Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Photographing God through the camera of David LaBelle

I would like to share an article with you written by David LaBelle entitled "A Visual Love Letter".  His words echoed my own heart regarding the God we see in His boundless creativity that exists all around us.  I contacted Mr. LaBelle and it is with his permission, that I share his article with you.  Please read his column in its entirety for an insightful perspective in his words of photographing God....

       "For 50 years, I have dreamed about photographing God.  In the past, I even kidded that when I died, I wanted my family to place a Nikon F camera loaded with 100 ASA film in the casket with me.  I figure I won't need a fast film with a high ISO because there will be plenty of light, and I'd sure like to be the first to photograph heaven.

       Indirectly, from the first days I picked up a camera, I have tried to photograph God by photographing His creation - be it the natural wonders of the world or the wonders of human creations.  Just as we photograph stunning rock formations in Utah, Arizona, Colorado or South Dakota - whose majestic cliffs have been shaped by countless years of breathing winds - we photograph an invisible God by photographing the influence of His Spirit on His creation.  

       Each of us carries the genetics - the DNA of our father.  I realize I must walk softly and carefully with this subject, and do so with sensitivity, recognizing there are many who do not share my beliefs.  Please accept that this column is not meant to be a sermon, but a personal observation and ambition.

       I do not mind admitting that when I witness humbling acts of altruism and love, my throat tightens and my eyes fill.  In these quiet acts of compassion, I see my God every bit as much as when I behold a beautiful sunrise or sunset.  I have always been drawn to these genuine, not performed, moments.  In them I see the goodness of mankind and the loving influence of God.  In these mini stories, I feel the greatest joy and hope for humanity. 

       While some are drawn to photographing action sports, portraits or nature, I am drawn to quiet relationship scenes of love and compassion - things I often lack in my own life, but continually aspire to own.  My wife and I try to make pictures that reinforce the beauty and love of God on His creation, and try to avoid promoting the opposite.

       For me, life looks very different at 65 than it did at 25  I'm confident it is a natural thing as we age to grow more introspective and more deliberate with what time we have left.  In my youth, life was a smorgasbord and, like most, I wanted to sample everything.

       I have loved many types of photography - from sports to nature, breaking news, celebrities and even some fashion - but lately, more than ever, my heart seeks to capture and share positive pictures that reinforce love and goodness and encourage hope, while glorifying our Creator.  It isn't that I have not always tried to do this from the time I picked up a camera, but now with the acute recognition of the limited time I have left on this earth, there is an urgency not present 25 years ago.  I am forever reminded and keep this passage from Psalm 90 on the sleeve of my heart:  "Teach us to number our days, that we might apply our hearts to wisdom."

       I photograph God when I record the golden morning light raking across the red earth or prairie grass of Oklahoma, or when evening clouds turn from white to yellow to crimson.  I photograph God when I see birds drink the dew of the leaves or eat the crumbs left by man.  Mostly, I photograph God when I see His Spirit working in the lives of His children.  I don't always love as I should, but often what I see through my lens challenges me to love more purely.  I wish every photograph I make to be a visual love letter to my God." - David LaBelle

photo by David LaBelle
David LaBelle had a caption written under the above photo which states..."I watch for small, quiet moments that speak to the goodness of man and individual character rather than loud, decorated "religious" acts often performed to be seen.  This tender scene of a young man walking two elderly women to their cars from a restaurant is such a moment."

Thank you David LaBelle for allowing me to share your wonderful thoughts on "A Visual Love Letter".  You can learn more about this international photographer, teacher, author and lecturer at his website at http://www.greatpicturehunt.com/


Please join me in two weeks at The Turn-Up Patch on Monday, September 25....
 

Monday, August 28, 2017

A WOW of an Eclipse!

Today's post reflects the experience of the eclipse that occurred in our area just one week ago today.    Preparation for the influx of visitors began months ago throughout our communities within the John Day valley.  Since we live in the proportional eclipse path in eastern Oregon, it was a thrill to be able to witness 100% totality just from our own backyards.  Motels were booked, camp-sites reserved,  grocery stores and restaurants stocked, eclipse glasses in supply, emergency personal prepared for the event.  New friends were made and pleasant exchanges occurred with those who came from near and far to be a part of this celestial happening.  

