On first impression, the swamp is chaotic. With its high canopy, most of the scene is dark with shadow. The day’s bright sunlight barely filtering through. Large tree trunks, felled by past storms lie at random angles and decay. Walking the boardwalk, I look down into the murky water for alligators, frogs and snakes. I hear a variety of bird calls, but looking around and above me, I cannot spot the birds.
I walk and observe my surroundings for more than an hour. My vision is drawn to the ferns, which spring from the decaying tree trunks and at times fill in a section of the swamp. I see the color, the pattern and the contrast of a narrow trunk, speckled with lichen. I have found a composition. As I work with the image later, I developed a painting. What do you think?
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My eyes were drawn to the stripes on these bamboo trunks. These tropical trees are so strong and sturdy, that they are used to make scaffolding in Hong Kong. I remember seeing them when I visited HK in 1998 — just a few years ago!
Every time I visit the Naples Botanical Garden, I notice something new. Do you have a favorite Botanical Garden nearby?
Reading “Is it safe to visit a Vineyard?” in the New York Times took my mind back to visits to the beautiful vineyards in Sonoma, California and the South Island of New Zealand. I found this vibrant view of a vineyard near Nelson and Tasman New Zealand in December 2014. My daughter Erin and I dropped in on several wine makers that weekend for a tasting of their Riesling and Chardonnay grapes. Keep in mind that December down under is equivalent to June in the northern hemisphere. We enjoyed mid-summer greenery and comfortable outdoor weather.
During this safer-at-home period of the Coronavirus lockdown, we think back on our travels and special experiences and wonder if we appreciate them now more than ever. We are all looking forward to resuming our travels when the pandemic is over.
This month we start a new year of sharing our creativity and goodness with each other. Today I took a nature walk in the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, Florida, hoping to see the world in a new way and make some new images with my camera.
When I spotted a newly unfurling fern, I thought, “What a perfect way to say Happy New Year.” The fern is as ancient as the dinosaurs*, yet today this new frond showed me the delicate shapes of new life: the unfurling spiral. In New Zealand I learned that the spiral of a new fern, the “koru,” is a symbol of eternity — as it combines the very old and the newest forms of life.
Today, my new year’s wish for you is to hold fast to the wisdom of the past generations, while you use your energy to create bold new connections, relationships and improvements. You can do it!
Most modern ferns are descended from the ferns that coexisted with the dinosaurs 40-50 million years ago. The first ferns appeared on Earth 360 million years ago.
Funny how it works. In our human culture, the females wear the jewels, curl and color their hair and purchase sparkly, provocative dresses — all an effort to be noticed by the right male. In the bird kingdom, it’s just the opposite. The females wear camouflage (dull) colors so they can protect the young in the nest, while the males get dolled up in breeding plumage to attract a mate.
Green is the color of Life and of Spring and Summer. This simple image made at the Naples Botanical Garden features patterns of green tonality. The accordion texture of the fan palm creates repeated and predictable patterns, while the shadows of the sunlit overlapping fans are instantaneous and contrapuntal.
This waterfall from the Hawaiian Island of Maui is getting me excited about my trip to Iceland, which is just around the corner — next Wednesday. Waterfalls are plentiful in a volcanic landscape, so I expect Iceland to bear lots of resemblance to Maui, except colder.
I’m ready for rain, waterfalls everywhere, a black sand beach and a few extras like puffins, the midnight sun and some glaciers. I’m packing lots of lenses and guide books and layered hiking clothes, and I am hoping for lots of good photography to share with you.
The New York Botanical Garden is currently running a stunning Chihuly glass exhibit, and now is great time to visit. You will find about a dozen installations while you also admire all the spring flowers in bloom and stroll in the beautiful grounds.
It’s no accident that the gifted glass artist Chihuly chooses botanical gardens like Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory or Fort Lauderdale’s botanical garden to display his work. Chihuly glass pieces often take their inspiration from nature, and mimic plant forms with great success.
My daughter and I agreed that this was our favorite piece at the New York Botanical Garden installation.