Mediocrity?

Creativity is an odd thing…some possess loads of it while others have it within them, but can’t seem to squeeze it out all that often. In my case, the desire is there, yet the enthusiasm wavers a bit. Hence, not much creativity being published.

I like quotes, quips and prose. I read a lot…not a big deal. What do I gain? The more important question is, “What do I contribute?”.  Oh, I love a wonderful photograph and painting ! Great sculptures also capture my heart.

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I woke up early this morning before the sunrise, but as I saw the illumination upon my dining room wall, I quickly grabbed my Canon and took this image. The sky was changed within seconds. Literally.

Mediocre photograph…which may equate to mediocrity. What do you think ? I wonder ?

I like it because it reflects the ever-changing gift of God’s creation. Please take a moment and study the makeup of the clouds…the odd color and shapes…the background…the tree tops which just emerged from winter’s grasp.

Mediocrity. I am not sure I know the meaning of this word. However, I like this photograph because it reflects a peacefulness about it. I hope you like it, too.

Reflective

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I’m a sucker for colorful sunrises and sunsets. The splendor of the Sun’s rays illuminating heaven and earth is quite inspirational…almost a spiritual experience for me.

Watching an Appalachian mountainside come to life or a golden ball drop from view into the ocean is enchanting. Living in the middle of America this geographic area has no mountains or oceans, but we still have magnificent sun rises and sun sets. We are located in an area where warm air bumps into cooler air regularly and clouds often develop. I enjoy clouds as much as the morning and evening light shows.

I recall as a child lying on my back and staring at clouds as they passed by. Usually with a friend or my sisters we would call out to one another the variety of shapes that resembled objects we were familiar with. Often, we would see animals and people’s profiles. Clouds could appear happy or sinister and would change quickly as they moved through the sky. Pure joy.

I recall a time where I was with a group of people and we hiked up to the top of an eleven thousand foot mountain. It was a bright day, but a storm was fast approaching. As the initial wave of clouds began passing over us I recall feeling so small and helpless. We were in an area of the Rockies where there are many Fourteeners. These huge mountain peaks and valleys which surrounded us became even more menacing as the large clouds passed by. Their shadows rolled over the rocky terrain effortlessly. As the wind increased and became much cooler I easily imagined how one could perish atop one of these peaks without proper clothing and shelter. It was intimidating.

The image above captures one of our colorful sun sets. I like taking reflective photographs occasionally and thought it fun to shoot the sky reflecting off my Jeep’s window along with my silhouette. It appears I am shooting myself with the camera. However, I can assure you that my Canon has no bullets, only buttons and dials.

T I M E

Conversing with a long-time friend via email yesterday, Bill told me his wife was doing some decluttering and came across her dad’s wrist watch. He passed away 33 years ago-the same year my father died.

Something extraordinary was discovered. The watch was still running and had kept perfect time. And, we don’t know when her dad put a new battery in the watch…it could have been several years earlier before he passed.

How does one explain that? Pretty amazing.

The following photos represent a moment in time. On my return home from errands I came upon a vantage point where I could see an awesome afternoon sky. We had a thunderstorm the day before and these were the remnants of the cloud covering that had produced an abundance of rain.

You may ask what do photos of the sky and clouds have to do with my short story about the watch and time. I thought about that and came up with the following.  For every second I viewed the clouds moving and changing shapes and colors, time elapsed, just like the watch. Our every breath and heartbeat takes time regardless of how fast or slow they occur. That is the correlation.

My conclusion is that time is relative to circumstance, but not to the eternal clock which simply keeps on ticking until the day it stops. My incentive is to make the most of every minute because time, as we know it, may end at any moment for me and for you. It’s now time to share my images (all unedited)…pun intended!

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Maiz on Monday Morning

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Pre-Dawn Corn & Sinking Moon

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Close-up of Corn Stalk Tips as the Sun Rises above the Horizon

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Sunrise Diffused by Clouds

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Sunlight Breaking Through the Clouds

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Cornfield with the Sun Beginning to Illuminate the Stalks

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Close-up of Ripening Corn Stalks with Sunlight

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Infra-red Close-up of Stalks

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Infra-red Image of Corn Field

Pleasant morning with a palette of colors in just an half hour. Afternoon temperature was 95 degrees F…a twenty degree increase from the morning temperature (common for this climate and time of year). Tassels are just now developing with corn heads appearing within a week or two. We are blessed to have an abundance of rich and large tracts of land to grow crops for us and the world.

 

 

 

36,000 Feet

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Many of you have witnessed this dynamic  view from a commercial jet. This one was flying at 525 mph at an altitude of 36,00 feet. We must have had a decent tailwind because we arrived almost twenty minutes early. Typically, most commercial jets fly around 400 to 450 mph to preserve fuel.