Since we are privileged to witness many glorious sunsets and sunrises, it is hard to chose a favorite.  However, it seemed significant to take this photo of the sun setting behind our hills the evening before the eclipse.  God, using His creative force in nature, was preparing.



With family, friends and visitors gathered to enjoy this much anticipated happening, we had a pre eclipse treat when our local resident flew over the valley in his ultralight plane.  It is always special to see our flag flying overhead, as Dave Traylor takes his aircraft and his patriotism to the sky for all to enjoy..


The process of the eclipse was approximately two hours from start to finish.  The eclipse in totality was around 2 minutes, 8 seconds during which time the countryside grew dark and a chill was in the air for the lack of momentary sunlight.  As this stage was occurring, you could hear boisterous cheers from the people gathered in town and in nearby camp areas.  An expressing word in amazement by all - WOW!  

I took a chance on a photo shot since the brilliance of the sun was hidden except for the halo effect behind the moon.  I was so pleased with the resulting photograph as my Nikon camera had no special filters and limited in zoom power.  It is the one and only camera shot taken and I share it with you, my readers....


The power of God can never be underestimated and this is just such an example.  Scientifically, it is explained as to the material conditions that cause an eclipse phenomenon.  But it is one such miracle of life in a cosmos that appears endless and one that our own earth is a part of.   We cannot forget to factor in the Alpha and Omega, the existence of the completed One who is all and in all - the I AM.


Please join me at The Turn-Up Patch for another post on Monday, September 4th...


Monday, August 14, 2017

Legend, Fact and Beauty of Multnomah Falls

Recently I had the pleasure to visit Multnomah Falls.  I have often seen it from a distance driving on I-84 heading east from Portland to Eastern Oregon.  So often we are in a hurry driving from one destination to another, time isn't taken to stop and enjoy beauties of nature.  On this occasion, time was taken to stop and enjoy this well known waterfall in Oregon and of course, for photographic opportunity.

A little background first....  The name Multnomah is a Native American word that has been eluded to mean "downriver".  History records that the Multnomah people are a segment of the Chinookan peoples who originally lived near the Columbia River.


It is a two-tiered waterfall that is 611 feet high and located on the Columbia River Gorge near the I-84 Freeway.  The upper fall plunges 542 feet and the lower fall is 69 feet which makes Multnomah Falls the highest waterfall in the state of Oregon and the second highest in the nation.There is a legend attached to Multnomah Falls.  Keep in mind that legend means a traditional story or tale that has no proven factual basis....
According to Wasco legend, the daughter of Chief Multnomah sacrificed herself to the Great Spirit from the top of Multnomah Falls.  Tribes along the Columbia River celebrated the marriage of the Chief's daughter to a neighboring tribe.  The happiness didn't last long, however, before the area experienced an illness that affected all of the tribes along the river.  The medicine man claimed the Great Spirit told him all of the tribe would die unless the Sprit received a sacrifice; the Chief's daughter's life.  The Chief wouldn't allow it, but when the daughter saw the sickness affect her loved ones, she willingly left in the middle of the night to go to the top of the cliff overlooking the Columbia River.  She threw herself off the cliff.  When the Chief found his daughter's body, he prayed to the Great Spirit for a sign that her spirit was well.  Water began pouring from the cliff and became known as Multnomah Falls.

An interesting legend but here is the simple fact about the falls...  The Multnomah Falls water is supplied by natural underground springs that originate on Larch Mountain, which is an extinct volcano where the falls are located.

Below are several closeup photos of this enchanting water, mesmerizing in its tumbling fall....


I thought you might be interested in just a few facts and photos of Multnomah Falls.  It is just one of many sights of beauty in the diverse scenery from the west coast to the eastern region of Oregon.  There is a quote by Russian poet, writer and painter Mikhail Lermontov who compared waterfalls with human soul - "Many quiet rivers start from noisy waterfalls, but none of them jumps and does not foam up to the sea.  But it is often a sign of great peace of mind, and hidden forces..."

