In Wild Light



 April 5th, 2023 : SPRING FLING

It is with jumping joy that I embrace this time of year. I am always enamored by the sight of new leaves as they emerge from their winter dormancy. The developing chlorophyll in the leaf structures seems softer and the buds have a variety of colors that resemble the bountiful displays of autumn. Not as bold, but nonetheless stunning. I can drive through the countrysides all day with complete entertainment as I follow the light that shimmers on the new leaflets. If the wind orchestrates their movement just right, they dance like lights on a Christmas tree.   ​ ​ ​ ​

However, my mode of attack seems more rushed than usual.  Spring does that to me.  Other seasons, even autumn, seem to have a longer life, but spring, that little angel of hope and promise, seems to change noticeably each day, right before my eyes.  If I photograph a cluster of purple blossomed redbuds at their peak,  within a few days their color blast is gone.  Flowers on the trails bloom and seem to disappear immediately the next week. That tribe of goldfinch that visits our yard each morning immediately appears dressed in the bright yellow/gold.  Waterfalls are busting, rivers swell, and the warming temperatures punctuate each passing day.  Life is ripping by and I do everything I can to hold on for the ride. ​

Goodness gracious Mother Nature, please slow down.

 February 9th, 2023 : THE PINK JACKET

It was a brief glimpse on the nightly news. Walking away, I saw a little girl, maybe 2 years old, with one had holding her mother’s hand and the other arm clutching her baby doll. She was confused. But it was the pink winter coat with hood pulled tightly up that struck me. It looked just like our daughter’s coat. The one that she always seemed to cry when wearing.

Then I listened to the report. In the cold of winter, these children were fleeing thehopeless and ravaged conditions to board a train and flee Ukraine.

That image punched me in the gut and left me stunned and breathless in a way that seemed personal. Shanking with anger, I realize, in the leadership of Russia, I have just experienced the epitome of evil. And I am helpless.

I can only hope that hell is large enough.

 January 3, 2023 : NEW YEAR’S RAMBLINGS

As my number of years increases, I do become wiser, yet at the same time I realize the depth and scope of things that I know nothing about is expansive. In essence, as the knowledge base of the world grows geometrically, I am becoming increasingly more stupid. And I am fine with that. However, hereere are some things I am sure of… maybe sure.

* If you live from the inside out, always looking to give your energy to the welfare of others, you will be rewarded in ways unforeseen. Thinking of yourself, what you deserve, and what’s in it for you is a recipe for personal disaster.

* You cannot DO anything you want. A lot, but not anything.There are human limitations to achievement. But you can BE the kind of person you want. Character has no boundaries.

* We are a species that always trends to do more, go farther, and push ourselves to our limits. We enjoy breaking records. We love achievements and strive to do more than the next person. While I applaud effort and avoid mediocrity, it’s probably a good idea to step back and examine our motives. Are we killing ourselves for the wrong reasons? Money, fame, and acquiring stuff, will never be as important as time spent with those we love.

* The culture of poverty is real and powerful. We must do everything possible to ensure people have a quality education and genuine guidance to break free and attain their potential as contributors to society.

* If all the countries (and people) in the world were cooperative, trustworthy, friendly, and compassionate allies with only the desire to make the world a better place for all people… think of the possibilities. Without needing to spend the money on weapons for safety and security, we could change the world in ways never imagined.

* Creativity and problem solving drive the future.

* I think everyone is rather strange. If true, it would logically follow that everyone thinks I am rather strange. And I am fine with that.

God bless each and every one of you.


As I sit here, all around the world there are children laughing in the sunshine. They are living joyfully and learning peacefully how to live together. Back at home in their safe, quiet spaces, they are coloring. No doubt, like all children, they are coloring scenes with their homes nestled in rolling landscapes with trees, mountains, billowy clouds, a brilliant sun and certainly a rainbow. Kids love rainbows.

They pay no attention to the world news surrounding their fragile lives. They have no grasp of the evil that exists in the heartless minds of our world leaders. Their actions fueled by power, greed, ego, and money have put our children at a risk that they never imagined and really never signed up for. Our children live by simpler rules; cooperate, compromise, share, befriend, love. They draw rainbows.

We are living at a time with the most divided value systems in my recollection. But I still hold dearly to my belief that the overwhelming majority of people are deep down good. Very good. It tears my heart out to see how we are immearsed in such a volatile pot of anger and mistrust.

And our world leaders stir this pot daily. They have no respect for individual dignity, the preservation of resources, or national sovereignty. They seemingly have no idea nor interest in the far reaching destuctiveness of their words and actions

If a world leader’s top priority is not to protect children, all children, then their focus is fatally flawed. If they are missing this generative gene then damn us all to perpetual misery. Where has the wisdom gone? Where has cooperation and compromise been lost upon those who could make sweeping changes over night?

Who is protecting our rainbows?

Note: It is unlike me to write anything remotely related to politics. I avoid it like the plague. But I see a huge bridge was blown up last night and some seem to be happy about it. Even celebrate it. 3 people were killed while driving across. Oh well, don't let that spoil the celebration.

 September 30, 2022 : AN ARTIST'S JOURNEY

It has taken some time, but I do see myself as an artist. And I genuinely think that everyone has the makings of an artist deep within themselves. So after 40+ years of pointing my camera at the world, I wonder just how have I got here.

Art is the stored honey of the human soul, gathered on wings of misery and travail. -Theodore Dreiser

As a photographer of wilderness, I am driven to find beautiful places, However, being there is never enough. I love the experience of being outdoors under the most ridiculous conditions, but that’s not enough either. To capture significant photos not only did I need to understand the scene before my eyes, but I needed to understand myself and how my heart feels about the world in general. Of course this means the scope of my photography can be as diverse as my personality. The gamut from misery to ecstacy.

We all live though a boatload of emotional experiences. Some more than others. I seem to have learned how to tap into the valleys of heartbreak and open these gates of deep feelings when composing a photograph. The highs emotional highs have always been easy but the images of great meaning to me come from places of pain, confusion, and bitterness.

Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one. -Stella Adler

However, having my life riddled with some painful challenges drives me to express these, as well as using mother nature to heal my soul. The same waterfalls that sweep me away can at the same time heal my wounds. I relate to the loneliness and solitude of a quiet lake while using its still waters to rest my eyes upon.

Much like climbing a mountain, beginning in the deep and dark valleys I am often lost and cold. Suffering through exhaustion and many moments of doubt and pain, I reach the top and the views are stunning and easy to celebrate. But I have gratitude for the valleys also. Without them, there are no peaks.

 September 20, 2022 : SHARING THE SOUL

The artist vocation is to send light into the human heart. -George Sand

This is no more evident than when I dance on the rim of the Grand Canyon and try to make a photographic statement about the vast significance of what’s before my eyes and more so, what’s in my heart.

I’ve just returned home from my 18th trip to the Canyon, traveling to different locations at different times of the year. For me, going to the Canyon is going home. The Grand Canyon speaks to me. The Grand Canyon shares its soul. I listen.

 August 16th, 2022 : HER MAJESTY DOUBLE FALLS

I immediately reach the edge of the canyon where the double waterfall is said to live. I hear its roar long before I see it as I begin to step carefully down a muddy but clearly visible trail. Then it gets a bit serious. I notice an observation point where most people view the falls from but I prefer to meet my water face to face. So I begin to climb down.

The rocks are tilted, slippery, and steep. At moments like this it becomes necessary to become acutely aware of the danger yet also adept at deceiving yourself that you are safe. It’s a delicate balance where fools meet sissies.

Ah ha! Someone has fixed a series of climbing ropes through the tricky parts. Not as scary as crossing the Khumbu Icefall on Everest but till a bit dicey. However, the fear of falling farther than my butt is gone. I reach the bottom and true to rumor, it is gorgeous! But one problem, this was a scouting trip. My camera and tripod were back in the truck.

So I climb back out ( much easier) and retrieve my backpack with camera gear and select my largest tripod to withstand the water. Back at the bottom, I ford the creek then stumble through boulders until I am standing knee deep, in an angry current, directly in the face of her majesty, double falls.

I hear someone scream. “ are you a blogger.” I have no idea what a blogger is, but I assume it has someting to do with playing in waterfalls.

 August 15th, 2022 : WHILE ON MY BICYCLE

I have all these wonderful thoughts while in the flow of riding my bicycle, but unable to write them down, by the time I get back home they usually have evaporated.

But today was different. I was reminded how different we are at age 40 than we were at 13. I reconnected with a student that I hadn’t spoken with in 30 years. Lost and disinterested in school at age 13, he shared with me how at the time he was struggling with the grief of a lost parent and the usual difficulties of a teenager. He was without serious concern for anything. Now he has now blossomed into a multi-dimensional, adventurous, hard-working, and loving man with a keen intellect and abundant dreams for the future. I was obviously moved by his story.

Then it occured to me how many similar stories, including my own, that I have heard over the years. From confused and broken to focused and healing, we are all on ships sailing to places never imagined.

Be patient with everyone you meet. Especially the young. They are likely on a road to becoming a person that neither you, nor they, even know exists yet.


So what does one do on Father’s Day when you’ve lost your only child?

I get up early and onto my bike. On quiet country roads I fly past huge fields with the morning mist still hanging in the air and lonesome cattle wondering why anyone would choose to move so quickly on a Sunday morning. Or any morning for that matter.

I wave at a young black child, shirtless and barefooted in the grass. He smiles back and my heart is warmed with the goodness of children. An old man on a tractor waves to me as does a man in a pickup truck. There is no anger down here wher we live. People truly like each other.

I cross myself as I pass a church. And another. And another. I continue to find it amazing that the South has so many churches. Most of them are in the middle of nowhere. But here on a Sunday morning they all seem to have a tiny congregation who loyally pray together. I hear music coming from one not much bigger than a garage. One church I pass is actually named Sweet Home Church. Another one is Mt. Nebo but I never have seen the mountain.

After a long ride I decided to work in our rock garden. I dig trenches and pull weeds. A planned half hour turns into 2 hours. It is honest labor and the only reward is pride in a job well done. While working I am visited by 2 yellow butterflies. This requires no explanation but I am moved deeply the reminder that I am never alone.

I have heard my phone dinging a lot today. I know these are well wishers but I am passing on responding until later. I am still stunned after all the years that people remember me on Father’s Day. I love them all dearly but the words describing my loss, my life with Meredith, are impossible.

The other day I mentioned that I see the world through the eyes of my daughter. She is with me constantly. Because no one sees her no one ever acknowledges her. I completely understand this. So when someone takes the time to think or speak of our daughter, I am struck the greatest act of kindness that I can receive.

Later in the afternoon, the dog and sit on the front porch. I read and sip a protein shake. She takes a nap, as do I. Then Pam, Iris J. Easydog and I jump in the All Terrain Cart and hit the trails for an evening ride. There are 3 orphaned wood ducks on one of the lakes that I have been feeding. This evening they were gone. I am worried.

I decide against photography this evening. Crystal clear skies usually make for uninteresting light around here. I choose a healthy dinner, evening on the couch, a movie, and a snack. With my wife at my side I find my most cherished blessing.

In a thoughtful moment, I realize this is a normal day for me. Since the loss of Meredith I continue to have bad days and good days. Sometimes for no reason whatsoever. The only twist that makes Father’s Day worse is that while other’s celebrate, my loss is more salient. We should all keep in mind, that what began as an idea to honor fathers has the collateral damage of hurting others. So the challenge goes on but the love lasts forever.

 June 15, 2022 : ARE YOU ALIVE?

This question was posed to me from someone who noticed that I have not written a Journal Post since January 31st. To confirm: Yes I am.

I have gotten into the bad habit of jotting down ideas to write about, write a sentence or two, and then never getting back to them. I imagine there are some good reasons for this but none of them are worthy excuses. My newly released book has occupied too much of my time so I have been choosing to spend more of it photographing the emerging spring and riding my bicycle more foolish miles then necessary.

However, GOODNESS: I have been signing a lot of books these past months. With the release of Searching for Sweet Home / The Goodness Before Your Eyes, I have enjoyed the opportunity to scroll a few sentences in each one that crosses my desk. I find this great fun. It reminds me of my teaching days when at the end of the school year I am honored to sign hundreds of yearbooks. I like to be unique with my words because each individual receiving a book is certainly worth that acknowledgement, but I keep coming back to the concept and phrase I’ve been using requently - ’overwhelming goodness.’

I took a 7-week sabbatical from watching or listening to ANY news. While difficult at first ( I enjoy knowing what’s going on in the world ) I soon found that much of the tsunami of negativity was missing from my world view. The anger, the confrontations, the violence, and the petty dramatics that get our attention in the name of shock value were GONE. I began to focus with the positivity that people are deeply good, by nature humorous, and in a multitude of ways, inspirational.

So now, SAVE THE WORLD: I cannot, by any huge action, do this. And am not sure how much I can even change it. But I still believe each individual has the power, to change the polarity and divisiveness by reaching out to another person and spreading genuine goodness. Simply a kind word or action towards another. Together, think of the millions of units of goodness, each day that would send a tsunami of compassion, understanding, and love to others. Baby steps by a population change the world.

THANK YOU Pam and I send our deepest gratitude to all that have purchased the new book. The Meredith Williams Foundation remains strong because of your support. I will try to post here a bit more often for those who follow my musings.

 January 31st 2022 : GRIEF

Lord, how long have I got to keep on running? Seven hours, seven days or seven years? All I know is, since you've been gone, Feel like I'm drowning in a river, Drowning in a river of tears —Eric Clapton

Some days, the world is not such a glorious place. Some days, it seems difficult to move yourself into the sunshine and feel good about things. Some days, the weight of the world is crushing and the pain is unbearable. Some days the struggle to figure out the fairness and search for silver linings is impossible.

You may have been here before but even knowing this doesn’t make the ominous clouds of sorrow disappear. You try to soldier your way through it and count your blessings, but alas, there is only one solution. Embrace the sadness.

I allow myself to be angry rather than swallow it. I identify my hurt and own it. I breathe.I show patience and understanding with myself. I welcome the water welling up in my eyes.

I caution myself. This is not a time for hurtful outbursts but rather for deep introspection of my core. This is about my sadness and not meant to be the baggage of others. Their support is kind and necessary but I must do the inner work. It is heavy lifting.

I accept, with faith, that this too shall pass. Some pain will never go away but I will learn how to to put it in a special place and function with joy and purpose.

To sing the blues you must live the blues. And we all need to sing again. With passion. And I am reminded that passion comes from the word pain.

I breathe. I grieve. I grow.

 January 20, 2022 : IT’LL CRUSH YOUR SOUL

I haven’t written a Journal Post since August. For anyone who reads them and is wondering why, I feel a brief explanation seems reasonable.

In September, the release of my new book drew me into the world of business again; marketing, advertising, bookkeeping, shipping, handling, inventories, stocking materials, tax obligations, legal affairs, banking, etc. I have always tried to do these jobs on my own but I possess none of the requisite skills to do so. Simply, I am not built for this.

Even after self-publishing 3 books now, the tasks have not gotten easier. For 4 months I have worked 24/7 to put my new book, Searching for Sweet Home, out into the eyes of others. This is a task that wraps me into a bundle of stress, pressure, and old-fashioned crabbiness. Compare that to the 4 years of joyful labor that it took me to create the book and anyone can see the issue. A wise friend tells me that business realities will crush the soul of an artist. This seems to apply to me.

I imagine such business skills could be learned but my background was well-rooted in other interests where my left-brain often remained dormant while my right hemisphere danced with more imaginative methods.

I mean no offense to those in the business fields. I’m sure the right brains live there too, but for the near future, I’m returning to the person I am most comfortable with allowing to be me - the wandering artist.

I think it best for now to sling my backpack and cameras over my shoulder and continue working on new photo projects that and allow my thoughts to wander in any direction they wish.

 August 26,2021 : I DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR THIS

I woke up at 2:45 am. I should have known that when I drove 2 hours through a tropical storm to Atlanta Airport and showed up at the gate soaking wet that my trip to Arizona was ominous.

After the usual airport delays, rental truck challenges, and flash fool detours, I arrived at my destination.That night I slept in solitude at a remote location within the arms of my beloved Grand Canyon. Now at my home away from home I could rest easy and at first light begin to work on my enduring photo project.

The next morning, dashing along the rim to chase the dawning sunrise… I fell. While splashed on the rocks and grimacing in pain I thought I would only need a couple of minutes and I would be fine. It’s what all good warriors believe. Not this day.

After a hike back to the truck with a bloody gash to my knee and an hour ride a bumpy ride 4 x4 dirt road the truck hit smooth pavement. Then 30 minutes to the nearest town, with no medical facilities, and another hour to beautiful Kanab, Utah I found a doctor able to sew me up.

15 well-placed stitches closed my knee from any hiking and 3 days of heavy rain made all my destinations to remote lands impassable. Restless sleep and a swollen leg made the passing days you-tube worthy and laughable. One evening it took me an hour to set up my tent and another hour to get wrestle myself into it.

I’ve been home for a few days now. Grand Canyon one. Peaceful outdoor experience zero.

But yes, I did get that shot.


I feel at home when I am tip-toeing on the rim of the Grand Canyon and later that night, snuggled under a tree with zillions of stars in the night sky wishing me a good night’s sleep. I also feel the comfort of home alongside the mountain lakes and alpine tundra of my beloved Rocky Mountain National Park. Often cold and windy at these high altitudes, I still feel a sense of belonging that warms me to the core.

So too have the forests and prairies of Illinois have always welcomed my footsteps. This was my home for many years as I learned how to see deeper into the familiar and turn over stones to discover even more gifts. And I have been blessed to find home on the placid lakes of the Northwoods. They have always been a place to dip my canoe paddle and provide me with a soft cushion of moss or leaves to rest my head at the end up long days.

Even the Deep South now is beginning to feel like home. I have grown to accept the humidity as it wraps me in a moist blanket while the biodiversity staggers me as if Alabama wants me to know it’s America’s Amazon.

All these places, and more, feel like ‘home’ to me. But they all lead me back to my one true home: Me. To feel comfortable in my own skin is taking a lifetime. As it should. If I can come back to my core and accept with humility all my issues, complete with dings and dents, then I will always be home wherever I am. There is a simple peace in knowing we are all works-in-progress and the opportunity to grow is given to us each day.

Seize the Day.

 May 15, 2021 : THE WAIT IS OVER

Generally speaking, a wilderness does not howl: it is the imagination of the traveler that does the howling. -Henry David Thoreau

For over a year now, I have sat in my office and stared at my canoe paddle resting up against a wall within arms reach. The table behind my desk always has maps spread across it along with my dreams of exploration. And there, in the corner, my camera bag has also been waiting. Patiently waiting to travel afar.

My wife and I have practiced solitude and cleanliness, following the evolving science and kept a considerate distance away from society. Sweet and often glorious as it has been, I have not left the borders of my home state in over a year. That’s unusual for me. I enjoy home, but needs my life needs to be punctuated by adventures to other parts of the country. My eyes need the diversity of new sights and my heart needs to be fed with inspiration.

With two shots of the miraculous vaccine in my arm I felt the confidence to get on an airplane and travel to the Great Someplace of Significant Adventure. Finally! This year of self-imposed isolation needed a reprieve.

I wanted to go someplace that required me to sleep on a rock in the cocoon of my sleeping bag. I wanted to live on powerbars and cheese bagels. I wanted to brave bumpy, dirt roads. I needed to hoist a too-heavy pack and struggle across terrain where there are no trails. I wanted to rest under the weight of a star studded sky and rise early to great the day in a new world. I needed to roam.

I have just returned home from the deep backcountry of the Grand Canyon. And for now, the beast of wanderlust has been fed.

This past year has taught me many things. Two primarily come to mind: I am blessed to have married the right girl and I can live a simple life with physical activity and creative opportunities right out my doorstep. But occasionally, my inner wolf needs to howl in far away places.


Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures. -Henry Ward Beecher

A common question I get from people who look at my photography is, “Where do you find these places?’ And while it is true that I do spend time with books and maps doing the research, the locations are only a tiny part of the equation. Upon arriving at a location, the most important thing I can find is myself, my soul.

For me, it’s difficult to put into words. Even after all these years, I cannot put together a definitive recipe for a successful photograph. I’m certain it’s very different for everyone. It might be a lot like grief, where everyone is on their own unique path of processing and making some sense of the world in front of them. The experience is more a spiritual journey than a sense of location. That becomes the most thrilling thing about the arts. We are all unique and being true to ourselves is always the best course to follow

Anyone who wishes to make significant images consistently and not simply the happenstance of stumbling on a fortunate/lucky few, needs to make this journey into their souls. But because this realm of discovery is so personal and individually experiential, I am forever lost in explaining exactly how to make a significant photo to another person, even if they are standing directly next to me.

I am only faintly able to identify what usually works for me. I try to allow my experience at a location be the cue to sending me a photo possibility. There are several things at work here simultaneously. What is the place saying to me? Is there a message that I’m receiving from being there? And most importantly how am I responding and what do I have to say about it. How best to put these feelings succincty into a photograph is the challenge.

Again, the photographs that have meanings and messages are the ones I feel most powerfully about. But I also understand the viewer comes from an entirely different world of experiences than I do, so their interpretation likely will be entirely different from mine. And that’s okay too. Wonderful that we all have our own paintbrush.

 March 15, 2021 : MY FINEST HOUR

For some, it’s Christmas. For others, it the opening of fishing season. I know Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July are popular. And kids love the last day of school. But my favorite day of the year is quite possibly in mid-March when we spring our clocks forward into Daylight Savings time.

I know, we don’t really save an hour. In fact, we actually lose an hour of sleep. Big deal. From my humble view, I love the fact that at the end of my day, when I am use to going inside, holy cow, it’s still light out! Even as a child, this was a joyous event. We were able to stay out in the streets and ‘play’ longer. It was like an unexpected desert. It was free time.

Now, as a sometimes functioning adult, I still relish the ability to be outdoors longer at the end of the day. Again, I know that there is a cost at the morning end of the day but my psyche doesn’t see it that way. My mind is easily fooled. I think the days are longer and the reward is at the end of the day. Also compounded by the reality that the days ARE indeed getting more sunshine and the coming warmth of spring is upon us. The Spring Equinox is also a personal favorite.

New Zealand entomologist George Hudson first proposed modern DST in a 1895 paper. His shift-work job gave him leisure time to collect insects and led him to value after-hours daylight. Really George? It’s also been touted as a reason to give farmers more time in the field. Really? I think farmers are wise enough to budget their time accordingly. The US adopted the DST practice in the 1970’s as an energy savings move ( a benefit that’s never been proven).

I enjoy daylight savings time. I am in the group that believes it should be permanant.

The only sound reason for tinkering with the clocks relates to children standing on street corners in the dark while waiting to be picked up by school busses. Hey, I have an idea. Simply start school an hour later in the winter. Lost learning time? Possibly not. Just cut out all the nonsense in a child’s winter school schedule; assemblies, drills, teacher institute days, standardized tests, and do we really need 2 weeks off at Christmas? For that matter, shorten history class. Look around the world. We obviously haven’t learned much from our mist

As a young boy, mom made me come in when the street lights went on. That extra hour was my finest wish come true.

*I realize I have likely insulted entomologist, George Hudson, farmers, energy conservationists, assembly givers, fire drill aficionados, teacher institute hosts, developers of tests, Christmas-loving Catholics, teachers needing rest, and history teachers per se.

**Please know that I respect entomologists and my beloved grandparents were farmers. I am an energy conservation proponent, I see the necessity in fire, bus, disaster and lock-down drills, and value worthwhile teacher institute days. As a career long teacher I enjoyed the holidays but 16 days for Christmas (yes I am Catholic) is an unnecessarily long break. And history teachers, God bless you.

Coming mom!

 March 2, 2021 : HONESTY IN ART

In art, honesty that comes from direct, unpretentious human experience, and reconnects us to our own humanity and nature.” -Materese Roche

Integrity is everything. When I see or feel a potential photograph standing in front of me, I want it to represent something more than beautiful. I want my work to be open and honest in its representation of the composition and with its form and light. But I hope that it also up provides a vessel into my own soul. For whatever my strengths and flaws, I want the viewer to see through my eyes not only the joy but if necessary sorrow as I allow myself to bleed a bit.

Like my writings, I prefer my photographs to be mostly simple, keeping only the necessary essence of the scene that the meaning requires. If I can weave the experience of myself and the viewer into a coherent message, then I am successful in doing more than replicating beauty. I have built a relatioinship of honesty with myself and with viewers.

Of course, this takes time, both on the photographer’s end and that of the viewer. However, taking that time to not just look, but to connect, experience, and reveal a viewpoint can be enriching at a level far greater than just snapshot can provide.

I try to give each day the moments they deserve.


The scientists at NASA mission control stand and cheer! Proud with the excitement of success, we have landed on Mars. For an 8th time to boot! This mission set us back, or forward if you prefer, 2.7 billion dollars. It took 7 years traveling at 12,000 miles per hour to go 293 million miles. The spacecraft sped through the friction of thousands of degrees of martian atmosphere to land on a dime at temps of -80 on the planet’s surface. Along with 23 cameras, the rover will roam around the area, gather samples for study, and send them back to earth on a separate rocket. There’s even a helicopter on board to set off on its own explorations.

As a science teacher, I find this all thrilling and support the research fully. But given the amount of scientific, technical, engineering, and mathematical power this must take, I am troubled by a conflict with these accomplishments and my real world realities:

* why doesn’t my iPhone connect to iTunes on my apple computer? * why do I continually drop calls from my office? * why does my television constantly need time to buffer? * and why can’t I get hot water in my shower?

C’mon. Really? We can do Mars?

 February 24, 2021 : I RECEIVED THIS TEXT

It’s hazy here this morning, which doesn’t happen often. But there’s this perfectly powdery snow falling so everything is white and soft, And as I came outside to put the kids in the car and take them to daycare, the light turned the world into someplace magical. It was just breathtaking. The faintest hint of shadows, the snow all looks like it’s lit from within, the sky was just the palest orange into the palest blue. This light. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before ( at least not when I’ve been awake). It was so soft and beautiful and enchanting. The kind of light that takes your breath away. Or inspires someone to pick up a camera and go to the most remote and beautiful places they can find in search of this light and this feeling again. I think maybe for the first time I got a glimpse of an understanding of why you love it so much. And I thought of you and missed you.” - Kristin Kay Mitchell Birkner

More than a former student, Kristen is a cherished friend and former Boundary Waters paddling buddy. Seems like years since we’ve talked or guided our canoe through the silent waters of a northern lake. This text was a day maker. Very few people know what it’s like to scroll trough wilderness and search for meaningful photographs. It’s not as easy as it looks.

Kristin knows what it’s like to carry the weight of canoe and gear on your shoulders as you trample through a muddy portage. She knows what it’s like to shiver in a cold rain while trying to cook a meal in a flappy tent. And she knows how to quickly build a bonfire when I fall intoan icy lake and am staring hypothermia in the face.

But most of all, she know how I chase the light, always looking for that sliver that opens up a rare and special view. I am never if my adventure buddies appreciate what I see but I’m okay with that because I know that the adventure itself is everything. Well, mostly everything. In my case, te special light is the icing on the cake.

Yay Kristin. You apparently had some icing the other morning.

 January 11, 2021 : HAPPY NEW YEAR

Seems trite. After this past year, any way of looking at the past continues to be mind-boggling. We have all been walking through mud with the only difference being the depth of it. Saying “this too shall pass” doesn’t mean much any longer.

However, the signature of a new year is hope. And so is faith. I truly believe things are going to get better in the coming year. People are beginning to get vaccines for the monster virus that has devastated us and more supplies are on the way. The issues with distribution will be ironed out and vaccinations will grow geometrically. These vaccines are going to work and other companies will manufacture them to meet the needs of everyone. I am optimistic that science, along with peer influence, and a genuine concern for the common good, will persuade skeptics to get the vaccine. Together we can squash this bug to a nothingness.

I have to believe the political climate will ease as the new year develops and a spirit of cooperation will help us find some common ground to solve some very real problems. There will always be issues of contention but it’s time for our leaders to sit down and realize that in the big picture, our common values far exceed our differences.

Our eyes have been opened to many social justice inequities this past year. We are people full of care, kindness, and righteousness. It’s time for us to recognize that we all can do better. It seems time to replace anger with understanding and confrontation with compassion.

Along with loving each other a bit more, it seems reasonable to devote some genuine, tender loving care to our planet. If we follow the science it should become evident that earth needs some things to help it regain its health. I am hopeful that baby steps taken now and continuing into the future will put us on a proper path to conservation and preservation.

I believe in the overwhelming and inherent goodness in people. We are born to love. After a tumultuous year, I am going to plant my seeds of hope into a belief that this goodness can grow and life will become richer in 2021.

Have a blessed new year.

 December 29th, 2020 : 2020 HINDSIGHT/ SIFTING OUT THE GOODNESS

With understanding, the entire world could look back at the past year with varying degrees of anger and frustration. But as my wise angel of gratitude suggests, maybe something good is coming out of it. There is.

First and foremost is the quality and now the quantity of time I am getting to spend with my wife. The days of when we often passed like ships in the night have been replaced with the enjoyment of the simple things, like going together on field trips to the post office, drug store, or carry-out burger place.

The past year has left me with plenty of alone time. There has been ample opportunity for what they call introspection. I am getting to know myself better each day. This often is a bit scary but with proper focus, it also opens up the opportunity to make some change of thoughts and actions in more positive directions.

I am sure we have all been challenged to become more creative in our use of time, both with our activities and our connections with family and friends. With phone calls, zooms, e-mails, and the tools of social media, many of us have seen our aptitude for technology grow. At the same time if we are able to use it wisely, we can apply our new tech-skills to develop deeper relationships with others that we might neglect under normal conditions.

It clearly seems we are also gravitating to more time outdoors. This connection to nature can do nothing but enhance our fitness, well-being, and overall health. Bravo to fresh air and sunshine.

Finally, the virus. With the scientific knowledge and unfolding understanding of the transmission of this particular viral monster, the populous should be gaining and hopefully grasping, a newfound vocabulary with observations, analysis, and application not only for their own decision-making but for a genuine compassion for all fellow humans that we share this world with for better and worse. We are getting harsh lessons of how interconnected we really are.

All of us have be touched by this pandemic. Those with well-earned wisdom, will be strongest as they continue forward and emerge this dark tunnel.

Science, Wisdom, Compassion, and Hope. This is the goodenes that leads us back to normal.

Virtual hugs. Real love. And better days ahead.


People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” -Thích Nhat Hanh

Rocks can be fine teachers of many non-rock values. They are examples of strength, solidarity, and a commitment to hold your ground under all types of duress. On rare ocassions, they have a sudden and tumultuous event but for the most part they change slowly over long periods of unfathomable time. Rocks are steady, secure, and welcoming to our touch. They can tempt us and even taunt us. Yet nonetheless, they erode. All and all, they make reliable friends.

Water too has many songs to share. From a torrential storm to a gentle drizzle, it baptizes us with the blessing of life. It’s power keeps churning along with the flexibility to run over, around, and off things. The river preaches of flow and consistency. Waterfalls lure us with their beauty. Ice intrigues us. And clouds, the promise of things to come. Yet, times of drought remind us of how fragile we all are. In the end, water is mostly about joy. To play in, use to grow our gardens, or simply admire, it’s easy to love our water.

Taken together rocks and water give us this wise advice: Stand firm with your core principles but be willing to go with the flow in times of tubulance.

Here’s to the chemistry that makes our earth the most unique and special place on which to grow a life. A miracle indeed.

 November 15, 2020 : THE TIME CRUNCH

After 40 years, I am still trying to become the photographer that I hope to be someday but I am beginning to feel the time limitations between what I have done and what I still hope to do. One gets a bit philosophical with things as the birthdays begin to add up.

At one time I had a map with pins stuck into all the places I wished to travel. It seemed that each time I removed a pin I placed one or two new ones in. This was bound to be an overwhelming monster to slay, so I discontinued this working mode. Of course, logic persuaded me to try the other angle. I would outline a potential project/goal and then add the pins as I went along. This seems to work a little better and I am actually advancing one photo project using this style.

However, the crunch I am feeling is based in reality. That life in an unfinished project that I will never completely complete. I have come to accept this reality. Doing so is allowing me the freedom to grow at my own pace. I am more than satisfied to learn new things, see new ways, and embrace new ideas without the encumbrance of time.

These days when I’m working on a project, I am done when I feel like I’m done.

Life is so darn simple sometimes. Rarely.

 October 12, 2020 : CAPTURING HOPE

This morning the rain is strong. So strong, that even the dog refuses to go out with me. But I enjoy the rain. I find it cleansing to the body and mind. God knows I need it more this year than most. Like so many others, I struggle to make sense of this broken world. My life is in a new mode of survival that I didn’t sign up for. Or maybe I did.

In tumultuous times, art becomes to be something more to me. These days, when I put the pieces together and try to create a meaningful photograph there is another thought dancing through my head. That there are better days ahead. The belief that this too shall pass.

When I drop my digital paintbrush into the landscape, I want the beauty to remind me that the subject I photograph, the earth, is resilient. Somewhat endangered but always filled with reminders of seasons and cycles of life. Everchanging, yet constantly and powerfully gorgeous to the senses.

Yes, I want my photos to always celebrate this beauty while encouraging everyone to preserve, conserve, and protect our home. But this year, I want to find the promise hope in every image that presents itself.

The birds migrate with the instinct they will return again. The trees lose their leaves with the internal timer that they will grow again, the rocks erode only to make new ones, the dry waterfalls will flow again, and the storm clouds will drift and the sun will shine again.

The rain is slowing now. Time to go and play in puddles and perhaps to look for flowers.


In a world that is broken in more ways than I can recall, I share the following:

Landscaping businesses are experiencing great sales. People are spending more time planting trees, gardening, and in general, working outdoors.

Bike sales and repairs of older bikes have been booming this year as more people are getting outside and riding.

Rather than taking long vacations, people are flocking in high numbers to their local state and national parks for outdoor recreation.

Although stressed beyond reason, teachers are discovering and designing innovative methods to deliver education to their students.

Many people, missing social interactions, are finding creative ways of reaching out and engaging others.

Virtual runs, bike rides, and walks are bringing more people together, at a distance, and joining forces to raise funds for special causes while at the same time adding to their own levels of health and fitness.

Many people are spending more time reading, writing, and thinking. This lost skill of introspection is reintroducing people to themselves.

Hopefully, people are beginning to look at the world as a single entity, where all of us are, for better or worse, connected by the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the lovely planet we share.


I think I have writer’s block. But I am a photographer and not a writer so something else must be causing my inability to snuggle up to an idea and scratch deeply into it. Maybe if I just start spitting out some thoughts something might click.

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” — Ernest Hemingway

THE PRESERVATION OF HUMAN GOODNESS SHOULD BE THE ULTIMATE GOAL. It should be the goal of everything we are and what we seek to achieve. Think of the ramifications to the world if everyone…EVERYONE … were purely GOOD in their intentions, words, and actions. For starters, we could get rid of a lot of bombs, tanks, and defense arsenals. Police, fire, and health care would deal with nothing but accidents and give care to those in need. Stop me now. I’m beginning to think like John Lennon.

GOD DOES NOT PLAY CHESS WITH THE UNIVERSE. He does not make bad things happen to people. You will be challenged in innumerable ways but your free will is his greatest gift. We should say prayers of gratitude. My friend Father Jack told me this. If you say prayers of petition there is no guarantee they will be answered. You may get angry with God. He can handle it. Father Jack told me that too.

AS A WORLD, AS A COUNTRY, AS A COMMUNITY, AS INDIVIDUALS, WE A TERRIBLE AT COOPERATION AND COMPROMISE. We would be wise to find things we agree upon and find the middle ground to move forward. We cannot have everything we want.

TEACHERS ARE THE MOST ESSENTIAL WORKERS. Without them, there are no doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, or bankers.There would be no scientists, no nurses, no nothing. The populous would be unable to read, write, or speak. We would be stumbling around, walking into trees while not even knowing the trees were called trees. The only upside? We would all be artists.

YOU GOTTA FIND A PLACE TO PUT YOUR LOVE. If you are down, if you are stuck, if you are lost deep inside yourself, you need to find a way to toss a little love into someone’s world.

Well... that's a start.


