an everyday photo, every day | photography • art • poetry

chartiers creek

Rise and Fall

Rise and Fall
Rise and Fall

Rise and Fall

Another photo from the trail yesterday, how that road goes up and down and from deep shade to bright sun. I’ve ridden it on my bike many times and it’s very fun, but it’s also a beautiful walk. The colors just suddenly flared this weekend, just when it seemed we might not have much color at all for rain and then extreme heat.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


A Walk in Autumn

A welcoming autumn trail.
A welcoming autumn trail.

A welcoming autumn trail.

I’ve been experimenting with my smartphone, trying to get the best photos from it, but it’s just not the same as my DSLR and an autumn walk clearly reminds me of that. I went out to a trail today to photograph two dogs who will be subjects of a commissioned pet portrait and we all had a good walk on the trail. I have more photos than I know what to do with, and I think I just like this camera better!

Above is a particularly lovely section of this trail, which had once been a road through a farm, then later paved for traffic, then the entire old farm made into a county park. This road didn’t receive too much vehicular traffic (except by me and a few others who enjoyed it), so at one point it was blocked off and a system of trails using the road, narrowed and repaved, and trails through the woods was set up. The sky in the photo below was not filtered by anything, only on a day with this much color is the sky this intense blue.

Another section of the trail.

Another section of the trail.

A little stream runs down the ravine and I couldn’t keep from finding the tiny waterfall. When I have more time I’ll work my way down to the stream and take a few other photos.

Sweet little waterfall in the shadows.

Sweet little waterfall in the shadows.

Another view of the waterfall, with the light on the stream above it.

Another view of the waterfall, with the light on the stream above it.

The colors of autumn were everywhere, in white and purple asters and yellow goldenrod, red and orange leaves and blue sky.

Yellow goldenrod with red and orange leaves and blue sky, what a lovely combination.

Yellow goldenrod with red and orange leaves and blue sky, what a lovely combination.

Purple asters at the edge of the woods with just a touch of pink smartweed.

Purple asters at the edge of the woods with just a touch of pink smartweed.

Many-flowered Asters blooming.

Many-flowered Asters blooming.

Here is my favorite photo of the dogs, Madison and Apollo, though it’s out of focus. Too bad I moved just a tiny bit and the camera refocused on the background instead of Apollo.

My favorite photo, too bad it's not focused.

My favorite photo, too bad it’s not focused.

Here’s another photo of the two.

Madison and Apollo were happy no matter what.

Madison and Apollo were happy no matter what.

Much of what we walked on was waste coal from long ago deep and strip mines.

The landscape is largely heaps of coal from the overburden from stripmining.

The landscape is largely heaps of coal from the overburden from strip mining.

The park was established on donated farmland that had been strip mined and the soil had nothing for growing. While Western Pennsylvania is known for its hills, most of these rises and ravines were formed by waste from coal mining, known as overburden, gob piles and a whole lot of other names. Left on its own it will eventually host hardy maples and a few other species that can grow in the acid soil that collects between the pieces of coal, but for the most part nothing else will grow there. But if you know what to look for, you can see by the shape and texture of the landscape, and the lack of undergrowth typical of the woods, what is soil and what is coal waste.

These slopes are made from gob piles, or heaps of coal waste from strip mining.

These slopes are made from gob piles, or heaps of coal waste from strip mining.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Cutleaf Coneflower

Leaning
Leaning

Leaning

Autumn has as many yellow wildflowers as spring has pink ones. Sunflowers and asters and rudbeckias and cosmos grace the woods and streamsides and are difficult to tell apart. These yellow flowers grow on the bank of Chartiers Creek along with a few other species and I see them each year, each year I look them up again and they just don’t seem to match anything in the book, though they resemble about a half dozen flowers. Wildflowers can develop local adaptations or mutations too, so who knows?

The Gathering

The Gathering

But this year I’m figuring this is a cutleaf coneflower, rudbeckia laciniata, related to purple conflower, tall coneflower, gray headed coneflower…no matter what it’s named, its enthusiastic profusion of yellow is welcome at the end of summer when summer flowers have disappeared.

Profusion

Profusion

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


September Morning on Main Street

East Main Street, early, Riley's Pour House is open with their flags out.
East Main Street, early, Riley's Pour House is open with their flags out.

East Main Street, early, Riley’s Pour House is open with their flags out.

“Around Carnegie this morning. I rode my bike to the grocery store early, but what made me think I’d be able to ride around on a beautiful summer morning without taking a few photos? Anything that was colorful and in the sun.”

