Tag Archives: observation

“Familiar Paths”

“Familiar Paths”

“Familiar paths beckon us forward. Though familiar, there is always something new or changed, if we take the time to notice.” – Ed Lehming

I find myself on the same trails many times. Often I wonder what more they can offer me as I set out. Every time, there is something new. It may be that I have come at a different time of day and the light has changed. It may be a different time of year and new plants spring up that did not exist, or went unnoticed, last time I passed by.

What I have discovered in this familiarity is that even subtle changes are quickly noticeable.

I’ve had people bemoan the fact that they live in an area that does not have much subject matter to make beautiful photos, when in fact, it’s simply that they aren’t looking closely enough. Even the most barren of places has something to offer.

In the case of this image, I have made many photos of it, in various seasons and weather conditions. Like this example from less than a year ago.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 90 mm
1/4 sec, f/32.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

“Early Meadow Rue”

“Early Meadow Rue” - Thalictrum dioicum

“The soft spring breezes played with the tiny flowers of the plant causing then to dance and twinkle in the light.”
– Ed Lehming

As I’ve said a few times in the past, one of the great things about being a photographer is having an eye for the fine details. I’ve found myself becoming an astute observer, noticing things that I would have passed by a few years ago.

These smallish plants grow along the trails and are not particularly eye catching, until the blossoms appear in early spring. In this case, a male plant with dangling yellow flowers. I did not notice any female plants, which have bluish-purple flowers, in the area, but my timing may have been off by only a day. It’s interesting that there are two distinct plants, male and female. The species name: dioicum comes from the Greek word that means ‘two households”.

So, I have discovered another plant to research and to be on the lookout for next year, leading me to be able to make even better photos of them when I know when to expect them.

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

1/250 sec, f/9.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

“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)
http://www.edlehming.com

“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)
http://www.edlehming.com

“March Creek and Balsams”

March Creek and Balsams

“Joy is not in things; it is in us.” 
― Richard Wagner

A bit of fun this morning. I decided to ‘play’ with an image I made yesterday, by running it through a filter. The results are quite pleasing and I thought I’d share it today.

My photography has already become quite untraditional, through my use of motion. This is quite deliberate, as I am trying to document the world I experience in a different way. As I walk through the woods, I am drawn to things others would often miss, the slight movement of light through the trees, a hint of purple in the water. The movement I impart to my photos causes the viewer to have to look closer, to ‘fool’ the brain into not filtering based on pre-programmed notions of what something ‘should’ look like and focus on what is being viewed more intentionally. This often yields unexpected elements and, in my experince, enhances the colurs and textures already present in the image.

This is made a bit more apparent in the image above. All the colours and textures already existed but are filtered by the brain as it adjusts our perception. After all, snow is white, is it not? How often have you looked at a photo and wondered where all the blue shadows came from? Our cameras simply document the light that comes into them, unless we correct them with filters. Notice the slight turquoise tones to the snow, and the hints of purple. Next time you go out, have a try at seeing the scene ‘unfiltered’. You may be surprised.

Apple iPhone 7
iPhone 7 back camera 3.99mm f/1.8
1/120 sec, f/1.8, ISO 25

“Wood Nymph on Crab Apple Leaf”

“Wood Nymph on Crab Apple Leaf”

“Miracles… seem to me to rest not so much upon… healing power coming suddenly near us from afar but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that, for a moment, our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there around us always.” 
― Willa Cather

For those living in the path of today’s solar eclipse, I’m sure it will be tough to compete with the spectacle in the sky. If I had to chase those spectacles, I’m sure I would have stopped making photographs years ago. Fortunately, that is not the case and there is so much wonder in the seemingly mundane spaces around us daily.

Today, I set out mid-morning to make a few images of local wildflowers, only to find many have already gone to seed and the next ‘wave’ is just starting to bud. Yet, in my periphery I caught movement and noticed this wood nymph floating and fluttering from plant to plant, occasionally sitting to sun itself, then taking to the sky again.

It took a while for it to finally land on a leaf that offered me decent lighting and a side view. And, it took me a while to get close enough to get a good image, without spooking it away. Persistence paid off and I was a able to get a few nice shots of it. Despite some wear and tear, so common in butterfly wings this late in the season, it was a fairly nice example of this common woodland butterfly. The only drawback was that the butterfly was content to just sit there and did not open its wings to offer me a top view. Despite this, I’m always happy to be reminded that being in nature frequently puts me more in tune with it and makes it easier for me to spot things like this that others simply don’t notice. I often have people looking at my photos surprised that I made the image steps from home.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/40 sec, f/16.0, ISO 100

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/EdLehming
or my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

“Hoverfly on Timothy Grass Blossom”

“Hoverfly on Timothy Grass Blossom”

The more often we see the things around us – even the beautiful and wonderful things – the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds – even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.
– Joseph B. Wirthlin

The quote above really resonates with me. I have often commented about how my brain has learned to ‘filter’ out so much of what I see. Just how clever our brains can be came to light in a very real way a few months ago when I underwent a surgical procedure on both my eyes called an iridotomy. Essentially, a laser is used to drill small drain holes in my irises to prevent pressure build up behind the lense, which is a hereditary trait in my family, and a real issue for me as a photographer.