You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn't waste either.” 
-- Galen Rowell

The alarm in the tent went off at 2:00 am, and after a long groan, I rustled out of my sleeping bag to prepare for a 6 mile high that will take me from a deep mountain forest, to above treeline and a barren rocky basin where only jagged peaks and frozen mountain lakes dare to call home.

I shiver at the thought of waking other people from their sleep, but as promised, I shout a wake-up call to my great young friend, Moose. I still can’t figure out why anyone would want to get up in the middle of the night and haul a pack up the side of a mountain just for the sake of doing it. At least I have the dream of a photograph waiting for me at the end.

We both rustle about to put on our boots and stuff our packs but I notice Mooseman is putting his ear buds for music into his head. This almost seems sacrilegious to the peacefulness of the night, as well as an insult to my self-esteem that I am not welcome to speak with him for 3 hours. So, just for the heck of it, I decide to try what I’ve never done before, hike with music. I select a live Dave Matthews concert and away we go together, in our own little bubbles.

Under only the beam of a headlamp, the steep, ankle-twisting trail actually does go by more quickly when listening to music. I am finding it enjoyable. I doubt I could do this ‘music thing’ in the daylight, but for now, the snappy drumbeats added an energetic rhythm to my steps.

After a couple hours, we busted through treeline and met a steep rock stairway leading up to today’s heaven on earth. The ascent was smooth until we hit the krumholz ( german word for twisted, stunted, low growing trees that form a tangled mess and somewhat impossible crossing). Finally when I reach the smooth rock slabs and idyllic setting that I have envisioned, I look back and see Moose swimming with frustration through the krums that appeared to be eating him alive. I laughed, but hurried on ahead to compose an image of the basin in first light.

I took a satisfying but somewhat unremarkable photograph that morning. But I will always recall my first hike with music through the darkness, my friend surfing in the krumholz, and the poignant lesson that it’s not the photograph you will remember but the foolishness of 2 adventurous souls willing to sling packs on and hit the trail at 2:00 am. Just for the experience of it.

Postnote: Moose has gone on to become an emergency room doctor and officer in the Navy. Quite impressive. I continue to negotiate with krumholz.

 July 30, 2020 : COMPASSION

Def: compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it

The world is broken. Socially, politically, sports, education, health… most everything. I have never seen more people anger, confused, and emotionally dispirited. God bless us all. Here in the heat of the Covid monster, everyone is to some extent challenged. Our values, our freedoms, and our very morals are in the line of fire.

Never was it more important that we stick together and communicate. We have the tools to compromise and cooperate. We are blessed with innate compassion if we choose to use it. Our genuine goodness is our most salient human feature. We need to use it with consideration for the lives of others.

For saints, goodness is automatic, but for the frustrated, oppressed, and angry, not so easy. My best hope is for those in positions of power, and influence use their actions to inspire us to that higher place of consciousness. In the absence of reasonable leadership, the goodness must come from within each individual.

Time to live your life like it matters. Not only to you, but to eveyone.


On Father’s Day morning, the moment I entered the forest, I was greeted by a yellow butterfly. It danced quickly in front of me and then down the trail and out of sight. Especially because I didn’t see another one all day, I knew Meri sent this one as she has done many times before at moments too inexplicable to be called coincidence.

In the evening, an unpredicted thunderstorm was ripping through so I dashed down to our lake with undaunted faith. The moment I arrived, there it was. A splendid and fully chromatic rainbow. The first one of the year for my eyes. I know Meri had something to do with this also.

An hour later, I drove to a different location to photograph the last light of the day kissing the clouds with special light. I also went to thank Meri for the gifts. With the hatch of the truck wide open and my music playing across the landscape, my emotions were torn apart between the bitter and the beautiful.

I am deeply touched with the belief that my daughter is sending me these timely gifts. While at the same time, my heart is filled with the ongoing misery that she is not here with me. I share these private moments because I want others to see the miracles that are out there in the spiritual ether, but in the same breath is the heartache that shakes our fragile cores. I am beginning to realize that this conflict may never be resolved.

I am smart enough to know that every yellow butterfly and every rainbow I see are not vestiges from my daughter. However, I am wise enough to know the ones that are.

 FATHER’S DAY BIKE RIDE / June 20, 2020

 : Dear Meredith:

I wanted to do something special for you on Father’s Day weekend. A bike ride with you on my shoulder seemed fitting but, as you know, I like to reach for stars. How about a Meredith Williams Foundation Father’s Day ride? How about a small registartion fee and we donate all the money to a children’s cause? How about doing it virtual, so all of our friends can simply roll their bikes out their driveway and ride? Or course they could come to Alabama and ride with us but we only have one guest bed.

Most importantly, let it serve as a gesture of love for all fathers who have lost a child and all children who have lost their father.

We need to think about this for next year, 2021, but we need a volunteer to try it this year. Me! Me! Choose me! So I cut out a big map and pushed a highlight marker across a route that looked long enough to hurt me. Armed with water bottles, banana, and powerbars I shoved off at 5:00am on a journey along small country roads through the forests and fields of rural Alabama. Of course, you know this because you were on my shoulder and in my heart every pedal push of the way.

How gorgeous it was to watch the sky bleed red at predawn and the clouds turn pink before sunrise. The first couple hours flew by with the sun hardly touching us due to the generosity of ubiquitious tree shade. The going got tough when the summer solstice heat and humidity settled into the air but other than the foolishness of day dreaming past a vital turn and riding 10 miles off the highlighted course, we were moving along at a respectable pace.

Until we neared home. I busted. I think bikers call it bonking. Runners refer to the wall. I knew if I stopped I would stuggle to get moving again so I slogged along wondering if I passed out would my friends, the roadside cows, save me. Or how long before the turkey vultures swarmed in for a feast. I would say I was inching along at a snail’s pace but that would insult snails.

We made it! I remember you mother’s first remark, “ Wow, I thought you would look worse.” Thanks, I guess. As is my practice, I don’t look at the data on the cycle computer until I’m back: 110 miles, 6,000 ft elevation gain, 100+ deg road temps, and over 7 hours in the saddle. This cowboy is dead tired.

Thank you for riding with me and keeping me safe. I love you. I miss you. I think about you every hour of everyday.


These are dark days for me and many others. Caught in an emotional spin cycle of anger and compassion. Of frustration and acceptance. Throw in fear and small doses of hope.

The COVID monster has changed my life. Everyone’s life. For personal health reasons, ( ie mitigating factors) my wife and I are 10’s ( that’s my 0-10 personal cautious scale with 0 being the pit at a Dave Matthews concert and 10 being a personal distancing scale closer to 16 as opposed to 6. Actually 600 feet is my preferred separation. I rarely wear a mask because I avoid situations where I need one. And I wash my hands too much to claim sanity.

All of this is nothing like me. I have little fear of anything. However, I am a devotee to science and its language of mathematics. This insidious virus is serious about spreading it’s wrath indiscriminately and I don’t get why many people don’t understand this. I clearly see different perspectives. The economy is in disarray and people NEED to work. Their lives are defined by what they do. Their families require essential items and emotional/mental health risks are real. The line between personal freedom and social unity is as grey as a rainy day. Uncertainty is the calling card of each day.

Now on top of all the medical trauma, an angry, evil, predatory thug puts his knee on the neck of a person grasping for mercy, for 8 long minutes, and kills him. The world is rightfully shocked. Rightfully angry. But the participants are a white policeman and a black citizen and it reopens a wound that awakens a nation. A long crescenedo affords another opportunity to bring our nation closer to loving each other. But the rioting, crime, and indiscriminate destruction of lives is unacceptable. These violent actions and political posturing are at the core of pulling us more apart than together.

A news service throws up a Martin Luther Kind quote. “ riots are the language of the unheard,” and I find this far out of context from the heroic MLK that I know. So I reference:

The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.” - Martin Luther King

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another.”

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. ” - Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK was a true leader. A compassionate warrior, chiseled with deep wisdom, and the integrity of character that everyone could admire and strive to emulate. Oh, how I wish he were here now. But alas, we are in a new normal cubed into many dimensions. We are acting out of anger, boredom, frustration, loneliness, and fear. I am hopeful that some new paradigm will evolve for the social injustices that are hurting our country and I am confident science will find resolution to the COVID, but until then, I am taking a few steps away from the world while doing my best to respect others yet at the same time embrace the goodness in all people.


With the hot sun relentlessly beating upon my back I see another hill climb ahead. I stand up out of the saddle and power on with conviction. Looking down at the black asphalt, I see my crisp shadow and take note. Socks drooping like Pistol Pete Maravich and calves screaming, yet undaunted. My head is steady and shoulders only slightly swaying from side to side. However, my bike rocks back and forth with the cadence of a finely tuned pendulm clock. Lost in form and function, I am immearsed in my private room of suffering and loving every move during this dance while hoping not to die.

I glance back to look over my shoulder for our team leader, the great Columbian Climber Nairo Quintana. But I don’t seem him. Nor anyone else in the pack. Oh my goodenss! I have unintentionally broke away and dropped everyone. How can this be? A poor water carrying sherpa/domestique like me. Could this be this dog’s day?

I sprint like a wild man possessed on the descent then take a quick turn arriving safely in my home sweet driveway. I raise my arms in victory! Then dismount, drop the bike, and rush inside for a kiss and flowers from the podium girl.

I hope the neighbors do not notice my silliness.


At 9 years of age, Beatrice Biira was living in poverty with her family near the equator in African Uganda. Her family had no money for school. Beatrice would walk by the schoolhouse and see her friends inside and wanted so badly to be with them, learning how to read and speak in English. She had a strong desire to learn. But no financial means to support her dream.

Then a charity group, Heifer International, gave the family a goat. The goat not only provided the family with milk and cheese but these products were in great demand with others in the village. This lead to the ability to purchase and breed other goats. Thereafter, Beatrice was able to afford school. Her academic development was rapid and noteworthy. She graduated high school and was sent to a private college prep school in the United States. Beatrice Biira graduated from Connecticut College and went on to earn Master of Public Service degree. Today, she is a community engagement coordinator with Heifer International, based in New York. She is helping get goats to families like her own.

And you wonder if we can comeback from the health and economic challenges of COVID?

 May 8, 2020 : WANDERING EYES

Riding my bike down the quiet county road these days, I revel at the ubiquitous blooming dogwoods. It is springtime in my deep south home and they are everywhere. I smile with the gratitude of my fortune to live in such close harmony with these trees.

Yesterday on my ride, one particular one caught my eye. It was somehow more special than all the others. I slowed down to take a closer look. I continued on, unable to think about anything but the compositional features that I wanted to enjoy while photographing it. This tree consumed me. I couldn’t rest that evening knowing that early the next morning I could play with it. Why THAT dogwood an none of the hundreds of others I passed this week?

A great friend used the term MasterSeer to describe me. Somewhat embarrassed but obviously flattered, I began to think about my images and exactly what do I see that others do not. Or even more precisely ‘how’ do I see?

For starters, I take the time to look at things. In a world that rushes through life with blinders on, I always was a deep observer of details. Most times, I am good at rumination and living in the moment. The hope of every artist is that others would take the time at look at his/her work in this manner.

Maybe most importantly, I try to feel and express. When I sense something of visual impact I enter that immeasurable world of intuition and soulfulness. Quite simply, why am I emotionally moved by what I see and how to I what to express this to others? In this way, art becomes meaningful.

The next morning it dawned with favorable light and I was back at the dogwood tree with my camera in tow. It was a time for gleeful play. Amazing how much joy a single tree can bring! The right tree, in the right place, at the right time is always worth the energy.

As is anything worth looking at.


2:00am ! And I am and still sleepless in Alabama. The late shift isn’t foriegn to me. I do some of my best thought wandering in these wee hours. However, I am surprised at my lack of grogginess. Why that isn’t setting in and bobbing my head.I think it’s the steroid shot I took to the butt today. Necessary because I have a upper respiratory infection running wild. I’m certain I picked something up after a week at the hospital. Hospital? No not me. Wish it was.

Pam had her hip replaced (long overdue) and some unexpected complications during recovery kept me dutifully at her side all week. No worries… the worst for her is over and she is home and beginning rehab. She suffered last week more than she deserves. My helplessness is notable. My mantra has been “for better or worse”.

Out my window I look into the forest and see we have a full moon tonight. The light is a driving force as it pierces through the trees that sculpt shadows onto the forest floor. So peaceful.

My steroid shot will probably show up on drug tests and keep me out of this year’s Tour de France. A good thing. I need a bit more hill training.

Back in the forest, I am hoping the to see some night life. I know the deer are frequent flyers. They enjoy scuffing the ground underneath the bird feeders and on occasion, pruning our flowers. This upsets Pam. I think it’s cool. I wish the great-horned owls who are hooting back and for during mating season would come closer. I would like to take their picture. I would also be thrilled to see the coyotes come closer to my home. Their howls in the evening, mysterious and magical, are a symphony to my ears. And to Iris J. Adventuredog. I love the way she perks up at their screams. She is a wild girl but she freezes. She understands that these wild relatives of hers are something she wants no part of.

The southwoods is no Yellowstone but it is growing on me. Spring is in the air and my thoughts turn to trees blossoming with gentle buds that glow like Christmas lights. I have already seen the first redbud bloom. The ubiquitous dogwoods are soon to follow. Any day now the male goldfinch should change their wardrobe to bright yellow. I want to take their picture too.

I just bought a ticket to see Dave Matthews Band. $220! 66 birthdays had given me the right to spend for a great seat. I am glad my much younger friend, Kyle with DMB tattoo, feels the same way.

Back in the forest. I hope to catch the criminal who keeps knocking my stack of rocks over. They are pretty large rocks so I am thinking a bandit racoon. But more likely, it’s the armadillo. People down her hate these avengers, but on the contrary, I have loved them ever since they appeared in my life on the cover of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s Tarkus album. They are built like little tanks. How can you not love a tank?

Writing is such a wonderful exercise. I wish I were better at it. I break too many rules.

2:00am. I think I’ll read for a while. Actually, I want to ride my bicycle.


I recall telling my students one day, do NOT think for yourself. If you do that, you’re going to grow into a strong, creative, independent, self-motivated, and self-disciplined individual. You’re going to be free! I think it might be better for you to follow the herd. To think and act like everyone around you.

I think most of them understood the sarcasm. I apologize to the few who did not.

 March 7, 2020 : SOFT AND GENTLE

These two words keep popping in my head as I look at my photography from Alabama. This so-called ‘sweet home’ state rarely stuns you the way jagged peaks and deep canyon walls can impact the style of wilderness photographers craving 3 clear dimensions. But alas, this is not a bad thing at all, rather a unique new perspective arises.

I’ve become obsessed in finding ways to express this soft gentleness of the land. The water has been instructive. Rivers, streams, and creeks abound. The rains often fill them quicker than they can drain and the flows are ubiquitous. They run, twist, and tumble on a parade to the ocean. My eyes are always pleased to dance along with them.

The land itself has taught me the lesson gradualism. It slowly rises and falls without much notice but there are undeniable folds, like ocean waves, powerful yet often imperceptible. I follow the land, up and down, as it take me to new views at each turn.

So many trees! According to those who know such things, we are a state with a tremendous amount of forestland. I am blessed to live in wooded surroundings. When I go on photo jaunts around the state, I am amazed at how leafy green has established itself as the champion of color. As they bud, flower, and change throughout their life cycles, I am privy to their slow but sure growth. I seek their shade on hot days and watch their sways to determine wind patterns. A strong tree is always a good shoulder to lean on.

The weather in Alabama, as in most places, is usually a dynamic dance with the erratic. Indeed, spring and autumn do seem to last forever, however storms can punctuate the days with endless rains and floods. The heat and humidity of summer is oppressive. Period. However, in opposition, winter seems a brief but timely joke. I cherish a place with seasons

As a photographer ferreting out the treasures Alabama wilderness offers, I have learned to gravitate to the flow. I watch the rhythm of clouds move across the sky and chase the light that accompanies them. I stumble through forests using creeks as handrails to locate hidden waterfalls, and wander the backroads in search of gold.

With gratitude, the Deep South has challenged me to see differently and rewarded my vision with a fresh canvas on which to paint my feelings. Soft and gentle wins the day.

 March 7, 2020 : THE NORTH FACE

From the NF catalogue: 
“In the Northern Hemisphere, the north face of a mountain is generally the coldest, iciest, and most formidable route to climb. The founders thought this name reflected our mission and dedication to the extreme. At our core, we believe exploration creates an indelible bond with the outdoors, inspiring people to protect our land and pass these beliefs down to the next generation.”

Well done North Face. This idea embraces so much more than just climbing a mountain. LIfe is easy when all is sunshine, roses, and smooth sailing. But that rarely happens. When challenged by the extremes, we become our best. The path to anything significant is usually fraught with failures and disappointments. Responding to these challenges with grit and a smile is usually what counts in the unique world of the worthwhile.

We should never be content with how we do on our best day. But rather how we persevere on our worst day will define much of our success with any mountain, literal or figurative, that we aspire to ascend.

Best of all, the adversities built on our journeys will always help build relationships that will stand the test of time and best of all, be past down to younger generations.

All of which is why my North Face t-shirts are torn, tattered, and bloody-well worn.


In Wild Light Photography is my vessel to create art that allows me to dig deep and express my feelings about the things that matter most to me.

Through the beauty of the natural world I am able to engage my fears, count my blessings, and experience the joy of being present in an ever-changing gift of magical moments.

I embrace the opportunity to share the moments with others in hope to motivate all of us to protect and conserve the wild treasures in both their smallest and largest entities.

And in the end, to find some inner peace with a world in dire need of such comforts.

God bless us all.

 March 7, 2020 : CIRCLE YOUR WAGON

I grew up a quiet boy, somewhat of an isolate, like that lone wolf on the edge of the pack, wanting to belong yet afraid to truly embrace the circle. You might say I was a passionate observer. Now, given a lifetime of weaving in and out of social circles I can see a common thread. I wanted more than simply to belong. I craved something special.

I have always tried to surround myself with people who inspired me. I wanted friends, that for whatever reason, did things far above the norm. They motivated me. They moved me to places of thought and action. I was a dreamer. I love being around people who caused me to think differently. Because of them, I immersed myself with ideas. Of course, some of these people I have never met but others have been in my hip pocket forever.

After many birthdays, I have acquainted myself with and constructed many circles of friends. And I am still drawn to those that impress the daylights out of me.

Friends young and old: Thank you. I love you for being an original.

 January 31, 2020 : WORDS OF COMFORT

You rested on the seventh day. Maybe you should've spent that day on compassion.” - Hunter Patch Adams

Patch uses these words to express the deep anger he feels for God after the loss of the woman he loved. That the Creator could have placed people on earth with such lack of humanity who harm others is difficult to reconcile for many of us. Or worse to think, that God Himself would be lacking in compassion and allow such dramatic pain and suffering to occur in his flock despite our prayers and appeals for mercy.

For those reeling with pain, anger, and loss ( which is most everyone) you are often told, “I can’t imagine…” or “I don’t know what to say…” I completely understand. For words of comfort, in our case, losing our daughter at such a young age, there are none. The grief is so profound that imagining anything to say or do is impossible. And dealing with grief is as variable as there are people who grieve. I have no words of comfort. However, I am still standing today, so in the name of compassion, I can share some personal insights as to why.

I love my daughter. I continue to live with her presence on my shoulder and her spirit in my heart. Each day, I try to do something positive in her honor. I feel the need to dedicate my life to the one she was unable to fully embrace.

I love my wife. I must do everything in my power to keep her comforted, safe, and in pursuit of peace. Which means I must stay healthy in body and mind and striving to grow emotionally in the directions of understanding and wisdom.

I love others. I owe the people in my life, that have always been there for me, everything. It seems only fair that any gifts, talents, and assets that I have been blessed with, get shared with them regularly.

So it goes, I live simply, day by day, more so moment by moment as they pass before my eyes. To be in the present has its benefits. Time seems non-existent and therefore so does aging. I cherish the gift of being able to play outside each day. The natural world is a grand elixir for health and wellness. Sweet sunshine.

Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in the hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” -Jamie Anderson

How true. You’ve gotta find places to put that love.

 January 15, 2020 : COWS CHASE ME

On my lonesome bike rides down quiet country roads, I often pass huge open fields punctuated by herds of cattle. Home-on-the-range type stuff. I looks very relaxing yet boring to be a cow. They just graze. Perpetual grazers.

On a recent day, I got a flat tire on their road, and while I was working to repair it one brave cow began walking slowly over to me. A few others followed. Then dozens and dozens more came over to the fence. Thank goodness there was a fence as it was more than a bit intimidating being face to face with so many huge bovine.

But they seemed friendly and well-behaved so I began a conversation. I tried to explain to them that with all these beautiful open fields they live on they should run sometimes. Play chase games; Red Rover, red rover let Elsie come over, Tag your it, or the classic ‘What time is it Mr. Fox?’ Steal the Bacon seemed inappropriate.

They seemed confused and resigned to the life that they are cows and running is discouraged. I tried to reason with them. If they ran daily, they would lose weight, tone their muscles, and be less desirable for the market. They didn’t know the 'market thing' but they trusted me that it was not something for cattle to aspire to become.

As I gathered my tire kit and prepared to leave, I left them with one life lesson: Hey… you don’t have to always act like cows!

The next time I breezed my bike down their road and saw them, I screamed, and waved my arm in the air for them to follow me. “C’mon cows! Today you are cheetahs! Chase me.”

Oh my God. They did! For hundreds of yards along the fence line they galloped along with me. Not quite cheetahs yet but we’re working on it.

Note: Pardon the image of a laughing Eastern Meadowlark. I do not have any cow photographs in stock.


When my daughter was a child, she would stand next to lakes or rivers and throw rocks into them. Endlessly. I was amazed at how long this simple act could engage and mesmerize her.

Mindful meditation? I think so. Taking her lead, I practice my photography in a similar way. It is rare that I walk into a scene and immediately take a photo. Like throwing stones, it takes many casts of my eyes and wandering of my footsteps before I see something. I may take even longer for my heart to feel that special something.

It takes a lot of time to make something significant. I was blessed that I learned this at a young age. Although at the time, I had no idea that was practicing an active form of meditation. It seemed perfectly reasonable to got out after school, into alley, behind my house, and shoot jump shots, one after another, for hours at a time. Day after day. All alone. Lost in time.

I think too, of all the activities that I have taken up over a lifetime, and how I am drawn to the repetitive kinetic nature of them. I am easily lost in the flow. Some of this is the residue of being an only child with the requirement of entertaining myself for long periods of time. But always was the need for movement. Sitting still was and is tortuous to me.

Which will explain why was not a fine studier of facts or ravenous reader ( sorry mom). But I played a mean drumset, have a lock down jumpshot, can ride my bike all day, and can wander endlessly with no purpose at all. All perfectly worthless qualities.

 December 26th, 2019 : SEASON OF LIGHT

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.” – Maori Proverb

The end of December has come to mean more to me than ‘the holidays’. Beginning on the solstice, running through Christmas, and leading to New Year’s Day, I celebrate Light.

On the solstice, our hemisphere experiences the joy of knowing each day ahead will bring us a couple more minutes of precious sunshine. Christmas is a time for many of us to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the divine light and glory of all good things. The New Year fanfare is best observed by the resolve to look forward and the hope and promise of better things. To shine light upon our future, so to speak.

As a usual tradition, I went out on Christmas Day to capture an image that gives this time meaning to me. Friends, may the warm beams of sunlight penetrate the depths of your being.

 December 6, 2019 : THE GIFTING OF CHRISTMAS

If you don’t want anything then you already have everything”. -Seungsahn

You are on the right road if your most expensive holdings are meaningless and your things of little cost are your most valuable treasures.

I’m sure many have also had this same response to “what do you want for Christmas?”. And we draw a blank because the answer is truly ‘nothing’. Maybe it’s because I’ve had many birthdays, therefore many Christmas tree mornings, but I feel blessed to have all my wants and needs in a state of harmony.

With a warm home tucked into a forest, a loyal dog at my feet, pasta and protein in the pantry, a bicycle with air in the tires, a working camera, a reliable truck, and the most supportive friends a man could ever wish for, my wants are nothing.

Most of all, I have time to spend with my wife. Her unmatched beauty inside and out graces my days with a cheerful understanding of the importance of everything that needs to be important.She is my rock, my guiding light, and my happy place. I need nothing more.

 December 6, 2019 : GREAT WRITING

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” – William Wadsworth

I recall sitting in a philosophy and religion class at college and facing with fear, those small blue booklets. Then being ordered by the German speaking professor, who I never understood, to answer- in essay form- the daunted test questions. I wrote deeply, passionately, and profusely while knowing little about what I was writing. When my grades returned with excellent scores and comments, I realized how much I enjoyed what might be called the flowering art of bullshitting.

It may have been at that time, I was introducing myself to the game of adequate writing vs some genuine great writing. My responses to the test questions were semi-adequate but I was pouring my heart out onto the paper and my passion bled through to the paper. For some reason, the professor was moved enough to miss the point.

There is some analogy to good and great photography here. Technically sound photos lacking a soulful heart will fall flat. Scraping the depths of your innermost feelings will help all of us become better artists and more importantly, original people.

However, these days. I prefer to keep my words brief and my photos simple. Laced with depth and meaning of course.

 December 6, 2019 : GET SMART

Imagination is more important than knowledge -Albert Einstein

I used to have this quote up in my classroom. I loved it because it took the pressure of me to have to ‘know’ everything. However, it’s somewhat misleading because it may lead you to believe that you really don’t need to ‘know’ anything. That you can simply dream your way through life.

I’m guessing what Einstein meant was that knowing “stuff’ was powerful and important, but to actually break into new grounds of thinking and creating, you need a vibrant and unique imagination.

How can you think about things until you know what things are about?

 November 6, 2019 : A PRECIOUS PLACE

Yesterday, after stumbling like reckless fool down a steep forested slope, I found myself in a deep gorge bounded on both sides by walls I could never climb without rope, prayers, and help from Spiderman.

Within this deep, little known place, there were waterfalls. Or so I was told. Ones of great dignity and towering heights. So Iris, the faithful adventure dog, and I stumbled on.

The heat of summer had finally passed and the final leaves that hang on the tree canopies were waiting for the next storm to rip them away on their ride to the canyon floor. What a joy for the leaf that must be. After spending months attached to the same branch, clinging for your life hopelessly through all conditions, encumbered with the same view, the moment finally arrives when you get to float joyously through the air and see the world anew.

But it doesn’t last long for these leaves. They now cover the rocks and holes on the gorge floor and caused me great consternation as I slipped, tripped, and waddled my way along with the pace of an injured turtle. Fortunately, the river was low and there were rocks to place my footsteps upon. Yet, the rocks are covered with slippery moss. I walked with fearful caution. I’ve been falling a lot recently so I am certain a face plant was only a matter of time.

I find the first waterfall quickly, actually Iris found it first, but were are at the top of it and there’s no way down. I tied my curious companion to a tree and spent a while searching for an expressive view. After a quick photograph, we turned and headed upstream in the direction of the other fall. The going was slow, each step is a balancing act, as we criss-crossed the creek several times to find the easiest way. There wasn’t one.

When finally reaching the base of the next waterfall I was in awe. I can’t believe this is Alabama. Here in the middle of nowhere, is a gorge and falls whose beauty rivals anywhere in the States. Who the heck put this here? This state continues to surprise me with its natural beauty.

Iris and I spent the afternoon in the arms of this precious place, climbing out at dusk to watch the last light dance among the treetops. We are happily sore and grateful to have discovered another piece of the universe.

 November 1, 2019 : LET THE GAMES BEGIN

I arbitrarily announce today, November 1st, to be the beginning of fall photography in my Alabama home. I drove through the night and began on a cold morning in the rolling hills- is it okay to call them mountains?- in the northern edge of the state.

Hoisting my backpack with cameras and tripod, I remarked how good it felt to be under a pack again. The load felt so light. It’s been 2 months since my last real adventure at the Grand Canyon. Despite my gimping ankle, I felt strong.

I proceeded to take my first steps on a rocky trail, promptly twisted my ankle on a root, and fell on my face. Ouch! I've been doing that a lot lately. Maybe my wheels need a balancing and alignment. Just minor sprain. March on warrior, you have work to do (it still feels wrong to call this work).

As I thought, due to a drought, the autumn colors were less than spectacular but nonetheless, I chased them wholeheartedly and came away with several gratifying mages. The game has begun.

 September 22nd 2019 : HEROIC AND CONFUSED

There’s a sweet young couple who lives down the road from us. She is completing her college studies and he is in medical school. To afford medical school, the young man, enlisted with the army in the program that pays for your education in return for a few years of service. Anyway you cut it, it’s a tremendous commitment. Especially to young couple starting out and building a life together. Add to that mix, a 2-year old and newborn. Then add boot camp, which in the army is full on training, for which the young man gladly expected no exemptions, and add on top of that add his now 3rd year clinical rotations. Full plate? Ya think??

Now here’s where it gets amazing. Once upon a time, young man offered to be a bone marrow donor. Now out of the blue, he receives a call that he’s a match and is needed immediately in another state to hopefully save a life. To drop everything for 3 weeks and endure a painful, sickening procedure for another person you don’t even know.

Of course, the young hero went. And the young heroine made an equally noble sacrifice by holding down the fort after recently returning home with their newborn. Equally amazing.

Now here’s where I’m really confused. How is football player, Antonio Brown, with his ignorant, selfish, and antagonistic style, worth 10 million dollars in our society?


While watching a documentary the other night on WOODSTOCK, celebrating it’s 50th anniversary, I came away with a few meaningful (to me) observations.

The idea presented that this event changed the lives of everyone there is a bit more than I can buy. Yes, some of the music was moving, and I’m sure it was pretty cool to most of the attendees who were actually close enough to the sound system to enjoy it’s fidelity. Jimi Hendrix alone was worth it.

However, looking at the suffering, squaller, and discomforts endured, it seemed more like a camping trip gone bad. Food, water, and shelter were scarcely unavailable to thousands. Lack of planning and medical services put many lives in jeopardy. As the years went by, I’m sure most those kids they inflated their stories of survival and the experience of seeing so many humans in one place at one time.

But I am doubtful that everyone left Woodstock a changed person with fresh ideas and became motivated to begin a fresh path to change themselves and the world around them. Many were too stoned to grasp the depth of the 3 days. Many were ill. People died!

Now that I have stomped on the parade of happiness, I did notice something wonderful. In a sea of 400,000 kids, I saw the most beautiful thing; No cells phones! People were actually talking to each other, hugging each other, and listening to the music. Their bodies swayed in unison with a smooth pulse that was unencumbered by their yet to be invented ‘devices’. No selfies, snapchats, instagrams. No hubris. No outside world. This was humanity at it’s best, listening and caring for their neighbors. Be proud of that kids. It can never happen again.

Note to my former students: I told you I was at Woodstock. I was not. But I would have liked to have been. Just for Hendrix.


A constant musical note or chord being held for eternity could hardly be considered music. For the joyous sounds to jump out and grab your heart, you need empty space, slight hesitations, and rest stops. Too many notes played too fast recklessly thrown over ever other lead to a chaotic mess.

The beauty is in the pauses.

And so it is with our lives too.

 June 16, 2019 : FATHER’S DAY

American Poet Anne Sexton writes a haunting poem titled 45 Mercy Street and Musician Peter Gabriel is inspired to write a soulful tune called Mercy Street. And I am left with one line playing over and over in my head;

Dreaming of Mercy. In your daddy’s arms again.”


I have returned safe, sound, and hopefully a better photographer from 2 places that are entrenched in my very being.

The Grand Canyon is a place where my visions collide with magic. And the magic is in the light. I have come to believe that not even term Grand is sufficient for this wonder of the world. Each day, as I explore the less known places in the Canyon I feel as if I am seeing it for the first time. Its offerings are as fresh as the day the Spanish Conquistadors first came to the edge of the Rim. Unlike many of the first explorers who thought it nothing more than a great hole of nothingness, I am amazed at how simple light and rock can breathe such profound inspiration into my senses.

I was fortunate to visit Rocky Mountain National Park this year immediately after they opened the famous Trail Ridge Road to the high country. Heavy spring snows clung to the jagged peaks and buried the tundra under piles of snow that I have never been privy to in my 40 years of work there.

The lucid scenery was full of danger and sublime beauty. I was brought to tears each morning and evening as the landscape came alive with rising vapor and scattered light. Even if I spent a lifetime up there I doubt I would ever tire of this magical place.

May there always be deep canyons, high mountains, and a people with the wisdom to preserve such exquisite treasures.

 May 29th, 2019 : ALABAMA'S CHALLENGE

I’ve been living on the outskirts of a sweet little town here in Alabama for a couple of years now. Alabama is nowhere near the top of the list of ‘must see’ destinations for wilderness photographers. In fact, I doubt it’s on any such list. But this is challenge and I, as a photographer of wild and grand outdoor areas, am embracing.

I am learning quickly that the biodiversity ( #2 in our nation of states) and our percentage of forest land ( 66% also #2 in the country) is real and bountiful. The topography of Alabama gives me a wide canvas of environments to explore. From the foothills of the Appalachians in the northeast, mutiple major waterways gently flow through the state, to the flooded cypress swamps in the south. My wandering foolishness is always rewarded.

Missing are the jagged peaks and deep canyons to which I have dedicated so much time. I also miss the placid lakes of the Northwoods. Absent too are the prairielands of my former midwestern home and yes, at times, I do miss the snow and ice with the lovely photo compositions it affords.

However, because of these missing elements, Alabama is making me a better photographer. I am driven to look more closely. To look for the subtle and sublime. I am practicing the skill of seeing. With this in mind, Alabama is not devoid of natural beauty. To the contrary, I am continually surprised at the wealth of it.

So I sense I am on a mission. To search and share so that others might appreciate the treasure chest around them and preserve, protect, and of course, to see.

And to drink a sweet tea from every McDonalds in the state.

 April 24, 2019 : ONE SWEET WORLD

Nine planets around the sun, Only one does the sun embrace, Upon this watered one, So much we take for granted, So let us sleep outside tonight, Lay down in our mother's arms, For here we can rest safely. - Dave Matthews Band

I am bombarded with the news that earth is going to hell in a handbag. True, in many ways, we are following a dangerous path that will lead to the demise of many of the earthly treasures we have taken for granted or simply failed to value enough.

I have always felt that our major sin is ourselves. Or more precisely, the rapid lifestyles that we have woven around each day. Alone, we are not to blame for this. The world culture requires this of us. Demands it! If we are to be successful, as defined by the needs and wants of the grand today, we must run with speed in a rat race that leaves us burnt out and disconnected with the lessons of wilderness. Finding the strength to slow down and the balance to include authentic wild/outdoor experiences in our lives is a striking challenge.

The earth is crisis exists largely because we do not value its beauty enough. And this figures to be due to our lack of life changing experiences in wilderness. Such experiences elevate and exhault their true value in our lives. It is impossible to cherish deeply what you do not know.

As a photographer of wild places, it is my job is to give the beauty a voice. I fully understand that a single photograph does not come close to the actual experience of being there. At best, for me, it’s the icing on a cake where the cake itself is the time spent exploring, feeling, seeing, and expressing what the outdoors means to me.

If my photography can inspire one person to go out and spend time in the natural world than I feel rewarded. To persuade another soul to embrace and speak on behalf of the earth and the gift of its natural heritage is joyous. Only when a critical mass of people is reached that overwhelms the destructive forces ( read world leaders) can we begin to reclaim our gentle little planet.

So let us sleep outside tonight.

 April 24, 2019 : A WAVE OF GRIEF

Recently, several friends close to me have been struck with the loss of loved ones. With a stand of strength and hopeful words, I had confided with all of them. It seems when you have lost a child you are granted an inside track to wisdom and grief. This is not true.

I seemed to be weathering the storm of sadness until the other night while walking the dog I was overwhelmed with a wall of emotion. I stopped abruptly in my tracks and lost my breath. So bleak and staggering the darkness and numbing hurt. Damn this world is so hard.

I want to say something about grieving but I have yet to find any words that speak better than Eric Clapton’s:

Lord, how long have I got to keep on running, Seven hours, seven days or seven years? All I know is, since you've been gone I feel like I'm drowning in a river, Drowning in a river of tears. Drowning in a river. Feel like I'm drowning, Drowning in a river. I wish that I could hold you One more time to ease the pain, But my time's run out and I got to go, Got to run away again. -Eric Clapton

And may all of us find the spirit of courage and blessings of love to find our way back home.