Above is the photo that inspired me to post a gallery on Facebook, and one of my favorites. Below is the entire gallery; scroll over or click for title and caption.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Get Your Geese in a Row

Get Your Geese in a Row
Get Your Geese in a Row

Get Your Geese in a Row

“Getting your geese in a row. On Chartiers Creek in Carnegie.”

I had a meeting in Carnegie and walked to and fro. On the way back, about 2:00 in the afternoon with partly cloudy skies overhead. As I approached the bridge I could see geese in the water, coming out from under the bridge, first a little group, then single and evenly spaced almost in a perfect line. I got as many as my camera could get, and this time was happy for the focal distance in my smartphone as the line looks like it goes on into infinity. I used the “blue wash” filter and like the rainbow effect it put on the surface of the water.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Beauty Overall

Beauty Overall
Beauty Overall

Beauty Overall

I stood on a bridge and photographed the wildlife activity in the creek today as I walked my errand to the bank and back. A fish that looked like a carp that looked like it was planning on a little spawning was moving the silt around in the creek bed; I photographed the activity, trying to see it more clearly. I also happened to see a goose farther downstream, standing in shallow water, first silhouetted, then against a reflected background of foliage. I photographed the goose too.

A while later the goose decided to take a little swim and quickly came toward where the fish was busily moving the creek bed around with pushes from its tail. Along his way the goose passed over still and riffled water, and the span of ripples he created as he floated were lovely, and the goose was lovely too, in silhouette. That was a lovely series of photos, and the one featured here is one of those.

Then as it came closer to me I saw this goose’s wings weren’t folded as usual, and one wing was lifted higher and almost held over his back. He’d been injured, and possibly had a bad heal, but he was still carrying on with his business in the creek. I wondered if he could fly and decided I’d keep an eye out for him.

It was interesting that the position of his wing wasn’t noticeable until he was very close, and where seeing him up close the wing might have been the first thing to notice, it was a minor detail. Seeing the goose in the context of what he was about in his daily routine told far more about him than his physical appearance alone. The beauty in him was in his actions and the scene overall, and that only one detail.

I feel fortunate that I can walk my errand and see these things, something new each day, and find inspiration and enlightenment during my own daily routines.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Lunch and a Swim

Young Mallard
Young Mallard

Young Mallard

This young mallard combines both activities on a hot afternoon, wading in a shallow inlet and nibbling around in the plants growing on the bottom. I’ve been watching them grow and lately seen the little flock of seven venture farther from their mother. This was the first time they’ve been close enough for a photo.

That water looked very inviting on my way to and from the post office today.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Thunder Moon

mist in moonlight
mist in moonlight

Moonrise

In 2006 I was still lugging around a few film cameras that could capture what my first little 2MP point-and-shoot digital could not. I’d been working with a number of local and larger land conservation groups for years and had a literal field day photographing and painting those beautiful areas as they recovered from industrial or other use, or were simply conserved as overgrown land that housed an ecosystem all their own.

mist in moonlight

Softened Layers

At the same time I was canoeing Chartiers Creek, sometimes for work but usually for fun, and from early morning until night I saw incredibly lovely scenes that I couldn’t catch in a moving canoe. I vowed to return some time to capture as many as I could in different areas.

mist in moonlight

Sentinels

I was familiar with Wingfield Pines as a large flood plain conservation area and also for its access to the creek, and I remembered at one evening event watching the moon rise over the ridge to the east, so when I got the idea to photograph the moon rising in summer using black and white film I chose that destination. Next full moon available was the Thunder Moon in July.

mist in moonlight

Mist in the Trees

Though it was a clear night, a mist rose with the moon. These were shot with film, and while I had my notes from a test session on a night with a partial moon, and from photographing the moon at other times, I knew the mist was a variable I couldn’t control, and I might possible end up with just a bunch of blur because the mist was moving across the open field, not hanging in the air like a fog.

mist in moonlight

Moonlight Through the Pines

When I got the photos back I was so disappointed at not being able to get the clarity I’d remembered in the moon and the surroundings that I put them away for a bit, then got them back out and decided I liked them for what they were. In fact, I find them quite magical. A few of them I like very much.

mist in moonlight

Path Across the Creek

And because a few of canoeing buddies didn’t want me wandering around on a full moon night in an isolated area alone, or walking in the creek with my camera gear and no one else around, they joined me.

mist in moonlight

Aliens

I truly need a better scanner, but since this is a “supermoon” month, I’ve decided to scan and share them anyway.

Moon-1000px

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.


