Boulder Creek, May 2015

Downtown SLC Farmers Market

Zen Tree (Pigment Transfer to Board), Lake Mary, Wasatch National Forest, Utah

After six years as a full season Arts and Crafts vendor in the Downtown Salt Lake City Farmers Market, this season I've gone to part time. I'm at the market every other Saturday. Come check out my huge selection of one of a kind, hand made, transfer prints. These are the dates you can find me at the market: August 16, August 30, September 13, September 27, October 11, and October 25.

Contemplating Time

Tree Skeleton and Crescent Moon, Twin Peaks Wilderness, Utah

I’d long been drawn to this tree and photographed it on more than a few occasions before making this image. The shape of this dead tree arrests my eye every time I hike in the vicinity of Lake Blanche. On this night it was like a beacon.

 Situated north of Lake Blanche, on the edge of a large block of resistant stone forming the terrace into which lakes Lillian, Florence, and Blanche are carved, among polished ribs of rock, the setting is perfect for capturing this dead tree cleanly against the western sky. On this night, two nights after the new moon, a waxing crescent moon was setting into a clear electric blue twilight and lining up quite nicely with the tree.

I had just left Lake Blanche where I had stayed till sunset’s bitter end, when the landscape could only be photographed in silhouette. I started towards the trailhead and was almost immediately stopped. The scene materializing before me reminded me of an image in my mind of a lone sculpted tree set against a crescent moon.

I dropped my pack, and worked quickly to set up my tripod. I changed lenses, from the wide angle I’d been working with, to a telephoto lens. Next, I dialed in my exposure, knowing that I needed to keep my shutter speed to one second or less in order to avoid blur from celestial movement. I had almost no time to spare as the light in the sky was quickly dying.  I made several exposures while fine-tuning my composition by physically moving my camera position.

As I made my way down to the trailhead in the dark, I wondered how many hundreds of years it took this tree to reach such stately proportions. This once mighty tree has left behind a monument with extraordinary character, a visual legacy of its noble life.

This monument is a marker of time somewhat closer to mind than the lives of mountains or moons, and when set against the Earth’s cosmic timepiece, endlessly marking days, a deeper layer of meaning is achieved. The two symbols together move the image toward the iconic, the archetypal.

Winter Birds of Red Butte Garden

Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Last Sunday while at the Red Butte Garden annual holiday open house, I abandoned my booth for a couple of forays out into the wintery garden in hopes of seeing and photographing birds. To my surprise I saw nine different species of birds within about twenty minutes.

I'm guessing that the gardens create a rare concentration of winter food, based on my experience that bird sightings in the Salt Lake City foothills are infrequent this time of year. At least, I haven't seen that kind of variety of birds in one place at one time in any of the other locations I've gone looking this time of year.

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing, Salt Lake City, Utah

One morning in early June as I contemplated heading to the mouth of Emigration Canyon for a quick birding expedition, I noticed a commotion in the mulberry tree adjacent to and overhanging my back yard. Apparently the mulberries were at their peak of appeal to the neighborhood birds.

The commotion was twenty or so American robins battling for control of the tree and generally coming to rest in perfectly spaced zones until displaced by another robin entering their zone with a flourish of wing beats. Several other smaller species feasted as well, but with less bravado, including one of my favorites, the Cedar waxwing.

For about a week the mulberries were like candy to the birds, and the clear whistles of waxwings were constant. I photographed them several times during this week and was able to make a few nice portraits. This one is my favorite.

Western Tanager

Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana), Killian Canyon, Utah

The Western Tanagers are in. I just found out a few days ago, on a short hike in Killian Canyon, where I was lucky enough to capture this image. The subject is sublime, even the situation with spring green leaves and red branches of dogwood creating the backdrop is ideal. The execution leaves room for improvement, and I'm looking forward to trying.

Really the only thing wrong with this image is the blurry foreground branches cutting across and cluttering the frame. However, they're also likely what's making this bird comfortable enough to stay put for a moment at close range. The compositions in my mind may require a lot of time in the field or very cooperative birds, and quite possibly both.

Not too many weeks ago I was staring at the snowy ramparts east of Salt Lake and daydreaming about photography in the high cirques of the Wasatch. Seeing flashes of red in the greening canyon bottoms has fixated my mind on other photographic goals. Right now is the time to be in the green zone photographing brightly colored birds alighted on flowering branches, as if in an Audubon print.