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The sky car pictured above is a great machine that keeps more soil of the forests undisturbed by dragging logs through the air.
Long time, no see! Yeah, it’s been a rough summer, and I missed writing about some of my projects.
For a couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity through a friendship to ride along with a log trucker and see what the logging roads are all about. Of course, the clear cuts look no more or less appealing up close and personal, but a 12-hour day starting at 4am showed me what it’s like inside of the second-largest industry in the state of Oregon.
Logging ain’t what it used to be - it has come a long way through technology and scientific research to be safer for the workers and less disruptive for the environment. Lots of rules that protect wildlife and habitat are in place for private forest owners to follow, and follow they must. This includes leaving a girth of trees around bird nesting sites with special attention to threatened species, a buffer of trees along streams to protect salmon and trout, better road construction to prevent run-off (thereby keeping our municipal water sources cleaner), and a vigorous re-planting schedule to create new forest and leave a few logs and snags (dead trees) in place for wildlife habitat.
One very interesting study performed by ecologists among Canadian Douglas fir trees was noted in the June 2018 issue of National Geographic (Vol 233, No 6), which proved through chemical tracking that older “hub” trees formed symbiotic relationships with fungal threads underground to send and receive stress signals due to environmental cues, such as loss of water, low photosynthesis sugars, or insect infestation. Nearby trees then send over necessary resources to help each other in a network, and this includes trees helping trees of another species! Clear-cutting and removal of the ancient hub trees destroys this connection and makes younger forests more vulnerable to stressors. Need any more proof that life on Earth is so very interconnected and dependent on each other to live in balance to survive?
Loaders pick up logs as though they are toothpicks and stack them strategically onto truck trailers.
Oregon is one of the best places in the world to grow trees due to climate factors. It is also awesomely beautiful. Sadly, we lost a lot of diversity in our forests with the removal of habitat and old growth, stunting chances for native plants to thrive in those areas. This is why I love going to the top of Saddle Mountain… there are so many wildflowers here that have not been disturbed and have the chance to play their symphony of color in progression from spring to summer to fall.
With all of our continued research and progress in heavy machinery design, as well as saving protected areas that will never be logged, I hope that we can keep what treasures we have left while still providing good-paying jobs statewide in the industry.
Being a lover of nature, I chose this project to stare in the face what I knew little about and see it for more of what it really is. Humans are industrious all over the world, and there are a lot of us. More people means need for more resources. However, word has really spread through all means of media about the damage we have done to our one and only planet through all of our industriousness, and our lifestyles and survival are each inextricably linked to the taking of resources… I hope the big guns in charge make better decisions in the future for the greater good of more people and more species than just themselves, including in the Amazon forests and every other struggling area.
C’mon alpha males, be the good guys and not the bullies. We need you.
The unloaders are massive! They grab the entire load of logs off a truck trailer and place them in the lumberyards. I witnessed an epic moment when the fighter jets flew into the frame.
Getting out there and shooting brings knowledge, inspires quests for more answers, and sometimes brings unexpected spectacles that i am lucky enough to capture through my lens. After using a not-so-cute outhouse in the lumberyard, I put myself in place to photograph one of the unloaders and a diamond formation of fighter pilots flew right into my frame and through its jaws. Holy crap, that’s what I’m here for. Talk about the joy of my work.
I have had the luck this spring to explore an area farther north of my home city and check out some really eye-catching geology in the form of rock erosion. Along the Chuckanut Bay there exist limestone and sandstone boulders, resting on the shores of saltwater beaches. What happens to these rocks from exposure to sea salt and acid rain is incredible! They begin to form little pits from weathering, and these pits become a honeycomb network of holes in the rock that are known as "stone lace." Stone lace, also known as "tafoni," is common in that area. I have hunted for it on the Oregon Coast and have found some at Indian Beach, but they just aren't as pretty, in my opinion.
I do however come across some great basalt formations in Oregon, my favorite of which is "columnar basalt." It takes on a striking geometric shape of square columns. It seems bewildering that this happens in nature, and geologists have determined that their shapes were formed as lava flows quickly cooled, which contracted in a vertical pattern, forming rigidly defined columns. At Indian Beach, there is plenty of rock that has flat horizontal edges that look like steps, which are also developing vertical fissures over time as the ocean wears into them.
