Coming Soon: Audubon Days at Panama Rocks!

I recently wrote this article for our local papers:

Coming Soon: Audubon Days at Panama Rocks
by Jennifer Schlick

IMG_4542 Mother's Day 2015

Enjoying the Rocks (sans Lolli) on Mother’s Day.

OK, I’ll be honest: I don’t often go hiking places where I can’t take my dog. That’s why Panama Rocks fell off my radar. And then for Christmas, I received a season pass. So, on Mother’s Day, Lolli the Pup stayed home and I went with my husband and daughters to a place I hadn’t experienced in years. We picnicked first, then headed out to explore the trails, scavenger hunt clues in hand. We scrambled up to get closer views of some of the formations. We rested for a bit on a nice outcropping and set the camera timer to get a great family photo. We cooled off at the Ice Crevice where there was still snow! We read all the signs, and figured out all the clues – and yes! We found the treasure! We had such a great time I’ve been back twice since. Poor Lolli.

IMG_4915-Scrambling on the Rocks

Stay on the trail, or choose a more challenging path.

If you haven’t been in a while (or ever?), I encourage you to join the Audubon Nature Center staff and volunteers at Panama Rocks on Saturday or Sunday, August 1 and 2, 2015.

The trails are rugged, but not too difficult. Or, you can MAKE it difficult by scrambling up the rock faces, or squeezing yourself through narrow passages, the most famous of which appears on the map as Fat Man’s Misery.

The park has been privately owned and in operation since 1885. The current owners, Craig & Sandi Weston, purchased the park in 1979 and have been working to restore historic buildings and protect the natural beauty for the thousands of visitors that explore from May through October. During one of my visits, a conversation with Craig & Sandi’s son Jonathan about partnerships led to this grand experiment – a collaboration between Panama Rocks and Audubon Nature Center.

IMG_4933 - Ferns and Rocks

Experts will be on hand to teach about the geology and trees found in the scenic area.

August 1 and 2, 2015 have been dubbed Audubon Days at Panama Rocks. Nature Center staff and volunteers will be available at the Rocks to answer your questions about nature, programs at the Nature Center, and more. In addition, there will be activities for children, guided nature walks, and maybe even a few of our education animals. Folks who join or renew their membership in the Audubon Friends of the Nature Center group will get 14 months for the price of 12. There will also be a drawing for a free one-year membership.

I’m especially looking forward to the geology and forestry walks that will be led by Tom Erlandson and Dan Anderson. Both are retired instructors from Jamestown Community College and both have a wealth of knowledge to share. At 10:30am, you may choose either Geology or Trees. The walks will repeat in the afternoon as follows: On Saturday, Geology is 1:30pm and Trees is at 3:30pm; on Sunday, Trees is at 1:30pm and Geology is at 3:30pm.

Dave Moller and Gary Cuckler

The duo “Steel Rails” (Dave Moller & Gary Cuckler) will play on Saturday from 2:00 until 4:00pm. Maybe longer!

Saturday visitors will enjoy music by Gary Cuckler and Dave Moller from about 2:00pm until 4:00pm. Sunday visitors will be serenaded by Bill Moran. We’re working on a few other surprises… but not everything was in place when this article went to print!

Panama Rocks is open daily from 10:00am until 5:00pm during the spring, summer, and fall. Every day, including during Audubon Days, regular Panama Rocks admissions will be in effect: general admission is $7.50, children ages 6-12 are $5, children ages 5 and under free. Panama Rocks is generously donating a portion of each admission to the Nature Center on Audubon Days, so your fee will be helping TWO nature organizations at the same time!

IMG_4607 - Found the Treasure!

Test your puzzle-solving skills and see if you can find the hidden treasure.

IMG_4913-Interpretive Sign - human history

Signs along the trail teach about human and natural history.

We are hoping to make this the biggest attendance weekend of the summer for Panama Rocks. And since word of mouth is always the best advertising, won’t you help us spread the word? Tell your friends – in person, preferably, or if you are on Facebook, join the event at https://www.facebook.com/events/ 692951320836189/, then invite your friends to go with you. Bring a picnic, blanket, lawn games. Perhaps you know people who are coming to Jamestown for the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival. Maybe they would like to spend a morning or afternoon exploring nature before heading downtown.To minimize the impact on the scenic area, please plan to picnic on the upper grounds where picnic tables, trash cans and recycle bins are available. Folks are asked not to take food or beverages into the scenic area – only reusable water bottles are permitted.

