… To Preserve This Beautiful Planet …

Late February, 2015


“I begin with nature today, which gives us so much, including the amazing opportunities for photography. Hence it must be our duty to preserve this beautiful  planet, in whatever small way we can in our own capacity.

This is the best gift we can give to our coming generations.”

Suyash Chopra

This morning, while looking at a series of photos Suyash recently published in black and white, I found this beautiful thought.  I resonate with Suyash’s understanding of photography as a sacred act, as a way to “preserve this beautiful planet, in whatever small way we can.”


April, 2014

April, 2014


Gardening allows me a very immediate and hands on opportunity to preserve the tiny bit of our planet’s ecosystem within our garden.  Planting for wildlife habitat, protecting the soil, increasing diversity, and using sustainable, organic practices all help to make this tiny garden lush, beautiful, and life sustaining for many species- including ourselves.


Female Tiger Swallowtail on Lantana.  Lantana is the most visited plant in our garden by both butterflies and hummingbirds.


But this is only a first effort.  Writing about it and sharing its beauty with others through photographs; nurturing friendships with other gardeners and building community, allows this harmonic to resonate around the planet. I am keenly interested in gardens from Portland Oregon and Conway Massachusetts to Queensland Australia; Greenville, South Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina to Brussells, England, Puerto Rico and New Zealand.  Through reading about other gardener’s efforts, and seeing photos of their gardens in progress, I absorb their ideas, their passion, and their ecology.


October, 2014

October, 2014


Suyash invites us to enlarge the context of how we think about our own photography.  Reflecting on his words,  I’m reminded of photos, published nearly a century ago, documenting glaciers in our national parks.  Seeing those photos again, alongside current photos of the same topography, documents the profound changes to our planet in a tiny span of geologic time.


September, 2010

Oregon coast, September, 2010


Comparing my own photos taken on west coast beaches in 2010 with those taken this past fall demonstrates, with sickening clarity, the terrible loss of life along our coast.  Tidal pools filled to overflowing with starfish, sea urchins, mollusks and small fish in 2010 sit nearly empty today.


September 2014

Oregon coast, September 2014


While mussels and barnacles still thrive along these beaches, the starfish and sea urchins are nearly gone and the sea anemones reduced.  Our planet’s ocean harbors trash and toxic chemicals, petroleum, radioactivity, and acidity which turn great expanses of living ocean into watery desert.


September 2014

September 2014


Preserving the beauty of our quickly changing planet through our photographs, to share with later generations, somehow elevates photography from hobby to historic trust.  I had not really thought of my own photographs in quite this way until reading Suyash’s words today.


August 2014 Virginia

Virginia, August 2014


These photographs I take each day, recording our own garden and the changing of seasons in our greater community, serve a larger purpose.  They not only entertain, they document.  They share not only beauty, but also an aesthetic of beauty and vibrant organic life so important to our own well being.


College Creek, Virginia, August 2014

College Creek, Virginia, August 2014


As more of our planet sleeps under pavement and architecture, living soil buried beneath concrete and asphalt; those areas left to grow and support life shrink with each passing day.

Even in our own community we watch trees felled and marshes filled as developers try to turn a profit with new homes and commerce.  Where do animals go once their habitats are destroyed?  Who digs and moves the native plants?  The answers are all too clear, and too poignant to frame with words.


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And so the photos we take today, the photos our parents and grandparents took decades ago; serve to document the beauty of nature which remains.


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And perhaps they will inspire someone to value and nurture organic, life filled beauty in their own tiny bit of the planet.  Perhaps they will spark a memory of when mankind truly did inhabit ‘the garden.’


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“The more clearly we can focus our attention

on the wonders and realities of the universe about us,

the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

Rachel Carson


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“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Woodland Gnome 2015

One Word Photo Challenge: Navy

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We return to the Oregon coast to answer Jennifer’s photo challenge this week.


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The mussel shells, which littered wide swaths of beach at low tide, held the most amazing shades of blue.


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I took many photos of these lovely shells, often growing with barnacles attached, while wandering the beach at sunset.


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One woman actually came over and asked what I was photographing.

Perhaps she didn’t notice the beauty, or had grown so accustomed to them that she didn’t expect anyone would actually want to photograph old shells lying on the beach.


