Saturday, November 30, 2013

Life after death, and the return of Rutger

I recently discovered a few doe groups that feed daily at the Riverside Cemetery, and particularly love the fact that they're nourished by the grass growing over the dead. 

I personally don't believe in an afterlife or heaven or hell, but firmly believe in the beauty and miracle of the food chain, and find solace knowing our bodies can enrich the soil and life surrounding our grave. 

The unfortunate truth is our modern burial custom sequesters the body in a concrete box, separating it from the rest of the food chain; a form of spiritual blasphemy in its own right. Or, considering the junk that goes into some of our bodies, perhaps that's a good thing. 

I don't think the deer really care.

I haven't seen a whole lot of buck action this year, and haven't been able to devote as much time to the pursuit as I normally do, but I sat a blind I have situated in a friend's backyard in Portage and was thrilled to see the return of an old buck I simply love, Rutger. 

I met Rutger two years ago and was astonished by the size of his typical 8. I was concerned that he might have been poached last year, but he made his way into my friend's backyard and still had a grand rack, albeit a tad shorter than last year.

Below is Rutger on Thanksgiving day, 2012, in what turned out to be my favorite buck shot of the year. You can see the huge spread and height of his rack. You can also see that he's a monarch of Portage Creek Bicentennial Trail

"Foggy Pursuit"
I'll post a few more shots of Rutger in the future, and explain how he got his name. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Gift of Local Art

Our studio/gallery will be open for the December Art Hop and you'll find all kinds of great gifts for friends, family, and maybe even yourself.

And if you're looking for an alternative to mass produced goods, I proudly offer locally made art that can add some meaning and integrity to the art of gift-giving.

So, I hope to see you December 6th. I'm also now accepting major credit cards because of the magical Square! It's an amazing little device and will bring me squarely into the 21st Century economy. Cash and checks also accepted. Physical barters (chickens, eggs, goats, firewood, etc.) need to be worked out in advance. 


Monday, November 11, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A New Creek - A New Landscape

Below are two images from a photography workshop I led with photographer and environmental historian, Lynne Heasley, on urban landscapes. Our focus was the PCB cleanup of Portage Creek by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

We got up real early to capture the surreal pre-dawn light of this transformed landscape. The big pipes are where they literally pumped the creek further downstream so they could work on the dry creek-bed. That is a creek in a pipe.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tearin' It Up

I interrupted these two bucks in a pretty robust sparring match, something I rarely witness in the field. Unfortunately I never saw who was winning. 

I'm inclined to believe the stockier one with the grass hanging off it's rack was the dominant, just because he looks fiercer and the grass suggests he's willing to get down and dirty. But the grass could also mean the buck with the tall tines was pinning him down into the dirt and making him eat it. 

We'll never know. Perhaps they'll have a rematch.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Been seeing a lot of coyote lately...

At first I thought this yote was a lawn decoy to ward off lawn-destroying geese. 

I was amazed to find out he was real, just lounging in broad daylight on a dentist's lawn. 

I'd never seen anything quite like it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Keeping the turkeys in check

I've been seeing a fair amount of coyote lately, most likely because of dispersing young coyotes from this years litter, trying to make it on their own. That's another reason I love this time of year: autumn shakes things up and brings a lot of elusive animals into plain view.

I spotted this yote chowing down on a turkey (most likely a youth from this years brood) inside the public safety training facility while I was leaving my house. I quickly raced back to get my camera and fortunately he was still going at it when I returned. The fence in-between us gave him just enough added security to stay long enough for a round of shots. 

Given the abundance of turkey all throughout the city (and state?), there's really no harm in the yotes keeping the numbers in check. Coyote hunters use the same rationale to justify their hunting of yotes, but I'm not in that camp. I say we bring back the wolf and the cougar. That'll keep 'em in check; and make me a happy wildlife photographer.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Albino Squirrel

There's been a lot of buzz and controversy in the hunting community over the shooting of a rare, albino moose in Nova Scotia, regarded as sacred to the local first nation peoples. Click HERE for a nice segment on the story.