Yellow butterflies have become our talisman. We convinced they are messengers from heaven sent by our daughter. Agnostics can stop reading now. Or maybe better continue.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the church of St, Francis Assisi, there is a huge, winding brick courtyard. The thousands of bricks have names inscribed on them as dedications in memorandum of loved ones. Meredith lost her life in Santa Fe. We prayed many at St. Francis. Our angel has her name a brick footprint in the courtyard as a simple rememberance.

Friends of ours were traveling in the Santa Fe area and thought it would be nice to see the brick and say a prayer. After some time of searching, they could not find the brick. They left disappointed.

Returning the next day, they thought they would search one more time before leaving town. While stumbling around, trying to read all the names, they noticed a yellow butterfly dancing in the air. They recalled our love for yellow butterflies so when it landed, they ran to take a picture of it.

It landed peacefully on the brick named Meredith Williams.

With eyes watering in disbelief, I received the picture and the clear message; “I’m always with you mom and dad”


Making a response to Kevin’s question, what is the meaning of life?, has me scratching my head in deep thought. I resist my first impulse to dive into philosophy texts and the thoughts of the great philosophers. Instead I think it best to keep it Pooh Bear simple and let an answer come from my own heart.

While searching for meaning, I am not confusing it with the purpose of life. Not that a purpose driven life in and of itself is a bad thing. However, meaning is unique to an individual and consists of each person’s environment, experiences, genetics, and all that magical unidentifiable “stuff’ that gives a person his/her very own values, ethics, and character.

Simply stated, my true meaning is mine and only mine.

I believe in the existential pinnings that my free will is a major determining factor in the things important to me. I believe I have limited control of what happens to me as a result of my choices, but I am in total control of how I decided to respond to them. It is important to state I believe in God and accept His words and guidance. I acknowledge HIS greatest gift to me is the free will that gives me the latitude to try and lead a life of goodness in my own way.

So maybe the better question is what gives MY life meaning? I love to move. Especially in the wilderness of the natural world. I like extra sugar on my strawberries. I prefer a few close friends rather than many. I enjoy the company of a loyal dog. I am driven to do nice things for people who need nice things to be done. I like creating artwork that enriches the spirits of others. I find driving throughout the countyside and snacking on pretzels enriching. I like working on big projects by taking baby steps over time. It means a lot to me to have many birthdays through thick and thin times.

Working hard and being honest means the world to me. Integrity so to speak.

Music gives my life meaning. As does looking into the abyss of a star-filled sky or the depths of the Grand Canyon. I like to be humbled in the face of my staggering insignificance in relation to time and the vastness of the universe.

I find meaning in simplicity and solitude but have no desire to be a hermit. My greatest blessing is spending time with my wife. I can’t think of anything that has more meaning to me than sharing my life with her.

Kevin, my best advice to you is NOT to waste time searching for the meaning of life, but rather carve out your own path in ways that honor the many talents you have been blessed with and interests that fuel your fire with passion. Then find ways to share the gift of YOUSELF with the world to make other lives better. The joy you get back from this should give you more than a lifetime of meaning.

 February 28, 2019 : IRIS J. EASYDOG

"A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” —Josh Billings

The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.” – Charles De Gaulle

Iris J. Easydog is our Canis familiaris companion. This 38 pounds of Wheaton Terrier jumps from bed (usually our bed) at anytime of the morning and begs for her attendance on my morning romps. Whether they be walks or jogs in the woods, hikes to take photos, long drives to far off adventures, or simply to the post office, bike shop, or McDonalds for an ice cream. Iris is my enthusiastic co-pilot.

She is a wild girl! Wheatons are bred to be fatigue and cold-resistant. Both true. It seems impossible to tire her out and she loves the cold. She was not happy at first with the summers here in the Deep South, but with swimming holes and creeks galore she spends most the summer soaking wet.

Iris dives into lakes with reckless abandon, swims with confidence, runs like a deer, and climbs rocks with head scrathing disbelief. She is an outdoor endurance athlete of great magnitude. In just a few years, Iris has built quite an impressive resume of adventure locations with me but neither of us could care less about any such list.

It never ceases to impress me that when I stop to make a photograph, she comes to a hault and sits patiently by my backpack, for however long it takes, and stares in the direction of my attention. Could she be sensing the same beauty that I am composing? Amazingly, she never runs away while I am working. This is baffling to me because she wanders off on her own all other times. Who taught this sweet little pup to sit, stay, and wait while I am photographing? Because of this, Iris has enjoyed more sunrises and sunsets than most people will in their lifetime.

At 6 years old today, Iris J. a single-minded, stubborn, independent, free-thinking, easily distracted, adventurous wanderer who not enjoy being teathered by a leash.

I have no idea where she gets that from.

Happy birthday Iris. Ice cream cone tonight!

 February 8th, 2019 : THE ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. -Aristotle

I am told by larger minds than mine that for photography to leave the realm of merely documentation, the image must be infused with meaning, message, and expression from the depths of the artist his or herself. Of course this applies to all modes of artwork but photography has the given challenge of being somewhat constrained to what’s in front of us.

For those who travel to the exact same spot in spectacular locations, I have heard it’s said that “it’s hard to take a bad photo here.” Not it’s not. I’ve taken buckets of bad ones. When millions of people capture the relatively same image day after day, year after, it may be pleasing to their eye or others who have not seen that location. But not to artists. We demand more.

I have been to those locations where there are dozens with tripods waiting for their magical moments. And there is nothing wrong with a simply aestheticly pleasing picture. But I try to avoid the mosh pit because the peaceful wilderness experience is my main reason for being outdoors.

I want my images to give me goosebumps and make my hands shake. I want some to make me smile and cheer. I want others to express my deepest heartache and appeal for compassion. If I am scattered or confused, let there be chaos. I have things I would like my work to say about experiences. My photos are not about mountains and canyons and waterfalls, and forests. They are primarily about me. I just happen to work in those places.

The photographic artist can be a challenging job. All jobs are. But it is joyful. As all jobs should be. I am blessed to wander through the most pristine and gorgeous places our country has gifted us. While at the same time, use all my senses to compose something exciting that can be felt as well as seen. To inscribe it with meaning and leave a piece of myself behind at the finish line.

In most cases, it takes a long time for an artist’s work to really mean something. To really say something. I my case, it has taken a small lifetime. I am finally becoming successful at making meaningful images. And maybe only to me. My photos have become deeply about my life experiences and what I have to say about things. If I am successful, they are filled with messages, meanings, and hopefully will give you a bit of a view into the inner heart of this fool on the hill I call The King of Nothing.

It is a struggle for the maker and the viewer to look for more than simply, “wow, that’s beautiful”. But I would urge you to stare longer into the visual arts. Not only might you find my voice, but your own interpretations stemming from your life’s experiences.

Art is so darn wonderful! It has the power to change lives. Get some colored chalk and get out into that driveway. Carve a piece of wood. Put a sculpted fish in the kiln. Write a song. Paint.Sing. Build. Dance. Write. Tell the world something about yourself.

 January 31, 2019 : LOVED ONES NEVER LOST

I wish I had better words for explaining the loss of a child. However, in practice, no one ever really asks, so I don’t need to explain. And I get it. How hard it must be for even your closest family and friends to ever bring up the topic in fear of stirring up the simmering pot of grief.

My daughter, Meredith, is always with me. I feel her presence on my shoulder and her warmth in my heart. Every hour of each and every day I think of her. No less than you would think of your children. I often see the world through her eyes. She is constantly on my mind, helping me get through the days. It is my responsibility to direct my actions in a way that reflects her spirit. I welcome the opportunities that allow me to live in her honor.

Meri is my family. Which is the primary reason special occasions are tough. They are suppose to be about family but no one sees or speaks of her. There are many levels of pain along with this quandary and I am lost with how to negotiate them but I have allowed myself the peace to be a work in progress.

Do not think after years go by that the loss of a child might ‘still’ be hard. It is ‘always’ hard. You don’t simply move on and repair yourself as you might heal from an injury. You do your best to create a new normal that allows you to function. You begin to see the option of living in the moment is your only option and likely your best option. Your needs change and likely your values change too. Likely, as a result of your tragic loss you’ve become a close observer to the sanctity of life. This is cruel and hard-earned wisdom.

Coping and accepting of my new role as father is challenging. To survive, I must take a higher path. To simply live in wise and positive ways that would make Meri proud. For now, that needs to be enough.

 January 28, 2016 : THE INFLUENCE OF MUSIC

Music is playing inside of my head. Over and over and over again. -Carole King

I have always been emotionally inspired by music. I am drawn to the layers, the harmonies, the compositions and their lyrical messages. I am visually inspired by the melodies of the sounds I hear. I have no doubt in the neurological research that leads to the relationships between our auditory and visual systems. Also obvious is the connection between the musical backgrounds and talents of many accomplished visual artists.

My musical background wants to believe this is real. I know when I am looking at a landscape I can genuinely feel it. I can sense the rhythm that speaks to me. The textures, shapes, and lines seem to have a pattern in much the way musical pieces have a time signature. The colors scream with harmonies while the lights and darks also play dynamic games with my eyes. There is always a symphony before me and I enjoy conducting all the parts to their best visual performance.


For the last year, I have been earnestly marketing my second book, Wisdom from the Wilderness. Photographing the images was a sheer joy. Writing the text was an exercise in introspection and was good for my soul. So I dug deep. The process of writing is glacial, as John Muir would say, but I find it rewarding as I search for the right words put together in the right manner.

Designing the book is a creative enterprise for cover to cover. Much like building a house, I try to play with different structures, keeping in mind the rooms of image collections that I would like to feature and the walls of images that need to hang in those rooms along with the text. Choosing room sizes, colors, trim styles, and exterior presentation is a voyage of design adventure. This is the fun part.

Then the book goes to print and the work begins. This is where smart people get business support. With all the profits going to our daughter’s Meredith Williams Foundation I chose to take the not-smart path in order to keep the profit margin the highest possible.

So for the past year I have been doing my weakest best at marketing, advertising, selling, promoting, tax-filing, record-keeping, stocking, storing, supply ordering, signing, packing, shipping, e-commercing, social networking, event planning, public presenting, accounting, and securing legal counsel for business and foundation affairs. In fairness, I do have one staff member; The Executive Director of Packaging aka Pam Williams. And further honesty; I love signing books with personal notes.

As you might surmise, it’s a great deal of work. But now that I am about to ‘sell out’ (my self-imposed limited edition) my second book, I have come to understand how a fool like myself answers the question: How do you sell a coffee-table art book?

Answer: The old-fashioned way. One at a time, building personal relationships.

Thanks to everyone who took the jump and supported me. I have you locked in to a piece of my heart forever.


Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible - it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could. -Barbara de Angelis

As a science teacher, I was enamored with the challenge of measuring things. We needed good solid quantifiable data from which we could draw vaild conclusions and use them for applied predictions. Numbers ruled.

But as an artist, I want no such game being played. I am growing tired of how the world, more specifically our culture, is driven by the desire to rank order everything. I’m sure we get much of this desire from our love of sports. Who’s #1? What place did you finish? How fast does he throw? And while many things in sports indeed ARE quantifiable, many things in sport are not.

We enjoy arguing about immeasurable things. This I do not mind. It’s when we try to put numbers and rank orders on them that my mind becomes troubled. Even more so when we rank order people. The ‘best singer’ on The Voice is NOT the best singer on the voice. He or she is the ‘favorite’ of the people who voted.

Most Valuable Players, Hall of Fames, even the Presidency… all dog shows.

I wish our culture were better at identifying those things that cannot be measured and accept them for the intrinsic value that they offer to lift our lives. I do not care who the best guitar player is. I want to enjoy Eric Clapton for the way he makes my heart sing and allow a plethora of other guitarists also own my soul at any moment I so chose. There can be no arguments within my heart. No one is better nor best.

I know this gets a little tricky. Michelangelo is clearly a better sculpture than most based on technique alone. Yet, a tiny sculpting my daughter made for me, sits in front of me at my desk and brings a tear to my eye each time I stare at it. Her love speaks to me louder than the Pieta’. Michelango is considered the best artist of his time ( note that we even feel the need to rank order and rate artists!) but my daughter’s artwork touches me deeper.

Art is driven by passion, spirit, thoughtfulness, creativity, kindness, generosity, and an endless supply of personal virtues, but most of all, LOVE. And love defies a quantification. It is the alpha and omega of everything worthy about being human.

Live your life like a work of art and enjoy the love in each moment.

 January 6th 2019/ Happy New Year : IMAGINE

Can you imagine what would could achieve if we all worked together? What would happen if everyone in the world were good? Honest in their dealings. Never ill-willed or intent to hurt others. Driven by altruism, hard work, fair compromise, and sprinkled with humility. Global decency you would call it.

Imagine… no need for defense systems, arms of warfare, terrorism. Instead of walls, we would build highways, bridges, and transportation systems between nations. Instead of pointing our rockets at each other we would point them to the planets and stars.

Politicians would be chosen for their abilities to legislate win/win outcomes. Courts would only be needed to litigate unfortunate accidents and mundane business deals. Service industries, higher education, and the arts would skyrocket. The advancements in medicine and health care would be staggering. People who needed help would it quickly and with compassion. And the concept of bullying would be unknown.

Can you imagine if we were all simply ‘good’.


This is a bittersweet day. I think of those not with us at the table. Those who are absent, for illness or other reasons both practical and rebellious. I have faith that the absentees will return to us in the future.

But for those cherished souls that we have lost. Those faces that will never smile at us again from across the table of life. This continues to be heart-breaking. I miss them so deeply.

I live with the belief that they are present in our midst as angels on our shoulders and they have the magic warm our hearts. I am grateful for the memories of goodness and know that somehow my loved ones will give me the power to live strong with them and because of them.

I thank God for the nutrition He has has provided for our hungry bodies but more so, for the loving company of the spirits He has blessed me with on this day of gratitude and all of eternity.

 November 12th 2018 : THE POWER OF YOU

You are the captain of your own ship. You are the one who decides which type of waters you wish to navigate. Whether they be oceans or tiny creeks, you are the one who chooses where to launch.

What your destination is to be and how you spend your time is up to you. The weather will bring you challenges and the nights may be scary. Other creatures will encounter you with interests of their own but you, and only you, will decide how to treat them. Then each new day you will decide again.

Sink or swim. The world you see is often the one one you choose to see.

 October 31st 2018 : TO MY GUARDIAN ANGEL

You are with me every moment of each day. I see the world through your eyes and everything I hear goes through both our ears. We are a continual team. Bound by an invisible glue.

I carry your heart in mine. Your thoughts dance about like fireflies in my head and are felt deeply in my heart. In pain and joy, thick and thin, you are with me.

You are the filter that I use to interpret the world. Your spirit influences everything to which I aspire.

I want to know that through me, you are a living inspiration, and that I am living a life that you are proud of.

Not ahead of me, not behind. You are precisely in my footsteps. I am never alone.

Happy Birthday Meredith Marie Williams


Gosh, my job is so easy! I just click a button all day… said no photographer ever.” – Unknown

I do not photograph in the wilderness haunts because I want to know Mother Nature better. I photograph because I wish to know myself better. And this is not all that simple.

In fact, it’s mostly a voyage of joyful discomforts. I’m sure good photography can be done without the suffering but I can’t imagine the experience without the moments of discomfort.

I recall a few weeks ago, after many hours on twisted, rutty, dirt roads. Bruised, cut, and beaten from a mostly unrewarding hike through brush and rocky gullies.The dog and I were sitting in the dark on the tailgate of a pick-up truck at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Exhausted. Eating cold ravioli out of a can. Preparing for a night’s sleep in the truck. The universe at our feet and above our heads. The only thing I could think of was ‘it doesnt get any better than this’.

Over the years, I have learned to welcome, even embrace, the physical and emotional challenges. I am doing better with failures and finding persistence a key to making fine photographic images. However, the sweetest taste of all, is learning what it takes to dig deep within myself for that 6th sense that allows world to speak to me and encourages me to reply through a simple picture.

 September 16th, 2018 : ART'S CONVERSATION

I am entertaining the idea that art is a conversation with the world. Steadfast in my belief that we are all artists, and that we all have something to say, then the conversation simply depends upon what we are getting our inspiration from and exactly what we are so longingly wishing to say back to the world.

In my case, that of a photographer, I get my cues from experiences in the wild places of the natural world. Without the ‘experience’ there is nothing to say. To some extent, I am visually speechless. If I look at a beautiful photograph, I can be moved, but for me to create one of my own, I must be ‘out there’ in all the elements.

To be a participant in the conversation, I need fresh air, sunshine, and clouds. I need the wind to challenge me and the rain to rattle my bones. But more than anything else, I need the shear delight of watching the light change before my else. Chasing light is ridiculously joyous.

When these elements dance across a subject that catches my eye, the earth speaks to me and the conversation begins. So in most cases, I do not go out to photograph something specific, but rather I go to places in which to have the experience. Through those adventures, the subjects come to me. And if my heart is open and my eyes are well trained, I listen and respond.

My response has evolved into much more than simply capturing what’s before my eyes. I try to abstract from all that is given and interpet back to the world the meaning it has for me personally. This is both the hardest and rewarding part of me desire to be an expressive photographer. It is the part where you stop simply taking pictures and move onto becoming an artist.

This journey takes a while and you never quite entirely reach your final destination, however, it always seems a worthy way to spend one’s time.

 September 15th, 2018 : CHASING THE WILD LIGHT

I have been away from home for quite a while. Some say I am on vacation but that concept does not ring true for me. I state that I am working. And while it is true that taking photographs can be extremely challenging, it hardly seems like work to me.

I have been doing what I love. I have been chasing wild light. As a basecamp , Pam and I have been living on the side of a mountain in Colorado. Nothing outrageous, it was clean, comfortable, and provided us with a good view of the mountains and a great deck for stargazing. The road in was rough but the toilets trustworthy and the kitchen stove made good meals.

I awoke each day well before sunrise and headed off to the sky. I am working ( opps, I said it again) on something specific but it’s coming together slowly. Much like writing a musical tune I’ll bet. You just let the notes take you along on a ride and follow your intuition.

During the daytime, we would hike, bike, run, and generally keep ourselves fed with the goodness of our surroundings until evening. Then again, it’s time to head in the direction of clouds, higher altitudes, and promising wild light. If I am blessed with good fortune, the ride home in the dark is joyous.

In Estes Park, a book presentation/signing of my newest Wisdom from the Wilderness, was good for my soul and beneficial to Rocky Mountain National Park as we transferred the profits to the Next Generation Fund/Jr. Rangers Program.

After many weeks of this glorious monotony, Pam flew home while Iris J. Easydog and I headed to the Grand Canyon. Again, working on a secret project, we spent our time chasing light as it crept across the walls of the Canyon. Such is the life of fools.

There were a lot of missed meals, cold cans ravioli, and scratches from trees hacking away at us while staggering about lost in the woods. An asthma attack at 12,000 feet frightened me one evening, strong winds knocked me off my feet on occasion, and the smoke from forest fires haggard me with a persistent cough. All good fun.

But other then a few small cuts and bruises, I am home with a fair share of inner peace knowing that I have embraced each day with vigor. And a pocket full of new images to share with the world.

Home sweet home

 June 17th/FATHER'S DAY : 

For some of us, Father’s day is a painful reminder of dreams unfulfilled and loves lost. This day however, I choose to try to find a more positive note to focus my thoughts upon: My former students. They are bright and beautiful boats in my Sea of Joy. They have always played an important role in my life and continue to do so.

A TEACHER LOOKS BACK: I have learned, the challenge is not to see what your students are today but rather to see them as what they could be years from now. They might be your electrician, your child’s pediatrician, your plumber, or your car mechanic. They could be your attorney, your investment counselor, or your physical therapist. They likely will style your hair, mend your broken bones, and counsel your broken heart.

They will be architects, computer programers, police officers, veterinarians, yoga instructors, advertising agents, accountants, and engineers of every type and substance. They will sell your home, bag your groceries, lend you money, fix your garage door, groom your dog, care for your child, and go overseas to fight for our freedom and the freedom of others.

Of course, some will become Phd’s, research scientists, and brilliant theorists. Some will become musicians, actors, singers, photographers, painters, fashion designers, and of course there will be comedians. Most will think they are comedians.

There will be arborists, environmentalists, cell tower technicians, undercover agents, investigative officers, and pharmacists. Some may become priests, clergy, or dedicated religious people on a mission to spread the word of God. Some will be in marketing and sales and will be so good that they could sell fleas to a dog. Many will run their own business. Some will work for large corporations. Some will have the audacity to buy and sell business themselves. Some will become experts at just one thing. Other will become proficient at many things.

Through sports, many will cultivate self-esteem, work ethic, and a passion to pusue numerous careers in in athletic industries. Many will receive endless fame and fortune making millions of dollars in professional sports. Not.

Some will accept the challenge to do God’s work and become nurses. And some will answer the greatest calling of all ( bias accepted). They will become teachers. And they will teach your children. Many will become loving parents themselves and because of this role will have their view of the world turned upside down. They will grow to be more than smart. They will become wise.

So when I look at a young student, I look into the future. They likely will not remember the major major cell strucures or how to write a chemical equation. They may not even remember my name. But they will remember how I treated them. How I cared for them, and how I placed a kind word in their heart when they needed it most.

These days, that pat on the back and kind word often comes from them to me, when I need it most.

 June the 14th in 2018 : DANCING WITH ALABAMA

Alligators were growling at me this morning. Do they really growl? At first I thought they were bears in the tall grasses near my not-wanting-to-be-bloodied body. Standing next to my faithful tripod waiting for sunrise at a marsh, I slapped a few mosquitoes and thought of this past year in my new Deep South Environs.

Winter was a delight. Mild enough to play outside each day with crisp air, textured landscapes, and even a couple of rare dustings of snow to glaze the trees with seasonal attire.

Spring, as promised, seemed to last forever. Rains filled the hundreds of waterfalls that are one of the outdoor trademarks of our state. I spent many days traversing quiet forests in search of their splashing waters. Woodland flowers were a mystery to me. So many new ones I was unable to identify, with the exception of redbuds and dogwoods. I would travel any distance to be in the company of these two trees. They are a symbol of hope and rebirth.

Autumn brought with it some unexpected color. I never imagined Alabama as a fall color destination but my eyes found some pleasing subjects. Especially in the northern part of the state. The foothills of the Appalachians push themselves into our northeast quadrant and luscious reds can be a sight for trigger happy photographers. With its cool nights and sunny days, autumn too seems to last forever.

However, as we enter the dog days of summer, I find the photography challenging, not so much for the humid air, which my lungs have grown to love, but rather the thick ubiquitous green that covers everything. As always, I resort to chasing clouds, water, and rock. These things I can depend on to add some vibrant color to my work. I guess I could search for flowers but I’m not much of a flower guy.

But for an occasional snake in the grass or a sneaky alligator, the greatest risk in summer is being annoyed by bugs. Eventually, the constant day after day, heat and humidity wears this happy wanderer down to a drained morsel of exhaustion. I think it might be best to play the role of reverse snowbird and escape to the high mountains out West soon.

Bless you all my friends

 June the 10th in 2018 : APPLE STICKERS AND TIME

I always always eat an apple a day. Mom said to. However, I really struggle getting those little stickers off the apples. The other day I was wondering….

If it takes me 10 seconds to get that darn thing off, and I eat an apple each day for 365 days a year, that’s 60.83 min/yr for 50 years of apple eating or 3,041.5 which is 50.69 hours of sticker pulling or 2.1 days of my life! It even sounds worse if expressed as 6.3 8-hour work days! A week of my life spent on pulling the stickers off my apples!! A week of my precious life!!!

This brings me to several silly conclusions but actually only one wise one. Time is SO incredibly precious. Think of the mountain of goodness you could spread in your lifetime if you simply took 10 seconds a day to say something kind to someone else.

It’s In the way that you use it. -Eric Clapton


On my bicycle today, I was zooming along a flat stretch of road with my pedal cadence perfectly synched with the music blasting in my ears. I was going as hard as I felt comfortable being able to maintain.

I dropped the chain on the cog set to a harder ring. For a few spins I struggled but then was able to resume the perfect jamming cadence and I was moving even faster. In a minute I tried the same thing again. I surprised myself. It doesn’t seem possible that this can be explained with simple biology. These almost instant increases in speed are more than muscle power.

I did a few more experiments and I believe I have discovered the obvious. The velocity of the bike is helping. Have I stumbled upon what my wonderful physics teaching friend, Sarah Pinkus calls inertia? If so, speed is my friend. And it’s easier to maintain a velocity then to increase it.

Def: Inertia is also defined as the tendency of objects to keep moving in a straight line at a constant velocity.

I think kinetic energy is also at work here but too much physics hurts my head. So excuse the biologist in me for simplifying things I never understood. I really just wanted to use the word inertia once in my life and impress Sarah that I actually think about such things.

But don’t let that stop me from applying some philosophical thought. If you are not moving in life you are stuck and will need a force to get going. But if you are taking even simple baby steps in the direction of your passions, it will be much easier to increase your achievements over time with even less energy because YOU ARE moving.

So… what are you waiting for?

 April 26th, 2018 : MUSINGS ON A DARK RAINY DAY

Somewhere, the sun is shining and the children are spinning on playground toys while laughing loudly. Not here. Somewhere, people are relaxing on a park bench while enjoying a bagged lunch sandwich with a gentle warm breeze blowing in their hair. Not here.

It’s been pouring buckets of rain out my office window for hours and shows no sign of letting up. My dog, Iris J is not feeling well and sleeps quietly at my feet wondering what stole her spirit. It looks like an indoor recess day. Just as well. I had a long charity bike ride last weekend and another coming up this weekend. Maybe it best to relax and reload today. Not my style though.

These may be the kind of days I worked my whole life for; FREE DAYS! No need to step outside and fight the elements. No need to earn my daily wages. No need to tough it out for the sake of responsibilities. Heck no…. I’ve got a sick dog to take care of.

Dave Matthews on now. I notice all those performers on my wife’s show, the Voice, seem better singers then many of my favorite legendary stars. Must be something else, harder to define, more invisible, that makes a star vocalist. A star at anything for that matter. I am forever in love with that unquantifiable magic that drives individual uniqueness.

I think of Emerson’s words, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else” and wonder how we could all accomplish more if we lived by that advice.

Or how about a world where EVERYONE were honest, compassionate, and compromise was practiced at every turn of conflict. I would like to live in a world like that.

As soon as it stops raining, I’m going for a run. If it doesn’t, then I’m going for a run.

Iris too.

 April 26th, 2018 : NO LEFT BRAIN

It was said by someone that I was a science teacher with no left brain. No completely true but pretty darn close. Once I had the basics down, all I wanted to do was explore, imagine, create, design, and experiment. I wanted to fuse science with art at every opportunity.

In a like manner, there are many photographers who are far more skilled than I with their camera controls and their knowledge of the technology behind the images. Instead, I prefer the model of an artist who simply uses a special tool, with the same zeal that a painter touches an easel. And because I cannot paint with a brush, I use a camera.


Where was that photo taken? This may be the most frequent question that any outdoor/wilderness/landscape photographer gets. I used to ask it quite a lot myself.

I have reached a point where I truly don’t care. In and of itself, I am concerned only about the image. Why does it excite me? What does it say to me? What do I what to say by constructing and capturing a photograph myself? What do I want others to see and feel?

This is not an easy mindset. I always have a desire to see new places and often do research as to what locations have to offer. But I have no interest in recomposing an image that I have previously saw by someone else. I have only few photographers whose work I follow, but only because their work speaks to me loudly. Rushing out to copy their work is outrageous and slaps the face of individual self expression.

Still, out of courtesy, share many of the locations of my work but I would be quite happy with keeping secrets and an audience of viewers who just looked a photograph and felt it while listening.

 April 26th 2018 : INSPIRATION

Something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create. - as defined by Merriam-Webster

I have a foolish and passionate desire to do ‘stuff’. However I really have never thought to identify what actually drives this foolish mind and body.

What motivates me? I daydream best when wandering through the natural world. I enjoy bringing my eyes to places they have never been before. Not just seeing new landscapes but seeing old ones in a different way. This self-satisfaction is almost enough, but being able to share my work with others seems both generousl and generative.

It’s not necessary that others are moved by my best work but if they are, I enjoy a good feeling knowing that I might have enhanced their vision. It touches my heart when someone gets goosebumps and supports my work. I am gratified. If others do not care for an image that I love, it does not bother me. I have learned to accept visual differences with the same understanding as biological variation. I am in a good place to not seek fame nor fortune. Both meaningless to me.

At it’s essence, I move, I wander, and I strive see things because I am in love with the patterns, colors, and the wild light on earth. Being able to have an opportunity to pretend to make art from such already artistic designs is an honest way to spend time.

As an important side note. By transferring all my business profits to our daughter’s Meredith Williams Foundation, which in turn donates to many worthwhile causes in our communities,we are able to create an almost perfect karmic circle of goodness. Keeping the generous spirit of Meredith alive is all the inspiration I will ever require to

 April 5th 2018 : WHAT'S THE RUSH?

Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience. -Ralph Wado Emerson

Or is it? As springtime begins down here in our new sweet home Alabama, I am shocked at how quickly everything is moving. There seems to be no patience. The songbirds rush to my feeders in droves with rush hour frenzy. They are eating us out of house and home like there’s no tomorrow. However, the forest is alive with song. The trees are greening up quickly with a noticable change each day. As soon as a new flower passes perfection a new one opens its bloom to the world of admiring eyes of pollinators. Yes, the insects are back too.

Strong winds blow the springtime storms through regularly and the temperatures fluctuate daily as they dance from warm to cold. The waterfalls thunder and creeks flood. Even the sun seems happy to shine its smile longer into the days.

They say down here in the south that spring lasts forever. Maybe so, but I sure don’t see mother nature’s patience.


J.R.R. Tolkien “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost;

I am a wanderer in and of wild places. One more lake, just over the next ridge, just ahead one more mile… I always feel the need to see more and keep moving. Sometimes I have a goal in mind. Sometimes not. I find meandering for the sake of itself is quite honorable.

To be in the flow of the moment opens my eyes and heart to many things that for me, sitting still doesn’t seem to accomplish. So too, I have become a great wanderer of thoughts. Some would say dreamer.

I admit to being a bit obsessed with natural magnificence. When I am left breathless by stumbling into one visual playground of remarkable beauty, I can not help but want to see more, today, tomorrow, and tomorow’s tomorrow.

And so I wander on. My feet leave footprints, my thoughts linger then disappear, and my heart finds some peace.

 January 19th 2018 : THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD

The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another.. -Marcel Proust

Not only does this photograph grace one of the pages in my book, Wisdom from the Wilderness, but also, the inside covers, called endpapers, are emblazened with the design. I never mentioned it in the book but there is a sweet story full of sage wisdom behind the image.

My daughter, Meri, and I were walking past this rock when I froze in my tracks to admire the geologic designs and the gentle afternoon light falling upon its textured surface. With joy I searched for deep, meaningful images in the stone. I continued to stare.

Meri simply stated, “ I like the thumb”. Where in these mass of natural art does she see a thumb? After a while…. I saw it immediately… when she pointed it out. I have walked by that rock several times over the years. Funny thing is, now I only see the thumb.

 January 3, 2017 : NEW YEAR MUSINGS

It seems like months since I have had the time to write a Journal Entry. Seems like this Happy New Week would be be a fitting opportunity to catch up with my friends who may have wondered which hole I have crawled into.

* I have fallen into the black hole of business. I have a new book out. Wisdom from the Wilderness is another lifetime vision quest and dream come true. The book sets out to visually describe the life lessons ‘Mother Nature” has shared with me over the last 35 years of my wanderings through the wilderness. All good, but the time time needed to advertise, market, sell, sign, and distribute along with the requisite paperwork has consumed me.

* The little photography I have had the time for has been in my new world of Alabama. The autumn pulled me to the northern part of the state where the foothills of the Appalacians flow into our state. The trees have some stellar reds, and the canyons are cut with wild waters. Iris J. Easydog and I enjoy exploring the richness of new places and stumbling into trees that we have no names for.

A freak, once-in-20 year snowstorm cut through central Alabama 3 weeks ago. It dumped up to 10 inches in the higher country. After a summer enduring months of heat and humidity, you can imagine the thrilling 2 days that Iris and I had slipping our way through lucious white forests with snow clinging faithfully to every branch. I will post new images into my Sweet Home Portfolio asap.

* Pam and I have been blessed to travel this country far and wide while being witness to some of the most beautiful sights and natural treasures. All remarkable, but some just seem to stick in my heart just a bit deeper than others. This past September, I continued my joyous work at the Grand Canyon. The Canyon speaks to me in a way I cannot desribe in words. So I take photographs. I am working on a project there that really has no definite outcome. It is simply a labor of love. See my Rimshots Portfolio if you dare risk the same snakebite.

* I am not much for new year’s resolutions. Such things are difficult for a man who chooses to live one day at a time with no schedules encumbering his day. As long as I can ride my bike till my butt falls off, climb a mountain, paddle a canoe, and do something nice for someone each day, I can be at peace.

 October 19, 2017 : KURT

To elevate someone else's life, with the expectation of nothing in return, is the highest form of living one can aspire to.

Today, I received, not only a book purchase from a former student who I have not seen in many years, but also from him, a long and thoughtful note.

Kurt filled my heart with kind comments about my supportive teaching and what it meant to him. His words were filled with a ridiculous amount of insight, depth of understanding, and humble humor.

He spoke with compassion for my daughter and reached some wise conclusions about learning, life, and in the end, love.

Former students, and for that matter anyone… Do you have any idea of the power you have to change a life by the simplest of gestures?

Some have said Kurt was a difficult student. But none of them have elevated my little world and gave it fulfillment the way he did today.

Thank you Kurt: Senator of the Year!


Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” - Paul McCartney-The Beatles

I am not the first to find birthdays both troublesome and meaningless when you get to a certain age-whatever that age might be. But rather than sulk, complain, and ignore maybe it best rejoice a bit.

It’s been a good day. Many people have warmed my heart with birthday wishes. I find it humbling and reassuring that so many wonderful people are part of my life. I wish I could find wide enough arms to hug them all. Moving so far away this past year has been challenging. Geographical distance is a cruel opposition to friendships. Thank goodness for communication technology.

This morning, couple of small gifts from Pam ( How can Powerbars, a headlamp, and a pile of rocks bring me such joy?) reminded me how blessed I am to have such a tiny list of wants and needs. I am delighted to have a roof over my head, clothing to keep me warm and dry, and food on the table each evening.

I am blessed to have the health necessary to pursue my foolish adventures and the dreams urging me to pursue more. And alongside each day a dog. A dog with more energy and life force than I could ever keep up with.

Most of all, I shared the day with my wife. Perfect.


Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures. -Henry Ward Beecher

People comment that they enjoy my writing, but I confess that I have no idea what I’m doing. People ask me how I see my photographs before I take them. Again, I am confident with my process but have no idea how to explain it.

When photographing, there are some general questions and prompts you can ask yourself, but after many years, it simply comes down to digging deeply into your heart and bringing your feelings and the offerings of the subject into a harmonious composition of meaning.

I asked a wood carver once exactly how he carves an eagle out of a tree stump. Simple, he says, “ I stare at it, and then remove everything that doesn’t look like the eagle I see ”.

Therein lies a lesson of focus that I have carried with me throughout my journeys.

 June 18, 2017 : UNCOMMON SNOW DAYS

June? I found myself post holing through snow at 12,000 feet on a ridge in my beloved Rocky Mountain National Park. Beautiful, luscious spring snow. Actually, the post holing is in the evening, after the daytime sunshine has softened it so I can adequately sink in. The morning is much smoother travel, as I am able to clip on my metal spikes and sail up and down the steep slopes with the grace of a crawling insect and the speed of an elk. Okay, a very old elk.

I have been playing ( it seems incorrect to call it working) at high altitude in the Park.I love it up here. My lungs do not. For 37 years, I have lived at sea-level and ventured to altitude to respond to the call of the mountains. This has not been all enjoyable.I have learned a lot about acclimatization and techniques to enhance/promote it. But despite wisdom, my legs just won’t take me fast enough to where my heart and eyes want to go.

The snow is so wonderful at this time of year, I could care less about breathing. At dawn and dusk I find all the solitude anyone could ever wish for the taking. Such remarkable scenery! I feel moments of guilt not sharing it with others. Where is everyone? If you are in town eating pizza, riding go-carts, or shopping for groceries you are missing some important lessons. You should be up here butt sliding down the snowy slopes and building snowpeople.