Panama Rocks is located at 11 Rock Hill Road, Panama, New York. Learn more about the park at their website, http://www.panamarocks.com/. The Audubon Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, Jamestown, New York, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania. Learn more about the Nature Center at http://jamestownaudubon.org.

Many thanks to Jonathan & Holly Weston for starting the conversation.

Click here for more pictures.

Jennifer Schlick is program director at the Nature Center.

Ridiculously Excited

This article appeared on the Nature Center blog and in local papers:

Photography Intensive
by Jennifer Schlick

I am ridiculously excited by the lineup of instructors for the Nature Center’s June 20, 2015 Photography Intensive!  The talent and experience of the instructors is top-notch.  This is a real opportunity to rub elbows with many fine photographers and to learn first-hand their tricks of the trade.  Participants will have three or four choices in each of four 1-hour time slots.  The hard part will be deciding which workshops to sign up for!

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) butterfly-9468-2-small-tl

This photograph of a Great Spangled Fritillary by Twan Leenders is an example of the high key portrait style used in the Meet Your Neighbours project – photography for conservation.

The day will start with registration and orientation at 9:00am.  There are workshops at 9:30am, 10:45am, 12:30pm, and 1:45pm.  We’ll finish the day with evaluations from 2:45pm-3:00pm, and this is important because your feedback will help determine the topics for an upcoming summer series of Photography Workshops.

But let’s focus on June 20th.  A summary is included below, but full descriptions of the courses and biographies of the instructors can be found at our programs website:  https://jasprograms.wordpress.com/jun/photography-workshop-june-20/, which also has a link to an online registration form.  You’ll need to decide which workshops you want to take before you sign up.

IMG_4044Expose to the Sun

In Kathleen Tenpas’ workshop, you will expose treated paper and fabric to the sun to create cyanotype prints.

At 9:30am, participants will choose from Fun with Macros with Sandra Rothenberg, Comparing and Using Photo Editing Software with Michael Weishan, or Looking Good – Ideas for Composition with Gary Lester.

Sandra Rothenberg is a nature photographer who grew up in northwest Pennsylvania.  Her photographs of birds, bats, and other wildlife, as well as flowers and landscapes have been shown in galleries, and can be found in private homes and businesses.

Panebianco_sea cruise

Catherine Panebianco’s “Sea Cruise” is an example of the creative treatments you might learn in the iPhone-o-graphy workshop.

Michael Weishan hales from Cattaraugus County, New York where he teaches for the Arts Council.  His work has been exhibited in several galleries throughout the region.

Gary Lester originally picked up photography as a hobby, but eventually put his skills to work in advertising, journalism, and as a portrait and wedding photographer.

At 10:45am, choose from Meet Your Neighbours – Photography for Conservation with Twan Leenders, Pet Portraits with Personality with Cathy Panebianco, SLR Manual Mode Crash Course with Bruce Fox and Deb Lanni (this one is full), or Sun Pictures with Kathleen Tenpas.

Dramatic Sky w Birds

“Two Birds” is a composite created in Photoshop using four different images – sky, two birds, and a texture layer from a photograph of the surface of the lake. Learn to make composites with Kimberly Turner.

Twan Leenders, a biologist from the Netherlands, now heads the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History.  Meet Your Neighbors is an international project that seeks to draw attention to our often overlooked natural neighbors using a particular style of photography known as high key portraits.

Cathy Panebianco’s pet photographs grace the walls of her clients, and are used by the Human Society to help place pets in homes.  Her fine art photography, much of made with her iPhone, has been exhibited nationally and appeared in books and magazines.

Bruce Fox, photography and graphics coordinator in the Instructional Resources Department at Buffalo State College, and Deborah Lanni, recently retired from her position at Jamestown Community College as the media arts program coordinator, live in Stockton, New York.  They are co-leading a workshop at 10:45, and each offering another workshop later in the day.

Jeremy Martin at Work

Jeremy Martin is pictured her photographing a dragonfly that has just emerged. Learn more about photographing insects in Jeremy’s workshop.

Kathleen Tenpas of Clymer, New York, received her first camera at the age of eight.  She studied darkroom techniques before moving into the digital world.

The 12:30pm lineup will repeat Kathleen’s Sun Pictures workshop and also include Black & White Conversions with Jeremy Martin, Improving Landscapes with HDR with Deb Lanni, and Gear Geeks! with Bruce Fox.

Jeremy Martin is a nature photographer from Allegany County, New York whose work has appeared in several publications, including Northern Woodlands magazine and the New Yorik State Conservationist magazine.  His photo of the bog flower Rose Pogonia appears on a Canadian postage stamp.

Fern, Warren, PA, Sandra Rothenberg, wild

Sandra Rothenberg will show you how she gets close-up photographs like this fern, just starting to unfurl.

The 1:45pm time slot will include Creating Composite Images Using Photoshop with Kimberly Turner, iPhone-o-graphy with Cathy Panebianco, and Insect Photography with Jeremy Martin.

Kimberly Turner comes to us with a BFA in photography and illustration and an MFA with a concentration in photography.  She has taught photography at Indiana University, Northern Illinois University, and Michigan State University.

We’ve kept the schedule loose with 15 minute breaks between workshops and a 45-minute lunch break to give you time to network with the instructors and with fellow particpants.

The cost for the whole day is only $66, or $50 if you are a member of the Friends of the Nature Center.  Pre-registration with payment is required by Tuesday, June 16, 2015 and you can register by phone at (716) 569‑2345, in person, or online.  Be prepared to tell us which workshops you want to attend.  Participants should dress for the weather and bring their own lunches.  Beverages and light snacks will be provided.

img049

It can be hard to get images like this straight out of your camera. Let Michael Weishan show you some editing software that can improve your photographs.

The Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania.  Learn more by visiting http://jamestownaudubon.org and direct questions to (716) 569‑2345.

Jennifer Schlick is program director at the Nature Center.

Click HERE for more detailed information about the June 20th workshops.

Click HERE if you are ready to register!

Jakes Rocks

It was my turn to write for the newspaper this week.

Mini-Adventure at Jakes Rocks
by Jennifer Schlick

One of my friends is on a cross-country adventure with her daughter. I’m enjoying her regular posts of photos and quick snippets of story line. Ice on her tent, but a beautiful view. Fishing for trout. Dinner with her son who lives out west. Tromping through flood waters to get to the art museum.

IMG_4703 Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel

Seeing all her pictures and reading all her updates gave me a hankering to experience something new, something different. Now, I could have allowed myself to sink into a pool of self-pity about how I don’t have the time right now for a grand adventure. But instead, my brain jumped to the rescue and reminded me that I have never seen the Mountain Laurel in bloom… And, isn’t this about the time they should be blooming?

So into the car and off to Jakes Rocks Overlook! (Thank you, brain, for remembering that Jakes Rocks features, as the Forest Service website confirms, “a short hiking loop through Mountain Laurel.”)

IMG_4708 Pink Blossom on Tree

Pinxter Azalea

Mountain Laurel is the official flower of Pennsylvania. At Jakes Rocks it grows as an understory shrub, but in other locales, it can grow quite tall into something more like a small tree. Depending on where you live and what the weather has been like, the blooms may appear in late May through the first part of June. I was at the Rocks on Sunday, June 7. Most of the shrubs still had tight little buds – but a few had opened.

IMG_4410 - Wintergreen

Wintergreen

I don’t see Mountain Laurel along the trails I usually hike. There is so much of it at Jakes Rocks that I had the feeling of being on a far-flung adventure, even though I was only an hour’s car ride from home.  In addition to the Pennsylvania state flower, I delighted in learning two new shrubs, Pinxter Azalea and Mountain Winterberry, both of which were blooming near the overlook. Along the trail there were plenty of Striped Maples – also known as Goosefoot Maple for the shape of the leaves, and as Moosewood – because moose eat it, I assume. The aromatic Sassafras was also plentiful. A pine tree with deeply furrowed bark and needles in twisted bundles of three had me perplexed… could it be Pitch Pine? On the ground I saw Wintergreen (and I resisted the urge to munch on one of the plump red berries), Low Bush Blueberries that looked like they had already bloomed, and Sarsaparilla with flowers. Along the roads white blossoms gave away the location of future blackberries.

IMG_4706 Kinzua Reservoir from Jake's Rocks

Kinzua Reservoir from Jakes Rocks

There are spectacular views of the Kinzua Reservoir both from the hiking loop and from the road. I’ve been there many times before, usually with energetic children who love climbing the gigantic rocks and taking the lower trail which goes “under” the rocks, which I didn’t take advantage of during this whirlwind mini-adventure. Seeing the Mountain Laurel was all I wanted and it was worth the drive. I recommend you go this weekend! There are picnic tables and restrooms – so take your lunch and plan to spend the day. If you have time, you might consider also stopping in at the Kinzua Dam visitor center, Bent Run Waterfall area, and Rimrock! Make a full day of it!

