Thursday, June 30, 2022

July 2022: Grizzly Bear


Rather than me writing this month, I thought I would just share what I think is the most haunting grizzly bear story ever told.

In 1980, Tag and John Rittel were hunting in the Montana wilderness. They happened upon a battered old rifle, and nearby was a large rock onto which a horrific story was carved. The story was dated 1881, and was apparently carved over a period of days by a Mountain Man named Joe Baker. In those days Mountain Men in particular were not typically very literate, so much of it was phonetically spelled. I am going to correct that here to make it easier to read. The rock, in part, read as follows:

"Joe Baker - Grizz killed me God help - I hurt bad - leg chewed and is rotting - bear may come back - my rifle is broke in two - my ribs are broken - oh holy God let me die." 
The very last line of the rock reads: "I hear the damn grizz - she came back".

Today the rock is displayed at the Rittel family's Blacktail Ranch, near Wolf Creek, Montana.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

June 2022: Nesting Duck


Natural camouflage is incredible. This duck hen has chosen an ideal spot to nest. Even though I was pretty sure it was there, I was within several inches of it multiple times over the course of a week or so without ever seeing it.  It wasn't until I quite by chance happened to see her leave it to get water that I pinpointed its location. Now I am looking forward to seeing her ducklings in a few weeks, but in the meantime, she is as well protected as she could possibly be. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

May 2022: Something Different


It is a rare thing in this area to have such an old gravestone be so unweathered and clear, especially in a cemetery right off Lake Michigan where the windblown sand tends to wear away stone fairly quickly. But at some point in the last 150 years or so a tree sprouted and grew right on top of this grave, serving as a shield from the elements and protecting the inscription from erosion.  Nothing is permanent of course, and in time the tree will fall and the stone will erode away to its component minerals.  For now however, the memorial of Salmon Satterlee, born 1792, remains virtually as strong as the day it was put up in 1871.  

Thursday, March 31, 2022

April 2022: Rebuilding


Spring is a time of renewal and rebuilding. This Southern Ground Hornbill is gathering nesting materials. They are quite large birds, some approaching 4 feet tall.  It is traditionally quite an important bird in many African cultures, and the birds themselves are treated with great respect as a result.  Yet despite this esteem, they are now an endangered species due mainly to habitat loss. Renewal and rebuilding is a constant struggle and a critical function for these unique birds.

After having involuntarily taken most of the last half of the year off in 2021 due to injury, and with the pandemic seemingly waning, the sense of renewal and rebuilding that comes with spring is even more powerful for me this year.  It is going to be a busy summer here, the schedule is filling up quite quickly already, but hopefully it won't fly by too fast for me to enjoy it. Fortunately, I don't move quite as fast as I used to so that shouldn't be a problem! :D

Thursday, March 3, 2022

March 2022: Red Pines


When the white pines were clear cut from this area back in the lumber era, red pines were planted in their stead. Some of those stands are still around, and this one is about as old as they get. Sadly, a disease which is specific to red pines is making its way through the state. They are such a predominant tree in this area that if they were to be wiped out it would change the ecology of the area tremendously. 

In other news, spring is showing signs of coming early this year, despite what the groundhog said on Feb. 2.  I have never seen blackbirds return so early, and the cranes are already being heard! All of those things are two weeks earlier than usual.

Spring is very close now!!!

Monday, January 31, 2022

February 2022: Handsome is as Handsome Does.


They aren't the most attractive creatures on the planet, but from a photographic standpoint they have a lot to offer. Color, texture, form...all the basic ingredients of a good photographic subject, plus iridescent feathers as an added bonus.

February here in MI is usually full of grey, drab days. So I like to post some color in the mid-winter months to tide everyone over until spring.  Hopefully, this shot the bill. ;)

Friday, December 31, 2021

January 2022: The Art of the Glass


This is a Moser hand-cut crystal highball tumbler, beautifully designed by Rony Plesl. 

Typically one would use a lightbox for this sort of shot, but I wanted a little more "pop" to show off the lines, so I only used a backdrop in order to allow random dark elements to enter the reflections. The backdrop itself is also not typical. It is lightly and irregularly textured vinyl, which accentuates the scattering of light from the irregular lines of the cut crystal more powerfully than a traditional backdrop. Softer treatment just wouldn't show off the beauty of this glass as well, IMO. Some of the lines are so delicate that they would simply disappear.

As we head into 2022, I hope that it brings you all great joy, and that you are able to find and see the tremendous beauty all around us...not only in spite of the irregular lines which comprise our lives, but because of them as well! 

Happy New Year!!