Exhibit: My Home Town

Pear Trees on Main Street, pastel, 10 x 12, 2003 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
"Pear Trees on Main Street", pastel, 12" x 10", 2003 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“Pear Trees on Main Street”, pastel, 12″ x 10″, 2003 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

My Home Town

AN EXHIBIT OF PAINTINGS & SKETCHES

Thursday July 30, 2009, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Babyface’s Carnegie Grill, 36 East Main Street, Carnegie

I love the look of a street lined with houses and trees, a variety of storefronts or someone’s laundry hanging in the back yard; people making their little bit or space unique. I’ve been entering these works in our annual art show, ”Carnegie Painted”, since the year 2000. I’ll have 24 pieces on the wall plus prints and notecards of those and more. Peruse the walls and see if you can identify the views of these familiar streets and places.

Well, those were the days. This was my 2009 annual exhibit, another event in July. Carnegie Painted was an annual exhibit hosted for ten years featuring paintings and sketches of Carnegie, encouraging artists to come and sketch en plein air. I entered at least two if not four images in the show each year for ten years, and in 2009 I selected the originals that hadn’t sold and some of my favorites as prints and put together this exhibit, and also chose 12 images to print as note cards.

Because I’ve sketched so much around Carnegie, these are some of my favorites because I remember not only the scene but the moment, stopping for 15 or 20 minutes on a walk down to the bank to do a sketch, in all seasons. Some were done from photos, but that’s because you can’t always stand and sketch in a snow squall, or standing in the middle of the street.

I still have just a few originals but all are available as prints. The most popular are available in my Etsy shop, so click click this link to find all that’s available on Etsy. Below is a gallery of all the images in the exhibit.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

 


Wild Hollyhock

Wild Hollyhock
Wild Hollyhock

Wild Hollyhock

Another of my Instagram photos, this as part of a bouquet of wildflowers I gathered on my way back from a trip to the post office in the afternoon.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


“Morning on the Creek”

"Morning on the Creek", pastel, 22" x 29", 2008 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
    "Morning on the Creek", pastel, 22" x 29", 2008 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“Morning on the Creek”, pastel, 22″ x 29″, 2008 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

A placid morning canoe trip on Chartiers Creek as the sun spills over the top of the hill, and a goose and goslings head upstream. Of course, I couldn’t paint this while paddling, but I kept it in mind for later. I wear a small digital camera around my neck while canoeing and probably spend more time taking photos than paddling, and I’ve tipped the canoe more than once while swinging around trying to focus on a heron flying overhead. It’ s a good thing Chartiers Creek averages about 1o inches deep most of the year.

detail of landscape painting

Morning on the Creek, detail top left.

This scene is in June somewhere near Peters Township and Upper St. Clair where the creek’s channel is still winding in its traditional channel of oxbows and hairpin turns with high banks and deeper pools and rocky ledges in many places, alive with the calls and flight of herons, wood thrushes and kingfishers as well as the more common cardinals, jays and sparrows, and the occasional fish jumping out of the water. It’s difficult to believe you are paddling past back yards and the parking lots of industry, under the interstate and through a golf course.

detail of landscape painting

Morning on the Creek, detail top right

I did a small study of the top section of this image several years ago in preparation for this painting, which is sold but I have prints of this one as well. I have a series of photos from this canoe trip and many others, which are all worthy of artwork, but this spill of sunbeams broken by the tree trunks, touching the leaves with bright gold and shining a spotlight on the surface of the water is simply so descriptive of the summer creek, the one that I remember from my childhood when it was still fairly wild and overgrown all up and down its corridor, that I kept returning to it.

pastel painting of sunbeams through trees

“Sunbeams”, pastel, 6″ x 8″, 2002 © B.E. Kazmarski

I had originally intended to paint just the creek and its banks, but when I looked closer at my photos I found the little family of Canada geese floating along in the shadows. Even though Canada Geese are not native to the watershed, and are, in fact, invasive in some areas, they are such a common sight that I still welcome their entry on the scene.

goose and goslings

A goose and goslings.

This piece was the signature painting at my second annual poetry reading and fine art show at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, “Winter Twilight”; those long nights of midwinter can inspire some very deep thoughts. Even though this piece depicts summer, I painted it during a series of those longs nights, remembering the sweet and mild June morning, full of life and sound. Visit my website to see more artwork and read the poetry from that reading.

This painting is an original pastel on acid-free two-ply natural white drawing board to which I applied Art Spectrum Colourfix fine pastel ground tinted light green.

