I've always struggled with taking pictures while travelling. On one hand it is nice to have visual memories to look at, on the other hand ....at best the photos look like nice postcards. They may show the place but do not show how I felt when I was there, so why not just buy a postcard?? So this time, when we went to Yellowstone for a week, I tried a different tactic. I took the digital camera, for the "inside the safety zone" pictures. The analog Mamiya medium format one, to work with and see what is it's "golden spot", where will it shine the most. And .... the Diana F+ camera that was gathering dust on the shelf after the 1st film I shot with it was a disaster. With the Diana, I decided to give up all caution and just play. Whenever something caught my eye - I captured it. Piling images one on top of the other, in the hope that the resulting image will not show "a thing" but the excitement and awe of being surrounded by such an abundance of life and beauty. We returned home, and scaredy cat that I am, I sent a few of the films to a lab for development (so I will not mess them all up...) and started to slowly develop the rest at home. Three done, three more to go. And trust me, the Diana will not gather dust on the shelf anymore ;)
How can one begin to understand the latest decision made by Donald Trump - abandoning the Paris climate agreement? Many people reacted with both words and acts. I am still too aggravated for words, and for now, I would like to remind the guys in the White House the words of John Muir:
The world, is ours to enjoy, to delight in, to cherish and to keep. So in a hundred years from now, our great grandchildren will still be able to walk in the shade of the great Redwoods, rather than jog on flood protection walls. Maybe this should have been a tweet rather than a blog post ...
In a few days, I will present my Misthaven portfolio at the Open Show in San Diego. This explains why you can see me now talking to myself during the morning walk (no, I have not gone crazy, it just my way of preparing ...). Misthaven is all about exploring the unknown and discovering moments of pure magic. Like last week, in New York.
I stayed in NY four days, three of them found me wandering in Central Park. Every day discovering storybook places, taking me back to my childhood and beloved childhood books. Armed with the film camera and an expired roll of film, I try to capture the magic, trusting the god of photography will smile at me and help. I think he (she?) did. I am almost expecting to see Peter Pan sailing on the boats and making friends with the duck. Pure magic.
Being on the water, in a little boat that moves up and down with the waves changes the perspective. The horizon is no longer horizontal, the clouds borrow the shape of the waves, the water is the same grey color as the sky. Nature at its most majestic. Even more so when a humpback whale dives just in front of the boat. It is so easy to feel small and inconsequential.
Yet looking at the sea otters floating happily wrapped in strands of kelp, I can not stop thinking we have almost wiped them out, killing them for their prized fur. On one of the mountains we can see the scar caused by a landslide, the result of less than wise development. In a few minutes it will be behind us. So easy to forget. A glimpse at the fragile equilibrium supporting all this grand beauty.
In august 2016 I spent ten days in Sitka, Alaska, volunteering for Sitka Conservation Society and the Alaska Raptor Center. This was my first trip to Alaska, my first encounter with the “The Salmon Forest.” Ten days and I was hooked. The intertwined story of fish, forest, and man unfolded daily, and like the best of stories, each new chapter drew me deeper into the plot.
Walking through the huge trees, proportions change. Time slows down, the air is more fragrant, the ground softer. Sculptured roots, remains of a wind storm that happened 90 years ago, red berries dot the green. Perched on a branch, a bald eagle looks me in the eye. Perhaps this is the same eagle I saw later flying holding a salmon in his claws. I hear the river before seeing it. Clear water, flowing gently towards the sea. When I look closer, I notice the moving shadows. The fish arrived!! Most are still at sea, but some are already making their way upstream. Just a few more days and their carcasses will dot the river floor, a feast for the bears and the eagles. The decayed remainders would feed the trees, make them grow bigger, faster. Fish do not grow on trees, but it seems trees do grow on fish.
Unlike the bears, the fisherman, do not wait for the fish to come to them. Trollers and seiners return to the port, their ice box filled with fish. For many, salmon is much more than food. It is the roof above their head, the clock that dictates the daily schedule, their childhood memories, their legacy.
“There are many ways to kneel and kiss the ground,” said Rumi. Creating these images, telling nature’s stories, is my way. Through them, I celebrate its wisdom in pairing trees that shade the streams with fish who nurture the soil. Grateful for its bounty and generosity that can not be taken as granted. It is ours to enjoy and ours to safeguard.
Back to the forest, by the whispering stream. A cluster of Foxgloves, patches of light. Far, far away from the noise of unneeded guns, unneeded death.
Black lives matter. Blue lives matter. Life matters. Really matters. All life. Policemen and children, women and men. The world in which we live, the one we tear apart, it matters. The world wears black and blue, bowing its head at unneeded death. Light cries and comforts. Life matters.
I saw him on the stairs of the restaurant. Beautiful. Almost still. Between life and death. Took a few pictures. Thirty minutes later, on our way out, he was still there. I picked him up and took him home. when I touch him, the wings flutter for a few seconds, as if he wants to fly. His last movements. Still here, still beautiful. not for long. When life meets death.
A work of art is above all an adventure of the mind. The mind of the person who created it, the mind of all the people who would look at it. Infuse it with their own meaning. Project on it their feelings, memories and wishes. Translate it into their own language. Allowing the piece of art to touch them, maybe even transform them a tiny little bit. The hope and wish of every artist.
"Misthaven" images continue to appear. This is a good place to be thankful for all the great feedback I am getting on this portfolio who was recently published in Black and White magazine (Excellence award), Still Point Art quarterly (issue 22) and on Lenscratch.
Here are two brand new images for "Misthaven". I hope somewhere out there, there is a heart that will be touched by them. sending them out into the world to find that heart.
