Taking myself out of my comfort zone and putting myself in the place of my subject, I decided to do a self-portrait. I do these every once in a while. I'm not comfortable in front of the camera. I'd rather be the one making the images. The problem with that is I don't exist in images for my son. Most of my self-portraiture up to this point has ben straight portraiture, but the thing I enjoy the most is creating characters. So, I styled myself and the props as I would any other of my character driven portraits and photographed myself as I would any client or model.
I hope all of you had a great holiday. I also hope you and your loved ones avoided the flu that's ravaging the area. I was not so lucky.
Finally feeling a bit better after a week of being knocked on my backside with the flu, I went for a small hike. I wanted to get some fresh air in my lungs. Being cooped up in a germ-ridden house for a week was not my idea of a fun holiday. I celebrated new years with a shot of NyQuil and went straight to bed.
Back to my hike today. It was brisk and I was weak after being stuck in bed for seven days. I was going to go easy with a very brief 1/2 mile hike, but the moment I got to the trails, I knew I'd have only whetted my appetite and would have been disappointed with such a short walk. I compromised with myself and opted for the 1 1/2 mile hike. I wanted more mileage, but didn't want to push myself while my resistance was down.
Most of the area is bereft of leaves and color. The sky was overcast and gray and those clouds kept bringing snow squalls. I still found some interesting compositions, but my favorite was in the vernal pond. Some leaves still had their color, preserved in the still waters.
Vernal ponds, also known as ephemeral pools or vernal pools, are seasonal pools of water that provide habitat for destinctive plants and animals, They are a type of wetland usually devoid of fish, therefore allowing the safe development off natal amphibian and insect species unable to withstand competitions or predation by fish.
Vernal ponds harbor distinct flora and fauna that, in some cases, aren't found anywhere else on the planet. Despite this fact and according to the EPA, about 90% of vernal pond ecosystems have been destroyed in California. Disturbingly, much of this destruction occurred in recent years, with about 13% of remaining vernal ponds being lost in a short interval from 1995-2005. the major threats to vernal pond habitats are agriculture, urbanization, changes in hydrology, climate change, and improperly managed grazing by livestock.
Vernal ponds fail in mitigation programs. Mitigation programs enable developers to destroy natural wetlands if they create other wetlands to "mitigate" that destruction. Attempts at creating vernal ponds have failed because vernal pools are difficult to replicate using construction methods.
Because Michigan is a glaciated state (land that was formed by glaciers) it contains many vernal ponds. Vernal ponds occur in forested areas that have high water tables and fine textured soils such as clay to impede surface water filtration.
I will skip the flora and insects found in vernal ponds. I'd like to discuss the amphibians because one of my favorite sounds in the summer is when I hike to this vernal pond and hear a chorus of croaking. Amphibian species most dependent upon and most indicative of vernal ponds in Michigan are wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus [Rana sylvatica]), spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), blue-spotted salamander (Ambystoma laterale) and hybrid complex, marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum, state endangered), and smallmouth salamander (Ambystoma texanum, state endangered).
Let's also discuss my other favorite, birds. In Michigan, bird species that have often been observed using vernal ponds or have high potential for using these habitats include wood duck (Aix sponsa), great blue heron (Area herodias), mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), American black duck (Anas rubripes), eastern screech owl (Megascops asio), barred owl (Strix varia), wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), American woodcock (Scolopax minor), black- capped chickadees (Poecila atricapillus), and warblers (Colburn 2004, Calhoun and deMaynadier 2008, Cuthrell pers. comm., Gehring pers. comm.). I have personally witnessed the wood duck, great blue heron, mallard, barred owl, and turkey using the vernal pond and surrounding forest.
Special animals in Michigan that use or depend on temporary pools include the smallmouth salamander, marbled salamander, boreal chorus frog, Blanchard’s cricket frog, spotted turtle, Blanding’s turtle, and moose (all noted previously) as well as the copperbelly water snake (Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta, federally threatened and state endangered), wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta, state special concern), eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina, state special concern), and red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus, state threatened) (Ernst et al. 1994, Kenney and Burne 2000, Kingsbury and Coppola 2000, Roe et al. 2003, Calhoun and deMaynadier 2008). Other state-listed or rare species that may be associated with or sometimes use vernal pools include the Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis, federally and state endangered), prothonotary warbler (Protonotaria citrea, state special concern), and ringed boghaunter dragonfly (Williamsonia lintneri, state special concern) (Calhoun and Klemens 2002, Calhoun and deMaynadier 2008).
As you can see from this small list, there are many threatened or endangered species that rely on vernal ponds. This particular vernal pond is acidic. It's resting on granite bedrock. Vernal ponds resting on limestone are base. The leaves pictured contribute to the acidic balance of this vernal pond.
According to the Michigan DNR, many of these vernal ponds have been drained, filled, destroyed, or degraded by agricultural activities and urban development. In Michigan, large amounts of forest have been lost. Forests covered approximately 89% of Michigan circa 1800 (Albert and Comer 2008) but now cover only about 45% of the state (NOAA Coastal Services Center 2006). Given that vernal ponds were scattered throughout Michigan’s forested lands, it is certain that a sizeable portion of Michigan’s vernal ponds have been destroyed or heavily altered.
We live in quiet desperation. So much so that we flock to social media in hopes of finding attention from strangers or creating a persona of the selves we wish we were. The more connected we are, the more alone we become.
I want to tell the real stories about people. Not the glossy highlight reel on social media. With that in mind, I started the series "The Invisible."
The first in the series is the "Ill Mother."
A mother who isn't feeling well is still expected to fix and provide meals, clean dishes, and care for her husband and children. She is invisible and taken for granted.
Kory and I met to shoot a fashion theme that I styled. However, as we were testing lights, I photographed him relaxed and unguarded. I ended up retouching those images, too, because I liked them so much. As I say quite frequently, I really like those in-between moments,
The fashion concept:
The casual portraits:
This is a moment when the story unfolds. This image evokes a lot of questions. Even though it's a minimalistic in color and composition, Krista's pose and expression against the faded sheer window give a sense of mystery.
I have found myself moving back and forth from complex imagery to minimalistic. It depends on the story that I want to tell. I choose the complexity (or lack of) according to the concept. This one did not need a lot f props. Its story and beauty are in its simplicity: minimal colors, simple chair and window props, and Krista composed in a small portion of the frame.
Last week, I met in studio with Dalia and we worked through five different looks. This is the standard builder package for new models, seniors, or those who just want to have a day of pampering and fun. It's a full day of switching looks to round out a portfolio for your agency, have images to share with friends and family, or gift images to your loved one for example Sweetest or Valentine's day. The package is $800 and includes 5-6 retouched images, 1 image from each look, pose coaching, set changes/wardrobe changes per look.
Hair and makeup not included.
Additional retouched images available for $30 each.
Custom retouching $40 per image.
Print packages, photo books, and photo boxes available at an additional fee.
Quite often on my hikes, I walk past this copse of tangled birch trees. I frequently stop and admire the way they look. There's something about the curvature of the trunks and the way the light highlights the birch bark that always makes me take notice. On this hike, I finally photographed them.