After the surgery, these small holes allowed additional light into my eyes and caused bright lights to create a secondary ‘ghost’ image. This ‘ghosting ‘ lasted about four week and my brain gradually filtered it out. Now, I can’t see the ‘ghost’ even when I try. The brain is that powerful.

So, I am making it a point to re-see the world around me and try to remove some of those filters. Photography is a huge enabler to the process.

If you look closely, you’ll see the tiny purple blossoms, which are clearly attracting yet another hoverfly. A whole new world is opening to me this summer, as I make images of the flora and fauna in the small meadow at the end of my street.

I’m discovering a complex network of life in this mundane place, which is mundane no more. Even on a quiet morning, the place is alive with activity and colour, you have bt to look for it and once you see it, there is no going back.

It does look odd to the outside observer, as I focus my camera on a stem of grass, but that observer would have no idea of the wonder I am seeing. So be it. Too often I hear photographers saying they live in an area that is boring, that there is nothing worth photographing. Well, this small meadow is an example of just how untrue statements like that are. They have stopped seeing. I am learning to re-see, with the same fascination I had as a child and it feels great.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/100 sec, f/16.0 ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/EdLehming
or my website (some images available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

“Summer’s Splendour”

“Summer’s Splendour”

“Happiness is not a thing – it is a feeling; a way of joyful living and being. It comes from inner fulfilment and appreciating the world you live in.” 
― Rasheed Ogunlaru

I could not think of a more suitable title for this studio image of a purple coneflower from my garden. As I look at the flow of the petals and the incredible order of the disk florets, glowing in the light.

It’s something almost magical to behold and I find the isolation technique I use makes those details stand out even more. I’ve spent quite a bit of time with this image, simply enjoying the textures and structures of this beautiful blossom, dotted with tiny grains of pollen. Appreciating the whole by observing the component parts that make up the whole.

I’m finding these images and the time I spend composing the shots has made me more aware of many of these details as I observe the flowers and wildlife outdoors even more deliberately. I try to turn off the filters my brain has learned over the years, to see the blossom like this, naturally.

It’s becoming a journey to live life in the same manner. Some call it mindfulness, or living in the moment. I like to look at it is deliberate appreciation for the world around me. It’s also making it easier for me to compose better images, as I’m learning to see things for more than just an object to be photographed, but rather, an opportunity to preserve the essence of what I’m seeing. Writing about these experiences is helping tremendously, as the process of writing slows my brain down and causes me to more carefully consider the image and what I want to share about it and the process that led to its creation.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/200 sec, f/16.0 ISO 200

High Resolution Image on 500px

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/EdLehming
or my website (some images available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

 

“Air Traffic”

"Air Traffic"

“He imagines a necessary joy in things that must fly to eat.”
― Wendell Berry

A final look at this fleabane plant and accompanying wildlife. The Crescent butterfly, now satisfied, flies off to its next destination, while a small bee arrives to repeat the cycle.

I like the movement in this image. It nicely illustrates the activity that goes on, even around a single plant, all day long. Each visitor, in its turn, partaking of what the plant has to offer; in return, the plant sends its pollen along to neighbouring plants, a hitchhiker tagging along with the hungry visitors, anther cycle. It’s quite a thing to watch, and much of it is missed, since the smaller flies and bees are so small and fast, that they are merely blurs to the naked eye, frozen here, to enjoy and wonder at.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/500sec, f/7.1 ISO 400

for more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/EdLehming
or my website (some images available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

 

“The Humble Fleabane”

“The Humble Flea-Bane”

“With the utmost love and attention the man who walks must study and observe every smallest living thing, be it a child, a dog, a fly, a butterfly, a sparrow, a worm, a flower, a man, a house, a tree, a hedge, a snail, a mouse, a cloud, a hill, a leaf, or no more than a poor discarded scrap of paper on which, perhaps, a dear good child at school has written his first clumsy letters. The highest and the lowest, the most serious and the most hilarious things are to him equally beloved, beautiful, and valuable.”
― Robert Walser

There is such beauty in even the most common of wildflowers, even this small member of the daisy family. I was going to title this First Fleabane of the season, since it is that, but I wanted to focus on commonplace beauty.

Over the past year or so of photography, my perspective on what beauty is has shifted dramatically. I’m now finding a richness in the more diminutive flowers, in dead or dying blossoms, the way light plays on a shrivelled leaf. Objects, that at first glance, don’t seem worthy of a second glance, or a more careful inspection.

I’ve become increasingly aware of how much of my world my brain filters out as ‘inconsequential’, causing me to pass it by. The more deliberate I become in observation, the more my world opens up to experiences I have missed in the past. Even at this, I’m still left baffled at what I’m missing. Through photography, I’m able to freeze that moment and really take the time to fully experience an image and my hope is that those moments are resonating with my readers.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/2500 sec, f/5.0 ISO 100

High Resolution Image on 500px

for more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/EdLehming
or my website (some images available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com