The Fostering of Butterscotch

A short time ago, I was asked if I would foster a sweet dog that was on a long road back from nearly starving to death.  Found on the streets in the dead of winter, he was a mere shell of himself. A ten month old puppy weighing under 20 pounds nicknamed Butterscotch by the veterinary staff tending to him, he was less than 25% of his ideal body weight. He needed a quiet, childless and animal free home in order to rest and recover. Having recently lost my best friend Hailey, I was a little skeptical that I would be emotionally and mentally able to handle the request. I was willing to give it a try since it would only be a mere two weeks and he had an adoptive family, who renamed him Duke, waiting anxiously for his arrival.

Upon seeing a texted photo of him, I was horrified at the emaciated shape of this poor guy yet, he had a look in his eyes that couldn’t be denied.  Riddled with guilt, I told them I didn’t think I could handle it. He looked way too frail to be leaving the care of a veterinary hospital. Thinking that was that, I pushed him out of my thoughts. Or so I thought.

Before_6131
Duke at just under 20lbs a week after I said I couldn’t do it.

Butterscotch arrived on a  Friday after  5 more days of veterinary care .  I saw those eyes and about 5 more pounds on his frail frame. Ok, maybe I can do this. He bounded in here with the energy of a dog that was only 25% of his ideal weight but he did it with all the energy he had. He was wearing a sweater because he didn’t have enough fat on him to protect him from the cold. It wasn’t until I peaked under the sweater that it really hit me what bad shape this guy was in. Needless to say, he would be keeping that sweater on.

Over the course of the next three weeks, Puddin’Head, Bub, Buddy, whatever I was calling him that day, and I went on a journey that was equally uplifting as it was exhausting, physically, mentally and yes, emotionally. He brought back the pain of being a nurse to a patient who couldn’t tell you how they were feeling. He gave me a lesson in trusting someone enough to let them help you without question. As he literally grew before my eyes, his spirited personality brightened. He showed me what resilience and determination will get you. He showered me with gratitude and love after only knowing me a short time. But more than anything, he brought back the joy of having a dog in the house. In such a short time, he became such a big part of my life. Even though I promised myself I would not become attached,  he wouldn’t allow me not to. I was no match for his huge, spirited, fun and loving personality.

What a Difference 20 lbs Makes
DukeBefore1

DukeBefore2

Days after Duke left, I was informed that the family decided not to keep him. Upon further reflection, they felt they were not ready to have a dog in their home. In such a short time, I became so protective and caring of this guy. He deserved so much more. Yet, the question popped in my head that if no one came forward to adopt him, how could he be placed in a shelter? He thrived and grew in such a short time, I was concerned he would have a major setback.  It was obvious to many that his foster home would make the ideal home but I still had questions. Not about Duke but about me. Was I ready for the commitment again? Would I be able to provide him the love he needed and gave to me even though I wasn’t quite ready to love again? More than anything, I did not want him to feel unwanted in any way and I did not want to adopt a dog before I knew I was ready because ultimately that would be unfair to Duke.

Duke being Butterscotch, it did not take more than 2 weeks for him to find a new home. And as they say in the shelter business, he hit the lottery. Now named Shooter, he is in a home with two other fur friends and a loving family. Even though he found his forever home, a part of me wants him back but a bigger part of me knows he is where he was meant to be.

I still miss “Puddin Head” and he will always have a home should he ever need one again. Good luck on your journey friend and thank you for helping me with mine.

Favorite Butterscotch  Moments

18 Hours in Fairplay

Otherwise known as South Park, Fairplay Co was an interesting detour on a recent ski trip to Breckenridge. Trying to outwit a winter storm, my fellow travelers and I found ourselves stationed in Fairplay for a short time. With nothing else to do but eat, drink, bowl and  sleep, I found myself passing my time photographing a town rich in history.

Fun Facts of Fairplay

  • The annual Burro Day Race, a fundraiser for the schools, drew 10,000 visitors.
  • The town depicted in the South Park animated show on Comedy Central is based on Fairplay.
  • Fairplay is the Trout Capital of Colorado
  • The town was settled by miners frustrated by the greed of the gold rush days, thus the name.
  • The town was founded in 1859
  • Population 679
  • Elevation 9,953 ft.
  • Total area 1.1 square miles

If I ever find myself yearning to visit again, it’d be best if I did in spring, summer or fall but definitely not winter.

A Walk in the Woods

 

Shortly before the new year, I went for a walk in the woods for some fresh air intent on clearing my head from a holiday hangover.  Instead  I found myself following my curiosity off of the path.  Straying from the marked trail, I found my inner child being awakened. It is not often I find myself with a day that is open to experiencing the many possibilities that may cross my path. Even rarer, is the chance to follow those possibilities to see where they may lead. On this day, I was lead to some pretty cool subjects.

Stuck Truck
Stuck Truck

I initially saw only the top of this truck poking out of some tree branches on the ground. As I made my way over, I noticed it was half buried. A few tugs and it should be free but not so fast. Whatever was growing around it had started to claim this truck as its own. I needed quite a bit of pulling and pushing with hands and feet. Finally, it became unstuck. As I checked it out,  I started to wonder about the child who either left or lost this truck or perhaps just outgrew it. From the looks of it, it seemed as if whatever its history was, it happened quite some time ago. Other than its weathered look, it really didn’t seem photogenic on its own. Looking around, I decided I would try and see what it would look like if I put it somewhere close by and set the scene. Along with some cold, wet knees from the low angle, I think I got a pretty neat shot that lets your mind wander to wherever this truck may take you.


A little further on my walk, I came across a wooden garage like structure that just so happen to be open. In there were some pretty interesting objects but what caught my eye the most was this shoe that appeared to be the size of a child or adolescent. My imagination took me back to the truck and went off on a wild ride that involved the child, this shoe and the truck.  I think this shoe makes such an interesting still life, that I couldn’t decide which side I liked best.

Left Shoe
Shoe Left
Right Shoe
Shoe Right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


After my experiences with the truck and the boot, the next day I decided to go for another walk in the woods to see if I could find anything else. There was a similar structure next to the one with the boot that I initially thought was locked. Upon further exploration, my inner child, who didn’t know any better decided to investigate further and found that it wasn’t. The door was just tightly shut.  Not as interesting as the boot but enough to catch my eye, I found this interesting grouping of objects.

Lost in Prayer
Lost in Prayer

Obviously, I was not gaining entry into this building. This image takes me back to a photo I took when I first started playing around with a camera way back in grade school.  It also involved a door and a lock. I suppose what drew me to this image is similar to what I found in the first. Texture. I guess in all those years, I haven’t really strayed that far photographically speaking.

Locked_2438
Locked Out

So, a walk in the woods became so much more than taking the time to clear my head and take in some fresh air.  Like a switch, my imagination was turned on and as a result the creativity started to flow with the many possibilities that crossed my path. If only we had to more time to wander and wonder.

Dahlia

Last fall, I watched as a yellow dahlia that I had grown on my deck and cut to bring into the house had bloomed from a magnificent, golden layered flower into a dry withered shell of itself. As it languished in the vase, I became transfixed by the beauty it continued to possess as its vibrancy slowly evaporated from its bloom. I am fascinated by the layers upon layers of petals a dahlia blooms holds. Each morning it seemed as if those layers transformed themselves into a whole other sense of beauty entirely different from the previous day and days from when I first cut the flower.

Unfortunately, someone unwittingly decided to throw the dahlia in the garbage before I was comnpletey finished with it.

Dahlia
Dahlia
Dahlia.2
Dahlia.2

Last Year’s Leftovers

The end of last year kind of got away from me for a variety of reasons. As a result, the blog was left to wither. But while the blog was suffering, I was shooting. Here are some of those shots from a few places I found myself in. These photos are not the result of anything specific. They are the result of just venturing out and seeing what I might find.

The first series of three photos along with the eagle photo were taken in the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, a great place to just wander and experience the stillness and quiet. The pony was found meandering on Assateague Island. The last two images were taken off of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Pisagh National Forest.

Bourbon Shots

Back in October, I decided to take a tour of the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky. My mindset was to be a tourist, enjoy the tasting and not be a photographer. I intentionally did not take my cameras with me. Instead, I rented a smaller, mirrorless camera along with two lenses. But much like bourbon, once photography is in your blood, it’s hard to let it go for even a few days. So, I did my best to focus on the bourbon, the distillery tours, the history and tasting and not so much on the photographing. However, just as the complexity of the bourbon captured me so did the visual richness of the distilleries. Two of my senses were in overdrive competing for my undivided attention.

Visiting a total of five different distilleries over three days, I noticed a common photographic theme along with my new found appreciation for bourbon as it was meant to be, neat. Despite each distillery having it’s own rich history and its bourbon it’s own unique taste, each establishment was equally overflowing with texture from the barrels, to the buildings and everything throughout the entire process. So, not only did I come home with some really nice bourbons, I think I came home with some pretty neat shots.

Weekend at the Lake

Some friends and I had the opportunity to go spend a fall weekend in upstate New York at a friend’s family house on Lake Genegantslet. Not being very inspired of late, I was looking forward to a long weekend of doing nothing, eating, sitting by the fire, drinking, doing nothing, sitting by the lake, doing nothing,  oh and maybe a hike. The fall colors were maybe a week past their prime. Still good to view but not too much to photograph so I was confident in my plan of action or lack there of. I packed up my cameras anyway because too often when I find myself not in the mood to shoot, opportunity arises.

The weekend went as I thought it would. A few times I thought I would pull the camera out but nothing really caught my eye. Until the last day of course. I was sitting on the dock of the lake, watching the ripples roll away. Hmmm. Time to get the camera. As I followed the ripples to the shore, I noticed the color in the ripples. Then I noticed the colors taking shape. I made a quick exposure and liked what I saw. I only got a small number of shots before the ripples calmed down. I tried to recreate the motion and colors in the water but nothing seemed to work as in those few exposures. All in all, I am pleased with the rather abstract photograph. I can only imagine had it all happened a week earlier.

Genny Lake in Fall
Genny Lake in Fall

So after the ripples rolled away and I was left on the dock with camera in hand, I started to play around a bit. The sun was starting to go behind some clouds and I was left with some dead flowers and a red kayak. I have gone back and forth on this photo so many times. I like it. I don’t like it. It’s okay. I would have liked to have had more time to work with the kayak within the setting of the lake. To me this photo is a bit unfinished but I do like the stark red kayak against the blue reflection of the sky on the lake. Photographs such as these two is why I take my cameras even when I don’t anticipate pulling them out of their bags. Inspiration can come out of nowhere and can take any shape and form in some of the most ordinary of objects.

Red Kayak
Red Kayak

San Francisco Treats

It can be a struggle photographing while visiting popular travel destinations. You have the must see stops which pose the challenge of photographing them in a fresh way since these spots have been photographed over and over and over. Even so, I am still drawn to these spots because there is a reason they have been photographed so many times. They are awesome! So the task becomes digging through the obvious in hopes of finding something not so obvious.

I found the Golden Gate bridge to be like Mount Rushmore. It’s there like a giant national treasure which has been photographed so many times, in so many ways, in so many different lighting conditions and from so many vantage points. One more fabulous than the other. I certainly didn’t expect everything to come together for me in two shorts days, so I didn’t even try. But I did enjoy exploring the different vantage points and matching them to the various shots I had stored in my head. What I had never come across in researching and what I didn’t know was that the famous bridge was surrounded by military outposts that were once vital to its protection. Not as pretty as it would have been with a dense fog but a somewhat interesting juxtaposition nonetheless is this view of the Golden Gate from Battery Spencer.

goldenstairwell_8085


I found this photo of the Coast Angelica flower as I was driving around the Marin Headlands looking at all the scenic bridge overlooks. I noticed it as I made my way to the Point Bonita Lighthouse. I got there 15 minutes before closing time so no photos of the lighthouse but what an interesting spot for a flower to grow. It was exactly where it needed to be on the side of the building  protected from the strong ocean winds.

outofplace_8174


 Fisherman’s Wharf. Lots of potential but too many tourists!

wharf_7510

 Where are all the harbor seals I heard so much about ???

hangingharborside_8197

Having never seen or heard about people leaving locks to express their devotion to someone, I was intrigued when I happened upon these locks near the ferry to Alcatraz. They obviously caught my attention. But much to my chagrin, I went home and searched the internet for “locks of love” and found tons of photos of all sorts of bridges, notably the Brooklyn Bridge, with tons of locks. Where have I been? Something I will definitely look for next time I am crossing a bridge.

locksoflove_7529


In my attempt to escape the tourists, I ventured onto the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, one of two remaining functioning Liberty ships used for cargo in WWII. Moored at Pier 45, the ship sits historically intact as it was during its seven WWII voyages and many other various voyages thereafter. A fascinating historical treasure both visually and informationally.

