Eye Candy

February 4, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Hi!

 

My Christmas morning began in the dark, scraping ice off my windshield in Salina, Utah. After first light, I spent the rest of the morning

 marveling at the magic of ice sticking to every surface in sight.

After getting off the highway, I spotted a herd of horses wearing their winter coats huddled together for warmth. They were kind enough to

 came to the fence to pose for pictures.

 

The fence itself framed this frigid filly in the warm morning light. The white frost affirmed the namesake of this large cottonwood.

I liked the way the dark bark helps make the white even more stark.

 

The delicate details of frosted sunflower seed pods were pure eye candy in this magical world that melted away before my eyes in the

coming hour as I wound my way down this ribbon of a road.

 

Later on Christmas day I came across an entire mountain of Christmas trees that had earlier experienced a forest fire. It’s not often that you

 see the bare limbs of evergreens. I picked out this small grouping that better told the story of each individual tree. It reminded me of an

oriental ink drawing.

 

By the time the short day gave way to the night I was back in California taking a picture next to an orange grove under a most

dramatic sky. The little ripples on the far end of the streaks of light were made when a car turned on its turn signal to turn left.

 I left thinking about how the snowy mountains I had traveled through had provided the water to turn a place called Weed Patch,

 California into such fertile fields of fruit. 

 

After spending the night in Bakersfield, I headed north on Interstate 5 through a steady rain. A patch of blue sky appeared to the west, I took

a side road, slowed down and took a smaller road through hills that held ancient oak trees.  Having moved to Northern California from

 Colorado only 6 years ago, I’m still amazed that what they call “Winter” in this neck of the woods is the time of year when the world turns bright

green. I made the picture on the right  Black and White to accentuate the creative way oak limbs make way for one another on their way to the light.

It started raining again. The sun came out again. The prisms found in the remaining rain and fog created a rainbow. Behind me, in the

exact same spot, I spotted the creative way a road zigzagged its way to the top of the hill.

 

Thanks my friends for being with me on our shared journey through this most interesting and beautiful world. Because of you I have learned a great

deal about how I see the world and a great deal about myself. Because of you I wrote a book about what I’ve learned. The layout for book,

 THE PRESENT (Finding myself in the middle of NowHere), I’m delighted to report, is almost complete and it should be published sometime

 before Summer. Because of the great deal you have given me, I intend to do the  same for you! I will giving you details about how you can pre-order

 a signed and  numbered first edition in the coming emails.

So, again, thank you for all of your kind replies and for sharing these emails with your friends. I look forward to meeting many more of you in person

when I make my book tour. I already have locations for book signings in San Francisco,  Boulder, CO and a pub in Ireland! I’ll leave you with the

 last shot from my trip to Colorado and back. It was such a great welcome home. It was so beautiful, I felt like I was entering heaven’s Golden Gate.

Keep Enjoying Your Light

 

Love,

Jerry

Jerry Downs Photography

P.O. Box 1082

Larkspur, CA 94977

415-686-2369

Please stop by to see more than two dozen new images on my new website.

 http://www.jerrydownsphoto.com/

 visit the email archive:

 http://jerrydowns.wordpress.com/

 or join my Facebook Fan Page:

 http://tinyurl.com/2vq5vu3

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

William Arthur Ward

The main event has never been the manifestation; the main event has always been

 the way you feel moment by moment, because that’s what life is.

Abraham/Hicks

Categories: Uncategorized

Right Time, Right Place

January 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Hi!

 

Hello my friends! Welcome to Colorado and the first leg of a most remarkable trip back to California.  Anymore, everywhere I go feels like home.

While I was in Denver I had the great pleasure to spend some time with Sally, my sister-in-law and dear friend. We went to the The Blossoms of Light at the Denver Botanical Gardens. We shared our loss of my brother Joe and also had a wonderful time walking through the gardens talking about life and reflecting on the nature of the light. 

 

The full moon hung like an ornament in the sky. It also was in perfect position to accent one of the many Henry Moore sculptures that are planted around the expansive gardens.

 

My three day exhibit at Boulder Digital Arts went quite well. I got to see a number of friends from Boulder, the place I called home for more than 30 years. It was also great that I got to meet more than two dozen Facebook friends as actual physical beings. On Sunday about 40 people attended  a talk that led to a lively exchange about “being in the right place at the right time.” It was a discussion about the importance of simply Being and letting the images flow out of that space. It was about wonder. It got down to this: If we are full of wonder then wonderful pictures are everywhere. My thanks to Kent, Audrey and Jonathan for the snapshots of the event. I didn’t take a single picture. I was too busy being with my wonderful friends.

 

On Saturday, while I was waiting for the exhibit to begin, I took a walk down the block and found these crows positioning themselves in the perfect place  at the perfect time. I left for California the day before Christmas Eve. An hour out of Denver,  just past Idaho Springs, on a hill next to Interstate 70, I saw this group of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. This was the first time, after all the time I lived in Colorado, that I had ever seen these magnificent creatures in the wild. I wondered if I would ever, again, see another ram and found it hard to imagine that there would never be another ewe.

 

I stopped in Vail to meet another Facebook friend, Debi Kopp, for the first time. While I was waiting to meet her for lunch, I visited with a red bush resting in the snow next to a frozen river. Debi and I had a wonderful time sharing stories of our lives and our travels and talking about how our travels helped shape our lives. After a most pleasant hour I was back on the road traveling west. A one point I got off the highway and headed down the frontage road. It came to a dead end and I had to double back to get back on the highway. I was glad I followed my impulse. Where the road stopped I got to witness this single horse framed so beautifully by the branches of an old cottonwood in the last warm light of this short winter day.

 

I spent the night in Grand Junction, Colorado and was up before first light, excited to see where I would be at the break of dawn. Imagine my delight when I found myself at Papa Joe’s Stop and Go under a crescent moon at Crescent Junction, Utah.

 

At Crescent Junction I got off the highway and within an hour I was standing on the top of a ridge overlooking Dead Horse Point. I played with my long shadows to get the “Hi!” and good-bye shots. I played with different foregrounds that mimicked, in miniature, the magnitude of the monumental scene before me.

 

I had been to Dead Horse Point a number of times. It was always a stop on my way to Arches or the Grand Canyon. This meant that I had always  by-passed Canyonlands National Park. This time I made the left hand turn and drove the less than 10 miles (16 km) and was completely blown away. This “Island in the Sky” overlooks some of the most dramatic and expansive views in the American West.

 

On Christmas Eve Day, without another person in sight, I sat by myself, in the eye of the Mesa Arch,  feeling grateful for being born, the best gift I have ever been given.

 

Even when you are in Canyonlands or Arches National Park, it’s hard to get a true sense of the scale of what is right in front of you. Take these three  “small” details in the scene: The precariously balanced rock on the left is a good 60 feet (18 m) tall. The layers in the center are 50 feet (15 m) from top to bottom and the lightning shaped crack on the rock wall is at least 75 feet (23 m) long.

 

Only about 20 miles (32 km) from Canyonlands is the spectacular Arches National Park. On previous trips I walked up the steep trail at night to be at Delicate Arch for sunrise and stayed late in the day to shoot the warm light on The Courthouse.

 

On this trip, given the short day and the 1,000 miles (1600 km) I still had to travel, I decided to investigate a couple of spots that I had yet to visit. The  park is so remarkable that these monumental pinnacles in front of the La Sal Range barely make it into guidebooks and rarely show up in photographs. I also investigated the 112 ft (33 m) cathedral dome of Double Arches. I felt blessed to be standing in such a special space where the red  rock mountain opens up to the blue heavens above.

 

Thanks my friends for being with me on our shared journey through this most interesting and beautiful world. Because of you I have learned a great deal about how I see the world and a great deal about myself. Because of you I wrote a book about what I’ve learned and I’m delighted to report that the layout is almost complete and that it should be published sometime before Summer. Because of the great deal you have given me, I intend to do the  same for you! I will giving you details about how you can pre-order a signed and numbered first edition in the coming emails.

So, again, thank you for all of your kind replies and for sharing these emails with your friends. I look forward to meeting many more of you in person when I make my book tour. I’m honored and feel blessed to have you here with me in this time and place. It feels just right!

Keep Reaching for the Sky!

 

Love,

Jerry

Jerry Downs Photography

P.O. Box 1082

Larkspur, CA 94977

415-686-2369

Please stop by to more than two dozen new images on my new website.

http://www.jerrydownsphoto.com/

or join my Facebook Fan Page:

http://tinyurl.com/2vq5vu3

 When  we see with our eyes, we see a reflection of the light. When we see with our hearts, it is the light.

Colleen Zaruba

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Catch and Release

January 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Hi!

Hello my friends. Welcome to a brand new year! This trip takes us back to Boulder, Colorado to see friends and family and to put on a photography show. Though I’ve taken this trip a number of times, it is always different. The landscape doesn’t much change. I do. And, my eye changes right along with me.

 The trip began in my own backyard. The night before I left there was a ring around the moon. Farmers say it means that it is going to rain. Anything this beautiful, I simply take as a good sign for having been blessed to having been born in this region of the Universe. The next day the clouds moving over Mount Tam made me grateful for the place on Earth I call home.

 

Normally, I leave at the break of day and I’m well into Nevada before sunset. But this day I decided to start with a visit my Finnish friend Onelia who  was staying with our friend Josh in the South Bay about 40 miles away. As I crossed The Golden Gate Bridge I shot freehand through the windshield up through a dense fog. The resulting images look more like line drawings than photographs.

