072717: A Walk in the Woods

The past few days have seen an explosion of mushrooms. A brief walk in the woods  turned into a fine shooting opportunity for me. I’ve learned from past experiences that mushrooms grow fast when the conditions are right. Fortunately my ever so flexible schedule allowed me to take time to explore.

I know little about mushrooms. I do know that they are fascinating to look at.

To show how quickly they grow please note the image above. Then take a look at the image below. these images were taken 24 hours apart.

That fly was not the only flying insect around. The fresh rains and heavy humidity helped to create whole armies of mosquitos that made thoughtful and deliberate camera adjustments luxuries I could not afford!

I was particularly struck by what I think was such a wide variety of mushroom types in a relatively small area.

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I also happened to run across a plant whose leaves (or fronds) were the size of a baby elephant’s ears! I couldn’t resist bring them back to the studio. These are a few of the studies that resulted.

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Who knows what the surrounding forest might yield next?!

Thanks for the visit.

110316: On Edge

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Restless, edgy, anxious – that sums up my feelings lately. I assume that many of you are feeling it too. Will the ugliness and nastiness of this election season end next week or will it continue unabated? Democracy, decency, and the common good are very much at stake. A carnival barker con man has captured the attention of many who hope and wish for a return to the days of Ozzie and Harriet (and worse!). Please vote and vote wisely.

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Fortunately for me, my restlessness is always eased when I get out and walk the surrounding forest and creeks. Today’s images are the result of one of those strolls along Kaaterskill Creek. There are always new things to discover. And Tuesday’s walk was an exceptional one in that regard. The image above was a puzzler to me – a crinoid stem with a curl to it. My thanks to Dr. George McIntosh, Director of Collections at the Rochester Museum and Science Center, who suggested it to be a crinoid subset called Melocrinites. The little “button” below is a crinoid ossicle, a crosscut of a its stem.

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These next three images show a Zoophycos trace fossil, burrowing made by a marine worm. Four hundred million year old designs in nature! Thanks to my friend Dr. Chuck ver Straeten from the NY State Museum in Albany for that information.

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A gastropod followed by a variety of brachiopod bits rounds things out.

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These two are puzzlers to me – nothing I’ve seen before. Any ideas on these two images would be welcome to hear. Please let me know.

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I even managed to find some old graffiti – hard to read. But I was able to read the date as 1879.

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I’ll end with this image of one of the large rock slabs that make up the creek bed. I was struck by the play between the rippled pattern in the rock and the rippled water passing nearby.

Thanks for the visit. Don’t forget to vote.

1029: More Mushrooms

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Today’s post is pretty much a continuation from last week. So no need to write any further.

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Another round of Gary’s mushrooms:

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Rocks from Kaaterskill Creek:

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Wallpaper from Nina’s property:

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And finally, two more examples of the change of season – from the garden.

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Thanks for the visit.

0820: Maine Rocks

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I’m just back from a week on the Maine coast, an absolutely stunning setting. Point the camera or, better yet, point your gaze in any direction and it’s instant visual nirvana.

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My camera focused on the rocks – all the rocks from paving stones…

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…to art on the beach…

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…even to an abandoned granite quarry.

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But it was the shore rocks, the rock formations that meet the ocean, that left me awestruck!

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I’m not the first person to have discovered their beauty.

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I certainly won’t be the last.

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But I do find them compelling.

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Many more to come in the weeks ahead.

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And the trees often grow over and around the rock bluffs creating amazing root systems.

Thanks for the visit.

0730: Out of the Woods

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Lately, just about every turn I take I run into another story about Lyme disease ( and the stories get worse and worse). These encounters leave me less and less prone to engaging in my usual summer activity of hiking stream beds in search of fossils. Those same stream beds will be there when conditions change. Fortunately, the thousands of rock and fossils I have carted here over the years give me ample material to work with.

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Combine that with the various props, surfaces, etc. that have also accumulated around here and I realize that I have more than enough to choose for subject matter.

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So, some of today’s images are the result of visits to the prop pile and the curiosity cabinet for inspiration!

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(Yes, that’s the same shrunken mushroom that appeared in the last two posts – can’t seem to get rid of it!)

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A heavy fog slowly lifted the other morning. This was some of what I saw.

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Spider webs appeared on the ground, helping to create this vignette at my rock pile. The Mexican religious artifact had been lying there for a while. You never know what might be laying around at this place.

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Tomorrow night (Friday), take a look up. It’s a blue moon!

Thanks for the visit.

1030: Mid Autumn

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A Sunday drive up Platte Clove on a day of ever changing weather led to these first few images. These three were taken in locations atop the Clove. There are numerous trailheads, endless streams, and, in general, wonderful views. Good weather or bad, it always seems beautiful up there.

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I’ve also been digging around in the neighboring quarry – trying to get as much time in as the weather will allow. On sunny days it’s a hard place to resist. And, while the view is plenty of reason to perch oneself up there, the amount of fossils under foot is incalculable.

