Friday, November 20, 2015

A Black & White Perspective

I'm getting stale. I've been shooting the same scenes over and over. True, they've been changing with the season, but although the colors may change, the setting and perspective is all the same. So today I did what I usually do when I need to get a new perspective - I shot in black & white. Unfortunately the landscape has blanded out some, and too many hues are of the same value and there was a distinct lack of contrast and interest in a lot of what I shot. But these three shots worked.

Where the creek goes under the railroad tracks in the Nature Park
Reflections in the north duck pond
The guest house at McLean House
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Slowly Falling Asleep

Fall color is fading and the landscape is transforming into Winter's gray and brown. Although a few trees are still holding onto their leaves, there have been high winds and rain lately, and most of the leaves have drifted to the ground, leaving behind bare wood. The folds in the mountains are now starkly clear, their lines no longer softened by lush foliage. Mama Gaia is is settling her blanket on her child, the Earth. Soon the last leaf will fall and the snow will come, and at last the Earth will fall asleep tucked beneath a warm, snug blanket of snow and composting leaves, dreaming of Spring.

© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, November 08, 2015

It's Calendar Time Again!

Yes, friends and neighbors, it's that time of year again; I updated all my calendars to 2016 today. So if you're starting to think about Christmas/Solstice presents, please give my author page on a visit. For those of you who may not be aware, I used a lot of my photography to create calendars which I created and sell on Most were made back when I still lived in Newport, RI, but last year I finally got around to making two Shippensburg-related calendars. Click on the link above and browse (each calendar has a slideshow of the images used), and of course buy if you like what you see. I've included images of some of the covers below.

Also for sale on that page is my photo book On a Cold Winter's Night: Images of Yule, a photographic meditation on the Winter Solstice holidays. If you like Winter, or if you know someone who does, this is the book you need. Here's the trailer video I made to advertise it:

So come one and come all, treat yourself and your family and friends to some of my best photography to watch the coming year pass. Enjoy!

© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Slowly Fading Away

The brilliant colors of Autumn are slowly fading away as November advances. The trees are shedding furiously; the brilliantly red Maple across the street from me is bare, as is that bright yellow Maple reflected in the creek in the nature park that I showed you last week. There is still color, but it tends to be here and there rather than everywhere; Winter's gray and brown are starting to dominate.

A mushroom forest sprouting in Ripple Field
The trail sign by the north duck pond
Milkweed down is sprouting up everywhere
The leaves are mostly in drifts on the ground
But a few still hang on stubbornly to the trees
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Monday, November 02, 2015

Just Another Walk in the Park

Our Fall foliage has reached the tipping point between peak color and bare trees; the percentage of naked branches is starting to increase and lots of leaves are falling. And not just leaves; acorns, Black Walnuts, and Osage Oranges are bombing the Dykeman Walking Trail under the trees. This time of year wearing a hard hat for a hike in the woods  in these parts is a wise move. Lace up your boots, settle the hat on your head, and come along on a walk in the park.

Looking up Branch Creek on the way to the park
Fall foliage along the Dykeman Walking Trail by the ball fields
Along the Dykeman Walking Trail

In the Dykeman Spring wetland
A very bright Maple overhanging Branch Creek in the wetland
The north duck pond 
Looking across the upland meadow to the northwest
Leaving the park at the east end of the upland meadow
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Samhain, the Original Halloween

[Note: This is a re-post from 2009. It's my best essay on Samhain, so I figured I bring it out again this year.]

Samhain (pronounced SAH-wen) was the Celtic New Year, signifying the end of the growing season and the "death" of the earth until it would be reborn in the Spring. Death as a natural part of the cycle of life is the central theme of Samhain and is at the root of all the symbolism in the holiday. The celebration of Samhain was such a major part of culture in the British Isles and parts of northern Europe that the Church appropriated and "Christianized" it, thus creating All Hallows Eve, which with the passage of time became "Halloween". With the reemergence of ecologically inclined earth-based spirituality, Samhain has been gradually coming back to some importance. And yes, I'm one of those people who celebrates Samhain rather than Halloween.

As I said above, Samhain is all about the recognition of death as a natural part of the cycle of life. Seasonally, it represents the "death" of the earth. The final harvest of the last of the crops - mostly gourds and root crops like beets and turnips - took place now. Many of the fruits set to dry to last the Winter - raisins and sultanas from grapes, figs, prunes from plums, etc. - are ready now, and many baked goods that use these are baked, like barmbrack (Irish: Báirín Breac), which is a Halloween staple in Ireland, where symbolic objects like pennies and rings are baked in the bread for children to find as prizes. Livestock is also slaughtered now to provide meat for the Winter and to thin out the herd so that it, too, can survive the "dead" months.

Another aspect of the death theme of Samhain is the belief that the border between the physical and spiritual worlds is at its weakest now. This has both positive and negative aspects. The negative aspect is the possibility that spirits with evil intent can roam the world of the living at will and spread panic. The tradition of carving gourds (although it was originally turnips that were hollowed out and carved) with diabolical faces and lit from within by candles came from this; the intent was to scare off the evil spirits.

The positive aspect of this weakened border is the possibility of communication with loved ones who have passed on. Seances are often held during Samhain, and tributes to those who have passed during the preceding year. The most beloved of these tributes is the Dumb Feast or Dumb Supper, where the table is set for both the living and the dead, with pictures and personal objects of the deceased placed at their place at the table, and the favorite foods of the deceased served at the meal. The meal is eaten in silence, which is only broken at the end of the meal when a toast is made to the deceased and stories from their lives told. The meal starts out solemnly and ends up in joy.

I love Samhain, possibly because I also love Autumn and Samhain is the very essence of an autumnal celebration. You all know my fascination with cemeteries and stonecarving, and it's usually around Samhain that I do a lot of visiting and taking pictures in historic boneyards. All in all, it's a lovely season for me, and a nostalgic one, too.

© 2009 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Rainy Fall Morning

The remnants of Hurricane Patricia are passing through the area, and the rain from her adds an extra bit of atmosphere to the drama of the turning leaves.

© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger