Saturday, September 24, 2011

Capturing a Mood

Morning Fog and the Lift Bridge - Stillwater, MN
Canon 5D MarkII + 35mm f2.0 Zeiss ZE

September 23rd has come and gone and with it went the summer. For a brief moment, our planet neither leaned towards nor away from the sun. Residing in the same plane, this ephemeral point in time, the equinox, has happened biannually in the past and will repeat twice every year into the future.
Summer Reflections - Bearhead Lake in Ely, MN
Canon 7D + 300mm f2.8L IS
It is September 24th and the Earth’s axis now begins to tilt. Here, in the North, we are beginning to lean towards the cold emptiness of space while our brethren to the South are moving towards the warmth of the sun. How I envy the equatorial inhabitants of our planet. Everyday is an equinox on the equator. Never leaning towards or away from the radiant energy that fuels the tropics, the Equatorials need not fear the long dark that accompanies a life closer to the poles.
Seeds of Summer - William O'Brien State Park, MN
Canon 7D + 300mm f2.8L IS
Autumn signals a shift in my own mood. No longer free to frolic in the woods, pursue my craft, and live the life of a nomad, September requires disciplined adulthood. My inner adolescent who craves the aimlessness of summer now must resume the maturity expected of a 46 year-old man. With the loss of freedom comes moodiness to my work. As Labor Day approached, I found myself seeking drama in the ordinary. Waking early to catch a thick fog or chasing harsh light to juxtapose against deep shadows.
High-Key Sunrise - Tamarack Nature Center, MN
Canon 7D + 300mm f2.8L IS
Photography is an amazing outlet for the latent creative in us all. A medicine that heals and a therapist for the mind, image capture can ease the discomfort of life’s transitions. I encourage those of you in the north obsessed with your harvest, the stowing acorns, and the digging of shelter to put these preparations aside, grab a camera and shoot your mood. This is the time when the inner artist needs to be nurtured, freed and allowed the opportunity to express itself.
©2000-2011 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I suffer from a failure to be objective. This, no doubt, will be met with disbelief by those who know me. However, there is more than a grain of truth to the statement. Educated as a scientist, promotor of empiricism, experimenter and truth seeker ...all of this applies to me. Yet, my capacity to be objective falls to the wayside whenever I wear my photographer shoes. 

The struggle to assess my images, edit good from great, and leave the emotion of a moment in the past are among my greatest weaknesses. I am paralyzed by the thought of discriminating the winners from the losers, and often fear that I place my best images in the bin while sharing the refuse from a shoot. I live this paradox, a scientific mind that values objectivity above all, while I turn to mush whenever I critique my work.

Today's image should probably be trashed or relegated to the abyss of an aged hard-drive rather than placed on display. Nonetheless, I proudly offer it up, warts and all, for one simple reason moves me. Maybe there is something visceral about the experience that I can't let go, be it a beautiful moment or opportunity that I wish to relive. Whatever it is I conjure in my own mind, some false memory or stretch beyond reality, this picture speaks to me. The warm glow of a sunrise on Yellowstone Lake is solitude lost. Sixty minutes from the moment of capture, cars and campers will usher the countless mass of humanity across this ancient landscape. When I look into this picture with all of its simplicity, I can imagine a time when humans have yet to evolve and giants roamed the volcanic landscape. Warm monochrome tones, deep lifeless shadows, and the glow of an emerging sun seem primordial to me. While I am not certain that the image really works or can stand on its own, it definitely feeds my imagination.

I am guilty of being a poser... an artist and dreamer in a scientist’s world.

©2000-2011 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

INTP: Introverted - Intuitive - Thinking - Perceiving

Lone Yearling Buck - Tamarack Nature Center, MN
Canon 7D + 300mm f2.8IS L

Living a life of theoretical possibilities, where obscured patterns are made vivid, and logic trumps emotion. This is the loner that tolerates others but bristles with discomfort when forced to interact. We try to create large personal bubbles and process our realities in the comfort of our own minds. We like others, but can’t express the warmth they seek and thus retreat to the solitude of home and nature.
Where's Wilburrr? - Manning Trail, MN
Canon 5D MarkII + Zeiss 35mm f2.0
I do my best photography when I’m alone. While I crave the companionship of my wife and photo-friends, I am lost in my thoughts despite their presence. I envy those who thrive on personal interactions and can work a crowd with ease. To me, the noise of human banter is the distraction; big ideas are derived from the quiet of my thoughts, the melody in birdsongs, the repetition of falling water. 
Burning off the Fog - Tamarack Nature Center, MN
Canon 7D + 300mm f2.8IS L
Siblings or Friends - Tamarack Nature Center, MN
Canon 7D + 300mm f2.8IS L
My students now visit me each day in their patterned entrance to their classroom. Enthusiasm emanates from their youthful exuberance as they excitedly recount their summer exploits. The noise is everywhere. It clouds the clarity I crave. I am distracted by my responsibilities and I feel the photographer in me giving way to my real reality. I am an introvert who now is a poser. I will act the role of the extrovert and pretend to seek pleasure from this noise. But every five days, I will seek the solitude of nature, ground myself in my photography, and purge my thoughts in this blog. ...end of summer 2011. 
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail - Tamarack Nature Center, MN
Canon 7D + 300mm f2.8IS L
©2000-2011 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Road to the Mara - Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya
Canon 7D + Canon 300mm f2.8L IS

Tomorrow marks the first day of the 2011-2012 school year. The two weeks spent prepping lessons and cleaning labs are now as ephemeral as my memories of Costa Rica, Wyoming, and Northern Minnesota. With only a few hours separating summer from fall, I sincerely hope that my students are as excited about their return to academia as am I. Nervous anticipation gnaws at me as I try to relax on this final evening. Tomorrow, "Summer Bruce" will fade into the past as Mr. Lev takes the stage. It's Labor Day in the United States... summer is all but over. 
©2000-2011 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Juxtaposition (III)

Before the Rush - Piazza San Marco, VeniceCanon 5D + 24-105L IS @ 24mm

Venice is a Mecca for the street photographer. Being a guy who's a bit more comfortable among a swarm of mosquitos than a day at the State Fair, I was a bit out of my element. As a way to stay within the comfort zone, I woke up early and pursued the quieter moments. While I tried to remain unobtrusive, I am not a voyeur of human behavior. Rather, I played my familiar role of an ecologist. I studied the changing light reflected against ancient facades and the way it scattered to warm the buildings that surround dingy canals. I warily watched for people and tried to understand their patterns as they lived their lives among the throngs of tourists that visit the fabled city each day. The triplet of images is my juxtaposition of time, angles and lines; it is the way I like to remember Venice.
Canal Express - Venice, Italy
Canon 5D + 24-105L IS @ 45mm
On the Mobile - Venice, Italy
Canon 5D + 24-105L IS @ 105mm
©2000-2011 / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission.