River Rock Tribe: Journaling In The Practicing The Art Of Being

First Published September 2012

DKB7713-webThere are times when I find myself overwhelmed with negotiating everyday living, especially in today’s economic climate.  I feel fragmented with the here and there of photography jobs, taking care of and maintaining a home and yard, making time, willingly,  for loved ones and friends, and of course assuring Sir Clarence James reclining years are comfortable.   He is doing really well and will write a blog soon.

Camping with family at Silver Falls State Park  Clarence James Browning

He now has his own blog  http://sirclarencejames.wordpress.com/

I feel I have been pretty successful in these tasks but find myself tense from the effort despite my near daily yoga and meditating rituals.    My husband recently reminded me that I had not been out in some time practicing my Zen photography.  This is where I go off by myself to capture images that fascinate me.  It requires that I find a spot, whether it be in nature or a bustling city, and spend the day there.  I do this to clear my mind and become more receptive to my surroundings.  Children come by this naturally and I refer to it as “The Art Of Being”.

Early Sunday morning I drove to the Sandy River, one of many rivers near my home here in Oregon.  Water draws and soothes me and not wanting to spend a lot of time driving, I had in mind a day spent along this river looking for great spots to view and capture images of the spawning salmon when the fall run is in full swing.  This run has already begun but it is still too early to get much opportunity to capture some images.  Planning ahead I will pick my spot and return at another time for ‘Nature’s Cycle of Life’ show.

Fed by glaciers on Mt. Hood, which has slowed considerably this time of year, the river’s water levels are quite low leaving wider beaches where one can explore.  Due to recent years of floods the river has forged new paths removing trees and boulders from its banks.  Massive roots of the down trees washed clean from the flood waters, then dried and bleached from the sun, litter the beach.  Some of the exposed roots still linger in pools of water at the river’s edge providing a safe place for the spawning salmon to lay their eggs.   This is the type of settings I am looking for.

Hiking high above an old landslide area, I look down along a stretch of beach and notice what looked like stalactites, those icicle looking formations one sees in a cave, only these were pointing up.  Curious, I made my way to the lower end of the slide before slipping and sliding the rest of the way to the beach.   What looked like stalactites from far above were river rocks stacked on top of each other.  This beach was approximately a quarter of a mile long and covered with river rocks, none stacked more than knee-high.   As I walked around taking in my surroundings, I saw that these stacked rocks represented people.  To my delight I had stumbled upon a village of River Rock People!  Retrieving my camera from my backpack I began immersing myself in capturing this amazing village.  All alone on the beach with only the sound of the river rushing over rocks, my fragmented thoughts drifted away.  I became more receptive to the spiritual feeling I was receiving from this mystical village.  It had to have taken a long time to build this scene I found myself in.  Had it happened over a time or had it been recently done by a large group of people?    As the day moved on, I would soon get my answer.

River Rock Village

With camera in hand I went about capturing this River Rock Tribe.  There were families, individuals and groupings.  I saw a Navajo Squaw I recognized from a painting by the famous artist Rudolph Carl Gorman.   Others faced the water edges, in miniature form, like those giant stone monoliths, called Moai on Easter Island, looking out towards the sea.   Another ancient culture entered my mind when I came across a group of stacked rocks that formed a circle.  I became aware of how alive I was feeling immersing myself in this mystical world of river rock.   Amazed by the fact that there are still people in this world of advanced technology that find enjoyment in nature’s simplicity and being creative in using her wares, such as this creation with the use of these rocks.   It further more amazed me that they were seemingly left untouched, even though there were other signs of human trespassers in an occasional left behind soda can, plastic bottle and a flip-flop shoe.

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By noon, distant voices drifted my way.  Looking around I saw a small family making their way to the beach using the same route as me.  The children squealing with delight as they descended the slide on their bottoms ahead of their parents, packing blankets and packs, as they side-step precariously down the sandy slide.   I began to feel anxious for the River Rock People fearing the intruding humans would be the beginning of their demise.  Realizing that I could not stop what fate they would be dealt, I returned to capturing what I could before it could be destroyed.4004DKB-web

As the sun warmed the beach on this early fall day, more and more voices intruded my thoughts as more people arrived.   Taking a break, I sat among the River Rock People and observed those of my kind as they enjoyed a day on the beach.  I became relieved to see the young and old alike, instead of destroying the Village, were adding to the landscape by building more stacks of rocks.  I finally had my answer.  This special place had evolved over a time and was still evolving.   I felt blessed to have found this mythical beach and to see its effects on others for it gave me hope for humanity. 4008DKB-web I hope to see this village soon for I will be returning in a couple of weeks for the spawning of the salmon.

If one allows our media, and doomsday Sayers to depress our mental being we are to blame only ourselves.    We all need to set aside time in our hectic lives to practice “The Art Of Being”  a spa for the mind.DKB7729-web

To purchase prints of these and others taken that day please visit my website,  www.deebrowningphotography

Hiking The Scenic Westside of Mt. St. Helens

Previously posted in August 2012

It has been some time since I have posted but, I haven’t been idle.  Sir Clarence James is doing really well and this has allowed me to get out and do what I enjoy doing, hiking and photographing.  Just last week my son-in-law took me on a guided hike, of the west side of Mt. St. Helens.  I have looked forward to this adventure for some time.  Joel is a great outdoors man and I was grateful for his company as he came in handy when my back and neck started giving me heck on the return stretch of our hike.   He strapped my camera bag backpack, a good 30 plus pounds, to his and carried both the rest of the uphill hike back to his pick-up.  Did I mention that the weather that day was near 100 degrees!  He is a great guy to have your back.  In this case backpack 🙂

Me and my son-in-law Joel

We began the day at 4:00am for I wanted to catch the sun rising.  I love silhouettes.   Here near the trail head of Castle Lake, I used a strong filter to capture the sun rising over the crest of the Cascade Range silhouetting the crest and renewed forest growth.

Silhouette of Mt. St. Helens Sunrise

On the trail, my son-in-law frequently scopes the terrain for wildlife as the sun continues its rise in the east.  He is hoping to catch sight of a bear forging for food.   Sweet huckleberries, blue berries, and strawberries gave me no doubt of their existence.  The sun ripened fruit was so tempting we often stopped to gather small handfuls of these mouth-watering sweetness.  Later along the trail we came upon claw ripped wood, where the bears had searched for a meal of bugs, and bear scat both evidence confirming that we had indeed entered their territory.

Joel scoping for wildlife.

We never saw a bear but instead spotted  two herds of elks at such a distance away that made me long for a more far-reaching lens.  Who am I kidding, I would not have been able to lug one that size around while hiking :(. A large herd of elk quite a distance away.

Another herd on a knollSt.Helens erupted in 1980.  I flew over the crater as soon as the air space opened up, with my father in his Maul, a fixed winged airplane.   Seeing the destructive force of nature from that altitude made one aware of how insignificant we humans are.  I captured many film images that day and I only mention this because as I hiked past remnants of that destruction, as seen below, I remember those captured images and how even though it is taking many years nature is rebounding in this area.

Remnants of devastation from Mt. St. Helens eruption in 1980.

We came to a cross-road of trails and Joel headed down the Castle Ridge Trail.  Below is an image of him on the edge of a hill, a tiny speck,  overlooking a cavern where one can see and hear boulders tumbling down the west flank of the mountain.  One can track their descent by the trail of dust and the sound of their impact against other boulders resembling that of a rifle being discharge.  All very humbling.

Joel looking at the boulders crashing down the mountain.

To purchase prints of the images I captured that day   www.deebrowningphotography.com

Cheers,

Dee Browning, photographer

Mental Retreat: Journaling In The Practicing In The Art Of Being

0966DKBwebWe all have those days when we just need to escape.  Living in Portland, Oregon gives me an array of venues, each providing a different scenic and meditative place where I can immerse myself.  The northern Oregon Coast is one of my favorites as it provides an ever-evolving atmosphere for contemplation.  When my everyday schedule starts to get the best of me, I gather my camera gear and head out.  Rarely do I plan these trips as they are accessible day trips.  The night before decisions are the best as they offer me an earlier start.

The northern Oregon coast is a magnet to many, especially those of a solitary artistic nature such as myself, for there are many wondrous areas to appreciate the variable moods and actions of the sea. This particular trip found me traveling northwest on Highway 30, along the banks of the Columbia River.  A light drizzle traveled with me as I drove the dark highway with only the small passing town lights, and headlights of those heading into the city for work, lightening the predawn sky.  Tension in my neck and shoulders begin to recede as I draw nearer to where the Columbia River meets the sea.  My destiny close at hand, as is evident in the silhouettes of ships appearing in the beginning rise of the sun’s rays, as they light the peaks of the dark choppy waters of the mighty river on which anchored ships sit.DKB7408web Life is stirring as I drive through Astoria, Oregon, a town of antiquity and it’s four mile long Megler Bridge that spans the Columbia River.

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Arriving at Cannon Beach the rising sun rays have begun to dissipate the early morning fog.  I am in luck as the low tide is nearing its end, leaving a wide beach to stretch my legs.

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Pools of salt water were left from the retreating surf around Hay Stack Rock, as crews begin to set-up informational signs about the tide pools, a signal to me that possibly a group of school children would soon be arriving.  Wanting more solitude, I returned to my car and headed further south in search of my retreat.0033DKBweb

South of Cannon Beach on Highway 101, I arrived at my destination, Arcadia Beach which is between Hug Point and Cannon Beach.   Hug Point was an old-passage way for wagons and automobiles, before 1940, so-called because the roadway hugged the shoreline contours as it connected Arch Cape with Cannon Beach.  With a trained eye one can see a piece of the abandoned section of this earlier roadway at low tide covered with colonies of anemones, mussels, starfish and sand.3662DKB

Visiting this area of the Oregon Coastline in the middle of the week during the off-season, offers a meditative venue of nature’s art, especially at low tide.  Massive rock formations, once connected to the coastline, stand separated by years of relentless pounding of the sea, evidences of such in the form of trenches, surrounded these Herculean pieces, trapping sea water and creatures alike.  I am not drawn to view the old passage nor to sea life stranded in the pools, instead I find myself captivated by the abstract art formed by nature and where it leads one’s gaze.

