When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe.

- John Muir, 1869

Immersivity

Submerged

Submerged WA-9916 | Nikon D700, 17-35, Caribbean Sea near Little Cayman Island

After years of trying various earbuds for listening to music, I finally invested in a nice pair of over-ear headphones this year.   It is amazing how much they can transform the listening experience.   I found myself discovering new elements of songs I have owned for years.   Of course, this isn’t really any revolutionary discovery as any audiophile would probably tell me, and I already knew.  The years just had me opting for portability and convenience over the full experience.  There is a big difference between knowing it, and feeling it.   It did get me thinking about one particular aspect of the new experience, and that is how immersive the music feels simply by changing the method and tool I used to access it. (more…)

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Cold new year morning

Lake St. Clair pictures

New Year Twilight 2015

It was quite peaceful out at 6:45 am on the first morning of the new year.   As I drove out to the lake with my camera gear in the back of the car, I imagined a large percentage of people sound asleep or perhaps just getting home from their festivities of the prior evening.   Not much traffic on the roads, and when I did encounter someone, I immediately thought “what the heck are you doing up?”

Heading east, I found myself evaluating the sky for potential.   Clouds are good, a fairly solid ceiling with open horizon even better.   Morning light has been quite good the past few mornings while out dog walking.  Conditions are looking promising.

It is still quite dark out when I arrive to my spot, just the faint glow of nautical twilight on the horizon.   The big question on my mind was how much ice, if any, existed on the lake.   I had been out here a week prior, and there was no ice, clear sky.   The weather in Michigan had decided to start acting like winter again the past week.

My first indication of what conditions would be like was when I cracked open my car door to start getting my camera gear.   It was like I opened a vault door to a wind tunnel.   I immediately closed my door and tore open my packs of hand warmers. (more…)

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Twenty Fourteen

This will be my 8th year in reviewing some of my favorite images from the past year and participating in Jim Goldstein’s list that expands every year.   I went back and read some of my previous years posts and made note of a pattern of comments and expectations.   I never quite produce the amount I had hoped to, and I just need to get over it.   Twenty Fourteen was really no different.   I move at my own pace, and bits of life tend to dampen or accelerate my creative impulses.   The strange thing is, I have read this from a number of people about 2014 and wonder if there is something in the water!

If there is one advantage, I didn’t have to spend hours upon hours sorting through photographs to pick my 10 favorites! :-)   So I leave you with my favorites from Twenty Fourteen.   I thank those of you who have offered continued support of my work through your visits, comments, social media kudos, and of course those who have purchased my photography.

lake st. clair photos

“Light of the Ice Phoenix” WI-9828, Lake St. Clair, Jan 2014 | Nikon D800, 14-24 mm

 

Light of the Ice Phoenix

Anyone who has visited my pages during winter time knows I spend a little time out on the ice of Lake St. Clair, a moderately sized lake that is between the Great Lakes of Huron and Erie.   Winter sunrises are always more dramatic this time of year.   This combined with the changing landscape of a frozen lake makes for enough compelling subject matter to get me out of bed and brave the often brutal cold winds here.

I saw a bit of a story in this photo.  Of course the Phoenix is often associated with the Sun, fire and flame, but I imagined a different take here.  One where the bird rises from the ice as the sun warms the day.   Whether this was creativity or hypothermia taking place, I’ll leave that as an open question.

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Clinton River restoration

Clinton River colors

Clinton Riverside colors | Nikon D800, Nikon 24mm T/S

This year had some more good news for the Clinton River, where I often photograph.    It is quite close to where I live, and has a lot of great hiking and biking trails along it.   A dedicated effort from multiple groups have been working to restore another aspect – making way for canoeing and kayaking.    Small stretches have been open for paddling for years, but always hindered by a lot of downed trees, major log jams, and not a lot of access points.

Within the past couple of years, two new natural boat launch points have been established within a 5 minute drive from my house that I look forward to utilizing.   Several local groups are working to clear more stretches of the river for easier navigation.

The river has a past of being quite polluted from a lot of dumping from industry to the north.  In fact, this photo was made just about 1/4 mile from a EPA Superfund site.    Fortunately a lot is turning around for the river.  It is significantly cleaner, and is opening up more opportunities to explore nature in the area.

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Fall is over?