The image size 22″ x 29″, painted in 2008. I framed it in a custom plain matte black moulding with a 4″ acid-free white mat. Framed size is 30″ x 37″, and you can find it in my Etsy shop along with a variety of digital prints, giclee prints and canvas prints:

  • Original, framed or
  • Painting only
  • 11″ x 14″ Digital
  • 22″ x 29″ Giclee
  • 11″ x 14″ Giclee
  • 24 x 18 Canvas
  • 20 x 16 Canvas
  • 14 x 11 Canvas

For local friends, this painting is on display at Wesbanco in Carnegie, 100 Broadway Avenue, Carnegie 15106.

pastel painting of sunbeams through trees

“Sunbeams”, pastel, 6″ x 8″, 2002 © B.E. Kazmarski

“Sunbeams”

Incidentally, the preliminary sketch for this painting, “Sunbeams”, included above, is also available as prints. While I love the detailed finish of the original in that top area I love the loose quality and contrasts in the sketch. Find it in my Etsy shop.

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If you’d like to be informed about new artwork plus sales and specials before everyone else, please sign up for my Art & Merchandise e-newsletter. In September I’m planning an autumn-themed artwork sale as well as a review of an exhibit from 2008 entitled “My Home Town”, with a few originals as well as many prints still available, and a special set of notecards. “Art & Merchandise” is a separate list from my Creative Cat e-newsletter if you’re already signed up for that one.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

 


Fireworks Over Water

fireworks
fireworks

Fireworks Over Chartiers Creek

Of all the fireworks photos I’ve taken, this is my favorite, and I took it with my first 2MP digital camera and a tall narrow tripod. This camera had no zoom so there was no real focus time, and it caught the action of the fireworks without hesitation.

This is over Chartiers Creek in Carnegie, not on July 4 but at the end of our community festival in 2003. Chartiers Creek flows right through the middle of town and bridges span it in several places, including these two bridges about 100 yards apart. The fireworks are being set off on the Main Street Bridge, I am on the Mansfield Street Bridge. The building to the right is the Husler building with houses the  Historical Society of Carnegie.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.


Moving Along

Geese 1
Geese 1

Geese 1

The Canada geese took their daily tour of the creek around the bridge. Though I was caught with a very overcast day and only my smartphone for a camera which would make the photos dark with saturated shadows and likely a little soft, I photographed away. I can always do something with them using filters and so I did.

The goslings are getting pretty big—just a month ago they took their first swimming lesson—but still keeping close to mom and dad and the side of the creek. I liked the photos of them emerging into the light and the interesting patterns made by reflections and shadows.

Geese 2

Geese 2

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


When We Courted At Evening

Just being together.
He waits.

He waits.

I remember when we courted, when I would sneak down to the tracks by the creek right after dinner, just around the bend from where my parents were settling down for the night, and wait for you.

She arrives.

She arrives.

My heart would skip a beat when I saw you there, waiting for me, I almost flew to your side but thought I should be careful, not knowing you all that well, yet each time I saw your silhouette my love was stronger and I knew you were the one.

They meet.

They meet.

And what silly things did we do but talk about the weather, and what we’d done that day, and what our siblings were doing, and circle around each other and peck at the gravel as if the world hadn’t suddenly stopped turning because we were together.

Talking.

Talking.

Just a few minutes, we never wanted to draw attention, but when I saw the shadows creeping farther and farther across the tracks I knew I had to start back for home to be back by dusk.

Into infinity.

Into infinity.

Who would think, all these years and all these children, and I still carry these memories of you walking to see me in the warm evening light.

Just being together.

Just being together.

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Five Sentence Fiction: Memories

I took this series of photos walking on Main Street one spring evening recently, where the tracks cross the street and run along the creek where I walk nearly every day, and yet at the right angle they look completely isolated from civilization. I saw the one goose, then a female came to meet him—at a distance I can only tell them from one another by size when male and female are side by side—and they looked and acted so much like a couple of awkward teenagers. I used my 70-300mm zoom lens so I could focus on them and give a little blur to the surroundings; unfortunately in the light it was difficult to see if I was focusing on the geese and in some photos I was focusing on the tracks just in front of them. No matter, I saw a story right away and knew I could even use those photos. The evening light gave the scene an antique look. Then I waited for the keyword that would work for them.

NewFSFBadge-1

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Swimming Lessons

In a line.
In a line.

In a line.

Canada goose mother and father at front and back of a line of six new goslings learning to navigate the creek this morning.

I dropped my car off to be inspected this morning then walked through town to the post office to mail a few packages. There had been fog and while I was hoping for a nice fog image I was out of luck, and worst the fog subdued all the animals along the creek. But on my way back the fog had thinned and the day brightened so I spent nearly an hour following a family of Canada geese as they gracefully navigated a section of Chartiers Creek.

Safely crossing the street.

Safely crossing the street.

They began swimming with the current along the bank about 100 yards from where their nests are, then turned around and began paddling against the current.

Paddling in shallow water.

Paddling in shallow water.