 

Onelia and I love taking pictures together. Out of the entire beautiful Bay Area, she chose to go to a deserted set of buildings in the Richmond district of the East Bay. I was happy for her choice. I often say that I take pictures of everything, but I hadn’t purposely photographed in a single  location like this for many years.

 

These docks and buildings were once the workplace for 10s of thousands of men and mostly women building warships to fight WWII. This was the first time many of these women had worked outside the home and certainly the first time women were allowed to operate heavy machinery. Just down the  road is a monument to Rosie the Riveter. With this history in the back of my mind, I imagined what scenes had unfolded in these buildings, what conversations were had under a light with Mt. Tam in the distance.

 

Like the multi-dimensional layers of graffiti that now covers the walls, I imagined the multitude of events that transpired in every single location. It was dark by the time I dropped Onelia back home and I hit the road for Colorado. It was almost midnight when I was past Reno, just before Fernley, Nevada ….where the speed limit changes from 70 to 75 miles per hour. The radio was blasting the Eagle’s song Life in the Fast Lane.  As the line, “Faster, faster, the lights are turning red.” were sung, I saw the red lights of a Highway Patrol car dancing in my rear view mirror. I pulled to the side of the highway and warmly greeted the officer as he came to my window. We made a connection. He asked me if I drive this stretch of the road often. I told him that I had been back an forth a number of times this past year visiting my dying brother and sister. Yes, I did use the sympathy card. I’m sure both Eileen and Joey would have approved and laughed loudly. He took my license and registration and went back to his car.

I waited, knowing all the while that when he returned he would remind me that I still had an outstanding speeding ticket and that there was a warrant for my arrest. There was nothing for me to do but be present and let the adventure unfold. He returned and delivered the news I expected. I said, “Okay, I understand. What happens now?” He smiled, laughed actually, and said, “Well, normally we have you lock the car and we take you to jail for the night and you see a judge in the morning. But, that’s not what is going to happen tonight. I’ve only done this once before, but it just feels right to do, what we call, a bail and release. (By this time another patrol car pulled up.) So, we’re going to take you the 30 miles back to Reno, get someone to open up the files, you’ll pay the fine, and then we’re going to bring you back to your car.”

After shaking his hand and thanking him profusely he asked if I had the $300 in cash for the ticket and fine. When I told him that I needed another $50 he said that we all would drive to the next exit and I could get it from the ATM at the truckstop in Fernley. Which is exactly what we did. We left the car parked, I took my cameras, and got in the back of the cop car. Once we arrived at the county jail it took about 20 minutes to find someone to turn on the computers and complete our transaction. All the while we talked person to person, exchanging stories of being on the road. I laid out a dozen of my business cards that each had a different picture and everyone picked their favorite. When we were complete I shook the hand of the officer who stopped me and we wished one another well. The other officer took me back to my car and after another warm exchange I was on my way. 

 

I had planned to stop in Fernley for the night, but I was too jazzed to sleep. I drove for four more hours, slept in the car for a couple hours and got up  to greet the dawn. I was happy and home, home on the range that is so dear and I am free to play.

 

The sun warmed the crisp winter air and the golden yellow grass. About 10:00 in the morning I was cruising along at 85 miles an hour. (The suggested speed by my highway patrol friends from the night before: “Nobody ever stops anyone going 10 miles over. It’s just not worth it.”) I was really pushing it to maintain 85 up a particularly steep hill. As I crested the hill to coast down the other side I looked down and saw a highway patrol car. I looked a little further down and saw I was doing 100, 25 over and a felony. He started to move. I pulled to a stop. He walked up to my open  window and said, “You’re no fun. You didn’t even run.” We laughed. I gestured down the long empty road and asked him where I could possibly run. He  replied, “You’d be surprised what some people do.” I offered no resistance, I started to offer my sob story but said instead,  “Okay let me get the  papers. I know what to do. I did it a couple of hours ago.” “What!?” he exclaimed. I told him the whole story and began again to get my license out.

 He interrupted, “Stop. Just stop. Don’t do anything.” Then he added, in these exact words, “You know I just hate it when people don’t learn a lesson. And you, Mr. Downs, clearly have not learned a lesson. Normally in these situations I get mad and start using language which is, I admit, a little inappropriate. But, and I really don’t know why, everything in my being tells me that I should let you go.” What was so particularly great about this event was the look on his face. He was so completely happy. We captured one another’s right hand, shook firmly and released one another  back into to the flow of the black asphalt river that runs forever in both directions.

 

I stopped in Elko, Nevada to get gas and fill the thermos with coffee. I also made a visit to the world’s largest fake polar bear and the world’s largest  (10′-4″) mounted polar bear, White King, at the Commercial Casino and Restaurant. The giant stuffed remains overlook the slot machines. I consoled  my discomfort knowing, given his size, that the actual bear being lived a very long and successful life in the wild. Further down the road, smoke from a chimney mixed with fog in a trailer park behind a single pine tree. Taken in isolation, it was hard to picture anything more magnificent.

 

As always, I marveled at the vast expanse and delicate details of the Great Salt Lake Basin.

 

Just short of Salt Lake City I stopped to get a perspective on the power of lines. When I reached Grand Junction, Colorado a grand sky capped the largest mesa in the world. The Grand Mesa rises about 5,000 feet above the surrounding river valley and covers an area of about 500 square  miles (1300 km²) and  stretches for about 40 miles (65 km).

 

I came across this cottonwood tree that had caught on fire. The charred bark had fallen off, except for the top branches. I liked the way the overall image  looked as a black and white. I liked the version on the right in color. The slight warm hue in the trunk worked well with the slight cool hue in the sky. I enjoy looking at a single object from a number of different perspectives and I love the number of different ways a final image can be perceived. When I posted the image on the right as my Picture of the Day on Facebook, people saw it as an arm holding up branches and a hand breaking through ice!

 

 

I reached the Genesee exit, the last downhill stretch of I-70 into Denver just after sunset. I took the flying saucer clouds as a good sign for what  was about to unfold and as another blessing of having been born in this region of the Universe.

 

Thanks my friends for being with me on our shared journey. I look forward to sharing this next new year with you. Thank you all for sharing these post with all  your friends. I appreciate the response to my $100 16×20 print offer. (Hey, it helped pay for this trip and for keeping me out of going to jail!) I have decided to continue the offer for the foreseeable future. There are few things that delight me more than seeing my work in the world. After all, that’s why I take the pictures to in the first place. 

I’ll leave you with another picture from the deserted building that began this trip. It is time to let go of the past and look forward to a brand new day. 

 Let’s make this one of the best years of our lives. 

Picture a Beautiful Future!

 

Love,

Jerry

Jerry Downs Photography

P.O. Box 1082

Larkspur, CA 94977

415-686-2369

Please stop by to see a number of new images on my website

http://www.jerrydownsphoto.com/

or join my Facebook Fan Page:

http://tinyurl.com/2vq5vu3

 

In photography there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated.

August Sander 

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

Eleanor Roosevelt 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Into the Light

November 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Hi!

 

 

Hello my friends. Thanks for all your kind comments about the last two emails from China. For the next few emails we’ll move from the Far East back to The American West. For the most part, I had the great pleasure of taking roads I had never seen or hadn’t seen in years. When I saw the old pickup smiling back at me a couple of hours after leaving San Francisco, I knew it was going to be a great trip.

When I am “out there” my only real destination is the next picture. I don’t really look for pictures. I just enjoy looking at the world and the images rise from that space. I never know what will capture my attention. The red warning spheres on the guide wires of a transmission tower, against the blue sky  caught my eye. It reminded me of a scientific illustration of the rotation of planets or the movement of atoms. When I got out of the car I didn’t know how that thought would turn into a photograph. I did know a few tricks. I put the widest wide angle lens I had on the camera and walked out into the middle  of the corn field where the tower stood. The sun was so bright that it was hard to get a fix on what I was looking at. So, I simply looked at the ground, found the shadow, put my head and camera in the shadow, turned around, framed the shot and took  the picture. I used the same technique to position  the sun behind the skull of the big horn sheep later in the trip.

 

 

The route I took required only a small detour to the divine Yosemite Valley. I didn’t make any pictures that were better than the ones I’d already taken on a previous trip when I took the time to stay for two days. By the time I got up over the Sierra Mountains, and was looking back at Half Dome from the east,  the sun had already cleared the curvature of the earth. I drove into the empty parking lot at Olmstead Overlook and stood where Ansel Adams had hiked in with his 4×5 camera and wooden tripod, set up my tripod, set a 30 second exposure and pushed the button. The long exposure captured the last remaining hues of the sunset. Later I converted the image into black and white by clicking on a button in Photoshop to mimic the master.

 

After spending the night in Bishop, CA, I headed east at the beginning and end of US HWY 6. I caught a crow taking off from an irrigation sprinkler after he had taken a water break from a break in the pipe.

 

I don’t know what HWY 6 looks like in Provincetown, Massachusetts, but out here it is one of the most desolated roads in the country. It’s the kind of place where the government has missal test firing sites. It’s a place where so little happens that a tar strip on the road become a terribly interesting event.

 

Out here in the middle of nowhere perception is precarious and scale is suspect. In the picture on the left the road is not wet and the sky is not falling. It’s just a mirage that disappears into thin air the closer you get. Where the dirt road ends in the picture on the right is a good five miles (8 km) away.