I still don’t know where the name “Jakes Rocks” came from. I mean, the “Rocks” part is obvious. At first I thought the rocks belonged to Jake. But if that were true, there’d be an apostrophe before the s. Hmm… If you know, drop me a line!

Jamestown Audubon Nature Center 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. Learn more about the Center by calling (716) 569‑2345 or visiting http://jamestownaudubon.org. The Allegheny National Forest website describes Jakes Rocks here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/allegheny/recreation/recarea/?recid=6092&actid=54.

Just Say No

Today, I gave a talk at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Jamestown.  I’ll include the reading and hymn numbers here, just in case you are UU and might like to know.

Just Say No
Jennifer Schlick

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Opening Hymn #360 – Here We Have Gathered

Welcome and Announcements

Prelude

Chalice Lighting – Reading #448

Hymn #90:  From all the Fret and Fever of the Day

Children’s Story

A Cup of Tea

Adapted from a traditional Zen Koan

Once upon a time, there was a professor who had been teaching at the University for a long time.  He knew many things and was highly regarded by everyone.

One day, he learned that there was a very wise Zen master who lived high in the mountains above the town.  This Zen master was also highly regarded by everyone.

The professor decided he should meet the Zen master, to see if there was anything he could learn from such a wise man.  He climbed the mountain path for a long time, and eventually found the shelter in the mountains where the Zen master lived.

“Oh great master,” said the professor, “I understand that you are a wise man.  I wish to learn everything you know.”

The Zen master said, “Let’s have tea,” and he began the meticulous preparations.  Once the tea was ready, he placed a cup on a rock and filled it, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself.  “It is overfull!  No more will go in!” he exclaimed.

The master stopped pouring and said, “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations.  How can I teach you anything unless you first empty your cup?”

Children dismissed (Go Now in Peace)

Joys & Concerns

Offertory

ReflectionJust Say No

I love that story about the Zen master and the professor.  It resonates with me right now.  Not because I want to learn about Zen.  It’s because of the way my life looked this past year:

  1. My mom had some health issues and needed my help more than normal. In fact, I moved in with her for six months.
  2. Andy Goodell invited the artists who participated in Women Create 2012 to display their work this year at the State Capitol. It fell to me to communicate with the artists, arrange for the photo opp, and so on.  For those of you who don’t know, Women Create 2012 was a juried exhibit of women’s art which my friend Deb Eck and I coordinated.  The month long exhibit included an opening reception, weekly salons to meet the artists, and a closing night reception at which a new work of art was unveiled.  People loved it and wanted us to do it again. And we loved doing it.  It was, however, exhausting, so Deb and I decided it could be a biennial.  Which brings me to number 3.
  3. Women Create 2014 had me busy from August 2013 through the end of March 2014 with everything from managing the artists’ submissions, getting the photographs to the juror, then communicating with the artists about who was selected, when they needed to deliver their work and so on. I also created and updated the website, worked with Pat Brininger for publicity, attended all the activities, and so on.
  4. In April, I mounted a solo exhibit of my photography at the Lakewood Library.
  5. The Allegany Nature Pilgrimage is an annual gathering of nature enthusiasts that is organized and executed by volunteers from 4 different nature organizations: Jamestown, Buffalo, and Presque Isle Audubon and a nature club from Rochester.  I served on the planning committee and managed the website and Paypal account.
  6. A bunch of SW graduates thought it would be fun to hold a 70s-80s Reunion inviting all graduation classes from those two decades to gather. I said yes to getting word out to my class, attending a planning meeting or two and going to the event over 4th of July weekend.
  7. 2014 also happened to mark the 40th anniversary of my high school graduation. In the past, I’ve handled the lion’s share of the preparations myself.  But because of everything else I had going on, including caring for mom, I made a couple of phone calls.  Thank goodness I had folks step up and take over so that all I had to do was show up – late by the way – because my daughter’s best friend got married that day and we went to the wedding first.  Leading up to the reunion though, I was in charge of the website and paypal account, communications, bill paying, etc.
  8. In August, I helped both my girls pack up their belongings so they could head out to start the next chapter in their lives – masters degrees – Emily to Rochester NY and Maddie to Boulder CO.
  9. Also in August, I led a short photography workshop at Chautauqua Institution for the Bird Tree and Garden Club.
  10. In September and October I headed up a group photography exhibit at the Prendergast Library with four other photographers.
  11. In September, I was scheduled to lead a hike at Fredonia College Lodge for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference Fall Camp-out. I scouted the trail several times in the months leading up to the event, since I don’t normally hike that trail.
  12. In October, I was invited to offer photography workshops at the Wild Women Unite retreat weekend in Buffalo, NY.

