Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Artist Inspiration

As a Christian, I believe that God is constantly at work in our lives.  Years ago, I was studying the work of the Holy Spirit and came across this Old Testament Scripture in Exodus 35:30-Exodus 36:1.

30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.  1 So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the LORD has commanded.”

While I am not building a temple or a church, I believe that everything I do is to be done for the glory of God.  I see in scripture that Christians receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and that it manifests itself in different ways to each person.  And I have found that God often provides inspiration for my work in many ways.  

Today I had one of those moments.  I was on my front porch doing my "morning time" and continued to other tasks that I could do outside on my laptop on this beautiful day.  I was noticing how beautiful and wispy the white clouds were against the blue sky. The nearest camera was my cell phone so I grabbed it and took a photo.  The minute I looked at my image, I knew that it wasn't coincidence that led me to grab my photo at that exact moment.  There is a repeating pattern in one series of my images - faces that appear out of natural objects.  Today, I see a gigantic bird in the sky - two eyes, a long beak and even wings.  

Yes, I know it is only wispy, fanciful clouds.  But I marvel that I happened to take a photograph at just that moment when the clouds formed that imaginative shape.  

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Atlantic Puffins

At Bull's Bay, we checked in at Mullowney's Puffin and Whale Tours.  We were the only ones there for the next cruise, but they agreed to take us!  Since our time in Newfoundland was limited, it was such a blessing to get to do the puffin tour without having to come back the next day.

I've been fascinated with puffins since I saw tufted puffins along the Oregon coast.

Off the Newfoundland coast on rocky islands, Atlantic puffins nest in small burrows surrounded by grass.  One parent stands guard.

Puffins nest as far south as Maine and on islands across the North Atlantic from Iceland to Ireland and from northern France to Norway.

Excellent fishers, they float in the water until our boat startles them.  Puffins are fast flyers.  If I could go back, I would use a faster shutterspeed - 1/250 sec wasn't fast enough! They are challenging to photograph because you must lock on for focus before they startle into flight. 

Puffins can carry as many as 30 small fish to bring back to the nest, but usually only carry up to 10.

Atlantic Puffins can live to be 30 years old. They choose their life mate when 3 to 5 years old.  They only come to land to breed and raise their chicks, surviving well far out into the ocean.  Strong swimmers they can dive to 200 feet. In flight they can fly up to 55 miles per hour.

Their greatest enemies are the great black-backed gull which can capture a puffin in flight or on the ground and herring gulls who steal the fish and pull chicks and eggs from the nests.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Burlington, Iowa

I love towns on the Mississippi River.  They are historic, have interesting bridges, and stories to tell.  

The Great River Bridge connects Burlington, Iowa with Gulfport, Illinois.  It is a unique, asymmetric single tower cable stay bridge that is so much fun to photograph. Finished in 1993, it has been part of a successful plan transform the river area into a waterfront district that is a pleasant place to walk, pause to appreciate the river, and shop.

Burlington has a fascinating downtown with historic buildings from various time periods, lovely bed and breakfast homes, and a wonderful bookstore: Burlington by the Book  owned by Christopher Murphy.  Situated downtown a few blocks from the river, you will find interesting books and gifts, with author book signings as well and special events as well. 

Burlington is the hometown of Aldo Leopold, writer of "A Sand County Almanac," a book ahead of its time for conservation and a must read for all naturalists.  He graduated from Yale's Forestry School and had a long career in the Forest Service and became a professor of game management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  After purchasing 80 acres in Wisconsin, he put his theories into practice to restore the land.  You can still visit this property, part of the Aldo Leopold Foundation.