With an estimated 20,000+ individual flowering species, the Orchid family of plants is considered one of the most diverse and highly evolved forms of life with roots, leaves and flowers.
Orchids exist in every habitat except glaciers, and new species are still being discovered. My encounters with orchids typically take place in greenhouses or at orchid collector expos, and on occasion, in my own home.
Most people understand orchids to be terribly finicky and temperamental houseplants, and for many varieties a haphazard windowsill lifestyle certainly won’t work. I have learned though, through extensive trial and error that there are dozens of orchids that are quite happy to live by a bright window and receive intermittent water and attention, and the reward is always remarkable. With colourful flowers that range wildly in shape and size, just one orchid plant in bloom can transform a room.
I’ve accumulated hundreds of photos of orchids over the years, collected on my website, available for stock licensing and prints. I hope to have the time to research more specific identification for some of the more unusual specimens. In the meantime, feel free to explore the remarkable variety of these exotic flowers!
Having long believed that the journey is the destination, I am as much a fan of the act of traveling, as I am a fan of actually arriving in a new place.
Last weekend was a marathon roadtrip though, through a landscape altogether strange to me – Southern California – and I returned home with a mountain of images depicting an arid, hazy landscape dotted with bold and incongruous human developments. I am mesmerized by landscape photography in general, and many photographers have done an incredible job of cataloging the environments and horizons that shape our lives. In my own work, I am gradually exploring those familiar themes of human endeavour vs. an ever-changing geography. The landscapes of the American west, and California in particular, are close to my heart and I hope to further explore our relationship with the magnificent and daunting terrain here at the edge of a continent.
This weekend, I will be back on the road, this time to spend barely 36 hours in the high-mountain deserts of Southern California. Traveling from the soft hills and cool climate of the coast, across the vast Central Valley blanketed by orchards and agriculture, and then up to 4000 feet where the plants are all spiny and the rocks jagged, my camera will likely spend the entire trip in my lap, ready for any tantalizing cast of light across the passing landscape.
I have some very specific shots I’d like to attempt once I reach my destination, but even if they are complete failures, I’ll have immensely enjoyed the journey…
A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. ~ Joseph Campbell
Today is traditionally a day for remembrance and for gathering with friends and family to celebrate the bountiful pleasures of the season.
I find it difficult to limit my Memorial Day meditations to just the fallen soldiers of countless wars. I think of their families and communities too. In recent years, the trauma and tragedy of war has played itself out as soldiers return home, burdened with endless nightmares and deeply challenging emotional scars – as the suicide rate climbs among the men and women who so selflessly put their lives on the line for their country, I find it shameful that we are not doing more to help them return to lives of health, vitality and peace. Even the most personal of wars can not be won alone.
I am also thinking of the leaders, large and small, who have dedicated their lives to the service of the nation. Having a visionary sense of one’s role and abilities as a leader, acting on those ideas, and seeing often difficult change through to an end is a remarkable task that most of us would not be brave enough to attempt, given the opportunity. It takes a particular kind of person to step into so great a role of responsibility.
We live in a world that is not likely to ever be free from conflict and war. Today is a day to consider just how lucky we are to have heroes in our midst everyday. From foot soldiers to leaders of nations, these are the people whose lives have been given up to something larger than themselves, and we might each aspire to living lives as selfless and dignified as those we honor today.
Living in Monterey is pretty much like living inside a postcard. Every sunset has the potential to make the evening magical, as the lights of the squid-fishing boats come to life along a stormy horizon, and a few hardy souls brave the cold wind and waves to surf that last swell of the day.
The colours that emerge in nature are sometimes so startlingly brilliant, it can be impossible to look away. These floral beauties grow in my garden, and the blended shades of fuchsia, scarlet, orange and gold rival even the most technicolor sunset skies.
In California, where drought is a seasonal cycle within the larger years-long cycles of El Nino/La Nina and climate change, it was big news earlier this week when the Governor declared the most recent period of drought to be officially over. The size and scale of California wildfires have become more noteworthy lately, and such prominent drought announcements can have far-reaching implications.
This shot was taken from the road headed north past Lake Shasta in 2008, a year notable for the ferocity and frequency of wildfires. The air was thick with smoke, even hundreds of miles from the nearest blaze, and convoys of heavy-duty wildland firefighting equipment were seen daily speeding up and down the state highways. The distinctive firefighting airplane ‘Martin Mars’ was moored on the lake between runs.
With the recent rainy season and an immense snow-pack in the Sierra Nevada mountains, this year would appear to be drought-free, though technically, with the seasonally dry summer-fall months ahead, combustible conditions are always just a heat-wave away.
In fact, today is breaking high-temperature records across California, and it is being joked that with just a few more days of this hot dry weather, we’ll have to declare a drought again while remaining vigilant about new wildfires.
Check out more fire-related photographs from my collection here.
Once you visit, this landscape will always be a part of you, and any photography of Big Sur will instantly bring you back to this breathlessly beautiful coastline.
‘Special’ isn’t the right word for Big Sur. There is magic in the mist, as the mountains descend to the sea, where crashing waves endlessly carve coves and cliffs. It feels like the edge of the world, a place one might escape to for a life of meditation on the mixing of water and sky along the distant horizon.
Also – very photogenic locale. Like being inside a postcard.
You know that moment, caught out of the corner of your eye, that seems to perfectly sum up a story or feeling, and then as quickly as it appeared, it vanishes into thin air?
This is one of those moments, and perfectly illustrates why, at all times I feel compelled to have a camera with me. This was actually photographed with a tough little 5MP point-and-shoot camera, the only digital option I had at the time, which I’d stuffed into the pocket of my winter coat while up in the mountains for some winter recreation. Stopping by the lodge cafe for lunch, I noticed a very focused and forlorn dog hanging around the back door, and as I sat down to my meal, he stopped his pacing and sat down too, intently watching the warm scene of people and food inside. I was able to catch this snapshot in a break between passing customers, and a moment later, the dog had been reunited with his owner and was gone.
Glittering raindrops fall across a windshield during an evening storm, illuminated by a street light.
I know, I seem obsessed with the weather lately. Really, it is the irresistible interplay of water and light during this rainy season that captivates me completely. The sheen of water across asphalt in the morning hours, the way puddles hold an after-storm sunset; it is a permanently transient subject, that just a breath of wind and a passing cloud can change entirely. How can it not be satisfying to photograph?
This time of year always feel a bit like limbo. With each glimpse of warmer spring weather, a sizeable snow storm or cold week of rain becomes a dreary seasonal setback. The coastal California climate is mild, and winters tend to be full of green pastures and wind-battered trees. Spring shows itself in small bursts of wildflowers, which emerge after even the shortest spell of warm sunny days. Often this colourful respite is short-lived, as inclement weather can return for weeks at a time.
This little blue wildflower covered in raindrops is one of my favourite wildflowers of early spring. Sometimes laying down in the muddy dampness of a February field is the only way to get close enough to truly believe these fleeting signs of the shifting seasons.