I chase light like others chase fame, or power, or money. Me, just give me my camera, shafts of light and a natural setting - and I am happy. Knee deep in the water, or laying on the ground, the world becomes limited and limitless at the same time.
Here, I chased the colors of the wind and the water in a lily pond. Colors... water ...hmmm....water ... colors. Water Colors!! An idea is born :)
Funny how images are born. I started experimenting with Cyanotypes, and was looking at images I shot in the last few month in order to find one I can play with. One image in particular looked like a good candidate, and as usual, this was an image that at the time, I did not even mark as one worth earmarking for future use. Once changed to black and white this image started whispering, obviously wanting to tell me something.
A few minutes and a few more adjustments later the whisper turned to a clear statement: "I belong to Misthaven" (The photography portfolio I thought I finished months ago ...). Can I not listen to this voice? Of course not, hence Misthaven 28 joined its friends. See top 20 images from Misthaven portfolio here
It does not matter where I go, I always arrive to the same place. My place. Nature.
Whether in Israel, California, Japan or Germany, it is always the sun, the smell of rain, the shadow of the trees that tempt me, whisper in my ear.
This time, the place is a small pond, a walking distance from my mother in law apartment in Frankfurt, Germany. Despite being the end of April, it is chilly outside. We walk around the pond, and just when there is no shelter in sight - it starts to rain. My husband holds the umbrella, while I wait for the birds to fly over the lake. Try to be careful, as my camera, unlike me, does not like to be kissed by the rain ....
"Many years ago, when I still had two long braids tied with huge white bows, I fell in love with stories. Especially the ones which transported me to magical places where wild swans turned into princes, dark forests hid marble castles, and ancient columns were spotted by moonlight floating above the waves of stormy seas."
This is the beginning of my "Misthaven" series statement. A testament to the enduring imprints of fairy tales and fiction literature I read as a child. A couple of month ago, I thought this series is finished. I numbered the images, created a sequence, polished the statement. I though I have nothing more to say. I couldn't be more wrong.
I do not look for images, they seem to look for me. And two new images found me just the other day. Here is the second one:
See Misthaven portfolio here
I decide to walk rather than drive to the art store. About 40 minutes of walking on Lincoln street in Santa Monica. Shops, car repair shops, restaurants. Lots of concrete. I start noticing the murals. More than half of them depict nature.
After seeing the third one, the irony strikes me. We cover nature with concrete. Then we cover concrete with nature. Urban nature, or perhaps a glimpse at the human nature.
The best compliment I ever got was when somone told me my images reminded him of Harry Callahan's. At the time, I didn't really appreciate it enough as I was not familiar with his work. Now, a year later, his simple yet experimental approach to photography is a constant inspiration to me. I find myself going back to see his work, drawing inspiration from it.
His images, like the Haiku poetry can say so much, with so little. I can just hope that sometime I will be able to distill my emotions into visual images with the same clarity. Until then, I keep looking for the magic in the everyday, discovering the beauty of the simple things in life.
clay floor shaped into geometric shapes by ruthless heat
all seems beige, yet filled with color
clouds of dust catch morning sunlight
people the size of ants presume to own it all
are we mad???
Playing with the camera. I do not want to capture the magnificence of the beach. It's the ripples of light, the salty air, the sound of the waves, the continuous movement that I am after.
Hundreds of images of the beach, and I am still looking for the right way to photograph it. Ironically, it is when I am starting to play and let it happen that some of the barriers break down.
Seeing my work in print, alongside such great photographers is such a wonderful feeling. Proud to share with you the newly published issue of Israeli Lens, this month revolving around cultures around the world. Click the image below to browse it, and take a look at my Japan photo essay as well.
Just returned from a 2 weeks trip to Japan. A once in a lifetime opportunity to immerse myself in traditions as old as civilization, meet people who live in true harmony with nature.
While it will take months for all the experiences to sink in, there are moments which were so rare, so precious - I need to capture them in here. Not that I think they will disappear, it is more of a hope that by sharing them, I will understand them better.
Late afternoon, almost evening in Kadoide. A small village in North Japan, no one but its inhabitants know it. We live in a restored traditional house, at the edge of the village. Surrounded by mountains, trees and a river. Dinner is almost ready when I look out of the window and see we are wrapped in clouds. Without much thinking, I grab the camera, put on the coat and the shoes (you never wear shoes inside a Japanese house) and go outside.
For about 30 minutes, until darkness covered the mountains, I walk around taking photos. Everywhere I look, the world looks surreal. It's like walking on clouds, heaven, earth and me becoming one. The closest I ever felt to God.
April 4th. My 51 birthday.
Closing another year, my best one yet. The year I found a new path to me. Through the lens.
The best place to photograph today, in our garden. With the scent of childhood lilacs in my mind, I photograph the Wisteria and Brunflesia - both filling the air with their sweet fragrance. And I can remember the lilacs (that will never grow in my too sunny, too hot garden) with longing, but also with a smile. As this is a good day. A day filled with hope and anticipation for the next year, and all the good things it will bring.
If hope has a scent, it would definitely smell like spring.
Memories of childhood lilacs by Amy Kanka Valadarsky
A few years ago, my husband and I visited Monet's house in Giverny, France. We toured the sun filled house, soaked in its colors and endless treasuries.
The house is surrounded by the gardens, Monet painted so beautifully. The lily pond with its bridge and surrounding trees, the water lilies. It was a magical day in a magical place.
I wish I could draw like he did, but we are not all that lucky. For me, it is the camera rather than the the brush. Light rather than paint.
But the love of gardens, is the same and so is the constant wish to capture the things the eye can not see: the song of birds, the scent of lemon trees in bloom.