I place myself and camera gear on the firm cool wet sand near a grouping of  massive sentinels.   My line of sight follows the artistic curve of the smooth-edged sand banks retaining shallow calm water that flowed slowly past the monolith sculptures of nature, each adorned with mussels, and sea anemones glistening in the sun’s rays.  This watery path lead to the more aggressive waters of the sea that were instrumental tools in the design of these statures.  As I contemplate each shot, I lulled not only by the beauty within my camera’s frame, but by the sound of the rhythmic waves of the reversing tide.  A feeling of well-being and clarity enfold me.   Relaxed, I am thankful for such an opportunity.0952DKB

Pleased at my early arrival for I was experiencing the solitude I so desired as I ambled over to Hug Point Waterfalls, while the tide is still low.  One must be ever so aware of one’s surroundings no matter where you are for various reasons.  Here though, because of the tempestuous nature of the sea at high tide, one can become trapped or at worst pulled into it’s icy turbulence without provocation, by what is known as a sneaker wave.  As in life nothing is as it seems.   Do not be fooled by the calm, for calm is the opposite of turbulence and the two go hand in hand as a balance, as is the way with nature.

Arriving at Hug Point Falls I reclined upon the now sun-warmed accommodating sand and reflect upon the sounds surrounding me.  This was the tonic I so needed.  Born on the cusp of Pisces and Aquarius, I feel this is why I am so drawn to water.  The source of arresting sounds of the fall of water over the small rise of Hug Point Falls and those of the over-lapping waves of the sea, allowed any remaining tension I retained, to completely drain away with each receding wave, as my mind and body became one with my surroundings.  What a gift to oneself.0949DKB-web

Distant voices interrupt my meditative state.  Opening my eyes I saw the source, as an older couple strolled along the tide pools heading my way.   Their beloved pet, of an indescribable canine breed, chased an occasional seagull and snapped at the items offered up by the waves of the incoming tide.  Again I take up my camera and begin capturing the beauty that surrounded me.

As I capture nature’s art and it’s intent, more people arrived to beach-comb or to enjoy a leisurely stroll.  Young adults were the last to make a trek along this beach, probably due to the previous late nights activities.  Their young athletic bodies, with agile limbs, transverse the rocks as they noisily explored their surroundings.  This did not perturb me for it filled me with adventurous thoughts of my own nimble youth and vitality. Though not as spry as I once was, I am grateful for these delays due to my age, for they afford me a more thorough exploration of my surroundings.   As I watch their youthful enthusiasm, I am aware that they are not being truly appreciative.  This will only come with time as I have had to learn.  Our lives are paths which we must all take and each brings about a new awareness.  We must not be critical of those who have not caught up or have surpassed our current path, for they have not traveled as far, nor have we traveled as far as those before us.

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People are friendly here, a nod accompanied with a spoken “hello” from a smiling face prompts an enthusiastic reply.  Some stop to chat about photography upon seeing my gear.  Others proudly display their finds and mention where they found them.  Children squeal as they run knee-deep in the icy waters, along with an occasional shriek when a wave pushes them from behind, soaking once dry warm garments.  I come alive watching and capturing the human interaction with nature.

Hunger forces me to return to my car and since I did not pack a lunch I’ve decided to head back to Cannon Beach for a bowl of clam chowder at Moe’s.  I enjoy this place for one can watch the goings-on along the shoreline.  The chowder’s warmth spreads through me as I watch those bundled-up souls braving the icy wind as they stroll and play on the beach.  A simple but pleasant meal break.

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Not wanting to retrace my route, I decide to travel south along the coastline to Tillamook on my return trip home.  More of nature’s art is seen in the wind sculptured trees that line the road, along with panoramic scenes of ocean waves, boulders and sandy beaches.  I turn east and follow the shoreline of Tillamook Bay, passing through tiny fishing communities their boats dotting the bay.

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I can’t resist the Tillamook Cheese Factory, the true reason for this chosen route, as I am a lover of cheese and here you can sample to your heart’s content before you buy.  Let’s not forget the desert in the way of an ice-cream cone, dish or shake.  The stress released by my journey so far has prepared me well in the practiced art of patience as I become one of the throng of tourists who visit here.  Waiting in line I observe my surroundings and take in the many forms of human life.  I like to think up small life stories to attach to those that interest me.  It is a mental game I enjoy.

After purchasing my cheese and eating my one scoop of ice-cream in a cup, as I am always on a diet these days, I resume my drive towards home by taking Highway 6.  Dairies, their pastures filled with black and white cows, spread across the landscape.  Inland water-ways swell from the incoming tide as it reclaims its mark on the pillars of the piers and docks stationed along the banks.

The landscape changes even more as I make my assent up the coastal range, which is evident in the forest that grows there. Gone are the trees sculptured by the insisting coastal winds.   The trees here have chosen their own paths, some standing tall and wide, others succumbing to the soggy soil as gravity pulls on them, their roots slowly relinquishing their hold.  As I continue to follow the asphalt ribbon I have chosen, I feel the Pacific Ocean diminishing as I near the summit.   Instead of dread or sadness, I feel gratitude that I am fortunate to have experience what I have this day.

Having reached the summit I begin my descent, again I take in my surroundings as the forest gives way to farm land, orchards and vineyards.  Highway 6 connects to Highway 26, known to the locals as Sunset Highway.  Here the traffic grows in numbers as it becomes a multilane freeway.  The homeward journey lengthens as traffic becomes more congested when one draws nearer to entering the Portland Metro area.  With the masses, I traverse through the south-east blocks of the city, my chosen route to bypass the more heavily congested routes.  As I made progress I saw many things of photographic interest.   I found myself not thinking of the heavy traffic but instead of how I need to come and spend another day in the city to experience and capture images of the life here.