Join me at The Turn-Up Patch on Monday, August 28th.  Until then, here is another thought to ponder on by Benjamin F Sullivan... "God is discovered entirely through creation - the brilliance of a sunset, the powerful roar of a waterfall, the symphony of sounds you hear in the heart of the forest, or the vastness of space and its countless stars.  God is the mastermind behind all matter - every earth shattering scientific discovery and mystery that is yet to be unraveled was dreamed and enacted by God."




Monday, July 31, 2017

Pathways

We have all heard reference to personal journeys of life that are made up of pathways in experience and choice.  It appears like a solitary walk since we are mostly aware of self in the drama of life.  And for those who believe in Divine Presence,  it becomes a faith walk and solitary is no more.  Awareness opens into a path that is not only human but graced with a power beyond oneself.  Psalm 16:11 says... "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand."  There is comfort knowing that you are not alone.

We cannot travel a personal journey without encountering others - fellow sojourners. I came across this saying by Thomas S. Monson that expresses this reality and is a good reminder of the love commandment...  Love God, Love your neighbor, Love yourself....



Come!  Journey to the The Turn-Up Patch for a visit on Monday, August 14.  See you then....


 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Daily Delights

The miracles of God in nature never cease to amaze me.  Daily, there is a fresh find to inspire and to delight.   As an example, this critter was discovered in a nearby field just waiting to have his picture taken.  Upon closer inspection, found out it was a marmot... a fancy name for a woodchuck also labeled as a land beaver.   Oh, what big teeth you have.....

 Or, how about this profile....

Or, better yet, how about full front with these great digging claws that make huge ground tunnels.... 


So that was my marmot adventure.  First time we've seen one on our property during the many years lived here.  He wasn't a bit afraid and made a type of chirping noise at us.  Our dog, being curious, tried to get a closer look but the marmot stood his or her ground and wasn't going to be run off by a giant four legged canine.

From critters to storms, I close this post today by a picture I took the other evening of storm clouds splashed with early sunset colors.  Another daily delight....  How great is our God!  Scripture in Revelation 22:13 says it best... "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."



You are invited to the next post at The Turn-Up Patch on Monday, July 31....



 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Independence Day - Celebration in Freedom!

Independence Day - July 4th - Celebration in freedom!   Behind this National holiday in the United States are pivotal events that climaxed into the framework of the Declaration of Independence.  At that time, 13 colonies broke from English rule to become "a republic for which it stands", as reaffirmed in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Pivotal events occurred through bloodshed and personal sacrifice in order to secure the vision of freedom.  Four years ago I wrote a piece on the Identity of the American Flag and would like to share with you again the significance of this message...
 
Identity of the American Flag  (posted on July 1, 2013)

On July 4, 1776, two hundred thirty-seven years ago, the Declaration of Independence of the original thirteen colonies was signed. Independence was claimed from Britain and Democracy was born. Today's message honors Independence Day and the American flag, one of the most significant symbols of Independence.  

The flag of the United States is displayed in all possible ways on July 4th.  Here in the John Day Valley, we are treated to a skyward "fly-by flag" carried by an ultra-light plane over our area, which is always a thrill to view.  Of course, there are buildings, homes and streets in the local towns, which are generously decorated with the red, white and blue.  There are flag representations in parades, rodeos and community gatherings.  Friends and family alike take a day out in celebration and salutation of a defining moment which proclaimed the formation of the United States of America.  (Click on photos to enlarge)   


Parade Flag carried by horse & rider
Ultra-Light Plane flying American Flag























“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."    This declaration is powerful when one fully realizes the hallowed significance in its verbal portraiture.  The following 'History of the Flag' information was obtained at this link:  http://www.usacitylink.com/usa/history-of-the-flag/



- Colors of the Flag:  Red is for valor, zeal and fervency;  White is for hope, purity, cleanliness of life, rectitude of conduct;  Blue is for the color of heaven, for reverence to God, loyalty, sincerity, justice and truth.
-  The Star symbolized dominion and sovereignty, as well as lofty aspirations.  The constellation of the stars within the union, one star for each state, is emblematic of our Federal Constitution, which reserves to the States their individual sovereignty except to as rights delegated by them to the Federal Government.
-  The thirteen Stripes represent the original thirteen colonies.

