Lunchtime Walk-About

Tuesday was a day jam-packed with meetings.  A break at lunchtime between meetings afforded me a walk. It was a working walk – looking for potential volunteer projects for a small group that will be coming in next week. But plenty of time to be stopped by beauty.

IMG_2066
Winterberry Holly

IMG_2067
Grasses and Cattails

IMG_2070
An Oak Leaf, Stuck in the Hemlock

IMG_2072
Beech Leaves Catching a bit of Sun

The Art of Mindful Seeing

This is a newspaper article to promote a photography workshop I’ll be giving on November 15, 2014.

The Art of Mindful Seeing
by Jennifer Schlick

IMG_2014 - Back Lighting, Backlit LeavesIt can take as long as twenty minutes to give myself full permission to forget the worries of the world and be mindful as I walk.  To be fully present to this moment.  To see truly what is in front of my eyes.  I may snap pictures before that state of mindfulness settles in, but I know, even as I snap, those pictures will fall victim to the delete key once I see them on the computer.  I take a deep breath and let go of worry and stress.  I invite my eyes, my mind, and my heart to align and be open to visual flashes of color, light, texture.

IMG_1955-2When something catches my eye and stops me in my tracks, I rest with that flash of perception in an inquisitive way, without judgment, without struggle.  I may walk around the object whose color or texture attracted my attention.  I may study the way the light is reflecting off of, or shining through, or just laying softly upon the object.

Eventually, I will raise my camera and attempt to capture an equivalent of the perception I just experienced – nothing more, nothing less.

IMG_1930This photographic practice, described in detail by Andy Karr and Michael Wood in their book The Practice of Contemplative Photography – Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes, will be the focus of a workshop offered at the Nature Center on Saturday, November 15, 2014, 1:00pm-3:00pm.  Think of it as a book report in the form of a workshop.

There are many reasons to make photographs and many approaches to the practice of making photographs.  This is only one.  For me, this approach has been akin to drawing in a sketchbook.  I am not trying to create great works of art, I am simply practicing the art of seeing, and of capturing in a real, uncontrived way exactly what I see.

IMG_1785The practice continues when I get the images home and onto my computer.  Cameras are computers that are programmed to make decisions on our behalf.  Sometimes those programmed decisions distort the image we perceived.  A few adjustments are often necessary to make the captured image match our original perception.

I have found that my practice images are often so beautiful I want to print them and hang them in my home or office.  I have also found that this practice continues to help me see in fresh ways, even when my purpose is conceptual or journalistic.  I find that instead of photographing what I think I ought to, I photograph what is really there.  The book, The Practice of Contemplative Photography, is sprinkled with quotes from great photographers.  Here’s one from Aaron Siskind that expresses what I’m getting at here:  “We look at the world and see what we have learned to believe is there.  As photographers, we must learn to relax our beliefs.”

Students should dress for the weather and bring their favorite cameras as we’ll be making photographs outside.  Any kind of camera will do.  This is not a class about how your camera works.  It is about an approach to using your camera that will improve your ability to see the world with fresh eyes.  We will review the concept of contemplative practice and try some of the exercises put forth in the book. Finally, a few tips for post processing will be offered to improve your captured images.

The deadline to register is Tuesday, November 11th.  The cost is $33 or $25 for Friends of the Nature Center members.  For more information, or to register, call (716) 569-2345 or visit http://jamestownaudubon.org.

The Audubon Center & Sanctuary is located at 1600 Riverside Road in the town of Kiantone, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania.

Jennifer Schlick is the nature center’s program director.   Photography has been her passion for many years and she began practicing photography seriously in 2006 when she purchased her first digital SLR camera.  Her work has been displayed locally in both group and solo shows.

Swamp Rose

At this time of year when the trees’ color is just a tiny bit past peak color, the edges of the ponds still hold some amazing color.

IMG_1908

IMG_1932 IMG_1906

Not being much of a summer fan, I seem to have no photos of the blossoms.

UPDATE:  After reading this, my friend Kathleen sent me this picture of hers of Swamp Roses in summer:


(Thank’s Kathleen!)

The fruit is bristly:

Swamp Rose Hips

Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris):

(Green) Stinkbug

Well, I wasn’t going for the bug.  I was going for the hips – the red fruit of the rose – in this case Multiflora Rose (Rosa Multiflora).

IMG_1831

As I shot through the tangle of branches attempting to capture “red” I noticed quite a few insects, including this one:

bug, true bug, nymph, insect, black with yellow and black stripes on abdomen

After a bit of searching, I decided this is a nymph phase of the Green Stinkbug (Acrosternum hilare). According to the entomology department at the University of Florida (which, by the way, lists the Latin name as Chinavia halaris (Say)), nymphs normally take about a month to grow into their adult form. From their pictures, I’d say this fellow is fifth instar, meaning it’s next molt will bring adult shape and colors. Given the cold temperatures, that may not happen until spring. Young stinkbugs at this time of year will find a place behind bark or under leaf litter to wait out the winter.

There are great pictures over at the University of Florida website of all phases of development, from egg right on through to adult. Check it out: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/veg/bean/green_stink_bug.htm.

They also have this cool picture of peaches that show evidence of stinkbug feeding. I always wondered what caused those weird shapes!

Catfacing on peach caused from feeding by the green stink bug, Chinavia halaris (Say). Photograph by Russell F. Mizell, III, University of Florida. (Click photo to go to website from which this photo was borrowed.)

No surprise:  The Purdue website is more concerned about the damage this bug does to soybeans:  http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/fieldcropsipm/insects/greenstinkbug.php.

Winterberry Holly

What’s all that red out there?

IMG_1842

Winterberry Holly
Ilex verticillata

IMG_1847

And wow, are they loaded with fruit this year!

Poisonous to humans, they will provide food for birds and small mammals.  Like other hollies, this one native to North America is dioecious – there are male plants and female ones.  Unlike other hollies, this one is deciduous.  After the first frost, the leaves will turn dark and drop off.  But the berries will remain through the winter.

IMG_7665

More information: