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May 1st

Dance of the Roadside Flowers

 

Springtime in the Deep South. I have loved each day of it. It’s gone on for months. However, on a morning run today, I fear it’s near over. The temps are beginning to slide from warm to hot, the flys are finding their way back to life to pester me, and the trees have lost their gentle greens on the way to the monochromatic solid cover that they will wear all summer. And the ‘H’ word

(humidity) is being softly spoken. Whoa!  This is too soon for summer isn’t it?

 

Undaunted, I still find hope. I took a ride this evening into the rural countryside south of nowhere. This is about as, in lack of a better term, ancient as you can get. People who live down in these areas WANT to be alone. Yet they are as kind as the day is long.

 

When I stop in the road ( no you don’t need to even pull over here) to photograph wildflowers, a car, usually a pick-up truck, passes by every 10 minutes. Without exception, they wave. Some ask me if I’m okay or need help. I still smile in disbelief at how different my life is now. One man, dressed in full cameo stopped and excitedly asked if a saw a rattlesnake. I didn’t have the nerve to say I was looking at flowers.

 

The towns I drove through were rustic, dismembered, and only a few businesses hold onto financial sea-level. Although I don’t know how. However, the people are down to earth, sweet home happy. As am I to be around them.

 

The sun slowly sets over a rolling pasture and I realize, it’s still spring.

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 Thinking Spring

March 18th 2024

Every morning, the dog and I take a walk in the woods. This is a blessing that I never take for granted, but in the winter it lacks much the life and color to punctuates the days. But that is changing. The first purple splashes of redbud are catching my attention.  They have always been one of my favorite harbingers of spring. Their color alone makes them easy to love. However other signs are more subtle. As I walk around the lakes, the turtles are popping their heads out of the water for the first time in months, a pair of Canada Geese are claiming their territory, and the first yellow butterfly of the year dances around my shoulder looking for a place to land, I hope.

But the Jasmine vines that climb the trees, choke the branches, and deserve the ire of my disdain throughout the year are blooming. Almost instantly, a heavy storm comes through and the winds rattle the forest with force. The weak, punny flowers of the Jasmin fall to the forest floor and actually demand my attention. Goodness, this destroyer of my trees has a moment of loveliness. This lasts for a couple of days until they quickly decay and allow me to dislike them again.

Careful Iris J. Adventuredog. Don't step on that violet.

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INVENTING YOURSELF / AN ANALOGY

February 5th 2024

We are born almost helpless.  We depend upon our parents and the loving care of others to provide us a nurturing foundation. Early on, almost all our energy is devoted to putting down a strong root system based on a foundation of support. But also early on, we begin to discover the identity of ourselves and hopefully, our uniqueness. 

With a strong and healthy root system we begin to grow upwards.  We discover there are things that interest us. Things that bring us joyous experiences. They become our branches and begin to tell the story of our many dimensions. As we we pursue our passions with learning, practice, and guidance, our unique identity grows.

The fortunate ones discover they have been blessed with as many dreams as they wish to have and throughout their lives pursue all of them with an honest effort and vision of greatness. The best dreamers find that doing what they love is the entire secret and likewise all the reward that is ever needed. 

While our apical stem grows up straight to the sky, our other branches continue to develop new appendages as our knowledge and skill in those areas blooms and prospers. The fullness of our life-tree is determine by the energy we put into our many passions. New branches can be seen as ways of reinventing ourselves. This is almost always a good thing as our energy is captured and used for new growth.

At times, a branch of interest is abandoned but the time put into its development remains. It adds a multidimensional touch to where we have been. The entire ever-changing tree becomes a testimony of who we are. It is a visual voice that screams of our unique irreplicable self.

Here's to a life with many branches.

     

January 1st, 2024

Resolve and Reflect

I drag myself out of bed in the predawn darkness and find my way to a lake nearby our home. I snuggle in on the shoreline well before any light has emerged from the eastern horizon. And wait. I make several images of the clouds as the sky begins its reddish to pink glow.  It's pretty but that's not what I'm here for. It's the tradition that many must have of seeing that first sunrise of the year.

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After what seems like forever to my chilly fingers, cheers... as the sun rises trough the distant trees. It's a nice shot but I've done better. Yet at the same time, the weather often skunks me on these special occasions, like the solstices, equinoxes, full moons, and Milky Ways, so I am grateful to be witness.

I return home and drift to thoughts of new year resolutions. At this point in my life, nothing really jumps out. I live comfortably, simply, and feel blessed to have the health to do what I enjoy. More than anything, I am able to spend each day with my wife as we embrace the day. We celebrated our 45th anniversary 2 days ago. I can think of no better proof of the lastingness of love and the quick passage of time. I guess the best resolve I can come up with is to spend each day anew taking care of my physical and emotional well-being, to go new places and see fresh landscapes, to live with compassion, and try to pay goodness forward.

Maybe better would be to reflect on the previous year. I was able to complete my 10 year photo adventure at the Grand Canyon and look forward to publishing book #4 this year and sharing the images with story. I was able to travel to a few new locations to practice  photography. I designed a new website. I survived 2 minor surgeries and continue to bounce along the trails and ride my bike to my heart's content. I think I am most thrilled by the impactful year our Meredith Williams Foundation enjoyed.  We were able to have a record year with donations that put many smiles on faces of children and their families. In turn we were surprisingly blessed with record donations to the MWF.  Greeted with so much generosity to our daughter's spirit, we are left speechless, humbled, and in tears.

Enough said. I wish everyone health, goodness, and peace.

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December 17, 2023
Blind Faith

 

Much of what we do, or choose to do, is often rooted in the trust of blind faith, a belief that what we are doing is good for us, sometimes without visual/objective/quantifiable proof.  We take a particular medicine because the doctor tells us it will make us better. We exercise because we are told it is good for our heart and lungs. We try to live with honesty and integrity because it is good for our soul. And if we pray, we'll get into heaven.

All this makes sense.  By all means, we should trust and have faith. It's fine practice to live with positive spirit and if your sources are sound, you will usually be on the right path. Of course, it's necessary that your trust is based on factual knowledge, but at some point 'you gotta believe'.

When I go into the wilderness, I trust I have the proper equipment in my backpack for safe travel, the skills for route finding, and the fitness for what lies ahead. At that point, I follow my intuition, disconnect from worry, and enjoy the scenery.

Upon safe return, I say a prayer of gratitude. And pack more warm clothes.

The Canyons of Zion

December 9, 2023

After an autumn of chasing the changing colors of leaves, I was craving something more solid as a subject of inspiration. The idea of rocks seemed reasonable. Zion Canyon and its surrounding pinnacles have always been a special place to me. The descriptive word 'cathedral' is overused in nature, but in the case of Zion, it's true. So off we went to Angels Landing to try to catch an angel.

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It's amazing how much magic you can squeeze out of a few days. Of course this implies that I rise well before dawn and remain out until after dark. It was also a requirement that I swim through a slot canyon pool and face the grips of hypothermia, that I ascend a canyon wall and hunker down during a brief snow squall, that I scurry around aimlessly in tilted bands of sandstone, and that I wait patiently for the wild light to to embrace my eyes at just the right moment.

Along with my wife, spectacular friends, and possibly the best cheeseburger in Utah, the journey was worth every moment.

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                     Color Tunnel

November 10th 2023

The Hunt for Red October

I am not alone in this furious chase to find fall foliage at its best.  I believe we are called 'leaf peepers'. My particular participation in this year's event began in early October in New England, continued through later in the month in the Smoky Mountain region and still finds me searching for the most intriguing tones here in Alabama during the second week of November. I do not apologize for being adventure greedy this autumn.  It was a long and tiring summer for most of the United States. Phenomenally unique weather challenged most of the United States. I was in dire need of breathing cooler, less humid air, while at the same time exploring forests under an umbrella decorated with a rainbow of colors. 

Chasing the fall foliage concept of 'peak' is a challenge all of its own. Every location, even every tree, is different in its response to changing conditions. Then toss in the variables of light, rain, temperature, drought, elevation... and it becomes almost impossible to predict the perfect time to be at any specific location. But I try my best. My love of forests is ingrained in my DNA.

Though, it think it best if my on next trip I chase rocks.

