Fall reflections

My favorite time to photograph is the Fall. The cool crisp air and abundance of color are refreshing. One of the ways I like to photography fall color is by capturing the color indirectly through refelctions. Here are some samples from this fall’s “harvest.”

These photos are combining fall color with car hoods or windows:

photocrati gallery

And these photos are combining fall color with water:

photocrati gallery

Pastor Mary’s mailbox


Pastor Mary's mailbox
Pastor Mary’s mailbox

 

Pastor Mary is the chaplain at the college where I work. Recently a little bird told me that I should check out Pastor Mary’s mailbox—and make sure to bring my camera. As I drove down her street looking for the correct address, I spotted her flowered covered mailbox from half a block away. There were morning glories growing up, over and around her mailbox to the point that I could only see the mailbox door.

One may suspect that Pastor Mary has quite the green thumb—but I have another theory. You see, as a chaplain, she provides pastoral care for the students, faculty and staff at the college. This is no small thing. Tending to and nurturing the faith of 3900 students is a huge task. She is a comforter when a student’s parent unexpectedly dies, a preacher and teacher to an age group that is struggling to “own” their faith, and a mentor to staff that works to meet the spiritual needs of a whole campus community.

How does one draw strength for such a responsibility? I am certain that it comes from daily communication with God. I imagine she must pray frequently and fervently. I am sure she gives thanks when she is given the right words at the right time. Chapel attendees can attest to the fact that she sings to God. No doubt she knocks at God’s door, ponders and pleads, pesters and questions…..shoot, maybe she even gets on the phone or emails Him too.

The point is that when communication with God is constant and continuous, the richness of relationship with God results in an abundance of life. Life that grows up, over and around us. Kind of like morning glories on a mailbox.

So you see, I am pretty sure that Pastor Mary’s mailbox is a metaphor for her correspondence with God. I think I’m going to take a walk down my driveway and check on what’s growing around my mailbox.

 

Noticing…

Grapevine

Grapevine

 

Noticing…

Some of the most rewarding photography comes from the ability to notice something special among the ordinary. It is a kind of “reading between the lines” way of visualizing the world around you. If you train your eye to look for interesting shapes, colors, lines, textures, etc…, these elements begin to pop out at you in unexpected, yet very common places.

This grapevine and white railing were just outside the room of a bed and breakfast my wife and I visited for our 30th anniversary this past June. (Okay, maybe this doesn’t sound so ordinary, but this particular scene could be just outside any of our houses). Our breakfast was delivered just outside our door each morning in a picnic basket, and there was a nice little patio with table and chairs with which we were able to enjoy our breakfast on. My eyes were drawn to the way these grapevine leaves fell across the railing, and especially the little red tentacles that curled around the vines. I composed the image so that the railing ran diagonal through the scene, and the large two leaves to the bottom left counter-balanced the smaller two leaves at the upper right.

As I think about it, an anniversary celebration is a way we notice something special among the ordinary as well. It is a way to “read between the lines” of the everyday and ordinary stuff of a marriage relationship and celebrate the shape, color, lines and textures that have formed over the years. It is a beautiful and rewarding picture.

 

Finding hope

finding hope

finding hope

These petunias are an impressive bunch. Growing out of a crack with concrete and asphalt surrounding them one has to wonder how they survive. Where do they get nourishment? And this in the middle of a heat wave right now!

I have some wonderful friends that remind me of these flowers. Right now the garden they are in is not one they chose. They have an adult daughter who recently became paralyzed from the waist down and has been having radiation treatments to treat a tumor on her spine. Their days are filled with waiting, meeting with doctors, and traveling between work and home and hospital. They spend as much time as possible with their daughter, taking care of her and emotional needs, trying to cheer her up and looking together with her for hope.

As the odds stack up, it seems like they are drawing all the hope they can through a crack in the concrete. But their faith runs deep, not just wide. Along with their pain right now they still smile and laugh–often through tears. And we hope and cry with them, because we are in this garden together.

Grasping and growing

cucumber vine tendril

cucumber vine tendril

In order to grow, you first need to grasp tightly to what you know. Then by hard work, faith, and determination, pull your self up beyond that safe point of knowing. There is risk in growing, but only through growth can you yield fruit.

The old red shed

There is something about old barns and sheds that repeatedly draw my eye. It may be how they root us to our past, or maybe the attraction of living in simpler times. I’ve always loved the look of faded barn red paint. On our country road is a old red farmhouse with a small red shed nearby.