The composition and graphic nature of these two photos is what captured my attention. The tight quarters of the ship really lent itself to some compositional studies. There were many more to be made but I kept going back to these 2 scenes, drawn in by the red of the light and the white of the water fountain. If it makes me stop and pause, I have to stop and shoot.

wayout_7585

ssfountain_7568


 Point Reyes…Stunningly beautiful.

windblown_7718

This boat is another subject that has been photographed quite a bit. I was immediately drawn to it as I was researching the area and saw a few photos. It has been shot many ways in various conditions. None of which happened while I was passing through. The sun was fully up, the tide was way low and the path was beaten to this old, dilapidated oyster boat. Having seen all the angles before, it was a challenge, good lighting or not, to photograph this wreck. I would have liked another opportunity to go back in different lighting but sometimes subjects are so overshot that they lose their mystery for me.  Even so, I was able to get a shot that I haven’t seen done before. At least not that I could find.pointreyes_7707

A quick stop on the way to Point Reyes National Seashore to see some resting harbor seals led me to this shot of Bolinas Lagoon and the blue of the pacific.bolinalagoon_7684

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than one seeks.”

As soon as I walked into Muir Woods, I felt as if I was being transported back in time.  I guess you are since some of the trees are hundreds of years old. It wasn’t the obvious enormity of the redwoods that struck me. Instead, I was overcome by a indescribable and subtle surrealness. Immediately I was taken by the quality of the morning light that poked its way through the massive trees. Following the pathway of light, I slowly ventured deeper into the woods taking in all that the redwoods had to offer. I felt as if I was on sacred ground and to some, I was. How could I ever photograph these treasures in a way that hadn’t been done before? Forested areas are a challenge unto themselves with the bright patches of light neighbored by dense swaths of shade. I resisted the obvious of pointing my camera upwards and instead tried to find my focus elsewhere. It didn’t take long as I quickly became fascinated by the textures unique to each tree. Despite the dilemma of how to shoot in this otherworldly place, I continued on shooting here and there. Straining my neck upward every now and again resisting the temptation of pushing the shutter, I thoroughly immersed myself in the solitude and timelessness that is Muir woods. How much time did I have until the noisy crowds started to ramble through?

After what felt like at least a half a day but in reality an hour or two, I started to make my way back. Completely enjoying the whole redwood experience, I still felt I hadn’t captured the place as fully as I would have liked. I am always torn as to which I prefer best. Shooting wide eyed like a kid in a candy store or letting a place marinate, coming back after I have had a chance to experience it. Today I did not have that option. This was the only day I was here and I was determined. I try not to take for granted that I will be back somewhere someday to photograph again. The only thing for certain is that you will be changed or the place will have changed. What and how you see today is not how and what you will see tomorrow or the next time. Of that I can be certain. I have learned it the hard way too many times.

Making my way back to the main trail, I heard some strange noises. A bird of some sort I was sure. Looking all around, I found nothing which wasn’t surprising with all the great hiding spots. As I moved on, I saw a feather float to the ground. I immediately looked up and there it was. An owl. A baby owl. And its mom. Wait. Two baby owls. How cool was that? I had never seen an owl in the wild before. After grabbing a few quick shots to help me identify later, the mom (or dad) owl took off flying straight towards me. Not knowing what to do, I stood in place with only my camera to protect me if I needed it only to feel utterly silly as the owl gracefully and indifferently glided directly overhead to another perch. How cool was that, again! After watching a few more minutes, I took off not wanting to stress the owls any longer since I figured they wanted me gone.

Perhaps I am overthinking this whole owl sighting event but strangely enough, it was shortly after that I began seeing Muir Woods in a whole new light. Suddenly, I was inspired in a totally different way than before. It was if a switch went off as I began to see things that I hadn’t noticed before.  From that point forward, I could have easily spent the whole day traipsing around but I was running out of memory cards, my one camera was acting wonky and the crowds were starting to parade non-stop. And with the crowds came the noise. And with the noise, my new found direction was slowly fading. As the crowds and noise grew, the surrealness that I had so peacefully enjoyed and basked in for a few hours, seemed to recede back into the dark, shadows of these stately giants only to be found by those quiet enough to hear and experience it. As I left Muir Woods, the famous quote from John Muir, the post title, rang ever so true. I had received more than I asked for or expected, yet the giant redwoods left me yearning for more of which can only can be found in magical places like Muir Woods.


Monterey and Beyond

I almost passed on a last minute trip to the San Fransisco area until I realized how close it is to the Monterey peninsula. Having always wanted to drive the California coast from Monterey down to Big Sur ever since my parents had visited a long while ago, I could not let this opportunity go by. Then I wondered how am I ever going to cover all the magnificent opportunities in an area with an enormous photographic history in less than 2 days. Too busy to research, I grew frustrated. When I finally did come up with a rough itinerary, it became crystal clear that I was not going to be able to explore even a fraction of what I wanted. So, I figured I would go into super tourist mode and do as much as humanly possible, photographing what I would stumble upon weather be damned.