The symbolism of the Flag was thus interpreted by George Washington:  "We take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country separating it by the white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty."

The flag first rose over thirteen states along the Atlantic seaboard, with a population of some three million people. Today it flies over fifty states, extending across the continent, and over great islands of the two oceans; and two hundred and five million owe it allegiance. It has been brought to this proud position by love and sacrifice. Citizens have advanced it and heroes have died for it. It is the sign made visible of the strong spirit that has brought liberty and prosperity to the people of America. It is the flag of all us alike. Let us accord it honor and loyalty.  (Excerpt from History of the Flag)


Hall of Flags, Chicago O'Hare International Airport
The first time I had ever been to the Chicago O'Hare International Airport, this impressive Hall of Flags greeted me.  At the end of the hall, is a large display of the American flag.  I felt humbled when I first saw this huge flag as a welcoming greeter to all travelers, visiting from abroad and those returning home.  There was a sense of pride in viewing this flag as it impressed me of the nobility and heroism that lies behind it in the patriots of yesterday and today.  It is imprinted with the ultimate sacrifice by many; a message of hope for new beginnings; and a sentinel of freedom for its people. Throughout the years, there have been wrongs to right, including times of triumphs and tragedies, glory and shame, indicative of growing pains of a Republic with stars and stripes.

God is embedded in this flag.  He is the integral part of the surrounding whole, which is the definition of embed. The signers of the Declaration of Independence and the framers of the U.S. Constitution are referred to as founding fathers or forefathers. They recognized and acknowledged the Creator's Presence and paid Him homage as the Author of freedom.... "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."  Let us always remember to place our Creator where He rightfully belongs, the One from whom freedom flows.  If we begin to worship freedom in abandonment of its Author, the opposite effect of eventual decline is a consequence.



Their is a video presentation of God Bless America (sung by Celine Dione) is by Anthony Cortese.  He published this clip on July 4, 2012 and he wrote the below statement along with the video.  
You can  view at:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPWqY1nSkig   
I have included Anthony's tribute, since his words say it best.....


"I still believe in American Exceptionalism; that in all of history there has never been a country like the United States. I believe in our founding documents; that the United States Constitution is the single greatest document crafted from the minds of men for the promotion of individual liberty and freedom. Happy Fourth of July to all my friends and fellow countrymen. There is much for which we should celebrate and be grateful."  - Anthony Cortese


Let us reflect on the God-given freedoms that we enjoy in these United States of America.  Join me for my next post at The Turn-Up Patch on Monday, July 17...

 





Monday, June 19, 2017

Sunset between the storms

Last week we had storms that brought in rain accompanied with thunder and lightning.  Great to have the rain but not so great for lightning.  It is a harsh reminder of the wildfires that were experienced in the John Day Valley in 2015.  Our beloved Canyon Mountain shows the effect of burned timber that scars the landscape.  Many homes were destroyed by fire forcing owners to either rebuild or relocate in the aftermath.  Lightning in its beauty and power can devastate by a random strike.  It still makes a community feel nervous as a reminder of what was and what can be if dry weather conditions exist in our forests and terrain towards fall.

For the time being, we are enjoying the advent of summer and all the pleasures that it brings after the winter freeze and commencement of spring.  People are busy with gardens, summer projects and vacations, enjoying the sun and outdoor activities.  Once in awhile, we are privileged to experience a delight in nature,  if we take time out from our busyness to stop and become aware of what is before us.  I don't know how anyone could have missed this piece of art from the hand of God...



A beautiful sunset graced our skies between the storms of the early evening hour.  I grabbed my camera to capture such a stunning view as it quickly changed color and cloud formation.  The golden hues changed to orange and pink as the sun dipped behind the hills.  In the third photo, if you look close enough, you can see the sun's fractured rays breaking through the clouds in resemblance of golden geese.



The thought came to me that as we experience personal storms in life, God gives us breakthroughs in His sunset colors of hope, encouragement, strength and perseverance to experience calm in the midst of storms.  Psalm 4:8 says, "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety".  


I hope you will join me at The Turn-Up Patch for another visit on Monday, July 3 ....  I leave you with a beautiful quote that is so true... "PEACE is seeing a sunset, and knowing who to thank."