 

Miles from any town and about half an hour before reaching the Nevada/Utah border I came to one of the most distinctive gateways in the world.  It’s the home of Horns-A-Plenty. It’s one of the few places you can order a double tiered elk antler chandelier. The antlers were not all acquired from  hunted deer and elk. The difference between a horn and an antler is that antlers fall off the animal every year. I’m sure you could find this many  just laying on the ground in every 100 (160 km) square miles in any direction of this dirt driveway.

 

After traveling another 240 linier miles (386 km) I stopped for the night in Salina, Utah. There was still a few hours of sunlight left, but I didn’t want to be driving in the night through one of the most dramatic stretches of Interstate Highway in America. After tweaking a few images and posted my PHOTO OF THE DAY on Facebook, I had a good night’s sleep and got up a couple of hours before dawn. When I turned the light off in the motel room I saw several street lamps making multiple shadows of myself on the wall and the reflections in the mirror and TV. I said good-bye  and closed the door.

Before I got on Interstate 70 I stooped at the gas station convenient store to fill up on coffee and fuel, and to take a picture in homage of Edward Hopper’s  Nighthawks painting. I set up my tripod, framed the shot and set the self timer. There was no way that I was going to get all the way back to the booth and position myself before the camera went off, so I waited. As luck would have it, this cute girl in a red apron walked up and lit her last cigarette before entering the store to start her shift at the cashier counter. I knew I could count on her when, after explaining what I was doing, she laughingly said, “Sure. I think I can push a button.” I went inside, positioned myself, gave her the signal, looked straight ahead, held still, counted off the five seconds of the self timer, the two seconds of exposure and called it good.  I came back outside and thanked her. We both smiled, said good-bye and departed. It was time for both of us to go to work.

 

At the break of dawn I arrived, just in time, to shoot a silhouette of the first set of buttes. It didn’t take long before the first blush of warm light bathed the red rock formations. I flashed filled the stop ahead sign. I loved the graphic of the sign and how it fit into the scene.

 

By the time I arrived in Green River, Utah the sun was well into the sky. I was  particularly pleased to see the Practice Safe Sun billboard. It reminded me  of the picture I took on the right more than 30 years ago. I mean, what are the odds that I would find another appealing peeling poster that used sex appeal  to promote products  to prevent peeling. I admit, at first, to also being a bit disappointed. The sign was in the shadow and I knew the sun would be completely  overexposed if I exposed for the surface of the sign. I wanted it to look more like the Coppertone poster. There was no way I was going to wait for the 4 hours  it would take to make a picture with sun hitting  the surface. I let it go and decided to take a picture anyway. I found the shadow  on the ground, positioned  myself on the edge, turned around and found that the completely overexposed sun was exactly  what the image needed to make it a photograph.   By letting go of my picture of the past I was able to get a head.

 

Thanks for being with me on the first stretch of this most memorable trip. As you’ve seen in this and all my past post, I don’t spend a lot of time waiting for pictures.  I want to keep moving. I’m too excited to see what’s ahead down the road. Sometime next year I’ll be self-publishing my book. It’s completely written. All that remains is the design, layout, printing and raising the thirty grand. I have no doubt it will all unfold. Thanks for all your kind comments and support. You inspire me to keep moving. I’ll leave you with the next picture I took after the safe sun billboard, a half a mile down the road. 

Enjoy Your Light!

 

 

Love, Jerry

Jerry Downs Photography

P.O. Box 1082

Larkspur, CA 94977

 415-686-2369

 To order prints for Christmas

http://www.jerrydownsphoto.com/

visit the email archive:

http://jerrydowns.wordpress.com/

or join my Facebook Fan Page:

http://tinyurl.com/2vq5vu3

When I’m ready to make a photograph, I think I quite obviously see in my

 minds eye  something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the

 word.  I’m interested in something which is built up from within,

 rather than just extracted from without.

 Ansel Adams

People are like stained-glass windows.

  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out,

 but when the darkness sets in their true beauty

 is revealed only if there is light from within.

  ~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Categories: Uncategorized

Being on Earth

October 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Hi!

 

Greetings again from my China trip. It’s been fun going through pictures rediscovering what is foreign and familiar in this remarkable world.  The opening “Hi!” shot was made in the Qingdao Sculpture Garden. Depending on how you look at it, it’s an open question if the figure is sinking  from its own weight or rising into the world as a brand new being.

My friend Onelia, the designer and photographer from Finland took the shot on the left at the Botanical Gardens. I took the image on the right. It was great to be in such a quiet and secluded spot in walking distance of the downtown. It was hard to imagine that there was a city with 8 million people a half of a mile from this serene grove of trees. 