Flying from the east coast to Kansas City, the cloud covering began to thicken as we got closer to our destination. I like clouds and find them fascinating as long as I am above them or below them…not so much when I am in the midst of them. Flying in a bus with wings is equally as fascinating. After the Wright Brothers, Bleriot and Curtis changed the concept of “lighter than air travel”, literally the sky became the limit. Needless to say, our lives have been changed forever.

Instead of taking a steam ship across an ocean, a stage coach across the plains or walking from one village to another, man’s expectations and ingenuity created newer and faster and more comfortable means of travel. Considering how we traverse the world (much less our city or rural countryside) we have leaped ahead a century into impatient people who can’t stand to wait a moment longer to board a plane , a train, a rental car or taxi. A far cry from not that long ago. Waiting was simply a part of life then and still is in many parts of our world.

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Perhaps the most daunting challenge concerning flying in this century is going through security and obtaining our boarding pass (if not done ahead of time). It is not just the process, but also there are a certain amount of travelers who are in hyper-mode and can be quite rude at times. Ever missed a flight? I have. Was it enjoyable? No. Did I survive? Yes. Will I travel by jet again? Yes. Although I haven’t traveled on Virgin Airlines to-date, I believe Richard Branson had it right when he said that air travel should be less stressful and more enjoyable. He had the money to change that and he created a new and different commercial airline company. Kudos to him for doing so.

On my flight back from Philadelphia I witnessed numerous young families with babies and toddlers. They were pushing strollers, carrying bags, pulling bags, walking with backpacks and children in arms. One would expect these parents would be the most rude and less understanding about all of the rules and waiting. Instead, I found them to be the most patient and pleasant of all the travelers I encountered. So, why are those who have the most issues to deal with the most patient and pleasant. Perhaps dealing with issues on a regular basis, and knowing what to expect prepared them for the task ahead with the end result being worth it. Whether visiting family and /or friends or vacationing, they took all of the hassles in stride. It’s kind of like our ancestors did before technology “simplified” our lives. I appreciated the 36,000 feet ride back home more than ever…even with babies crying.

Sky Torch

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Rather large for the Olympic Torch, and too small to actually hold the Sun, but here it is. A large water tower adjacent to a run of high voltage transmission lines. The cloud cover blanketed the sky, except for an area which allowed the sun’s brilliance to shine through.

Timing and location are critical to so many things in life including photography. Once I saw the morning glow from a totally different perspective, I drove to a spot that I was familiar with and waited for the sun to travel along its early morning path. This was the result.

I posted this photo a few years ago and came across it again while searching for another image. It was taken during this time of year and it just drew me in. I hope you like it.

Almost

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This photograph is of Thursday morning’s sunrise. Or, should I say attempted sunrise? Shortly after I took a series of photos within a five minute period, the sun didn’t shine through the clouds the rest of the day.

However, I was hoping for a breakthrough of sorts as it has been rather dreary of late.

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For this photo, I zoomed in a bit closer. I liked the thin clouds intruding ever-so-faintly in front of the emerging sun…gentle waves of ethereal vapor.

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As can be seen, sunlight had no chance of illuminating our region…it seemed to simply fade away. We almost had a sunny day. We almost were warmed by the sun’s rays. We almost enjoyed the pleasantness which seems to attach itself to sunshine.

Almost can be encouraging or discouraging depending on perspective. In this case, I almost did not get the opportunity to view this short-lived image or shoot it with my Canon, but I did. I’ll take that as encouragement every time!

Shadows

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Shadows can be fun, mysterious, frightful, intentional, random, and even boring. Regardless of how they are viewed and make us feel, they can all be explained by a law of physics: light is interrupted by an opaque or semi-opaque object and darkness is created in the form of the object on the opposite side of the illuminated object.

The shape and degree of darkness are controlled by several factors: light intensity, angle of the light source illuminating the object, movement of the object or light source, opaqueness of the object being illuminated, location of the viewer with respect to the object, the terrain upon which the shadow falls, and the distance of the shadow.

In the case of this lengthy shadow, I was atop the lighthouse with a clear view of the shadow being cast. The sun was bright and at an angle as it was afternoon. The lighthouse was opaque, except for the glass windows which reveal the light fixture. Although the type of surface which accepted the shadow changes from land to water, both are relatively level and flat. Hence, the shadow is directly in-line with the lighthouse.

However, aside from a scientific explanation there is something else about shadows-perhaps something almost sinister. Our imaginations can run wild so-to-speak when we allow the shadow to come ‘alive’ in our minds. We ‘feel’ its presence which can send chills up our back and make us look over our shoulder repeatedly. Yet, logically, we know shadows are not alive, but they are attached to the object casting it via invisible cords. Those cords which lead us to the objects are what we really fear-the shadows only confirm their existence.

There are more to shadows than meets the eyes. It is what they reveal which makes them so special..so ethereal. Not only do they reveal a hint of the object casting the shadow, they often expose something deep inside of us which is only triggered by the faded image. When I gaze upon this scene I am reminded of warmth, relaxation and discovery-all very pleasant feelings. Fortunately, I viewed this shadow in bright circumstances and there was no negativity attached to it or the lighthouse. That is not always the case.