Sure enough, the weather did not cooperate but hey, sometimes that can work to your advantage when you are out in the middle of the day or too exhausted from hyper tourist mode to be out before dawn and too thirsty for happy hour that you miss the golden hour of the day. Early in the day, I caught this napping seal along the 17 Mile Drive in the Pebble Beach area. The drearyness of the day persuaded me to do this as a black and white. Looking back now, that seal reminds me how I felt by the end of the day.

catchingsomez's_6954


I also found this along the 17 Mile Drive right next to the famous Lone Cypress that has become iconic to not only a golf tournament but to the whole community. How could I not get a shot of “The” lone cypress? To be perfectly honest, I probably can’t get any better than what has been done given the location of the tree and the throngs of tourists and artists that flock to it. Nor did I want to. I wanted to put my photographic stamp on this area. Quite frankly, the Lone Cypress was a letdown and I actually liked this dead cypress better. Especially after reading the fine print at the site that proclaimed the Lone Cypress tree trademark protected so only photos for personal use were allowed. How does one trademark a tree?
theotherlonecypress_6978


Also along the coast at Pebble Beach. It may not be trademark worthy but I do like the texture of this fallen cypress.


weatherbeaten_7012


A quick and unexpected stop to the Carmel Mission was filled with unanticipated, brilliant color.

missionincolor_7035


I was starting to panic as I made my way around Point Lobos stopping at Bird Island. With it’s rich history, coves and trails, one could easily spend several days exploring this Natural Reserve. Yet with Big Sur as a final destination, I had figured on an hour, maybe 2 for this stop. Time to move on.

birdisland_7084


Having just spent twenty minutes watching a floating sea otter napping with her baby nestled beside her, I walked right past this Monterey Cypress and wooden structure which is actually an old Chinese fishermen’s cabin, in Whaler’s Cove in Point Lobos. It wasn’t until I was walking back to the car, that I happened to look back and caught a glimpse of them juxtaposed together. I paused briefly but kept walking. Yet, the contrast in wood kept nagging at me. Sometimes you just have to stop and photograph even if you’re not sure. It wasn’t as nearly entertaining as the otter but without the proper gear for the otter, it was the more accessible photograph.

before&after_7248


The color of the Pacific never ceases to amaze me. The shades of blue are crazy intense. Maybe it’s because I am always on the Atlantic side of the country but I just love the color of the Pacific. This photo was taken in Whaler’s Cove with its many kelp beds.

kelpbeds_7233


 

After what proved to be too short a time in Point Lobos, I started to make the drive to Big Sur. I was so anxious to see the coast this way and it did not disappoint. It is a picture postcard at every turn.  So so many places to stop, get out and look. Too many to even begin to photograph so I just soaked in the vistas and enjoyed the drive. I finally arrived in Big Sur with just enough time for a walk on the beach. It was stunning! I really have no photos of Big Sur. I must say I am a little disappointed I didn’t get there earlier but how could I ? I think I just became paralyzed by the beauty of the place, not knowing which way to point the camera and being overwhelmed by the indescribable presence this place had.  It was also quite windy which totally hampered any opportunity to photograph. But I made a promise to myself that I would come back and give this place the time it deserves. It is more worthy than a forced photograph that says “I was there.”.  Finally, at journey’s end, I sat down and enjoyed a beautiful sunset, with a stunning view of the Pacific and a fantastic drink. Does it get any better than this….

 

2014-06-12 22.07.28


So with very little time left in Monterey, the next morning I did what everyone does and went to the aquarium. Photographing in a place such as this can be fun but I generally don’t view the photos as anything other that what they are, photos of captive creatures. But I do think it’s possible to get nice photographs if you think beyond the obvious.  Even though Monterey was once considered the sardine capital of the world, I did not expect to become enamored with such an unassuming and ordinary fish. I don’t even like them. But as I watched them swim as they do in their “safety in numbers” formation I became amused and started clicking away. Nothing interesting as I viewed the photos on the back of my camera. Then I thought I would just shoot as if I was a sardine and I began to move in a circular motion following the sardines. Now I was liking not only the sardines but what I was viewing in my camera.

swimmingincircles_7376

 


Nobody likes it when they encounter a jelly fish while in the water. For me, it conjures up the memory of being stung by jellies as I swam in the ocean as a child. But no one can dispute the grace and elegance of jelly fish as they move and float magically suspended in water.

jellydancer_7410


I can’t help but feel that I left so many photographs behind on this visit. So frustrating it can be, to visit such a visually stunning landscape knowing your time there is short lived. But a short time is better than no time at all and I am grateful for all that I saw.