Every 20 feet or so they would pull up to the bank and the little ones would get out and walk around a bit and peck on things while vigilant parents kept watch.

A little break on land.

A little break on land.

Even while paddling the parents constantly kept an eye on me and all else.

Alert.

Alert.

Then off they would go again, though one little one was curious and kept getting caught up in little side investigations.

The little one gets left behind!

The little one gets left behind!

Five other geese came downstream and three followed the little family at a distance along the edge for a while. The parents didn’t seem concerned—possibly those were last year’s goslings of their own family learning a little more about raising baby geese. I thought they might be a crew of bachelor geese who were kidding each other about parenthood.

The bachelors.

The bachelors.


Five are perfectly lined up.

Five are perfectly lined up.

On the edge.

On the edge.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Earth Day

"You're my best frond."
"You're my best frond."

“You’re my best frond.”

A few years ago I used an online calculator to test my “carbon footprint”. I was off the scale—the bottom of the scale, lower than the test measured.

So give me some sort of sustainable laurel wreath, but I don’t really deserve one since I haven’t made much effort. Most of what gave me a good score has been through what others have sometimes considered strange habits that I’ve maintained all my adult life: piling up stuff—cardboard, batteries, construction materials—until I can make one trip to wherever I can recycle them; avoiding packaged foods by cooking most of what I eat from fresh materials, most of that from my organic garden complete with compost bin to mix vegetable scraps and coffee grounds, scrap paper and dryer lint to turn into fertilizer; salvaging older and used materials in maintaining my home and car; using age-old cleaning methods instead of packaged cleaners; walking or riding my bike instead of driving when I can, etc., etc.

But the creative burden…

Good for me. It’s not so difficult to maintain a daily lifestyle that doesn’t overburden the environment. More difficult, in fact sometimes impossible, is keeping my life as a creative person as green as possible. It’s been a constant frustration that I have very little control over the manufacture of the art materials I purchase, and in many cases those materials need to be made from chemicals I’d rather not think about in order to create the effect I envision. Oil-based block printing ink, for instance, is made from petroleum, and cleans up with turpentine—I cringe each time I use it and try to minimize the amount, but nothing else prints as well from a block or is as durable when printed on fabric. The pigments in my pastels, watercolors, acrylics, the fibers in my drawing papers, the cotton in the yarn I crochet…I can and do make decisions on the purchases to find the most sustainable products, but often there’s no alternative.

The chemical-free digital camera

Which is why I am grateful for the digital camera, considering the amount of chemicals that went into developing and printing all my film through the years. I gave up on my own darkroom years ago because I just didn’t want those chemicals in my home, but someone somewhere else had to use them if I didn’t.

I did not find the change to digital easy, and floundered my way through several little point and shoots and lots of research until I found the magic combination that produced photos much like my beloved Pentax K1000, the battered old fully-manual SLR I purchased just out of college, the one that taught me about photography and over the years became an extension of my eyes. My Pentax K10D has all the same manual controls available, I can use all the lenses and filters I collected for my K1000 and every day happily shoot more photos than I ever did before, knowing that I can simply download them to my computer with no use of chemicals whatsoever.

So on Earth Day I celebrate both the earth, in a few galleries of the photos I’ve taken, and this advance in photography that allows me to take thousands of photos and view them without anyone taking a bath in volatile chemicals, including the air, soil and waterways where everything ends up no matter what we do.

Enjoy the galleries in Nature Walks Around the Lower Chartiers Watershed.

Happy Earth Day!

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Sunset, Old St. Luke’s

old church in winter sunset
old church in winter sunset

Sunset, Old St. Luke’s

Say what you will about winter and snow and cold, the combination makes for dramatic sunsets.

This is the Revolutionary-era churchyard of Old St. Luke’s Church in Scott Township, PA, the first Christian church established west of the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania. It was originally a native American lookout place on a bluff above the Catfish Path, which we call Chartiers Creek. I’ve canoed past this place on the creek, and visited this site when the church was closed when I was a child, though now it is restored.

I used a wide-angle lens on my camera that is not made for it, but fits well enough that I can take a good photo with it. I’m glad to have a new piece of equipment.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

 


The Light in the Darkness

Oh

Oh

FOR THIS LAST SUNDAY before the end of the year I thought I’d share some observations brought to mind by the darkness of the season, the solstice when the sun is less and less, each day shorter, some very old part of our brain senses imminent danger then by a miracle the light returns and we celebrate. In these darkening days it’s easy to curse the darkness and miss the delicate beauty only found at this time. I took my walk to Main Street for errands and found a wonderland one heavy, dark, overcast day in a place I had thought so familiar. I called it my “gray day walk” as a shorthand for those moments of exploration when time stood still for me, unexpected on a busy afternoon.

