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Looking Out to Sea Hope

Hope is an interesting state to find oneself in.  On the one hand it is trials and tribulations, difficulties and hard times that bring a person to that state, and at the same time its a state which negates the existence of those travails as one looks out to on the horizon for better times to come.  The question that really eats away at me however is, can we last long enough to find ourselves in the midst of those good times hoped for?

Nature has an amazing way of assuaging one’s fears.  It is not unlike finding oneself in the arms of his or her mother, warm and comforted, protected and safe.  It gives you exactly what you need to keep going on the path leading you to your destiny.  Even man at times helps us in our journey.  Mostly in the protection of oneself, man places things in nature that bring a sense of security and protection against the, sometimes, unrelenting power of nature.  Leaving a lighthouse behind, one that keeps a light burning for those navigating the dangers of the sea also seems to give one solace even while standing on Terra firma.  Just know, Hope is always there.


Lighting the Way



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I wonder at times about the things in life that attract our attention while we don’t know why they attract us at the time. Sometimes its because of the beauty apparent in what we see. Other times its due to the ugliness. But most of the time its for no apparent reason.

However, as is often the case, understanding something usually occurs after encountering it.  Such was the case with the above photo titled ‘Stripped’.  A barren dead tree snag surrounded by lush green foliaged trees.  I guess what initially attracted me was the starkness of the bare tree.  How its bare branches contrasted against the green.  At the time it held no meaning for me and its graphic nature made me stop and something inside said ‘make a photo’.

Although now, finding myself unable to carry out my business as usual I feel somewhat stripped as well; left unprotected from the uncertainty of the future just like those bare branches are left unprotected from the harshness of the elements.  

Strange is the notion that having the ability to do something somehow imparts the sense of protection or control or stability from unfortunate future events.  Strange how losing a physical possesion effects the intangible spirit.  Strange how in-spite of being afforded every blessing in life from health to loved ones to our daily bread, we still feel bereft if we don’t have money.  How unfortunate it truly is that we attach happiness with monetary wealth.  Especially when we deal with fiat currency – paper has no true value in it – its only worth something as long as everyone believes it does.  Even if the currency was something that had intrinsic worth, like gold, it does not persist.  If we hoard our ‘money’ it is of no real benefit; we can’t eat it, we can’t wear it, it does not hug us or console us with soothing words when we hurt.  And if we do use it, then its gone.  Keep it or not, it cannot preserve us.  Eventually we will expire and leave it behind if it did not already leave us.

I suppose then that it is not the ability to earn ‘money’ that brings us happiness, but the endeavor behind that earning.  When we work as an employee we are paid a wage commensurate with the value of our service.  If what we do is important to others, then we are compensated by them accordingly.  If we work independently providing a service or product to others, we find satisfaction in what we sell when others buy it because we have facilitated ease or utility.  This then has value, and while intangible it still brings benefit to all involved.  Its just that in our age the compensation for our efforts is rewarded monetarily rather than by the transfer of necessities, such as food, clothing, shelter etc…

I photograph the world to share my joy in the beauty that I see.  It brings me great satisfaction when another person finds solace or elation when viewing one of my works.  If it was not a financial burden to produce them I probably would give them away for free, but alas they are not and so I do offer them for sale.  And since we do live in a time where our livelihood is obtained via currency, the photos I sell are also the means by which I provide for myself and my family.  Thus I think being stripped of my ability to bring beauty to others as well as seeking sustenance for myself and those that rely on me, has left me feeling how the tree in the above photo looks.  And until I have the means once again to bring the photos to the world, I have to rely on the world, albeit the virtual one, coming to me to enjoy and purchase one for themselves from this virtual store.

Take care and enjoy what remains of Autumn.

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The Mother and the Moon

Venus and the old crescent moon.

Venus and the old crescent moon.


When I was young I would sit out on the front porch of our house at night with my mother, God rest her soul and have mercy on her, which faced east and some times we would see the moon very close to a star.  I would ask my mother about it and she would tell me that that star was the moon’s mother and when the moon was close to it, the moon was visiting its mother.  That story always made me feel close to my mother.  I still recall those days whenever I see the moon close to a prominent star in the sky.

Two mornings ago, I stepped out of my front door, which faces south, and I looked towards the east to estimate how many more days we had left in Ramadan by gauging the size of the crescent moon.  To my surprise it was very close to Venus, the start shown above.  The sky was getting light and I was moved to photograph this pair as they visited each other in the morning sky.