I recall a memory of shadows which affected me unexpectedly. Many years ago I hiked to the top of a 12,000 foot mountain in the Rockies of Colorado. The day was sunny and the weather pleasant. After a while I noticed dark, swiftly moving shadows rolling across the rocky terrain. Clouds, and then more clouds. Fast and then faster they came. With the sun blazing above them they cast menacing looking images onto the mountain top. I recall vividly how I suddenly felt so very small and insignificant in comparison to the grandeur of nature’s power. The majesty of the mountains coupled with a storm fast approaching made me very aware that had I stayed on top of that mountain when the full force of the storm passed over, I would not have returned from whence I started. I was amazed that all it took were shadows to evoke these thoughts and feelings.

With a slight chuckle I think of the movies with sinister plots and shadows which scare those acting as well as those viewing.  Feelings of fearfulness and harm cause the heart to race-all because of shadows. Or, is it the shadows? Perhaps deeper reasons exist.

Chasing Shadows

386This past weekend we returned from a trip we made to Ft. Worth, Texas, where we visited relatives. There is a section of Interstate I-35 between Emporia and El Dorado, Kansas where the famed Flint Hills are intersected by the highway. The Flint Hills are a  geological feature with tall mounds covered with natural prairie grass and gullies cut into the rock. These hills stretch across the eastern portion of Kansas at a North to South direction for 200 miles and are approx.80 miles wide. The elevations vary, but average about 1,400 feet above sea level. They are similar to a mini-mountain range. Due to the flint (chert) near the surface of these hills, farming is not possible. However, the great stand of Blue Stem prairie grass is perfect for cattle grazing. Cattle dot the landscape like trees do mountains at the timber-line. When atop one of the many hills, the visibility is astoundingly far, as if one were looking across a great ocean of blowing grasses. To view photos and learn more, please check out the Flint Hills via your browser as there are multiple sites which display this region.

On our return trip, as we were well into the Flint Hills, there was broken cloud cover. These clouds were moving very quickly. As the shadows of these clouds blocked the sun momentarily, racing shadows swept across the ocean with great beauty. Only a video camera could really capture the essence of what I am trying to describe. A still photograph would give you a static version of a moving thing which would be of some benefit, but it could not convey the race that was taking place. Although we were traveling at the designated 75 miles per hour speed limit, these shadows swept over us like planes. I wanted to catch a shadow, but knew it would be a futile effort so I chased them instead. As the highway would wind and climb then drop and climb again, each group of shadows would laugh at us. They were free of the restrictions of earth and gravity and pavement.

So, I thought as I drove. I marveled at the sheer beauty of clouds and their offspring. I calculated their speed and distance. I was in awe of their ‘light as air’ design, and the ability of each cloud to obscure our view of the sun…even for only a few seconds. The shapes and heights and colors of clouds amaze me, especially at sunsets when white becomes gold or possibly red-orange. And the shadows. They are shift and elusive. They ply across the ground, covering everything in their path as they dart past our field of vision. Magnificent is the word for what I saw. I wish you could have witnessed it for the heavens put on quite a show Monday afternoon.

Have you ever chased a shadow? Caught one? Why not try? Free yourself from anything that holds you back and simply ‘go for it ‘. While you’re busy chasing shadows and staring at clouds, consider who made them and rejoice that we have been given yet another reminder that this world was created for a reason and not by accident. That reason just happens to be you…and me. By enjoying the simple, yet most profound things this world has to offer, you may discover a new dimension to living…peace.

Masterpiece in Blue & White

1-26-14 032What is a masterpiece? Depending on the dictionary, one definition may read like this: any production of art which is created by one who is most competent in his or her trade, and whose work is most excellent in every way (my paraphrase of several choices).1-26-14 040As I gazed into the afternoon sky a few days ago I realized that I was observing a flowing work of art which was being painted by the Grand Master himself. His canvas was the sky and his brush strokes left behind a trail of cotton colored clouds. His method is always facile and his boundaries limitless.1-26-14 030Within a span of fifteen minutes I witnessed a hundred paintings. Each was unique and oh, so beautiful. I recall as a child the fascination that clouds held for me…laying on my back on a bed of grass, a warm breeze touching my face, and watching the sky turn into a playground of animals and people and things that went fast. Imagining was so fun.1-26-14 021Even though I am a bit older (ha!) I still enjoy watching the clouds form overhead, as in a ballet of sorts. I marvel at how quickly the images on the canvas change. As much as I enjoy the art, it is the awe for the artist that really captures me. Isn’t that true of any great master…we celebrate the maker as well as his creations.1-26-14 025Therefore, I leave you with this thought. Be conscious of what is above in addition to what is around you. Look up more often and spend less time peering down…the view is so much more spectacular!1-26-14 016