Roses and petals_Staats-9986We’re in the height of rose season – their colors and scents abound.  We have a wonderful John Cabot climbing rose that blossoms out in profusion mid-June,  becoming engulfed in a riot of color.  I’ve had cuttings in almost every room of the house, and yet the bush itself remains full too.  The blooms hold for many days and then they drop their petals all around – a reminder of their beauty even as they move past their prime.

Cosmos against the sky_StaatsI’ve always enjoyed the lightness of cosmos.  Their delicateness is enhanced by the manner in which they sit atop their long stems.  They blow easily in the wind, yet remain upright.  Their colors are numerous, as these were, yet I chose to tone this photograph.  I wanted the delicacy and beauty of the cosmos to be the central idea of the image, not their color.

Sunflowers at sunset_StaatsOur past week’s weather has been warm with winds out of the northwest.  That’s usually not something to note, except that there are wildfires in Canada and in the Pacific Northwest.  The smoke from these fires has been passing through our atmosphere in Minnesota, creating hazy days and amazing sunrises and sunsets.  Last night we had a quick rain shower that moved through the area in the evening.  Before sunset, the rain passed and I grabbed the opportunity to see what the sunset might be like.  These sunflowers were backlit by the orange sky and glowing sun; they all seemed to symbolize the warmth and golden colors that we associate with the summer months.

Bright coneflower_StaatsSummer is about sunshine, warmth, and color.  We’re surrounded by blue skies, green grass, and the flowers that bloom profusely, sharing their colors.  Our gardens are in full bloom now; the coneflowers, roses, lilies, clematis, and coleus.  The coneflowers have always been one of my favorites.  They start out a pale yellow, with their petals reaching upward to the sun.  As they mature, the petals become a deep pink and then turn downward.  It’s almost as if they were two completely different flowers.  Their beauty and brightness always speaks to me of summer.

July's full moonrise_StaatsYesterday was the full moon of July.  I’d heard it referred to as the “supermoon” – appearing immense in size due to its proximity to the earth.  As rainstorms moved into the area in the afternoon, I had given up any hope of seeing the moonrise.  But the clouds parted and the skies cleared about 6:00pm.  We had gone out for a night of fishing (which was not so weather-dependent), yet we lucked out in so many ways.  The fish were biting, the sunset was beautiful, and it was quickly followed by the rising of the pink full moon.  It cleared the trees on the east side of the lake, and let its reflection glisten in the still water below.  For a short while it hung in the sky between the trees and the upper clouds, then quickly slid out of sight into the clouds.  We stayed on the water for another half hour, and as we headed to the landing the moon cleared the clouds again, this time shining clear and white.

Casting into the clouds 2448_StaatsYesterday was a day of diverse activities – fishing and a glorious wedding celebration; and yet the two were very connected.  As the day dawned to overcast skies and thick clouds, we headed out for some fishing.  The cool and the clouds eventually broke up and we fished under an amazing sky brimming with filtered sun and brilliant clouds.  Our fishing was successful, and we laughed that our outing was in honor of the bride and the groom for their wedding later that afternoon.  This joyful couple celebrated their summer wedding outdoors in a grove of trees, surrounded with family and friends all dappled with sunshine.  The bride and groom share a love of nature and especially fishing.  And how appropriate that the groom, his groomsmen, and the bride’s proud father all wore decorative fishing lures as their boutonnieres!

Spirit and grace in motion 68727_StaatsA year ago I was asked by a friend to photograph she and her horse.  On a sun-soaked evening we spent a couple of hours in the presence of a wonderful Arabian horse named Diamonds.  When I showed the images to my friend she was unable to decide which one image she wanted to use as a framed print.  Within a few weeks she asked me if I would help her put together a book of the images.  Over the past months we crafted a book that tells the story of the relationship between this horse and rider; from over 15 years ago when she got Diamonds, through the four seasons with photographs she had collected, to the present time and the images I took that summer evening.  We included the horse’s registration papers and the reminiscences that she has of their adventures over the years.  The book was printed in a 12×12″ size.  We used full-page photographs as well as groupings of small details, allowing the story to come alive on the pages.  Today I delivered the book to her.  Slowly she went through each page, lingering over the images and the many memories they have shared.  The book has allowed her to collect in one place and put to page this wonderful story that she can now share with her friends and treasure for years.  As the sun was filtering through the trees, I made this image by panning as they rode by, capturing their fluidity and grace.  We included the photograph in the book with a quote by Sharon Ralls Lemon that sums up this horse and rider’s relationship — “The essential joy of being with horses is that is brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire.”