Although not quite as grand as an albino bull moose, I've heard about albino fox squirrels in Kalamazoo, but this was my first time ever seeing one. Although not white, the albinism creates a beautiful, tan glow about this little guy. Of course, up close the eye is all pink. 

He was unusually friendly and approachable, even more so than your average squirrel. But then again, this isn't quite your average, every day squirrel. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A beautiful week in October

Last week was absolutely gorgeous in Southwest Michigan, with a series of entirely cloudless October days. And because of the cool nights, that equated to a handful of luscious, foggy mornings, pierced by the rising sun each day.

The web holding everything together - WMU's Research Park

WMU's Research Park

WMU's Research Park

Coming into the light...

Slit-Tine Buck - WMU's Research Park, Kalamazoo

Although it's still early in the season, some big bucks are starting to show themselves during daylight.

It's a cruel world out there for bunnies

After nursing a baby bunny they found in their garage, a family finally released the little bugger only to have it snatched up by a back-yard hawk. 

This is precisely why bunnies reproduce like crazy.

It's a cruel world out there for bunnies.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Coyote at Dusk

WMU's Research Park - Dusk

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The KIA opens it's door for ART HOP

One week following the members reception for the KIA Faculty Review, the KIA opened it's doors for the monthly ART HOP in Kalamazoo. Below are a few pics of friends checking out my two portraits in the show.

Tom Johns & Lee Burdick checking out "Miranda in Bloom" 
Corinna Parish checking out "Lois & Tree Frog" 
Kathleen LaCour & Jeff Brazda

Lois Rustenholtz herself, standing in front of her portrait

Friday, October 4, 2013

The "Soft" Opening

My studio mate and I are having a "soft" opening of our new studio this Friday, October 4th, from 7-9pm, for the October Art Hop. The official, Grand Opening isn't until the November Art Hop.

Although it's not the grand opening, things are shaping up beautifully. I painted my wall, tweaked the lighting, and hung a nice collection of prints in all sizes and styles. Dare I say, it looks like a real gallery! Or in my eyes, it's starting to look like a giant, real-life Tumblr webpage. The finishing touch will be my name at the top.

The nearly blank canvas

The lone coyote 

Filling up the wall

This heron print has been hiding in storage for almost a year. 
It's looking great up on the wall.

Now all we need are people to complete the equation. 
Hope to see you Friday, Oct. 4th.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Unveiling a New Portrait

One of the perks of being a photo instructor at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA) is being able to exhibit my work in the biennial KIA Faculty Review. 

"Lois & Tree Frog" - Digital Photographic Collage

I'll be showing two portraits in the upcoming exhibit. One is "Lois & Tree Frog" from my series MYANIMALANDI (which I premiered at the Arts Council last Spring), and a brand new artwork from a new series entitled BLOOM. Very similar to the people/animal collages of MYANIMALANDI, this new work collages women and flowers. Thus comes the bloom.
This exhibit marks the first public viewing of this new work. Please join me either this Friday, September 27th, for the KIA Members Opening Reception from 7-9pm, or the following Friday, October 4th, for the KIA Art Hop from 5-8pm, which is free and open to the public.
Below is a detail from the new work, "Miranda In Bloom". The only place to see the entire artwork at this time is down at the KIA. So, come on down!

DETAIL "Miranda in Bloom" - Digital Photographic Collage

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Urban Sandpiper Puddle

The City of Kalamazoo's leaf composting station on the eastside has always had a draining problem. 

But the resulting puddle ends up sprouting life and is no problem for visiting solitary sandpipers, who prey on giant waterbugs, tadpoles, grasshoppers and basically anything else that moves.

Where there is water - there is life, and where there is life - there I am taking pictures. And it doesn't get any more urban looking than these concrete canyons. 

The urban animal.