Tag Archives: Art

Grizzly Bear and Fall Colors

Grizzly bear and fall color, standing in warm afternoon light on the edge of a salmon stream. Ursus arctos, brown bear, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Grizzly bear and fall color, standing in warm afternoon light on the edge of a salmon stream. Ursus arctos, brown bear, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click the image to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

As I mentioned in a post a few days back, I am pretty excited about some of the grizzly bear photos I took on this most recent trip to Katmai National Park. Over the years I’ve spent so many weeks there, shooting and re-shooting photos of grizzly bears, that it can be difficult to really bring home some new images. This photo is one I was super happy with.

I took, of course, countless images of bears eating salmon, chasing salmon, catching salmon, standing around, sitting down, sleeping, fighting, playing, etc. But what I really wanted to capture was some dramatic images in dynamic weather or dynamic lighting situations. We were fortunate to have an abundance of both, Continue reading

The art of nature

Silhouette of a bald eagle, Kachemak Bay, Homer, Alaska.

A bald eagle headshot, silhouetted against a glowing sunset, Kachemak Bay, Homer, Alaska. Click the image to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

I read a great blog on art yesterday, by Paul Grecian. The subject was a play on the aural equivalent of the old adage, ‘if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it does it make a sound’. Paul takes the viewpoint that art is a human pursuit, and exists only when it has a human audience. “If there is no human to perceive it and translate the experience into an emotion, then there is no art” – I’m not so sure I subscribe to that idea, for a number of reasons.

I think art is a verb; art is something we do. The results of that process might be nice to look at, or not, or nice to listen to, but the essence of art is creating. The act of creating is where art lies, not the products of that process. And we are not at all the sole creators. An American Tree Sparrow calling the tune of the alpine country is as artful as Joshua Bell playing a Beethoven concerto. The dance of the Japanese Red Crowned Crane is glorious. A Bower bird’s building her nest? The song of the wolf pack over the frozen night air is as spell-binding as Aretha or Stevie on a good day, no? What distinguishes human art from the performances of our fellow creatures, other than our own ability (and endeavours) to relate to it?

Art is essentially play. Continue reading

Manufactured Landscapes – a film review.

Colorful duplex and garden, Orsono, Chile.

Colorful duplex and garden, Orsono, Chile. Please click the image to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

I’m depressed. I just watched “Manufactured Landscapes”, (2006) and if you haven’t seen it, I recommend you do. It’s a pretty intense documentary, featuring amazing photography by Edward Burtynsky. Burtynsky creates some powerful imagery of some of the most unlikely subjects – largely industrial wasteland. Coal mines, dams, factories (the opening shot shows the inside of a factory over three quarters of a kilometer long), parking lots, construction sites, destruction sites, you name it. It’s compelling stuff – the beauty in his photos is moving, yet discomforting. The reality he brings to the viewer is a bit overwhelming; this stuff IS our world, today.

The film is set in China, largely, though the narration points out that this industrial development is global; almost all of the products being pieced together in factories throughout China consist of raw materials shipped in from around the globe, then shipped back off to meet demand overseas. The stark reality here is that China’s environmental problem is our problem; insatiable demand from the “developed” world is altering not just the landscape, but the land itself. Continue reading

Environmental Discourse – a rant.

Trash bottles and construction equipment on construction site, Marietta, Atlanta, Georgia

Trash bottles and construction equipment on construction site, Marietta, Atlanta, Georgia

Hey Folks,

A word (or rant) about ‘pragmatists’.

How often do we hear people cloak their position in this language, smother their position and use the veil of ‘realism’ as a cover for rationale? The phrase “well, sure, that’s too bad, but we need to be pragmatic .. “ is so often merely an attempt to preserve the status quo. Rather than reach a little further, push a little harder, get a little creative, or honestly examine ourselves and the lives we lead, we fall back on language like “realistic” and “pragmatic” – neither of which solve a problem, and, ironically, express a position often seated on neither pragmatism or realism.

Conversations around environmental issues seem to invoke this veil all too often; “we’d love to leave the caribou alone, and let them roam on the coastal plain, but we need to be practical – realistically, we need oil.” An entire platform was built around this excuse for an unwillingness to change that supporters labelled “Wise Use” – it’s nonsense. Continue reading

Quaking Aspen bole blurs

Careful panning of the camera, during a long exposure, blurs the boles of these aspen, Wrangell-St. Elias national Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Quaking aspen, Populus tremuloides, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

I was looking through some older images tonight, and found this one from last fall. This is from a little stand of Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) that I’ve photographed a few times. I’d actually been looking for some wildlife to photograph, but was thwarted yet again in my quest, so, as the light faded, I headed for this stand of aspen. I had photographed them a number of times, but never really played with the camera panning technique here before. This was a situation where digital photography was a real help; I could take an image, review the frame on the LCD on the back of the camera, and see what I liked, or disliked, and figure out what I needed to do in order to create the kind of image I was looking for.

Now, generally I don’t post the ‘photo techs’ on images, because I think to do is largely useless information. Continue reading

Wendell Berry and Guy Tal

Winter in the Mentasta Mountains, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

A winter sunset over the Mentasta Mountains, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

“The effort to clarify our sight cannot begin in the society, but only in the eye and in the mind. It is a spiritual quest, not a political function. We each must confront the world alone and learn to see it for ourselves”. So says Wendell Berry, one of my favorite writers, in his book “The Unforeseen Wilderness”. The book, a dearly needed plea to save Kentucky’s Red River Gorge from a nefarious plan to dam it, was written nearly 40 years ago. I haven’t read the book completely yet, as I just bought it this afternoon. But I glanced at it, and this passage caught my attention. Berry continues on:

“the figure of the photographic artist – not the tourist-photographer who goes to a place, bound by his intentions and preconceptions, to record what has already been recorded and what he therefore expects to find, but the photographer who goes into a place in search of the real news of it”.* Continue reading

A new day on the way

Northern Lights over Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

I can’t overstate the import of what the world saw this past week. For the first time ever the people of the US elected an African American president, Barack Obama, and the value that such a moment carries is immeasurable. A bare 40 years have past since Bill Russell became the first African American head coach in the NBA. 10 years ago the world saw the first black CEO of a Fortune 500 company (how ironic is it that Franklin Raines became CEO of — wait for it — Fannie Mae!!!!) There are innumerable examples of things like this all highlighting the magnitude of this moment. But perhaps none more than this one; Continue reading