I happend to look to the south and also saw the constellaton Orion, or Musa according to the Muslim Astronomers naming, and its distinctive belt of three stars that I grew up know as The Three Sisters, again named by my mother.

Three Sisters

Three Sisters

It has always amazed me how universal the stars are and at the same time how ‘culturalized’ they are at the same time.  Growing up I knew Venus as the Mother of the Moon, and the Belt of Orion as the Three Sisters.  Every cultural or civilization has named the stars by different names and some have crossed over to other cultures.  Of the 57 navigational stars some 18 of them still have Arab names give by the Muslim Astronomers during the Golden Age of Islam.  The list of these stars can be found on Wikipedia at this link.

In a few days the month of Ramadan will have passed and the new crescent moon will make its appearance in the western sky after sunset.  And even though time keeps moving on, the stars, moon and sun will still be there to help us keep track of time and grow richer as they bridge the gaps of culture and the ages.

Did you have any special names for the stars when you were growing up?  I’d love to hear what they were.

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Speaking Softly

Photography is an amazing medium to work in.  It takes planning.  Choosing a location is always a gamble.  Conditions change every moment.  The light, the very thing that is worked with, is a living thing that interacts with everything it touches, and yet you can’t touch it, hear it, smell it or taste it and for that matter you can’t see it either until it interacts with something.  I enjoy the light.  I chase after it as often as I can.  Using a big camera, like the 4×5, takes a considerable amount of work.  It’s fairly heavy and schlepping it around can be a job.  It is a slow camera to use.  It takes time to set it up, compose with it, focus it and even photographing with it as shutter times are usually on the slow end requiring a tripod.  Once it is setup, you have an investment in time involved that you want to capitalize on so you sit there and wait for the event you came to capture and hope it was all worth it.  It is very different than a digital camera or even a smaller format film camera.

Russian Ridge

Russian Ridge


With that big camera, you wait for the light to come to you rather than you trying to capture the light as it elusively slips by.  Smaller cameras on the other hand allow mobility and spontaneity.  They allow one to capture that decisive moment before it slips away.  And I think that is what has made small camera photography so popular and special, it allows us to capture that “Kodak Moment”.  Even though some of the best photographs made by some of the best photographers in the world were done with a 4×5, there is no denying the versatility and popularity of the small camera.

As I waited that evening for the new crescent moon to appear, I was glad to have a digital camera with me as well.  It not only allowed me to capture and share the new moon in the previous post the same night, but also allowed me to capture the subtleties of light that played in the fog mixing into the coastal mountains.

Softly Spoken

Softly Spoken

Yes large format photography is wonderful and becoming more unique.  It still allows the most stunning prints to be made.  It slows the photographer down in the whole process and, by necessity, forces the photographer to become part of the scene before it is captured.  But with both formats on hand, while waiting for the moment to trip the 4×5 shutter, the smaller format allows me to capture everything that is going on around me.  Do the smaller images compare in quality delivered from the 4×5?  No.  But none the less, words spoken softly can still have more impact than saying nothing at all.  And when what you say is said with light, you’d better have a way to say it.

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Why PAN?

It seems like a strange name, Organic Light Pan for a web journal. Why did I choose that? Well one reason which is kind of silly, but of importance in the branding of my company, Organic Light Photography, are the initials OLP. From Organic Light Photography to Organic Light Press to, hopefully in the future, Organic Light Philanthropy, I wanted the web journal to keep the same three letter moniker of OLP.

This is where the search started in naming this journal. I went to great lenghts of searching words that begin with the letter ‘P’ that would capture the sense of what this journal would serve. My photographic work is in general concerned with nature and the landscape. More specifically I am concerned with our relationship with the Earth as well as our relationship with our Maker.

For one, I find it interesting that the natural world, taken as a whole, is at peace with itself. Everything is in balance and it would stay that way if we did not come along and upset that tenuous equilibrium. Thus I write about that in the reflections that accompany my photographs. I also tend to see that if we open our eyes to how the natural world functions we can learn a great many things in how to live our lives in peace with each other. However to do this, one has to “pan” across all the strata of existent things in the universe to see this. And that is where the name of this journal appeared. I also found it fortutious that in many instances a photographer has to pan the camera while following a subject in the viewfinder.

And so, Organic Light Pan became the title of this journal that aims to extract Insights Through Reflections on Nature. Hopefully these insights will lead us to living in peace with each other on this planet and in peace with the Earth itself, our home and vessel as we are hurled through the universe.

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