Leaving the city behind I continue my way towards home, on the far south-eastern edge of the great Portland Metro area, the distant Mt. Hood stays in my sight on this last leg of my journey.  It beckons me to visit it too soon, exploring it’s many trails with hidden alpine wonders to photograph.

I journal my experiences when photographing for they are such wonderful experiences of time taken to study ones surroundings.  When processing my photographic image files I often write thought-provoking phrases to go with a group of photographs.  Here is one from my experience that day.

 Ride the waves of life for they will recede.

To see more Sea Escapes visit my website

www.deebrowningphotography.com

©copyright 2011 Dee Browning   All Rights Reserved

Miksang

0027DKB-RGBI started this blog with the short story I wrote describing what I experienced on a photographing outing. I am now attempting to write a little about me, not my favorite subject, as a way of introducing myself. I am a very private person blessed with a full life as a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, and friend. I love to create artistic spaces in my yard and home that flow together providing little retreats for me to go to when I need to clear my mind. I have an aging cat, named Clarence, you can visit his blog  http://sirclarencejames.wordpress.com/    who supervises my office here in my home from his lofty perch over-looking my digital darkroom/desk. I don’t know what I will do when he will no longer hold this position, as he keeps me on a schedule of much-needed breaks with his persistent demands of attention when I have had my nose to the grindstone too long.

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Many feel that a photographer just goes out with camera in hand and takes lots of pictures then uploads them on to a computer, then puts them on a website and/or prints them out. That is only a small part of our work.  Photography demands, like other professions, a dedication and passion to sustain being a photographer. In my blog one will not find the technical writings that involve how to use a camera or the technical details of a workflow. I feel this subject has been successfully covered by those much more capable than I.  Like all serious photographers I spend more days in my digital darkroom/office than I do looking through the view-finder of my camera. With the ever-present sorting, culling, processing and adding metadata to all the images I have captured, to the updating and maintenance of a websites and now this blog/s, all this keeps me very busy in my office. I know members of my family and close friends just sigh when they hear I am working in my office as that seems the norm for me.  I am often asked when will I get caught-up?  I reply, ‘Hopefully soon.’ The reality is, this sometimes grueling work will never be ‘caught-up‘, mainly because I keep taking photographs!  I have wasted some of my time on the writing a blog as I often fine myself fretting over what to write about.

After writing ‘A Mental Retreat’ and starting a painting inspired by a photograph taken on that day, I realized I possibly had my blog figured out. All my life I have always had a deep-seated passion for creative writing, photography and art.   Now I have found myself combining the three.  I will not call myself a professional artist in regards to applying color on a canvas or paper, but I do feel it plays an important part in who I am as a photographer. When painting, I have a better understanding of color, contrast, texture and composition, thus allowing me to look at my subject through the view-finder of my camera, as an artist would.  As all artists, there are times when I feel disconnected from my work, and I find myself in a slump.  When in this mental fog, writing about a good photographing experience is a much-needed mental boost.  Allowing all three of my creative sides to work together has a meditative effect upon me, thus allowing all my senses to heighten, to become one with all, allowing me to see things I ordinarily would not see.  I aspire to lead others towards what I have learned.  To experience their enthusiasm and pride when they point out discoveries in their surroundings. Their discoveries bring to me a different perspective and more appreciation of what others perceive when using all their senses within the same surroundings.  A photographer needs to capture what others don’t see.

“Miksang” a Tibetan word meaning good eye, is a term used regarding my work.  It comes naturally for me, something I took for granted, until others began asking about it. In writing about my experience in capturing an image, I realized that it is because I become one with my surroundings and look at it in it’s entirety and thus develop ’Miksang’ so to speak.  Writing about this, I feel others will begin to see that photography is a very personal and solitary experience which sets all of us photographers apart in regards to our work. To write about how I use my senses, when photographing, I feel I can lead others to do the same. I hope to share with those who aspire toward photography, how to slow down and allow not only their eye, but their other senses, to absorb the space that surrounds what captured their eye, thus capturing a more interesting image. To be good at what you do, you must have passion, for it is that passion along with your own perspicacity is what comes through in an artist’s work. You can take several photographers and ask them to photograph the same subject and you will get different, though similar pieces of work, much like a room full of artists painting the same model. No pieces of work will be the same for we, as individuals, are different and perceive things differently. Knowing the technical side of photography, like operating a camera and processing film or files, is not what distinguishes a photographer’s work from others but the way one uses this knowledge to capture images that appeal to their individual senses. That in itself is a form of art, and like art, some will appreciate it and others will not. Artists come in all forms using all kinds of tools and canvas. There are painters, sculptors, writers, designers, the list goes on. To a photographer, our lens determines the size of the canvas. Our camera settings and equipment are our brushes and paints. Because I spend so much time photographing a subject, many ask, “Doesn’t this bore you?” Just the opposite! I find myself in awe at how time just slips away, and the added thrill in discovering a new subject in the same area to focus my lens on, or a different technique that would have been over-looked if I had not taken my time. After a shoot, I feel on top of the world.   I find any anxiety, self-doubt and/or worries I might have experienced at the time,  dissolved with ease as I immerse myself into my work experiencing a ‘mental retreat’.

I hope you will continue to journey with me as I add to my blog what inspires me to press down on the trigger-release and take a shot. As I wrote these three lines, “To share a mental perception.”  I realized that this was my goal.  So, the purpose of art whether captured or created is ‘to share a mental perception;.