October 31, 2023
 

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

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I am trying not to begin with ' it never gets any easier'. But it doesn't. Unless you consider the numbness that settles in after getting punched in the heart day after day, year after year. They say losing a child is the worst pain a person can experience. I agree. I have tried everything to fill the void with love, both inwards and outwards. Or as people have told me, turn a tragedy into a positive. And while I accept this concept to a small degree, it never fills the void of loss.  The absence of you. Every hour, everyday, every year, you are the driver of my life force. I live to honor you.
Happy Birthday Meredith Marie Williams





 

MONET'S PAINTBOX: The summer heat and humidity have been oppressive. A monochromatic green and harsh light have left my photographic senses lifeless. The only reprieve are the thunderstorms that shake up the skies and make my eyes dance with delight.

September 6th, 2023

Happy New Website


This is long overdue and has taken a while to put together, but finally I have hit the PUBLISH button and launched a new website. I desired something simpler, cleaner, and fresh. As always, I think of it as my photo gallery, with the emphasis on visitors taking their time to look at my work and share my experiences.  For this reason I have enlarged the pop ups of the thumbnails.  Also, I have made a number of deletions of past images. After 45 years, I am only presenting the favorites from a lifetime of exploration.

 

There is little or no emphasis on selling anything. Fortunately, my first 3 books are sold out.  I am working on a 4th from an adventurous, 10 year project at the Grand Canyon. At that time I may need to return to some e-commerce, but for now, I am at peace. I still make prints for people, but you'll need to contact me via email to discuss specifics. It's become a very costly. time-consuming process to do it to the highest standards.

You might notice that I have changed a couple of my portfolio names.  Wild Heartland represents my work in Illinois. Grand Canyon Rim Rat is obviously my work in the Canyon. And I have a new portfolio, Departures: Black and White. I did this over the winter when a surgery grounded me at home for 6 weeks. Enjoyable, but NO, I will never leave the world of color. The  world speaks to me in color. I'll leave the black and white to the experts.

 

I continue to write Journal posts as my mind wanders. It's good for my soul.  But more than ever I am trying to be an outdoors wanderer and photographer.

 

And as always, everything In Wild Light Photography does is for the Meredith Williams Foundation. All the profits from IWL continue to go to MWF. My wife and I work very passionately to distribute funds to activities for special children which means ALL children.

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I would be remiss if I did not thank Mike Wido, my long time Webmaster, for all the years of working with me to establish a web presence that kept me vital in the world of art and business. He is the best,  and a cherished friend. As I administer this site, I will be flying like a bird missing one wing.

 

 



 

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July 28, 2023

The Value of a Day

ABOVE ALL

I am grateful that I am a small part of this ridiculously stunning universe. A very small part. But together, we all make a huge difference.

This Image:  Canyonman, Nuclearman, and I woke up at 2 am to begin a hike to a remote lake where we had breakfast and played hopscotch in the rocks ( I will post that image later). We hiked out in the early afternoon and refueled ourselves. Later in the afternoon, after Canyon took all our food ( he has a family to feed), Nuclearman and and I went for an exploration on the tundra until dark. On the way home, we took a detour to explore another lake and watch the stars. I made this photo at 47 minutes after midnight. We returned to the cabin shortly after 1:00am when it occurred to me, we've been on the run for almost 24 hours. Holy exhaustion!  I slept in.

And speaking of the universe, and recent UFO ramblings.  If a spaceship landed in my driveway and ET himself walked out, I would still be a skeptic. I see we have a new buzzword: non-human biologics. I will need some clarification. Every species on earth, except we humans, are non-humans in their biology. I understand the DNA similarities but were these non-human biologic creatures grasshoppers, banana slugs, or an army of mitochondria? And were they driving the spaceships?

Looking at it from another angle, the evolution of life on this planet from amino acid sludge to conscious/creative/ intelligent creatures ( read us if you will) is so unique that I find the odds of it ever happening again to produce life somewhere else capable of time/space travel, well, unlikely. If that were to happen one might argue that it's even stronger proof of a God created a universe with abundant life.

Science marches on and I'm all for it.  But the big cosmological/theological questions will go on forever.  Think of how much we thought we knew one thousand years ago. Almost nothing! A thousand years from now, they will think the same thing about us.  And be correct.

