Friday, May 25, 2012

       Why do I seem to be so intrigued with a bunch of sticks and a rock on a river bank at dusk? As I'm pondering that thought I can hear the whispering, that voice, in the stillness. Maybe you know one like it, pestering thoughts, that just won't let it go. I need that little voice. The one that says "Jump!.... no wait!... don't jump!" after I am already committed to the air.
In this case as I landed on my side and when the water ripples finally smoothed out again, I saw this set of eyes looking me over with that set of ..."Brows" .
I was a  bit uncomfortable at first. Then I recognized the face or rather the brows. The voice was half right.

In my teen years I had met this older refined gentlemen with the biggest grey eyebrows. He was a wonderful guy in a grandfatherly sort of way. He would shuffle into the gas station where I worked and take an occasional nap on the stacked cases of oil in the back room while I would either change the oil in his car or change his tires. Some days he would just show up for no reason other than to get out of the house and nap.

There were always a few free range, uncut, untrimmed, stragglers in the amount of hair above his eyes.The guys with thinning hair would covet the thick wooly bears on his forehead.

I liked the guy he was never in a hurry and always treated me kindly, asking if I had time to change the  "Firestones". The summer tires to the winter treads, or put in some Quakerstate.

It can wonder a guy at times, how a rock and a few twigs can take him back to the teen years at a gas station. I continued to recalled the time I would try to wake the "oil case snoozer" up, by airing up a tire on the changer. I would watch and wait for the seal to loudly pop into place. Even though I knew it was coming, I always jumped. He just slept on through it with that slight snoozing sound until he had finished his 18 holes of nap on the "cases".
I decided not to name this image after Mr. Purdy even though it reminds me of him, but I am torn between  "Firestone" or "Quakerstate".
What's your vote?


Sunday, May 20, 2012

"My Blue Headache"
  More Susquehanna Reflections

How many times have we traveled the same route out of habit and are so familiar with the surroundings that we don't allow the subtle differences to capture us?

Time of day and year can change a view of a rock. I have photographed this same rock many times and the differences between each one is striking. This is my favorite image so far of this area.
 Fall evenings can be quite, and calm, on the water. School has started and mid week activities allow for stillness and reflections. This was one of those nights. The stillness was deafening, only the sound of water dripping off the paddle could be heard, or the occasional bird in flight as it's wings beat the air.

I have this one hanging in landscape view on my living room wall at this moment in a large canvas. 
The stillness of the water brings back that amazing still evening in fall. I turn it occasionally though and enjoy the intriguing symmetry of the faces. I see more than one faces and still find something different as I walk by or happen to notice something new even though it's been there a few months.

 I haven't named this one yet and could use some help.
I would like to open a name this image contest and have you vote on the best name

If you submit a name in the comments section of this blog, I will mail a postcard of the book cover to you. ( You can email me your snail mail address).

I will collect all the names and in the future will have a vote on the most popular name.

 (Could it be MBH, the title of the post, Schwarbie?, Omar?, Jasper?,Third Eye Weeping?, My Friend Manny? Tibedauex's Big Toe?, Mrs Winters... Angry Piano Teacher?)  Ok it stirred up too much about my past already.

Me: "I'm putting em down... you picking em up?"

You: "Well Steve you just named it , didn't you?"

Me:  "No... I am ineligible to win, and I already have one of these prints anyway."

You:  "Does it come with batteries?"

Me:  "Again, No... batteries not included"

(Honestly, some of the questions I get...)

You can view the cover of the book at the top of the page or see it here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Lutz
I remember the time I captured this reflection. I was with my friend, Joel Diffendarfer. We were working together  and took off early one fall afternoon to hit the river with our kayaks. The amazing afternoon of fall colors. A warm late afternoon turning into cool evenings. I had been clicking the shutter and not able to take stock of all the pics I had gathered.
Darkness fell as we pulled off the water and loaded up the boat. On the drive home Joel took the  camera and flipped through the days events. He pulled this one up in the view finder as we crossed the bridge.
This photo reminds me of a friend, Deter Lutz.
Besides being a great guy, amazing friend, and quite a great singer / songwriter, I think Deter has a similar smile and so I thought it appropriate to name this image  " The Lutz".

