spring days when after a long winter we could finally run outside to play without need for jacket, hat and gloves. We smeared the yellow flowers on our faces, blew the seeds and watched with innocent wonder as they drifted off on the wind. But as we grew old, our attitudes were expected to change. Nature became something to be marginalized and controlled. Flowers were for window boxes and designated gardens, but shouldn’t dare emerge in our well-manicured lawns. Reasoning and truth and childhood sentiment didn’t matter. That’s just the way it was.

So much of what we do, so many social norms, come as a result of following blindly. An appliance quits working we send it to the landfill. That’s just the way things work. The same fate comes for clothes we no longer wear or toys our kids no longer play with. It’s just the way things are handled. We need a gallon of milk we drive two blocks to the grocery store, that’s just how things are done. Our work places are left to sit vacant overnight but still suck power for security lights, printers, microwaves and coffee makers on the ready. That’s just the way it goes. We get thirsty we buy a bottle of water. That’s just the way it is.

The way it is has got to change. Acknowledge it or not the way it is, the way we are living, has got us into a heap of trouble and it’s going to take a drastic and immediate shift in attitude to get ourselves out. It’s not about saving the Earth. The Earth will be just fine. This is a matter of respect and appreciating the opportunity we have to live here; and giving our children and grandchildren so much as a fighting chance to do the same.

This Earth Day, please take a moment and think about the world you wish to leave for future generations, reflect on your own daily choices and make the necessary changes to bring about a better end.

 

Iowa-based writer Catherine Haustein recently wrote an excellent piece celebrating the value of dandelions, and used this photo on her blog. Check that out here.

*I try to make it a point to acknowledge that this photo is not of a true dandelion. It’s actually a plant called goats beard, which looks almost identical only a bit larger. Sometimes the impression a photo gives and the emotion it stirs is all that really matters, so I call this one “Make a Wish…” and leave it at that.

Maroon Bells

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This sun-soaked mountain scene comes from the Maroon Bells Wilderness of White River National Forest, just south of Aspen, Colorado. The Maroon Bells (the peaks on the right) are said to be the most photographed location in Colorado, and by some accounts possibly even all of North America. The vast majority of these photos depict sunrise reflections of the mountains on Maroon Lake; a gorgeous sight and what I had come to witness myself. (See photo below.) However, with the need to get to the lakeshore around 3 a.m. to stake out real estate (literally hundreds of photographers line the shore each morning during peak season) I arrived the afternoon before and spent some time scouting. It’s always kind of nice to visit well known “trophy shot” type locations like this in less than ideal light, because it forces you to look around, work different angles and take your own approach instead of shooting the obvious standard vantage that has been done thousands of times over. I did enjoy the more traditional Maroon Bells shoot the following morning and was pleased with the results, but was also happy to walk away with a handful of photos like this one which I felt were a little more my own.

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As mentioned in previous posts, this week I’m conducting a little experiment. I’m trying to figure how it is that my WordPress analytics always seem to show that I get more “likes” on posts than I do actual views. With that in mind, I’m asking anyone who actually reads the posts to chime in and let me know that you’ve done so, simply by leaving a brief comment below. Don’t be shy, again, you can just type “Yes, I read it,” and be done; or you can offer your own thoughts or experiences if you care to elaborate. Check out my post from yesterday for further information (similar to this one, you have to read down a couple of paragraphs to get to the details,) and thanks for visiting my site!

 

And here is the more famous view of the Maroon Bells…

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Bryce Canyon National Park

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Today’s shot comes from Bryce Canyon in beautiful Southwest Utah. I shot this one in early 2013 and really like the repeating pattern in the photo of fins and hoodoos, contrasting with the shadows of the canyon and glowing orange in the late afternoon sun. As I’ve mentioned before, Bryce Canyon is said to be as spectacular at sunrise as it is sunset. I’ve yet to visit here in the early morning, but I definitely want to. It also offers some really unique hiking, another venture I long to experience but in my limited visits have only had time to barely scratch the surface.

In short, I desperately want to get back to Bryce Canyon, and I hope on my next visit I can give it the time it deserves. It’s crazy how the more I travel not only does the list of new places I want to see grow, but the list of those I want to return to does as well!

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As mentioned in previous posts, this week I’m conducting a little experiment. I’m trying to figure how it is that my WordPress analytics always seem to show that I get more “likes” on posts than I do actual views. With that in mind, I’m asking anyone who actually reads the posts to chime in and let me know that you’ve done so, simply by leaving a brief comment below. Don’t be shy, again, you can just type “Yes, I read it,” and be done; or you can offer your own thoughts or experiences if you care to elaborate. Check out my post from yesterday for further information (similar to this one, you have to read down a couple of paragraphs to get to the details,) and thanks for visiting my site!

Mono Lake

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I’ve long been fascinated by other worldly images captured on the shores of Mono Lake near Lee Vining, California. With vistas across the ancient lake basin to distant mountains and the odd mineral deposits known as tufas jutting from the water and lining the lakeshore, photographic opportunities abound. I finally got the chance to visit in the fall of 2014 while participating in Gary Hart’s Eastern Sierra Workshop, and as you can see on the evening this was shot we were blessed with placid waters and pastel colors at dusk. It was a very enjoyable shoot, one of my favorite evenings of the entire workshop (and though it hasn’t performed so great sales-wise, this is personally one of my favorite photos from that trip as well.) I look forward to one day revisiting Mono Lake as I believe it’s the kind of place that can drastically change in appearance based on conditions; and I would love to get a shot contrasting this one with a storm rolling off the nearby Sierra.

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As mentioned in yesterdays blog post, I’m doing a bit of an experiment this week. I’m trying to figure how it is that my WordPress analytics always seem to show that I get more “likes” on posts than I do actual views. With that in mind, I’m asking anyone who actually reads the posts to chime in and let me know that you’ve done so, simply by leaving a brief comment below. Don’t be shy, again, you can just type “Yes, I read it,” and be done; or you can offer your own thoughts or experiences if you care to elaborate. Check out my post from yesterday for further information (similar to this one, you have to read down a couple of paragraphs to get to the details,) and thanks for visiting my site!