Red, purple, and pink Oriental poppies may dazzle the eye, but I’ve discovered another variety. Well, it’s actually one that I transform into black and white. I hope you’ll agree that this make for a very different visual experience. For me, it brings into focus, on another level, the essence of the plant.
Photographer on the Roof? Perhaps in spirit if not in body. I recently felt that, like a cat, I was jumping from rooftop to rooftop. For sure this came from all the traveling I was indulging in. While leaping from a small cruise ship to an inflatable zodiac, from planes to trains, cars, and horse carriages and back on my feet, my eye and viewfinder seemed to possess a mind of their own.
All over the town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, the jacaranda trees are in full bloom. We owe their presence to the late 19th century Japanese imperial landscape designer, Tatsugoro Matsumoro. While not originally from Japan but Brazil, they are as much of a signature piece here as bougainvilleas, also native to South America.
This piece was inspired by a visit to a few Pacific Ocean beaches in Mexico including Zihuatanejo, Barra de Potosi and Troncones, a winter “Mecca” for folks from San Miguel de Allende, and those fleeing the cold from up north.
In my recent piece, “RED!!!”, I touched on the cultural and symbolic qualities commonly associated with red: love, passion, and danger. I also explored the botanical and entomological source for its dye and paint. For example, the “perfect red” is derived from an insect, the cochineal, that thrives on nopal or prickly pear in Mexico. Used for centuries by the Mayans, it was soon coveted by the Spanish who traded it in Europe. The second most exported good from Mexico after silver it eventually was traded on stock exchanges such as London’s and Amsterdam’s.
Maybe it’s simply because the color red is ubiquitous during the Christmas season, or because San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (our winter home), is imbued with warm colors from amber, peach and terra cotta walls to hot pink bougainvilleas, that inspired me to share a few cool — I mean, warm photos.
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It’s hard to imagine San Miguel de Allende without its majestic botanical garden, El Charco del Ingenio. Upon first visiting it about twelve years ago, I felt a tad overwhelmed. It struck me as a wild, surrealistic, almost otherworldly landscape. However, with my background in landscape design, I began to appreciate what emerged as a series of elegant gardens following curved paths. Before me were wonderfully creative and visually satisfying combinations of plants, stones covered with rust-colored lichen and boulders. READ MORE
Well, not quite. We haven’t had a downright frost where the basil turns yucky brown, the hosta leaves droop like flattened crepes and all those black walnuts come crashing down at once. Instead, a 42 degree day will get followed by a humid 78 degree one and our incessant rains feel downright tropical. While sweaters remain in the drawer some folks wear sandals to the supermarket or post office. To Read More
With a mere suggestion of maple trees turning amber, staghorn sumacs sporting clusters of scarlet red and velvety fruits, Canadian geese honking overhead and monarchs on their way to Mexico, I’d like to offer a few moments from last season. Summer is drifting away: no ticks lodged in our armpits, the sky turns dark during dinner, the basil and tomato leaves are browning and the lake is no longer inviting.
The inspiration for a previous piece, "Reflections, Part 1", grew from images captured in June while visiting beautiful, historic towns in Alsace. The more I looked around, particularly below, the more my eyes opened to another dimension, in this case, the architecture and character of Colmar's, 'Little Venice' and Strasbourg. Seemingly "floating" in rivers, canals and waterways awaited windows, doors, bridges, flowers and clouds. The effect transformed edges into soft, curving lines while colors almost melted in the tranquil waters.
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While recently visiting Alsace and strolling along the cobblestoned pedestrian streets in its Medieval cities of Strasbourg and Colmar, I was enchanted by its distinctive architecture. These photographs are about the visually transformative nature of water where buildings, plants, clouds and blue sky take on another dimension.
To read more, go to: Reflections
People were saying April was more like March. But after a long winter, spring finally came to the Berkshires. Returning from Mexico on April 20th, I had expected the daffodils to be over and looking sad as they droop down and the tulips to have been simply chewed by the deer. Magnolias such as the one above might have been zapped by a late frost. This year though they miraculously knew to wait before setting out buds. What a display they could then put on!
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Coming across an unexpected scene in passing that brings a smile to your face is one of the pleasures of life. Better yet, is a zany scene on the street - or a bus, restaurant, subway or even church. Somehow the older I get the more they seem to pop out from nowhere.
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Americans as well as Canadians have been referred to as "gringos" in Mexico for a couple of centuries. It's not necessarily derogatory. Or perhaps we've just embraced the term, like the "chilangos" have from Mexico City which I will write about more below.
These recent photographs of Patzcuaro in the state of Michoacan, Mexico, focus on two themes. The first is of a particular street I fell in love with while exploring the town in the early morning; the second, a few black and white portraits.
On so many levels, Bhutan or, Druk Yul, Land of the Thunder Dragon, is a mysterious, intriguing and visually rich, country. Set high in the Himalayas, this last Buddhist kingdom has managed, against many odds, to preserve its cultural and environmental heritage. Central to its heritage are its people. As my previous two pieces hopefully indicated, what is still referred to as a Shangri-La, provides much to contemplate.
To Read More: The People of Bhutan
Whether you are crossing the tarmac at Paro's airport while squinting through a brilliant blue sky towards Bhutan's mountains surrounding the landing strip — quite a challenge for planes; trekking on a steep path to a remote Buddhist monastery; or simply strolling along a village road, prayer flags will invariably greet you. Almost rarely out of sight, they form part of Bhutan's unique landscape and cultural identity.
To Read More: Bhutan: The Wild, The Cultivated and the Sacred
Marijuana growing wild along the roads, red peppers drying on metal roofs, monks in crimson and burgundy robes checking their cellphones, plump cows ambling undisturbed on roads, exquisite handmade textiles — these are but a few of the images that come to mind when I think back on Bhutan.
Like many, I'm drawn to photographing doors, gates, and windows. Not only do such framed spaces invite – and, of course, exclude, they invariably beckon. What's on the other side? For example, in Mexico, I often hear people declare after knocking on a person's rather unassuming door: "I had no idea what was behind that door."