To see more of my captured images and paintings

www.deebrowningphotography.com

©copyright Dee Browning – All Rights Reserved

Rare March Snow: Journaling In Practicing The Art Of Being

Previously Posted March 2012

Last night, as the rain beat a steady rhythm against the windows, the local news station forecasted snow, possibly on the Willamette Valley floor, by morning.  This seemed a little far-fetched, especially in March here in the Portland, Oregon area.  It wasn’t until they showed a live webcam of snow on top of Haystack Rock, at Pacific City, that I thought maybe this was a possibility.  A peculiar sight to see, this mammoth haystack shape rock surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, its peak covered with snow.   I had spent from dawn till dusk on the coast the first part of February and it was at Pacific City where I ended a wonderful day by capturing this beautiful sunset. 3653DKBweb

Seeing the snow on top of this rock a month later just didn’t seem possible, but there it was.   As the rain continued to fall well into the night I began to doubt we would receive any of this unusual snow fall in our area.

Sir Clarence James ,my cat, woke me at 1:00am the following morning wanting to get under the covers.  I couldn’t blame him for it was pretty chilly.  My husband and I like to sleep with the heat off at night as we have discovered we sleep better when it is colder in the house.   As Clarence made himself comfortable, under the covers,I began to wonder if the cooler night air meant it might be snowing outside and decided to get up and take a look.

My neighborhood had transformed into an enchanting winter wonderland, so clean, pure and peaceful.   It seemed that about three to four inches of the white heavy stuff had fallen.   For a time I sat and watched the big fluffy white flakes fall from the sky till a light veil began to drape my mind and my eyelids became heavy.  I headed back to bed knowing it would still be warm thanks to Clarence and my husband John.  Snuggling under the down comforter I slowly drifted off to sleep with visions of snow flakes falling softly from the sky still in my head.

It seemed I had only been asleep for a few minutes when Clarence crawled out from under the covers and started pawing my hair.  This is his way of telling me it is time to get up and fix his breakfast.  He has trained me well for I quickly rose knowing he would not leave me alone till I had gotten out of the bed.  Wrapping my warm robe around me I stopped briefly at the window to take a quick peek outside before heading to the kitchen. To my delight it looked the same as it did several hours earlier.   Clarence’s urging chatter got me moving again towards the kitchen with him hot on my heels.

His Highness taken care of and the furnace activated, I started the water for my tea.  While I waited for the water to heat up,  I opened the shutters covering the windows that looked out over the backyard and the hill beyond.  Sipping my tea, I stood and watched the dawn breaking as the house warmed and his Highness noisily ate his breakfast.  As the sky lightened with the moon still visible, the sun’s rays turned those clouds it reached into a pinkish haze behind the bare limbs of the trees, all enhanced by the undisturbed snow.  It was such a beautiful sight to begin a new day and I decided to capture it.   Still in my robe I grabbed my camera and headed outside to photograph this wonderful and rare scene to see, in March, here in the Pacific Northwest.

I love nature and encourage birds to spend time in my yard.  I love to listen to their songs and observe their antics, all year round.   Every morning we put out a handful of peanuts on the stone wall of our patio next to the arbor for the blue jays and squirrels. 3678DKB-webThey are so entertaining to watch.   This morning after putting out the peanuts I waited, with camera in hand, for the blue jay’s arrival.

These wonderful birds are something to watch as they come for the peanuts.  A bird will pick up one peanut and seemingly weigh it, then put it back down so it can pick up another.  This will continue till it has decided which one is the heaviest.  The chosen nut will then disappear down it’s throat.  Wait!  He is not finished as he then grabs another, presumably the next heaviest and with it firmly held, within its beak, it will fly away to bury both nuts before returning for more.

As the day draws to an end we still have snow on the ground, though only in those cooler shady areas.  Clarence and I have taken breaks from work to watch the variety of birds that visit our feeders today from the comfort and warmth of our home.  Life is good.

Prints available at  www.deebrowningphotography.com

Harvest Moon

Late in the day, my husband, friend Sonia, and I went to Pittock Mansion in Portland Oregon to watch the rising of the Harvest Moon.  Pittock Mansion is a historical landmark here in Portland built-in the west hills.  It’s vast grounds affords one a view of North Portland, Mt. Hood and last evenings rising of the Harvest Moon over the Cascade range.   When we arrived a mass of photographers had already staked claim to prime spots so I had to contend myself to the left overs. The moon had already made its appearance by the time I got set-up.  Shutters clicking and subdued voices were all one heard as all eyes/lens focused on the annual harvest show.

Though the day had been warm, fall is apparent in the soft breeze that developed as dusk descended, raising goose bumps on one flesh.    Bringing only the moon into focus to reveal the craters that cover its surface softens the foreground of the Cascade Range.  I love the dreamy effect this has on the composition, for the sky represents a dream scape for me.    After I had captured this shot, I decided to see if I could get closer to the edge of the hillside to get an unobstructed view of the north section of the city below and Mt. Hood.  A video-photographer had set-up a video and digital cameras on time lapsed in a prime location.  Seeing me looking for a place to set up, he offered a spot next to him.  After carefully avoiding all the cables of his equipment,  I finally got set-up and took the shot I was after using my wide-angle lens, a Nikon 17-35mm, as the mountain and moon were too far apart for my telephoto lens. Satisfied with my captured image, I then turned my attention to the time lapsed equipment.  I had a nice conversation with the photographer and his assistant while I watch the screen showing a live feed of the moon trekking an arch path into the sky.   I assume this girl was his assistant though they looked good as a couple also.  Could be she was both.