For more photos you can click here 

Friday, May 18, 2012


There are times that you just "know" without really knowing, a sensing that something is close by but not really sure what it is. I had this intuition, that little nudge that if I stuck around this certain section of river that I would discover something amazing. I didn't move fast, in fact I circled around this area on more than one outing, looking at this rock from different distances and angles. The current would be moving pretty fast in some of this area, so I had to keep on circling back to it till I found the right spot. Then I hit it and this is it. 

 I like the name. It's strong and noble and reminds me of a gladiator anyway. 

I met this couple at an art show in Frederick Md last year before I used the name Maximus for this print. Mat and Trish the glass blowers from Muncey PA. I watched them unload their truck with Maximus in big letters on the back window, and then Mat had a tattoo of Maximus on his arm.
The story of Maximus, Mat's son, lost his battle with immune deficiency  at the very young age of six. The name fit the photo image for me and reminds me every time that we can be tough as rocks yet life is still so fragile and fleeting. 

You can check out Trish and Mat the glass artists here 

AND find more photos of the Susquehanna, as well as other locations.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"River Sentinel"

The "River Sentinel" works both ways for landscape and portrait. We paddled by this rock on the Lower Susquehanna and found this view. 
It was mid day, not the best for ambient light, but it worked with the shadows that would form the illusion of eyes and mouth. Later evening is not as drastic an image for the facial features. 
As the sunlight and water levels change, this rock face fades away to a beautiful landscape stone surface.

You can view more images from the website

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"The Gnome"

This is a monumental photo in my life. A reminder of the day I decided to do my work. To follow a passion. 

I had just finished reading "The War of Art" Steven Pressfield on Sunday night. The memorable passages to me were about going after what it is that you have a passion for. Following your bliss so to speak. 

I decided that day that I would do my work with a camera and a kayak. To be the revealer of nature as I see it. I took all things necessary for a days work. 

My boat, my camera, all the other gear, tools necessary to accomplish the work and lunch, after all it is my job now. I said good bye to the wife and was off to work. This time however it was at the river and in my boat.
That day I believed it and stepped into a new beginning, and met this image I call "The Gnome".

Others see "Father time" and others have commented seeing"The Pope of the River". 
I saw him from a distance and started to laugh at how this image was handed to me. I knew when I took the shot that this is what I came out here for and knew I had done my work, I could go home now, but what the heck I was already in my boat the day was early and I might as well look around some more. Nothing stepped up and shouted like this guy. 

As I was showing this image to our friend Diane, she commented on seeing the dog, the owl and the dove. Others were able to see something different than I had seen and gave me the insight. I didn't see it all at once. One day last fall as I was showing this image to someone else, I viewed it upside down and saw a different face reflection. This art keeps on giving!

Art Shows

  •  Harrisburg for the Patriot News Art Fest May 26th -May 28th Memorial Day.                         (Thank a Veteran and wave an American Flag!)

  • Three Rivers Art Show in Pittsburg PA June 1-7th
  • Manayunk Art Fest  June 23 -24th

More photos available here

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Blue Eyes"

So many times Lisa and I had passed by this rock with turbulent water. On this particular evening we stayed out later than normal enjoying the warm summer evening and watching the sun set behind the western ridge.

Just as it was about to disappear we paddled by this rock and the sun was on a small out cropping producing the yellow tint on the rocks.
"Blue Eyes" was revealed to me during this evening.As folks look and discover the face, the remarks have varied from a Great Dane, to Wolf, Buffalo, mad duck, and bumble bee.
I like calling this image "Blue Eyes" because pretty much I think we can all agree on the color of what looks to be eyes on what ever is revealed to you. Same rock different impressions, and perceptions.

You can see more Reflection Images here

Monday, May 14, 2012


Of all the photos that I have been able to catch and collect this is one of my favorites. This evenings kayak paddling had a bit of current and wind, hiding the reflection of a mirrored surface. Later in the week as we returned the water and wind were calm and the "Dreamer" appeared.

I have ventured back numerous times to try to catch the stillness and improve on the photo quality. It hasn't happened yet. The opportunities in life are much like this shot, I had one chance to catch  it in the many times I have passed by.

I enjoy the mellow, satisfied, and peaceful qualities that this image reflects. I am fascinated with natural reflections and the way that nature would offer to communicate with us if we would recognize what is before us.