If you like any of the images above in my blog, you can purchase them (and more) as fine photographic prints in my Etsy shop (HERE).
Erosion is not just a matter of sand displacement on our northwest beaches, it also affects forests on soft cliffs near the water. Entire swaths of trees and shrubs can fall into the sand below and become buried when their soil slips down the cliff-side. This makes for some surreal settings, like the buried tree pictured above.
It is fun to find new vantage points when paths are opened up after an event like this. I get asked where I take my photos, and the answer is that I go to the same parks and trails that are available to everyone, but I forge new trails of my own and reach the edges of cliffs or climb boulders higher or farther out so that I can get unique vantage points. It gives me a great sense of adventure but it is also dangerous, so I don't take friends along with me when I attempt these things! Yes, that is a bit scary, but I follow my instincts and judge the terrain and weather to the best of my senses and don't ever go so far that I can't find my way back. For me, this is the essence of joy in my exploration of landscapes, and the ultimate prize that awaits me is what I turn into a photographic print that others can appreciate, too.
Astoria Open Studio
Visit, Learn, and Shop
This summer, Astoria Visual Arts will again host my work at a location (TBD) where you will be able to meet me and ask questions about my work, as well as purchase prints or home goods designed with my photos. I will have marble coasters, marble magnets, pillows, tote bags, and wood panels available for purchase. I am also happily taking custom orders for prints or products that you can arrange for pick-up at my table. Please follow this link to stay tuned on the tour map, when it becomes available: TOUR MAP 2018.
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Maybe you've wondered what my origin story is as a photographer. I, for one, am an "origins" person. I like history, genealogy, geology, and the timing of "firsts" and "lasts." It all comes together to make us known on a deeper level as individuals and as a people.
Half of my lineage comes from northern France by way of Acadia, the other half comes from Sicily and Italy in the Mediterranean. Hence, I ended up with a funny shade of pale olive skin and freckles that doesn't tan well, and I'm only 5'2".
The French came by boat to Acadia in the 1600's to be fur trappers and settle new land. These Acadians made their way to southern Louisiana through escape and expulsion after some unpopular rules were enforced by the British crown during their claim to these northern French lands by way of several wars. My ancestors from warmer climates came in the 1800's to areas outside of and within New Orleans that were already American. These two bloods, the Mediterranean and Acadian, mixed in the Deep South, where I became a known as Cajun.
I began studying photography at the University of New Orleans in 2001 and was one of the last few generations of students before the digital wave, meaning every roll of film I shot was reeled in a pitch-black closet and printed under the amber light in a darkroom. I was one of the midnight warriors, making my way in the darkness to have the place all to myself late at night to make prints on silver halide paper. Only a couple of other determined warriors joined me at this time of day.
I was on the slow path to graduation, working two jobs while studying with a goal of graduating debt free, and by 2005 I was only a junior at age 24. That August, Katrina sent us out of class and her destructive forces were the beginning of a really cool and empowering survival experience for me that began with swimming out of my front door in fins and towing my two roommates from India out with me on a Home Depot extension cord. It ended with me getting a plane ticket from Salt Lake City to Eugene as part of payment for working with a New Orleans record store's van that followed the Warped Tour. We set up big tents at each new city from Arizona to Utah. I stood outside selling punk chains and hemp necklaces, while the rest of the crew sold custom band t-shirts made on the spot under the tent.
I had fallen in love with what little I knew about Oregon the year prior, having been a skateboarder and wanderer in a state where wandering meant you needed a boat to get to the best spots and skating meant riding pot-hole-ridden streets, giant oak tree roots lifting up sidewalks over 6 inches in some places, and absolutely no outdoor skate parks. So I took the chance to get myself out to Oregon on a "refugee" status that offered me in-state tuition to the University of Oregon in Eugene. Living through Martial Law was not fun, and I'm glad Oregon stepped up for us!! I was exited to head for a state that had rocky basalt cliffs and desert, all in one.
