Old Fashioned Childhood

Many people are saying the pandemic is helping us to appreciate the old fashioned pleasures of summer — like sitting with family on the porch, riding bikes in the neighborhood or playing board games. Since most of us are slowing down and hanging out at home rather than jetting off to faraway vacation spots, we feel like we are enjoying a summer from a bye-gone era.

So, yesterday I glanced out the front window to see the little girl next door playing with her dolls. She spread out a blanket in the shade under a tree and was sitting there by herself with three dolls. For me it was a poignant flashback to when my daughters (now in their 30s) played with their dolls. I remember when they arranged a little tea party for the dolls and the dog too.

Seeing little Josephine by herself, letting her imagination provide the morning entertainment, brought me such joy. I ran for my camera and then approached Josephine and her mom for permission to take some photos. I was grateful to capture this special moment. Josephine was surprised to hear that I had three little girls a long time ago. She asked if I still had their dolls. I do.

Josephine arranges her dolls’ hair as they enjoy some time on the blanket together. One of her dolls is named “Josephina.”

Finding Roots in England

Looking back at travel photos from past trips, I ask myself why a certain image resonates for me. I’m drawn to this midsummer scene in bucolic England, in a photograph taken on July 4, 2018. First, compositional elements are pleasing: the bright reflection on the Wear River brings the eye directly to the rowing crew in their boat, and the bridge in the background gives the boat implied direction through the image. Second, the greenery and still water on an ideal summer’s day, lends feelings of tranquility, perhaps even memories of a simpler time and an escape from society’s turmoil. Third, happy memories of an overseas trip seem even sweeter during this time when travel is forbidden.

#crew, #england, #wear, #riverwear, #wearriver, #durham, #durhamuniversity, #crew team, #rowing, #bucolic, #durham, #UK, #travelphotography, #why, #roots, #georgetownuniversity, #family, #memories, #pride
Rowers on the River Wear in Durham England, July 4, 2018. This scene inspires reflections on the long tradition of crew teams, in USA and England.

But, I realize there is more meaning behind my positive feelings for this image. Sixteen years ago my daughter rowed crew for Georgetown University. I watched her crew team on the Potomac River in Washington DC, and I’m proud of her many achievements. While I saw a flashback of my daughter in this scene, I also saw her place in a long history of rowing that goes back many years and across the ocean to the U.K. In this moment, I had crossed the ocean to a foreign country, but I felt like I had stumbled upon my family roots.

I believe it is true that as a photographer I will capture an image that instantaneously appeals to me, but further reflection reveals more meaning. I’m sure you can think of images that resonate for you.

Creative Processing

When travel restrictions keep a photographer at home for months at a stretch, it’s a perfect time to exercise one’s creativity with new ways to process images in the archives. On this sunny day in June, I pulled up one of my favorite images of 2020: my daughter and son-in-law on a dog sled in Wyoming with a stunning background.

I was so happy that my dogsled, traveling just behind Courtney’s sled stopped in an opportune spot for me to frame her sled before tall pines, snow-capped mountains and a happy sky, blue with puffy clouds. And for just one second, Courtney and her husband Scott looked up at me and smiled. The triangular composition gives the scene balance and also offsets the white dogs.

#jackson, #jacksonhole, #thingstodo, #winter, #winterfun, #dogsled, #topaz, #adobe, #sonyalpha, #stayathome, #processing, #photography, #family, #creativity
Processed in Photoshop and Topaz Simplify, this photograph gained a painterly effect. I believe that the viewer can more easily place themselves in the scene when the faces are modified. I hope you agree that this image is more than just a family photo now.

Our winter adventures in Jackson Hole will give us some interesting options for holiday cards this year, and maybe a 2021 calendar. I’m sure your photographs from your family trips bring you joy at this time.

Thanking the War Heroes

It’s Memorial Day, and I’m with my daughter in Newport, Rhode Island, where ironically I discovered a family tie to Newport more than 200-years-old. Have you heard of Oliver Hazard Perry, the Naval Commodore who successfully fought the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812? A statue in his honor stands in a central park in Newport, and his family gravesite (photo below) is just down Farewell Street from my daughter’s house.

#Oliverhazardperry, #navy, #war, #warhero, #naval, #history, #ancestor, #honor, #gravesite, #family, #thankyou
Family gravesite of Oliver Hazard Perry, Navy Hero of the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812, located a short walk from my daughter’s home in Newport, Rhode Island.

I got curious about our family ancestry when I found some intriguing papers in my mother’s files after her death last year. I learned that my paternal grandfather was raised by his grandmother, Virginia Theresa Perry, after his mother died young. Virginia told stories about her famous cousin Oliver Hazard Perry. When I began to read about OHP, my research put the spotlight on Newport, and I was able to learn even more on a visit to the Newport Historical Society.

But enough about me and the Counselman family from Baltimore. So many of us Americans have descended from the pilgrims who braved the seas and landed in New England. Or perhaps your family came from Africa or a more recent immigration. We must honor today all the brave men and women who did their part, large and small, in forming and preserving this “land of the free and home of the brave.”

