Tag Archives: beauty

“Simple Beauty”

“Beauty is subjective, yet there are times when even the simplest thing can bright joy to our lives.”
– Ed Lehming

One of the many reasons that I spend time outdoors hiking and making photos is the sheer joy of seeing something breathtaking in what many would consider mundane circumstances.

Many of the trails I’ve hiked, I have hiked hundreds of times and yet, almost every time, I see something new and wonderful. It may be a new flower where non has bloomed before, or a new sapling emerging from a decaying stump, or simply the way light catches the growth at a certain time of day or year.

It’s scenes like this, within a planted forest in transition, that make me stop and look deeper. Beneath the canopy of planted red pines, new growth emerges in the form of young red pines and beech trees. There are other shrubs emerging too but the bright green of the pine and the twinkling gold of the beech trees in the afternoon sunlight is almost magical to me and they stand out from the scene. It may be a simple composition, but it does what I intend, it captures the ‘feeling’ of this small patch of forest on a late December afternoon, through colours and texture. And for me, that is beautiful. I can almost feel the rough bark of the pines and hear the birds singing high in the branches above me.

As I have often said, it’s not always the grand vistas that amaze me, even more so, it’s the simple beauty right in front of me that most would pass by without a second glance.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 70 mm
1/40 sec, f/3.2, ISO 100

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)



“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.” 
― Charles Dickens

On January 2nd, 2019 the world, for me, became a bit less joyful. On reviewing my Facebook feed yesterday evening, I noticed that an old friend, Blair Koski-Klien, had “updated her story” which intrigued me, since she’s usually not one to do so.

I was surprised to find that the update had been written by her husband, Andy and was, in fact, an announcement of her passing, in the early hours of the morning, the final pages of her story. It felt quite surreal.

His words were beautiful and summed her up so well, yet I felt profoundly saddened at the news. You see, Blair, though we were not close friends, was one of the most genuinely joyful people I have ever met. If she had personal struggles, she soldiered through them with a bright smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye.

That smile, that radiant, exuberant smile, is what I recall of Blair. Our life paths crossed for only a few years and we shared a circle of friends. I regret that I never got to know her real well. She was also a few years younger than me and though we would chat from time to time or meet socially, I must admit, I never really got to know the person. Such is life in our teens it seems.

Life continued on and our circle of friends went our separate ways. I thought of her occasionally, usually when I met someone like her, that smiling spark in the room, memories would surface, but nobody ever matched Blair. There was a contagious positive energy in her that brought life and laughter to any occasion.

Over the years, friends reconnected through Facebook and other social media and, eventually, Blair showed up. It was so nice to see where her life had taken her; to see her as a happy mother to her son, Carson, and wife to Andy. I’ve not had the pleasure to meet them, but I’m certain that her love and energy filled their home.

As I sit and consider Blair, tears fill my eyes, at the thought that this beautiful young woman has been taken from us. Today, the world feels a bit colder, a bit less joyful, and a bit emptier without her. Yet, through my sorrow, I see that face, that smile, and hear her laughter and it’s all OK again. I’m grateful to have known her for even a short time and she has made an impact on my life. My regret is not to have been able to tell her that while she was still with us, something so many of us are guilty of.

There are so many people who enter our lives, though briefly, who have a subtle yet profound impact on our lives. We may not realize it at the time but when we do, it’s important that we acknowledge it and let them know. Our time here is often brief and unpredictable and we need to let those who enrich our lives with theirs know just how important they are to us.

One of God’s bright lights has gone out, leaving us seeking it’s light, and knowing it’s still shining, unseen by us, in places we have yet to see.

RIP Blair

Iceland Journal – “The Magical Light of Iceland” – Kleifarvatn, Iceland

“We went down into the silent garden. Dawn is the time when nothing breathes, the hour of silence. Everything is transfixed, only the light moves.” 
― Leonora Carrington

The light in Iceland is incomparable, it possesses a magical quality and softness that simply pervades everything. I think, in part, is was partially due to the time of year, late October, when we visited. The sun never gets up very high and wonderful shadows are created. This ‘low’ sun also makes the light softer and warmer.

Here, along the shores of Kleifarvatn, the sun catches the yellow grasses on the low hillsides and makes them glow with light. Despite the snowy conditions, the whole scene is warm looking. Trust me, it was not warm when I made the photo!

There are colours here that are unrivalled in my experience, an inner glow, that I fell in love with. I can fully understand how Iceland holds other photographers in its thrall. The light shifts, dims, brightens, and brings out details like a spotlight, then moves on to the next subject.

It’s really quite remarkable, upon arriving here, we entered a world that looked blasted, tortured, and lifeless, yet the land slowly reveals its wonder, moment by moment until you are fully emerged in a sublime beauty that is so unexpected and so ceaseless that it’s almost overwhelming. And it’s all driven by the light, the magical sub-arctic light, and those beautiful mosses and grasses, which stand in such incredible contrast to the black sand and jagged rock.