The gardens have a few public amusement rides. The thing being pulled from the water is a kind of boat that you get inside and roll to move about on the water. It reminded me of some of the sea creatures offered as seafood at the local markets. One of the things I enjoy about taking pictures with other photographers is seeing what they find interesting in the same place. While I was off taking a quirky “Jerry picture,”  Onelia was finding herself in the elegant simplicity of a Zen garden. Every picture is a kind of self-portrait.

A lot of our time was spent away from downtown walking around the neighborhood we began to know as home. And, like our respective neighborhoods in our own home countries, we were continually handed small surprises. The gloves looked so human to me and spoke of the hard work that all of humanity does to make a living. Given that I couldn’t read the language, the graffiti, the lettering and the shapes created by the peeling paper spoke to me even though I didn’t know their exact meaning.  

I  met a person from China in the mid-nineties in Denver who was telling me about his country. He gestured his arms wide to the city before us and said, “Picture this same scene, but take away most of the cars and imagine them being replaced with thousands of bicycles.” That image of China that I held in  my head when I arrived turned out to be just as wrong as any number of others I had imagined about this country and its people. 

Bicycles were actually forbidden in the downtown area. And given the way these people drive it’s no wonder.  I’m not saying they were bad drivers. I only saw a couple of accidents during the two weeks I was there. Depending on your orientation it could look incredibly chaotic or feel remarkably sensual. Everyone moved so close to one another, turning this way and that filling every space as it opened. The variety of vehicles was equally imaginative. We came across the two transport devices on the right on our one day trip to the country.

I’m sure our host thought it odd that I wanted to stop the car to take a picture of what was, to him,  such a common scene. I personally had never seen grain being spread by hand onto the side of the road to dry or threshing wheat by feet.

Onelia and I both found our own windows on this world where the old was continuously meeting the new. Her cubist creation on the left is one of  my favorites. In my picture on the right the man silhouetted in the shadow is sitting on a stool sewing a shoe. I like the way the white dot in the  background brings your eye into the picture and matches the white on the front of the building. It was the perfect place to put a satellite disc.

As I turned from taking the picture of shoe sewing in the shadows I saw a mother caring her child on her back. I saw them. I saw the building they were about to walk in front of, I smiled and gestured with the camera. They stopped and looked directly into the camera. I thanked her in Chinese and in the international language of a smile and a bow she said, “You are welcome.” I felt honored to be welcomed into their lives for that moving minute. It wasn’t until I got home that I saw that her son was already wearing a hat and that the straw hat was most likely her own that she had surrendered to protect her precious son.

Another thing that happened on my trip was that about a week into the two week journey I got a type of flu. I later found out I had contracted  it back in The States. I never got very ill, but one effect was that I lost 90% of my hearing. Being in the noisy, busy Beijing airport when I left was quite surreal. For the six hours until my departure I wandered in a quiet world of my own.

I had time to reflect on all that I had experienced, time to quite my mind and just be. It’s times like this when time stands still and I find myself seeing simply and I take a shot that really speaks to me.

I did get my hearing back. When I got home to San Francisco I saw a Western doctor. (In China I had already done acupuncture and taken a number of curious herbs.) The doctor said that my eustation tubes were clogged and that my hearing would return  in as little as six weeks to as long as six months. Having been deaf for the last ten days, both time periods sounded like an eternity.  Two days after I got home from China I left to be with my brother, Joey, who was in home hospice and expected to die at any time.   After being there a couple of deaf days I went to bed and……I know this will sound goofy but by now you already know I’m pretty goofy….. I sat in bed and said to All That Is, ‘Look. I’ve done everything I know. I’ve made it alright. I’ve made it into a valuable lesson. I’ve tried  everything. I need be here with my brother and his family. I need to hear now. What do I need to do?” Immediately I heard a voice. Not the  voice of any God I’d ever heard of, but a voice that said in an offhand, flippant kind of way, “Do the ‘Om’ thing. Just do the ‘Om’ thing and feel the vibration in your head.” That was it. I did it. I heard popping in my head and in five minutes my hearing returned to about 50% and by the next day it was completely back. I was back and able to be present with my brother for the next two weeks as he  savored every minute of being on earth one more time.  

There is a Chinese proverb that says, “The miracle is not to fly in the air or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth.”  Thank you my friends for walking on this miraculous journey with me. I so appreciate your presence. I’ll leave you with this picture taken  at the Beijing airport of a mother teaching her child how to make a cat’s cradle. It needs no translation.

Love, Jerry

Jerry Downs Photography

P.O. Box 1082

Larkspur, CA 94977

415-686-2369

Please stop by to see a number of new images on my website

http://www.jerrydownsphoto.com/

visit the email archive:

http://jerrydowns.wordpress.com/

or join my Facebook Fan Page:

http://tinyurl.com/2vq5vu3

When  we see with our eyes, we see a reflection of the light. When we see with our hearts, it is the light.

Colleen Zarba

Categories: Uncategorized

A Day in New York City

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Hi!