Are you tired yet?  Because while doing all this I was still holding down my 40-hour-per-week job at Audubon and trying to be a wife, mother, daughter, and friend, not to mention trying to keep up with Facebook!

I’m not complaining.  I feel blessed to have the skills to be able to help in all these endeavors.  But as my boss once said to me, “Too much of a good thing is still too much.”

Have you ever seen Peter Pan or read the book?  Do you remember the part where Wendy asks Peter to describe Neverland?

He says, “Well, it’s an island.”

“A large one?”  she asks.

“No, no.  Quite small.  But it’s nicely crammed with hardly any space between one adventure and another.”

That’s my life – hardly any space between one adventure and another.  In fact, I usually have more than one adventure happening all at the same time. And the adventures overlap with a new one starting before the last one is finished.

And you know what?  It isn’t healthy.  I was tired.  My digestive tract wasn’t behaving.  I didn’t feel sick-sick, but I never felt truly well, either.  Stress was taking its toll.

At some point in early- to mid-August, a classmate and I found ourselves on Facebook doing the typing-chat thing.  He asked me what I thought of the reunion.  I took a few deep breaths as I remembered the activities of just a few weeks prior.  My exhausted mind tried to find opinions or emotions tied to the events.  Finally, though, I had to say, “Honestly.  The reunion was just another check mark on a long list of things I had to do.”

And I thought, how sad.

And in that moment something snapped.  I decided I was done.  No more packing my life so dang full of projects.  I would finish the projects I had already committed to, but I would say NO to anything new.  For one whole year.

I would empty my cup.  I would put some space between my adventures.  I would free up some time for reflection, yes, but also for spontaneity and surprises.

Not long after making this decision I had lunch with a friend of mine who studied gestalt once upon a time.  Conversations with her are always very interesting.  She asks hard questions.  She probes deep.  We chatted about why I say yes to so many things and what I hoped to gain by pulling back.

Sometimes I said yes because I was truly interested in a project.  But sometimes, I said yes because it felt good to be appreciated for the skills I could bring to bear, even if the project itself didn’t truly interest me.

What do I hope to gain by saying no?  I hope to gain a more powerful yes.  I hope that when I finally go back to saying yes, it will be to projects that are a true reflection of the mark I want to make in the world.

The last few months have been interesting.  I’ve tied up many loose ends and quit many projects.  I’ve said no to more than one request to get involved in something new.

Some endings have been easy, others have been bittersweet.  Some NOs have been easy and others have been difficult.  There have been some mis-steps and some mistakes.  For example, I said YES to a friend who asked me to speak at her church…  And I find myself daydreaming about projects I COULD start…

But I’m not going to.  Not for at least a year.  I will give myself time to reflect.  I will pay attention to which things I truly miss.  And after the year is up, I hope I will choose my projects and activities more mindfully. I hope I will have more clarity about what I want to say YES to.

I’m going to follow this advice:

When you feel stuck or lost or overwhelmed, stop everything.
Empty your cup.  Create a void.
Do not refill the void too quickly or without reflection.
Fill it mindfully – and not too full like Peter Pan’s Neverland.
Leave space between adventures for reflection.

And spontaneity.  And surprises.

Hymn #83:  Winds Be Still

Extinguish the Chalice (Reading from Richard Gilbert)

The Shirk Ethic
by Richard Gilbert

O God of Work and Leisure
Teach me to shirk on occasion,
Not only that I may work more effectively
But also that I may enjoy life more abundantly.
Enable me to understand that the earth
Magically continues spinning on its axis
Even when I am not tending thy vineyards.
Permit me to breathe more easily
Knowing the destiny of the race
Rests not on my shoulders alone.
Deliver me from false prophets who urge me
To “repent and shirk no more.”
I pray for thy grace on me,
Thy faithful shirker.

Postlude

Wildflowers of Nova Scotia

wildflowers of nova scotia

For sale on Amazon.com!

I’ve never been to Nova Scotia.  I would like to go.  Especially now that I have SIX photos in a book about the wildflowers of Nova Scotia!

First up is American Golden Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium Americana) on page 59.  This TINY flower was hard to photograph until I got my 10X magnifier which screws on to the front of my 18-55mm lens.  The plant grows in very wet places.  Most of my photos of this plant are from Allegany State Park, including the one that made the book:

American Golden Saxifrage

Next up is Broad-leaved Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) on page 103.

