The Spice

They say that variety is the spice of life. I’ve tried (at least until
recently) to live my life keeping that in mind.

Many people have done far more things than I, but I always managed to
take those things I was most interested in, and view or experience
them with as much variety from within the subject, as I could.

I loved car racing, so to me, that meant the only way to make the most
of it was to follow or photograph races on both little tracks and big,
events that were both insignificant weekly events and major ones, go
to dirt tracks and paved, ovals and road courses (along with one drag
strip), open wheel cars and fendered stock cars.

I owned horses for many years and attended many horse shows etc.  I
tried to experience (and own) as many breeds of horses as possible. As
many forms of riding too, as I road horses bareback, with western
saddles (a lot), with cutback saddles (a lot), which is sort of an
American version of an English saddle, and even with an English jumping saddle.

I love music. Certainly not every song or performer, but I enjoy many
genres of music.

Rock n roll from bebop and the British invasion, ballads, and on to
hard rock and in some rare cases heavy metal.

Country, from old time country western, to modern country to Texas
country, to bluegrass style country, to country rock. As always, not
every song or performer(s), but numerous styles.

Folk music. From Irish folk oriented music to country oriented, as
well as folk/rock.

I love the blues and often the gospel music that it was derived from.

I even like some big band sounds from before my birth, such as swing
music and romantic torch songs as sung by the best female singers.

I have always been stingy when it comes to letting people into the
personal space of my life. Not too many had the interest to visit, but
for those who did, I usually could only handle one, maybe two at a
time. They generally had one thing in common. It was that they were
all dramatically different from one another and therefore actually had
very little in common. To me, that made them fascinating. I owe much
to many for the willingness they showed in being my friend.

Be it the subjects above or any number of others, I always felt
motivated to experience as many different varieties and genres, as
existed within.

Photography is no different.

Even when I settled “primarily” on nature, I photographed just about
every  aspect of it.

In years gone by I had been standing with 20 photographers making
images of a Snowy Owl,  day after day, having a great time, when I
suddenly realized that I needed badly to head my own direction and
leave the owl for a new subject.


I have photographed western landscapes with other pros and right in
the middle of a day’s shooting, decided to look for lizards to
photograph instead.

Photography like everything else, to me, needs to contain variety.

A perfect day for me as a nature photographer was to begin with the
sunrise, then move on looking for little critters and other dewy
things to photograph. Maybe then some  birds or mammals might be in
order. Then landscapes and just maybe, I could find some grasses or
some rushing water to abstract.

As an aside, I love abstract as a verb, as in “to abstract something“.

The specific pictures you see below, were not made on one day. What a
day that would have been.

No matter who you are or what your interests are, I am betting you are
richer for whatever variety you allow in your life.

It is after all, the spice of life.

I don’t that often comment on my own pictures in an article where they
are only used to illustrate the theme of what is written. For some
reason that urge has fallen upon me today, so here goes.

I was struck when I grabbed these images from an external hard drive,
by the creative processes and decisions we all make while making
pictures. Not that there is anything special about these pictures,
only that they brought back memories of the decisions that were made,
and the creative energy that was employed, during or after creating

This image is really about the color of a sunrise, and the ethereal
effect of fog that is backlit.

My most specific memory is that of attempting to find some separation
between the trees and shrubs so the photo would appear as a “finished
piece” so to speak.  Not just a jumble of warm color and dark
1dript90FoggySRfall 018

Premeditation, is one key to compelling pictures.

Not a lot of creative energy in this picture. Well, maybe by the
beetles but not by me.

My premeditative goal was a crisp image with the dew prominent,
showing what the beetles were doing, with a background that was not to
distracting. Photography does not have to be complex, and is often at its best when it is not.

2b7 13 10 032

I’ve spent much of my photographic life chasing dewing things
especially orb webs. This image was difficult to produce. With that
said, if anybody who views this photo finds is simple and elegant,
then my effort was more than worth it.

Time was taken to find a web that was not broken, and was laced with
morning dew. Much, much time was spent getting me and my tripod into
the proper location whilst not touching any vegetation anywhere near
the web. One little stem of a plant is often touching another, which
is touching another, and so on and so forth. I also took care as to
find a web with a bit of shade in the background. I only had my 105
Micro lens rather than say my 300mm with me at the time, so that patch
of shade needed t be somewhat wide. My last chore was the most fun and
fulfilling. I composed the strands of web in a way that was
artistically pleasing to the eye.  Rhythms and patterns.

Now how can I remember all of this when I have photographed so many
dewy webs?  Because that’s what I always do.

Well now, how much creative juice can you spend on a simple image of a
fox running from right to left?  The most creative part of this
reasonably nice shot of a fox, was cropping the image into a near
panoramic format after I got home. That crop helps (my opinion)
accentuate the low profile of the subject as he saunters across the
picture frame. The “nose to the ground” pose of the fox, is echoed in
the pano crop.
3dFoxnStuff 039

This is a picture of the Badlands of South Dakota, with a powerful
storm on the horizon. The Badlands with a storm. I made several images
I which the land was a small sliver along the bottom of the picture
frame as well.

In other words a storm with some Badlands rather than the Badlands
with some storm.

How we compose our images, is how we tell the story of what we
photographed. What we want to say with an image, is usually settled
when we make our decisions on the field.

The original image to the photo below was made back in my film days
with a medium format camera.

I was working a series of wide but low waterfalls in northern
Wisconsin. Mainly I was using slow shutter speeds and creating
beautiful rope like streams of soft water. One slice of the falls at a
time, I created rope after rope. As is often the case with me when I
photograph moving water, I begin “seeing” my subject as a series of
abstracts. Then there was this little spot. A bit of sunshine
streaming in from the left. Water falling vertically as you would
expect in a waterfall, except one stream of water bouncing off a rock
and crossing the vertically falling stream, at an angle. I desired a
slow enough shutter speed to soften the falling water, but fast enough
to stop the crossing water. No opportunities here with film to make an image and
check on the back of the camera. I must admit, I like it better today
where you can review, but film made us more complete photographers.
5SlidesWaterWinterFall 007b

The gist of today’s  photographic story is, visual maturity, often
occurs like a slap in the face after a time of visual immaturity.
First walk, then run.

Always remember, unless someone is paying you to create “their”
vision, then find your own and use it.  It is the VARIETY of artistic
choices that we make, not just the variety of subjects we photograph,
that provides the wonder and the depth found in the photographic


Regardless of political affiliations and personal beliefs, if you
voted (here in the U.S.) in our recent midterm elections, you did the
right thing. The most important aspect of a representative, republic
style democracy, is participation. Nobody got everything they wanted
including me. Just the same, we all made our voices known.

An informed electorate has the best chance to succeed in placing
talented and honest people in public office. It has never been easier,
yet it has never been more difficult to become educated with the
truth, than it is today. There is more information at our fingertips
today than anytime in history, but alas much of that info is slanted
or partisan or just plain lies. It takes some time and effort, but the
facts about any candidate can be found.

The next step is to make sure this citizen participatory republic,
remains free and in keeping with a true democracy. That is an
increasingly difficult thing to do. If you are in doubt as to the
wisdom of keeping a true democracy, take a look at the governments of
socialism, today and throughout history. They are the very definition
of the word failure.

God Bless, Wayne

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