Musings with Camera in Hand

Belinda Greb – The Photographic Journey


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Nature vs Humans

These last few weeks when I’ve gone out with my camera, I’ve been thinking a lot about nature – how magnificent it is, how changeable, how complex and diverse.  It never fails to amaze me how the same scene can appear so different depending on the light or the season.  Take these two pictures taken of approximately the same piece of landscape, but just one month apart.

I was fortunate to grow up in rural Southern California in the Santa Monica Mountains off of Muholland Highway, and as a young girl, was very sensitive to the beauty that was around me.  I could take a walk with the dogs, and to my young imagination, I was an adventurer in the wild.  My senses were not only alert to the potency of nature, but every tree, bush, bird, even the wide open blue sky was a tangible living presence that I could feel. Yet as I grew older, my focus turned to other things, and I lost that heightened sensitivity to the natural world and while I would appreciate the beauty in a general sense, the distractions of a social human world dominated.

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It wasn’t until my thirties, when I was in the midst of the daily struggle to find peace and happiness in that social world that I started to appreciate again the sustaining energy and beauty of nature, ironically, in Riverside and Central Parks in New York.  That appreciation has steadily grown and increased, especially since I moved back to Oregon and started hiking on a regular basis and taking more photographs.  A camera is not the same as the human eye, and the attempt to capture what we see and feel is not always so straightforward – which for me points to the observation that while humans technological feats are impressive, they pale in compare to what already exists in nature.

Hurricane Sandy, the storm that hit the East Coast a few days ago, not only attests to the power of nature but also to the negative impact that we, posing as the arbitrators and manipulators of the environment we consider under our dominion, can have on the world around us. Our vision is short sighted without regard to the long-term effects.  Who knows what the effect of the radiation from Hiroshima, the meltdown of the reactors in Japan, the continual deforesting of the forests, or fracking may be?

My hope lies in the fact that, in Oregon, I have observed the tremendous regenerating abilities of the natural world, at least flora.  What I fear is that other species, including humans, may not prove as resilient.

I have never been a willing early riser, but one morning a week, I go to work very early, before the sun rises, and it’s been a breathtaking (and somewhat dangerous) drive into town.  So one morning on my day off, I rose before dawn to capture that morning light.

It’s been a fairly late fall with little rain in the Northeast until a couple of weeks ago, but last week the fall color was very vivid (for this area), and I’ve been trying to capture that color before the wind and rain take it to the ground.  

Last week I went to Mt Hagen, where I would often go to walk my dog when I’m short on time.  I haven’t been for a while, because they’ve been logging up one of the roads from this Christmas tree farm (left).  I don’t have the heart to go up that road where the logging was done as the last time I saw it since they started the logging, my familiar beautiful wooded hills looked like a barren landscape where root balls of the trees were strewn like so many corpses.  Yet the area will be replanted, and perhaps in another fifty years it will be like it was.

Please visit my site at Etsy, Radiance Cards Photos (Etsy 10% Discount Code: 127210) or for prints including matting and framing at Belinda Greb Photography and Cards.

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Off to See the Sea

Let me start by making a small complaint.  I sometimes tire of the abundance of green in my local photographic environs (in the winter – change this to grey and green).  To those who are undergoing a drought, I know this sounds a bit whiny, but nonetheless, I wanted to change up my photographic palette a bit, and decided to head over to the Oregon Coast with my faithful companion, my dog, Maisie, of course. 

I’ve come to realize that my best photography happens (or at least is more likely to happen) when I don’t have to worry about making others wait for me or holding up any end of a conversation.  I like being alone with my thoughts, able to concentrate on the visuals that surround me, and also, not having to feel like I’m supposed to look like I know what I’m doing.  Along these lines, it is also less embarrassing not to be watched (by any one you know) while trying to get back up after kneeling or laying down to capture a low angle.

The downside is, that there might have been a more reasonable voice in the car besides mine that would have said, “yes, we should stop here to use a restroom” which would have prevented a lot of non-intelligent mantras involving control of bodily functions and nervous tap dancing while sitting through two twenty-minute long road repair delay zones before finally being able to find a relief after turning off the highway just past the orange cones, onto a gravel road that ironically led to a cemetery.

About a mile north of the Heceta Lighthouse, there is a small pullout on Hwy. 101 across from the trail-head that leads up to the Lighthouse.  The trail is only about 1-1/2 miles but uphill much of the way.  There is more space and light between the trees than on the trails near where I live, and some beautiful views of the coastline before one comes out above the lighthouse. I had read before starting out that the lighthouse was undergoing repairs and that it looked like it was covered by a large black garbage bag.  That turned out to be an apt description, but the views from the lighthouse are stunning, and the caretaker house is quite pretty (supposedly haunted).

I had packed a lunch and while eating it enjoyed watching the bees eat theirs amid the flowers. After lunch I went down to the rocks.  I could see a sea-lion swimming out in the waves, and also watched the sea gulls hanging out on a cliff. It was Maisie’s first time at the beach, and once we got to the sand she was rolling about in it, running after birds, and finding out that though water in tide pools looks like the water in a river or her bowl, it certainly does not taste the same.

Being at the beach is one of my favorite things.  I grew up in Southern California and miss being able to see the ocean more frequently.  I love the sea air, the golden light in late afternoon, and the cries of the seagulls.  I love watching people walk or run along the beach with their dogs or children, and just the laid back feeling one gets.  I’ve rarely seen an uptight person at the beach.  It’s as if the pulse of the sea slows the rhythms of our bodies down and we enter into a meditative state.

The beaches of Oregon are more pristine and less crowded than the ones I grew up with, although the water is colder, and even on a hot day, I’ve been unable to swim here.  There have been reports that some of the Tsunami debris from Japan has washed ashore, but I did not see any evidence of that.

After making our way back to the car, I  drove a bit south, to stop and look at the sea-lions basking themselves in the sun  although I wasn’t able to get great pictures of them. I chose not to visit the sea-lion caves that day as it was too warm to leave Maisie in the car.

Another disappointment was that I had wanted to wait for the sunset, but both Maisie and I were tired (a forgotten effect the sea air has on me) and I had a two-hour drive home.  I was compensated as I drove home by a full moon in a beautiful sky over an orchard while the sun was setting, and later on by the same full moon in a darker sky behind a tree.

I hope to make it back to the coast sooner rather than later.  The sea air was wonderful, and the colors in my photographs from that day made for a welcome change.

Please visit my site at Etsy, Radiance Cards Photos or for prints including matting and framing at Belinda Greb Photography and Cards.  Or to see more landscape photography, click on landscape photos.