Flying feathers, beaks and chickens:

Harley is the baby of the house; he inches toward the screen door on his belly.  He is jet black with only a patch of white fur on his chest and twenty-four karat gold eyes. 

He moves slowly towards the sound of the wind, tossing leaves on the driveway’s blacktop.  It’s very much like watching an oozing ink spot spilling across the aged hardwood floor making a cleaver sneak on its prey.

The sun light splinters through the trees illuminating the bounty still found on the limbs and bounces off the golden snow-like particles that litter the sky making their way to the ground.

Huge rocks sit high above the house and reach just far enough into the trees where there is a feeling of being detached except for the ever present wind.  Close your eyes and you can still see the awesome colors falling around you, at times you feel the leaves brushing against your cheek.

The remains of the chicken coop are now home for fallen leaves which find their way entwined with wood and wire.  Those that are not captured by the decaying structure add to the deep soft forest floor.

It starts to snow leaves first in September.

It starts to snow leaves first in September.

I remember a few weeks back as the visitor told his story; he was looking for the old man who had since passed.   His eyes were huge as he recalled the old man running down the hill with hoe in hand while he was shoveled gravel onto the drive.

Short of breath and barely able to search for words, the old man was yelling for him to come quick and grab a gun.

He noted that he always carried a shotgun in the cab of his truck; “Just in case I need to scare something.” he said, looking for any type of displeasure in my face.

The two climbed the hill shoulder to shoulder until they reached the chicken coop “It was the biggest black bear I’d ever seen just snarling with birds, beaks and feathers flying everywhere.” He was spitting out the words so fast his face became red and those eyes bulging larger.

“I couldn’t believe it!  With one swoop, the bear knocked the coop into splinters and grabbed the squawking chicken, running off into the trees.  I was so startled I didn’t even get a shot off.” There was only a chuckle left in his voice as he looked up the hillside towards the coop.

The wind has picked up and it’s raining more leaves covering the coop’s green wood splinters, wire and the story of the old man’s bear.

Autumn and Flying Pigs:

Autum in New Paltz, searching for the flying pig.

Autum in New Paltz, searching for the flying pig.

Man, I can feel it down to the morrow of my California bones; the weather is teetering on change. 

The icy drop of temperature fills the air with each breath of north wind as it blows up the canyon.  Afternoon walks are now met by neon red, orange and yellow leaves tightly hanging on trees.  Many more have succumbed to the breeze and now cover the ground along the roadside.

The week days are calmer than the weekends along the Hudson River and trips to small communities like New Paltz are best made when city visitors are consumed by work and their Wednesday night dreams of hikes, climbs and kayaking in the Wallkill River Valley.

The branches of thousands of apple trees bend heavy towards the earth with red and yellow apples with the arrival of fall.  It only helps to entice more visitors to enjoy the vineyards, orchards and farms.

For those in the west that can still see nature without a looming cloud of smoke, think in terms of Santa Cruz, Mendocino or Eureka without looking at the ocean.

On any given Saturday you will be hard-pressed to even make it into town after exiting west off I-87.  Many give up and head back across the river for calmer Hyde Park and Rhinebeck.

Flying Pig

With coffee in hand make your way for the “Rock and Snow” for anything that you care to hammer, click, or hang from rock.   These are the area experts in rock, ice climbing.  They actually appear to enjoy talking to customers share their experience for those who may have questions.

With the “College at New Paltz”, there is that college town color and vibe.  With an understated urban flare, the shops are filled with local art from watercolors to flying pigs made of recycled materials.

There is a dizzy selection of restaurants along Main Street and the “Lemon Grass” is a valid choice for a reasonable Thai lunch, with a charming quiet atmosphere with gracious servers.

Today is Wednesday and I now think of the weekend’s passing; zipping up my sweater and looking forward to being a week closer to the heart of autumn.

Eggs, Light and Fun:

Don’t over think light and backgrounds when taking portraits at home.

Experiment with both natural and artificial light by using whatever light elements you have around the house.  Diffuse the light with white cloth or cardboard. Try bouncing light off the walls or ceiling to soften shadows.

A wonderful way to observe light and shadow is to take an egg, place it on a plain sheet of white paper and photograph it on the kitchen table.  Move your light source up and down and change the distance to your subject.

By moving a lamp around the table and at different levels and distances you can watch shadows build and fall.

Friends, family and pets make wonderful subjects and since you already know them it takes some the awkward silence away from your first meeting and your rapport is built.

Think high and think low.  Most images are taken at eye-level and its fun to experiment with angles.  Remember that you can empower a subject by shooting from a lower angle and make them appear vulnerable by adding space and shoot down on them.

Be patient and have fun, remember that for every rule in photography there is a good reason to break it!

Truth in Photography!:

Every choice made is a reflection of truth.

Every choice made is a reflection of truth.

This Photo is Lying to You: Rob Haggart

View September Issue of OUTSIDE MAGAZINE

A wonderful piece written by Photo Editor Rob Haggart, which certainly highlights that as consumers of both visual and written information, we need to be aware of the facts behind that information.

The reality of photojournalism is that you can walk into any newspaper in the country and given the opportunity to view their hardcopy photo morgue from 30-40 years ago, you will find images manipulated by pencil, pen or marker.

White shirts that were void of detail by overexposure now have crisp sharp collars provided by pen or pencil.

It’s not unheard of that sports photographer who missed the ball could make it magically appear on the easel with the correct size penny, dime or piece of paper provided by a hole-punch.

Miss that wonderful sunset or sparkling firework image?  Just sandwich two images together to make up for the difference or double-print in the darkroom.

We must trust the photographer’s integrity and accuracy of their content; and that of the editors who handle such content.

Set higher goals; ask more questions and do not bend to the pressure of competition. 

Respect for the craft and its readership is the building block to maintain a new generation of subscribers.

I hope Mr. Haggart is wrong in that “Our relationship to photography is not changing.”

My hope is that the “hunger for truth.” has always remained the keystone for journalist throughout the world.

Delicate Balance:

A delicate spider web carries the weight of nature's balance.

A delicate spider web carries the weight of nature's balance.

The days run together some weeks faster than others. 

I have yet to determine weather I’m comfortable with the time frame. It could mean moving closer to an exciting new future.  It could mean a missed opportunity for an exciting new future.

It’s been two or three days since I saw the fragile fawn in the back yard.  We see many, and I cherish the experience each time.

Normally mom or a sibling is within nuzzling distance but there was something in this baby’s eyes that made you understand it was alone.

As it grazed through the freshly-cut grass you could see that its thin legs were wobbly but not the tremble of a newborn, it was walking with a limp.  As a spectator to nature, it makes me very uncomfortable to witness illness, injury or death.

I understand that nature is a balance and at this point in our lives more delicate than ever.

The strong take care of the weak and the weak become stronger.

When the startled fawn found its legs to clear the three-foot rock wall at the edge of the yard and scampered into the timber, I felt better.  It was likely for my well being and not the fawn’s.

I choose not to watch, “Old Yeller”; most of the production of “Bambi” and will excuse myself when the flying monkeys share the screen during the “Wizard of Oz”.

It’s just about balance.