 

Hello my friends. Back in July I was in New York City for a day to shoot a conference hosted by Dr. Oz of daytime TV fame. Sorry, no pictures of him. Sony Television has to approve all the images for release first. I can tell you that he is the same in person as he is on TV, very funny and completely present with whomever he is with. And not a “Hi!” picture either! But here is a picture of one of New York’s finest who was gracious enough to let me take a picture of her beautiful self.

The conference and where I stayed was at the Hyatt Hotel, across the street from the Chrysler Building and down the block from Grand Central Station. I was there with my business partner, Joe Burull. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon which gave us few hours of sunlight to make a quick tour through the streets of this most remarkable city.

 

I opted not to bring my tripod for the walk. In Grand Central Station I set the camera on a ledge and took two exposures.  In the 4  second exposure, the people that are late for the train are blurred. In the 30 second exposure those people are invisible and the rest  of people are blurred except for people in the ticket line and the couple of guys who really liked looking at that car.

 

Then we took to the streets and joined the masses dashing to and fro in this most dynamic city. 

 

My personal approach is to walk slowly so I can take it all in. I have never quite understood headless manikins. They just don’t seem to be all there. What do I know? Perhaps it’s a Zen representation of “mindlessness.” On any given downtown street you can see a single shirt selling  for a small fortune and an individual carrying everything he owns on his back. In New York, if you walk slow enough,  the entire range of human experience will pass right by you.

 

I had Joe, who’s a runner, dash by a Nike outlet store. Down the street from the Empire State Building I stopped to reflect on the reflection  in an abandoned storefront window.

 

Across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, beneath the statute of Atlas, I took another picture of Joe. It’s a little over the top, but you want to show off a little when you’re taking tourist pictures of another photographer. At the Cathedral they were having an outdoor mass. Both pictures lended themselves to black and white.

 

Around the corner, in Rockefeller Center we went to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, which bills itself as “New York City’s  top sightseeing attraction!” I did, indeed, see a number of sites that I was attracted to.

 

The next day we shot the conference. Joe sat front and center and concentrated on getting great portraits of the people giving presentations. I wandered around getting candids of the crowd.

At 5:00 I grabbed a cab and left for JFK to catch a 7:00 flight. Joe stayed to shoot the rest of the job. I had to leave early because the next day I was leaving for China. After I got to the airport my flight was delayed for four hours. I, of course, used the time to take pictures. I watched the sunset with the passengers waiting for a flight at British Airways.

 

To make the time less interminable I walked the terminal taking shots of my fellow travelers. Sometimes I stopped and talked, other times I kept moving during the our exposure to one another. Both approaches produced moving memories.

The plane didn’t take off until after dark, but once it was in the sky, the last rays of the sunset were visible over the horizon. From my window seat I took a shot of the vibrant city below. The resulting image illustrated the energy of New York. As I moved across the continent, different sized waves  of energy electrified the night.

 

Thanks for joining me for this small bite of The Big Apple. In the next 2 email-photo-essays we’ll have a taste of China. I’ll leave you with a picture taken at the  Beijing International Airport. I used it for the home page of my new website. The site has 10 portfolios with my all-time favorite images. I’d love your feedback. My favorite comment so far was that each of the images in my HUMOR section look like a cartoon from the New Yorker magazine. Because I so love having my work in the world, I now have new prices for prints. Please stop by for a visit. http://www.jerrydownsphoto.com

In my travels I have discovered that there are a million things that we do differently from one place to the next. I’ve also learned that that quality is one of the infinite number things we do that make us the same. Keep enjoying your wonderful -full of wonder- selves.

Love,

Jerry

Jerry Downs Photography

P.O. Box 1082

Larkspur, CA 94977

415-686-2369

website: http://www.jerrydownsphoto.com 

email archive: http://pizap.com/jerrydowns

The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking

new landscapes but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust

Categories: Photo Essays

Just What I Needed

August 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Hi!

Hello my friends. When I sent out the last photo essay my email was shut down for “technical” reasons. I took it as another manifestation  of my disconnect from the world after all that had happened in the last few months. Thanks for all the messages that you sent that I never  had the pleasure to receive. Everything is working again, I’m finally back home and, once again, back in my body. After getting home for a few days after being with my brother when he died I brought my nephew from San Jose back to his home in Salem, Oregon. This trip was the route I took to get me back home.

On the way north we stopped in Corning, CA, where I took one of my favorite images, Olive Grove at Dawn. I was happy that I had been there when I was “in the perfect place at the perfect time.” Patrick and I had a great time together and celebrated getting to Crater Lake National Park just as the sun was setting.

 

We spent the night at a nearby motel and greeted one of the most magical places on the planet just as single star began to illuminate the landscape.