Old red shed

Old red shed

The farmhouse and shed were already abandoned when we built our home on this road over 25 years ago. A farmer up the road rented the adjacent land for planting corn. He always planted a few rows of sweet corn along the road on this property for all the neighbors. We got to know this farmer well– Don and Mary Shores. They taught us a lot about growing vegetables, raising and butchering chickens, and about the neighborhood. But we never did learn anything about this old farmhouse.

About 7 years ago I took my oldest son’s High School senior portrait with the faded red wood as a background. Two years ago I noticed how the shed was losing it’s battle with gravity and so I took some close up abstract shot of various parts of the shed.

Weary hinge

Weary hinge

Weathered wood

Weathered wood

Two roofing nails

Two roofing nails

While photographing this shed I could not help but wonder about its story. When was it built? Who built it? Did they have any power tools at that time? What was its purpose–animals, machines, garden tools? Was it owned by a young family or old couple? Did they farm the land themselves? What was life like back then? How many owners did it have over the years? When was the house and shed abandoned?

This past March we had some pretty nasty wind storms, and the shed could no longer fight the pull of gravity. It’s just an old shed and abandoned farm house… but it feels a bit like an old friend is gone. The pile of rubble remains, but the spirit of the place is gone.

Collapsed shed

Collapsed shed

Looking back I am glad I took images along the way. These images help tell the story and  give color, shape and context that words simply cannot. When words fail me–and more and more they do–the camera lens helps me articulate what it is I want to share.

Knowing your subject

This year I am making an effort to know my subjects. So often I will label a flower as “yellow flower 1” without taking the time to learn what the real name of the flower is. I have shot a number of spring flower images this year, and have been able to get the names of a good number of them.

Learning the correct name of what it is I am photographing is the first step. Learning the times of day that the subject is best viewed is another. Some flowers close towards night. I also started a Google Apps calendar listing when different flowers are in bloom, and where to find them. A bonus is that I have visited a few new area nature parks I had not been to before.

Following are some images of Spring from this year. Enjoy!

photocrati gallery

Last Supper reflections

Maundy Thursday. Holy Thursday. Covenant Thursday. Thursday of Mysteries. It is the Thursday before Easter that Christians remember the Last Supper.

Jesus prepared a sparse room for a plain meal with His disciples. He broke bread and shared it with them saying “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

Can you imagine your host saying something like this to you after giving you food to eat? This teacher you have been following so faithfully? He has said many strange things the past three years, but certainly this tops them all! How unsettling. How….. sad.

Then He passes around a wine goblet and said “Take and drink. This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” It must hit them by now. In “remembrance” of Him? Is he going somewhere? Body and blood? No doubt the mood was somber. Surely the disciples were somewhat shaken and confused. I would have been.

But then imagine what Jesus knew at that time. What emotions were going through Him as he broke the bread and as he poured the wine?

I took the photo above of a crown of thorns plant reflected in a communion chalice. I wanted to imagine what Jesus saw when he looked into the cup. Suffering. Pain. Sharp needles from the crown of thorns. Under the surface, blood and sacrifice. A price to pay. A price I will not have to pay.

After this photo hung in on our church wall for a couple weeks, someone pointed out that it was neat how I placed a cross in the center of the reflection. I never saw it until then. It is a reflection from the translucent ceiling in our church sanctuary. Amazing.

This Easter holiday, look into the cup of blessing. What do you see?

“My blood shed for you”

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Church of the Servant scenes series

Chalice by Mary Doezema & paten by Don Doezema

Deliverance

Heaven is calling: don’t wait for the bus.

Deliverance

Deliverance

I’m re-posting this blog entry as a response to a post in the High Calling Focus blog entitled “Live in, not of:”

“Tell us, what do you know of living in the world and not of it? How do you engage the world around you through your photography? Show us a photo you’ve taken that has changed your perspective on the world in which you live.”

On a weekend get away this past March, I drove past an (apparently) abandoned bus and deserted church building in Saginaw, Michigan. I saw it for perhaps a second or two, but knew I needed to turn the car around and take an image of this scene.

Sometimes I will take a photo as a split-second decision, reacting to a gut instinct I have about the scene before me–only to process it more fully later on.

It’s later on…  What struck me here was the irony in the word “Deliverance.” As if the empty bus and church could deliver me from some thing, some how, some way… I’m sure many holy happenings were had on this bus and in this church. But as I thought about it some more, it struck me that as well intentioned human activities and institutions are–they really don’t “deliver.” Spiritually, that is.

Only God can change a heart. Only He can save. Only an authentic relationship with Him ultimately matters. Churches and spiritual activities are very important, very important. But often I think we mistake attendance and activity for relationship. And that is what this image reminds me of.

Only God delivers, so don’t wait for the bus.