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I have had far worse days. Overwhelmed by the demands of commercial work as my customers and I prepared for the holidays along with merchandise orders and custom portraits and my own preparations for ending the year and beginning the next as a small business, I left the house at 4:00 p.m. destined for the post office and bank just before they closed.

Winter Lilies

Winter Lilies

Though I had walked this half mile route from my home to Main Street for years, I had lately been driving, using the need to save time or the awkwardness of a pile of packages as an excuse for wasting gas and a chance at exercise and fresh air. The day was hardly inspiring—five days prior to the winter solstice the days were frighteningly short, sunset less than an hour away, and in a series of heavy dark days typical of this area in late autumn and early winter, dense pasty clouds hanging low overhead and so dark it had felt like dusk at noon, and now some of the street lights on Main Street were already alight. I nearly always take photos on these walks, and while I laid the strap of my camera bag over my shoulder I was glad that, for once, I would probably not find anything to photograph and take time from my day in conditions like these.

Exotic

Exotic

Traffic was heavy so I took my route under the bridge, next to the creek where traffic noises faded and birds sang, a trickling sound as water flowed smoothly past over the rocks in the shallow waterway. And in the dim and fading light a world so familiar at first appeared dark and nearly colorless until my eyes adjusted to the light and found such wonders among the wildflowers along the way, standing upright though dried and every shade of brown and tan and umber I found fantastical birds, abstract sculptures, amazing complex patters among the dried flower heads, exposed and broken seed pods, leaves clinging curled to stems.

Frozen Flowers

Frozen Flowers

I could not stop for the post office and bank both closed at 4:30, so I walked as fast as I could with my camera bag on one shoulder and a large canvas bag of packages on the other so that I could amble back through this wonderland on my way back to my neighborhood. The light was so dim then, as the time approached sunset within minutes, that I had to set the ISO of my camera on 800 to get anything but vague images floating in sepia darkness, even with all my settings to admit as much light as possible.

Portrait

Portrait

These plants had sprung up from seeds tossed here on the wind and water, carried by birds and people walking past, sprouted in spring, housed birds and insects in summer, borne their flowers in summer and fall. I had walked among them many times with my camera and sketchpad, I knew where each stood, when they bloomed, their botanical names and history, I looked for them each year and anticipated the best times to compose the images I visualized, but this was a gift in its unfamiliarity.

Grass

Grass

Now, after several frosts, autumn storms and snow, the weak parts had been stripped away and the strongest parts of them were burnished by adversity and stood dignified in the dimness, with just enough sheen to highlight their most interesting shapes, textures and combined patterns.

Soft Pattern

Soft Pattern

The background now, rather than the usual details of other plants and flowers, was darkness, the more perfect to silhouette each delicate construction as if in a gallery featuring the finest art.

The Empire Shriveled

The Empire Shriveled

Milkweed pods became flocks of fantastical birds, or individual exotic species clinging to stems. Tightly curled dried flowers or clusters of puffy seeds set loose, sere and twisted leaves and flowers of another time. Even the holiday decorations in a shop front, capturing the blue from the late afternoon light with highlights from the store within echoed the shapes and patterns of the natural forms outdoors, as the raindrops that would soon fall.

Warm and Cool

Warm and Cool

I arrived home with dirty shoes from walking in mud, and dirty knees from kneeling in wet grass, bits of leaves and stems and seeds flocked with frills to carry them on the wind on my skirt and jacket, in my hair, on my bags, souvenirs of a timeless magic, both in letting go of the time of day, and letting go of time altogether for that period. I only let go and rejoined the day because it was too dark to photograph any longer.

Patterns and Transparencies

Patterns and Transparencies

I am grateful to this gift of creative vision that releases me from everyday cares for just a short time, exercises those aesthetic senses and relaxes the overused worry lines, and gives me these wonderful gifts of images to share, just for noticing the inspiration was there.

There is always something new to learn about the things we think we know well. Never forget that when the light seems dim there is much to be seen with the heart, and when adversity has taken away the quick and obvious beauty, the strongest parts remain, dignified in their naked and twisted strength.

Armor

Armor

This was also published on www.TheCreativeCat.net.

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This post is part of Inspire Me Monday on Create With Joy.

Inspire-Me-Monday-Button-1502

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Ducks in Diamonds

mallard ducks on water
mallard ducks on water

Ducks in Diamonds

Brilliant sun for once, and somewhat mild temperatures brought out all the wildlife on my walk to Main Street. The mallard ducks who live on the creek came out to have a little swim. The sunlight was so bright on the water but it also brought out all the colors reflected on the water from the sky to buildings and even vehicles.