Then one morning, I see the tracks of a skier coming and going up to the top of a summit I had visited earlier. Thank you. Someone gets it!


The flowing water was torrential. I climbed down to the creek where I thought I saw a spot where I might, just might, be able to ford the rushing water. I desperately wanted to get across to the other side. It looked liked the only way to skirt the walls of the box canyon and possibly, just possibly, reach the hidden waterfall that I heard so much about through the tales of others.

I tossed down my backpack at creekside to take a better look at my chances and right there at my feet was a yellow butterfly in perfect uniform. It rested motionless. I assumed it was dormant due to the 40 degree temperatures but just to be sure, I gently touched its wing. It flinched but then remained still.

I looked and the butterfly then looked at the rushing water barrier ahead of me. Thinking that the violent water was sure to sweep Iris J. Adventuredog away and likely me too, I took the advice of the butterfly and just remained quitly on the safe shore.

We went back a few days later and safely crossed the creek. And yes, found the waterfall.

 March 29, 2017 : SWEET BABY JAMES

I love the music of James Taylor. His genius jumps out at me more each time I listen. His songs are gentle and at the same time powerful. I am always impressed with the restraint he displays when playing. He manages to keep his compositions simple yet he understands how to lace them with a dynamic flair. He is an artist through and through. He also serves a reminder to me that my photography is more influenced by musicians and other artists than it is by other photographers.

Of course, early in my career I was anxious to know what other photographers were doing and how they were doing it, but once I broke away from the influence of others, the world opened up with a freshness of vision and meaning that I now find a daily joy.

Photography likely suffers as an highly accepted artform because everyone can stand in the same spot at the same time and push a button. I have seen the work of some great photographers in my lifetime. I don’t know how their minds work, but I’m pretty certain that they think differently before they push that button.

 March 6, 2017 : KEEP SHOOTING

Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” — Imogen Cunningham

I agree, Imogen. No sooner do I take, ( or as Ansel Adams says make), a photograph, do I want to pursue another one. Even if I capture a significant, once in a lifetime shot, I seemingly forget about it and think of a new image to pursue.

It’s like a basketball player who hits a shot and can’t wait to get the ball back into his hands again. Hot or cold hand, a shooter wants the ball the next time down court.

Its a good thing to live in the moment and when it’s over, jump fully into the next one. I fact Imogen, I don’t know how you can wait until tomorrow.

 January 31st : STILL SEARCHING

This date remains a meaningless exercise in misery. How can you ever properly observe a date that reminds you of the worst day in your life?

To the many friends that contacted Pam and me, we are astounded by your sensitivity to remember this date, yet blessed that we have such spectacular people in our lives. It can never be understated that we are here today because of your love and support.

This evening, I was called by someone who had just received a $500 grant from the Meredith Williams Foundation. She expressed such lovely gratitude and said it had made her day.

Maybe that was the best way to commemorate this day.

Hugs to all.

 December 25th. 2016 : THE GIFTS OF CHRISTMAS

Dawn on Christmas morning found Iris J. Adventuredog and I standing on a shoreline on a back bay of the Chattahoochee River that helps define the Alabama/Georgia border. Initially, I missed the opportunity to photograph the actual sunrise by a few minutes as I was unable to compose a fitting image just before the huge orange orb slid behind an ominous cover of clouds. A gift nontheless. And now the skies were dismal.

Thinking photography was now impossible, I thought best give Iris the gift of a Christmas swim so on we strolled along the desolate shoreline in search of the great nothing-in-particluar.

As I walked along the water’s edge I drifted to musings of Christmas mornings past. Thinking of decorations, ornaments, butter cookies, presents, but mostly thinking of Meri and my mom. The trimmings and celebrations of Christmas are simply unbearable without them. I fought a losing battle to clear my mind.

And then it happened, in that quiet back bay. From behind a massive wall of clouds, a giant beam of light shined a column of glory from the heavens upon the water. By the time I freed my camera from the bag and unfolded my tripod, it was gone. I have no doubt that my angel sent that as a gift and laughed at my unpreparedness.

I have no idea of who sent the next gift. A perfect idea for the man who missed his annual canoe trip this year to the woods and waters of the Boundary Waters on the U.S/Canadian Border. The perfect gift for the man who cherishes this sound above all other wild sounds.

Loon music! Is this possible? The distinctive wails of the loon were undeniable. I had never heard one outside their northern nesting grounds. I was frozen with amazement. Rather than trying to analyze the possibilities of migration patterns, I chose rather to believe in the gifts of Christmas morning.

I chose rather to believe in angels.


Most the leaves have descended from the trees but the thick cover of ubiquitous pine trees keeps our forest somewhat green. The lack of sunlight has affected my days and the the mornings are, dare I use the word, cold. Okay, chilly. It appears that my friends in the Midwest have pushed their arctic air down this way to remind us of the real meaning of winter. Still, I am able to ride my bike each day and that has been a blessing although the constant hills continue to challenge my lack of power.

I am enjoying the slower paced lifestyle and quieter surroundings. The deer dance though our forests, the coyotes sing in the evenings, and the fish surprise me with their belly flops as I stroll by the lakes in the morning. A bald eagle soared past the other. I feel I am in a good place.

My photographic adventures are confirming my initial feelings about Alabama. This state is a secret gem of the natural world. Its beauty is more subtle. I will have to scratch the surface, look closer, see deeper, and feel the rhythms of these new and special environments. Which for that matter, is sound advice for any place.

On the homefront, I find myself comfortable in light clothing as I thrash about the woods behind our house cleaning unwanted growth from the trees and understory. Back north in the Midwest, I would be shoveling snow today. Sawing through roots and ripping thorn bushes down is just as tough but the hard work is a joy either place. My fine motor skills are terrible so I am glad to feel the strength to participate in tasks that allow me to be the bull in a china shop.

It is a mere 2 days until Christmas and I am searching for a fitting way to observe the holiday. In the last few years without my mother and Meri, we still struggle mightily with the holiday season. Nothing feels right to me. Loss, anger, and dreams unfulfilled are my constant companions. But I feel a certain morsel of peace, as this is the first year I have found the courage to open the box of family ornaments and place some on our tree. I take it as a sign that both my loved ones are still very much with us in spirit and they wish to see their ornaments dangling on the branches. And so it is.

 December 9th, 2016 : SEASON OF LIGHT

We are approaching that dismal day in December when the length of darkness is at its maximum here in the northern hemisphere. For millennia, humans have searched for ways to explain this phenomena but also to search for ways to bring the light back.

The loss of light is more than just a measure of time, but our inner physical and emotional selves seem to be disrupted by the loss of light. This so called season of light is actually more about the hopes and dreams of bringing the light back into our daily lives. Both science and religion are key players in that end.

As a science teacher, I can guarantee you that the light will return. The earths axis cannot be denied. As a photographer, especially one whose business is named In Wild Light, I make time each day to go outside and chase the whatever light there might be offered. And as a man of faith, I try to open my soul and allow the goodness of others to brighten my inner wilderness.

Thank goodness for others.

 November 21, 2016 : WITH DEEPEST GRATITUDE

For all those in my life who have shown me compassion in the face of tragedy, humor in the grip of frustration, inspiration at the wall of stagnation, and the open embrace of love through thick and thin.

Happy Thanksgiving to infinity and beyond.

 November 20th 2016 : “LET’S NOT FOCUS ON THE DETAILS” Jerry K. Albuquerque

I know this thought runs antithetical to a rational approach to most everything. However, a second thought allows me think otherwise. Maybe we do plan too much. Maybe priceless moments are wasted by analyzing, preparing, and designing. Except in matters of health, welfare and safety, maybe there are things that should be approached with simplicity and an eagerness to just jump.

Maybe Nike is correct. Just Do It.

 November 20th 2016 : MYSTERY, MAGIC, AND MEANING

As my feet wander hills and valleys of my photographic life, so too does my feeble mind. I am driven not just to find beautiful photographs, but rather to find the esscence of the worlds through which I travel.

If I am even more than curious, say confused by something I see… that is a good thing. If something seems to defy a reasonable explanation… that too is a good thing. But when something brings about a strong and meaningful message to my mind and heart, then I know I have found a reason to stop and photograph this particular subject, in a way that sings its song loud and clear.

 November 20th 2016 : OH MY FATHER

Three of the finest gentleman I ever ever met on my life path are my friends Father Dan Mayall, Father Jack Trapper, and Father Tony Mazierkiewicz. They are graced with such remarkable spirit, I can’t help but be influenced by there words and actions.

Obviously, they spend much time in prayer. Which is something that I continually struggle with. Long ago I stopped praying for things. I believe they are catagorized as prayers of petition. I have an impossible time believing God answers some prayers but not others. I refuse to believe He would ever play chess with the universe or pick favorites. Why would HE allow so many children to suffer? Why would He allow so many stuggle through life lost in the darkness, despair, and lonliness of hidden treasures. There certainly are things at work here that I will never understand. I am pretty sure that this gift of ‘free will’ figures strikingly into it all.

As for prayer, maybe it best if I pray, with simple gratitude, for the opportunity to be a participnant each day in this incredible universe.

Thank You Fathers

 November 20th 2016 : CHANGE IN TURBULENT TIMES

I feel bad that the country I love is being torn apart by the confrontory politics of the day. The anger is real and understandable. However, the residue of all the hateful words and actions belittles us as human beings. I wish we could dig deeper and work together to find a common ground that respects the integrity of everyone. Impossible? Likely, but at the moment we seem to be regressing from respectful people to war where we are our own enemy.

Many of my friends seem to think that a change in our county’s policies will dramatically change their lives. In a small way, possibly. But, real and significant change does not come from legislation, executive orders, or administrative decrees. Authentic change takes place when an individual builds a positive relationship with another person. Small acts of compassion, sharing, and generosity change lives one at a time. In this way, the world changes from the bottom up but grows geometrically when the people you change also pass the gifts of goodness on to others. 

Instead of crying out in anger, choose a different path. Make someone’s day brighter.

God Bless Americans


Happy Birthday Meredith. Thank you for sitting on my shoulder for another year. Thank you for guiding me in ways that help me along each day. Your loss continues to shake my spirit, challenge my lifeforce, and change the way I see the world. The struggle can be monumentous. I always need you in my life.

There are simple things that keep me going. First and foremost is doing something for the betterment of someone else’s day. The Meredith Williams Foundation has allowed your mother and me to continually reach out to others in a variety of ways. You Meri, are the reason for all the positive acts of kindness. You continue to touch the hearts of so many hearts that need touching.

Today we donated to the purchase and installation of a ‘Buddy Bench’ at Hillcrest Elementary School. Hillcrest has just build a new ‘inclusive’ playground designed to reach the students with special needs. It’s a remarkable place. The ‘Buddy Bench’ is a spot for kids to sit upon that indicates that they need a friend to play with. Also a remarkable idea.

This bench is a perfect gesture by you. If someone were sitting on that bench, I know that you would be the first one to go over and offer your friendship.

We all did good today.

I love you.

 October 28th : HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM

Thank you for letting me play my music as loud as I wanted. Thank you for not freaking out when I came home bruised, broken, or busted. Thank you for not forcing me to eat yucky foods. Thank you for being upset with me when I got a bad report card. Thank you for always listening to my side of the story. Thank you for encouraging me to run, bike, swim, throw, jump, climb, shoot, skate, hit, and slide. And for not forcing me to dance. Thank you for loving me as I want through my butthead teens.

Thank you for encouraging me to travel and see the wonders of this beautiful country. Thank you for pushing me to get the highest education possible. Thank you for persuading me to be a teacher. Thank you for supporting my photography.

Thank you for working your heart out to support both of us with a simple life style that gave us everything we needed without spoiling me with unnecessary stuff. Thank you for teaching me right from wrong and how to care deeply for others.

Thank you for loving my wife and our daughter with unconditional support and open arms. Thank you for spoiling them both.

I will never forget the last thing you said to me; “We made a good team”. Mom, we made a GREAT team. Because of you, I am becoming the man I want to be.


The angel on my shoulder and I participated in the Chicago Marathon this past Sunday, or as we affectionately call it, the Merithon. This year, Team Merithon embraced 14 runners to sacrifice their time and talents to Run Chicago and channel our fundraising efforts to Mercy Home through the Meredith Williams Foundation.

I kept my promise to the orthopedic surgeon and did not run these past 10 months on my new Titanium hip. Without proper training, I thought it best to hike the 26-mile monster. I was unwilling to be the last soul to finish so logic suggested I begin early. In the quiet darkness of the Chicago loop, we left the starting line at 4:15am. Seemed unfair with all the Kenyans still tucked in their Kenyan beds, yet at the same time exhilarating.

Over the next 7 hours, we scooted happily along and watched with wonder while the important people set up the course and cleared the streets. Just for us I assumed? We missed turns and walked far off the course a couple times. Even once, a not-very-understanding police officer made us turn around and retrace our steps, forcing us to cut through the West side of Chicago to rejoin the course. Fortunately, the drunks and gangs were fast asleep.

Other than that, it was all thrilling. Every corner (except one) was patrolled by friendly and supportive police officers. We stopped and talked to several. They are true heroes. I recall stopping at Mile 7 for a snack and watching the first glow in the morning sky over Lake Michigan. I remember fondly, at Mile 10, discovering no lines at McDonalds and ordering hot cakes and a sausage biscuit… to go.

At about Mile 13, the Kenyans were allowed to start and try to catch us. We stopped at Mile 14 for snacks, and a visit with dear friends for a bit. The Kenyans did not stop. By the time we got to Mile 15 they flew past us. Damn, they’re fast. Sadly, we did not own the course any longer.

At Mile 16 we reached Mercy Home for more hugs, celebration, and the shedding of some clothes. The Kenyans did not stop and wait for us. Damn, they’re fast.

The final 10 miles were a movable feast of packed streets, cheering fans, free bananas, loud music, dancing, and supportive signs with constant words of encouragement. Yes, many times I got caught up in the moment and started jogging. Sorry Doc, I felt guilty to be walking.

The Kenyans had long since finished. Damn, they’re fast, and were likely back home tucked in their Kenyan beds. But I chose to savor each step while completing my slowest marathon ever. Also my most enjoyable. I think there’s a lesson here. However, I am slow to learn it. My goal next year is to beat the Kenyans.

My never ending gratitude goes to Liz Boomer Davis, for sharing the first 16 miles with me and Glen Brassmaster Sorgatz, for being a wingman on the final 10. They are longtime training buddies and forever friends.

And thank you Meredith Williams, for riding on my shoulder for the entire 26 miles. You are the reason I get up each day. Today, we did good.

 September 9th  : RELENTLESS

Creative work is not always what it appears. There are not many times when a lightbulb goes on, and in an instant, a beautiful and meaningful piece of work is produced.

Artistry is a creative endeavor, not a random or chance event. A meaningful body of work takes time. Fueled by inspiration, it requires endless times of struggle and persistence. It goes through trials and errors and challenges that bring about questions of sanity. Moments of doubt trouble the mind and monsters of failure loom in the shadows. You stumble, fall, and continue.

You do not become creative in a weekend. And when you think you are done, the battle begins again.

 September 2nd : CANYON MUSIC

Every morning… every evening….for the last 10 days, I sat perched on the rims of the Grand Canyon, staring out into the abyss and watched with sheer joy as the light danced off the canyon rocks. For me, it’s a rock concert as good as anywhere on earth.

The Canyon is many things to many people. I have not cornered the market on its mystery to me or its amazement to others. I go regularly on trips there to simply bask in the light and listen to the canyon emptiness sing to me.

My photographs are a way to capture and express the song.


We have moved to Alabama. A small town outside of Auburn. Rural setting. Pastoral.

The deep south was never in our plans when years ago Pam and I began to think where we might consider moving to, or moving at all for that matter. Montana, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado were always on my radar. But Alabama?

We have grown tired of surviving winter. The cold has taken its toll on my fingers, respiratory system, and mental well being. I welcome the thick hot air and the endless seasons of warmth.

I want to ride my bike most any day of the year on quiet, tiny county roads past horses, cows, and broken down barns. I want to share my yard with wild critters and hear the echo of silence at night from our porch. I want to sip sweet tea and listen to the leaves on the trees flutter. The deep south seemed to invite us.

Alabama is rich with outdoor treasures. The foothills of the Appalachians in the Northeast give way to rolling hills, a plethora of watersheds, and a Gulf coast with white sandy beaches. I am looking forward to a new challenge photographing an area of the country that remains new to me.

Mostly, we have been drawn in by a simpler life, southern hospitality, and a chance to grow some new branches. We search for peace.

However, after being here in our new state, for just a few days, it’s those sweet yellow butterflies that are drawing my attention. On special occasions, Meri sends me a yellow butterfly to remind me of her presence. But this week they are incredibly everywhere. They follow me on my morning walks, flutter alongside on my bike rides, and dance outside my window in the bushes. I can only conclude that our beautiful daughter believes we are in the right place.

 July the 23rd : THINKING WISELY

Webster says: WISDOM a : accumulated philosophic or scientific learning : knowledge b : ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : insight c : good sense : judgment

Over the years, many people have accused me of being wise. I have no idea what they mean. I’m not even sure exactly what wisdom is. Websters’ definition doesn’t sound like me. Knowledgable? Please… I don’t even know how to work a television remote, repair my own bicycle, or use my i-phone. And it would be a leap of assumption to grant me good judgement, as most days leave myself scratching my head wondering why I did something foolish.

My version of wisdom comes not from intelligence, which I have little, but rather 4 simple things; time, experience, observation, and deep thought.

As an only child with a single parent, working mom, I spent a lot of time alone. No regrets. Mom was an angel and a champion, but I was forced to entertain myself. I was not a sociopathic, destitute child but I certainly learned how to comfortable in my own skin and captain my own ship to adventures.

So too, I have been blessed to have a rich variety of experiences. Whether it were sports, music, art, dead end jobs, or mindless adventures, I was always in hot pursuit of new experiences. I chased all my dreams with mindless passion.

Not much of a follower nor a leader, I was, and still am, most comfortable in the lone wolf role, hanging on the periphery and observing. I am a watcher. An analyzer of most everything.

As I have discussed in previous journal writings, I am a deep thinker. Likely too deep for my own good. I like to grapple with foolish ideas. As a scientist, it is difficult not to search for patterns, make judgements, and reach conclusions. To this day, I wish I could drop all the judgements. They are troublesome and often erroneous. However, we are animals and we survive by making endless predictions. We stay away from speeding trains, boiling water, and mean people.

To variable degrees, we are all wise. It is my hope that young people will take the time to be alone and comfortable with their own thoughts. I hope they pursue a rich and wholesome variety of experiences. If they take the time to think different and deeply, they will be rewarded with this necessary wisdom to be themselves.

The secret is not in your cell phone.


Blessed are they who revel in the wonders of nature, for they shall be children forever.

 FATHERS DAY 2016 : My Dearest Meredith:

I am not sure if God gives you the power to read my thoughts but I am assuming He allows you to read my Journal entries.

As several years have stumbled by since I have lost your hugs, I am still a damaged soul and most times a sorrowful residue of the man I was when I had your smile in my life. And while it is true that your spirit travels with me every hour of every day, I still find the day to day movements quite difficult. I miss your hugs. I miss the way you use to tease me and laugh at my mistakes. I miss the way we could argue over differences of opinion yet still love each other.

I miss wiping your tears, mending your wounds, and feeling the protective love that only a parent could know. Your spirit is always with me but I selfishly want more. My life without you is a work in progress that will never really be complete.

In some ways, I have found ways to compartmentalize the pain and function in the eyes of others. I assume that’s a healthy sign. And I continue to search for ways to accept the unfairness of it all. This seems like a futile challenge.

Recently, one of the things that hurts is coming to grips with the reality that everyone else, except your mother and I, has moved on with their lives. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand this. However, no one ever mentions your name. No one ever asks about you. About how you lived. About how you felt about things.

Again, don’t get me wrong, I fully realize how hard it must be for someone to speak of you to me. I doubt that I could do it if the roles were reversed. For the longest time, I doubt if I could handle it. But to move forward, I just wish more people would realize that you still exist in my world and I’m okay with speaking about my love for the daughter that danced and shined her light upon everyone she met.

As you can see, I have a long way to go.

I love you more each day. I miss throwing stones in the water with you.


Thank you. It is difficult to stop our wheels from spinning and take a moment to be grateful for what we’ve been given. Coming to a halt is ever more complicated by the fact that we are mostly preoccupied with striving to attain that which we do not currently have. We humans are strivers. Always reaching for the stars.

Not the the stars are a bad thing to reach for. Nor is being involved in a life based on doing more things for more people. Making the world a better place is a fine characteristic of a mature humanity. But I have found a richness in stopping more often and thanking the universe for the gifts that abound.

Certainly, we are blessed with ‘things’ that make our lives more enjoyable but ‘things’ are of least importance. More so, we are blessed with ‘places.’ Special “places’ of comfort and indescribable beauty that hold us in the palm of their hands and impact our lives with remarkable spirit. These gifts are treasures and should be duly noted on regular basis.

Most importantly, we are blessed with ‘people’. We are nothing without others. Our gratitude to others is best delivered by words and actions. Never underestimate the power of a kind word placed in the right spot at the right time. Never separate the value of an act of kindness with the ability to change another’s life forever.

Thank you universe. Thank you special people in mine.

 May 9th 2016 : ALL

As usual, Mother’s Day was heartbreaking. Even more so with Pam in another state, 1000 miles away from me. I spent the morning walking through spring wildflowers with the pup and the entire afternoon on my bicycle.

In the evening I mused over an article that a friend had sent us. Claire McCarthy has also lost a child. I could see from her writing that she was lost on the same stormy sea as I am. I don’t have the emotional energy to examine her thoughts nor mine deeply at this point. However, one line struck me with it’s simplicity. It most accurately expresses my mindset;

All that is important is who we love. All that is important is each other. Nothing else. -Claire McCarthy, M.D. Harvard Medical

Image: Forget-Me-Nots

 April the 5th : I AM A WANDERER

As I walk my dog through the silent forests, I am noticing that she and I operate along the same frames of travel. Generally, we leave without a real destination. Generally, we try to follow a path or trail. But more often than not, we are distracted and cast of into new and less traveled directions in search of that great nothing-in-particular.

I am drawn by the urge to find things. At times, something catches my eye, or my ear, but more often than not, I just like to wander aimlessly. I notice the same mode operates when I ride my bike these days. It seems good to me. I am happy to be growing up and becoming not so destination oriented. I think maybe my dog has taught me this.

One thing for certain though, both of us like to keep moving.

 March 4th 2016 : TALES OF TRAVEL

Home sweet home after almost 10 weeks on the road. We were based in a small town in mid-Arizona followed by some time in rural Alabama. Good to have a change of scenery. Warm weather was soothing and daily activities strengthened our bodies. The fresh fruit of photography opportunities help my portfolios grow. But it was the experiences that filled my cup of gratitude.

In Arizona, I was blessed to shuffle through knee deep snow along the rim of the Grand Canyon and watch the magical light dance off its walls. I followed unfamiliar trails through the desert and climbed peaks dressed with saguaro cacti. The nights were filled with a fresh chill and the darkness of desert skies allowed beacons of starlight to fill my eyes. There was rain. There were rainbows.

Alabama surrounded us with the unique southern hospitality that has stolen our hearts. I find forays into the southern pine forests suit me quite well. As does Iris J. Adventuredog, who finds it necessary to chase, taste, and roll in everything. She turned 3 years old this trip and her stubborn independence is only sometimes shaken by obedience. She is a great traveler and brings us joy each and every day.

The biodiversity of the deep south continues to impress me and riding my bike along the rural roads reminds me just how much this countryside really does roll up and down like ocean waves. There is a genuine tug inviting us more and more to the deep south. It’s beginning to feel special.

Thank you to all the friends, old and new, who visited us, shared adventures, and simply took the time to sit, talk, and count our blessings. Most especially my wife, my greatest blessing, who after 10 weeks on the road together, still found me loving her even more than when we left. Magic.

 February 28th 2016 : THE CANYON STEALS MY SOUL

Throughout its history, multitudes of artists have travelled to the Grand Canyon to bear witness. Their work screams of greatness. On my first few trips there, I was intimidated by the scope and magnitude of what seems to me to be inexpressible.

A couple of years ago something clicked. The Canyon has taken up permanent space in my heart. I have been on frequent adventures there to use my sensibilities in effort to build a meaningful relationship with its magical grip. I am finding success in hearing its message and photographing it with a style that seems true to me.

In one way, my approach to the Canyon is unlike others projects I have worked on over my lifetime as a photographer. This project has no final objective nor real purposeful end product. I simply go there to play. I go there to watch the forms and features change with the light of the day. I go to watch the weather patterns form and disappear. I go there with an open mind to allow it to speak to me. Then I listen.

Images are currently living in my Grand Rimshots Portfolio.


My Dearest Meredith: I recall being asked once if I think about you everyday. How foolish a question. How could the asker know? I doubt there is a waking HOUR that I don’t think of you sweetie. You are more a part of me than the body I walk around with.

Each year, I use this day to reflect, but it never seems to work out well. At the end of the day I am left with a bucket full of heartbroken emotions and unfulfilled dreams. It’s that way most days.

However, there is also another bucket filling up. One that is filling with the angelic belief that you are with me and riding comfortably on my shoulder. Also in the bucket is the growing acts of charity by your Meredith Williams Foundation which is a driving force of goodness in my world.

Include the friends both old and new that have propped us up, the courage that I have mustered to continue getting up each day, and the perspective I have acquired by knowing that my life will forever be different and I am able find some good things to breathe comfort this broken spirit. The ‘new normal’ I have been living is a simpler and more refined style where my needs are few and my priorities are based upon giving your love to others. I don’t do so well all the time, but I accept that I am a work in progress.

Thank you for all the rainbows, yellow butterflies, and signs of love you send my way. I become more aware of your presence each passing day. They are all powerful reminders that we will meet again, but oh… I would give anything to hold you in my arms today.


And yes a saw the rainbow last evening.

 January 27th 2016 : HEROES AND ANGELS

Some things are more inexplicable than just coincidence can explain.

My wife and I were hiking on a remote Arizona desert mountain trail. Our great friend, Canyon Dan Mellish, out of the clear blue sky, in Phoenix for business, at the last moment changed his flight home to drive an hour north to join us for this hike. It’s been years since the 3 of us have hiked together. A truly impromptu occasion.

Shortly into the hike at a trail junction we run in to a man I have known for 5 years but have never met. Jim Jenness is a THE "old fella" epic distance runner who runs marathons for Mercy Home Chicago on its Heroes Team. To me, he is legendary. Canyon is likely the strongest runner from Mercy Home Heroes. He and his wife, Heather, fly in to Chicago each year just to run the marathon for the children at Mercy. Dan has never met Jim either. They too are legendary. For the past 5 Chicago Marathons Pam and I have participated the efforts of the Merithon Team (formed in memory of our late daughter Meri) that also runs for MercyHome Heroes. Team Merithon is legendary. Pam and I are not legendary runners, but we know angels.

So here we are in the middle of nowhere, all from different states, all Mercy Home runners. No one else around. Our improbable encounter was orchestrated by an angel. Of this I have no doubt. Thanks Meri.

 Begin 2016 : A Time to Reflect and Resolve

As a new year begins, some reflection seems in order. I recall traveling a lot this past year. Possibly too much. I recall running my arthritic hip into the ground and coming to grips with the reality that I am not 25 anymore. Definitely too much. And I seem to be riding my bike all over God’s green earth. Never too much.

But my greatest memories of 2015 are all the wonderful things the Meredith Williams Foundation was able to do for people. Especially children. God bless those children. Never has it been so clear that the tremendous, unwavering support of our friends has fueled, not only In Wild Light Photography, but Meri’s Foundation.

I would like to think, the years of passionate care that Pam and I have extended to children has trickled down, and more importantly blossomed outwards. As the Foundation pays it back to the communities, causes and activities of these, now grown children, the perfect karmatic circle is woven.

Also, I would like to think that doing good things promotes generosity. And I would like to think that Meri’s spirit is surviving. In any case, we ALL did good.

However, in fairness, it is the future and its moments that should require a full embrace. As I step into today, I am thinking about this game people play with ‘resolutions’. I used to think it somewhat silly but I have seen many people jumpstart their lives into some amazing successes. So what can I strive for? Something simple.

Meri used to give me music on CD’s. I knew she was doing this to share some of her feelings with me. Once, while also trying to get me to appreciate country music, she gave me this song by Tim McGraw. It floored me. Here is the chorus:

I went sky divin'... I went rocky mountain climbin'... I went 2.7 seconds on a bull name Fumanchu. And I loved deeper... And I spoke sweeter... And I gave forgiveness I've been denying. And he said someday I hope you get the chance, To live like you were dyin’.

I resolve this year to love deeper and speak sweeter.

 December 1, 2015 : Down Time

I have decided to put my camera down for a few weeks. No, not because I dropped it in a waterfall in Georgia ( which I did). No, not because I needed and artist reprieve from my work. But rather, the silly idea I had last week to cure my nagging arthritis with a drastic measure. I bought a new hip.

I got in one last run before checking in to the hip store ( Hips R Us?). My masterful surgeon meticulously inserted a sweet titanium edition into my right leg while I was counting sheep and I walked out the doors of Hotel Hospital two days later into the first major snowstorm of the year. Bad timing indeed. The first snow of the year usually clings to the trees with such gorgeous tenacity. As did this one. I felt cheated and heart broken not to be out to in it.

Home now, and rehabbing. This has not been much fun. Everyone I know who has gotten a new hip has told me “ you’ll say, why did I wait so long?” And I say, why didn’t you tell me about the morbid stiffness, unsettling pain killers, digestive problems, insomnia, inability to put your socks on, and general ineptitude.

But the cane with dancing butterflies is sweet.

 November the 10th : RAINBOWS IN THE MIST

Floating around the southern Appalachians for two weeks in fall is likely good for my photographic soul, but the daily rains and many road miles have left me weary. I am glad to be home.

Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama… Y’All have been very kind to me. Thank you for drenching your treescapes with rains for my waiting cameras. The days of saturated color and spirited adventure were memorable.

Have a restful winter.

 October 28th-2015 : Another Angel

Photography is not that easy. When I go out casting for photos, I sometimes come home“skunked”- photo failure. However, at the end of the day, if I have made just one satisfying image, I am thrilled. That in mind, the other day was possibly the most productive day I have ever experienced in 37 years of chasing pictures.

Granted, it was autumn and I found myself waking up in rain within the heart of the Smoky Mountains ( 60 years old and I’m still sleeping in the back of my truck with a muddy dog- but that’s another issue). The conditions made for an opportune situation. But today seemed different…

Exciting and meaningful images were everywhere. They fell into my eyes and heart with unusual frequency. Moment after moment. All day long. Even as I showed restraint while intuitively composing each image with thoughtfulness and purpose, the photos came non-stop. I concentrated my attention on meanings, messages, and usefulness within my thematic portfolios. The joy was relentless. I felt as if I was being guided by a hand and being led to all the most gorgeous places. Today WAS different…

At day’s end, I nestled in with the dog and stopped to reflect on my good fortune. I couldn’t recall a more thrilling day. What possibly could have caused this? Certainly not me.

Then it occurred to me. It was October 28th! My mom’s birthday!! Many years ago I recall taking mom to the Smokies on her birthday. She wanted to see the fall colors in the Smokies once in her life. That was a most disappointing year for fall foliage. The trees were green and brown. We were heartbroken and never returned.

It all makes sense now. Thank you mom for being the angel on my shoulder. We finally had the best day together.

 October 12th 2015 : RUNNING WITH ANGELS

My Dearest Meredith: I can’t believe we did it again.

Last year, I promised myself I would never run another marathon. The pain in my arthritic hip has gotten too great to manage a proper training program for such a monstrous event.

However, when Mercy Home called this year and Team Merithon again formed in your honor, I just couldn’t say no. So on Sunday morning, Oct 11th, 2015, I once again found myself running through the Start of this years Chicago Marathon. It’s all Heather Mellish’s doing. She just won’t let your team and the spirit of generosity to Mercy Home go. So we go.

The race itself, as all adventures go, revealed both good and not so good. I knew better than not to begin too fast. But I did. And I knew better than get caught up in the moment and run someone else's race. But I did.

I was actually floating along at a great pace until I stopped at Mile 16 to visit with all the people from Mercy Home. I heard them announce your name and talk about your generosity. About how you were instrumental in beginning their running program and how you continue to inspire people to incredible acts of kindness in the name of children. Father Scott and the staff and Mercy Home love you. At last tally, your small Merithon Team of 7 had raised over $12,000 for the boys and girls at Mercy. I am obviously staggered by the generosity of our friends.

However, after that ten minute break, I jumped back on the course and my wheels wouldn’t kick into gear. The harder I coaxed my little legs to push the greater the pain. At Mile 17, I turned into strong winds, rising heat of the day and was sucked into the famous Great Wall. Underfed, under trained, and ill prepared for the heat there was only one option. Keep running slowly and suffer like a saint.

It was a long and uniquely painful 8 miles, but I did not walk. Cried a bit, but did not walk. Many bananas later, I ran through the Finish, grabbed your ring and cross from around my neck and said “we did it!”

But of course you know all of this, because your angel was on my shoulder the entire day. So why bother to write this all down in my Journal? Maybe I just want our friends to know the power of your spirit is alive and well.

Maybe I just want to tell the world how much I love you.

 September 12th of 2015 : The First One Here

I am paddling my canoe far north in Canada. I am a week away from anything with a motor. It’s so desolate. Remote. The perfect peacefulness.

I pull up on the shore of an insignificant island and struggle over the tilted rocks and stumble to get out. No sign of a trail or footmarks anywhere as I bust through the undergrowth of old trees dripping fungi and lichen. The smell is fresh and clean. This is not civilization in the least.

After a few minutes I sit down on a rock precipice and place my feet in a thick carpet of ancient moss. And then a powerful thought occurs to me…

No one has ever sat here. I am the first one here.

And for a moment, I am King.

 September 7th, 2015 : Wanderings

We are back from almost a month on the road. Grateful to me home, it’s time for me to rest and heal some of the well earned bumps and bruises My spirit is strong but my legs are trashed. Time to regroup and refuel.

After 37 years, Rocky Mountain National Park has again pumped fresh air into my lungs and it’s magic had stolen my heart. Even though my book on Rocky, High Altitude Paradise, is sold out, I continue to photograph in earnest, this precious wilderness because it is simply part of who I am.

Pam and I also slid down to the Grand Canyon for a week of exploration. Our footsteps found both the North and South Rims to their liking. I am certain I am not the first person to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the Canyon. The older I get, the more I seem to appreciate the speechless wonder that I find myself in, trying to express my vision each time I look into the arms of this gouge in the earth. The more time I spend there, the richer life becomes.

Special Thanks to Bruce and Marlene Brown for letting us use their gorgeous mountaintop cabin.I am sorry I could not catch more mice and bears for you. However, Bruce, I did clean your bike but was too busy to ever ride it. And we did leave you a moose, some hiking socks, and a freeze dried lasagna for a candlelight dinner.

 August the 5th : Birthday Bike Bashing and Reflections on Uranus

August 5th. Well… there goes another one. The big 62 now. My first thought was to celebrate my birthday with a feat of living strong. An athletic achievement would prove I am still fit ( this seems to be a ‘guy thing’ probably buried somewhere on the y chromosome). I hear riding a bike where age= miles is a good test. Actually kinda silly, but I bit.

So my friend, Ramon, and I took off on our trail bikes to ride through forests and marshes in search of the 62 mile mark. We got somewhat lost, and somewhat disobeyed trail closed signs several times. We rode through holes, ruts, rivets, and dips. Through gravel, dirt, grass, and stone as we bashed our butts along on a bumpy ride. We portaged our bikes over washed out riverbed crevasses and lifted them over countless log jams. Because of Senor Ramon’s infectious good spirit, we had no choice but to laugh and joke our way through the day.

At the 62 mile mark we decided to overachieve. At the 74 mile mark we were daunted, at the 80 mile mark we popped out on a road and quit. And then I ate cake. Lots of cake.