Fall Red Oak TR9895

Fall Red Oak, Highland Recreation Area, Highland, Michigan

Hello, my name is Mark, and I am a bad blogger.   There, now that I am on the road to recovery, I can take another piece of low hanging fruit for post fodder and whine about the weather.   Yeah, it turned pretty cold here today, the harsh reminder that Fall is a fickle beast in these waning days.   After the colors have gone and the leaves have dropped, they may as well call it Winter anyway.

Quite frankly I have had quite a bit of writers block, not quite sure what to write about anymore – at least something I think worthy of reading anyway.    And with the colors gone, it makes me reflect back on this past fall and what I accomplished photographically anyway.   (more…)

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You Can’t Photograph Nature

Fall Colors Highland Recreation Area

Fall Colors, Highland Recreation Area, Michigan | Nikon D800, 80-400 VR, multiple exposure (x3)

I thought I would share a short, yet thought provoking story that happened to me recently.   In a brief conversation I was having with someone (let’s name them “Sam” ) about how their vacation went.   Sam was describing how they hiked to some remote area of the Appalachians.  Eventually pictures from the trip came up and Sam remarked “Nature wasn’t meant to be photographed.”   Sam didn’t know my background in nature photography, so I asked what was meant by that statement.

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Young bucks sparring

Young bucks sparring

Young bucks sparring, Sterling Heights, Michigan | Nikon D800, 500mm f4

This field is about a 2 minute drive from my house.    I normally could just walk here, but it is not always a final destination for me.   I noted quite a few deer gathering in this field one evening and told myself I was going to start checking it out in the mornings before I head anywhere else.

First time – total bust.   Second time – one deer, scampered off.   Third time was this past weekend where about 8 of them were in the field – 4 bucks and 4 does.   Worth sticking around a bit.  Most of the bucks were pretty young, and one elder 6 pointer that tended to just herd the does around.

Despite all the car and human traffic in the area, they are still a bit skittish, and I ended up photographing them from my car window.    I intend to try some more outside of the car.   Like most wildlife photography, patience pays off when you let your subjects get comfortable with your presence.  Eventually some of them wandered within decent range of my 500 mm lens.   And of course, the young bucks need to do a little sparring practice. (more…)

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Cloud backup of photos

Alaska Spruce and Fall Color

Alaska Spruce and Fall Color

I recently received an email reminder that my cloud backup subscription at CrashPlan was about to expire.   Wow, my initial 2 years subscription has flown by.   I started looking into cloud backups back then.   My previous offsite storage method was to store a hard drive offsite, and periodically bring it home to update it.    I realized I was not very religious about doing that, and the gaps between backups were leaving me vulnerable to loosing something.   I wanted something similar to Apple’s Time Machine, where I could basically set it, and have it run automatically in the background.

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Resurrecting Shorelines

Driftwood at Whitefish Point beach at sunset, Michigan | Nikon F5, Tokina 20-35 f/2.8, Fuji Velvia 50 film

Driftwood at Whitefish Point beach at sunset, Michigan | May 1999 | Nikon F5, Tokina 20-35 f/2.8, Fuji Velvia 50 film, repro by Nikon D800

Shorelines have been one of my favorite areas to photograph for as long as I can remember.  So it seemed natural for me to gravitate to my “Shorelines” folder in my cabinet to see if I could resurrect a few slides via my D800 method.   I picked a few from pretty far back in 1999 that cover shores in the Great Lakes to the shores of the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac. (more…)

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Turtle Hatchlings

I am still digitizing some old 35mm slide photographs via my D800, and this series I came upon is from 2002.   We had a few yards of dirt delivered to our backyard, and covered it with a tarp to keep it from blowing around too much.   That tarp sat undisturbed for awhile due to the intended projects being postponed.   I remember lifting the tarp one day to find a nest of eggs.

turtle hatchling in egg

Blandings Turtle in Egg | Nikon F5, 105 f2.8 macro lens, Fuji Provia 100F film, photographed Aug 2002, – digitized by D800 July 2014

We had only been in our house for a couple years, enjoying our proximity to the woods and the critters we encountered.   This however, was a real treat.   I remember not knowing exactly what kind of eggs they might be at the time, they seemed too big for a snake, so I felt pretty comfortable in assuming they were turtle eggs.   I left them alone and placed the tarp back how it was.

Every day I would go and take a peek, monitoring their safety and progress.   Upon one inspection, I saw some eggs missing and one of them starting to crack open.   The missing ones may have fallen victim to a predator.   I could see some slight movement in the cracked one, so I grabbed my camera. (more…)

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