I like to call the cropped version "Meditation". 
This image of contentment is a reminder to me of thinking of good things.
For a small period of time this image hung in a coffee shop over the area where the sweeteners and creamers could be added and stirred. As if this photo could speak to the satisfaction of the aroma of a  great cup of coffee.

These photos are part of the collection in the book "Faces of the Susquehanna" A photographic Study of Natural Reflections.

Available here

Sunday, May 13, 2012

River Spirit

This is one of the most fascinating areas of the Susquehanna River. Situated south of Three Mile Island, this rocky area is a uniquely carved natural sculpture garden. On our first experience with paddling Falmouth, PA we encountered high water and most of these rocks were underwater.

 As we continued to return to the area later in the summer we were surprised and impressed with the rocks and natural sculptures that were revealed as the water lowered. How many rocks were completely eroded after the many centuries of wind and water? What did this look like 200 years ago? 50 years ago? What new sculpture will be unveiled in the next 25 years?

Falmouth is most famous for the goat races and the annual "goat drop" New Years eve. I find the natural beauty of the river is one of the most unique locations hidden away and unmentioned as a natural wonder.

Paddling through this area is like paddling through small canyons. I enjoy the textures and the ripples of smooth worn stone. I imagine the power and time it took to produce the beauty of this sculpture.
Some of my favorite sculpture pieces, We find a different perspective each time we are on the water in this area. It's like an art museum that you become familiar with, the area is familiar but the art changes with the water levels and light.

More reflectional photos found here   

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Faces of the Adirondacks

  Adirondacks NY

As promised in my blog last week, meet Doris and Dread, a somewhat happy couple of the Lake Region in the Adirondack Mountains.


The word Adirondack, started as "ratirontak" in the Mohawk language and denotes the Algonquins tribe in a derogatory manner, " bark eaters".  The Algonquins called the Mohawks "eaters of living things". Mohawks called themselves "people of the place of the flint".
So... this is  the first distinction in the new world that I know of vegan and non-vegan peoples. (I value the Native American culture and peoples but if we were to Anglicize the situation you could tell the meat eaters apart from the vegans by the hair cuts, dreads or mohawk, and loin cloths, camo or tie dyed.) 

The Story:
It's mid September and I had a late start in making the drive to Indian Lake, arriving around 7:00 pm. This was my second trip and I was familiar with the lake and surrounding area. I was hoping to arrive at camp and have a fire going, cooking dinner and maybe some reading before dark. But...

the sun has set and I am scrambling to load my boat and catch as much light as I can to make the two mile paddle. Not that far or time consuming.  By the time I have parked the van, loaded the boat and launched, it's dark and  I am able to see light grey ghosts, wisps of fog rising off the surface of a warm lake into the cooler air. I had not planned on the visibility being so low and it's getting darker each minute.  I am wearing my PFD (personal floatation devise). I realize it is not the safest way to travel, alone at night, on the water. The night is chilling down. Still... I love this.

The water is smooth, and silky. I can see the bow wake as I paddle towards my camp site on the distant horizon. Through the mist I can make out the rough outline of the trees and it gives me a hint of my destination.

Paddling seems like an endless task as I keep my head down and keep my arms moving. I am the only one on the lake that I know of. I see no lights or campfires, The fog thickens. As I near the island to find my camp I turn on my head lamp and look for a landing, The rock ledges stand out in my headlamp and I find a narrow ledge to slide my kayak upon the rocks. I get out and polk around the camp site looking for wood. The first thing I think of is get a fire going. I didn't think it would be necessary to pack in fire wood, why haul it in a limited space and add the weight? As I start to look around for dry deadfall to burn, I stumble about the forest kicking up anything that I can haul back to burn. Maybe I misinterpreted the word Adirondack the original meaning is actually"wet fire wood". Finally fire!

I'm here to do my work, to find the images of reflections, to discover, what has already been seen before, yet has never  been noticed.
My opinion is that these images communicate that there is more than we see in our day to day life. I wonder what else I have not appreciated or recognized due to viewing life and others in the same way?

This alone time is rich. It allows reflection of values, things, family. I value this solitude "If you can't stand solitude maybe others find you boring as well." Mark Twain                               

How does this image communicate to you? What would you name it?

More photos of the Adirondacks  next week.


Great history on the Wiki!

Mohawks   People of the place of flint

Adirondacks   Bark eaters