As the moon continued to rise I made my way back to where my friend and husband were waiting on a park bench, my progress slowed by conversing with fellow photographers.  We are a strange bunch as we normally are quite shy and reserved.  When working behind the lens we become energized as we strive to capture the scene that captivates us.

Viewing the harvest moon has me looking forward to the fall colors and salmon run.

Spa for the Mind, Eye Candy for the Soul

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As the 2011 ended, I found myself feeling mentally better than I have felt in a long time, so I began looking at all the images I had captured in the soon to pass year.   As I view those images, and there were many, only a few truly inspired me.  I felt I had lost something.  Nor could I figure out what it was.

A few months ago, another photographer suggested that I read a book by Zen Master Daido Loori who is also a photographer.  I researched Daido Loori and his Zen photography.  He states, ‘Many worry about the past when the past does not exist for it is in the past.  They also worry about the future which also does not exist for it is in the future.”   He goes on to talk about how Zen photographers live in the moment when capturing an image which is the Zen way.   I realized that I had let the past and future clutter my being, thus affecting my work.

Reviewing again those images that inspired me, I realized I had experienced ‘in the moment’ when I took them. Reflecting, not worrying about the past year, I realized I had let the past and future worries clutter my being, thus at times affecting my Miksang.  I am a person who seeks out beauty in simplicity.   Being receptive to simplicity requires a clear mind.   I love becoming one with my surroundings.  To feel, hear and see all there is before capturing a moment.  Those moments allow a cleansing of sorts of my mind and soul, thus my logo, Spa for the Mind, Eye Candy for the Soul’.

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When one takes the time to study the images I have captured you will see a pattern.  It will present itself as a captured image experienced while in a Zen moment.  A photojournalist will take you on an exhilarating visual ride while they transverse the world capturing images.   A portrait/glamor photographer will wow us with their magical artistic talent and touches.  A Landscape and Fine Art photographer capture’s a painting, whether it be that created by nature, man or a mixture of both.   Each of us shines in our own fields and each of us will bleed over into others as we all have, the eye  “Miksang”,  and want to capture all that catches that eye.

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One of my written prose,  ‘A moment taken to observe the ever-changing mural, is a soothing tonic to ones mind’, is something I try to inspire others to experience.  You need not be a photographer to seek out and enjoy a moment.  Most gratifying moments for me is when others, while spending time with me, will begin to observe their surrounding and share with me their discoveries.   In our fast paced life, these moments are truly a mental spa.

Prints available at    www.deebrowningphotography.com

A Time For A Fresh Start

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‘Tis the season for setting new goals.  This and other years paths had some hills and many crevasses with only occasional areas of level ground.  These I will gladly relinquish to the past.

I have learned a lot as I journeyed to the end of the year.  Most important,  life is easier to handle if one tries to understand, but not dwell, on the actions of others.  When we look beyond our own self, we become more tolerant and forgiving, for we begin to understand why those others seem so involved in themselves.  Many would argue, ‘Why bother?”, so as not to become one of them.  Today one hears that this is the”me”generation.  It is easy to fall into a mind-set that involves only our own happiness and/or misery.  Each of us has dreams, some more practical than others, but dreams are what keep us striving.  When those dreams are not realized, we must appreciate the good things we gained while trying.  Each of us have endured misery of some magnitude, as bad as it seems there is always someone else having a worse experience.

There are those, friends and family, who are an integrated parts of our lives, who repeatedly tax our understanding by their words and/or actions and vice versa.    Sometimes one needs to distance oneself, to lessen any friction, yet keep the life ties connected thus allowing time to heal.  Those who cut those ties are only hurting themselves.   In regards to family, ‘blood is thicker than water’, it  doesn’t mean it will blend well.  We are all only human.

New Year Resolution tradition is a time to set new goals.  My goals are to focus on those who strive to become more positive.   To try to understand, but not dwell on others seemingly bad actions, and to realize that my actions can also be misunderstood.  To appreciate all that surrounds me., the good and the bad for they balance me.  To accept things for what they truly are and not try to change them.  To be less critical of myself and allow myself  be who I am.

I write many verses inspired by places where I seek images to captured.  “Aspire to seek and find simplicity for it will bring placidity in the raging sea of life”  this one came to me as I stood on a rocky Oregon coastline.   I felt cleansed of troubling thoughts as I focused on the wind covering me with salty droplets it carried from an approaching storm driven waves, as they crashed upon the rocky shore.   So simple, yet powerful, were my surroundings that day!

To All Have A Safe And Happy New Year!

Prints of this image available at   www.deebrowningphotography.com

Reno Air Races – September 16th 2011

I wanted to get this blog posted due to the current events that have happened.    The photographs shown here are from the 2009 Reno Air Races that I took.  NCAR owns all copyrights to any photos and videos taken at the show.  This means these photographs cannot be used for profit.  I have been given permission by the NCAR back in 2009, to show these photos on my website but they are not for sale.

