Morning Hike in Black and White

Trixie and I went on a little hike this morning and, as per usual, I took my camera, this time giving myself a challenge: only shoot in black and white. That challenge probably had something to do with browsing some Ansel Adams photography yesterday.IMG_1775

IMG_1763We live in a color-filled world, and limiting oneself to seeing in black and white forces one to look at the world differently. Because black and white really isn’t black and white – It is dark and light. And that’s how one has to see, in darks and lights.IMG_1810


IMG_1852Composing a shot in color means paying attention to the color palette, paying attention to the color texture and mood of the background, how the sun distorts or realizes the color of the subject. Shooting in color means that the foreground and background actually have to “match” or complement one another, without splashes of distracting color forcing the eye away from the focal point. Shooting in black and white, however, is a whole different ballgame. Instead of composing colors, one has to compose lights and shadows and textures and contrasts. Highlights and lowlights, sunlight and shade. IMG_1823

IMG_1907The delicateness of the flower has to be conveyed not in the delicacy or whimsy of the color, but in the transparency of the petals, the shapes and contours and contrasts. Those things obviously are important in color photography, but they become the essence of black and white photography. The pale green of the sprig of leaves might catch your eye, but in black and white it is the stained-glass quality of the leaf with the sunlight behind it that defines that leaf, not the color. IMG_1792Just a different way of marveling at this wonderful world.

Laura Elizabeth


The Glow and Gleam

IMG_8825Times of year and times of day have characters all their own, colors all their own, slants of shadows and shifting lights that are not shared, but are coveted jealously. There is the gold of autumn, the blue of winter, the joy and bloom of spring.There is the sweetness of the lazy days at the end of summer, the snap and crackle richness of autumn.

IMG_8847In the dusky winter evening, the already-pale colors became muted and harder to name, as the delicate light of winter gave way to night. Up and over hills, down and into gullies, in and out of the sinking sunlight. Shadows slanted between the trees and on the pine-needed-carpeted slopes, and clumps of rabbit brush seemed to glow, with the sun shining from behind them.

IMG_8865The grey of a snowless winter day took on a golden tint, and all was gold and grey and brown. Here and there flickered glints of green – A lichen nestled in the carpet of pine needles, a tiny star of silver-green leaves growing from a cleft in a rock, a patch of yucca, still green as springtime, and the darker green of the living pines.

At last, the sun sank away and the gold and gleam faded to twilight, then to night. Twilight and dawn, noon and night, summer and winter, spring and fall, heat and cold, cloudy and clear – What a palette, and what a Creator God!

Laura Elizabeth

January | In Hindsight

IMG_7012.1The new year has already been flying by! We’re 17 days into February and I haven’t even taken the time to write a review of the month of January. Time flies too quickly. The month of January was a quiet month. That really is nice sometimes. The quiet and the mundane are appreciated after the hurry and bustle of the Christmas holidays.

IMG_6515The Christmas bustle was just sifting away, like a breath of snow, when Jess and her fiance Nick came to visit. For a week, I enjoyed some time off spent with them and the rest of the family. We enjoyed the typical tourist activities, like Mt. Rushmore and the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park, as well as some less-frequented gems, like Spokane. We were also able to take a day to drive down to our property in Pringle. Since it is an hour and a half south of us and it isn’t even remotely “on our way” anywhere, we don’t get down there very often. When we do, it is a joy! Such beautiful country it is down there. So remote and wild and untouched.

IMG_7294.1When I was able, I spent time working in the Miner’s Cabin to get it closer to being livable – Dad and Sarah got a lot done, working on the wiring, getting the wood stove usable, and sorting through years of keepsakes and books and artifacts. With the wood stove going, the Miner’s Cabin is now a wonderful haven even in the coldest weather. The stove is rather too big for the cabin, but it sure heats it up quickly! I spent hours out there in January enjoying the quiet, sewing some new skirts, listening to “Adventures in Odyssey” and Zane Grey, and enjoying feeling the warmth slowly take over the little house. I am really looking forward to being able to move out there.

IMG_6776.1lrJanuary was sprinkled throughout with ideal weather – Anything from 50 degrees and sunny to 15 degrees and snowing. A beautiful snow storm or two afforded some lovely hiking – One hike in particular through the heavily falling snow was like walking through a fairyland. Time after time, I wished I had my camera, but I’m sure I would have dropped it multiple times as we all slipped and slid through ravines and creek beds.

IMG_7427So January rolled by quietly and unobtrusively, punctuated at last with the romp of rodeo at the Black Hills Stock Show. Great times. It is always encouraging to see such a crowd come together for some good, clean fun, for a sport that is so steeped in hard work, sweat, and Western dust and dirt.

The months keep breezing by – Each with their own flavor and their own set of memories. The first month of the year is past. And there are 11 more months to go in 2016!

Laura Elizabeth


Hidden Treasure

IMG_7012.1The beauty of winter is of an entirely different character than the beauty of spring, summer, and autumn. If the beauty of the seasons could be described in terms of music, spring, summer, and autumn would be various moods of an orchestral masterpiece. But the beauty of winter would be akin to a wistful flute solo, soaring airy just out of reach of complete comprehension. At the heart of winter is simplicity.

IMG_7020The beauty of winter is in the illumination of those things which, in the green and growing months, are often obscured by the glorious and gaudy, the lush and lavish, the bright and boisterous. Those little things, those hidden treasures, suddenly come to light. When there is nothing else more eye-catching to marvel at, then the colors in a curl of white bark, or the mysterious shimmer of falling snow, or the patterns of frost on a pane of glass can be appreciated for their otherworldly, exquisite simplicity.

IMG_6878A winter hike is a like a search for hidden treasure. Instead of tangible, quantifiable beauty, like a flower, or a green, green landscape, it is the intangible, the play of lights and shadows that make the beauty of winter. To see the beauty of winter, it is necessary oftentimes to look closer, to look deeper into the well of beauty.

IMG_6741.1When I find something in summer that catches my eye, it is often something unmistakable like a blooming flower, or a certain cluster of trees, or a gold-lined autumn path, or the way the landscape shimmers in evening. But in winter, those things that catch my eye are often the things that grow deep in the underbrush, or which nestle close at the base of a tree, or which cling to bare branches, or the way the snow outlines the hillside or the tree or the fenceline, or those moments which I cannot duplicate, like light streaming through a broken jar, or glowing through husks of flowers, or the specific way the snow fell heavy and silent for five minutes during that one snowfall, or footprints in a freshly fallen snow.

IMG_6976.1Hiking yesterday with Roy and Reagan and Anna, the trees were covered over with snow. The beauty was breathtaking. Snow fell from the branches as we walked beneath them in their silence. Snow fell from the sky as we walked beneath the peace and serenity of the clouds. We tried to catch snowflakes on our tongues. The beauty was in seeing the normally unseen, the giant dead pine with pine cones squirreled away inside of it, on a steep hillside we’ve never hiked before, or the rock overhang with crystals as thick as my little finger, or scrambling over, though, under, and between snowy branches, slipping and falling in the snow, crawling through brush that would normally be all but impassible in the summer, shaking snow from branches and sending it showering down all around.

The treasure of winter is the subtlety of its gifts.

Laura Elizabeth

Findings | Treasures in the Snow

Even in the dead of winter, some color hasn’t faded.  IMG_6363.1

These little gems have captured my imagination since I first saw them back in October, I think it was. They’re tenacious, in more than one way.

Laura Elizabeth