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The Christmas Moon copyright ©2011 Bernadette E. Kazmarski. All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Oh

photo of milkweed pods
photo of milkweed pods

Oh

That was my reaction.

The days have been very dark lately, as is often the case in these last days of autumn when night comes early. But fog and heavy overcast have left the days nearly monochromatic, or in the gray and sepia duotone I find so familiar in conditions like these. I took a walk to the post office and bank in the late afternoon, within an hour of sunset, but even with the light fog, overcast and depending day, I knew I’d find the beauty in the day, emerging from the mist, washed in delicate highlights, familiar things looking completely foreign, taken out of their own context.

This is a cluster of milkweed pods. They look like something that came from outer space in the best of times, but especially against the muted background their slightly rough and ridged surface, elongated shape and smooth opening where the seeds are still escaping they truly look like alien constructions. Put a bunch of them together at the end of a long and curving stem and we know the aliens have landed, and possibly one of their birds has come to light on a stem, or a group have clustered together to survey this strange new world.

These grow on the sloping bank along Chartiers Creek. I was actually under the bridge with four lanes of traffic overhead, using my telephoto lens to capture them growing from the rip rap, or the covering of large stones and pieces of broken concrete that hold the creek bank in place during high water events, and could not get closer than five feet away. I walked in a semi-circle to get the best angle of this alien object and this was my favorite.

I hope to have the time to share some of the others of these photos of the milkweed pods, and I’ll also be sharing some of the other treasures from my walk today, one-quarter mile down and one-quarter mile back, and less than an hour of completely enthralling creative study of various grasses, curled and dry queen anne’s lace, empty evening primrose seed pods, a bird’s nest, textures and patterns, the water of the creek. But the day was so dark that I had to have my camera set on 800ISO and used many manual settings, and even then I have to adjust the shots to appear as they did to my eye but they are all a little grainy and delicate. But I only came home because it got dark.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

 


Ten Years Later: After the Flood

flooded carnegie
flooded carnegie

Second and Main Streets in Carnegie on September 17, 2004.

On September 17, 2004, Hurricane Ivan stayed a little too long in our valley, dumping torrents of rain on our hillsides, already sodden from the visits of three other hurricane remnants in the month prior.

I’d watched Chartiers Creek flood from the time I was a child, and not only did I go to the Catholic school just blocks from the creek but my father’s family lived in the flood plain and nearly every spring there was water in the basement and in the streets, and we would drive to the bridge over the creek at Carothers Avenue and watch the thundering brown water writhe just below our feet on the walkway of the bridge.

When I was young, I was near enough to a bend in this creek to leave our house on the hill and run down through the old pasture to the valley below, along the road and the railroad tracks and to the creek, walking alongside its rippling path or even in the creek bed in the dryness of midsummer. In the late 70s an engineered solution to control the floods dredged and widened the channel, and for 35 years, there were no floods at all, the pollution in the creek from all the industries along its banks cleared up, and we watched the native flora and fauna return as we canoed the channel. Those ramblings with my friend, the creek, have been the inspiration for much of my creative efforts in landscape painting and photography, my poetry and stories, and became the theme for my series of poetry readings and the title of the very first, as well as the folio of my poetry, Paths I Have Walked.

So this flood was a huge shock. We heard later the flood control plan had protected us up to a “100-year flood”, and many of these had passed with no flooding, but the flood we’d experienced was a “500-year flood”, and indeed in all the memories and records of floods in Carnegie, the water had never been this high, rising in a matter of hours in the afternoon and into the night to fill the first floor of some homes on low ground, and as high as eight feet in some areas of Main Street, wiping out nearly every business along Main Street for up to three months.

The flood changed us all. Many people and businesses truly took years to recover, and some of them never truly recovered at all. My godparents lived in the family’s fine house that had weathered so many floods but floodwater had never entered the first floor, and at their age they were trapped on the second floor with no power, their portable oxygen running low. Though they were rescued and lived with a daughter for a month while we cleaned up the house for them to move back, it was temporary as they realized the house was difficult for them, and they moved to an apartment a few months later.

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After the Flood

Dedicated to the people and places of the Chartiers Valley after the flood of September 17, 2004

After a day of rain
the creek has been rising
and by night it thunders down its channel
writhing around its curves like a medieval dragon,
pulling at its banks and anything overhanging,
carrying whatever it can grasp along the way,
and I have seen this creature before
in the creek’s rise and fall,
now tamed by engineering,
filling its channel to the brim, then receding
each spring and summer
and not felt threatened but fascinated
by its power, power not of humans,
power to change absolutely to a form
unrecognizable from its usual character,
yet always returning to the quiet,
sleepy nature which I had explored from childhood.