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These last two fossil images come from a nearby dry stream bed. The fossils are firmly embedded in a very large rock (way too big to haul back to the studio). A few years ago I cracked through the top layers of the rock to expose them. So every season I try to stop by to say hello and see what exposure to the elements do to them visually.

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Certainly seems like a mix of images today. Here we have the results of spending a rainy day in the studio – an attempt to look at things in a different way.

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Thanks for the visit.

1016: Before the Rain

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I’m glad I got to explore the creek for a few more days while it was at a real low point. So much to see when the bed is so exposed. And it seems I was just in time. It finally rained last night.

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It didn’t seem like that much but, as you can see, it was more than enough to cover the stream bed. So here today are some of the recent “low-water” finds – some rocks and some fossils.

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I’m still working on images from Maine. Here’s the latest from a new series.

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Thanks for the visit.

0724: More Color From the Quarry

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The other day, needing to take a break from printing, I visited the neighborhood quarry and once again climbed through the section I was least familiar with. I’ve always avoided that area because so much of the rock was too crumbly, I thought, to find anything of substance there. But then I’m not looking for great scientific discovery. I’m happy to settle for the “visually stimulating.”

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In that sense it doesn’t disappoint. The fragility has its own appeal. And the colors are amazing! Picture 1 at the top of this post shows a brachiopod in rock, all of which has been affected by iron oxidization. Picture 2 (above) shows the result of the slightest disturbance in the rock as it quite literally falls apart. Needless to say, with such fragility, all these images were taken on site.

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Thin layers filled with various small brachiopods cut through this section of the quarry. According to my friend, Dr. Chuck Ver Straeten from the New York State Museum’s Geology Division, these layers appear every six feet or so, suggesting a regularity of geologic activity over a certain period of time. (I hope that is an accurate interpretation of what I was told – most of this stuff is still a mystery to me, I must confess!).

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Whatever the cause I’m delighted to have the open-ended opportunity to explore this area.

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Even when drained of color the fossils here seem to have a unique character.

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And then, of course, there is abundant color – no fossils – just a riot of color. The picture above shows the current quarry floor. Scale top to bottom is approximately six feet.

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This final quarry image – looking like a lightening bolt from a dark and oppressive sky – seems to echo some of the new work I will be showing at my upcoming show in Beacon on August 9. For all my friends in NYC, get out of the city for a day, visit the many galleries in Beacon (including DIA), and join me for the opening that evening from 6-9 pm.

Beacon Artist Union, 506 Main Street, Beacon, NY

And with that I’ll end today’s post with another image from that upcoming show.

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 Thanks for the visit.

0605: A Wealth of Subjects

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Cleaning around the studio recently allowed me to become reacquainted with many fossils I have found over time. And rummaging through those piles always turns up “fresh” material to focus on. The neighboring quarry alone provides me with seemingly endless supplies of fossils. And then there’s the rest of the world to aim a camera at.

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So from time to time I feel a need to make a little progress in the backlog I have in many categories. That’s why today is something of a mixed bag. All these images are new, but come from different sources. These first three have been waiting on my deck for their turn in front of the camera.

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I found this group of brachiopods as is – grouped together on the face of a rock that was disintegrating all on its own – from the quarry but in an area I hadn’t previously explored.

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I brought a number of them back to the studio. You’ll probably see them again as time goes on. There are thousands of brachiopod “variations” and they are certainly a predominant fossil throughout the area. As they are plentiful, so too then are they my subject matter:

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I took a break from looking down for fossils and looked up long enough to find these two buildings that caught my eye.

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And I leave you with a brief return to my Devonian Drawer series – a crinoid stem matched with a cutting from the yard.

Thanks for the visit.

0529: Music and Fossils

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I’ve noticed on Facebook lately people posting older images – Throwback Thursday it’s called. So this week I begin on a personal note. About twenty or so years ago this young boy attached himself to the violin he’s holding in the picture above. During all these passing years I have been amazed and awed by the commitment he has shown toward that instrument and toward music itself.

He’s twenty-eight now – my son Shaun Balin. And next Wednesday night (June 4, 8 PM Eastern) he will be playing at the Country Music Television Awards – one of those big tv extravaganzas. As part of the house band for the evening, he’ll be playing fiddle, and banjo, and mandolin, and acoustic guitar.

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 It’s hard to describe the feelings of pride and goodwill I have for him.

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Now some fossils. I’m always trying to find a way to sort out, arrange, and store my ever-increasing piles of fossils – thousands of them – all to no avail. I began to panic the other day, seeing myself for a moment as some hapless hoarder!

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But every opportunity to sort through that mess usually results in fresh new images. Rediscovered, reimagined, and reused.

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They are gifts that just keep giving.

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Sometimes it’s the light.

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Sometimes it’s the background.

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Sometimes it’s the fresh weathering.

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and sometimes it’s simply the wonder of natural design.

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In the midst of cleaning and sorting I couldn’t resist the old Kodak film carrier for a couple of favorite objects.

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These next three images are the result of my latest trip to the quarry. I found a couple of new areas to explore up there – each providing me with objects different from my usual options:

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I was particularly taken by the following quotation, so much so that I felt it worth sharing.

Dalai LamaThanks for the visit.