Category Archives: Photography

Eclipse 2017

We’d been chatting about those cardboard pinhole thingies we both remembered making in school so you didn’t fry your retinas by staring directly at the sun during an eclipse.

It hadn’t crossed either of our radar screens that we should have made a plan this time to buy some eclipse-safe glasses, so we decided to just head down to the beach and experience what we could in the changing light. This basically involved getting too hot while the sun was still fully visible, schlepping up to the house to change into tank tops and shorts, then feeling chilled as the sun gradually slipped behind the moon.

As once-in-a-lifetime experiences go, it was proving somewhat underwhelming.

That is, until Inspiration slapped Rick upside the head.

“Hey, look what happens when you make a basketweave shadow with your hands!”

In a blink, Rick is trotting up the stairs towards the house, leaving me on the beach with my iPhone, miffed with myself that I hadn’t figured out earlier that a 90% total eclipse at 10:00 a.m. during low tide was going to offer a photographic “golden hour” from an angle I had never seen before, and never will again.

My inner photographer was seriously vexed with my outer adult worker-bee who had failed to anticipate such a stupendous opportunity, so I punished myself by shooting mundane seaweed clumps…

… and the patina of abandoned oyster shells that glowed with a notably unique softness I hadn’t noticed on our beach before.

A twilight filter cast on things only normally recognizable (to me) in the bright eastern light began to shift the mood…

… which took another hard left turn as Rick jogged back onto the beach loaded with a hand full of perforated kitchen utensils.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what a 90% eclipse looks like as seen through the lens of our new spatula, set against the fabric of our black beach chair.

The slotted soup skimmer came in a close second.

And that was that.

Valuing our eyesight above the experience of actually seeing the eclipse with our own eyes, we settled in to absorbing the event with our bodies (minus eyeballs) and hearts.

I started playing with my iPhone camera again.

It wasn’t until this afternoon, when I started casually flipping through the shots I had taken, that I realized my camera had been recording WAY more than I knew.

This is the shot that brought it home.

What was that mysterious blue crescent that presented itself?

I zoomed in for a closer look and realized that not only had we been graced with proof of wonders we could not see with our own eyes in the moment…

… but that this is true on all kinds of levels, if only I had the eyes to see.

I started going through all the photos I shot this morning, and the signs were everywhere.

The evidence of amazingness is all around us, even as we struggle to see things in the most ordinary of ways.

God, give us eyes to see…

… and hearts that remain soft enough to be filled with wonder and gratitude.

Got My Eyes On You

We’ve landed in a very friendly community where all the neighbors watch out for each other.

I've Got My Eyes on You-4Or in some cases, they just watch each other, which is not at all the same thing.

I've Got My Eyes on You-1He and Winston have been scoping each other out for months, chittering and whining and generally taunting each other from a harmless distance.

And I am quite sure this squirrel is a “he,” don’t you agree?

Think we’re going to call him “Willy.”

Nikon D5100 DSLR

Love our Nikon D-5100 camera…

Nikon 55-300mm Nikkor Zoom Lens

…and Nikon 55-300mm autofocus zoom lens!

It’s all about the little details.

I've Got My Eyes on You-1-5And the tall ones.

Poor Winston. He’s been trying to extend his optical range by peering over fences since the beginning.

However, he remains somewhat limited in his wildlife viewing options, given his lack of wings, climbing gear, or the opposable thumbs necessary to hold our fabulous Vortex Diamondback binoculars or cherished Nikon body and lens.

Vortex Diamondback 10 X 42 binoculars

Fanny Bay Eagle-1Of course, in the circle of life around here, there’s always someone watching the watchers.

New Year Frostbow

What would January in Teton Valley be without me yelling, “Quick! Where’s the camera?!” and dashing off into the fresh snow in my slippers with no coat on?

Drop-dead gorgeous soft rime frost will do that to a person, and given the warm creek that flows year-round through our property, frost and a sock-free dash or two into below freezing temperatures, camera in hand, are somewhat predictable.

New Year Frostbow-1I did not see this coming, though.

New Year Frostbow-2This was not a rainbow. As far as I can tell, it was either:
a) magic
b) a sign from God that 2014 is going to be an amazing year
c) a frostbow, or
d) all of the above.

New Year Frostbow-3It was shimmering in a straight vertical shaft in the field directly to the south of us, bathing everything in its path with a surreal, other-worldly hue that insisted on the beauty and life in all things.

New Year Frostbow-4If you want to get technical, it was caused by the setting sun filtered through a fine dusting of frost particles drifting in ahead of the snow clouds advancing from the south.

New Year Frostbow-6I prefer to think that we live in a magical snow globe of wonder and grace.

New Year Frostbow-5Rick got outside quickly in his big snow boots and coat and took over camera fun from deeper snow vantage points while I dashed back inside to snag another layer.

I didn’t dilly-dally over footwear, though.

New Year Frostbow-7
May 2014 be a year of profound joy, peace, and presence for us all.


Autumn Versus Spring Snow

Pop quiz:

How can you tell if a photo is of the first snow of autumn or the last snow of spring?Fall Versus Spring Snow-1
As in all good questions in life, the answer is, “It depends.”

In this case, it depends on who is answering the question.

Teton Valley snowboard instructor: “My heart tells me, because my heart always breaks at spring snow, dude. No more shreddin’ the gnar for, like, forever, and time to start waiting tables at the Jackson Hole Rich Kids’ Summer Camp. The heart knows, dude.”

Winston: “Enter into the nowness of snow, my friend. Give up this illusion of time, and you will find peace and joy.”

