I was out scouting a location for a future photo shoot when I found myself about to drive past the Weyerhaeuser corporate headquarters building here in Washington state. With some time to spare I pulled off and visited their beautiful bonsai gardens where they have 60 unique specimens from 6 different Pacific Rim nations, some were started as long ago as the 1950s.
When I’m out in the field I’m often drawn to compositions of graphic lines and form. You can find beauty in the patterns of nature just about anywhere you go, you just need to be open to seeing them. Bonsai is a collaboration between man and nature that celebrates this beauty. It is up to the individual artist’s imagination to shape the plants through very selective pruning, removing key limbs, creating a balance to the composition, even shaping the limbs directly either with copper wire or by suspending stones from the branches to weigh them down. Over time the plant will adopt this new shape even as the wire and stones are removed.
In this age that has so much slick art dominating the culture it’s nice to see imperfections. The bonsai is a living plant, it will never be absolutely perfect and it is forever growing and slowly changing. This is a very slow, methodical and thoughtful art form. I find peace and a feeling of zen when I have time to just sit back and admire these beautiful works of art. I was drawn in by all of them, whether the great redwood in miniature or the wabi sabi out of balance nature of the one that looked as if it was growing out of the discards from a giant egg. Serendipity played a hand in the timing of my visit as many of the deciduous varieties had yet to fully leaf out allowing the intricate design of their branches to be seen with just a hint of the color yet to come. It will come as no surprise that I have many bonsai trees in my own landscape.
What was intended as merely a scouting mission, I didn’t even have any formal camera gear with me, resulted in a wonderful opportunity to soak in some art and nature and fill my soul. A wonderful day for me is not always about the perfect light and equipment, the images shared here were simply shot on my iPhone. It was a great way to spend the morning, I highly recommend it.
For details on the Weyehaeuser bonsai gardens click here:
Fleming College and the Royal Ontario Museum are teaming up with photographer/educator Neil Ever Osborne to offer a degree program in Environmental Visual Communications. This program is designed as a blend of environmental science skills and the ability to effectively communicate to a variety of audiences.
If you are passionate about our planet and want to develop your career in getting this message out visually and effectively, then explore this unique program.
Conservation photography has grown into a effective means of education and change. The work that is being done now to illuminate the concerns of our planet is being done by committed people that grew this idea out of the ground. Organizations like iLCP support this important work.
Watch this video to learn where these ideas come from and the people that are teaching us about the work we all share as stewards of the Earth.
Want to know how Art Wolfe fell in love with nature and all its beauty. He simply got out there and appreciated what we have here in Washington State.
You can too, and here is how you can get out there this winter at little cost.
The start of winter officially begins in a couple days and here is a great opportunity to learn how to snowshoe and take some great winter photos at the same time.
The US Forest Service is offering several weekend day-hikes with a photography theme this winter at Snoqualmie Pass in 2012. For $20 you can sign-up and they will provide snowshoes and a guide and you will take off from 9:30am to 2:00pm. They will teach you ecology and snowshoeing while you glide through a winter wonderland of photo opportunities. Just bring your camera along.
The USFS also has other hikes of varying duration:
Interpretive 90-Minute Walk
Sat. Sun. 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m.
Learn about winter ecosystem, wildlife and safety.
Group size 20
Extended Half-Day Hikes
Fri. Sat. Sun. 9:30 a.m.
Experience Commonwealth Basin in the winter surrounded by the Cascade crest peaks.
Group size 10
Winter Photography & Ecology Outings
Jan. 21, Feb. 4, 18, March 3, 17, 31, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Capture winter nature on film while learning about ecology.
Group size 6
“Kids in the Snow”
Feb. 4-March 31, Sat. 1 p.m.
Earn a Junior Ranger Snow badge! Learn about tracking, crawl into a snow cave and check out a snow crystal with a magnifier.
Group size 20
The 90-minute walk and extended snowshoe trips run Jan. 8-March 31, the winter photography and ecology outings Jan. 21-March 31 and the “Kids in the Snow” program Feb. 4-March 31. Make reservations at 509-852-1062 before Jan. 2; and 425-434-6111 afterwards. Trips for special events and school groups can also be scheduled. Meet 15 minutes early at the visitor’s center off I-90, exit 52 on Snoqualmie Pass.
Philip Hyde has shown what can be done via photography to shed light and awareness on our precious natural resources.
Celebrate his life and look for his show now on view at the Lumiere Gallery in Atlanta. Watch the video to get a glimpse of his message.
I regularly support conservation and environmental awareness issues through the medium of photography. We all need to get the word or image out to the public in order to influence change and/or preservation. This is the right kind of propaganda.