The Best of Nature Photography Show Opens Today!

I checked my Facebook page this morning and found this post – I’m so excited that the 2014 Best of Nature Photography Show is now open at the San Diego Natural History Museum. You can read all about it by following the link – but the highlights are that nearly 1,000 entries were submitted to the show, from which 52 artists and 74 images were selected. Two of my images are included and after following the link to the website and paging through the other absolutely stunning entries, I am hugely flattered to be in such good company!

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A special thanks to daughter Michelle who emailed me the entry details and encouraged me to enter. It would have slipped through the cracks without her not-so-subtle hint! And it’s great to know my family supports and believes in my work.

Husband Mike and I are driving to San Diego next week to attend the artist’s reception on Saturday, November 1 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. If you live in the neighborhood, we certainly hope you’ll join us! The event is on the Museum’s 4th floor in the Ordover Gallery, and admission to the reception is free. Of course the usual fees still apply to visit the Museum’s other attractions – one of which is the intriguing Discovery of King Tut exhibit that we don’t want to miss! And if you can’t make it this Saturday, the show will be on display until February 1, 2015.

Here are my two included images: Sunrise Flight was taken from AVATAR’s deck on an early morning passage in the Solomon Islands. Exhale was also taken from AVATAR’s foredeck this summer as we were sailing near Marina del Rey on our way north to the Pacific Northwest.

Click on any image below to open a full screen slideshow.

Opening Reception

Photo © HoofPrints 2014

UPDATED 8/6/2014 – VIDEO posted of reception. I’m at 1:30

I just arrived home from a wonderful week long visit to New York City, where Agora Gallery hosted the artists’ reception for the opening of its newest collective exhibition, The Substance of Form, this past Thursday night. It was a thrill to have my work represented in a respected gallery in the heart of the Chelsea art district, and even have one of my images featured in Agora’s own blog announcing the opening of the show. Agora, described by CBS news as one of NYC’s 6 Best Contemporary Art Galleries, not only offers gallery wall space but also nurtures its stable of emerging, mid-level, and established artists by assisting with publicity and promotional opportunities.

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photo-2As is usual at an Agora opening, the gallery space was packed with a festive crowd of attendees, standing room only. The participating artists came from all over the world including Spain, Canada, Japan, Austria, Italy, Columbia and more. The contemporary artwork on display spanned a wide spectrum of sculpture, painting, and photography.

It was especially gratifying that my family and friends were so supportive. An entourage of more than a dozen of us attended the reception, even though most had to fly clear across the country to join me for the opening! A special treat was the bouquet of flowers that Northern Trust Bank so thoughtfully sent to surprise me. Northern hosted my first exhibition ever a few years ago and it’s awesome that they continue to show their support! And to those of you who couldn’t attend, thank you so much for your congratulatory emails, texts, and Facebook posts!

photo-5 Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 10.59.54 AM photo 1 copyOf course we allowed a few extra days to play tourist and enjoy multiple activities which still barely nicked the surface of what one can see and do in the Big Apple. Nights out at the theatre, wonderful restaurants, the obligatory boat ride to the Statue of Liberty, paying our respects at Ground Zero, gawking at the lights and crowds in Times Square late in the evening, and lots and lots of walking and taxi rides. NYC even took a respite from its usual hot and steamy July weather and served up perfect temperatures for the duration of our visit.

The photos below, playable as a slideshow, are the six limited edition photographic works currently hanging in The Substance of Form exhibition. They will be on display at Agora Gallery until August 19. After that, I am participating in another show scheduled for September right here in Tucson. More on that in a later post!

 

Happy 4th from North of the Border!

 

CBPP_20140701_BritCol-181AVATAR is now in Canadian waters and Mike and I are cruising alone, just the two of us, while Rod and May have gone home to the other side of the world for a much delayed vacation!  We’re suffering the challenges of making repairs on the fly in a foreign country, but even a refrigerator breakdown offered a silver lining. Because we needed to find a refrigeration technician, we cruised in to Campbell River’s Discovery Harbour Marina and happened to arrive on July 1 which is Canada Day! So we beat you Americans in regards to holiday celebrations – as soon as it turned dark (10:30 pm here in the northern latitudes) I was able to set up my tripod and camera on AVATAR’s upper deck to photograph the fireworks display across the water.

CBPP_20140703_CampbellRiver-270-MIt took a couple of days to round up a technician who could fit us into his busy summer schedule, so I signed up for a wildlife tour and spent yesterday on the water with Eagle Eye Adventures in a big powerful Zodiac. Orcas were first and foremost on everybody’s mind. As soon as we were all bundled up in our survival suits, reminiscent of the snowsuit I wore as a preschooler during Illinois winters, we zoomed off into the Strait of Georgia looking for whales. Fortunately the wildlife tour operators share sightings via radio, so our guide Jos already knew there were Orcas and in which direction. It was a bit of a gray day and the water was pretty rough in the strait. We pounded through the waves at high speed, although not up to the Zodiac’s full capability of 50 knots, and found a pod of transient (as opposed to resident) Orcas in the process of feeding.

CBPP_20140703_CampbellRiver-716-MAt first the Orcas were milling about casually with some tail-slapping as they fed, but once their bellies were full they turned exuberant and soon we were treated to an awesome exhibition of multiple breaches. Even Jos, who goes out Orca hunting seven days a week, was pumped by the extreme athleticism these whales were displaying. My lucky shot of the day came when a whale breached right off the starboard stern of another tour boat, completely soaking the occupants, followed 8 seconds later (per the EXIF data on my photo files) by a second amazing full body breach off their port bow. I’ve shared the photo with the parties involved and it is already taking life on the internet and I’ve had a request to have it published in the local newspaper. At first glance it looks totally fake but I assure you that the only Photoshop applied was to crop, straighten and color correct. Other than that, the image documents exactly what we all saw – except for the folks on the other boat who were still peering off their stern!

MatriarchWhen the Orca action died down, Jos took us into nearby aptly named Calm Channel in search of other wildlife. Bald eagles especially are in abundance. This slightly scruffy looking matriarch has a broken beak, but still heads up an entire flock of eagles all perched in the treetops surrounding her vantage point. In the forest canopy the bright white heads stand out like golf balls on a putting green and I counted at least eight in one go. Bald eagles are a dime a dozen in this neck of the woods. Two of them are hanging out here in the marina, stationed on signposts along the breakwater, to the consternation of the local seagulls.

CBPP_20140703_CampbellRiver-1430-MAfter the Orcas, the other big game we all hoped to see were bears. Again shared information steered us to a black bear at the water’s edge, feasting on the mussels exposed at low tide. She was totally unconcerned with her floating audience and we were able to drift in for a good close up view.

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The gallery below contains the blog photos and some additions, playable as a slideshow.

PS – The refrigerator is working again and we’re headed north for more adventures, and hopefully more Orcas!

 

 

Agora Gallery Representation

Agora Gallery Photo
photo courtesy of Agora Gallery

I am thrilled to announce that I am now represented by Agora Gallery in New York City, a contemporary fine art gallery established in 1984 that specializes in the promotion of works by national and international artists, providing original fine art to established and emerging collectors.

Agora’s director, Angela di Bello, has selected ten of my photographs to be offered on the gallery’s ART-mine.com website. And from July 29th through August 19th my works will be on display in Agora’s upcoming exhibition The Substance of Form. This collection of ten images, to be offered in limited editions of 25, has just gone live online and I invite you to peruse them on my very own ARTmine artist’s page for Carol Brooks Parker.

More details will be forthcoming; I have been working diligently getting up to speed in support of this exciting turn of events. First, of course, I had to select and fine-tune the portfolio of images to be submitted for Agora’s consideration. Upon acceptance, I have been generating source material for a biography, artist’s statement and press release, all of which are still in process.

Agora Gallery is an elegant spacious 8,000 square foot fine art gallery located in the heart of Chelsea which, with 500 galleries, is the major art district in NYC showing primarily the work of emerging and recently established artists. Agora Gallery offers a wide spectrum of additional resources dedicated to connecting artists with collectors worldwide. In addition to a dynamic schedule of fine art exhibitions, additional exposure is provided via Agora’s ARTisSpectrum Magazine and the website ART-mine.com which is one of the most comprehensive resources available worldwide for locating contemporary fine art for sale. Agora also hosts the annual Chelsea International Fine Art Competition and has multiple social media presences, including a Facebook page, a Twitter feed @Agora_gallery, an artist’s blog, and more.

I am thrilled to have been accepted into the fold and I’m already working on travel plans for the artist’s reception scheduled for July 31!

Summer Nostalgia

Nikon D4, 105.0 mm f/2.8 @ 105mm, ISO 1600, f/3.5 @ 1/8000 sec, 0EV
Nikon D4, 105.0 mm f/2.8 @ 105mm, ISO 1600, f/3.5 @ 1/8000 sec, 0EV

It’s high summer here in Tucson. The clouds building up each the afternoon, the lightning flashing on the horizon and thunder rumbling in the distance – all are tantalizing hints of monsoon rainstorms. Sometimes there’s even a payoff with a sprinkle or a deluge, our reward for suffering through the high humidity of the season.

June as always was hot and dry, burning the spring flowers to a crisp. So it is a pleasure to go through my files and relive that glorious season of just a few months ago when the desert was bursting with color, blanketed in rampant wildflowers and cacti in vibrant bloom.

