Impermanence and Contemplative Photography

(I’m consolidating my photography sites, so I’ll be posting a few posts from other sites here in preparation for shutting them down…)

This image is a particular favorite of mine. It was a bit of a departure for me, as I actually added an element of myself to the picture. I was planning to go to the beach by Superior Falls, as I do on most trips to the Wisconsin northwoods, and I was thinking about the slowly eroding cliffs there. This image popped into my mind, fully formed, as a way to illustrate the impermanence of everything around us, even if the change is occurring over such a span of time that we don’t see it. My wet handprint serves to echo the cliff’s impermanence, although on a different time scale. I must admit I’d forgotten about the patterns in the rock that look like fingers were dragged through it, but they serendipitously provided the perfect backdrop to my handprint.

Impermanence 7571

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Posted in Blog, Photo

f/8 and Be Here Now

(I’m consolidating my photography sites, so I’ll be posting a few posts from other sites here in preparation for shutting them down…)

The Mindful Photographer: f/8 and Be Here Now

Mercer Lake Foggy Morning 7192-1

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Posted in Blog, Photo

Abstract Nature Photography – Re-ambiguating the Literal Landscape

(I’m consolidating my photography sites, so I’ll be posting a few posts from other sites here in preparation for shutting them down…)

Among other things, I’m a professional geek – I get paid to design and oversee computer networks for my IT consulting clients. In that context, disambiguation is A Good Thing – the laws of physics must be obeyed and protocols must be adhered to, or nothing useful happens.

As a fine art (as opposed to documentary) nature photographer, I am far less constrained, and one of the freedoms I enjoy is creating abstract images of scenes I find in nature. In doing so, I seek to introduce ambiguity by abstracting visual elements in the landscape from their literal context. This allows the viewer (including myself-as-viewer) to interpret the image in terms of graphic appeal (line and color, shape and form), intellectual appeal (what on earth… oh, I see!), and emotional impact (…!…).

Portage Lake Iceberg Abstract 9495

My process for finding and creating these images is a continuation of that I described in a previous post. While photographing, I generally find myself working from the outside in, literally and metaphorically. I might start with a wide-angle shot that establishes the scene in context, and then as I explore my relationship with the place I focus on particular aspects that resonate with me.

Here’s a quick concrete abstract example… 🙂 The first image is a broad, context-establishing shot, while the second is the abstracted area that most spoke to me. The third image is a variation where I played with the color to emphasize the coolness of the water.

Copper Falls Cascades 7448

The two tools I most commonly use to help me find my compositions are my hands (hmmm… does that make it three tools?) and a telephoto zoom lens. I hold my hands, thumbs extended at 90 degrees, to form a frame I move over the area of interest; then I use the zoom to explore possible compositions and make my images.

I find abstracts often lend themselves well to mindful / contemplative photography. Those initial moments of mystery, as our mind tries to identify the subject and fill in its context, are a special gift – while the monkey mind is distracted, our hearts have the opportunity to take in the image and be informed by it directly.

More abstract images can be seen in my Abstract in Nature gallery.

Posted in Blog, Photo

Three Simple Ways to Be Present in Mindful Photography

(I’m consolidating my photography sites, so I’ll be posting a few posts from other sites here in preparation for shutting them down…)

Mindful Photography: Be Here Now


Copper Falls Cascades 7448


In landscape photography, there’s often a feeling of built-up anticipation by the time we reach our destination. Whether we’ve traveled a thousand miles or driven two hours from home to a favorite spot, the temptation to mount camera on tripod and start photographing immediately can be powerful. However, there are real benefits to slowing down and taking a more contemplative approach.
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Posted in Blog, Photo

Favorite Images of 2013

And… another year gone by! I’ve created a new gallery of my 10 favorite images of 2013 (also shown below). 2013 was a quiet year for me, photographically; I didn’t get to take my usual photo trips, so 9 of the 10 images are from within a couple of hours’ drive from my home. With luck, I’ll be more productive in 2014!

Several factors come into play when I make my “favorite images” selections. Some I enjoy for aesthetic reasons, some evoke fond memories of the location, and some remind me of the stories behind their making.

My preferences do change as time passes, but at least for now, “Frost and Fog 5209” is my favorite image of 2013:


Which are your favorites, and why? Please let me know in the comments below!

– Jack

Posted in Blog, News, Photo

Veteran’s Week 2013 Print Special for Vets & Active Duty Military

In honor of the service of all our veterans & active duty military, I’m offering a special on 12″ x 18″ bare prints (no matting, framing, etc.) on matte photo paper, shipped rolled in a tube to anywhere in the US for $40. You can order any number of prints at this price (within reason, please!).

Here’s how it works:

  • This is for all vets & active duty military, self-identified on the honor system – no need to send me ID, proof of service, etc.
  • The special will run until midnight on Sunday, 17 November 2013.
  • Pick your image(s) from the website ( or facebook page ( Make a note of the image title or URL / link address. (In the website galleries, hover your mouse over the image to see the title.)
  • Email me your choice of image (title &/or link) and mailing address at & let me know you’re taking advantage of this special offer. I’ll email back with payment instructions.
  • Shipment will be by US Postal Service. I will do my best to get all the prints shipped before Thanksgiving, but I can’t make any promises. Shipment will be from Wisconsin, so estimate your delivery time accordingly.

Email me with any questions & I’ll get back to you asap.

Please feel free to share this with any veterans or active duty military members.

And to all the veterans and active duty military reading this – thank you for your service.

– Jack

Hyde's Mill, Spring Evening 3977

Hyde’s Mill, Spring Evening 3977

Posted in Blog, News

Card & Print Giveaway by David Taylor / Sixtyone North

Speaking of David Taylor… He’s giving away a holiday gift card featuring his image “Natural Wreath” (see below) to the first 250 people to request one – see his blog post for details: Natural Wreath and a Print Giveaway!

Natural Wreath - David Taylor


Better yet, he’s giving away a 24″ x 36″ print of Fall’s Red Carpet to one lucky winner from those 250! Entries must be submitted by November 10, 2013, so get over to his website and enter for a chance to win a print of this gorgeous image!


Falls Red Carpet - David Taylor

Posted in Blog, News

Ruminations – Part 8 by David Taylor

My friend and fellow nature photographer David Taylor has written a great blog post discussing contemplation in photography. Follow the link below to read his post, and then check out the rest of his landscape photography – not necessarily contemplative, but often meditative, and stunning regardless. (You can also read my comment below the main post – it’s the one by Jack Johnson…)


While you’re on his site, be sure to subscribe for his email updates – Dave always shares tips, insights, and beautiful images of Alaska.


Ruminations – Part 8: Poignancy Lost



Posted in Blog

Hyde’s Mill, Spring Evening

Located outside Ridgeway, Wisconsin, Hyde’s Mill is a fun and moderately scenic locale to photograph. It generally doesn’t take very long to shoot there, as the mill is on private property, and so are most vantage points – really, you can only shoot from the road or, if you’re willing to trespass just a little, the stream bank next to the mill. As a result, you’ll see a lot of similarity in photos of the mill.

I shot here last fall, but didn’t get back for winter. I’ve been itching to get out shooting, so last night I just put the camera gear in the car and headed out on the 1.5 hour drive from home to Hyde’s Mill. Skies over the mill were clear, so there wasn’t a spectacular sunset, but there was some nice light nonetheless.

You can see the mill on google maps here:

My favorite shot from last fall is here:

The image below is my favorite shot from last night…

If you know of any other mills in southern WI or northern IL, please leave a comment below & let me know about it!



Hyde's Mill, Spring Evening 3977

Posted in Blog, Locale, Photo

Beloit ArtWalk 2013

Yes, it’s that time of year again! The Beloit, WI ArtWalk runs Friday May 10 from 5-9, and Saturday May 11 from 10-2. As always, I’ll be at The Villager Gallery and Frameworks, located at 429 E. Grand Avenue here in Beloit.

There are some 50 artists displaying work of all types at over 25 downtown Beloit businesses. There will be music and food at some venues, and fun for the family at all of them! A free trolley runs 5-10 Friday night between all parking areas and venues.

I’ll have everything from loose prints to gallery wraps on display and for sale, including the image below. If you’re in the area, stop in to say Hi – and of course, feel free to purchase some new artwork to beautify your home or office!

— Jack

Manitowish River, Autumn Evening 2x1 pano 2143

Posted in Blog, News, Show