Photography Experiments

I’m watching Art Wolfe’s episode of “Tales by Light” on Netflix. I recently saw an online lecture by Wolfe on Creative Live talking about using long exposures to make abstract images. I like his approach to nature photography as fine art. And so I went out and tried his technique. The photo in this post is one of my attempts. It’s not a great image, but it’s more about the process than the perfect shot that interests me. And also the story behind it. I got this image under a maple in a nature preserve on land in Indiana once owned by relatives of the poet William Stafford. The maple tree and William Stafford have long been important to me, as well as the spirit of waiting to see what comes into view in the midst of nature. The idea of long exposure intrigues me as well, since it reveals what our eyes cannot see in real time. It stretches time and light, the two natural elements of photography, and makes us stop and reflect on what it might mean, and why it is important to us. Nature is vital to our survival, and now more than ever we must change the way we look at it, slow down, and ask why we are here in this moment. I hope my work can begin these conversations. Conservation is important to me, though I didn’t see myself as a conservation photographer. I’m not involved in advocacy work, though I support and respect those photographers who are. I want to invoke those kinds of questions of course, but I also want to go deeper into the psyche and stories of humankind, animalkind, plantkind. All the kingdoms of life are more important than serving our short term needs. Let’s come together and consider what the animals and plants might be saying. May we, through the power of light and sight, hear the voices of the wilderness.

Note: I originally wrote this post for Instagram. I’m focusing on writing more captions and building a community there. If you’re on Instagram, follow along: @travpol

Thinking about Rilke

When I graduated college, a professor gave me a copy of Letters to a Young Poet and I’ve been reading through it lately. Here’s a thought from my journal dated February 4, 2018:

Rilke says in his first letter to go deep within and find what bids you to be a writer. For me, the act itself calls out. My thoughts, unwritten, will blow away. My memories, my emotions, and how I make sense of them. Poetry is how I order the world. Without poetry, without even the simple action of writing, life is chaos, or seems that way. In writing, I can find the thread that goes through it all.


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Write three lines in a notebook everyday.

In 2011, I heard the poet Naomi Shihab Nye speak at Earlham College. She said two things I still remember: everyone needs to read Every War has Two Losers, a collection of William Stafford’s writings on peace (including excerpts from his daily writing), and to write three lines in a notebook everyday.

Continue reading “Write three lines in a notebook everyday.”