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Nikon D4, 105.0 mm f/2.8 @ 105mm, ISO 1600, f/3.5 @ 1/8000 sec, 0EV

I photographed the lavender Santa Rita prickly pear cactus with its profusion of yellow blooms, hand-holding a 105 mm lens to narrow the focus down to just a few very fine details. And I crawled on my belly at dawn with a wide angle 14-24 mm to capture a landscape blanketed in pink by a bumper crop of Mexican primrose.

Enjoy. I did.

Click on any photo below to open up a slideshow.

Coyote Visitors

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Nikon D800, AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 400mm, ISO 800 f/7.1 @ 1/800 sec, -2/3 EV

A pack of three coyotes came visiting the other day in casual search of a meal. It was broad daylight, almost noon. We watched through the window as a lot of digging and pouncing took place, eventually rewarded with the capture of a round tailed ground squirrel as a late-morning snack. I’m not too sorry about the rodent – coyotes have to eat, after all. The ground squirrels are cute but we have whole cities of them on our property, riddled with burrows and upheavals of dirt.

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Nikon D4, AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 400mm, ISO 400 f/11 @ 1/750 sec, 0 EV

Eventually one of the threesome wandered over to the stone fountain just outside our bedroom window. I photographed him/her through the glass until the coyote finally went on its way, stopping en route to pick up this huge frog, some kind of leopard frog, that he must have snagged during an earlier fishing expedition and set aside for dessert. I’ll miss the very loud raucous croaking of that frog keeping us awake at night, but I’m sure another will move in shortly.

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Nikon D800, AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 400mm, ISO 800 f/9.0 @ 1/800 sec, -2/3 EV

Click on any photo below to open up a slideshow and camera settings.

Between Horse Shows

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Nikon D4, AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 400mm, ISO 560 f/5.6 @ 1/750 sec, 0EV

Print Gallery

It was time to catch up with my daughter and her show jumpers competing in California. Last Saturday I drove from Tucson to Del Mar near San Diego to watch Michelle ride our Holsteiner stallion Clintord I in the $100,000 Grand Prix of Del Mar. Actually I planned to leave on Friday but the wind was gusting so violently in Tucson that driving seemed an unappealing prospect. The same windy weather was whipping up a fierce wildfire in the Hidden Hills area near LA. At its peak the fire threatened some 4,000 homes and a university campus. There are also numerous horse farms in the vicinity including several top grand prix show barns. A thousand horses were evacuated to safer surroundings and fortunately by next day the hot, dry, windy weather abated and the fire was brought under control without inflicting as much damage as was threatened.

The Del Mar National Horse Show is one of a select few remaining across the country that continue to offer the pomp and circumstance that marks a true event. So many of today’s horse shows operate in a closed loop, existing only to bring in entries and crank out classes for the benefit of the participants and the venue’s bottom line. In contrast a show like Del Mar goes the extra mile to entice the public with fun and pageantry, generating an electric energy absorbed by fans and competitors alike. The stands are filled with enthusiastic spectators while the riders suffer an extra edge of nerves to suit the occasion.

Only a limited number of entrants were allowed in the big money class, so a qualifying $25,000 speed class Thursday night served to narrow the field down to 32 horse/rider combinations eligible to compete in the big ring Saturday night. Clintord acquitted himself admirably in the qualifier with a clean round (video) and a 5th place finish to secure his place in Saturday night’s order of go. For the main event we were pleased with his 4-fault effort in a class that saw only four horses produce clear rounds over an imposing course of very big jumps. Congratulations to Duncan McFarlane and Mr. Whoopy for the win, well-deserved for their gutsy ‘full-throttle’ jump-off round!

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Nikon D4, AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 400mm, ISO 400 f5.6 @ 1/750 sec, 0EV

Now I’m hanging out at Michelle’s Cross Creek West training facility in nearby San Marcos while the horses take a break. After last week’s fire, the weather turned grey and drizzly. While the daily activity of a training stable took place around me – exercising the horses and coaching the students – I prowled the property seeking candids of horses and people but I spent the majority of my time with Clintord while he was turned out in the pasture, green with new spring grass and dotted with cheerful pink wildflowers.

Photo notes:  The overcast skies produced a soft light that served well for the impromptu candids I was shooting. This was my first time using Nikon’s new 80-400mm lens and it was awesome! Fully zoomed in across a field, hand-held, ISO kicked up a bit to compensate – the lens captured such details as individual whiskers on a horse, barn flies frozen in motion (later to be cloned away), and sparkling bright eyes all in crisp focus. The quality of the lens and the great flexibility of its range earns it a permanent place in my shooting bag. Traveling overseas frequently as I do always creates a packing dilemma but this lens will solve a lot of my decision-making agony.