Archive for September, 2010

The Four Seasons

Sep. 25th 2010

The Four Seasons……………….

No. Not the “I-want-an-extra-set-of-white-fluffy-over sized-bath towels—–placed in a bathroom with a Vermont marble-floor—-the size of Alaska.” NOW.

 I am referring to the change of  season here in New England.

You have to take time and truly notice change. The change of season here in New England occurs fast.

One year, when I was not at the top of my game, I woke up, and I asked myself, “How did  this happen? These once green leaves turned brilliant shades of red, fiery orange, burgundy, burnt orange, and husky brown with hints of light green in their veins. I missed the event. I never arrived at nature’s party. My loss.

 I again said, “When did this happen? How did this happen? Was I not paying attention?”


As busy as I am this year,  I vowed to take time to truly observe nature’s pageantry. To document it digitally. And I will not doctor up the end result with thousands of changes. This is a hallmark of my photographic still work. What you see has very, very, very  little tweaking. I work from classical art training, rather than the , point, shoot–then colorize the leaves as if they they had an appointment with the “Wardrobe and Makeup departments” of a Hollywood movie studio.

Yet, as I watch the change of season unwrap like the foil layer of a Hostess Yodell, I am reminded of the true nature of the event. A change in leave color signals death. People often do not want to talk about death. Death is often “off the table.” It is one way to end a conversation, STAT.

What a metaphoric way to exit life here on earth. The Director calls out through her/his megaphone…….”Que talent. Talent take position.  Roll film. Film rolling…….. ACTION. Stage left………………..Talent,  gracefully fall to the ground. Twist. Wobble. Flutter.  Defy gravity. Fight it. Fight it. Fight it with strength—– then give into the moment. Cut. That’s a wrap.” It is not that simple friends.

I cannot fight nature. Nor can you fight nature.

I want to go out in a blaze of color. I want to gracefully float to the ground then be apart of one of childhood’s delightful tradition—the pile of raked leaves. As a youth, I would revel running  as fast as I could, wheezing with abysmal asthma, then jump into a mountain of raked, fallen leaves. I would leap towards the sky with wild abandon into a pile of leaves. Maybe that is why I appreciate the art of dance. Yet come to think of it, I was leaping  into a heap of  wilted, crisp, dead leaves. Death was in the form of a pile of fun, on my front lawn—–and I did not know it at the time.

I lost a friend this week.  I reflected during the Shiva period how he loved nature. He was an Eagle Scout.  Later, he was a troop leader.  He would conduct hiking trips with his Boy Scout troop and teach young Scouts to appreciate nature and take time to notice the change of season.

Look. Take time to really, really watch nature unfold around us. I know,  I once forgot or was not in the proper frame of mind to do this.

This neighborhood friend passed away far too young. Yet, as I concurred with his mother and his sisters when I visited with them at their house, “He is at peace. No more  suffering.”

 He passed like a autumn leave. He left this earthly world as I described……..with a backdrop of brilliant color leaves, landing gracefully into his next phase of life.

 I awoke early this morning.  I felt a wave of melancholy. Why? I now know after writing this blog entry.

 I looked out, then up a the brilliant blue sky this morning, here, on Cape Cod. The leaves here that were once green are turning  shades of color—similar to a seasoned artist’s pallet. My neighborhood friend is not here to see this beautiful day unfold. 

Life on earth is a short journey. Take time to notice the change of seasons. Hone in on this four-time-a-year event. When in California, I still see signs of seasons moving from one scene to the next.


Look carefully. It is all there before you. Appreciate the change of season. Most of all, appreciate those around you. They too will be like an autumn leaf–changing color— then passing. We want this display of color to be continuous.

It is not. 

 Look at leaves today. During my friend’s mourning period, I held tight my friend’s mother’s hands. Both hands.  Think of the comment “a short life well lived.”

Look. Listen. Observe. Appreciate.

Brendan Ben Feeney

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Catching On in the UK…..

Sep. 24th 2010

This week, I received 5 orders for my photographs from the UK.   I want to thank all who read my blog and extend a special hello to my new collectors—–from London to Belfast.

I understand you enjoyed Welfleet oysters when visiting Cape Cod this summer, Londunner765!  Cheers! I hope my photograph brings back many happy memories of your holiday in America. Thanks for your thoughtful letter.

Best regards,

Brendan Ben Feeney

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Who would think????