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But I found their forms and colors beautiful, especially in the waning light at sunset.


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I hope you enjoy them, too.


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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

With Appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells

for her One Word Photo Challenge:  Navy



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Aquatic Garden

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The rocky, barnacle encrusted beaches along the central Oregon coast harbor rich webs of life.

Various “sea weeds,” algae, and plankton provide food for many sorts of animals.

Many more plants grow along these Northwestern beaches than we normally find along the Atlantic beaches I have known so well.


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Every sea washed rock and tidal pool holds these beautiful aquatic plants.

Others grow directly from the sand.  Suspended and buoyed by the waves below the high tide mark, one finds them strangely flat and “deflated” when the tide recedes, leaving them behind.

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These beautiful aquatic plants come not only in different shades of rich green, but also in an autumnal set of shades ranging from reds to browns, golds and purples.


This photo was taken in a tidal pool exhibit at the Aquarium in Newport.  They still have healthy starfish in their exhibits.

This photo was taken in a tidal pool exhibit at the Aquarium in Newport. They still have healthy starfish in their exhibits.


Many are edible.  Sushi lovers already know Nori.

But there is a range of edible “sea weeds” many of us in North America have never explored.

A tidal pool along the beach at Lincoln City, Oregon.

A starfish still survives in this tidal pool along the beach at Lincoln City, Oregon.


So many different types of plants grow together along the Oregon beaches.

Long strands, pulled loose by forces under the sea, wash up along the beach with each tide.


An exhibit at the Newport Aquarium shows how fish interact with the natural sea weeds off the coast.

An exhibit at the Newport Aquarium shows how fish interact with the natural sea weeds off the coast.

We saw these as they normally grow in the Newport Aquarium.  They attract their own food chains of animals large and small which congregate around them.

Many plants cling to coastal rocks, below the high tide line, in a rich tapestry of life with mussels, barnacles, Sea Anemones, and other small animals.


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Schools of fish feed among them when the tide is in.

Gulls and other shore birds move in as the tide recedes.

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Birds feed from the rich banquet on the rocks, pulling tender flesh from their shells, until the tide returns and covers the rocks yet again.


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Many types of crabs, Starfish, Sea Cucumbers and Sea Urchins crawl around these shallow pools at low tide, live among the pilings of docks, and inhabit shallow bays.


An tidal pool exhibit at the Newport Aquarium where visitors may touch the animals.

An tidal pool exhibit at the Newport Aquarium where visitors may touch the animals.  the red patches here are an aquatic algae.  The purple creature is a Sea urchin. 


These bright, technicolor animals glow green and orange, purple, pink, gold, and red.


This hermit crab needs a new shell to protect him.  But, no shells were to be found on the beach.

This hermit crab needs a new shell to protect him. But, no shells were to be found on the beach.

I last visited the Oregon coast four years ago.  Thick clusters of starfish could be found on nearly every rock formation.

They were large and healthy.  Sea urchins crawled freely around the pools at low tide.

Green Sea Anenomes live in this natural tidal pool on the beach.

Green Sea Anemones live in this natural tidal pool on the beach.

The change in four short years amazed me on this visit. 

I found only one starfish living in the wild during an entire week of walks on the beach.

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Many factors, including warmer water and greater levels of acidity and pollution have reduced the animal populations.

These beautiful tidal areas no longer hold large numbers of animals as they once did.


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Clusters of mussels and barnacles also litter the sand at low tide.


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But these were the only shells I found.  No other species washed up with the tides.

I don’t know enough about climate and ocean chemistry to know whether these conditions can be reversed.


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I hope they can.  I saw clear evidence of life dieing out along these beautiful beaches.


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But finding so much plant life encouraged me, if only a little.

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So long as the plants remain, they continue to do their part to cleanse and oxygenate the water.

They provide food for many species.

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And they are beautiful.  I was endlessly fascinated with their many strange colors and forms.

Planted only by nature, these strange aquatic gardens filled me with wonder.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Photos from the Oregon coast and Newport Aquarium


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Seaweeds of the Pacific Northwest

Love in the Sand

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“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”

William Shakespeare


Photo by Woodland Gnome 2014

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