I am one of those who find birthdays troubling or irrelevant at best. The yearly measurement of life is a cruel reminder of mortality. Maybe it would be better if we didn’t celebrate our orbit the sun every 365 days as a noteworthy event. If we lived on Uranus, it would take us 84 years to orbit the sun before we celebrated even our first birthday. Then, it would be more likely that we would celebrate days. The idea that we would relish the importance of each day and live more in that cherished ‘moment” seems a wiser style.

I would like that idea. Carpe diem.

 July 29th, 2015 : Immersion and Restoration in Quetico

The future will belong to the nature-smart-those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real.” -RICHARD LOUV ( from the Nature Principle)

I have just re-entered the world of text messages, e-mails, Facebook, and websites… from a world of majestic wilderness. I was asked by my great friend and master teacher, Ramon Marth, to help lead a canoe trip into the heart of Quetico, Canada’s prime wilderness lake waters. Along with 16 teenagers from the heart of Benet Academy (well regarded for academic greatness and religious conviction), I was excited to be a part of an opportunity to remove the tech devices from their hands and put some mud on their feet.

If the students were able to withstand the rigors of hauling packs, balancing canoes on their heads, and dodging dive-bombing mosquitoes, I had no doubt that they would walk away more enlightened people. I have spent a lifetime learning that the wilderness is a tonic for the soul. I have built a photo business sharing the magic and wonder of nature. I am a believer. The wild outdoors has the powerful ability to transcend our world view and transform our lives. More than ever, our children need the intelligence that only this kind of experience can offer.

The simplicity of designing this adventure is wonderful. There are no need for books nor note-taking. No lectures are necessary and finals do not exist. One needs only to be a participant in observation and a vessel of movement. If the focus of your attention is on the moment at hand, and you only allow your attention to be distracted by beauty, your cares will dissolve to only what is important at the time; food, shelter, water…and the next paddle stroke. Sweet simplicity.

To my delight, still mornings yielded productive photography. A high pressure weather cell sat over us most the week, and the paddling throughout the day was smooth and sublime. The nights were filled with the wails of loons singing sweet loon music. Indeed there were hardships, but muddy portages, pesky bugs, wrong turns, and the general exhaustion of long days are soon forgotten, as each day confidence grows and the cares of a distant world are shed like fallen leaves.

Any trepidation I came with concerning the toughness of the kids was shattered. These young warriors were amazing. Academic stars all, I was humbled by their intelligence, but I was amazed by their energy, enthusiasm, and resolve. They greeted each day with joy and humor. They teased, sang, and joked. They swam, they jumped, and they climbed. They played with child-like delight. It was wonderful! Oh, how I welcomed the chance to enter the world of a high school teenager for one short week. As my teen memories returned, it became clear that these kids were far superior in many ways to the young lad I was back then. Again, I was humbled.

In the end, we all walk away winners. Stronger people in immeasurable ways, we were all gifted by the wisdom of the natural world. The bond nature extends to us must be experienced to develop, and the wisdom of its hands must be shaken.

And we have done so. Travel in peace my new friends.

 July 16th, 2015 : What beliefs do you base your life upon?

My life, and I assume everyones, evolves in an ever changing “work in progress”/“construction zone”. With over 5 billion specialized human genetic blueprints, we are all uniquely unique. And therefore, on a somewhat different path to God knows where? Hopefully, peace and happiness.

At this point in my little life, I find to be quite driven by integrity, commitment, simplicity, compassion, generosity, and humility. Honorable goals for sure, but rather than dive into a deep introspective analysis of my phyche, I prefer to see how these driving forces apply to my photography.

I am committed to finding images that are fresh and honest to my vision. Not derivitives of another person's work. This can be a challenge these days. Many people now stand in spots where 35 years ago I was often alone. The media now only bombards us with beautiful imagery and shares the locations quite openly. I am no different than others when seeing stunning places in print and then shaking the information tree to get the beta. But I have no intent to replicate, no intent to copy, and I shun any temptation to walk in the artistic footsteps of others.

I desire my images to be simple. As I grow older, I revel in abstractions of the grand scene I see before me. I want to work the edges, push some boundaries, and see things from a perspective that others do not. I hope my images reflect the passion I have for the wilderness and how grateful I am to be apart of the entire outdoor experience.

In Wild Light Photography exists as a vessel for sharing. Both its profits and its images. I seek no fame or fortune in my humble endeavor. Only that my images might be a beacon to others encouraging them explore wild and natural wonders, then open their hearts to the magic that is unique to wilderness.

My art is who I am. May yours be you.

 July 8th, 2015 : The Dawn of Digital

After 36 years of film, I decided it was time to jump off a new cliff. I went out and purchased my first digital camera, laughed at the instruction manual, scratched my head through a few You Tube instruction videos, counseled with a few people who really know this tech stuff, and muddled through all the setting options on

I nervously went out into a desolate prairie (so no one would laugh at me) and started to work. One of the reasons I’ve hesitated so long is my resistance to start thinking again. Following my heart rather than a leftist analytical brain, photography has become an intuitive process for me. I have a flow established as I feel my way through the image making process. I hope not to be encumbered too long by such things that this new tech learning curve requires.

Now… where’s that ON button again?

Here’s my first image.

 Mid-June 2015 : Badlands/Goodlands

I drive rapidly down a long dirt road, kicking up a cloud of dust on my way to a point unknown. Then suddenly, the road all but disappears. Seeing that the destination still offers more distance, I creep my tires through tall grasses in hope that the path becomes clear. I fishtail through pot holes of mud, then tilt precariously along a stretch of sand. Knowing that any moment could turn my journey to a helpless night in the truck, I was still smiling deep inside. The pull of fresh landscapes is powerful.

I arrive at the edge of a rim overlooking a grand kingdom of rock pinnacles androlling grasslands. Despite pesky mosquitoes, I wait patiently for the sun to cast it’s magical light upon the scene. It slowly cooperates as I ferret out images from a bounty of artistic options.

I am fulfilled. I spend the night in the truck.

 June 21, 2015 : Fathers

I miss being a father. More than anything, I miss being dad. Each and everyday I miss the joys and challenges of being a father to my daughter. Such a monumental lose leaves an indescribable void in my heart that can never be filled.

However, without envy, I find great inspiration in seeing great men living that role with honor and integrity. HAPPY FATHERS DAY to all of you that show up each and every moment for your children. I admire the way you take their hand when they are in danger and the time you give to them when you have little time of your own. I am in admiration for the spirit you feed their souls, the wounds that you tend to, the concern for their health you embody, and the compassion you extend to their calls of need.

You are the real heroes in the lives of our future. I commend the way you always find the time to take them on adventures to the wonders of the world and discover the universe anew. I am impressed when you lead them by example with honesty and generosity. And always find the time to listen to their concerns and recognize their positive actions.

I enjoy watching you build sand castles, feed them healthy food, invent silly games, and let them jump and run like wild animals. At the same time, when you set expectations for responsible behavior, involve your interest in their school achievements, and stand courageously to point out their errors and humbly admit yours to them, I am in awe.

Please don’t ever miss the opportunity to interact with your child.

I miss reading bedtime stories.

 May 31st, 2015 : Traveler's Tales

Def:Vacation: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday: a respite or a time of respite from something

I do not take vacations. Wandering is my work. I am not intending it to be restful. Nor am I trying to break away from something. My travels are more of a calling, a vision quest, a pilgrimage.

I seek out the wild places where nature has a story for me. Where woods and waters can wrap their arms around me. Where mountains can humble me and deserts can show me my monumentous insignificance.

I seek out places where world outside and my world inside come together and I am given the gift of losing myself in the moments. These are special times where I fail to notice the discomforts of bugs, beasts, and brutal exhaustion.

I go to learn from a voice that cannot be heard, only felt. Through my photography, I make feeble attempts to transfer the messages of these places into visual representations.

Sometimes it works. Often I find some peace. And sometimes I just get cold.

 May 15, 2015 : Thoughts on Retirement

I have been retired from teaching for 4 years now. I feel comfortable weighing in now to all those inquiries about how it feels, what do you miss, and wow it must be wonderful.

Yes, it’s quite nice to be able to “sleep in” on days where my body really requires some extra rest. Like everyone, we don’t get enough sleep, and I feel that I am still catching up from a lifetime of sleep deprivation.

I have also noticed the freedom I now enjoy by a life not encumbered by bells, and time restrictions not by my choosing. For that matter, I have become phobic to schedules. I prefer each day to unfold, like a gift.

Now away from the teaching profession, I do not miss mindless meetings, labeling students with grades, ridiculous testing requirements, and flavor of the year ideas of how to reinvent education. Even more so these days when the pressure, stakes, and competition to do more is being ratcheted to levels that are destroying the morale of so many teachers. I am truly glad to be away from all the responsibilities that that any job entails. The only thing I ever miss, is being entwined with the lives of those beautiful children.

But for those who think retirement is akin to heaven. My car still needs repairs, I still have bills to pay, gritty financial decisions to make, and my home always gets dirty. I still get ill, my body continues to break down, and the reality of my mortality is a constant. My world remains full of emotional challenges and problems with no solutions. And I watch many of my good friends deal with life and death.

No, it is not heaven. And I probably would jump at the chance to turn back the clock 40 years and do it all over again. But when compared with the quality and quantity of time I get to spend with my wife, my dog, my bike, and my camera… I think I’m good right here and now.

 May 10, 2015 : What Catches Your Eye ?

While walking through the gentle overcast of an emerging spring forest with my great young friend, Jenny Webeler, she asked me this seemingly easy question in regards to deciding when take my camera out of the bag. I however, did not have a quick answer.

I’m thinking this simple question might have a complex and ‘impossible to describe with words’ answer. I’ll try.

I look for order in the chaos. I enjoy finding simplicity and orderliness in nature’s design. My eyes work the edges. The edges of everything; surfaces, tones, days, seasons. I am attracted to motion and the relative dance of action. Of course, I am enthralled by ridiculous light and it’s variation of color, intensity, and directionality. I love lines that flow like waves and sweep my thoughts to restful places. I love places that speak to me and places that reflect something I have to say.

But after all these years, I have come to not think much at all. It seems best to just follow my heart’s intuition. And then take the camera out of the bag.

I am caught by peace.

 April 12, 2015 : Daring to Different

Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary. Cecil Beaton

Of course, we all love this idea. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. If we try to be different, just for the sake of being different, we aren’t being true to ourselves. Another trapping is to see something another person has produced, and twisting it to our own delight and putting our stamp on it. We are a culture of lemmings. However, the joy of an original idea, a truly original idea, is not an easy find. As they say in science, we see far because we stand on the shoulders of others (1). To have a foundation of skill and a base of knowledge, given to us by others, is a blessing. It is up to the imaginative mind, to perch on this foundation, and fly off in a direction that is new, different, and at all times, to thy own self be true.

Play fair. Don’t steal. And say acknowledge others with thanks.

(1)The metaphor of dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants (Latin: nanos gigantum humeris insidentes) expresses the meaning of "discovering truth be building on previous discoveries". While it can be traced to at least the 12th century, attributed to Bernard of Chartres, its most familiar expression in English is found in a 1676 letter of Isaac Newton:If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Seems like Issac stole the words from Chartres. See what I mean. It’s not easy to be an original. But as Dave Matthews says, I will “ die trying.”

 April Not Fooling : The Little and the Grand

Ironic, 2 weeks ago I was in Illinois at a place called the Little Grand Canyon. Subtle, but a bit too early for spring. I needed more. Today, I have returned from a week at THE Grand Canyon. While comparisons of beauty are always ridiculous, the shear volume of the Grand is undeniable.

Over the years, the I have visited the Grand Canyon several times with somewhat feeble photo results. I seemed too overwhelmed by its magnitude to find ways the express and compose special images. But a couple of years ago that changed. It finally started making sense to me and I want to express some things abut it.

Now, I have fallen hopelessly in love with the Grand Canyon. I want to see its faces from all different places. I want to sing it songs and dance with its dynamic weather. I want to be a witness to the changing light etching across its rock towers. I want to make images that give it a meaning and a message.

Let the game begin. This might take a few years. I will update my work from there asap and travel there as much as time permits.

My friend, and sidekick, says nobody rushed Rembrandt. Compliment overstated, but she didn't know Mrs. Rembrandt.

May God bless your days.

 March 15th 2015 : Trends

As I log on to the computer each day, I get to see what’s ‘trending’. I guess it kinda means which way the herd is moving. We’ll let me tell you computer, when you’ve been around long enough to get a few wrinkles in your skin and your bones that start to creak, you have a larger and more data driven picture of what’s really ‘trending’.

Inconsideration ( have you driven lately or tried to walk the sidewalks of your neighborhood in winter?). Political divisiveness ( the polarity of the two main parties is staggering). Smartphone usage (does anyone actually talk to each other anymore face to face?). Debt ( need only look at the government, college costs, and your home bills). Quantity ( yet somehow, I’ve never seen more homes, garages, and yards filled with more stuff that anyone could possibly need). Competition ( more games, more contests, winners, losers, and endless/meaningless arguments of whose the ‘best’ in the nonsensical and immeasurable folly of rank ordering human beings. And most disturbing to me is complexity ( I struggle to find examples of things that are easier today than when I was a little dirtball).

But before it sickens me to be Nelson Negativity and move back to Walnut Grove with the Ingalls Family ( which is an endearing idea) could I just suggest that we all; make sure our sidewalk is shoveled, allow a driver in move in front of us, compromise to solve a problem, see grey as an alternative to black or white, go for a walk, or a bike ride. Say hello to someone, agree with an opponent, sit down and talk with someone, spend less money on stuff, spend more time with friends, cooperate, don’t keep score, and see something special and admirable in everyone. And have the courage to let them know it.

And I and other bears of little brains, will try to keep things simple.

 Feb 28th, 2015 : From Under Frozen Falls

Just out of a hot tub, sipping a Pam Williams chocolate protein shake, and feeling the disheartening tingle of two frost bitten fingers, I wonder… Why would anyone want to spend the day on a frozen Lake Superior in the company of arctic wind chills and below zero temperatures?

Ice caves! Stunningly gorgeous ice formations that tumble off the sandstone cliffs in a variety of colors, these grand icicles entrap cavities at the bottom of the cliffs, custom made glazed explorations for a boy and his dog.

And then I wonder… why would anyone not?

Sorry, I promised the authorities I would not tell anyone where I went. But if you insist, I will take you there.

* the attached image is from many years ago at the Apostles Islands National Lakeshore. That too is a beautiful place to explore ice caves but has become too overcrowded for my liking. I will post my new images in the near future.

God bless you and yours.

 February 19, 2015 : Light on the Ice

I went out this morning to see how my fingers would work the camera at 23 below zero. Not well.I promised myself, after last winter's illness, to never do another winter in the Midwest.

But here we are again. Pam has undergone 3 surgeries within the last 6 weeks and we are stuck. My heart wants to whine about it but my mind says to accept it, count your blessings, and move forward to seek out the goodness in each day.

Okay mind. But it's so damn cold!!

 February 9th/2015 : Time vs Distance

My great friend, Ramon Marth/Teacher Who Paints, who I enjoy taking “the longer the better” bike rides with has a slightly different approach to measurement than I. He believes the value of a ride should be expressed in miles, as opposed to my mantra, “it’s all about minutes”. The difference in our training plan ( which would assume we have a plan and we don’t) causes me no problem until the end of the ride.

Due to my heavy dose of the need for order, I need to finish the ride at a comfortable sounding finish time. Say… 3 hours. 200 minutes is even nicer. Ramon likely prefers we ride 50 miles, but I get the feeling he could care less as long as we make several stops for Snickers bars and/or a turkey sandwich. So, many times when we complete a ride, I have to continue riding for a bit to even out the time.

A bigger philosophical question exists here for me. How should the duration of an adventure be quantified? It’s up to me to think about such matters because Ramon cannot be troubled with it.

After mulling this over, consulting the Zen teachings, and the writings of Winnie the Pooh, I have finally reached a conclusion. Neither time nor distance matters.

It is only important that we are there, in the moment, and riding.

 The Day After January 31 : The Lesson of Perserverance

Yesterday, the anniversary of the worst day in my life, my mailbox was filled with prayers from friends. It surprises me that so many still recall such a tragic day. A day I wish I could, but never can, forget. I feel soulfully sorry that others are burdened by this memory.

Sadly, I have found time does not heal all wounds. The scars are irreparable and time itself is irrelevant. The passage of ticks on the calendar are meaningless. Maybe this is a good thing. I do ‘live in the moment’ more, but it does nothing minimize the gravity of loss and confusion that weighs upon me.

On any given day I can be distracted temporarily by the flow of pleasant activities only later be floored with despair. The quest for the ‘new normal’ that others of devastating loss speak of, is a twisted and bumpy road. I follow it the best I can. I search for visits of inner peace and welcome them when they appear. So close. But they always depart. I move forward.

Aside from Pam, the life of my daughter, Meredith, is the strongest force in my world. I live for her, and with her, every hour of each day. When my feet hit the floor in the morning, getting out of bed is only possible if I can think of a way to honor my daughter. She is alive for me and in my heart. I feel her energy, whether in pain or in laughter, as she guides my actions to embrace the opportunities that touch the lives of others. It as if I’m the vessel for her spirit to remain on earth. It is a role that I welcome selfishly because it keep me alive too.

I have little use for yesterday and the future is unimaginable. I live primarily for today, with Meri’s infectious smile and sensitive passion showing me ways to cultivate goodness into the lives of others. And so I go on.

Thank you for any kind words or actions you have sent our way. I promise you wholeheartedly, that I will never forget how much you mean to me. Never ever.

 January 16/2015 : IN WILD LIGHT

The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents, and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” - John Muir

My business, In Wild Light Photography Inc. got its name about 25 years ago at a time when it seemed trendy to inscribe your enterprise with a stylish and hopefully catchy moniker. Hesitant at first, I decided since my name was so common, I needed to be distinctive. And over the years I can see it was a foolish move. I have grown weary of repeating it, spelling it, and explaining it to people.

It seems so simple to me. It’s where I do all my work: IN the WILDerness pursuing LIGHT. Here is a passage from my recent book, High Altitude Paradise:

It's the reason I’ll get up at 3:00 am. The reason I’ll hike through the night. It explains why I’ll sit against a rock for hours patiently waiting. Or begin a hike at midnight. It explains why I would sleep in mud, walk through rain storms, cling to cliff sides, post hole through snow, and talk to bears. It justifies frozen toes, numb fingers, water logged boots, and complete and utter exhaustion. It's the intuitive driving force that tells me where and when to go find a photograph. It is light.”

The elderly Chinese man who inscribed my website also had difficulty finding the proper symbols for it ( see my homepage). In the end, the final statement he came up with was “ in the wildness of light”. Which also has a special charm. But at times I think it would have better to go with a name most would remember. Something in honor of someone everyone knows:

Purple Haze Photo? Thank you Jimi.

'scuse me, while I kiss the sky!

 January the First 2015 : Resolutions

I asked our fine pup, Iris J. Easydog to help me with some new year resolutions. Her suggestions:

Spend more time running wildly through the forests with no purpose whatsoever.

Swim in every lake, river, and stream, no matter how cold.

Keep moving and chase everything that moves.

Use all your senses to explore the world.

Greet everyone like an old friend you haven't seen for 7 years.

Sleep in every chance you get.

Travel to new places every day.

Eat more apple slices, carrot sticks,...

And dead mice.

 Dec 31st 11:55pm : I Have Been Blessed

Last January, a middle of the night surgery and near death experience, (which I do not believe because I never saw my life flash before my eyes), left me stranded at home. So I decided to write a book. A coffee table art book about my 34 year vision quest in Rocky Mountain National Park. Eight straight weeks of long days and wa-la. It was done. I was BLESSED with tremendous help from many people.

Marketing and distributing the book has been another adventure all in of itself. I am completely out of my skin asking others to buy something of mine. Yuk! With all the profits going to Meri’s foundation and RMNP, it has made it somewhat easier, but these 12 hour days in the book business wasn’t exactly my retirement plan from teaching. However, the book is doing unbelievably well, it’s success being driven entirely because of the spectacular friends that Pam and I have been BLESSED with.

My eyes were BLESSED with many sights this year. They danced across the Superstition Mountains, watched rainbows form over the Grand Canyon, and saw the last leaves tumble from the trees in the Smokies. I was witness to the dogwoods blooming in the Appalachians, the autumn color of aspens, and the first snowfall in my beloved Rockies. Their vision scratched the walls of Yosemite, was blurred by tumbling water in the Northwoods, and was brought to tears by a butterfly in a slot canyon in the Colorado Plateau. I was BLESSED.

Quite a year. But I continue to live by the seat of my pants and am challenged daily by the memories of the past. Contrary to what some think, I do not live a dream life. But each day, I fully understand the ways in which I am BLESSED.

I love you all who are a part of me.

 The day after Dec 22nd : At Last

After more than 2 weeks, the sun finally came out.

And that has made all the difference.

Thank you whoever is in charge of such things.

 And Still Dec 22nd : Light Deprivation

I just heard we have gone 15 straight days without direct sunlight. Holy darkness! There are some animals that can live without sunlight but I am not one of them.

In fact, as I grow older, I am realizing that my fondness for light AND warmth are growing. Last winter in the Midwest broke me down to a sniveling fool. This year, no mittens seem warm enough, no blanket thick enough. It never used to be like this. Maybe it's biochemical. Could I be deficient in my diet? maybe I should add a teaspoon of anti-freeze to my breakfast cereal.

I am feeling the urge to follow the birds and migrate south. Then place my sunglasses on.

 Still Dec 22nd : Chaotic Not So

The task of art today is to bring chaos into order. - Theodor Adorno

And this is where the true enjoyment of composition in the wilderness art abounds. To stand and look out at the world with others, well knowing that what you are truly seeing is unlike all the others. It's magical.

I am certain people looked past this late fall scene in the Smoky Mountains thinking fall was over. I found it irresistible as I probed and balanced and linked this composition together.

 Dec 22nd  : Winter Solstice

I have been so busy marketing and distributing my new book, I have neglected my Journal posts. With holiday business slowing down this week, I feel the need to catch up. So...

Last night was the longest night of the year. Beginning this morning, the daylight lasts longer each day. So even though I haven't seen the sun in what seems like weeks, and have the depressing attitude to prove it, I went out this morning early in hopes of a miracle. A sunrise.

There was none.

So I looked back though my records. Here is an image from the winter solstice I took many years ago. I recall on this morning it was -26 below zero. Makes today's 35 and rainy seem balmy.

 November 3rd : The Big Myth: Winter begins of Dec 21st.

Wrong! I my little world, and I’ll bet that of of my friends living the the upper midwest, no single event signals the arrival of winter more than when we set those silly clocks back. It happened this week and I am reminded, that at my genetic mammalian core, I am an animal.

The afternoon darkness has slapped me in the face and made my hair stand on end. The animal in me is pulling me to bring food into my body and bedding material into the cave.

At night, I just want to grab the blankets, hibernate on the couch, and eat bacon.

 November 1st : A Light in the Wilderness

It ranks right up there with one of the nicest things a stranger has ever done for me. Kelli Murray is a newspaper reporter Suburban Life/Downers Grove paper. I met her once, and soon after, found a full page article about my book, High Altitude Paradise, and my daughter's Meredith Williams Foundation featured with a full page article in the weekly edition. Uncomfortable for me, but a true Godsend for the book and the foundation.

However, the most wonderful insight that Kelli shared with me, was my search for light. I have written much over the years about my search for light. Wild light. I wrote an essay in the book about it. I believe I even named my photo business after it.

Kelli pointed out that my pursuit of light might be even deeper than that. My search for wild light in wild places is likely a search to shine some peace into my soul and heal some of the trauma of losing a child. Spiritual light. I would say she nailed it. I can't think of any other reason to explain the passion I feel for going to any extremes necessary to find special places with glorious light.

Thank you Kelli


 2014 Chicago Marathon/Merithon : Baby I Was Born to Run

Upon completion of last years ill-fated Chicago Marathon, I swore to end my running career then and there. So this winter, I did the logical thing and signed up again, with no intention of running it.

After a winter of illness and a worsening hip injury, I did not train for it so as to force myself to be a spectator. On this past Sunday, when Team Merithon left for the starting line, I was crushed. Now I know how my pup, Iris J. Adventuredog, feels when I pack bags and leave home without her. Argh…

So I rode to Mercy Home, mile 16 and assumed my role as a cheerleader. I watched the Kenyans float by ( they don’t run) and got goosebumples. I jogged up and down the street like a caged aninmal. I ran down to mile 13 to look for my buddy, Canyon Dan. I just missed him. He was chasing Kenyans too.

I took the short cut to 16 and waited for Canyon. When he flew by, I jumped in and held on for a bit, but I cannot float like he and the Kenyans do, so I ran back to 16 and waited for a more appropriate speed match.

Here came my guy, Physical Trainer Dave. A marathon veteran, and supreme athlete, but injuries this year have snagged his running training too. I should be able to keep a pace with him. And so I did. Until my new running buddy became very ill. Not good. Not good at all. For him.

But I was stoked with adrenaline and felt ready to rewrite my last 10 miles from last year when the mean dog punctured my achilles tendon. So off I flew, picking off tired and injured runners by the hundreds. Amazing how easy a marathon is when you don’t run the first half of it.

I ran with “Meri” written on my shirt and basked in the cheers for her as once again, she carried me on her shoulders. We finished strong!

Now before you purists judge me. I WAS registered and DID have a bib number on ( no time chip). I did NOT accept any food on the course. And I did NOT accept a medal. Just a bannana after the finish.

Team Merithon raised over $10,000 for Mercy Home in the name of Meredith Williams. I just needed to be a part of it.

 October 10th : Balance

I love the thrill of the journey. I love to return home. The best of both worlds.

 October 3, 2014 : What in the World Have I Been Up To?

My head, she’s a spinning round and round. I have been trying to market my new book, High Altitude Paradise, in most my waking hours. Easily not the most fun part of publishing for me, but very necessary if I want to share my work. Which I honestly do. I am slave to the idea that pretty pictures and well placed words can brighten a person’s day. I would like to do that.

Equally important is the non-profit stance that I have taken with the book. The Meredith Williams Foundation is growing strong and this allows Meri’s name to touch the lives of others through her donations to those causes that were most cherished by her.

And I plan to give profits back to Rocky Mountain National Park in this, 2015, its centennial year. This special wilderness holds a treasured place in the Williams’ Family legacy. Thirty-Six years and counting… the Park and I are old friends.

All this gives me a great reason to get up each morning, but my little world has been unexpectedly discombobulated. Since retiring from teaching, I have grown quite fond of a slower pace. Travel, photographing, and riding my bike. Long walks with Pam and our pup, Iris J.have become a well guarded priority.

But now my days are filled with marketing the book; sales, publicity, social media, book signings, packaging, shipping, delivery, bookkeeping, legal affairs, and heaven help me, bill collecting.

The book is doing great. It has exceeded my expectations. With an unexpected lesson: Be careful what you wish for.

I am planning on just giving my next book away.

 Septembet 10th 2015 : Buckskin Butterfly

Buckskin Gulch is a long, sinuous slot canyon slicing along the Utah/Arizona border. I have been in its confines a couple of times, but the other day was special.

Recent rains turned the hike into a series of water holes separated by stretches of nothing but mud. It was like post holing through black snow followed by a cleansing swims in deep pools. Some water holes were up to my chest forcing my heavy pack to be carried atop my head. This actually is fun stuff. The kind of thing canyoneers live for. The kind of thing, photographers with expensive equipment fret over.

As we proceeded deeper into the canyon, I noticed the skies would darken for short periods of time. There were possible afternoon storms in the area and with no high ground to escape to, the situation is indeed life threatening. I continued to plod along, pushing deeper into the canyon, mesmerized but the rock walls and the golden light that scatters about their surfaces.

At some point, the light disappeared longer and my brain light bulb went on. This is dangerous. We gotta get out of here. We would not be safe until we could reach the safety of the confluence. A large flat area where a side canyon cuts in and there are places to climb to safety.

As we quickly plodded our way back, I imagined the terrible. It would be my fault for dragging my good friend into this adventure. I thought of the many over the years whose lives had been lost due to the flash floods out of seemingly nowhere.However, we did arrive safely out of the narrow canyon and into the more open air confluence. Then the magic…

Some know of my late daughter’s love for yellow butterflies. When I see one, I am sure it is sent by her to say hello. As soon as I left the danger zone, a big… beautiful… yellow Swallowtail butterfly appeared out of nowhere and began to circle me. I said aloud, “Meri, if this is yours please show me”. It immediately landed on my shoulder. I was touched by an angelic sense of peace and safety.

That butterfly had no natural business being there. As I watched it drift over the steep canyon wall I was visibly shaken. Meri was watching over me all the way. Believing the unbelievable seems perfectly rational to me these days.

 August the 25th : Did You Have Fun?

My wife’s question on Sunday night after a weekend in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado caught me lacking for a response.

Our team of four slept in and got off to a later start than wise. It was 1:00 pm when we finally hit the trail, smack into the afternoon weather demons. The rain spit on us, the gale force winds peeled me off the mountain, early stages of hypothermia set in towards evening, my finger ripped out of its socket climbing talus, and I lost my favorite cap to a 50+ mph gust.

Exhausted and cold, we crawled into our sacks too cold to fix our usual warm meal for dinner. Overnight, the tent poles bent and broke, the guys lines tore away, and I slept (aka didn’t sleep) fitfully with the tent wall glued to my face. My toes took hours to thaw out even as I slept (aka didn’t sleep) with every piece of my clothing on.

I rose at 5:00 am to hike to a nearby lake for a morning photo session. The winds had not abated. The water at the lake was rolling with white caps and surrounded by dark, unphotogenic light. I stood frozen for 1 hour waiting for a moment that never really came. I took a different route back and got cliffed out struggling through unfriendly rock.

We elected to climb over a ridge and take the longer 10 mile walk back to make a loop hike out of it. I mulled over the idea that I may be getting to old for this.

It wasn’t fun but I loved every minute of it. Can’t wait for next time.

 August 8th: : The Book Experience

On a personal note. With limited tech skills and a left brain the size of a poppy seed, the challenge of this book was daunting. From October 2013 to April 2014, I lived in front of the computer screen with the phone at my side and surrounded by guides and manuals. The operation of putting this book together was more challenging than my Masters Degree. The hiking and climbing to all the lakes was easier. OK... no it wasn't but you get the idea.

My design expert and chief consultant, Nancy Starkman, at Star Print Brokers, in Bellevue, Washington, is the main reason why this book is alive and my dream has been fulfilled. It was intended to be a 2014 project with a January 1, 2015 release to celebrate the 2015/100th Anniversary of Rocky Mountain National Park. However, an illness this winter kept me grounded at the computer and Nancy's expertise busted the timeline.

The advance copies arrived on April 30th. Five beautiful Books. Dream come true. And all was right with the world. Then on May 1st, a big truck with 24 wheels stops at my driveway and drops off 2 mountains of boxes. Whoa! Quickly my wife and I bring them in the basement and welcome them to their new home.

My Babies. But they need homes. The science educator/photo artist in me is not well wired to ask people to buy something. But they need homes. So again, I sail off into a sea of discomfort;marketing, sales, distribution, packing, handling, shipping, taxes, bookkeeping, and the legal ramifications of giving all the profits from the book to Meri’s Foundation and Rocky Mountain NP. It shouldn’t be so hard to give away money.

I am getting sound advice and guidance but I have chosen to take baby steps. The book is actually moving quite well as advance orders leak out. Beyond my expectations in fact. Although I have done nothing to advertise ( although it is in Rocky Mountain NP bookstores), the grapevine has dealt me with all the work I can handle. Too much for my liking.

I will officially launch, network, and promote the book on… let’s pick a date… September 15th. Until then, I think I need a few weeks of travel, adventure, photography, camping, and burnt hot dogs. Stuff I know something about.

The book is beautiful beyond my hopes. Please support the cause and add one to your coffee table.

 August 2014 : Experience the Book!

I went off on a Vision Quest. The ridiculous idea of visiting all the lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. After 34 years, the lifetime dream was realized.

I was told to write the book that I wanted to read. High Altitude Paradise is the story of my search for all 150+ lakes in RMNP. More than a portfolio of lakes and adventure, it is a story of family. Of love and loss. It’s about the power of wilderness to provide peace and comfort in a challenging world.

I’ve selected 110 photographs, packed into a 10 x 10 Hardcover book, along with descriptors to add some information about each image. Intertwined with the images are short essays I have written in an attempt to make some sense about why someone would spend a small lifetime climbing up and over mountains looking for large puddles of water.


Many years ago, I made a promise to my family, my friends, and myself, that I would follow through with this project and produce a book. The past year, I have been working with the finest designer and printer to produce a book that would do justice to the beauty of RMNP and honor to all those who have been with through the years.

All the profits from this book will be directed to The Meredith Williams Foundation and Rocky Mountain National Park. Pam and I choose to remain poor but rich in heart.

Thank You for your support over the years. A Purchase of this book would allow my work and the acts of the Meredith Williams Foundation to continue to touch the lives of others.

CLICK of the Homepage Book Button to PURCHASE

$39 * $34 Intro offer * (2) or more $29

 August 5th : Searching for Yellow Butterflies

My birthday. Not a particularly “happy” day and I doubt that I am alone with this sentiment. If it is a time of reflection and introspection, than I find myself scratching my head. I tend to be uncomfortable with myself.

If it is a time for celebration, than I am left searching. Someone important is missing to share the day with.

I find solace by taking a walk in the forest and searching for yellow butterflies.

I find many. And I get through the day.

Photo: Alpine Foget-Me-Nots.

 July 6th 2014 : 

You can't be everything to everybody,

However, you can be something to somebody,


 June 30th 2014 : The Season of Warmth... My Wish for You

May the longer days enliven your footsteps.

May you be lured into extended playtimes.

May the heat loosen your bodies and restore your youthful fitness.

May the summer rains cleanse you.

May you find a cool place to place your feet and a warm spot for your thoughts.

May you travel to wild and adventurous places.

May you make new friends and reach out to old ones.

May the stars at night bring you wonder.

May you find the love of your life.

 June the 6th : Up North

Iris J. Easydog wanted to go camping. So following her lead, we took a short, quick trip “Up North” to my beloved Northwoods. A straight beeline to Lake Superior took us to the shoreline at Aposltle Islands National Lakeshore. Iris wasted no time and dashed to the lake for a swim followed by a roll in the sand. I wasted no time fighting through the veil of mosquitoes to dash to the shoreline for photography opportunities.

The next day Iris traded her sandy coat for mud. I traded the Apostles for the Porcupine Mountains and a hike along the Presque Isle River and some powerful water images.

Great call Iris. Where to next?

 Sunday Morning May 18th : 

Today is a new day. I've never been to today before.

Theo- 3 year old philosopher

 May 5th 2014 : Great Smoky Mountains

Spring and Autumn. My two favorite seasons are so short. Their fleeting displays are frustrating, so to satisfy some of my greediness, I chase them to different locations as they more across the latitudes. There may still be ice in the Northwoods, and the flowers are just beginning to brave the cold in my home forests, so I went south this week to great the vernal tide in full force.

Springtime in the Smoky Mountains is a spectacle of rebirth. The waterfalls are bursting with energy and their mist fills the air with rainbows. The wildflowers are spread like carpets on the forest floor, and the dogwoods splash the treescapes with a stroke of genius. Birds chirp. Clouds dance. Creeks swell. And the mountains are alive with the gentle harmonies of spring.

The streets of Gatlinburg were jammed with tourists eating cotton candy and waiting in line for the latest version of Ripleys Believe it or Not. I however, chose to spend my mornings on the highest point in the Smokies, in solitude. Believe it or not.

 April 27th : Bike Angel

I was on my new bike, zooming down the road with a cold wind at my back when suddenly…boom… a flat tire. I quickly flipped the bike over and emptied my repair kit.To my dismay, I was missing those 2 necessary plastic levers that are used to pry the tire off the rim. Rats.

Shivering and angry, I called Pam for help. There was no answer. Double Rats.

I stood in the cold wind and weighed my options. The somewhat quiet road offered the option of waiting for another biker to pass. But I was doubtful that this late in the day anyone would be foolish enough to be out in these cold wind-chills.

Cars were passing by me fairly often but none seemed inclined to stop or offer help. Sad to say but most people around here are too busy to care about stranded bike riders. So I stood, shivered, and waited for my wife to answer my plea for “help”.

After about 15 minutes, a car pulled over, and a young lady asked me if she could help. Yay… she was a bike rider and had exactly the tool I needed. At home. Triple Rats.