At that point, I was getting around mostly on foot and by bike. I got my New Orleans bike as a rescue from a garbage heap in Baton Rouge on a family visit prior to the hurricane. It had a sweet custom bandanna seat that I designed and a Little Rascals sticker on the stem. Sadly, Buckwheat drowned in the flood waters, chained to my porch. When I got to college in Oregon, I borrowed a bike from my driving college roommate until I got Fiend. Fiend was designed by the Cadillac car company (strange, I know) and had some really crazy structure that only fitted BMX fenders, so I felt like I was on a half-motorcycle on the road.
Oregon was more than the beauty I could conjure in my head. I knew I had come to where I wanted to be when I started to check out my surroundings between classwork. The sensations I experienced being around my first Northwest waterfall were of total relaxation and triggered some sort of animal sensuality. We were barefoot, we jumped from the top, we were free.
Oregon became forest hiking, mountain climbing, sea cave exploring, and beach camping on the weekends with my house-mates. I found out beer tasted better in these places, but I still drank the cheap stuff a couple more years until I tried PNW craft beer. There were so many choices!
After living here now for over ten years, I can say I've seen a lot of the Cascadian coast and hiked many trails, but I feel like I've only tapped into a tiny bit of the natural beauty it has to share with us, and I am so glad to live here with the purpose and intention of exploring as much as I can with a camera and bringing that beauty into our everyday lives. I live for those moments, being out there. And I am greatly satisfied when my image pleases you!
Road Tripping the PNW Coast
How can I even begin to tell you all how much I am enraptured with this new camera?! It's as though it sees what I see... finally!!... it's my "mechanical eye." In fact, I think I will call the wide angle lens my "black eye" because it can see so well in low light settings, which we know the north coast for having as its default weather. There are all kinds of great features I invested in that allow me to take clear shots of the landscapes I explore... and sometimes I even get lucky when visiting these terrains to happen upon some if its wild locals, such as the juvenile red-tail hawk pictured above, taking off over the Columbia River on Thanksgiving Day. I'd be honored to share my photos with you through social media on Facebook and Instagram. This NotYourEverydayDreamer site is a great resource for viewing my portfolio and reading the directions I am taking via my blog, but the day-to-day grit will be posted more frequently on the other sites.
Holiday Market in Long Beach
This December, I am participating in my first ever holiday market! I am SO excited to finally be a part of one in the center of where I shoot. The Adrift Hotel will be hosting my table of photography goods (and myself!). This is so very special because I am one of the designers of the hotel! That's right -- if you stayed in one of the rooms, you would be familiar by now with the forest and beach pillows that stand out on the clean white beds. I designed those! I will have my full catalog at my table for you to order from, with a few for sale that I can fit on a six foot table! That's Sammy in the picture above, resting with my forest pillow -- I even have furry fans with tails! (photo Credit goes to Linh -- Thanks Linh!)
This event takes place on Saturday, December 16, 2017 from 10am to 4pm, downstairs in the little side room near the lobby. There will be clean bathrooms, fresh hot coffee, and an upstairs dining room called the Pickled Fish for you to enjoy if you come out for the day to shop with me. What a great place to catch the sunset, up in the Pickled Fish!
I have been busting tail here in my home studio to introduce four new product lines in a month's time. Am I crazy? Crazy-inspired and persistent, yep. These new lines will range in price from $4 to $50, all being small gift-able items for yourself or a loved one. This means they will be easy to ship, too! All of them will incorporate my coastal and forest photography, and I'm gonna make you come and check it all out before I spill the beans too soon. Please come on over and say hello, I would love to talk to anyone interested in my work! I enjoy sharing local knowledge and stories about this beautiful land we call the PNW.
Here is part of my philosophy as a creative. I've heard of some artists going only after big projects... but I believe in everyone being able to afford art in their lives. It makes art more prevalent, influential, and visible. By making small affordable art that is functional as well as decorative, art can have a larger presence in our lives, and we do not have to settle for chain store, mass-produced stuff. Think about how many art pieces you own that are worth more than $120 each... probably not many. But how many creative magnets, cards, small prints, bags and other small things do you have that enhance your daily life because you are able to enjoy the inspiring, creative, local imagery artists have put on them? Exactly!
Here's my Instagram again if you want to follow along... I just might post a few photos of my new stuff the week of the holiday event. You just never know.