As this year winds down, I’ve been able to send a lot of time recalling this memorable trip, through photos and memory.

Nikon D800
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @ 70 mm
1/320 sec, f/9.0 ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Iceland Journal – “Skessuhorn” – West Iceland

“Skessuhorn” - West Iceland

“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.” 
― John Muir

It feels a bit odd using a John Muir quote here, because they know the mountains he is referring to, namely the Sierra Nevada of California and Yosemite National Park. Yet, his words ring true in these mountains as well. On this day, my son and I headed south, towards the coastal town of Borgarnes, in Western Iceland.

As we drove south from the Westfjords, a large group of mountains greeted us on the far horizon. These mountains are centered around Skarðsheiði, a 1,054 m peak. In the foreground, and just peeking through a large bank of low cloud was Skessuhorn, a steep mountain with its wonderful terraced slopes. I just kept looking at it, hoping the road would bring me nearer and that the cloud cover would not increase.

In fact, the cloud bank clung to the mountains all day and only Skessuhorn has clearly visible to us. So, when you look at this image, be aware that, in typical Iceland fashion, much of what is before is not currently visible, only being revealed for short periods and then gone again.

For me, it’s these fantastic horizontal terraces that give many Icelandic mountains such a unique appearance, as opposed to North America’s Rocky Mountains, which, while still layered, are angled. These mountains look like pyramids, with layers carefully planned out and neatly stacked. It all has to do with the unique geology of Iceland, which straddles two continental plates, creating volcanoes and areas of tectonic upheaval that sculpt the rock in such marvelous ways. By the way, this is a colour photo, but the colour is lost, in snow and rock and cloud.

Here’s the summer time Street View link. I think it looks much nicer in November:


Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 180mm
1/200 sec, f/7.1 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

“Beauty in Stress”

“Beauty in Stress”

“I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth diminishing your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.” 
― Steve Maraboli

Some strange things happen when plants are stressed. One of those is a switch to dormancy and loss of the chlorophyl that gives the leaves their green colour. The result, is fall colours and shedding of leaves.

In one particular patch of forest, some of the poplars have started to drop leaves due to the recent heat and drought-like conditions, littering the ground with brightly coloured leaves, which really stand out against the dry, sandy soil. They are quite stunning, and even more so because they are so spread out and out of season.

For humans, stress manifests in different ways, and in most cases, they are far from beautiful. So, I need to spend some time, in my stress filled life to appreciate the beauty I find along my journey, where I find it, and seek out more, to balance my own life.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm
1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

“Pink Peruvians”

“Pink Peruvians”

“To the people who love you, you are beautiful already. This is not because they’re blind to your shortcomings but because they so clearly see your soul. Your shortcomings then dim by comparison. The people who care about you are willing to let you be imperfect and beautiful, too. “
― Victoria Moran

If I don’t point it out, do you see it?

I tend to be a bit harsh on myself when picking subjects to photograph. I want to get it right, without blemish, distraction, or clutter. So, I spend time with what I photograph and view it from many angles, in different light, with different camera settings, so that I can capture what I envision. In the process, I often see things that are not apparent on first sight.

So, when I photographed this bouquet of Peruvian Lilies, I was hesitant, as one blossom had rotted and that rot spread into the surrounding leaves. Then I caught myself once more and questioned where this attitude comes from. At first sight, the bouquet is beautiful and the decayed part just makes it more natural. Our world view of what is beautiful and what is not has us so powerfully conditioned that we often overlook things, even if they have only a minor “defect”, by our own definition.

For those who see the blossom and not the wilt, consider this a blessing, something I wish, at times, I had more of. We are far too hard on ourselves and those around us.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm

3 sec, f/29.0, ISO 100 

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

“Iris 2018”

“Iris 2018”

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien

I’ve always loved this Tolkien quote, and I’ve now found an image to pair it with. Given all the dark news we hear about in our world, the brightness and beauty of flowers is a welcome reprieve.

As I noted in yesterday’s post, I’ve strayed away from this technique over the past few months, but find myself being drawn back to it, for the sheer pleasure of the results. Making these photographs is second nature to me and so satisfying. Even after months not using my studio setup, I had success after only a few shots, using just a simple velvet background.

I did find, that even thought the images are beautiful, they do not sell as larger prints, unless they are printed, VERY big, on canvas, as statement pieces. Those are quite stunning. Imagine this image over a fireplace as a 40″ x 50″ piece! So, for most of my photo sales of these “isolated” flowers, I stick to 8x 10 or arts cards.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm

2 sec, f/25.0, ISO 100 

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Hi resolution image on 500px: https://500px.com/photo/257918717/iris-2018-by-ed-lehming