Fire – Water – Air – Earth   1 comment


— My submission to the Thomas Cook “Explore the Elements” photoblogging challenge. —

As my friend Jim Nix says, “This post is a little different than my normal kind of post.”

About a week ago, Jim tagged me in one of his blog posts, and by doing so, nominated my images for entry into the Thomas Cook “Explore the Elements” Travel Photoblogging Challenge. In this competition, we are tasked with choosing from our portfolios four images that represent each of the natural elements — Fire, Water, Air, and Earth.

Though honored by Jim’s nomination, I also knew that this would be more challenging than it first seemed. For one thing, the judges are Nicole S. Young, Elia Locardi, Dave Bouskil, and Ken Kaminesky. (Sure, no pressure at all.) They are all amazing photographers whose work I’ve long admired, so it’s quite intimidating to think that they’ll be scrutinizing my images for a change. As I flipped through possible candidate images, I was caught up with seeing them anew, also realizing that perhaps they weren’t quite up to snuff. For those images that didn’t pass muster, I wound up reprocessing them with new techniques I’ve learned over the years since they were originally taken.

Below are my entries for this most interesting challenge. At the end of the post, I, in turn, will nominate five photographers to also take part in the challenge.

Along the way, you can click on each image to see a full-screen view in a new browser tab. Enjoy!


“Represents the energetic, forceful, moving things in the world. Associated with security, motivation, desire, intention, and an outgoing spirit.”


“Okay,” I thought, “energetic, forceful, moving things… got it!”  Ken Shockley’s “Shockwave” jet truck is quite something to experience. (Some people have really cool hobbies.) Before performing high-speed dashes down the runway at air shows, Ken plays in front of the audience, sending out massive amounts of flame and smoke. When he hits the afterburners, he can top out at 376mph.


“Represents the fluid, flowing, formless things in the world. Associated with emotion, defensiveness, adaptability, flexibility, suppleness, and magnetism.”

Originally published as “Tenacity”, I’ve always enjoyed this image of a small stone and leaf holding on against the onslaught of the many waterfalls at Diana’s Baths in New Hampshire. “There’s a bit of ‘defensiveness’ and ‘suppleness’ in there,” I thought, “along with the fluid, flowing… yeah, that one.”


“Represents things that grow, expand, and enjoy freedom of movement. Associated with will, elusiveness, evasiveness, benevolence, compassion, and wisdom.”

A magnificent sunrise at Cobscook Bay, Maine, not far from the Canadian border

Sometimes, I’m amazed that the sky can be so big. This image was taken early one morning at Cobscook Bay, near Lubec, Maine. (Lubec happens to be the furthest point east in the continental U.S., so it could be said that the sun shines here first for us.) The sky that morning was so dramatic and dynamic that it seemed to be breathing. And as for ‘evasiveness’, the brilliance seen here was gone within 15 minutes as the sun came over the clouds.


“Represents the hard, solid objects of the earth. Associated with stubbornness, collectiveness , physicality and gravity.”

Capturing the elements of earth, water, mist-laden air, and the fire of fall foliage. At Silver Cascade, NH

This was my most challenging choice. I have a number of images of solid, earthy-like things that might’ve been good, and I went through a few changes before deciding on this one. Can one really separate Earth’s elements one from another, or does the interplay of Fire, Water, Air and Earth account for the natural beauty we see around us? Although this choice is intended primarily to convey the sense of solid “earth”, I think the image brings in all of the elements — solid earth, flowing water, ethereal and foggy air, and the fire of brilliant fall foliage.


Part of the Explore the Elements challenge is to nominate five other photographers to participate, so I’ll call upon my old Collaboration friends to join in. They are all wonderful landscape photographers, so I can’t wait to see their entries. Good luck, guys!

Called out are:

Jim Denham
Jerry Denham
Mark Gvazdinskas
Bob Lussier
Dave Wilson

Divinity   3 comments

St. Philip’s Church, Charleston, S.C.

On a beautiful night in May, we had dinner at one of Charleston’s fine restaurants, Tristan, now closed, sadly. (Charleston is noted for being “food obsessed”, an obsession that works out particularly well for us.) Afterward, we wandered around the downtown area looking for interesting photo opportunities.

