This is about an image I captured in late fall but more so about the insight it gave me as to what we photographers do.  First, the image plus some others from the site, and then the “message” is below.

IMG_3115 B&W 640


I had been driving hither and yon on back roads of Salem County, enjoying being in the country and looking for photo opportunities.  I whizzed past this small lake and realized I had passed a dramatic scene.  What I had seen so briefly was the horizontal line of the tree tops, the leafless branches, and, most important, the shimmery reflection.  Stop and turn around?  Yes.

I captured it as I had seen it in my whiz-by.  The scene filled the frame nicely so no cropping was needed.  Back home and post-processing, I liked it still more in black-and-white.  In retrospect, however, I wished that I had over-exposed it in order to achieve a so-called high-key effect.  Well, as Golde said about the village, Anatevka, in Fiddler on the Roof, “A little bit of this, a little bit of that…” and we have a different scene.  Different, yes, but still made dramatic by the shimmery reflection.


IMG_3115 high key bordered 640


I continued to graze the lakeside.  With the soft cloud cover it was all enchanting.

IMG_3117 700

Here we have some color and just the day’s  light, nothing fancy.  But we have the gentle arch of the tree captured in a soft reflection.  And, some punctuation marks from the last of fall color.


Here, the reflected branches seem to be scooping up some of the lake.

IMG_3120 700





As I drove away from the lake I had a sudden realization — an epiphany in that sense.  It’s going to sound too simple but here’s what we do:

We sense a scene that moves us, and we seek to capture it.

That’s it?  That’s all there is?

Yup, that’s it!

We sense a scene and we are driven to record it so as “to offer an expanded awareness of the beauty in the world around us.”  (Parish Kohanim)  Call it the artist’s eye.

And, though Kohanim speaks of beauty, the scene sensed could just as easily be an emotional street scene, or an event of life activity of some sort: think e.g. mud wrestling, shooting over your horse’s head while riding through the Pines, your cat in the sunlight, a spooky old asylum or prison, or a cemetery for dead trolley cars … Think also of Cartier-Bresson’s concept, “The decisive moment.”  Regardless of image content it is a scene that captures our senses and we are compelled to capture it.

I cannot, however,  pick up a pencil or brushes and paints and record such scenes.  Instead, I snap a shutter.  The choice of lens, the adjustments on the camera and the post-processing are my brushes and paint.  But, they are just tools to help with what I bring to the world … the recognition of a scene that I feel should be captured.   Or, as a related alternative we may have a vision which we then create and photograph for others to enjoy.

Since passing the lake that day I’ve been looking at a lot of my past work and that is consistently what I have done:  reacted to a scene and then captured it.  The post processing simply serves to further enhance my vision.

The beauty or drama or impact is in the scene.
Our art is in recognizing that.
Our skill is in composing for, and capturing, the scene such that we can reproduce it for others,
enhanced or not as befits our vision.


I’m very pleased to have this idea as the theme of my two hundredth post.  In February I’ll complete seven years of this journal.  It’s been a lot of fun!

Thanks for riding along.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it.



  1. eajackson Says:

    What a beautiful way to explain just how your art is created. A very emotional blog. Thank you Ralph

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Buck. I can’t imagine where I got the idea of shooting over your horse’s head while riding in the pines.

      Seriously, the “message” was the result of a surprising idea, and of a lot more thought and polishing. I hope it’s useful to others. I certainly feel less guilty about calling my work art.

  2. Marilyn Flagler Says:

    You’ve expressed the emotions of seeing a beautiful image/scene in a way that touches my heart strings….thank you.

    Marilyn Flagler

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Marilyn. Whenever I begin to think I’m an artist, I think about what you said about calling yourself an artist. I, too, feel less guilty. I hope the ideas are helpful to other “art” photographers.

  3. Joe perno Says:

    Thank you Ralph for this Post. I couldn’t agree more and it is very fitting that it is on such a milestone post.

  4. Bob D Says:

    Ralph love the B/W images the best. Your post/journal is very sincere and pure. I had a similar journal for ~4 years and somehow both my iPhone and Mac “lost my precious notes, ahhhhhhhh! Nowadays I print and backup my journal on a separate HD.
    My “reduction in force” program at Lockheed has left me time to search out back roads and trails and sometimes “help wanted” signs. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Linda Smith Says:

    I enjoyed that very much! Thank you.

  6. Sally and Gordon Says:

    Well done, Ralph. Very well done.

  7. Rich Lewis Says:

    You speak and photograph from the heart and it is why I always look forward to your blog posts. They never fail to inform, entertain and inspire. You truly have the soul of an artist my friend.

  8. Skip Vandegrift Says:

    Ralph, you have enriched MY life with your visions. Many thanks, Skip V.

  9. MikeP Says:

    Whoa… 200th post… now thats something to rav about!!!! Great reflecting shots… I am so drawn to water, reflections andthe way light plays off them. You played very well with the light ‘sensei’… 🙂

  10. Caroline Flagler Says:

    How lucky are we to have been invited along for the ride?! Thank you for sharing!

  11. larryalyons Says:

    Drafting 200 posts is a lot of work and dedication. Way to go! I also love and relate to the topic of the 200th. Another interesting post incorporating terrific images.

  12. Dick Deal Says:

    Bravo!! Looking forward to the next 200….

  13. denisebushphoto Says:

    Reflections, like sunsets are a common theme among photographers because they are so interesting and no two are alike! I like your first image very much and do prefer it over the high-key version. Congratulations on a great 200th post and a fitting time to reflect upon your craft! I’ve been with you all the way and it has been a joy.

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Denise. I, too, eventually decided on the first image for printing. I felt more comfortable with the greater contrast.

      Yeah, t w o h…u….n……d…………r…………..e……………d………p…..o……s…….t………s.

      It’s been a long, happy road. Thanks for getting me started on it, mentor-muse.

      To post is hard work,
      And the results pay no bills
      But the words will out.

  14. Larry Peacock Says:

    Ralph, thanks once again for including me in your post, number 200. Really enjoy your sharing your talent and admire your ongoing passion for photography. Merry Christmas.

  15. Gene Ann Says:

    Beautiful… what more can one say… you got the shots 😉 A+ as always Ralph. Thanks for sending them my way.

  16. cruiseplannersctwv Says:

    Beautifully written with spectacular pics.

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