 

I like how the ruggedness of the place works so well with its inherent sensuality. On our way to Salem we stopped at a couple waterfalls that cascade down the Cascade Mountains. Looking at the picture I can still feel the mist on my face. It was cool.

 

We reach Salem in time for me to visit my 17 year old niece driving a combine. She stopped long enough for me to hop aboard the giant machine. We drove along at 1.9 miles per hour picking up Bent Grass. This is what the type of grass used on golf greens  looks like when it’s not cut and goes to seed. Kiera show me all the buttons and levers and we made plans for taking her Senior Portrait after I returned in a few days.

 

The next morning I drove to Trout Lake, Washington beneath a still snowcapped Mt. Adams. This beautiful location would be the site where my friends Rebecca and David would be married. I’ve know Rebecca since she was 9 years old when I dated her mother, Kate, who has remained a close friend. Take a close look at the image on the left and you’ll see that the cowboy boot is a birdhouse and the home of a family of swallows.

 

Though I rarely shoot weddings I admire those who do. I looked forward to shooting this event because I knew it would be unique given  the playful, creative  nature of David  and Rebecca.  During her walk to the “alter” with a giant red balloon, sultry samba sounds  filled the air and she made the most of every beat.  The crowd got a bit of comic relief when Rebecca asked David if he would  accept a rose ala The Bachelorette TV show.  The wedding “cake” was David’s delightful handmade donut design.

 

I was honored to be so warmly welcomed into the group of such loving family and friends. It was good for me to be with people and  witness the care and closeness of our human connection.

 

The party went on for two and a half days. One night I shot this picture of The Father of the Bride. I was, at first, trying to see if I could make an  exposure using just the illumination of the nearly full moon. The camera had a hard time focusing so I burrowed the flashlight to light the face  to be able to focus. Then I saw that looked pretty cool so I went in that direction. I had Kate “paint” in his face by moving up and down  his features with the flashlight. They hadn’t seen one another for 15 years. It was great to see how they treated each other lightly and shared each delightful day with their darling daughter.

 

The days were warm. During the day many of the guest took a break and cooled off in the river. That is Kate, The Chief Goddess herself, doing what she does so well: warmly welcoming in the world with open arms.

 

On the way back to Salem I stopped at Scheiner’s Iris gardens. I had stopped there years before and took pictures when the 200 acres of Iris were in full bloom. I left one of my cards with a flower on it and later Liz Scheiner, one of the third generation of Iris growers gave me a call.  I ended up selling her a few pictures for cards and advertising. She also started receiving these emails and always responded with enthusiasm and support. We were both genuinely excited to meet each other in person. Her bother Steve, who is also interested in photography, had been seeing the emails for years and was just as pleased to welcome me. It is always a great pleasure to meet,  in person, the people who are a part of this shared journey. The bloom season was over but I still found a bit of magic  in their beautiful display garden. The four foot Alliums stood tall and graceful against the Oregon sky.

 

Because I am the closest Downs I get to see my brother Shawn’s (who died 5 years ago) family.  I love being Uncle Jerry.  Lena; Ryan, Keira and Patrick’s mother played location scout  for Keira’s Senior Portrait. Not far from the family farm, vast fields of flowers are grown for seed. Together we created a whole series of images to mark this moment in time. The following evening I went back with Lena to shoot the sunset in those same fabulous fields of flowers.

 

After the sun had set we came upon this these beautiful stripes of color. While I was taking pictures Lena went to the farmer’s house next to the field who she knew and picked a few buckets of blueberries in their yard. Because the sun was down there were no shadows. I set up a tripod, used a telephoto to flatten the fields together, set the camera at the smallest aperture to get it all in focus, and made four second exposure to capture the colorful even glow.

 

The next day we made dinner with beans and potatoes from the garden and Lena made a pie from the blueberries she picked the night before. I felt nurtured and cared for as we all shared a home cooked meal and warm company.

It was just what I needed.

 

Thank you for sitting down and spending this time with me. I greatly appreciate you letting me stop by for a visit and for inviting your friends to join in our shared adventure. I look forward to seeing you again in person or meeting you in the flesh  for the first time. I’ll leave you with another poppy picture that I spotted in the garden at David and Rebecca’s wedding.  Life keeps growing on, all the while  seeding Itself for the future. Enjoy this fine day my friends and…..

Keep Growing!

Love, Jerry

 

Jerry Downs Photography

P.O. Box 1082

Larkspur, CA 94977

415-686-2369

website: http://www.jerrydownsphoto.com 

email archive: http://pizap.com/jerrydowns/

Facebook Fan Page:http://tinyurl.com/2vq5vu3

A picture must possess a real power to generate light and for a long time now

I’ve been conscious of expressing myself through light or rather in light.

Henri Matisse

Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.

Happiness never decreases by being shared.

Buddha

 

Categories: Photo Essays
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