Friday, September 16, 2011,  I went to work on a marketing photo shoot that involved the rest of the afternoon.   Upon returning home, I stowed  my camera gear in my office then turned on the TV for local news.  Seeing a video played on the screen of a horrific plane accident that appeared to involved spectators, I paused and turned up the volume.  My heart flipped when I heard this had happen at the Reno Air Races.  The news stated that it involved many casualties.  I immediately picked up my cell phone and started making calls as I was concern for family members and friends who were in attendance and/or were participating in the event.  My first call went out to my Dad and when no one answered I began to feel the icy grip of fear.   I was near tears as I hung up and called my brother Greg’s cell and was somewhat relieved in hearing his voice but feared he would have bad news.  He quickly assured me that all family and friends were fine and that he would call me later for his phone was constantly ringing as other family members and friends who were there,  plus those not in attendance such as myself,  were making contact to get assurance of everyone safety and well-being.  I feel for those who did not get this reassurance.  I experienced, if only for  a moment, what it must have been like for them.

I come from a family of race fans of all kinds and my Dad, a pilot, instructor, retired crop duster, licensed airplane mechanic and a former crew chief for race pilot, Nick Macy.  So I know what I am writing about here.

Past and Present Crew Chiefs for Nick Macy
My Dad, Ace is on the right.
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My brother Greg and his wife Diane both are pilots.  Each have their own planes and a hangar there at Steads Airfield Airport, in Reno where the races are held.   During the week of many annual Reno Air Races my Dad, his wife, brothers Greg and Pat and their families along with many friends gather and hang out at another friends hangar.  This hangar is huge and has a master size bathroom, seating area and refrigerator full of refreshment.   A barbecue gets going just outside the hangar most evenings and brother Greg’s  fifth wheel parked out back to accommodate the overflow from the hangar.

Another gathering place is at Macy’s assigned pit area where race pilot Nick Macy, his crew, family and friends converge.  In between races Nick’s plane gets towed back to this area where those with pit passes can have a closer look at the vintage super machine, a Corsair.   And yet another gathering place is at race pilot Bill Whitlach’s pit area.  Hew flies the late Bob Yancy’s plane, a Russian Yak.  Bob was another family friend who raced planes at the Reno Air Races till his passing from cancer several years ago.

So with so many friends, family and acquaintances that I knew were there, not to mention those I knew who could be there, you can understand my reaction to the news of many casualties.   Before I continue I want to say how sorry I am for those who lost their lives or are fighting to stay alive and what their families are going through.  My thoughts and prayers go out to you.

I have been told that this horrific accident could cause the cancellation of future annual Reno Air Shows.  I hope this is not the case.   This was an accident like those of other dangerous sports such as car racing and other air shows.  All have safety measures in place that are constantly being improved upon.

In 2009, I joined family and friends at Stead Field Airport, in Reno, for four full days of air racing and other spectacular air performances.   The atmosphere charged with anticipation and tension of the unknown outcome that evoked the feelings of excitement of your pilot winning and apprehension of the always present dangers.

During my time there I saw one accident, involving one plane, and the pilot walked away to everyone’s relief.  In this air racing event in Reno has been an annual event for forty-seven years and there have been 19 fatalities before this year and none were spectators.  To me this is a small number considering the dangers involved.  I attributed that small amount to the safety conscious effort from of all those involved in this extreme sport.   Air Racing is dangerous as it involves man-made machines, some modified to have unbelievable power/speed, all under the control of a man/woman.  The pilots push their plane to their limits edge with skill and knowledge.  It is one of the earliest form of extreme sports.  These pilots and their crews are the best in what they do.

Spectators flock to the races in great numbers to experience the thrill and excitement of the event.   This would not happen if the extreme threat of real danger did not exist.   I have felt that thrill as a spectator.  It was a mixture of wanting to cheer my favorite pilots on, Nick and Bill, and at the same time, fear of something going terribly wrong that the pilots nor their crew could foresee.   To be brutally honest, that is a rush!  Which is what extreme sports is all about.  I did a little research and found that in the past forty-eight years of the Indie 500 races, ten drivers, one track personal and 3 spectators died.   Going back to Indie’s  beginning, the numbers in all areas rise.  There are many extreme racing events throughout the world.  Due to the extreme speeds and closeness of machine and man, accidents will happen.  These are unfortunate, but to ban them!   There is more hazards in everyday life from people being careless.  At least at these events safety is a priority.

When I was at the 2009 races I witness all the safety that was in place.  I was in awe at some of the spectators as they got so involved in trying to capture an image with their cameras or wanting to get a closer look, they would venture just past the safety barriers.  These spectators were immediately corralled.  In the pit area, you had to have a pass to enter, pit crews are very much aware of anyone getting to close to their plane, as was apparent in seeing the nearby ever-present sentinels,  this is evident even on the tarmac.

Six Cat on Tarmac   Pilot Nick Macy
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In this extreme sports event, planes fly low at high speeds, at times wing tip to wing tip as they pass each other.  They maneuver in close to the staked pylons that mark the air race course.

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Besides the racing there is danger in all the performances that entertain the spectators between races.   There are the pilots performing air defying stunts, that would make most people lose their lunch at the rapidly changing view seen from the cockpit of alternating sky and fast approaching ground.

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I experienced this once flying with my dad in a stunt plane, though not to the extent that you see at shows.   Skydivers fall from an aircraft high above, their bodies a tiny speck in the vast blue sky.  Those specks take on a human shape that rapidly grows larger as spectators feel a touch of dread when parachutes don’t deploy when they feel it should.

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Our armed forces pilots fly their jets upside down towards each other in what appears as a mid-air collision only a few hundred feet above the airstrip and in different very tight flight formation making one grimace as they pass by us  in an arena of open desert surrounded by distant mountains.