But I am remembering another night
when the creek refused to stop at its brim
but spilled over and over and over,
thundering down all the hillsides came its sustenance
tributaries filling their valleys as never before,
rushing to join with the writhing creature,
mixing and turning and thrashing and smashing anything in its path
so drunk with its own power
that it forgot all those who loved it,
who lived on its banks and in its valleys,
listened to its soft murmuring voice in the darkness of a summer night,
but even as I pleaded with the creature to stop, it had gone too far,
my friend, my refuge, how could you betray me,
I knew that the creek would not listen,
it was no creature gone on a rampage
it was simply following its nature, and this one time
it defeated our intelligence with its simple power
and all our homes, possessions, lives
were nothing in its path.

The next day the beast no longer raged,
the sun shone and the air was mild,
and the autumn continued like any autumn before,
but we were changed, all of us,
the long journey ahead, longer than we knew
and our place here will never be the same.

poem © 2008 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.


poetry book

Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.

I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry

Paths I Have Walked: the poetry and art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski

FROM FOUR ANNUAL POETRY READINGS AT ANDREW CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY & MUSIC HALL IN CARNEGIE, PA

People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.

Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.

Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.

All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.

Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.

$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I  was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. Each year I am invited back to read my poetry and exhibit my artwork. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.


Thunder Moon

mist in moonlight
mist in moonlight

Moonrise

In 2006 I was still lugging around a few film cameras that could capture what my first little 2MP point-and-shoot digital could not. I’d been working with a number of local and larger land conservation groups for years and had a literal field day photographing and painting those beautiful areas as they recovered from industrial or other use, or were simply conserved as overgrown land that housed an ecosystem all their own.

mist in moonlight

Softened Layers

At the same time I was canoeing Chartiers Creek, sometimes for work but usually for fun, and from early morning until night I saw incredibly lovely scenes that I couldn’t catch in a moving canoe. I vowed to return some time to capture as many as I could in different areas.

mist in moonlight

Sentinels

I was familiar with Wingfield Pines as a large flood plain conservation area and also for its access to the creek, and I remembered at one evening event watching the moon rise over the ridge to the east, so when I got the idea to photograph the moon rising in summer using black and white film I chose that destination. Next full moon available was the Thunder Moon in July.

mist in moonlight

Mist in the Trees

Though it was a clear night, a mist rose with the moon. These were shot with film, and while I had my notes from a test session on a night with a partial moon, and from photographing the moon at other times, I knew the mist was a variable I couldn’t control, and I might possible end up with just a bunch of blur because the mist was moving across the open field, not hanging in the air like a fog.

mist in moonlight

Moonlight Through the Pines

When I got the photos back I was so disappointed at not being able to get the clarity I’d remembered in the moon and the surroundings that I put them away for a bit, then got them back out and decided I liked them for what they were. In fact, I find them quite magical. A few of them I like very much.

mist in moonlight

Path Across the Creek

And because a few of canoeing buddies didn’t want me wandering around on a full moon night in an isolated area alone, or walking in the creek with my camera gear and no one else around, they joined me.

mist in moonlight

Aliens

I truly need a better scanner, but since this is a “supermoon” month, I’ve decided to scan and share them anyway.

Moon-1000px

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.


Fireworks Over Water

fireworks
fireworks

Fireworks Over Chartiers Creek

Of all the fireworks photos I’ve taken, this is my favorite, and I took it with my first 2MP digital camera and a tall narrow tripod. This camera had no zoom so there was no real focus time, and it caught the action of the fireworks without hesitation.

This is over Chartiers Creek in Carnegie, not on July 4 but at the end of our community festival in 2003. Chartiers Creek flows right through the middle of town and bridges span it in several places, including these two bridges about 100 yards apart. The fireworks are being set off on the Main Street Bridge, I am on the Mansfield Street Bridge. The building to the right is the Husler building with houses the  Historical Society of Carnegie.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.


Family Outing

Canada Geese on the creek
Canada Geese on the creek

Family Outing

Mom and dad and the kids out for a little practice swim on the creek.

This would have been so nice if I’d had my DSLR, but I’m glad to have seen them nonetheless. They are paddling upstream, and a little farther down was another two adults with a whole bundle of little fuzzballs floating on the water. I couldn’t even count them, way more than two geese typically have, but that explained why the first two only had two.

It’s rare that I don’t have the good camera with me, but when I forget it or leave the house too fast I’m sure to see something like this shot of the great blue heron that would have been fantastic with my good lens.

great blue heron

Great Blue Heron

 

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.