Today I wondered how to make my nature photography in the tropics relevant to people other regions — where alligators and palm trees don’t exist. Then I remembered the photographs I shot yesterday of the ferns in the Cypress Forest. Ferns are an ancient and diverse plant that spring to life next to decaying wood all over the globe. I grew especially interested and appreciative of ferns while hiking the New Zealand woods.
The South Island of New Zealand was the location where I learned that the growth tip of a fern that takes the shape on an unfurling spiral is a symbol of rebirth, regeneration, and eternity. It’s called the Koru. Thanks to this experience and inspiration in New Zealand, I revere the Koru as well.
Looking for alligators and a wide variety of birds in the Florida wilderness, many nature enthusiasts will pass by the ferns without a pause to admire them. I love to find a great composition that features the Koru — the spiral shaped tip of the fern, showing us for centuries the ability of life to regenerate. A positive symbol during our trying times. I believe that this local photograph can truly attain international relevance and appeal.
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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.
One of the best things about travel to a faraway land is learning about the symbols that derive from the natural environment there. When I visited New Zealand, I learned that the spiral shape celebrated in art and jewelry refers to the spirals found in the fern as it unfurls. Ferns are ubiquitous in the rainforests of New Zealand, and the ancient plants come in many varieties. As a new fern grows, you can see a delicate spiral unfurling as each leaf and stem grows. This spiral represents new beginnings.
On the other side of the globe, we learned about a different interpretation of the spiral shape. In Turkey, the spiral shape represents the Meander River, which curves back and forth and seems to go on forever. When visiting Ephesus in Turkey, we were told the spiral shape in repetition, or the Greek Key design, represents infinity.
In yet another trip, we were surprised to find the Greek Key design in the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Surely the ancient people from all these places were not comparing notes! It seems to me that the ancient people in all these distant spots on the globe had put together an observation of the intriguing shapes in Nature and thinking that joined Nature, Art and Philosophy. I choose to embrace both meanings in the spiral found in Nature: new beginnings and eternity. Both concepts bring me optimism, peace and happiness.
As a landscape photographer, I am drawn to waterscapes everywhere I travel — from New Zealand to Hawaii and many other scenic locations. I find myself watching the surf, the rocks, the sunsets, the weather and the natural vegetation around the world.
When I encountered this scene in Maui recently, I was intrigued by the island — the way the surf had eroded it, the way the surf continued to interact with it and the vegetation that grew on it.
The lava island in Maui reminded me strongly of a rocky island that caught my eye in New Zealand in 2014. The NZ island was also constantly buffeted by the surf within a bay, and supported an interesting crop of vegetation. The two islands actually look quite different, but my fascination with them made a strong echo in my mind.