Common Arrowhead w Leaves
This was a ditch flower. I took this photo along Jones & Gifford between Jamestown and Celoron, NY.  For the book, they cropped the top part off that shows the leaves.  They have a different photo that shows the leaves.

On page 108 is Two-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine diphylla)

Toothwort

I have about a billion photographs of various types of Toothwort. This one was taken up in the woods behind Bergman Park in Jamestown, New York.

Also taken at Bergman Park was this Foamflower which shows up on page 139:

Foamflowers
Heart-leaved Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)

Kidney-leaved Buttercup (Ranunculus abortivus) shows up on page 206:
Kidney-leaved Buttercup
This is another of the many spring wildflowers I find every spring in the woods behind Bergman Park.

And finally, Spring Beauty (Claytonia caroliniana) is on page 287:
IMG_1389
These grow just about everywhere that I hike. This one, again, was taken in the woods behind Bergman Park.

So there you have it. My fifteen minutes of fame.

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.

Celebration!

Smaller Enchanter's Nightshade

Enchanter’s Nightshade

We’ve been trying to do it for years.  Something always distracts.  A different creek to explore.  Getting lost confused bewildered.  Starting too late to finish.  Too much snow.  My camera.

Today we finally accomplished our goal.  We were determined.  We set out early.  We refreshed our memory on how to REALLY use the compass and topographic map.  Not the pretend way:  “I think we’re right about here…  That’s cool.”  And most importantly, I left my camera at home!  (The pictures in this post were taken at other times.)

The thing is, the path we hiked used to be a road.  If you look it up on Google Maps, it will show as a road.  But I’m here to tell you:  It ain’t no road!  Not any more.  Some of the sluice pipes designed to divert water away from the road are still in place.  Others are tossed about, rusted, useless.  Some parts of the old road are clear, wide open, easy to walk.  Other parts are so densely covered you can barely fight your way through them.  Or they are completely impassible due to a beaver pond that must be circumnavigated.

100% DEET kept the bugs at bay.  A 12-inch sub and a tub full of watermelon and cantaloupe kept the hunger at bay.  And away we went paying attention to the wildflowers and the beauty and the signs of  wildlife along the way.  Lack of a camera, kept distraction at bay to a minimum.

Leaves from some of my favorite spring wildflowers remained – Foamflower, Trillium, Hepatica.  I even saw leaves of flowers I DIDN’T see blooming here before – Bloodroot – and made a mental note to come back next spring to watch for their blooms.  Midsummer flowers in the woods are not as plentiful, but you can find them if you pay attention.

Enchanter’s Nightshade takes advantage of tiny pockets of sunlight that filters down through the trees.  The tiny white flowers of this native plant have bits of pink if you take the time to look closely.

Enchanter's Nightshade

According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website, the genus name, Circaea, comes from the Greek enchantress Circe who “possessed magical powers and a knowledge of poisonous herbs; she could turn men into swine.”  (Source: http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=CIAL) Whether this species is magical or poisonous, I could not say.

Shinleaf in the Grass

Shinleaf

Also plentiful on the forest floor were Shinleaf (Pyrola elliptica or maybe it was P. americana… See: I should have brought my camera).  According to the Lady Bird Johnson website, “The Pyrolas yield a drug closely related to aspirin; the leaves have been used on bruises and wounds to reduce pain. Such a leaf plaster has been referred to as a shin plaster, which accounts for the common name of this plant.” (Source:  http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=PYEL)

Shinleaf Closeup

At the far end of the road, we emerged from the woods and in the open spot were all the sun-loving roadside flowers – Crown Vetch, Oxeye Daisy, Day Lilies and more.

Lolli scared up a turkey that turned to feign attack.  I wonder if she could be sitting a second clutch of eggs?  We were most impressed by signs of bear activity.  A large puddle in the middle of the road had recently been stirred up, the mud not yet settled.  The grass around the puddle was spattered with fresh mud from what must have been a delightful wallow!  There was a perfect bear track in the mud of the road, and the grasses and plants off the road were beaten down, showing the direction of the bear’s travel.  We couldn’t have missed him by more than an hour.  A few steps beyond the bathtub puddle was a patch of grass and plants that was completely beaten down.  We wondered if the bear had slept there, or even just rolled around.

It was a great day of hiking and exploring.  I want to go back and enter from the other end of the road – WITH my camera this time!