I continued to wait and struggle with the tire, banking on the hope of another rider riding in to save the day. I often wonder if these kind of things happen to everyone or just me. Countless are the times where the simplest things break down before my very eyes. At times, I am unable to solve the easiest problems. The world often perplexes me.

Then to my disbelief, the young lady returns. With the magic tool! We exchange small talk as I repair the flat tire, and as she prepares to leave, I thank her for being my guardian angel. I say, “my name is Jim”.

She replies with a smile, “ hi, I’m Meredith.

She drives off. My heart pounds. I cry.

 April the 26th : Just Thinking: A Proper Effort

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am not a thinker of great thoughts. But I do think very deeply. But I don’t necessarily ‘try’ to think this way. It just happens. It’s just my mind trying to figure things out. I am not ‘trying’ to be a photographer. I am not ‘trying’ to be an artist, writer, or dancer with the stars. My photography is not a hobby nor is it a business. It is simply me being me.

Photography is helping me become a better person. I am ‘trying’ to become a better husband, father, son, and friend. I am using the camera to bring the integrity and character of beautiful subjects in touch with my spirit.

We all see the the world through a unique perspective. If we act upon our vision with genuine gratitude and humility, it seems the clearest path to our true selves might be found. Fame and fortune are not my destinations. I seek to walk along the shoreline of inner peace.

If I give an honest effort to improve my inner self, a trickle might flow into other dimensions. Deeper and more meaningful photographs should result from knowing and growing the inner spirit of self.

I do not take photos for any reason other than it pleases me to connect with the beauty of nature. I take pictures for the same reasons I ride my bike. It brings me simple, harmless joy.

 April 24th 2014 : Dreams

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.

-T.E. Lawrence

My great friend and training buddy, The Barbarian of Stair Mountain, sent me this quote. I know he lives his life with this philosophy as he pursues the adventures of his lifetime. A day dreamer myself, it is a good thing we have different destinations in mind. He prefers chasing sheep through the Himalayas, I prefer the land, water, and skies of the U.S. wilderness. Together, in the same location, I don’t think either of us would come back alive. Just a couple of idiots on the move.

 April 12th : First Flowers

Thank Heaven...spring has finally come to my Heartland Home.

Snow tomorrow.

 March 28th in 2014 : Arizona Highways: Notes from a Desert Rat

Four weeks ago, my Doctor cleared my broken, now absent appendix, and me safe to travel. Pam and I packed the truck and along with Iris J. Easydog sped wildly out of town from the grips of a winter that had clearly beaten me down. Physically and emotionally, it was time to mend. Destination Arizona.

Upon arriving to this gorgeous state, I put myself on a strict regimen of morning photography, mid-day bike riding, afternoon hiking, evening photography, healthy eating, and rest. Well… not so much the rest part. For three weeks, we bounced around the state in search of warmth and fresh scenery. Several dear friends provided us with shelter and great company. We found everyplace we visited a dream come true as we left the winter in the Midwest a distant memory.

I continue to fall more deeply into bliss with the diverse beauty of Arizona. The Sonoran desert near the southern border was painted yellow with the ubiquitous brittlebush as a recent rain was bringing everything to life. In the central part of state, the Superstition Mountains were becoming my close friend as they opened up their trails to me. Their rocky spires can, at times, seem Himalayan as they sharply stab the sky.

I spent some time in Chino Valley feeding carrots to a horses, eyeing curious cattle, and watching the antelope play. With some helpful guidance, I took a side trip to the northeast where, on Navaho reservation land, I located Coal Mine Canyon. A well kept secret, this special place is chock full of striped hoodos and dark recesses that have an intoxicating charm yet clear danger to explore.

A quick trip down a rocky road allowed a quiet evening on slickrock outside of Sedona but the highlight of my Arizona trip was, and always will be, the Grand Canyon. I am hardly alone in being wowed by the jaw-dropping beauty of this spectacle. After all, it’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Or so say the people who rank these wonders. But for me, the Canyon has taken time to get under my skin and into my heart. After many years and many visits, I am finally starting to grasp it. I think finally, I am beginning, in a sense, to “know” it. Building a relationship.

So it seems fitting that I set forth to make a serious attempt to photograph it. No small challenge. The Grand Canyon must be one of the most photographed places in the world. Multitudes of photographers before me have done such brilliant work. Why bother?

Because its Grandness is speaking to me and it would be impolite not to listen. It would be a fine challenge over the next few years (my work in Rocky Mountain National Park took 34 years. I may have to par this one down a bit). So I return home with maps and ideas. I begin tossing around a way to approach the Grand Canyon from a fresh perspective. Brainstorming. And listening to what it has to say.

The Journey continues. May God bless you all.

 February 24th : Keep It Simple Stupid

I doubt there is anyone who has been photographing longer than I and knows less about all the buttons on a camera. I have been shooting in the manual mode since the early days and continue to resolve exposures from the palm of my hand on many occasions. The acrobatics of today’s cameras is amazing and technical expertise of many photographers using them is stunning.The plethora of books and articles in the camera kingdom is staggering. I think I may have read some… but not many.

It is quite likely that I have neglected the camera manual too much in my career, but somehow I have continued to find unending enjoyment in taking pictures. With no disrespect to all the bells and whistles on my camera bodies, this whole business of making a successful photograph shouldn’t be so complicated.

*Photograph only what brings you great emotion. If you don’t have a strong feeling for your subject, your result will be empty.

*Ask yourself what interests you about the scene/subject then go after its essence.

*Think about the message/statement you are trying to share with the viewer.

*Get close. Then get closer.

*Photography is a subtractive process. Compose your image so you get rid of everything that distracts or does not enhance your intended subject.

*Take your time. Remarkable images usually require remarkable patience. Frame, reframe, and study your subject from many possible angles.

*Don’t be sloppy. Don’t waste exposures. I treat each exposure like a sheet of gold. While this certainly isn’t necessary, it help keep me selective and critical of every image.

*If during the process, the emotion isn’t working, then walk away. I always believe there’s a better image around the bend.

 February 17-2014 : Winter of Discontent

Winter is wearing me down. This year’s entry to the Most Miserable Contest would get most peoples vote around my part of the Midwest. The cold, snow, wind, and ice have been, in a word, relentless. My body has been frozen and beaten beyond discomfort. Whining will make it worse so I try to embrace the beauty. I love the four seasons so I try to meet the challenge. However, this year, I am failing.

A ruptured appendix and middle of the night surgery didn’t help. Nor did the week in Hospital Jail fighting post op fevers and infections. The last 3 weeks with an IV antibiotic line in my arm slowed me down a bit. But more than that health detour, I am just sick of being COLD!

I am beginning to see an evolution with my feelings about this season of chill. My thoughts are migrating to warmer places for the future winters. Maybe it is time to spend a few years concentrating on deserts and beaches and leave the icicles for someone else to break.

Or maybe I just need more clothing.

 February 4th : Lessons of Movement, Light, and Love

Long ago, I noticed that my Journal entries had very little to do with photography. And frankly, that didn’t bother me. The Journal page has always been a nice resting place for my thoughts.

However, more recently, I have become aware that given the subjectivity of art, and given that the subject of my thoughts is me. It slowly became clear that my personal introspections are exactly what my photography is about. My passions, my sensibilities, my feelings, and my energies are the primal resources with which my images are built. To separate any of who I am from the images I produce would be difficult and ludicrous.

I take most photos by moving. I worship at the church of movement. Most of my photographs are the result of journeys punctuated with short stops to press the shutter.

I am drawn to light like a magnet. I follow it everywhere it strikes, breaks, or bounces. I am mesmerized the colors and celebrate the contrasts it offers. I am a Watcher of the Skies.

I love the natural beauty this country possesses. The wilderness areas that I explore are treasures richer than gold. It find endless pleasure in the infinite ways that land, water, and air can express themselves. From the grand to the minuscule, this earth is a lovely planet to be stuck upon.

The intangible machinery that drives me is reflected in every photo I produce. I am my photos and they are me. A mighty little moving machine, in pursuit of fine light, in hopes of finding love and giving it back.

Or so it seems.

 January 10th, 2014 : When God Paints

Many years ago, I was strolling through the Sonoran desert with master photographer, and dear friend, the late David Donoho. He asked me if I knew the First Rule of Coloring.

Don’t stay within the lines!”

But David. If we don’t do that, our images will lack containment and have flexible meanings. They will be unencumbered by composition and will likely flow freely with an irrational sense of purpose. Without a comfort zone they will stray wildly into the unknown!


 January 1st 2014 : Friends and Family:

May the new year bless you with good health. I hope each day breathes fresh air through your body and enables you find a way to move this, your greatest machine, through each day with energy and enthusiasm.

May you travel to some places you’ve always dreamed of seeing. May you reach some of your goals and negotiate through your challenges with grace and dignity. May experience and wisdom lead you to higher levels of understanding the inequities of our complex world.

But most of all, may you find peace in the blessings of family and friends as they offer you life’s greatest gift; their love.

Pam and I would be deeply impoverished without all of you. Have a great new year.

 December 14th 2013 : Looking for Cherries

Winter has come early and hard. Many days have passed since I have felt the warmth of sunlight. I watch the sun arc lower and lower each week to the horizon, marching to greet the winter solstice. I struggle to maintain of an active lifestyle outdoors but the absence of light an intense cold is limiting.

We had our first real good snowfall this weekend. Iris J. Easydog and I went out early and explored the forests. I was a joy to remember the silent tranquility that a draping of snow delivers to the woods. So peaceful you can almost hear your heart beat.

When I am not worrying about the pup getting lost in a snow bank, I am looking for images. My love for the trees in winter is profound. My eyes dance along the many patterns that, hidden all year by leaves, are now etched in full view for all to see.

Beauty is everywhere. But I am always looking for something special. A cherry to put on top of the icy sundae.

 November 8th, 2013 : Trees Turned Sour

Iris J. Easydog wanted to see the fall colors down in the Shawnee National Forest, IL. On November 5th, the Forest Service Color Report said they were “vibrant”. So we invested 6 hours in a drive south to see for ourselves. The colors were far beyond poor. The leaves were more in the realm of Yuck. Someone painted them brown and shook them off the trees! A waste of time?

Let’s look at the good side:

*the weather was beautiful

*the pup ran joyfully through the canyons and hollows in perfect solitude

*no one got injured

* we slept on a new foam mattress in the back of the truck and watched the stars

*I ate for free with McDonalds gift cards

*and I widened my portfolio with leafless tree photos.

I will post my favorite photo from last month’s Maine trip to try to fool you.

 The Day After Yesterday : Rainbows and Miracles

I wrote recently on this Journal Page the story of yellow butterflies and our daughter. Meri also was quite fond of rainbows. She would draw them frequently to pass the time and usually included one in all her artwork.

Yesterday, her birthday, it rained incessantly all day. Dark skies and flood waters were the theme. It made the dismal day unbearable. I was choosing to stay in and stare at the walls. It seemed a self-pitiful act but it’s force was powerful.

I remember, Meri once told me, “don’t leave 5 minutes before the miracle”. I was never sure where she got that profound thought but I have always tried to live by it’s hope and faith in persistence. So her mother and I went out in the rain.

Late in the afternoon, the sun came through a hole in the clouds, and while still drizzling, it pasted a rainbow in the sky dancing on the treetops. Two minutes later, the sky darkened and the rain continued throughout the night.

If that doesn’t make you believe in something, then you are just not paying attention.

 October 31st : Happy Birthday Meri

"If there is ever a day when we're not together... there is something you must remember... you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think... but the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you."

I love you

 October 30, 2013 : Maine and Marshmellows

An October trip to Maine has been years in waiting. I was thrilled to finally cross the state line and get a chance to visit this remarkably wild state.

Everything fell beautifully into place. Pam was with me. Our new pup, Iris J.Happydog was a marvelous traveler. We rendezvoused with some dear friends. The weather was perfect. And the fall colors were at their peak. Good planning and good fortune.

My goal was to immerse myself in the northern forests. We settled into a basecamp cabin near the border of Baxter State Park and we spent the days hiking and canoeing in general area of Mt. Katahdin. Each morning, I was up well before dawn, and out exploring for photo opportunities. Each evening, we were out until after dusk squeezing the last light of the day into the cameras. Each night, we sat around the fire and roasted marshmellows.

Sometimes, outdoor photography is unreasonably difficult. This was not one of those times. We had planned to head for some camping along the coast, but our brilliant politicians closed Acadia National Park to teach us a lesson. We just extended our stay at the cabin and bought more marshmellows.

 October 14th, 2013 : Seeing the Light

I think over again my small adventures... My fears... Those small ones that seemed so big... For all the vital things I had to get and reach... And yet there is only one great thing... The only thing... To live to see the great day that dawns and the light that fills the world. ---------Old Inuit Song

I woke up early on Sunday morning, took two shots of asthma inhaler, and limped to the bathroom. Each day my arthritic hip reminds me of my aging humanity. I am upset that the torn meniscus in my knee requires me to sit on the bottom stair to painfully pull my socks on. It is pitiful to watch me struggle to pull my running tights on and bend over to tie my sneakers. And in the last 6 weeks I have done everything possible to settle the inflammation down in my Achilles tendon. But despite all the therapy and medication, today was the big day.

I had made a commitment to run the Chicago Marathon. Our team, Merithon, runs for charity; Mercy Home Chicago. This has been a bad year for my body, but I was motivated and ready to give a go.

The plan was to start out very slowly and try to stay just below the pain threshold, then increase my pace gradually until I caught the Kenyans. I hit the pain wall early. At Mile 6 the pain in my achilles was noticeable. By mile 10, I had done everything I could to compensate for it with no success. Mile 13 brought anger. By mile 16, I was ready to accept the pain and just take it one step at a time. Then at 16, right in front of Mercy Home, the charity I am sacrificing my body for, a mean German Shepard lunged into my leg, bit, tugged, and punctured a wound in.... no way... my Achilles tendon!

Now think this through for a minute. Of 40,000 runners. How many were bitten by dogs? I’m guessing one. And of those 40,000 runners, how many were injured right in front of their charity? I’m guessing one. And of those 40,000 runners. how many sustained a wound to their leg beyond the normal wear and tear of running? I’m guessing one.

Of course, I ran the final 10 and completed the 26.2. I run for my daughter, Meredith. Quitting is never an option. It was easily the most painful run I have ever had. I did not feel deserving of the Marathon medal. Maybe a Purple Heart.

I sat home that night, after a massage and ice bath, and cleansing shower. I starred out from the couch till midnight, in a coma but awake. I was a wounded warrior. I was disgusted, and hurt. I was beaten and frustrated. I slept fitfully in pain and somewhat sorry for myself. My body and a freak instance had let me down.

I woke up early today and limped up to my office....turned on the computer... and there it was. The story of man, Maickel Melamed, with muscular dystrophy had completed the marathon overnight, in 17 hours, while I was all sleeping.

I was shocked with reality. I was embarrassed by my woeful thoughts. This man was my hero. What an inspiration! How could I ever again complain of my aches and pains. This man is a giant among men. I was honored to be on the same streets as him.

I dug into my file and found the old Inuit quote that I obviously needed reminding of. The sun came up today, I went for a bike ride with my beautiful wife, my dog licked my face, and I am so happy to be here. I am grateful to have a body that can move. Grateful to have friends that care. Grateful to be alive. Grateful to have the opportunity each day to see the light that fills the world. Despite all our struggles, I hope we all find the wisdom to face the sunshine.

 October 8th, 2013 : 

Live gently, yet rigorously... and sleep whenever you can.


Ahh... to know when to play your maracas loudly and to know when to feather them softly. And then when to put them down to rest.

The search for a dynamic flow within life is at times like a teeter toter. Often caught up in the ups and downs we search for balance. Maybe better to find a a consistent flow. The joy of movement trumps all.

Energy can be passionate yet overwhelmingly delicate.

 Aug 27th  : Return to Rocky

Every year, I travel to Rocky Mountain National Park, with a shopping list of destinations. I have been trying to visit and photograph all the lakes in the Park. I began in 1978. If I really hustled, I thought it might take about ten years.

So I was a little off. The 165 lakes, tarns, pools, ponds, and puddles that I identified took me 34 years. The last lake was secured this past September. I quietly smiled, went home, and licked my wounds. The winter was spent writing a body of essays summarizing my years on this ridiculous vision quest.

I returned this year to simply sit at 12,000 feet on the tundra, and reflect upon the experience. And without destinations, that’s exactly what I did. Every morning.

With Pam, and our new pup, Iris J. Easydog, we took daily walks down dirt roads, evening strolls through town square, and feasted on ice cream. There were visits with friends and long reading sessions on the porch. All well deserved.

I did take one short backpack trip into a remote corner of the Park. Along with Keith the Eagle, the 20 year old mountain climber, and Canyon Mellish, hero to the Superheroes, I hung on for my life as we smashed out 18 miles through God’s Country. My days as a human mule are numbered.

Back home now, I have composed my thoughts into an epilogue and will begin an effort to publish this project into a suitable product. For me, this will be like pushing a boulder uphill with my nose.

 August 5th 2013 : Yellow Butterfly

In and of itself, seeing a yellow butterfly, is nothing out of the ordinary. But context is everything.

In the time since we have lost our daughter, symbols have become very important. The need to stay connected to the spirits of loved ones is a necessity for emotional survival. Since the beginning of mankind, we have built religions through this faith and hope. My wife truly believes, Meri visits us through butterflies, particularly yellow ones. I honor her belief but until today I was a distant disciple.

Pam and I were walking with our new puppy, Iris J. Easydog , through the forest alongside our favorite creek. It was a miserable morning.... dark, rainy, and mosquito infested. When we came to our special swimming spot we took a short break as we always do. Meri and her dog, Abbey had played many times with us at this spot. It has become a place of emotional power for me.

I noticed Iris jumping up in the air trying to catch something that was teasing her. Oh my goodness... it’s a yellow butterfly. Now, I have to think logically. Even though common, I have never seen a Tiger Swallowtail (I think that’s what it was) along this creek. And what’s it doing out in the rain? And why is it continually flying circles around us? It lighted on a branch right near us and faced us for a couple of minutes. It took flight again and circled above me several times. This has never happened to me before. I so hoped it would land on me. I reached out to offer a landing spot but it just teased. It stayed with us for a while longer before flying straight up over the trees and into the sky.

One last coincidence staggers me: It’s my birthday.

I am now a believer.

 July 31st 2013 : Digging Deep

When actively photographing, I allow visual/spacial forces to guide me. I stop thinking and try to feel my way through the objects of my attention.I look for things that spark my imagination. Things that ask me questions for which I have no answers. But it’s even much deeper than that.

My photos emanate from the depths of my gut. They speak of who My images have a message but so often, that message cannot be put into words. And why should it? It comes from an inner core so deep and mysterious that only actually feeling the sensation makes it real. Words are feeble descriptors for emotion.

I still make many images that are more traditionally pictorial and their beauty alone is pleasing. But the most gratifying, are the images that cut deep, touch a nerve and tell the viewer, this is who I am and this is how I feel.

Art is a way of bleeding and not getting any blood on yourself.

 July 20th, 2013 : Wanderings

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found out, was really going in.” -John Muir

I spend a great deal of time outdoors. Not a day floats by that I don’t find a good reason to go out and play. I’ve dabbled in many modes of travel as an excuse to keep moving.

I enjoy running through the woods like a wild animal but my doctor prefers I cease from pounding my legs with such nonsense. I enjoy climbing up the sides of mountains, but the aging power in my legs is diminishing under the weight of a full pack. I think I will soon be evolving into a biker, paddler, and walker. Not such a bad thing. As long as I can move along for extended periods of time I am with joy.

I learned long ago, that when I am moving, I become lost in the moment. My thoughts drift with a depth and clarity enables a state of high creativity and problem-solving. I have read about this “flow” phenomena but didn’t need much convincing. So many before me have experienced the stimulating affects of moving meditation. Muir climbed the mountains, Thoreau hiked the forests, Einstein loved the bicycle.

Athletes, most especially endurance athletes, are aware of the special plateau brought on, with the help of biochemistry, to keep going with purpose and focus. These are the times when you have the ability to reach deeper inside of yourself.

I’m sure there are other more sedate ways explore the internal and external universe. But I prefer the road that uses more calories.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving” -Einstein

 June 21st : Summer Begins

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

The first day of summer always causes me pause. It reminds me of how much the cycles of light drive me in pursuit of the divine. As the earth revolves around the sun and rotates on it’s axis, I chase the edges of light with hope that it will paint the world in new ways, while unveiling things yet unseen. It has never disappointed me.

 Father's Day : Dear Meredith:

I still am unable to find the words to describe how much I miss you. There still is not a day... not an hour that goes by that I don’t think of you. The pain of your loss never disappears. Some say it gets better. It does not. I might get better at acting out a proper way to negotiate the maze of life, but the hurt and void I have for you cannot be erased with time. Memories of being your father help me move forward.

I MISS: carrying you around on my shoulders... hearing your laughter... pulling you all over God’s green earth in your wagon... watching you play volleyball... putting a rope around your waist and climbing rocks... sharing popcorn... sleeping in a tent with you... and seeing how you cared about the feelings of others.

I MISS: hanging your artwork on the basement walls... having you make fun of me... watching you endlessly throw stones in the water... listening to your intolerance of injustice...watching you triple jump... having you teach me to see things from another perspective... seeing you how you were loyal and loving to your friends.

I MISS: watching you do cartwheels through the living room... watching you tease the dog... seeing you embrace the multi-diversity of everybody... your stubbornness to move off your point when you know you are correct.... watching Disney movies with you... and being there for you when you needed me.

I MISS: hiking with you... seeing your courage to get back on the balance beam each time you fell off... reading books with you at bedtime... your silly faces... snuggling up to keep you warm...your well chosen Christmas gifts to me...and that wondrous smile

MOST OF ALL I MISS: You. Every beautiful and broken, confused but confident, golden fiber of YOU. Your spirit sustains me every day of my life. The joy you brought to me will never be lost. I will always be your father.

Love you: Papa

Photo from our first backpack trip

 June 12th-2013 : Stormy Weather

Heavy storms are passing through this evening. Strong winds... golfball hail... bowling ball thunder...Love it. Some of my finest memories are bound to rainstorms. Pounding on the nylon rooftop of my tent while the walls shake violently, I laugh at the sky. If warm and dry, snuggled tightly in my sleeping bag atop my floating on air sleeping pad, I feel invincible.

Until morning. ... when I would wake up in a leaky tent and step out into a muddy sea of soakers. Then I pray for sunshine.

 June Eight : We Are All Artists

I couldn’t believe more strongly in the innate and unique ability that each person possesses within themselves to be creative. Just by our very appearance and actions, we are all a work of expressive art. All different dishes in the banquet of life. I find it sad that so many our talents remain hidden-often forever. We are encumbered by rules, polarized in our behaviors, and content to follow the crowed for reasons of security and ease of thought.

In photography ,we see other’s images and flock to the popular spots to emulate the pictures they have seen. Used to do it myself. These days, taking a good photograph is easily within the grasp of most everyone. When a rainbow comes out after a storm at the Grand Canyon, hundreds of cameras are clicking. The market is flooded. I have seen enough of the popular places repeated with common compositions to last a lifetime.

Many years ago I had discovered the enjoyment in seeing the world in fresh ways and expressing them through my own heart. The next era of nature photography will be driven by ideas and an intimate relationship with subjects.

And that will make all the difference for everyone.

 May 17th : Iris Happydog Williams

Pam and I welcomed a new puppy into our family. Iris is named after rainbows, flowers, and a favorite color of ours. She is a fresh-out-of-the-box, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, with a cautious sense of wonder and a willingness to learn. Sweet as the day is long, she is consuming all our time and attention with her desire to experience everything. I will do my best to teach her the art of adventure. If I pay close attention, I’m sure Iris will teach me even more.

 May 10, 2013 : Short Getaway

Flew to Florida. Packed lightly. Rode the Everest roller coaster. Met the Yeti. Soaked on Splash Mountain. Couldn’t find Rafiki. Hiked in a sandy forest. Went swimming. No alligator sightings. Photographed in a cypress marsh. Flew Home- Lost Luggage

 April 22nd 2013 : Shawnee Revisited

It’s good to keep moving. I came home from Shawnee National Forest last week with a couple of images still stuck in my mind and unfulfilled. That was 10 days ago.

So yesterday, I awoke early, jumped in the truck, and drove the 5 hours south and reentered the forest. 3 short hikes, 2 soaked feet, 1 smashed elbow on a rocky fall, and one sore knee later, I had secured the images that I was seeking, and at dark, headed home. Add 2 cheeseburgers and a sweet tea to the ride home.

It’s good to keep moving.

 April 18th 2013 : Struggles with Meaning and Message

I have been thinking lately about the message behind my photos. What meanings am I bringing to viewers? If these are the kinds of things someone gnaws upon as they get older, I need to stop immediately. So I will... but first.

Much has been written by bigger brains than mine about the meaning of a photographic images. Great stuff. I’ve read some of it. When it delves into the fields of philosophy and psychoanalysis and I find myself walking a bit too deep in the intellectual muck that I’m trying to avoid. I cherish simplicity like an old comfortable pair of slippers.

I have been informed that beyond compositional aesthetics, great photographs require a meaning to be imbedded in the visual package. However, in the active process of viewing a photo I doubt any photo could be completely devoid of meaning to all viewers. An empty canvas has meaning to me. A picture’s worth a thousand words? To some, one word is enough. For others, there aren’t enough words. For others, there are no words. Maybe the messages aren’t about words as we know them.

Visual experiences rely on symbols, and symbols are often encumbered with the challenge of describing the immeasurable; love, color, perseverance, etc. They are non-textual and inevitably convey different things to different people. The biologist in me would argue 6 billion unique responses to the question of being human. Does this make communication more difficult, or in a strange way, simpler?

My photography has always been about larger themes, multiple image portfolios, and the communication of emotion. Even when more journalistic in subject, I strive to imply a message. Not a message to purchase a canoe, plant a tree, or save the earth ( although all are fine with me) but rather photographs that make people wonder, cause them to dream, inspire them to live a little finer, act more thoughtfully, or heal their broken hearts.

Shoot from the heart, through your eyes, and into the camera. Find a vehicle to deliver it to someone and change their life. As well as my own.

The photo at left, Winter Web, was taken a couple of years ago. My words at the time are a nice example of meaning/message in my photos and life.

I have come to see how my photographs are like the footprints of my life. Each step reflective of my inner spirit on any given day, or moment. For that reason, I tend not to go out with any preconceived image to capture, but rather travel to each new destination with any open heart and just listen. And respond. That I enjoy this photo so, is troubling. The chaos in my life is apparent. I need to untangle and simplify.

 April 12th : Waterfall Day

I saw the forecast for ferocious weather on it’s way through Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois; lightning, thunder, tornadic winds, and heavy rain... the whole enchilada. But it was the heavy rain that drew my attention.

Over the years, I have become quite familiar with the many waterfalls my humble state harbors. Honestly, some of the finest falls I’ve ever seen, tumble through the box canyons in of all places, Illinois. Even stranger, most people don’t know of these hidden treasures.

So I quickly packed the car and drove the required 6 hours. I arrived after dark and parked in a remote forest next to a lake where no huge trees might fall upon my sleeping body. Uncommonly warm outside, I threw open the hatchback to shield the rain and watched the lighting show before my eyes. Wow. You forget how bright lighting actually is until you plant yourself in midnight darkness and immerse yourself in it’s magnitude.

What a show! It rained all night. The rattle of incessant pounding water on the top of my tent, or in this case my truck, was music from heaven. All the better when I am safe and dry inside. I drifted off to a restless night’s sleep and soon awakened to the to dawn duck alarm. Still drizzling and overcast, it was a promising sky for fine outdoor photography.

And a great day it was. Hike to a waterfall, climb down into the canyon, photograph wildly, return to truck, drive to the next waterfall, repeat. I did this all day for almost 12 hours until I ran out of light. Photo-nirvana. Shawnee was on fire with water. It continued to rain all day. I have never seen the falls pound more forcefully with power. The water was everywhere. Not only busting from the usual places, but I found many mini gushers flying over the edge of cliffs in places dry throughout the year. This was there day to play. And mine.

As I packed the truck and stripped off my soaked clothing, it occurred to me that I had forgotten to eat or drink all day. That’s not uncommon. The beauty of Nature has a way of sweeping me into it’s flow. I made up for it on the 6 hour ride home by stopping at every McDonalds I could find.

Ahhh... and nothing like my own bed.

 April 5th, 2013 : Back from Bama

In Alabama, I discovered the healing power of spring. I found the first tiny flowers punching their way through the dry leaves on the forest floor. Cool water sung rushing songs as they tumbled amongst the boulders in the creeks. The first soft petals of dogwoods lit up through the afternoon sun and translucent leaves glowed a gentle glow as the light passed by.

Finally, the sun was doing more than melting snow. Finally, the winds did not chill me. Finally, my nose could stop running and my uncovered skin could meet the sky. As I grow older, winter has become tiring. I am finding spring a more true friend of mine. It is simply easier to live outdoors when the challenges of cold are not a constant companion. Thank you Alabama for extending a vernal gift to me.

Back home now, winter still has a slight grip upon us. By knowing that very soon I will again be visited by spring, makes the wait well worthwhile.

 March 24th : Dreary Afternoon continued...

It's Springtime in the Midwest. And I have had enough of it. Cold winds... blowing snow... and ice underfoot. My winter needs are more than met. But the relentless, sunless days just won't let go. Time to be proactive with some decisive action.

The car is packed and we are ready to head south. Deep South. To Alabama, in hopes of meeting spring head on, in pursuit of flowering dogwoods and most of all, warmth.

But here we sit, unable to leave. A massive winter storm is standing in our way. Should we try to beat it across the country? Should we throw caution to the wind and drive straight through it? Or should we wait it out?

So here we sit.

 March the 5th, 2013 : Well... It's About Time

Finally after a long winter's wait. I finally get to see a snowstorm blanket the trees in a manner worthy of being called a snowstorm.

Lights, camera, snowshoes, action.

Rain this weekend. All gone.

 March the One : May There Always Be...

Cheeseburgers... hand-holding... sunshine to warm your face... playgrounds... hugs... flowers at your feet...time... family... protein shakes... thick pizza... kindness to children...good ideas...purple mountain majesties... laughter...frozen yogurt... chairs to sleep in... hot water... dreams... physical fitness... pats on the back... soft pillows... clean socks... ice packs... loons... autumn leaves... heroes... teachers... more intelligent people than ignorant ones... strong backs... national parks... long walks... chip cookies... good friends... music... basketball hoops... a good breakfast... enough money to make ends meet... mistakes to learn from... silliness... bare feet... adventure... wilderness... Disney movies... art... jump ropes... good bacteria... people who care... forests... personal taste... a positive outlook... forgiveness... a back up plan... earth... simplicity... stuffed animals... a soft spot in your heart... a dry towel... an extra blanket... storybooks... the spirit of adventure... good deeds... mysteries...a better way of doing things... stars to wish upon... a place to call home... and a good night’s sleep.

 Feb 13th : Biking and Heroes

As many of you know, I ride my bike quite excessively thank you. And these days have not be rosy for the sport of bike racing and it’s drug induced performers.

When I was a spiffy young 13-year old, my best buddy Terry Carlton and I worked odd jobs to earn some spending money. When we each had stashed $93, we marched down to the local bike shop and bought 2 bright, shiny Schwinn Continentals. His blue... mine gold. We loved our bikes. We loved to ride them fast and far. We decided to become the endurance kings in the world of our own imagination.

On a Sunday morn, we sprung out of bed before sunrise and and took to the road for a 50-mile ride to a distant lake. We roared there. Spent the entire day swimming, diving off high dive rafts, and flipping wildly off twisted slides. We ate enough hot dogs to last the entire summer. We both got sunburned.

Late in the afternoon, something unforeseen occurred to us. We had to ride home! I still recall the leg gripping exhaustion as we pedaled woefully along the many miles of sun baked roads. I recall looking at my red shoulders and wondering why the Coppertone suntan lotion had failed me. Terry seemed to have bit more bounce in his cadence than he should. Not unusual, he was a much better athlete than I. Come to think of it, he was the best I had ever seen in my young life. He was my hero. And my good friend.

We made it home in the dark and went directly to the local playground to accept our recognition and award for craziness. I recall, that no one believed us. At the grand old age of 13, we rode a century, swam all day, and consumed many pounds of hot dogs and nobody cared.

Which brings me to our drug induced heroes of the bicycling world, who I cheered for. Heroic imposters for many. I have come to have no faith in celebrities. They seem always to be someone other then we think. I wonder why any post-adolescent would fall for such trickery. But to enjoy the great gift and not admire the giver is difficult. Hero worship is a dangerous pastime. Idols are deceptive. Too bad, because we all could benefit from some impressive role models.

The best heroes don’t save your life, they change it. And leave you in a better condition from knowing them.

I am wiser now. It seems so easy. To deeply admire and praise the character of only those closest to me. Those I truly know. Today, I would rather take a ride and have lunch with Terry than any professional athlete in the world. I was out of town when he suddenly passed away several years ago. Terry Carlton was my hero. My good friend.

 February 5 : Arizona Highways

A change of scenery and the opportunity to visit some old friends seemed good things for our souls. So, from the grip of a dreary mid-western winter, Pam and I flew off to warmer climes; Arizona, the Land of the Sun.

In our rented Jeep, we traveled the state from tip to tip. I have come to believe, as many others, that Arizona, with a multitude of geographies, is a paradise for artists. The culture, the history, and the land continue to strike a harmonious chord within me.

Beginning in the Sonoran desert near the borderlands, we spent days hiking the mountains, exploring the canyons, and making friends with saguaro cacti. Moving north, our Jeepship landed for a few days in the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix. We were blessed with unseasonably warm temperatures and some record rains, both of which added to the ease and excitement of photographing new terrain.

In the rolling hills out side Prescott, the geology presents rocks that are knarled and rounded like eroded baked potatoes. Finding pleasing compositions there was a treat. Down a long dirt road on a a Navaho reservation near Flagstaff, we found the middle of nowhere. And there, in the middle of the middle of nowhere, was a Grand waterfall, with chocolate water pounding into a fine mist as the river ran off into the horizon. Eventually, this little river joins the Colorado River on a trip through the Grand Canyon.

So we followed. The road up to “ The Canyon” was icy with recent snowfall. I have been to the Grand Canyon several times, but never in winter. I was stunned by the beauty of pines cloaked in snow, and passing squalls of weather dusting the rim with powder. Admittedly, the wind chills were arctic, but the absence of people was worth the price. Hiking snow and ice packed trails was difficult but the photography was a reward at every turn of the days.

Duely frozen, we headed back down Chino Valley to thaw out and feed carrots to horses. A final stop in Scottsdale gave us an opportunity wear shorts and T-shirts in February sunshine.

The 3 weeks in Arizona has tempted us to double down and shoot for 6 weeks next year. I am committed to never again spend a long winter in our mid-west home.I might be getting too old for this cold stuff.

Special thanks to Greg and Mary...Rob and Carol... Paul and Debbie. Your friendship and hospitality made our days all memorable.

 January 31st 2013 : Meredith

Another year of sand falls through the glass of time. I think of you more than ever and love you more each day. The hurt is never ending but the sunshine and rainbows you send my way are sustaining me.

 January the 1st  : 2013 begins...

I woke up this morning and noticed our home was still in the same place. It did not fall off a fiscal cliff. Or if it did, we seem to have landed in a nice sunny spot. So as of now, I guess we’re solid.

I wish the very best New Year to all my family and friends. May good health be yours each day. May you face the challenges ahead with courage and integrity. May the the blessings in your life enter your heart with constant regularity.

I have no new year’s resolutions. The tragic losses in my life have made living “one day at a time” a necessity. I have come to see this as a fine thing. I get up each day, stand, breathe, and move forward. Striving each day to something positive is my finest resolve. True, I have many things I would like to do, many places I would like to travel, and hope personal growth is an outcome. There are “things to do” lists and pins in my map. However, each day is a gift, to be treasured an opportunity to spread some warmth. I have come to enjoy letting plans evolve as the spirit moves me.

Photographically, the future is exciting. I am going to make the move to digital this year. As I work to learn the new processes, I feel like a dinosaur waking up in a new era. Megapixels, memory cards, FTP protocol, back-up hard drives, color spaces, uncompressed files, tone curves, ppi, dpi, download, upload, oh my..... It concerns me that I may have to start thinking again. After 35 years, the process of making a photo has become second nature to me. I imagine it’s analogous to a carpenter who knows how to build a house. Then you take away his tools and materials then replace them new and unfamiliar “stuff” with which to build.

Or maybe, it’s not that big of a deal. I will keep an open mind into this brave new world.

Take care all

 December 30, 2012 : Happy Anniversary Sweetheart

Tough to find a little color in winter. But not impossible.

Tough to find someone to love with all your heart for 34 years. But not impossible.

 December 14th : Hug a Teacher

My heart breaks for all the children, teachers, families, and friends touched by the Sandy Hook School tragedy. In a search to find meaning, there likely is none. In a search to find peace, look into the love of your friends.

In a world of irreconcilable violence and unfathomable pain, I find grace in knowing the selfless humanity of those who would lay down their life for a child. I have never met a teacher who wouldn't.

 December 4th, 2012 : Sad News

Mom passed this morning. A very private person, but for the record;

I first met my mother on August 5th, in 1953. Since then, I have spent more days with her than anyone. I know my mother quite well.

My mother raised me as a single parent. In those days, she likely found society was not so comfortable, nor accommodating, with such arrangements. She had but one alternative after my infancy.... Go to work. And work she did. For almost 50 years, mom left at 7:30 am, drove to the train, rode the train to downtown Chicago, and walked to the office for a long day of work. Reversing the commute to catch the 7:35 pm train delivered her home at 8:00 pm. The routine was repeated daily and at times Saturdays for a lifetime. Employed by blue-chip lawyers and Federal judges, she worked her way up through the ranks to be the very best legal secretary in humankind. She possessed the skills of lawyer, lacking only the certificate.

Most astounding is the endurance; almost 50 years, hardly ever sick , rarely a vacation. I laugh as people swoon over Cal Ripkin's consecutive game streak. He couldn't carry my mother's gloves. She was the gold standard for excellence and longevity. I deeply admired this commitment and never felt slighted. I always knew she was doing her work with passion and ultimately for us.

Time each day with mom was always about quality, rather than quantity. But in those timely moments over the years my mother lived and breathed character. Marie Williams was a role model for generosity and compassion. She carried herself with grace and dignity. She was honest to the core and oozed integrity.

Needless to say, raising a hyper-active, knuckle-head son required special abilities. Her heart was filled patience, understanding, reason, and thoughtfulness. Mom was a master at winning most every argument and allowing me to walk away with a sense of understanding. We were both "learning as you go" but I learned more. She was a visionary teacher.

Mom loved Christmas music, lively political discussion, greeting cards, Chicago Sports, and I’m pretty sure, me. My mother was the perfect parent for me. For 88 years, she welcomed all my wild ideas, respected my opinions, and supported me fully in pursuing my dreams. She dusted me off, looked past my failings, and allowed me to find my own path into the future. What I have, and who I am today is because of her encouragement and wisdom.

As I stood at her bedside the other day it occurred to me, I have never seen my mother scared. Exhausted? Yes, but never frightened. Angry? Yes, but never fearful. These past months, her bravery has been staggering. She might be the most courageous person I've ever known and it took me 59 years to see it. Teaching until the last breath.

It is frightening to watch a loved one cross the bridge between life and death. It becomes incumbent upon those left behind to carry on with faith and responsibility. Faith, blind as it may be, to trust that there is peace and grace unimaginable on the other side. My mother is bathing in that peace today. Most importantly, survivors are responsible for carrying on with dignity, the spirit and good works of those gone before. Through our acts of thoughtfulness, the greatness of those we have lost is cultivated in the lives of the present, and likewise the future..

May we all have the good sense to take the qualities Marie Williams has given us and pass them forward to others every day of our lives.

 Mid October 2012 : West Virginia Mountaineers

After beating up my legs in the lunacy of the Chicago marathon I thought it might be a bright idea to throw myself in the car for 10 hours and drive through the night to West Virginia. I slept in the back of the truck and awoke to the morning stillness of autumn in the Monongahela National Forest. Bright idea?

Ouch! Next morning, my legs were so stiff and wobbly I could barely stand. Maybe not such a bright idea. My wheels truly ached over the next few days but the Mountaineer state did not disappoint. I was rewarded with forests deep in the chromes of autumn and expansive views from cliffs overlooking rolling hills on their way to the horizon.

Many thanks to Mountaineers Matt and Abbey for their tour of Morgantown and for their company on a couple of short road trips into their mountains. This trip was far too short for such an remarkable place. I shall return. With fresher legs.

 October the 31st : Happy birthday Meri

The grandest day of all. A reminder to face the sunshine and let it's peace flow through you.

 September 2012 : Return to Rocky

Pam and I drifted back to RMNP for a late summer visit. I have been working on a personal photo project in the Park for the last 34 years and I felt confident I could complete it with one last trip.I have shared the specifics of this vision quest with only a few people, because it seemed so impossibly ridiculous at times that I never fully thought it truly possible until the last few years.

Well... I completed it. It was the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done. But I am not posting details until I sit down this winter to write some essays on the High Altitude Project. I hope my stories provide a deserving wrapping to a lifetime of images.

Autumn came early to the Park providing an exciting opportunity to add some aspen gold to my portfolio. However, this trip was also challenging beyond words. We traveled deep into Forest Canyon. A place not fit for human intrusion. I left quite a lot of skin tissue on the rocks and trees as we hung from cliffsides for our dear lives, trying to find the best way in and later out of this impenetrable wilderness.

To my Team: Canyon Dan and Marmottman Don, your spirit was relentless. Your enthusiasm for adventure is stunning. And Pam, the week spent with you breathed fresh air into my heart. You have been at my side and in my spirit for all 34 years in these mountains. With you, this dream was made a reality. I love you more than the mountains are high.

 September 5 : Unconditional Love

Abbey, the Happydog, ran out of life today. In her 16th year, the brave little pup just couldn’t answer the bell any longer. We have all lost a dear friend. Abbey touched countless lives with her enthusisam for life and her boundless energy.

I hope she is remembered fondly by the many 4th graders in Mrs. Williams’ class, as she was smuggled in through the side window to brighten their days. I hope she will be remembered by hundreds of cross-country runners. Abbey was a valued member of our team who brought a joyous spirit to workouts as she ran circles around them. She will be remembered by all the people in the neighborhoods we passed through on our nightly walks. She greeted them all with a jump for joy and spinning tail. Goodness gracious, she even loved going to the vet.

I know she will be missed by all her dog friends in the park where she spent the dawn hour each day romping with their silly dog games. Abbey was a tireless hiker without complaint and an inspiring canoe partner who swam into and ran across all the portages with delight. She would leap over logs twice her size, jump off cliffs into waterfalls, and climb snow mountains on command. I have seen her chase chipmunks, geese, racoons, deer, moose, and most anything else that moved through the forest. Abbey did seem to steer clear of bears and coyotes. She was no fool... but I can’t explain the moose.

Abbey was an endurance athlete of the highest order. I recall the many years of training runs...10...20...30-milers. She racked them all up . The morning I ran 50 flights of the famous Swallow Cliff staircase, she ran 51. In winter, Abbey would faithfully follow in the imprints of my snowshoes, and in summer she enjoyed a swim in each and every waterhole we came upon. The little squirt never tired.

My faithful companion was a constant on photo adventures. When I started packing the gear, Abbey would sit in the pile reminding me not to be forgotten. Whether at my side in the truck or snuggled with me in the tent, she lived for the outdoors. on drives to the forest she would cry at the first sight of trees...honestly. You would be hard pressed to find many photos in my portfolio over the past 15 years where Abbey wasn’t sitting by the tripod waiting impatiently for me to finish. It would take a small lifetime to tell all the stories that she and I have shared together. Blood, sweat tears, mud, guts, and glory. Golden memories. I doubt any dog has seen more sunrises and sunsets.

Abbey began her family life with us as Meri’s dog, then swiftly moved to me as I became her obvious ticket to adventure. In later years, she and Pam formed a beautiful bond that stole my heart. She was always an equal part of the family and deserving so.

It seems strange that such a unassuming little dog could teach me so much about life. But it is so. To live with conviction and compassion. To greet each day with enthusiasm. To persevere in all conditions and play with all your heart. To act first, ask questions later. To be curious, brave, and at all times loyal. And first and foremost, share your love with the world.

Yes Jill, you are right, Abbey won the lottery. But so did I.

 August the 23rd : Searching for the Spirit

I don’t go out “just” to photograph. There’s more going on. As I open myself to the “flow” in search of new imagery, I am also involved in a search for a true self. A self that’s unencumbered by the sense of ego. One that is unattached to what I have, what I do, why I do it, or how the world sees me. I hope a true sense of spirit is emerging. Simply me.

Wiser minds than mine tell me that the “true self” is present in all of us, but the world in which we live, with it’s demands placed upon us, have often buried us deep in need of possessions, recognition, and social status. Upon discovering a sense of our own true spirit, we are free of fears and dependence. The search for spirituality is a never ending journey to find a place of gratitude and love.

My photography is also a quest for spirituality. A search for peace. The crafting of a photograph is a subtractive process, removing unnecessary ingredients from within an image. At the same time, I hope to be removing the layers of myself that cause distress. A pleasing image has a spirit of it’s own, as do we.

I submit, that the outcome of any creative activity, has the potential to reveal both the spirit of the art and the spirit of the artist.

Long Live Art

 July 24th 2012 : Paradise Found

When I reach a lake that has no name, I reserve the right to name it. The U.S. Geologic Survey doesn’t acknowledge my designation, but it’s my game so I get to make the rules. For many years, I have had my eye on this tiny, gem of a lake, resting peacefully in the middle of nowhere. My destination wall map holds a pin, squarely within it, but its challenge has always deterred me from a visit. As I study the surrounding terrain, the specialness of this lake seems exciting. This is indeed a extraordinary place worthy of a special name. So too, a special team is required to reach it safely.

On a typically beautiful summer day, the medical student, the priest, the fittest man in Colorado, and I (the obvious weak link in the chain), left a remote Rocky Mountain trailhead in hopes of finding, photographing, and naming this gorgeous glacial tarn.

Along the way, and over the next 2 days, we were blessed with steep trails, timber bushwhacks, engaging route finding decisions, afternoon thunderstorms, gorgeous tundra florals, jagged peaks, snowfield traverses, blocks of talus, slippery scree slopes, simple creek crossings, unseasonably dry pools, and the light of a full moon.

In the afternoon of the second day we reached the unnamed lake. Speechless… Indescribable… a place as perfect as a child’s imagination… all the ingredients for the iconic mountain setting. Unnamed lake is boxed in by airy pinnacles, with steep sided cliffs, glacial snow, and an exploding waterfall. Its shoreline is graced with boulders and laced with untrammeled flowers. Sparse evergreens protected neighboring tiny pools of water not caught by the mayhem of a rushing outlet creek to the valley below.

I immediately kicked off my boots and dove into the lake. It seemed more of a baptism than a swim. The others followed accordingly. The afternoon passed all too quickly as we all experienced this private wilderness under our own terms.

However, my time there was one of deep sadness. I knew this was the final unnamed lake in a life-long photo project I was doing. I knew I was destined to assign it a special name in memory of my daughter. But the emotional baggage I was carrying was compounded by the recent passing of Matt Sandborn, Meri’s soul mate. Matt and I had planned a pilgrimage to this lake together. My heart was aching. How I wished Matt were here with me. How could life be so cruel and take these two wonderful young people from us? I carried, and planned, to place some of my daughter’s ashes in the lake but I couldn’t bring myself to part with them. I felt she would rather be with me.

Meri did however bring us sunshine that day, making evening photography sublime. Prayers were offered and spiritual needs were addressed. Then, after a food snack, we climbed out under the light of a full moon.

Final note: Lake Meredith

 June the 16th : Friends/Latest Work

I have fallen woefully behind in updating my Latest Work. I am still alive and plugging along. Going to new places, working on projects, developing new ideas, and trying to become a bit more proficient at the computer.

I just added some new work from Alabama and Utah, and hope to add images from a US/Canada canoe trip asap. Also, recently added was a link on the homepage to the Meredith Williams Foundation. My wife and I developed this site to continue to keep acts of kindness flowing in the name of our daughter.

Special thanks to Mike Wido, the Webmaster who faithfully manages my site and puts up with my ideas. His work is brilliant and his know-how staggering. Also, a huge thank you to Chris Anderson, the gifted, young, tech-photo guru and recent Columbia graduate. Chris has been tutoring me in the fine art of image management for my up and coming jump into the digital world. Mike and Chris, without you guys, I would be working out of an old refrigerator box in Hungry Horse, Montana.

Actually not such a bad thing.

 Memorial Day : The Lalowski Family

My love for the Northwoods began 35 years ago when my great childhood friend, David, took me on a visit to see his family on a remote lake in northern Wisconsin.

Mr. Lalowski, after a career of inner-city police work in Chicago, chose to retire “up north” and live the life of a woodsman. He and Mrs. Lalowski were the toughest, sweetest, and most endearing people I had ever met. They had always made me feel welcome in their home and their family. I’m not sure I ever fully expressed my gratitude for their kindness.

A city boy myself, I was awestruck by the deep forests, vast network of lakes, and the comings and goings of ubiquitous wildlife. It was the exact right time in my life for a fresh look at new places. Over the years, I traveled often to the Northwoods, carrying cameras, maps, and field guides in search of spaces to blow the winds of peace through my soul. Great adventures. Great times.

I believe it was the Lalowskis who first introduced me to loons. Showed me where to find them. Even where the boat was hidden in the grasses at No-See-Um Lake. Loon, the emblematic icon of the north soon became a touchstone for me. I sought the loon’s company in all ways. Like so many other people, this magical and mysterious bird has come to mean the world to me.

I continue to find my way “up north” throughout the seasons in search of the wilderness that first opened up my eyes to a world so different, that my life was forever changed.

Mr. and Mrs. Lalowski… David… thank you so much. Thank you.

 May 20th : Paddling the Boundary

A one-hour drive down a winding dirt road and a two-hour jet boat ride carried our gear to a remote location directly on the Minnesota, US/Canadian border. I have always wanted to paddle a canoe along the border route used by the fur trading Voyageurs. Not for the furs, but rather to wind wildly through the maze of islands as the canoe dances from lake to lake on the fine line between 2 countries wise enough to preserve this rich, natural wilderness.

Our 4-man team spent last week moving strongly by day and resting soundly at night. A record early ice-out brought unusually warm May temperatures but also favored an early emergence of insects bringing far too many uninvited dinner guests each night. So it goes with the territory.

Spring in the Boundary Waters is a special time. The loons are finding their nests and guarding home territories with vigilance. Songbirds awaken me with a wild array of melodies, and the eagles soar with assertive energy. Plants gently emerge from a long winter and tiny flowers wave hello for a brief time. Each way I look, I am thankful that the cold days have eased the grip upon me.

Photo fun was found everywhere; on the rock slabs below pounding waterfalls… at the base of lichen covered cliffs… along silent sunrise shorelines… with the changing colors of clouds at sunset… or standing in the cold flow of a rushing river. The beauty of the BWCA can be subtler than other areas of the country. One should look closely and feel deeply to fully appreciate its wonders. Which is actually a fine life lesson for most everything.

Take Care all.

PS: Special thanks: Glen and Dave... The signature paddle you gave me has finally left it's mark on the waters of the BWCA. It performed beautifully as it cut strokes alongside the canoe. The curvature of the blade seemed to be helpful but I am not a skilled enough paddler to note any difference.

 4th of May 2012 : Water Park

I have been working on a short project this year in Starved Rock State Park. In my eyes, the most remarkable Park in Illinois. Holder of 18 remarkable sandstone canyons, beautifully carved over time by the work of water. But it's been a dry year.

Until yesterday... Whosh! A storm cell exploded above the area last night and dropped "I don't know how much" water on the Park. All morning, I ran as fast as I could from canyon to canyon, falling down muddy slopes, slipping on wet rocks, and whacking through soaked brush. Great gads of fun.

Usually dry canyons were bursting with water. I was a kid in a candy store. And all the candy was free. AND, I was the only one in the store. I ate well.

Time to dry off now.

 Late March 2012 : Utah Canyonlands

The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere.” Those famous words of John Muir danced through my head as I watched the setting sun with disappointment. Another day was ending in the Canyonlands, and I looked forward with anticipation to the light retuning on the opposite horizon within hours. I needed only to eat, rest, and be patient. It will be my turn again.

More than most places, the red rock country of southern Utah, seems to be about chasing the light. For me, the windows of opportunity are open only briefly under the harsh, sunny skies of the Colorado plateau. Along with the absence of water, the challenge of photography in this land of open solitude is solved only at sunrise and sunset. With one exception… the slot canyons. In these hidden rock crevasses, light bounces wildly, making the taking of photos possible at midday. Making the taking?

With my good friend, Glen Hardscrabble Sorgatz, we spent our days biking and running the White Rim Trail along it’s length through Canyonlands National Park. Our other explorations to other locations in the Park’s “Islands in the Sky” district made me into fast friends with the names on the map; Murphy Hogback, Washerwoman, White Crack, Turk’s Head, Gooseneck… this is a place of great names!

At the ends of each day, the light on the walls was sublime. The window was small, but my heart was wide open.

 The First Day of Spring : Advice from an Elder

Somewhere around mile 24 in this year’s Chicago Marathon, my wife and I came upon an elderly woman, sitting in a elderly chair. She was holding a up a poster board sign for all to see:

One day, you will not be able to do this… Today is not that day!

What beautiful advice for embracing each moment and giving ourselves wholeheartedly into it.

Today, the Vernal Equinox, each point on earth receives an equal amount of daylight. All creatures on the same clock. How sweet. How fair.

But actually it's not a perfect 12 hours. Due to the refractive quality of the atmosphere, the bend produces about a 6 minute error. Not to worry. There's always enough time to ride your bike, go for a walk, eat and apple, and hug a child.

Enjoy your day.

 March 18th in 2012 : Sweet Home Alabama

It has never been my intention to see all the states. But over my short life, I have been blessed to visit most of them. But never Alabama. What could possibly interest the eye of a wilderness photographer in Alabama? I think I should find out.

We blasted a 14 hour road trip straight south and arrived safely in the northeast quadrant of Alabama on the cusp of spring. Wow! Trees everywhere, standing tall on rolling hillsides and gentle terrain. The emergence of redbuds splashed the same distinctive purples that I have grown accustomed to in southern Illinois, but the dogwoods were a incomparable thrill. They were everywhere, smacking their cheerfulness on the bare bones of winter’s forest.

My greatest surprise was to discover actual mountains. I had no idea that Alabama had winding trails, snaking their way through wilderness woodlands to rocky mountain-top terrain. The bonsai trees at ridgeline shook my senses to the bone on an evening shrouded in dense fog. I searched for forest gnomes.

We basked in morning mist at sunrise, hunted down hidden waterfalls, and explored bumpy backroads on our bicycles. Hardly roughing it, our nights were spent at a southern mansion in the company of friends, snacking on trail mix and telling tales well past midnight.

Our deepest thanks to Bob and Marybeth Webler, for opening their home and their hearts to us. Alabama is a richer place because of them. As are Pam and I. And to the people of Auburn and beyond, you have impressed us with your southern style and hospitality. How grateful we were for your smiles, waves, and openness. You could teach many in the rat race some real values of lifestyle.

We'll be back.

 Leap Day : It's Kind of Like Painting Backwards

The camera can be thought of as the painters brush, with the landscape as an easel. It is the job of the photographer to use the controls at his disposal to allow the bristles to remove whatever content stands in the way of the desired vision. Thinking of it as a subtractive processes with simplicity as the desired goal usually puts me on the right path to a final image.

I watched a man in northern Wisconsin carve a bear, out of a tree stump, using a chain saw. It took a matter of minutes. When he was done I walked over and asked him how he does that? He said it was quite simple, "I just look at everything that doesn't look like a bear and remove it".

Sweet simplicity.

 February 24, 2012 : 

To believe in wet snows that cling to trees and drape a forest in silence…

To believe in walks on the beach, while dodging waves, and slipping sand through your toes….

To believe in the gentle rains that wash away the dust and debris from the landscape of broken hearts…

To believe in songs; the whistling wind, the trickling creek, the wail of loons…

To believe in the power of sunlight to drive the earth in celebration of life….

Is to believe in the spirit and healing power of nature.

 Febraury 7th, 2012 : Mary Frank

Your son, Matt, came into my life, exactly two years ago…when Pam and I needed him most. His tragic loss of life has ripped our hearts. His embracing love of life brought us eternal admiration. By the highest standards of humanity, Matt was a champion.

I gravitate towards and deliberately surround myself with people that impress and humble me with their spectacular qualities. It was impossible to resist the draw of your son. He was a complete package; adventurous and athletic with unending energy along with great depths of integrity and character. Every moment Pam and I spent with Matt was joyous.

Actually, the only time he unimpressed me was when he spent an hour in the shower and used all the hot water forcing me to a cold rinse. But I got even the next day when we went for a bike ride and I gave him my old, slow bike while I sped off on my fast bicycle, “Flash”. He still didn’t struggle… too much.

Matt seemed to enjoy teaching us to ski, as we, not so graciously, tumbled and crashed our way down the hills. Happily, he pushed us to bigger slopes, instilling confidence I did not have. Easy for him, a man who ski’s swiftly backwards while taking photos of me falling.

Pam and I had the pleasure to hike, bike, and run with Matt on many occasions. He brought to us his love of skiing. We taught him Lou Malnatti’s pizza. We fed off each other's love of mountains and perpetual motion. The three of us formed a special and unique bond with the love of our daughter clearly in the middle of it all.

Pam and I will carry Matt’s spirit with us forever. Oh, how we grew to love him…

But, more than anything, oh, how he loved his mother.

Here for you always

 January 31st. : My Dearest Meredith

I'm finding grief not a series of stages but rather a repetition of cycles. A whirlpool of spins that I wonder how one ever gets out of. There are better days and worse days. There are moments of hope and moments of doubt. But there is never an hour on any day that I don't think of you, my precious child. Your smile is pasted on my soul.

I dwell on nothing but our finest memories together. I try to let the brilliance of your spirit fill my heart. I am trying to live in a way that would make you happy. It helps to follow your lead. Generosity, thoughtfulness, sensitivity, empathy. You had so many wonderful attributes. They live on forever in the acts of everyone who loved you.

Like beams of sunlight, a person’s life spreads out wildly in all directions. And you my dear, brought the best of the universe to others. Through the warmth of your smile and the twinkle in your eyes, you embraced us all. God, I loved that about you. Everyone did. Everyone still does.

Mom and I went to church this morning. The sun was shining brightly and the air was warming to almost 60 degrees! January 31st? It’s usually a single digit ice bowl at this time of the year. I have no doubt you had something to do with the weather. Thank you.

And I love You


 January 15th : Ice Canyons

Great fun. The snow remains little and infrequent, but the winter cold is working it's magic on the water near my mid-western home. I spent the day at Starved Rock State Park kicking steps with my Micro-Spikes through and up the icy canyons. Slipping and sliding my way along steep slopes, I am tempted to start carry a short climbing rope along for adventures in this unique to Illinois place where the 3-dimesional world comes to life.

I am still awaiting the deep and heavy snowstorms to which I have grown accustomed to at this time of the year. Now that I am not teaching and have the flexibility to take off on a moment's notice, winter has decided to take the year off.

Keep warm my friends.

 January One, 2012 : 

May the opportunities for beauty fill your days...

May health and wellness bathe your innermost being...

May the spirit of adventure be a magnet...

And may peace ripple gently through your heart.

 Mid-December 2011 : Where's the Cold and Snow Snow?

I'm waiting? Here I sit in my Midwestern home and not so patiently wait for winter to drop some snow on the landscapes of my heart. Even some frozen temperatures lacing patterns of ice would be welcome. The gap of dark, dreary, lifeless death between autumn color and winter wonder seems unusually long this year. I know I'll regret it in 3 months but c'mon winter...bring it on!

Until then, I chase the only color I can sometimes find; in the sky

 December 1st 2011 : Sandhill Crane Migration

The annual migration of more than 10,000 sandhill cranes through a little known ( except for avid birders) wildlife refuge in the middle of agricultural Indiana has been an annual migration for me too. I continue to be amazed by the ritual of these grand birds to visit this same spot in staggering numbers.

The drill has become for me to stand patiently near dusk, at the border of the refuge, and wait. As the sun falls to the horizon, the chorus begins as the cranes come stringing in by the dozens. Numbers soon become hundreds, then thousands. Their glutteral song rattles my soul. The flight machines wobble, drop their landing gear, and gracefully descend to a gentle touchdown.

Photographing them is like picking off the hubcaps of moving cars. It is rare for me to capture a shot that completely defines the experience. Which is usually the case and main challenge of good photography.

Before long, the sky darkens, am I am usually left standing alone. I prefer to listen to the crane music for a while longer.

PS: A few days later, I couldn't find my tripod. I turned my truck inside out. Oh no! I reasoned I must have left it behind at my last location( I do that more often as I grow older). I called the Sandhill Refuge Manager. Yup... it's right here. Thank you to the guardian angel who found and anonymously returned it. You will go straighter to heaven because of your thoughtfulness. You saved me many hundreds of dollars and brightened my outlook on humanity. Bless you.

 November 10th, 2011 : Zion

Over the year’s, some places become more special to me and I yearn to visit them again and again. Zion has become one of those places. So, off I went the other day to explore it’s force field upon me. Laying on my belly, I dangled my head over a steep canyon wall. I stared down a thousand steep feet. The Virgin River meandered gracefully around rock towers as it winds sinuously around the yellowing cottonwoods of November. Then I rolled over and to notice the battleground of trees trying to eek out a living and survive on the white sandstone towers a thousand feet above me. Water, rocks, and trees. It all seems so simple out here in Zion. The scientific complexity of it all brings me no interest. Water, rocks, and trees. Arranged in just the right way, bring my eyes endless delight.

I spend every moment chasing the light down canyons and up the sides of cliffs. The water is chilling as it soaks my boots. It surrounds me as it reaches my chest in the Narrows. I should be cold but the year’s have made me a wise dresser. The rocks gobble my feet as I slip and slither my way through rapids and slots in the canyon walls. Frustrating and joyous at the same time. But it’s the trees that have drawn me here today. They are doing their annual metamorphosis from green to yellow. Some prefer gold, while a few are bold enough to go red. I am certainly not alone in the autumn color pursuit. We are all photographers at this time of year in Zion. There are enough trees for all of us and I find comfort knowing that so many prefer being out within them rather than at home couch surfing.

It takes just two days of constant movement to exhaust my body and burn some memorable images into my camera. I am full now. It would be glutonous to ask for more. Time to move on. But what is it that makes Zion so unique to me? Other places have water, rocks, and trees too. Pulling an explanation from under my hat is impossible, like trying to define love. Sitting atop the lofty perch of Angels Landing I am at peace. And that fills my spirit.

 October 20-Something : Let us sleep outside tonight...

Three of my favorite areas in Illinois are the Garden of the Gods Wilderness, Bell Smith Springs Recreation Area, and Jackson Hollow Natural Area. Last week, during the emerging fall color, I visited all three to say hello to their beauty.

The Garden has some of the most exquisite rock formation anywhere. “I can’t belive this is Illinois” is a most often heard comment from visitors. Although most visitors never go further than the parking area, a network of trails wind through the wilderness area for further exploration. So beautiful to feel Illinois in 3 dimensions.

Bell Smith is a steepsided canyon area that always supplies me with ample photo opportunities. The quiet creek that runs through it must be a humid, bug and snake invested place during summer. But in October, it’s face is gentle and easy. A white river otter ( yes, white) joined us during an evening photo session.

Jackson Hollow and it’s Falls area is a charm. Hard to find but not as desolate as it used to be 25 years ago. It’s high walls and challenging rock formations have made it a mecca for midwest rock pilgrims. But I can’t complain about the lack of solitude, for it was many years ago the rock master, Sean O’Toole, took me there to teach me how to rock climb. Thanks Sean. Gosh I miss those days. In the years since, the crowds have followed. Such is the price of wild beauty.

Many thanks to Pam, for enduring the frosty nights and Kyle from Mitchellsville for helping me carry Abbey the old Happydog on our hikes.

 12th October 2011 : Merithon 2011

Last Sunday was the Chicago Marathon. While I tend to shy away from crowds and races, I couldn’t say no to the opportunity to to run with Team Merithon. A group of my daughter”s closest friends bonded together to run the marathon in her memory and deliver all the funds they raised to Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in Chicago.

Although a little warm ( 80’s) for 26.2 miles of pavement pounding, the day was filled with emotion, energy, and remarkable achievements. Quite a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Quite a lot of fun. And at the end of the day, the Merithon Team walked away (more accurately limped away) with smiles of accomplishment but most importantly, Mercy home received $34,000 dollars in the name of my daughter, Meredith Williams.

Pam and I were overwhelmed by the entire project. Our friends and family are the saving grace in our lives. They are the gold standard of generosity and thoughtfulness. They define love by example. They would do anything for Meri.

In the end, there are no words... just actions. And the actions of those special people who have woven their way into our lives have profoundly affected me in ways immeasurable. I have tried to live in such a way that Meredith would be proud. To dedicate each day so she might smile and say “nice going papa”. I have no doubt that today, the world is a better place because of everyone who supported the Merithon. Meri is smiling

Nice going Everyone”

 30th September 2011 : Silly

How silly... to drive 9 hours through the night, to northern Minnesota for 2 days of hiking in the rain, taking pictures... then quickly drive home.

May I always be so silly.

 5:00 am Badasses : 

I can't sleep. My hip is in throbbing pain. I ran 20 miles yesterday morning and then moved boxes and furniture up and down stairs all afternoon. I am feeling quite sorry for myself. Poor me.

Then I think of Joanna Hogland putting shots into both knees and taking ice baths to get to her job teaching inner city kids....then I think of Bridget O'Sullivan taking her diabetes medicine to continue her studies to complete nursing school... then I think of Amy Liss, laughing in the face of cerebral palsy to champion Easter Seals... and my very own Meredith Williams, courageously losing her battle to a plethera of issues beyond anyone's understanding.

You are ALL my heroes. Real Badasses. And I am such a whimp.

 September the 18th 20011 : Briefly:

* Pam and I are moving. Not far. For many reasons, it’s time to build a new nest.

* The school year began. I did not go. I went to Rocky Mountain NP to work on my High Altitude Paradise project.

* On a trail run, I accidentally found myself at close range (20 paces) smack in between a mother bear and her 2 cubs. Mom stood tall and huge. She was beautiful! I spoke to her quietly, preparing to be mauled. After a forever minute, she granted me space as I backed away. Bless her.

* Dee and Craig Bigler. You are my guardian angels. Your Cliffside Cabins are only exceeded by your kindness.

* Owen, Paloma, and Theo Mellish. I love you kids. Your parents are blessed to have you… and I them.

* Ranger Jack. Pinnacle Pool in the Never Summers was stunning, but I did not complete the project. See you next year for another shot. Maybe I should come out for one of your winter snowshoe treks?

* Merithon girls and Mercy Home Chicago... you have stolen my heart. I am forever impressed by the goodness of all your actions.

* It’s September. Hmmm. I think I feel the pull of the Northwoods.

* For all her friends…Abbey the HappyDog is still hanging in there. Arthritis, tremors, deafness, and bladder tumors, but at over 100 years human scale, her tail still wags each day as she greets the world.

* Meri Williams… the memory of your spirit is the ocean that my heart floats in each and every day.

 20th August : Dear Meri:

The Merithon Fundraiser the other night was a huge success. The lives of boys and girls of Mercy Home are better because of your inspiration to your loved ones. I was overwhelmed by the turnout. Unmistakably, out of my comfort zone. With so many people, I struggle through a jumble of feelings and am unable to speak clearly to all our friends and loved ones. I don't know how to sufficiently tell them all how much they mean to me... how grateful that I am for their thoughts and prayers. I wouldn't be here without them.

And they are here because of you. The magic of your spirit is alive in all of us. You are in my thoughts each hour of the day and with my soul every moment. I pray you feel the love.


 June from RMNP : Summer Snow

I just returned home from 2 weeks in Rocky Mountain National Park in an attempt to complete my lifelong photo project. Record amounts of snowfall in May covered the landscape in ways that I have not seen in 3o years. Most my destinations for this year were challenging beyond reason. We snowplowed through, slipping on icy slopes, stepping gently around crevasses, crossed raging rivers on downed trees, slept on rock slabs, and sank ourselves thigh deep in post holes. Some route finding issues, but overall, nice weather and good clean fun.

Adam Mooseman, Lovely Laurie, Canyon Dan, Princess Pam... you were all wonderful company and blessed with tremendous spirit. You made all the days memorable. I am still trying to digest the burnt hot dogs.

However, I still have a few final images to pursue before completion of this vision quest. While discouraged at first, my wife reminded we that we can return later this summer when the snows recede and the kids go back to school. That's right...I forgot... we retired a few weeks ago. Now how cool is THAT?

Bless you all.

PS: Ranger Jack at the Beaver Meadows entrance: I'm not sure you can ever rank the favorites but the hike along the Continental Divide/Ida Ridge up and over Chief Cheley, Cracktop, and down into Hayden Gorge is as scenic as it gets. But not to be taken lightly. To avoid the afternoon storms, I started at midnight. Don't try this one alone.

 June the 10th 2011 : Goodbye

After 34 years and over 5000 students I have retired from teaching. A bittersweet move. Thank you to my students. You have been THE prominent force behind my development as the science guy I have become. I will always be grateful for your passion for learning, enthusiasm for life, and your thoughtful friendship. However, the studies of cell physiology, chemical reactions, and geologic phenomena are past. It's time.

Pam has also retired with Teacher of the Year honors and 34 years of stellar service to children of Downers Grove. She is the starlight in the eyes of her students that will never be replicated. I know she too is grateful for the community of Downers Grove and support it gave to both of us.

Together, we continue to live one day at a time and look forward smelling the flowers TODAY. We presently are preparing for a trip to Colorado and our beloved Rocky Mountain National Park. We hope to rest, visit friends, and complete the High Altitude Paradise project which has graced my life for, I think, 33 years.

PS: My sinus surgery went well. Thanks Dr. Dillon! I'm only 2 weeks out but I hope that it solves some of my breathing problems.

Take Care All

 29th May 2011 : Springtime Blues

The poor weather of winter has carried over into spring here in Illinois and my health has not really improved. I have decided to take action. Next week, I will undergo sinus surgery to correct my breathing/coughing problems. Please Dr. Dillon, make me better. I've got mountains to climb.

My photography has been in a slump. Primarily, because I'm not feeling well enough to travel much. I've been poking around the state trying to complete my Illinois Project this year. Over 30 plus years I have traveled most every road in the state to explore every nook of wildness I could find. It's just about time to call it a wrap.

May the gentle grace of each day bless you all.

 April at Last! : From the Desert Southwest

After being ill all winter it seemed fitting to head from warmer climes asap. Pam and I are ever-growing to enjoy the Four Corner region. In between photo sessions we found time to ski, mountain bike, and run the trails in New Mexico. In the Sonoran Desert of Arizona we found the record heat invigorating.

The desert offers photographic challenges to me unlike other areas of the country where my visions seem to flow more easily. I think most of it comes from my love for water....which there is not a lot of...or possibly the tiny window of sweet light at each end of a day in which to photograph. The starkness of rock? Whatever it may be, I find all of it enchanting and hope to spend even more time Southwest in the coming years.

As the Beatles taught me... "I follow the Sun".

 March 21, 2011 : Vernal Equinox

It's the first full day of spring... but the sun's not out, my fingers are numb, and I'm still coughing. This has truly been the longest and hardest winter I can recall. How do those natives in Alaska do it? I'm guessing the torrid beauty gets them through winter.

However, I just can't wait any longer. Pam and I will travel to the Southwest US for 10 days. I need to see a cactus.

 January 31st 2011 : Meri

I see you shine in the rays of sunlight that descend through the clouds ... I see you dance in the sparkling water that runs beneath my feet... I see you smile in the brilliant rainbows that flash across the sky... and I see you dream in the stars that crowd the darkness out of night.

But I feel you in my heart.