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Top-notch pilots are so in tune with their planes that plane and pilot become as one.

Pilot Nick Macy winner in the T-6 Class piloting his plane the Six-Cat
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The moment a pilot feels something might be wrong, he will pull out immediately and away to avoid any danger to others.  This is what appeared to have happened in this tragic event, only by the time, the pilot, Jimmy Leeward was aware of trouble, it quickly escalated into something that a very experienced and highly qualified  pilot, such as himself, was unable to get his troubled plane safely away.   My heart and prayers goes out to his family/crew.  Many family members become part of the crew.  Many are pilots themselves.  These crews have not only lost a beloved friend/family member, but must also be harboring a form of responsibility in regards to the mechanics of the plane that may have resulted in death of others.  A two-fold burden I would not wish on anyone.

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I guess what I am trying to say here is that we are all human.   We may try but we can not control fate.  I know the kind of people who work on these planes and who fly them.  They are the best in what they do.  My father can attest to this first hand.  After each race, pilots and planes are given top priority.   The plane is thoroughly inspected. The pilots after conferring with their crew and the press, will retire to a quiet place away from the crowds where he/she can recoup the tremendous energy they spent piloting their plane.  This is so very important as they need to be in peak condition both mental and physically before racing again.  The time with fans will come later.

As for the spectators they were there for the thrill of being so close to such a potentially dangerous event, as I can attest.

2009 Unlimited Gold champion  pilot Steven Hinton ©copyrighted

My prayers go out for those who were hurt, for those struggling to live and to those who lives were lost.   My sympathy and prayers go out to those family members of the victims and I am sorry that this accident had to happen just as I am sorry for the accidents in the past.

In memory of those extreme jocks present and past, and their faithful fans.

Dee Browning, photographer

Columbia River Gorge Flamboyant Sunset

I hope all enjoyed my assistant, Sir Clarence James, while I was busy with many other matters including my work as a photographer.  A little whimsical, he is always a source for entertainment.  If you are disappointed that you are not reading another of his adventures, rest assured he will be back.

With only a couple of weeks of summer left one wonders where it all went.  This year has been very un-summer like in regards to weather, as we here in Oregon have experienced below normal temperatures and an unusual amount of rain the first half of the year.  My garden, or an attempt at one, produced a few green beans and just a week ago the cucumber plants, less than six inches high, produced blooms and now are developing tiny cucumbers.  It seems so peculiar to watch them grow on such small plants.  If the weather holds in the nineties this week and next, as predicted, we will be harvesting tomatoes, and possibly cucumbers if those tiny plants can withstand the burden.  All other plants that I planted either did not come-up or died from lack of sunshine.

With the hopes of an Indian summer, I look forward to capturing the autumn colors, that is if the smoke clears from not too far away forest fires east of Mt. Hood.  Today the wind is coming from the east, filling our air with smoke.  With the return of  the warm weather, I find myself confined mostly indoors due to the smoked-filled air which irritates my lungs. I can’t complain as there are so many who have it so much worse as they deal with natural disasters throughout the world this most unusual year.

The haze of smoke in the air affords one the ability to capture some interesting sunsets and sunrises.   Last Sunday the winds from the south cleared the air allowing me to venture out without a mask.  Wanting to take advantage of  the forest fire’s haze, my husband and I drove to Vista House on Crown Point in the Columbia River Gorge.1906DKB  Here the Columbia River curves a watery path separating Oregon and Washington states,  affording one a ninety degree panoramic view of the south end of the Columbia River Gorge, to watch and of course capture the sunset.

We came early as I wanted to capture the east end of that vista as the sun began it’s most westerly descent casting shadows from trees and craggy cliff edges.

Soon others with the same idea began arriving on this pleasant warm evening to witness and celebrate an end to a wonderful day.

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A young man settled himself on the rock wall surrounding the Vista House and began playing a guitar.  His music fitting as it glided smoothly on the ever-present air currents found in the Columbia River Gorge.   Some brought picnic suppers which they spread out on the concrete steps.  Cameras from cell phones to the big guns, made their presence known as their owners captured the smoldering orange-red ball as it descended in the west.1937DKB

After I had taken the eastern images of the Gorge while the sun was beginning it’s descent, I then readied my camera with my Nikkor 17-35mm 1:2.8D wide angle lens and added a graduated ND filter.  With my trigger release cable attached and camera mounted on a tripod, I set-up facing west and framed my shot to include a lamp-post as a silhouette.  I then metered my shot.  I took different stages of the sun’s descent while enjoying exclamations of those around me and the lilting music of the lone guitar.  Young couples kissed the sun silhouetting their features.  Older couples such as my husband and I drew each other closer while facing westward, relaxing in the warm rays of the setting sun.1974DKB

I thought of those close to me who are dealing with life and struggling with what it throws at them.  I wanted them to witness this beauty of nature with me.  I wanted them to receive from this event what I was receiving.  To have hope and faith for when bad things happen, in this case a forest fire, to know there is light at the end of the tunnel such as this wonderful sunset .  My heart and prayers goes out to them as they negotiate their way through the turmoil while I can only be there for them in the form of support as I have no control over what they must endure.  My photography I hope brings them moments of mental relief from their daunting tasks when they view my captured images of the beauty that surrounds us or read the whimsical writing of Sir Clarence James!

So, go out and enjoy the sunset for it not only represents the end but also the beginning!  Life can be good if you want it to be.

Prints available at   www.deebrowningphotography.com