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It's hard to not get all warm-caramel-goopy inside when I think about where I am at in my art direction right now. It's like "wow, I just woke up, and here I am doing this!" Well, my idealistic thought patterns can often leave out the ride-along hardships when I finally reach a new pinnacle from my efforts. But the trick is, there is always another pinnacle! So I keep ending up in this place again and again, and the effects on my psyche have been amazingly positive.
When I am waking up and not having to go to a day job (let's hope I can hang in there this winter!!), it allows me the freedom to operate with purposeful direction in effecting my creative ideas by putting my energy towards them as much as I humanly can. Going solo also allows me to operate on instinct, which I find to be challenging at times. Having a new professional camera now presents every opportunity to create, and yet I know I have a slew of other things to do to keep bringing up the rear of my online presence and the time it takes to branch out in person. sometimes it's a tough battle to follow the path of what's right to do in the moment! But the instinct is usually right, even if the brain argues it. (if you are curious, the cute new 4lb. camera baby is a Nikon D750!)
Lately, I have done some day-tripping with my new fancy glass. I drove the entire Olympic Peninsula in two days, fell in love with a Victorian seaport town, and returned just a little defeated from not having correct filter sizes for one of my lenses. I faced the nervous challenge of being totally new at a very advanced device that came with a 500 page manual (I sat and read the whole thing before it even left my house!). But, I give myself grace because this is all so new and amazing, and I enjoyed meeting so many nice, curious, supportive people along the way. Washington, you are one Laid-back state.
When I step out my door, sometimes I even wonder what I am doing -- I think this is a factor of the newness of everything and putting my old gear up for sale, so I'm letting go of comfort I have known. The challenge of being completely alone with my thought processes is panning out into gain -- I have greater understanding of myself. I realize, "Hey, it's all okay. You just gotta do this your way. Nobody's rules or expectations apply." I faced a fear, put the big bucks down, and now this ship is sailing and I'm the captain, wooo! And just like a captain, I am on top of the weather, the road conditions, the hazards, the tides... I feel more connected to the earth than ever before. I keep going to sleep at night hoping for another day to do this. One thing you will never hear me say is, "I'm bored."
I suppose this November writing is more a heady thought-release for you to peer inside the workings of my mind as an artist whom you may follow or even admire (I'm honored if you do!). Maybe you could see that the results from going beyond comfort, facing fears alone, and following your gut is all good in the end. For myself, I'll never have to wonder because I tried.
There's Lots more to come this winter, as I just taught myself a budding new skill in the arts. Can't wait to blog about it later!
My work is for sale through Etsy and Society 6, and you will find many links throughout my site here that will take you shopping if you find a print that you like. I recently added two new 'Galleries'of products and prints here to get you stoked on my work and start looking at more. I also re-vamped the whole look and organization of NYED, and I hope you enjoy the new layout!
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Well when they say put yourself out there... I got as much as I can handle, and more keeps coming just as soon as I push another project or show to completion. This is really an amazing process, and I know the flow will happen in its own way... I hope I can handle it and still find time to cook and sleep!
BOLT Coffee Bar Show in Gearhart
Yesterday, I hung a show at the new BOLT Coffee Bar in Gearhart. This spot is a quick and easy stop for a road adventure coffee, located on Highway 101 near Pacific Way. The owner, John, has had a passion for owning small businesses, and this coffee bar is his new venture. He serves Oregon coffee (with s'mores additions!) and has a wall of my wood photo panels on display. There are some larger prints framed in decorative pine, too! Really, he is using my work as shop decor, but I'll let it pass for awhile.
The show will run for several months, and plan on a fun gathering for a grand opening later in the summer!
Cannon Beach Art Gallery Representation
Farther down the coast, Cannon Beach Art Gallery at 1064 S. Hemlock Avenue is now carrying several of my smaller wall and tabletop 5 x 5 mini wood panel photos. This is where you will find the Haystack Rock photo, of course! You know... that gorgeous sea stack over 15 million years old that everyone checks out for nesting puffins on top and the tide pools around its base.
Stay tuned for future adventures and new art prints that will become available! My shop is always open at https://www.etsy.com/shop/Sweetsere.
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