 

If we don't kill ourselves and our planet in the meantime. But there's happy thought to end upon.  I actually think we WILL find a way to live cooperatively together. This will happen when we solve our energy problems, inequitable access to food problems, and our political leadership problems. We have some work to do.

June 21st, 2023

Summer Solstice

 

The crazy wind truly DID knock me off my feet! Stumbling over rocks at the top of Sundance Mountain as the fist rays of sunlight

skimmed the the tundra below my feet, I was joyously happy and numbingly frozen. This is the kind of wretched cold that makes  my fingers dysfunctional as I hopelessly try to make them work the buttons on my camera. This is the kind of wind that makes it impossible to set anything down, knowing that in seconds it will immediately be blown off into eternity. Whoops!  There went my mittens! I use an extra pair of wool socks to cover my hands but to no avail. My fingers are worthless and turning blue. Bt despite it all, I am excited to be here.

This is what we've been waiting for, the summer solstice. It's a time of lasting warmth, heat, and sunshine. It's a time where most people set forth on vacations, eat hot dogs, read books on the porch, chase lightning bugs, and play silly games on the beach. The sun seems to stay out forever and dawn jumps in our faces a few hours later. The only challenges during summer should be do we have enough sunscreen, bug juice, gas in our cars. Most of us live for summer.  We dream of it as we endure the grips of winter. And now it is upon us. Glee. Joy. Let the parties begin.

So what am I doing stomping through snow on a 12,000 foot mountain?  I guess  some fools just pursue life upside down.

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May 18th 2023

A Grand Perspective

I have returned, safe and sound, from my 20th trip to the Grand Canyon in the last ten years. Who does that? Only one called loudly by the 

song of the Canyon. Some refer to us as Canyon Rats. Mountain climbers refer to it as "feeding the rat." It's a passion that must be fed for fear of starvation to the point of death if, in the case of climbers, you do not climb.   I imagine it applies to anything that a person loves to do. You cannot achieve a fullness in life without doing it.  Exploring the Grand Canyon is part of my rat that must be fed.


Although I was at the Grand Canyon several times long ago, it's only in the last ten years that I felt daring enough to do a unique photographic project, allowing the Canyon speak to me while at the same time, express my feelings for it though meaningful images. I had some specific destinations in mind, and an end product, hopefully book #4, but each day there, I allowed myself to become more open to the experiences.  I wanted the soul of the Grand Canyon to speak to me. I wanted to become the Grand Canyon.

As I begin to look at the images from this trip and fuse them in my portfolio with past 10 years of work it becomes difficult to say but, I think I'm done. It wanted to reach 100 destinations and I currently have logged 110 ( overzealous little snot) . I think it's time to brake before this rain rolls off the tracks.

So here I go, about to begin a comprehensive journey that includes the highlights of my photographic experiences at a place that was at first, shrouded in mystery and matched by my uncertainty to capture some of its magic. But now, as I look back, it has become part of who I am.

A selection of images appears in the Rimshots Portfolio but the completed book will not be available for a good while. Patience.

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SPRING FLING

April 5th 2023

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 Mother Nature, please slow down.

 

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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.

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JANUARY 3rd, 2023   NEW YEAR’S RAMBLINGS

 

"Every man has two lives, and the second starts when he realizes he has just one" 

— Confucius

 

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.

 

* A major reason people are always so angry is population density. You can only put so many hamsters in a cage before they begin fighting over their food, their wheel, and actually can lead to killing each other. We all do better with room to move and grow.

Finding space is necessary.

 

* 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. Get aboard that train and be the engineer.

God bless you all and be good.

October 9, 2022 : ABSENT WISDOM AMONG RAINBOWS

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.

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2008-1980 LOOKING BACK

Let's begin here. I've been photographing the wilderness areas of our country for over 40 years. I haven't been writing my journal entries for nearly that long, but when I did they were usually dry and without depth. They were more of a travel log than expressive pieces of my experiences and myself. So I did the brave thing and kissed them all my pre-2008 journal entries goodbye. Best that there are no ghosts in my closet.

My journal musings from this point forward provide more than anyone could ever wish to know about this fool and his photographic journey through the challenges and joys of living an authentic life.

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