Category Archives: The Intimate Landscape

The small details, shapes, and textures that catch my eye.

Bridging Time

“Bridging Tree”
Kailua-Kona Hawai’i

This tree has an unseen story to tell. The photographer did not step back to include the rest of the story. On the tree’s left is the Little Blue Church. On its right is an ancient Hawaiian heiau.

Here I stand, catching the evening’s last light,
Spreading it gently to the souls of the present on my left,
And to the ancient spirits of the past on my right

Lesson Learned: I need to take my time to contemplate what I am seeing and feeling, then raise my camera to record the story. I should have used a wide-angle perspective to include the church and the heiau. Always learning …

Remnant of the Past

Ancient Hawaiian Heiau
Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i

Just to the north of the “Little Blue Church” is the remnant of an ancient Hawaiian heiau (temple). I came to see the church, but my interest quickly turned to the adjacent heiau. How long ago did the ancient peoples worship on this ground? Was it in use when Cook first landed on the island just a few miles south of here? What do these protruding wood branches and line represent? So many questions …

The Little Blue Church

St. Peter’s Church By The Sea
Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i

This little church was built in 1888 next to an ancient Hawaiian heiou. It is currently a Catholic mission and holding Sunday services.

When I drove past the church, it was late afternoon. The front of the church was in deep shadows. The sun glare dominated the background as it reflected off the ocean. It was a great opportunity for a B&W photograph.

Silent and serene the little church stood
against the brilliant glow from above.
What history does it have to tell?

Fishing in the Deep South

South Point
Hawai’i, the Big Island

You can’t get any further south in the United States than this. The southern tip of the big island of Hawai’i is the most southern point of our country. I guess you can consider it the deep, deep South.

This image is the second of a series of Black and White photographs that I will post from my recent trip to the Big Island. In each of these images, I purposefully took my time to try to catch a specific moment and/or composition. Each one had a specific intent when I began the process of recording what my eyes were seeing or what my mind was feeling.

I stood and watched this boy for several moments before I put my camera to my eye. I could have just stood and watched much longer as he patiently cast out and reeled in his line, repeating the process over and over. Each time he cast out, I was hoping that a fish would take the bait. What a a glorious way to spend a late afternoon!

Creating a Feeling

Onomea Falls
Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Gardens

Over the years, I have visited the Hawaiian Tropical Gardens on the big island of Hawaii four times. Located near Hilo, it gets around 160 inches of rain a year. It is a tropical RAIN forest. Every visit has been on a brilliantly bright day, no clouds and no rain. This visit I was hoping for at least a cloud cover to help darken the gardens like it typically is … no such luck!

Onomea Falls is one of the special beautiful places in the garden that I enjoy most. My intent was to create an image of the falls in a dark setting as it typically is in. It was dark, but bright hot spots from open spots the canopy were located all around the area. I was not going to leave disappointed again. I took my time, worked my way around the area, played with filters and exposures and left with something I could work with. Back at home I combined images to reduce the hot spots and keep the shadow details. I converted to B&W (as was my intent when I took the images) and did a little selective dodging and burning.

The result to me was well worth the extra time!

“The Chief”

“Chief Joseph”
Lodgepole Pine

In my last post, I described the path up to the top of our Japanese-style garden. This is the “Chief” that I mentioned at the the first turn of the upward path. The brilliant gold of this small pine stops me in my tracks. It is absolutely beautiful against the cold winter snow. It is a jewel in this area of the garden.

Bright and light it captures me.
Gold shines apart from the surrounding land,
Everything else is a background blur.

Patience

Kotoji and Yukimi Lanterns

I have learned so many new things as we have been designing and implementing a Japanese-style garden here in Selah, Washington. The biggest thing that I have learned is how little I know and how much I need to learn. Studying and learning is a big part of the enjoyment that I am receiving from this project. Patience is a key element that I am balancing.

Walking through a Japanese garden is an adventure in discovery. To get to the point where this image is taken, I take a meandering stroll. I enter the garden from our driveway along a gentle bending path and come to a fork. I choose to walk up a gentle slope. The path curves upward to a wide level space where I pause to closely observe a brilliant yellow “Chief Joseph” limber pine. I turn around and see our pond in the distance. I continue to walk up the path to another wide area at the top of a stream. Again I pause to look over the now dry stream bed and over the valley below. After several moment, I cross a large basalt rock bridge over the stream. I turn to my right and see this vignette of the Kotoji and Yukimi lanterns. One leg of the Kotoji is anchored in the stream. The Yukimi is placed on a rock extending over the edge of the pond. On a bright day (without ice or snow covering the pond), I can see the reflection of the Yukimi on the pond. I feel like it acts like a guardian for the koi in the pond.

After I take the photograph, I step back upon the stone bridge. Looking down on the stream, I consider the options that are available to landscape around the stream to create a natural setting. Ideas flow through my mind. Nothing quite gels at the moment. There is no hurry to come up with a design. A landscape is developed over a period of years. It is never completed. Now is the time to have patience and just enjoy what is in front of me.

Touch of Winter Color

Kotoji in Winter
Heather Heights Garden

As we developed the design for our Japanese Garden, winter color was an essential element. Throughout the garden, we added several conifers that turn to a brilliant yellow to contrast against the greens of other shrubs and trees. We also selected deciduous Japanese maples and other trees that have color in their winter bark. The soft light browns of key rocks add to the color contrast. However, these were gifts, not necessarily part of our planned design. We just got lucky here.

Borrowed

Kotoji in Winter

One Japanese garden design technique is to used “borrowed scenes” from the area around the garden. As much as possible the background elements should look like they are part of the near and mid-range scene, giving it additional depth. As we laid out our Japanese garden last summer, we identified several elements for which we positioned them to take advantage of the background hills and landscape. In this image we used our neighbor’s large front yard tree, their pasture, and their fence to give depth to the Kotoji landscape view.