Although the wind was high that night, the church stood still long enough to capture some interesting frames, with a beautiful ice-ringed moon as a backdrop.

Built in 1836, St. Philip’s Church features an imposing tower designed in the Wren-Gibbs tradition. St. Philip’s is the oldest religious congregation in South Carolina, having been established in 1681.

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Alone + Nature = Nurture (2015)   2 comments

At Acadia National Park, Otter Cliffs area, 2010.

Going through my photostream, I found a number of images that didn’t seem “right” to me. At the very least, I wasn’t interested in having them on display any longer. My processing techniques have changed over the years. Whereas I used to tonemap with one of a number of programs, I no longer tonemap at all. I generally find the results to be “soft”, unrealistic, or downright hideous if the settings are not handled properly. Such was the case with the version of this image back in 2010, I felt.

The image has been reworked with new techniques and an entirely new approach. As I compare the two versions side-by-side, I’m rather amazed that I let the previous version go out into the wild. I’d show it here, but… nahhhhh.


Lately, I’ve been reading interesting information about personality types.

I’ve always been one who enjoys solitude, preferring a quiet, solo hike in the woods in favor of large gatherings of people. In the past, I believed that this was “anti-social behavior,” a notion perhaps perpetuated by my bros at the time. Don’t get me wrong… I love good people and enjoy their company immensely. But, all in all, I prefer quietude and places that are not seething with too many humans packed closely together.

In my reading, I’ve found that I exhibit a particular personality type that tends to embrace solitude (T1/w9, for those who know.) While there’s always room in one’s life for a raucously good time in large groups, there is comfort in knowing that wanting to be alone in nature is not a “flaw” of any sort.

This is why this image appeals to me, and why I’ve chosen to revisit it. I’m drawn not only to scenes like this, but can relate to that one person standing there, cup of coffee in hand, taking in the natural beauty in much the same way that I appreciate it.

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It Should Be Springtime Here   Leave a comment

Blasted cold!

I woke up this morning to single digit temperatures. The wind chill was below 0F.

Now, I know that doesn’t mean much to those from farther up north, but around here in North Carolina, this is rather unusual for this time of year. And it has been relentless.

Although I’m quite done with winter for now, I realize it’s only a matter of a few months before I’m slogging through the heat and humidity of a Carolina summer. Perhaps I’ll try to remember this popsicle in late August, finding some refreshment in the memory.

Mother and Child   1 comment

Early one morning while camping at Dolly Copp Campground near Gorham, NH back in 2010, we were treated to a visit from a mother moose and her young one.

While we were sipping coffee, the pair passed through our campsite only a few feet away from where we were sitting. The two were more interested in browsing on the late season foliage than they were with our presence. We dared not budge until they had moved along, after which we grabbed the cameras and stayed at a respectful distance while grabbing as many shots as we could.

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The Lineup   6 comments

Again at the Silver River in Florida.

This was taken on the back side of an island that used to be a tourist attraction. Whether the boat was used for ferrying guests, or was used as a prop for greater realism, I’m not sure, but it makes for a great haven for turtles.

I think that turtles make fascinating subjects. Even though they don’t move very much — which is good — the way they huddle together on exposed logs can make for interesting compositions.

I had any number of funny albeit puerile titles and captions in mind for this one, but Susan said, “Oh, don’t be such a boy.” So I promised I wouldn’t.

Suffice it to say, I wonder what’s inside that they’re willing to wait for so long?

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Fine Dining at Anhinga’s Cafe   Leave a comment

Ahh, sushi… It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

Paddling toward the headwaters of the Silver River in Florida, we passed by a small, forested island that held a large colony of Anhingas, water birds that dive underwater for their catch, which is usually fish and amphibians. Rough nests were scattered across the island, most having two or more juveniles waiting for food.

Mom and dad go out to catch fish, letting them, um, settle for a while, before hacking up their catch to the young ones. As the feedings continued despite our close presence, the cacaphony of squawking juvies was almost overwhelming. With several young ones in the nest, competition for the one provider was intense.

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