 January the 1st of 2011 : Three of Four Corners

Pam and I just returned home from a trip to the southwest. Record cold and snow conditions made each day a challenge, however it was a unique opportunity to see the usually arid Colorado plateau cloaked in winter white. Highlights included the gorgeous snow-dusted Vermillion Cliffs of Utah, the cold corridor slot canyon of the Antelope, the frigid waters and stark shoreline of a desolate Lake Powell, and the ice covered sandstone rocks of the Paria Wilderness. And the stunning monument "Shiprock" in New Mexico finally yielded some of it's spirit to my camera.

The lowlight was our unsuccessful trip to visit "the Wave", the famous rock designs near the Utah/Arizona border. Accompanied by Master-mathematician Rob Johan, we struggled through snow and ice and somehow missed a turn and indecisively wandered about for hours in arctic conditions. By the time we located our target, fading light and an approaching storm had closed the window of opportunity upon us. We shall return.

Finally, a huge thank you to Master-skier Matt Sanborn, for taking Pam and I to the slopes of Santa Fe and keeping our toes pointed in the right direction.

May 2011 bring you good health, good spirit, and peace.

 26th December 2010 : Pam and Atalaya

On the way to Arizona, Pam and I stopped for a visit in Santa Fe. Arriving at 1:00 am and setting off for top of Atalaya Peak at 1:00 pm seemed, well, foolish. I would never recommend anyone go from sea level to 7'000 then climb to 9'000 feet in 12 hours. It felt so good to be in warmer conditions, I guess I was just, well, foolish.

I was fortunate to not get ill from such a quick change in altitude. As usual, Pam moved along gracefully with no effects whatsoever. She is a great outdoor companion. I am always most fortunate to share the trails with her gentle style and open spirit.

 12th December 2010 : Winter Winds

I awake this morning to bone chilling winds with temps numbing my fingers. Today however, after shoveling the snow, I point the truck south and head 6 hours toward the sun.

The warmth on my face is most welcome as the miles go by the windshield. I watch the snow disappear as the morning goes into afternoon. It really IS getting warmer. Upon reaching my destination, the bluffs above the Mississippi River, I am far removed from home and prepare my pack for a hike to the rocky top. There are few places in Illinois were you can go vertical but this place is one of them.

Within minutes I'm down to a t-shirt. I can't believe my fortune. I thought it might be months until I feel the warmth of sunlight on my skin. God it's warm! For the next couple of hours, photography is rewarding both above and along the Great River.

I drive home through the night, snacking pretzels and sipping sweet tea. A good day indeed.

Back home, I awaken to ice, blowing snow, and arctic temps. Did yesterday really happen?

 13th November 2010 : Transitions

There's clearly a change. I watch through the window as the last leaves tumble from their natal branches, where they have clung for their life forces the last 8 months. Most the trees are now bare. For some strange reason I have always preferred them like this. Their bare, dendritic patterns have personality. It's nice to see them on display again. Old friends.

Most notably, the unseasonably warm weather seems to be changing. My fingers can tell. It's cold. The sun is absent and the rain adds a real chill to my body. It feels good to wear warm clothing again.

Yes... it's November in the Midwest.

 October 31st : Happy Birthday Meredith

I am without words... I would sell my soul hug you again.

A usually spectacular month is not so this year. October comes to a somber end as I stroll down a dry shoreline of the Sangamon River in central Illinois. As I kick aside colorless leaves and try to resist the self-pity of this years misfortunes, I am overwhelmed.

I wish I could command the vocabulary to describe the world that I feel and the tangled web that my mind tries to unwind. I am trying to use to wordless world photography to help me find this place. The place of perfect peace.

I must keep searching... there is much work to do.

 24th October 2010 : Amazing what you can do in a day.

An 8-hour drive through the night, followed by a 3- hour sleep in the back of the truck and I awoke to the most dismal tree colors I have ever seen in Southern Illinois. My favorite spot in Illinois. The Shawnee National Forest. The poor man's Smokies. All covered with the dead brown of a drought year.

Oh well... I have one day to make the best of it. I found a quiet pond to greet the day and the huge lotus leaves floating on top were more than satisfying. A quick trip down a dusty road and a climb into one of the most beautiful canyons in Illinois focused my attention on rocks. Walls, boulders, stones. Magnificent rocks. Abbey, the Happydog and I spent hours playing in them

After a 2-hour drive to a third location and I found the dead leaves beginning to grow on me. It's amazing how many shades of brown there are. I seem to have noticed that some, even have subtle color to them. Wishful thinking? I think not.

At a final location, I snuggled deep in a back bay as the last light of day kissed the treetops. And I drove through the night to return home.

All said, I came back with 6-10 images that I'm sure I'll keep for my Illinois Project. In my world, that's a very productive day. Amazing what you can do without sleep, food, and all the bothers of the outside world.

 October 17th 2010 : Door County in Wisconsin

At the northernmost tip of Door county, a wilderness beach called Newport, juts out into to Lake Michigan. I awoke to greet the sunrise and spent the day walking within the embrace of it's protected forest. Searching for places of solitude has become most important to me these days.

I think of all the iconic spots where I, and millions of others, have stood to take fine photos. All beautiful indeed. However, I have grown to treasure those places where I feel like the discoverer and my visions are compelled to be unique.

God I love October.

 October 12th, 2010 : Boundary Waters

The October charm of the Boundary Waters wilderness once again has cast it's spell upon me. With it's golden painted birch trees, scarlet maple portage trails, and complete absence of flying insects, I continue to wonder why the lakes rest in almost complete desolation from human paddles at this time of year.

I was gifted with a few beautiful days for travel by canoe and likewise filled my pack with camera toys to play amongst this water wonderland. My partners Kyle Mitchell and Abbey the Happydog shared the Kawishiwi region with loons, eagles, otters, and a few migrating ducks. In silence, we all moved through the passing water as if we knew we were blessed to be in such a special place and time.

Thanks Kyle. We came for the double rainbow. We left with tired shoulders and some peace of mind.

 September 2010 : Friends

I have returned to the schoolhouse for my 34th and final year of teaching science. I deeply love being around my students. They are my emotional medicine. They lift my spirits and brighten my days. My commitment to them is the reason I am able to rise each day. However, I have grown tired of all the other components of education. It's become's time.

At the end of each day, I am emotionally drained. I have found peace on long bike rides and runs through the forest. Evenings are usually spent holed up in the basement, reading, writing, and dreaming of ways to reinvent myself. Searching for thoughts to make the pain go away.

I have no energy to photograph. The artist within is lost. I am hoping the colors of October will bring new vision to my soul.

 August 14th 2010 : Rocky Mountain National Park

I return from RMNP safe and sound. Actually, with less bruises and scratches than usual. Considering the remote hikes, scrambles, and bushwacks, I am fortunate to be in one piece. Only the hole in my heart and the endless nightmare of my life remains.

I am grateful for the brief moments of healing that Rocky provided. The Park is a huge and important part in the lives of my family and the many friends we have made there make the place always seem like home.

I went this year with the possibility of completing my lifelong project. That did not happen. I went in hopes of finding new places to inspire my wounded creative sensibilities. That did happen. I was able to make many new images and look forward to posting them in the High Altitude Paradise portfolio soon.

Thanks to Marmotman Donny for sliding up and down hundreds of feet of steep, wet scree and talus slopes as well as keeping a good sense of humor while being lost in a whiteout at 12,000 feet. Thanks to Canyon Dan for pushing us onward to the most desolate places in the Park. Over trees, through downpours, and sliding down snowy chutes, you make it all memorable.

Thanks to Dee and Craig Bigler for always finding a spot to rest my head when not sleeping in the backcountry, as well as a cheerful greeting each and every day. To Dale and all the RMNP Park Rangers for their friendship and support. And to Don at Brownfield's Trading Post for making me feel special.

But my deepest gratitude, as always, to my wife. Thank you for sharing time with me this year. While neither of us has a road map to get through our grief, I find comfort in knowing we have each other. My birthday celebration; the evening hike up to a lake for just us, the turkey and cheeseburger sandwiches packed in, the clearing storm, the last light on the peaks, capped by a hike back in the dark... perfect. And of course, the chocolate fudge brownie.

And always eat the brownie first. We did.

 July 21st, 2010 : Cameras on the Shelf

For the past few weeks they sit dormant on my desk. I hope the break will be good for my eye, my spirit, my heart. Early summer is my least favorite time to photo in Illinois, so...

Pam and I have been spending time gardening, fixing up the house, spending time with friends, and trying to find peace of mind. The world seems so different now. I move slowly from day to day, in thoughtful search for meaning and value. So many questions.

Soon, we leave for RMNP and the mountains of Colorado. The cameras will come too.

 20th June 2010 : The Wizard and the Angel

... and speaking of Crater Lake. For many years I've wanted to photograph at this lovely place. Heck, I would be happy just to see it. So I invested a day of driving to include in my west coast trip. When I arrived at the Park Border the ranger cast a dark shadow on my plans. Informed me that the road was closed with avalanches and 8 feet of snow. The campground was closed and the lake itself hadn't been seen in days due to the snow and cloud cover.

I took my chances. After parking at the end of the road, I booted up, threw on some winter clothing, and began walking. Climbing up to the rim of the crater and wisely avoiding snow cornices was invigorating. But the lake, and famed Wizard Island remained buried deep in the mist as the snow continue to pour out of the sky.

Afternoon turned to evening as I shivered to keep warm. Please God, photography is unimportant. Just let me see it. A glimpse before I head back down the mountain? One last idea! I began to pray to my daughter, the princess of sunshine. But the sky got darker, so about 8pm I turned my chin down and began to hike back to the car.

Then, almost instantly, the sky brightened. I hurried to an overlook and pow! Wizard Island! The clouds not only opened up but they were gently painted with the soft colors of twilight as Crater Lake came in to view. Rushing wildly to expose some film, I genuinely was more excited just to see this icon of our National Parks.

After a few minutes the clouds again enveloped the scene as the Wizard disappeared into the night. I strolled back to the car knowing I just been privy to a small miracle. An answered prayer.

My heart is broken with the loss of Meri, but for a brief moment in time it was comforting to know that I had a sunshine angel in heaven looking over me.

Today is Father's Day Meri. I will never stop looking for your sunshine. I will never stop loving you, and most importantly, I will always be your Dadzer

 15th June 2010 : It's Been a While

To the many friends who have not seen a Journal entry in months, I am sorry. My wife and I continue to sink and swim our way through the months following the loss of our daughter, Meri. It is impossible to separate my photography from my personal life. My love for my family and the images I see through the lens both come from the same heart. A heart that remains badly broken. My mind is in a strange place. Flux? Changing for the better I hope. The world certainly looks different now. Very painful. And most difficult to talk or write about most days. Accept a brief update.

Pam and I both finished the school year the best we could and now are free from our teaching responsibilities. This should provide some time to work on our insides. The support we received from our friends and colleagues was remarkable. I am finding new dimensions to the power of love.

I am also trying to be a willing participant in photography. Traveling is problematic as I find being away from home difficult. This spring, Pam and I went to Arizona and New Mexico for a week of rest. Time there produced a few new images. I added to my Illinois portfolio this spring with a couple of short trips to the south-central part of the state to photo the emerging treescapes.

Yesterday, I returned form home from a trip along the northern California/southern Oregon coastline. The week there was a breath of fresh air. I was blessed to experience the Lost Coast, fog-laced redwoods, magnificent sea stacks, dancing tidal zones, and at long last, a brief glimpse of Crater Lake.

As I have yet to enter the brave new world of the Facebook, I will do a better job of posting updates on this page.

God bless you all.

 March 7th 2010 : Tough Times

It has been 5 weeks since my daughter, Meri, passed away. The loss remains staggering. Along with the persistence of winter, my days pass by with glacial slowness. I try to work, move, and carry on. But I have lost my life force. Everything is bland, like eating cardboard.

I muddled through February without any interest in picking up my cameras. But today, I decided to try. The dog and I went to a quiet pebble beach along the DuPage River to photograph the sunset. We did more sitting than picture-taking. But it was good.

Over the years, my trips to wilderness places have given me so much. At this time I ask only one thing from them; help heal me.

 February the 3rd : When it rains...It pours

A broken rib, a broken lung, and a broken heart.

God help me.

 January 31st 2010 : Meredith Marie Williams

My Dearest Meredith.... From the moment I first cradled you in my arms, I captured a special kind of love that only a parent could know. You gave me a reason to become a better person... a father. With you, came unimaginable happiness and even some silly pride.

As I watched you encounter the challenges of growing up in today's world, I was stunned by your intellect, your courage, but most importantly, your golden heart. You were always at your best when helping others. A quality I so admire. You had the ability to warm the hearts and light the fires of those around you. Your smile, your humor, and your compassionate spirit were a gift from God. You were an artist who painted with the brushstrokes of your soul.

Meri,there hasn't been a moment in 25 years that I haven't loved you. For me, your life was always a lesson in love. A lesson, the passed on, will live forever.

My sweet princess, most of who I am, I owe to you. It therefore becomes my mission to continue to radiate your goodness to everyone, so they too can become a part of your being.

I dedicate my life to you. And we shall meet again.


 January 1/2010 : The Gift of a New Year

Cold. Very cold! I welcomed the new year this morning amid below zero winds on a lonely beach on Lake Michigan. I feel like it's been weeks since I've seen the sun, but this morning did not disappoint. My fingers were numb as I struggled to put together a memorable image of the first sunrise of 2010. I found myself singing as the the yellow orb rose above the horizon and sneaked through the clouds. Another day, another gift.

I can bemoan the frustration of photographing in the cold or celebrate my foolishness for continuing to enjoy it. I choose the fool.

Happy New Year. May good health and peace of mind find you throughout the year.

 26th November 2009 : Happy Thanksgiving

Counting blessings. A wonderful day to do it. I would like to think I do it often. Health, family, fiends, a way to contribute to the world, and some income to keep moving. Generally the same as most of us. The real challenge is finding ways and time to express the gratitude for what we have been blessed with in our lives.

I am grateful to have the good health that continues to allow me to play at levels that match my passions.

I am grateful to have a wife that is a loving role model to me. She is courageous in the face of confusion, compassionate in the face of anger, and continually shows a sweet sensitivity to the needs of others. The brightness of her character is inspiring.

I am grateful for the eternal support and wisdom of my mother. She understands well how the world works. After all the years, she is always there to help me up after I fall.

I am grateful for my daughter. She is the apple of my eye. The maker of my thoughts. And the hope for the future. I have no way of describing the love I have for her.

I am grateful for my friends. They impress the b'jeebers out of me with their energy, humor, spirit, and intelligence. I am most fortunate to be surrounded by remarkable people.

I am grateful for the students I work with. They are amazing little scientists. Their energy and enthusiasm for learning has kept me stuck on young.

I am grateful for my dog. She is my kindred spirit. Enough said.

 November One : I Think It's Over

Autumn, and the life of a leaf. For over 6 months, these tiny chloro-factories have been churning out sugar and oxygen for us. Then there's a sudden weakening in their stem, assitted by a puff of wind, and a gentle trip from their natal branch to a soft landing on he forest floor.

Prior to their fall, leaves let out a scream of color. So different from the monochromatic green they wear all year, it's difficult to believe that these pigments reside inside the leaf all year. But I'm told by micro-botanical-chemists that they do... so I believe them

As as photographer of things outdoors, it's my job to search out these colors and put them on my film. I've been busy the last few weeks, chasing the rainbows in the trees, from north to south through my mid-west home territory. Now, the color is fading and so am I.

There may be one more week, but I am growing tired of the road, sleeeping in the truck, and grabbing quick meals at drive-thrus (although Abbey the HappyDog has grown to love McD's cheeseburgers). Fondly, I remember kneeling in Lake Superior as waves crashed about me, shuffling through snow under scarlet maples, and wading through a canyon river. I remember the golden aura of a sunny canopy, the saturated colors of a rain soaked forest, and the reflected shoreline of a quiet pond.

I NEVER grow tired of those colors.

 October 12th/09 : Like Waking Up in a Popsicle

Sometimes it's easier to sleep in the back of my truck rather than spend the time setting up/taking down the tent. As was the case the other night on Whitefish Point, where the road ends at Lake Superior in the northwoods of Upper Michigan.

An overnight surprise. I awoke to a sandblasting of ice and a few inches of snow sealing me in the vehicle with a night's worth of condensed exhalation frosting over the inside. Brrrrr.

But, it was well worth it, as the first snowfall in Michigan's U.P. dusted the peaking trees, helping to punctuate their color even more so. Ahhhhh.

I just love it when the seasons collide. Caught me a little off guard though. Time to replace bug repellent with gloves. And better find some long pants.

 October the 4th/2009 : Tribute to Geneva

I regret how the years have past and our paths have diverged. It's been so many years since we've talked. Geneva Duncan, are you still out there?

When we met about 20 years ago at your precious little lakehouse in the Northwoods of Wisconsin your kindness was stunning. You and your husband, Berle, took me under your wing and taught me volumes. I had come to photograph loons. I had done my homework and reasearched everything I could find in academia about these intriguing birds.Soon, I came to find that I actually knew very lttle. You however, having lived across from their island nest site, season after season, knew everything.

Geneva, your stories were full of magic and wonder. You introduced me to your loons as if they were family. They were. Through you, I came to know their personalties, their motivations, and there communications. Because of you, I became accepted by your loons and was given he privledge of entering their inner circle... and yours.

For years, I headed north not just to photo loons, but to see you. Your stories were legendary and your hospitality endless. The days we shared sitting around talking "loon" were some of the finest times of my life. Oh how I envied your simple life. A world unencumbered by television. phones, and computers. You lived with style and grace

While back in those days, I fancied myself a bird photographer, you gave me something deeper... an appreciation for the spirit of the Northwoods. I learned to look deeper in to the subtlties of "lakeland" and developed a fine sense of oneness with the land. My photography continues to pursue these ideals.

Geneva. I wanted to let you know I'm still trying to live the lessons you shared with an "attitude of gratitude." Thank you. I miss you.


It's been many years since my travels have taken me by your Lake. I heard that Berle had passed away and surely the loons we grew to know and love have too. I've been avoiding visiting the Lake because the emptiness would certainly be painful . However, the other day I went. My eyes watered up with sadness as I looked out upon the island, quietly sitting as the centerpiece of the long familiar scene. I thought about all the endless hours in proximity of the the loons and how life was so much simpler then. Your dock is still there, as are the pickerel weeds on the shoreline. The fall colors were drop dead gorgeous, and many old landmarks are still intact. But something was missing..... YOU.

I pray you are well. I will never forget you.

 August 18th 2009 : Four Days in Canoe Country

I have a friend who won't take a the 10 hour drive for just a weekend. Says it's not worth it. Silly boy.

Yes, it was a long spin in the truck, but I just returned home from the BWCA and feel much better for it. Dropped on an island straddling the U.S./Canadian border I spent 3 wonderful days paddling some of the more remote lakes of that precious wilderness. Featuring unusually warm weather and mostly quiet winds, the canoe pierced it's way through many miles of drop dead beauty.

Yes, I would have preferred more time. But the voices of the loons and the otter who visited camp seemed glad that I had come.

Many thanks to you Kyle "Gator Pie" Mitchell. Your company was a treat and your assistance was welcome. You are becoming a fine outdoorsman. And it looked like the mosquitoes were glad you came too.

 August the 1st : Home and Healing

I've been home for a week now and it seems like all I'm doing is eating, sleeping, and taking long, slow bike rides. My body must have really taken a beating out West. The aches and pains seem to hanging on a little longer this year. I wonder if it's..... Nah!!!

Here in Illinois, the prairies are in bloom. I will focus my camera on their colorful displays for a couple of weeks. However, I did promise the Happy Dog a short canoe trip this summer.

 July 28th : Go West Young Man

And I did. Home from almost a month away from Camp Williams. Sore, tired, and at peace. I have been to the mountains and they have filled me with life. There are few places that breath fresh air into my soul more than the alpine regions of this country. And for me, Rocky Mountain National Park stands alone.

I just spent most of the last month in High Altitude Paradise. Year 31 for the counting. My portfolio for this project continues to grow. My vision quest to find every corner of the Park continues. I do have a plan and purpose to it all, but I continue to be very stealth about it until my goal reaches its completion.

This year RMNP was magnificent. Lingering snow hugged the slopes, wildflowers surged with abundance, waterfalls exploded, and icebergs cruised the lakes. I saw Bighorn rams doing battle and watched hundreds of elk graze the tundra.

We were blessed with all the challenges of mountain travel; gale force winds determined to flatten tents, lightning storms standing my hair on end, unreasonably heavy pack loads, searing sun, blistering feet, hell raising mosquitoes,and never enough food. Loved it all.

Gentle sunrises. Colorful sunsets. Heavenly star shows. Each day a gift. An inspiration.

Speaking of inspiration. I had the opportunity to visit Santa Fe and the mountains of northern New Mexico for the first time. Known as an artists community, I have never seen more skilled artisans in a small area. I guess you could call it talent density. I was swept away by the scope of different media and methods of expression for the spirit of the land. It was a motivating force and blew new winds into my photographic sails.

Thank you God. I'm sure you had something to do with all this. And thanks to Moose, Canyon, and Bro-Don. As always, your company is the sweetest part of any mountain adventure. Your spirit is inspiring and your never-ending energy is an inspiration.

 June 10th : School's Out! Teachers let the monkeys out!

My teaching responsibilities are complete. I am now free to be a full time photo-chaser. I will work diligently around Illinois for a couple of weeks and then plan on heading to Rocky Mountain National Park to pursue more images for the High Altitude Paradise project. I think it's my 31st summer in Rocky. A record spring snowfall in the Park has urged me to go out a bit sooner than usual. Perhaps a little snow and ice might be a nice touch in this years work.

God bless. Take care everyone.

 May 27th : The End of Spring

The gentleness of spring is gone. As I photographed this evening, I found myself lying in a wet marsh, with humid air, pestering mosquitoes, and ants crawling over my camera bag. The leaves have lost their soft, young chorophyll color while most the tree blossoms and woodland flowers have disappeared.

Spring, like it's 180 degree sister Autumn, is a fleeting season. At times, I think the beauty of these two is largely because of their apparently short-lived stays. If the leaves were golden all year and turned green for 2 short weeks in October would we still rush outdoors in awe?

But now my thoughts and eyes turn to summer. The forests of the Northwoods and mountains of the West require my attention.

God bless this country.

 April 5th 2009 : Wildflowers

Like many in the Midwest, I grow anxious waiting for springtime to emerge. So it seems reasonable to drive south until... I found it! The tip of southern Illinois. The Shawnee National Forest... the poor man's Smokies, hardly needs to apologize to anyone for it's often overlooked beauty. The Little Grand Canyon, Devils Kitchen, Bald Knob, Giant City... Just the names themselves demand attention.

In a few short days, I was able to stand in gushing waterfalls, wade through pristine creeks, and grapple with steep canyon walls. The charm of peaceful lakes provided me with much needed rest and the chirping songs of joyous birds filled my spirit.

But it was the profusion of color that my heart was searching for so desperately. The forest floor was dotted with brilliant displays of the wildflowers that I have grown to adore. Never being much of a flower photographer, I still found myself many times laying belly-down in the mud to squeeze a few images. It's amazing how many flowers I've seen for years yet still have never learned their names. I doubt they mind.

I am, however, a photographer of trees. And boy do I love Redbuds. I April, the Shawnee is painted with the purple brush strokes from the redbud God. I take far too many photos of these trees to make any practical sense. But since when is art reasonable?

I was sad to watch spring gradually fade away as I traveled back north. Even more shattering, is the new snow falling on my rooftop as I write. But wait... it's wet tree-clinging snow! Hang on springtime. Tomorrow morning, one last winter shoot is calling.

Take Care All

PS: On the way home I visited my friends on their small central Illinois lake. Bruce, Master of Fish Logistics, taught me how to cast, again. I caught nothing, again. But we did see a lonely loon resting on the lake, as well as a bald eagle soaring above. Illinois? Again I am reminded how beautiful this modest state really is.

 March 29th : Snowblast

Hurray! After many weeks of hoping, I awaken to a beautiful display of tree-clinging snow. Thank you God!

The roads are awful, so I limit my morning adventure to the local forest preserves. My love for treescapes is insatiable and the sand-blasted snow has made today's trees a winter wonderland. It truly is like taking candy from a babe as I travel the roads and compose abstract images to my hearts delight. It's 2 hours before I finally decide to go out and play in it. Abbey, the HappyDog and I set off through the woods to find a tiny lake that I've never visited. Found it! After 30 years, it's exciting to know that there still remain places so close to home that I've never seen.

It's going to be 50 degrees tomorrow. I shovel my snow for what I'll bet is the final time and clean the giant snowballs out of Abbey's paws while mind drifts to thoughts of spring wildflowers.

 March 20th : Happy Equinox

From the shoreline of the DesPlaines River, I watch the soler orb rise above the trees and gently squeeze the shutter. Click. Winter is officially over. However, it's still below freezing and my fingers are without usable sensation. But just knowing that it's spring seems to make my world a little warmer.

 March the 1st : In like a Lion.

I awoke this morning, flipped the calendar, and went out into stiff 5 degree winds. This winter is starting to wear on me. The snowfalls have been few and far between and I continue to wait for one last beautiful blasting of "white stuff" before spring arrives. As for now, I pass the time photographing ice.

However, today I decide to drive across the state and spend the afternoon looking for a dusk time opportunity along the Mississippi River. It seems a fitting way to celebrate the start of a new month. I was rewarded with a beautiful sunset design through the stark trees on a quiet river bank.

As a bonus, a lone bald eagle rested quietly in the trees just above me. For 15 minutes he was tolerant of my presence as I worked the scene. When I packed up to go, he too, dropped off the branch and headed north. Very soon it will be time for him to find his way home for the promise of a new season. As will I.

 February the 5th : Happy New Year

I began the year with a week in southern Arizona. With lovely temperatures reaching the 70's during the day, it was magnificent to wander the desert without the oppressive heat. Truly a great time to be there. But I felt so out of place among cacti decorated with Christmas lights and Santa caps.

Back home in the Midwest,a long, cold January has left me quite numb. It seems like every morning I awaken to -0 winds. I've been reluctant to enter a journal update because my fingers have been too cold to type. But I continue to love the challenge of being outside throughout the winter in search of fresh new images. And I sincerely wish it would snow more.

The new year awaits with the promise of adventure. I've got some ideas taking shape in my little mind, but first.... more snow please.

 December 21 : Solstice

The first day of winter. Sure. But more exciting, for me, it's a celebration of the return of light. After today, each day shines more light on my world.Thank goodness. Of course as the sunlight increases, the days keep getting colder. Go figure.

However, getting colder than today will be tough. I was out this evening standing ON the middle of a frozen lake in a blizzard. At -40 degrees. There are few conditions that I find more difficult to make photos. I can usually block out all the discomforts encountered in working the cameras outdoors... but when I lose feelings in those fingers, it's over. Today was a bitter reminder that mind over matter does not apply to frostbite. After 30 years, I have yet to discover a productive way to keep my hands warm. It may be time to admit the obvious. I just am unable to do it!

Merry Christmas everyone.

 November 23rd : Season to Season

I stare longingly at today's sunset. I think autumn is over. I've chased the fall colors for the last 6-8 weeks and have been pleased to find some fresh images from new locations. But alas... the well has gone dry. The trees are now mostly skeletons and the leaves have faded to the grip of the forest floor. It is a somber time for some.

But not me! The first snow cover is due tomorrow and I couldn't be happier. The finest moments in the outdoors are on the edges and now is time for autumn to cut gently into winter. I stare longingly at my snowshoes.

 October 14th : Autumn Photo Adventure

One last, quick canoe trip "up north" before the winter ice grips the lakes.

Daily schedule: Dawn photography. Then paddle...portage...paddle... portage... lake after lake.... camp chores... dusk photography... eat... sleep.

Repeat daily until food runs out.

Ah! The simplicity of a Boundary Waters life.

 October 1st 2008 : Favorites

Like most photographers of outdoor images, I am often asked about my favorite place. I struggle for an answer. It seems impossible for me to name one location. Maybe because it's not a specific State... nor is it a Park or Preserve.

My work has always been informed with a passion for the wilderness areas of our country, however, my favorite places have no zip code. They can be easily found far and wide across this beautiful nation.

I love the way the solid earth rolls like waves in the ocean. I find great joy at looking deeply into the dendritic patterns of a treescape. Or watching a crescent moon slice the sky, or a full moon punch the horizon. I cherish the luxuriant light that first kisses jagged mountaintops and the mirror-like lakes that rest in their rocky basins. So too the floral displays that cover a field like stars in the night sky. I love everything about water. The way it topples like a veil over cliffs... rushes violently through boulder chocked streams... or laps gently upon a waiting shoreline. Whether as rain falling thunderously from above or mist rising gently from a steamy marsh, I am always drawn to water. I will happily wind my way through shrubs to chase songbirds, sit quietly in mud to visit with a heron, or wait patiently in the trees for the owl to return to a nest. But I will rest on a northern lake all day to share company with a loon. They make me smile. Loons are always worth the time. I find the forest floor intriguing... a cloud filled sky mesmerizing... and the array of colors in an autumn forest mind-boggling. I like rock patterns, wet flowers, ice fractures, friendly moose, ocean sea stacks, lonesome beaches, tallgrass prairies, rainbows, mudpots, soulful sunsets, and crisp new sunrise to begin each day...

Favorite place?


 September 22nd : Autumnnal Equinox Day

Some think summer ends on Labor Day. Others mark the starting of the school year as the end of the season. However, I prefer the actual scientific measure. Today, all points on earth share the same quantity of light... 12 hours of day, 12 hours of night. Weather is all relative to geographic location. But the light does not lie. Summer is over . Unless of course you live in the southern hemisphere. Then today is the first day of spring!

Most importantly for me, and many others, it's time to chase those fall colors. This season is a fan favorite for it's bold but fleeting personality. I will do my best to to start in the north and follow the color parade south until I run out of time, energy, and film.

Make the most of each day everyone. It's such a wonderful time to play outside.

 August 25th 2008 : Rocky Mountain National Park

I've recently returned home from RMNP. Year #28 of my "vision quest" to visit and photograph each and every corner of this magnificent paradise. As always, Rocky humbles me, challenges my limits, and knocks me on my rear end with it's beauty.

A few thank yous are in order. First, to Dan Mellish. "Canyon" is my kindred spirit and hero. He is without question the finest all-round athlete I have ever met. He has done trips with me in RMNP for about 10 years. He never misses a wake-up call in the middle of the night to scramble up a mountain or passes an opportunity to swim in a freezing lake. He has been by my side for much of my "High Altitude Paradise"project. I can't imagine where it would be without his involvement.

Don and Anna Noschese joined me this year for a couple trips into the backcountry. Anna adds charm and thoughfulness to all my trips and Don is quickly becoming a real cohort in these mountains. While hunkered down in a storm, Don popped out of a warm sleeping bag to join me on an evening photo-shoot for no reason other than "adventure". Admirable idiocy?

A new sherpa this year was 20-year old Kyle Mitchell. I am most grateful to Kyle for hauling up the bear canister, complete with large sausage pizza, so we could celebrate my birthday in "style". Thanks also Kyle, for smuggling up the Dave Matthews music. It added a nice touch at the end of those long days. Yes, that lightning, thunder, rain, hail, snow, and windstorm we faced down was one of the best ever. Welcome to the Mountains!

Thanks Deana and Craig Bigler. You have been my port in a storm for 25 years. But you are more than a place to rest my destitute body. You are my forever friends.

Thank you Heather Mellish, for your hospitality and opening up your home to me for a shower and a place to rest my head. Your grace and spirit are stunning. You are the "bomb"!

Thank you to my new little pard, Owen Parrotman, for taking me to Smashburger for some much needed nutrition and allowing me in his inner circle.

And most of all, thank you to my wife. Not only did Pam hoist a full pack and join me this year on a long 2-day hike but her love, support and never-ending patience are solely responsible for allowing me to continue my photographic dreams. My dear, you are the love of my life. I would be living in rotting refrigerator box without you.

God bless you all! Year #29 awaits.

 June 2008 : Summer for certain.

That my body is full of mosquito bites is enough evidence for me that summer has arrived. The official equinox rolled in this week while I was "up north" in the Boundary Waters but my"springtime" mindset has been gone for sometime. Although, the the Boundary Waters was chocked full of springtime memorabilia; wildflowers, gushing waterfalls, territorial loons, rain showers, etc.

But when that first mosquito bites me, it's summer. And my summer photography began in earnest with my rear end firmly planted in a solo canoe paddling the western region of the BWCA. Yes, the bugs were challenging, but that was a fair price the wonders of the Northwoods. The solitude was welcome and the photo opportunities were rewarding. With wake-ups at 4:30am and evening light lasting until 10:00 pm the only thing lacking at this time of year is sleep. In my next life I'm definitely going to sleep more.

For the next few weeks I plan to photo new locations/images for my Illinois Portfolio. With the price of gas, I need to limit my travels. My purchase of a new macro lens will allow me to literally focus close to home. Then on the back side of July I'll head to Colorado for my 28th year in my beloved Rocky Mountain National Park. I plan on spending 3 weeks, rather than 2, this year in the mountains. Getting a little greedier with my time as I get older I guess. For whatever reason, my vision quest to encounter and record every lake in RMNP continues in earnest. I know I'm nearing the end of this "epic" but I can't bear to think about this project ending. I'm sure I'll find a way to drag my heals.

Please enjoy the new images posted on this site. You'll find work from a spring adventure to Utah's Canyonlands in the Expressions of Wilderness Portfolio as well as a new Short Project titled "Light on the Ice" that I composed this winter. Coming soon will be my springtime flora from the "Heartland" and the recent Boundary Waters work. I have long ago noticed that I fall a full season behind in managing these website matters.

And yes, my young friend Kara is correct. I could do a better job of updating the Journal Page. In no way does this delinquency stem from laziness, but rather a life so filled with much more important matters. Like swatting mosquitoes.

 June 2007 : Greetings

Ouch! A nasty bike splash left me grounded for the last 8 weeks. All injuries have healed except my right hand, which now contains a plate and 8 screws. Writing and typing are still problematic but but squeezing the shutter continues. It could have been much worse. I was lucky.

It's been a bit difficult navigating and photoing the wilds with one hand lame... but doable. I regret having to cancel a couple of trips but I look forward to a rich summer of adventures.

Yes... I am back on the bike. Einstein said that "life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving".

Sound advice everyone. Let's get out there and play!

 August 2006 : Hello Friends:

This past June, I spent time photoing on the Olympic Penninsula, Washington. The diversity of subject matter surrounds and astounds. Glaciated peaks,seastacked ocean coasts, and rain forests so thick that if I stand still for too long moss starts growing on my tripod. I am always productive here and find the Pac Northwest one of my favorite places to play. Sure does rain a lot though!

In July, I treked 3 weeks in my beloved Rocky Mountain National Park. For 25 years I have photographed summers there. I rephotographed familiar destinations and scrambled to find new ones. I plan to carve out some time each summer to visit "Rocky" for the rest of my life.

Home now...Illinois... the beauty of Flatland. I plan to photograph in some of our local prairies this month.

I continue to strive to update and improve my web site with fresh images and a pleasing presentation of my work.

Take Care and Enjoy:

 June 2006 : Hello Friends:

The web pages of In Wild Light have been updated with the addition of over 100 new images. It's been exciting watching the site develop and sharing some of my favorite photos with you.

Recent adventures have found me paddling the soulful lakes of the Boundary Waters in Minnesota, wandering the Atlantic tidal zones and salt marshes of South Carolina, and scrambling about the jagged peaks in California's High Sierra. The autumn rush of color to Aspen,the solitude of winter in the Northwoods, springtime blossoms in Illinois' Shawnee National Forest, and glorius week in the rain forests of the Olympic Penninsula have also graced my year. The beauty of this country continues to astound me. We are all blessed to call this our home.

Closer to home, I've been amusing myself by chasing wilderness images in the Chicagoland Forest Preserves. These small refuges that string like a necklace around a huge metro area are a powerful lesson of how foresight and preservation can enrich the lives of millions.

And on a sad note, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of young NPS ranger Jeff Christensen, who lost his life this past summer in a tragic fall while on patrol in my beloved Rocky Mountain National Park. The dedication and courage of all rangers is deeply appreciated. You are the backbone of our wilderness systems. Thank you for making these treasured places safe and accessable for so many.

Everyone, take care.


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