Teton Valley naturalist/world-renowned National Geographic docu-photographer (as read by David Attenborough): “The heavy snows of Winter in the south end of the glorious Teton Valley crush all that would stand in the path of Her dominion. Thus, in the first image we recognize this as autumn by the earthy aroma of flora returning to the rich earth from whence it emerged mere months ago, and by the delicate autumnal shards of sweet summer grass yet standing, sentinels for the storms ahead that will bend their knees in submission, forcing them, too, to release their precious remaining life force in the compost circle of life.”

Spring Grunge (11 of 14)
Canadian answer: “It just looks different, eh?”


Pink Moon in Paris

Please… if anyone knows where to apply for a parallel life, tell me.

I’ll pay, even for a partial extra day.

It’s just not possible to live it all and record even some of it, all in the same 24 hours.

Pink Moon-1A thousand moments crush in, with barely time to breath in the big ones before the next day dawns.

And the next, and the next, and the next…



Le Jet Lag

There are a thousand posts that should, and with any luck/discipline will, come before this one, retroactively.

For instance, “April in Salt Lake City” doesn’t normally come with its own song, except for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsal we accidentally stumbled on. However, it’s where the dreamlike state began in our British Airways’ First Class pods (a first for us!), so there are two posts in the queue right there.

Jet Lag-3
And then there’s the post that will be called, “Finding Your Paris Apartment with a Misnamed Door In A Foreign Language, With a Sweet Cab Driver Who Speaks No English at Eleven at Night, in The Dark Because You Can’t Identify A French Light Switch.” This will be a particular favorite of mine.

Extreme inline skating aeronautics, how to buy a multi-day Paris museum pass (and why you might not want to), and why Boursin cheese is such a great calorie deal…

These will all wait for another time.

Maybe I’ll get to them on the flight home. Or not.

Today, it was a mildly hallucinogenic experience with three big takeaways, the first two thanks to the phenomenon known as “le jet lag.

Jet Lag-2
1. When in a foreign land, completely sleep-deprived and in need of a reality anchor, embrace cultural stereotypes for the sake of stability.

Yes, this is a multiple-choice option. You can either go with “package-ladened European swallow dad,” or, “white-haired, red-scarved Parisian cafe sitter in April.”

The “Jet-Lag Cafe” was purely coincidental.

I’m pretty sure.

Jet Lag-1
2. When in Paris and completely under the influence of le jet-lag, choose a companion who is a head or two taller than most of the local inhabitants, extremely handsome from all aspects, and readily identifiable in a crowd. And then ask him to wear the chic burnt orange sweater that you gave him for Christmas.

3. Even if it feels a little chilly when you head out in the morning to mosey around the city, wear sunscreen on your upper chest.

See?! Who foreign said travels were difficult?


Woman Cave, Montana Style

My editorial sense dictates that using the word “idyllic” in this first sentence would be cliché, except for the presence of the deer.

girl cave-14

But in addition to the over-flowing buckets of sweet geraniums, yellow wicker chair and matching door frame of the front porch, there was a young deer that greeted us as we approached.

There was also a glorious peahen.

Who had adopted the sweetest little fluff ball of a baby Canadian gosling.

So let me start again.

This is Carol Sue’s idyllic Bitter Root Valley woman cave she created for herself and her card-game and book club gal pals.

We visited her with our friend (and Carol Sue’s sister) Kathy last August. The sweet wee cabin lives behind the house and uphill from the apple orchard Carol Sue shares with her husband and three dogs.

Now that you know she’s the creator and owner of such a space, I have a question for you. And no peeking before you answer, okay?

What color blouse is Carol Sue wearing in the following photo?

girl cave-4

This isn’t Carol Sue.

It’s one of hundreds of feminine touches sprinkled throughout the cabin that Carol Sue has pulled together from garage sales, flea markets, and antique stores.

But I wanted you to have a chance to decide on your answer before showing you the photo of Carol Sue.

girl cave-10

This is Carol Sue.

And of course her blouse is pink.

The moment this little cabin understood it was not going to be a garden shed after all but rather was going to be transformed into a girlie haven, it started to ooze estrogen.

I wanted to lick the walls.

girl cave-5

I could spend three weeks just gazing out of the immaculately clean windows, open to the hilltop breeze that waved the gauzy perfect curtains in a salute to all things female.

girl cave-3

This is Carol Sue’s dog, trained to welcome on command.

I’d like to direct your attention to her original “recliner” arm chair. Feel the need for a more relaxed incline for your behind?

girl cave-2

Prop your feet up on the matching ottoman and push backwards. The whole chair tips back, but instead of planting the back of your head into the wall behind you, the chair lands gently on the wooden support mounted along the bottom back edge.

It’s a trick chair for women: pain-free trick, big treat.

girl cave-1

The pink camouflage scoped rifle is a nice touch, don’t you think?

Don’t worry… Carol Sue obviously adores the critters on her property, so I think Bambi and the birds out front are safe.

girl cave-7

My windows aren’t this clean right after I’ve cleaned them.

Okay, Rick does our windows, but sometimes I help by irreparably smudging and streaking the insides while he actually cleans the outsides.

girl cave-11

I’m a sucker for anything that’s white and red enamel, especially if it’s propped up on a simple white-washed stool, just because.

girl cave-6

I SO coveted her Underwood. I considered shoving it under my T-shirt and hoping she wouldn’t notice, but then I remembered the gun.

girl cave-8

Inspired touches live in literally every corner…

girl cave-9

… and on every shelf.

I’m also fond of chicken wire, although I’ve never thought to use it to face a cabinet.

girl cave-15-1

Even “La Toilette” out back is pristine and lovely.

girl cave-12

And handy for when the beer kicks in.

I want a woman cabin.

girl cave-13

Heck, I’d settle for just the hammock and the outhouse.