Big Horn Sheep Family

Continuing with our family theme during this pandemic as we gather only in family groups, I have some recent wildlife photographs to share with you from Wyoming. My friends and I spotted a mother with her yearling as well as male Big Horned Sheep nearby. The location was the Elk Refuge in Grand Teton National Park in Jackson Hole, a wonderful place to visit in any season.

#bighornedsheep, #mother, #yearling, #family, #wildlife, #wildlifephotography, #sony, #sonyar7II, #200-600mmlens, #nature, #naturephotography, #nationalpark, #nps, #grandtetonnationalpark, #jacksonhole, #winter, #elkrefuge
Big Horned Sheep, a mother and her yearling in Grand Teton National Park. February 2020.
#bighornedsheep, #ram, #sheep, #wyoming, #wildlife, #wildlifephotography, #nature, #elkrefuge, #jacksonhole, #family, #horns, #nationalpark, #gtnp, #grandtetonnationalpark
Male Big Horned Sheep looked up from its grazing on the rocky hillside as horses passed by. Image captured with Sony ar7II and Sony 200-600mm lens in Grand Teton National Park. 2020

Best wishes for continued good health to all as we stay home and minimize the spread of the Coronavirus.

Osprey: Shelter in Place

As our boat passed this Osprey family on their nest Sunday evening, I thought about our human families adjusting our lifestyles to “shelter in place,” and slow the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.

You have to admire the parental behavior of these beautiful Osprey. One parent will hunt for fish and bring it back to the nest to feed the family, and then tear apart the prey and feed the baby. Both parents keep a close eye out for any perceived threats coming close, such as bald eagles or humans. You can see the yellow eyes of mother Osprey on the right, hoping we will keep our distance. We were farther from the nest than it appears, as I made this photo with a 400mm Sony lens.

osprey_family_nest
Osprey pair bring food to their baby in the nest near Naples, Florida. March 2020

Who can resist the big amber eyes of the baby Osprey looking at the camera with naive curiosity. Babies of every species are precious.

While you curb your outside activities and exposure to other humans this month, please join our community following this blog. We love photography, nature, wildlife and travel and all four put together. I will keep posting to keep us connected. Feel free to comment and recommend this blog to your friends.

Back to Blogging

Apologies to my loyal followers and friends for the 6 week gap in blog posts. I have needed a healthy dose of personal time away since my mother’s death on July 17. There was not only grieving, but also the time consuming job of sorting Mom’s belongings as we had to vacate her apartment in record time.

Today, I’m back to processing photos and back to blogging too. I finished processing 26 family portraits I made as a volunteer at a local non-profit.

These brave parents love raising children, as they have seven!

There must be a few helpers among the older children in this family to help the parents manage.

Next week, I’ll be back to landscape photography, as we will fly off to Calgary and explore the Canadian Rockies: Lake Louise, Jasper and Banff. Stay tuned!

A Mother’s Love

When I photograph the children at Children’s Hospital, I am always impressed with the strong spirit of the children and their parents. Most of the children I meet are fighting a life threatening illness, and it’s a stressful time.

I was particularly impressed with this mother and son. I could easily read the love in the mother’s heart through her eyes and hands.

mother, motherandson, portrait, family, protect, strength, flashesofhope,
A simple gesture can say so much. Look at the way this mother holds her son in the portrait.

Beautiful mothers

As I continue to process the portraits I made at Childrens Hospital last week, I find myself gazing into the eyes of the brave hearted children and their beautiful mothers. These mothers are exceptional because they have risen to the challenge to inspire calm in their children as they hold fast to enduring hope for better days ahead.

#flashesofhope, #love, #mother, #cancer
Mother and son.

They hold firmly onto their dreams for a bright future for their children, even as they balance private worries they dare not speak. In their eyes, you can read the strength they embody.

#portrait, #flashesofhope, #mother, #cancer, #love
Their eyes.

The mother, the father, the grandmother, the visiting uncle, the little sister — the intensity of their love is a big part of the cure.

My daughter’s wedding

There comes a time when a professional photographer cannot function as such. One of those times is when she is the mother of the bride.  So much planning, so much coordination, so much emotion and excitement when it all comes together, and one more thing … You just have to live it, to experience the day, to take it all in.

For Courtney and Scott’s wedding, I put the photography responsibility in the able hands of Aimee Rossi, of Naples Florida, and she proved herself hardworking, skilled, talented and ultimately successful. As both a mother and a photographer with high standards, I am so very grateful. Let me say thank you to Aimee, and share her name with future families looking for this same quality. Here are two of Aimee’s photos:

#wedding #naples #aimeerossiphotography
Courtney is ready to walk down the aisle here in Naples, Florida.

#wedding, #aimeerossiphotography, #love, #beach, #naples
Courtney and Scott as husband and wife after their Naples wedding.