Sunday, March 28, 2010

Grand Canyon, Grand Light

Here's the first Grand Canyon image I'll share with you, taken just before sunrise from a spot along the South Rim. Before sunrise. The light you see was reflected from the bright sky in the East, before the sun broke the horizon. Soft, warm, golden, sweet light. Sure, it helps that the subject being lit is breathtaking. But fine-art photography is about the quality of the light. It's about making the subject look amazing, without colored filters or Photoshop or gimmicks. It's about the light.

Arizona Desert in Bloom

Snow's cool. In December, January and February, snow's cool. By March, I'm struggling. You can hear it in my blog entries. You can see it in the images. Time for a break.

Photographer Jack Dykinga once told me to come to the desert in El Nino years, to see the wildflowers in bloom. 2010 seemed the perfect opportunity. So we made our travel arrangements, hoping to hit peak bloom sometime during our time in Arizona. We planned a route from Phoenix & Tucson east to the New Mexico border, then North up through mountain passes on the Coronado Trail, through the Grand Canyon and back to Phoenix.

Serious wildflower fans should watch the wildflower reports at DesertUSA and make last-minute travel arrangements. Since the real purpose of this trip was to get out of New England in March, we decided to take our chances with the wildflowers and plan an itinerary with lots of diversity. It was a good plan, and we got to preview most of the state and mark our favorite places "for next time".

Wildflowers? Yes, we found them where the reports said they were. We also found them lining the roadside, carpeting the hills, and crowding little gullies on sunny slopes. They don't get a long time to bloom, so they do it fast, and all at once. It's an amazing display of color, and so welcome in March.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Daffodil Festivals

Daffodils - Images by Susan Cole Kelly

After a long brown mud season, New England bursts into color with a burst of daffodil festivals. It's time for eye-candy! Here's a list of upcoming events and places where you can view and photograph thousands of daffodils

  • Wadsworth Mansion, near Middletown, CT Daffodil Day is April 18, call (860) 347-1064 to confirm
10-acre field of daffodils with stone walls & pond. Open to the public during daffodil season only, in late April.
A real festival with food, games, carnival rides & treats, surrounded by many acres of daffodils blooming in a woodland setting.

  • Laurel Hill Cemetery in Saco, ME is full of daffodils. It is one of the original turn-of-the-century garden cemeteries.


Includes a run, parade, kids events, etc
Antique cars, dog dress-up (in daffodils), hat decorating contest, picnic, pageant...
Activities for kids and thousands of blossoms
  • Paul Revere Park in Charlestown and North Point Park in Cambridge -
These two parks flank the Leonard Zakim (Bunker Hill) Bridge and have carpets of blossoms in late April.

New Hampshire
Breakfast, fishing derby, 8,000 bulbs in bloom

Rhode Island
Thousands of blossoms surround the Blithewold Mansion. Period fashion, teas, activities

Visit for a Daffodil Blog with lovely pictures around the world.  Some of the information here came from them!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Welcome Door

I pass this door, on a long-closed church, on one of my walking routes. Post office, grocery store, home - about a mile. The church is nothing special, just a brick building, once consecrated but now abandoned. It's the juxtaposition of the peeling paint with the big Welcome sign that grabs me. In my neighborhood there are some empty buildings, but many more that have been renovated or at least decorated with murals proclaiming pride in the long heritage of the area. Shipbuilding history, immigration, airport land-grab, then gentrification, economic slow-down. You can read about it all on the faces of the buildings. Welcome. I may be old, but I'm still here, and you're welcome.

Hawk Watch

It's getting noisy at my house. I open the door on warm(ish) mornings and am greeted with a chorus of tweets: house finches, goldfinches, mocking birds. So nice to feel the world is waking up. This morning I took a walk and spotted this red-tailed hawk, who is a neighbor. Of course, I hadn't brought my camera, and knew that if I went to get it, he'd be gone. So I walked for twenty minutes and found him still there when I finished. Went upstairs, grabbed my point-and-shoot, and found him again. He sat and posed for me for quite a while, seemingly content to sit in a tree and listen to the sounds of spring.

Now, back to those taxes! With a smile.

Monday, March 8, 2010


This is a photograph of Wildcat Ridge, shot through a birch grove in Pinkham Notch, NH, last Friday. A friend hiked up there on Sunday morning, shooting the sunrise light shining on Mount Washington. Other friends are taking pictures of early spring flowers, honey bees, rushing rivers, winter festivals, sunsets.... I'm looking out my window and seeing kids playing soccer in shorts & tees, in a park surrounded by bare gray trees. The inspiration isn't there. I'm going to have to work WAY harder to stay interested.

I love snow and I love spring. But mud season stretches on for two months, two very long months. Friends bird-watch, hike, and trek to extreme places to get spectacular views. I think I'll just hibernate for a while. Plan some trips. Do some office work. Do my taxes! The kitties are sleeping in the sunshine on the deck, truly an inspiration. It's nature's way, right? Until May, I'm hibernating.

Friday, March 5, 2010

White Mountain - Winter? Spring?

New Hampshire's White Mountains are so beautiful. In autumn, the bright fall foliage is beyond compare. In summer, the mountains and their streams & waterfalls offer a cool green respite from the heat. In winter, the snow-covered peaks against a bright blue sky are fresh and cold and gorgeous. The mountains offer a natural experience to millions of New Englanders and visitors.

I hadn't been to the Whites yet this winter, and was missing them. So yesterday I backed a lunch and my gear and drove up, intending to stay overnight somewhere. Winter, it seems, is over, and the snow doesn't look pristine. I found myself taking pictures like this - look at the buds on the birch trees - Spring is coming fast!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Beach or mountains?

It's snowing again, with a blustery wind and several inches predicted by morning. Where to go? Cape Cod lighthouses, where there's sure to be lots of fresh snow? Or the White Mountains, where the snow may be older?

I love lighthouses. Love the opportunity to mix natural light with manmade light. The blue of dawn & dusk, red at sunrise, gold at sunset. Add a red or white lighthouse beacon, reflections from the snow, and a fantastic ocean view, and it's hard to mess it up.

But I haven't been to the Whites all year! It's already March and I haven't been to the mountains! Crisp air, wind so cold it freezes your tears, the feeling of solitude, and did I mention the sweet, clear, beautiful cold? Yes, I'm going to the mountains. Gotta go.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Just one more...

You get home from a photo trip. You go through the new photos. You pick out your favorites. Town common with maple syrup buckets. Town common with flags. Babbling brook with snow. The next day or two, you go through the rest of the images. And there you find a gem. A tiny pond with a frosting of new snow. Aqua sky, delicate branches, a few reeds. No red, white, or blue. Just a quiet image you could look at for a while.

Maybe I'll paint the living room aqua.