Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving blessings

Here I'm blessed to share a meal with a group of Karo in the Omo region of Ethiopia. This is where the man in the T-shirt–he was my interpreter–lived unless it rained. His wife, in the foreground, cooked our meal. Anyone who happened by on the trail was welcomed to join us. We all ate and drank from a couple of communal dried-gourd bowls. No one went away hungry.

Thanksgiving reminds me about a presentation I gave at a college about my Africa's Undiscovered Myths project. I was showing photos of life in the remote villages I visited. During question time at the end of the presentation, a 20-something student in the back asked: "You mean people actually live like that in those mud huts with no electricity, no running water, no air conditioning?"

His question was asked in all sincerity. I answered something like, "I would guess that about 1/4 of the people on our planet live like that." He had no idea how blessed he was.

This is my youngest son–at an earlier age–finishing a picnic meal.

Here's hoping that you have lots of little blessings to count this Thanksgiving time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why was I put here on earth?

Coming home from an other-worldly Salud–the Oregon wine industry's over-the-top auction, dinner and wine celebration to raise money for vineyard workers–with my head still spinning from luscious food and tasty wine all compliments of Ste Michelle's Erath winery, I laid my whirling head on my pillow to read an article about photographer Frans Lanting. I've admired his work because he thinks big.

In the article, he talked about making a long-term commitment, for him it's to preserve nature. He says it's one measure of commitment to take a picture of an old-growth forest or a glacier and move on to the next topic. It's quite another to devote long stretches of time and significant resources to become fully immersed in all of the intricacies, concerns and realities of why that forest loses trees every year or why that glacier recedes so dramatically. Communicating those stories in images is the crux of what a conservation or environmental photographer does.

Those words stirred something inside of me. I realized I have put Africa's Undiscovered Myths Project–where I've interviewed the elders, shamans, witch doctors and storytellers of Africa's most remote tribes about their myths and archetypal dreams–on the desktop where it has gathered dust. Anthropologists still tell me that I'm the only person who has ever recorded those oral stories for almost all the tribes I've visited. And the Dogon tribe elders and "Pope" told me that they had never heard of the stories that were attributed to them.

Before I die, I need to finish the Undiscovered Myths work. But now I am loving doing wine stories and getting paid for it. Yet I've spent 8 years on the Myth project. Ringing in my ears is what an Omo elder told a couple of invading tourists: "We were a lot closer to god before you came."

So what am I suppose to do while here on earth? Why was I put here? What is my purpose? Myth, wine, good life, hard work, father, husband or .......?
Warrior with face paint. Karo tribe, Omo River area, Ethiopai
The elders told me that god had colorful wings, a rainbow-colored chest, no legs, flies through the sky and can kill a man easily. Mursi tribe, Omo River area, Ethiopia.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Photos etched on wine bottles

For Salud–Oregon wine industries' fund raising event to provide health care for vineyard workers–we donated 4 vineyard photographs to be etched and painted onto 3 liter bottles of Erath wine. These will be auctioned at the event this weekend. Check out the great work Scott Schoenen and his crew at Fresh NW Design did in etching and painting the images onto the bottles. Let's see how much the effort brings in.

Vineyard Light

A selection from my upcoming book, Vineyard Light, Insights on our Earth, Character and Spirit.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vineyard Light Book Cover Choices

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback as to which photograph we should use as a cover for my upcoming book, Vineyard Light. Here are your top three choices. Of course even with these results the big-boss publishers usually have the last say in the cover photo.

Choice #1 Morning light on Five Mountain Vineyard and Mt Hood

Choice #2 Morning light after storm on Red Hills vineyards

Choice #3 Sunset over vineyard

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dream Assignment

Talk about a wonderful life full of blessings. Last week I spent 3 days photographing landscapes in central Washington for Ste Michelle Wine Estates. The scenery had to look like wild horses, if they existed in the area, would run there. Most of these were taken in the Yakima River Canyon, some along the Columbia River. And they paid me to do this. How can life get any better?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oregon Harvest 2010

Some claim Oregon never saw a summer this year. It did rain. Our neighbor and one of our winery friends didn't even harvest because of rot. But I photographed vineyards which were carefully managed and sprayed often that produced some great tasting fruit. Harvesting in late October and early November permits some great hang time. Ask the early Oregon wine pioneers who regularly harvested in November. While I'm not an expert, I'm looking forward to some interesting 2010 wines.
For me, it's always great to brush up on my Spanish to photograph Oregon harvest workers. These photographs are from Turner-area Willamette Valley Vineyards and Dundee-area Prince Hill vineyard which provides fruit for Erath winery.