Sep. 20th 2010

It is mushroom season on Cape Cod.

Who would think a mushroom is so photogenic? Fashion photography is were the “bread and butter is.” Too much pushing and shoving to get the best position at the end of the Catwalk. I’m too bothered by the “positioning thing.”

 I now shoot mushrooms.

So where was Brendan Ben Feeney? In the woods looking for mushrooms. I heard from a “seasoned mushroom hunter” (there is such a term) that one NEVER reveals where the best mushrooms are located on Cape Cod. The same hold trues for wild cranberries and beach plums. It a family secret, passed from one generation to the next.

Now that I have combed the woods—and was successful at artistically photographing fungi, you will have to shake me until I turn blue, green and yellow before I  tell you where to find the best mushrooms on Cape Cod. I will post some of these new images in December.

I have to be honest. I am afraid of wild mushrooms. I have no idea which are the good ones—-and which are the evil ones that will make you go numb and speechless—for life—if you eat the “wrong kind.”  So I buy my mushrooms at The Ferry Building in San Francisco,  Whole Foods, Fair Trade Farmer’s Markets, or Trader Joes.

Brendan Ben Feeney

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Support the Arts in Schools. Be an Agent of Change. Ask…..

Sep. 17th 2010

Note to taxpayers……………. September is back to school month. Many schools hold “Meet the Teacher, Meet the Administration Night.”

This is a GREAT time to ask the question when meeting with school officials……………”Does this school have an Arts Program? What about music and dance? Video editing? Film? A radio station? A jazz band? A drama club? An orchestra? A marching band? If not——why not?”

It is a sad state of affairs when school systems across the country are slashing programs that foster The Arts. Many public school are not funding Arts programs PERIOD. Kaput! Gone.

Where is most of the money being spent? School transportation is a huge chunk of a school district’s budget. Then there are many education dollars funded for standardized test preparation. Note how many Language Arts, Science, and Math teachers added recently to your public school system. If you have no children in the public school system, you still should think of how your tax dollars are being spent  and call the School Administration Office in your city/town.  Ask the superintendent of school how many Arts faculty does my district employ? Compare this to other departments.  While you have the Superintendent on the line or via e-mail—-lobby for The Arts.

 The Arts are important at ALL grade levels. Statistics prove music education raises intellectualism, art ignites creativity, and dance programs gets student to move and express themselves in ways other than words. Often times, Art Programs cater to students who look forward to coming to school because there IS a band or a studio art class.

So remember. It is September. Pose the question. “Does the school or school district my child attends (or where I live)  have a comprehensive Arts Program? If not, why not?

If you inspire just ONE student, and get him/her to be excited about education, learning, and The Arts——-then your tax dollars are well spent.

Be an agent of change. After all, where will the next generation of artists, dancers, musicians, actors and actress come from if The Arts are not taught and encouraged  in the public schools? Who will be our next Ansel Adams? Who will be our next Maria Tallchief? Who will be our next Miles Davis? Who will be our next Yo Yo Ma?   Who will be…………………….          Who?

Brendan Ben Feeney

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Birds of Love

Sep. 15th 2010

The cycle of nature is in constant flux. One moment there are birds hovering above, looking as if they are about to kiss in mid air (see Bird Photo Gallery Now, the swallows that make their way north to Cape Cod in  late spring, and stay to dine on tasty insects during the summer………are heading south for winter. I will miss their dances in the endless sky over Cape Cod.

How many times have we had the urge to move towards the sun, migrate to a warmer climate, and bask beneath a blue cloudless sky as winter approaches?

My latest photo shoot was of a team of men harvesting cranberries in Massachusetts. The harvesting cranberries signals change. Autumn is approaching. Crimson berries float to the surface of flooded bogs. It is a  spectacular sight. I did climb through a very, very  narrow opening in a chain link fence to capture this event. Strike that. It a very very small tear in the fence–sort of like Parent’s Night at a Kindergarten. Visualize trying to sit in a seat made for a 5 year old.

I took many images of a man, in dark brown hip waders, rounding up cranberries as if he was trying to  make unruly Wyoming horses behave. A lot of labor goes into harvesting cranberries. It is difficult work.  Note to my blog readers……….appreciate the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving as you pass it to Uncle Fester then past Aunt Tillie.  I will post my cranberry harvest pictures in December.

Now is the time to act. Most of the bird photographs are close to sold out. I suggest you go to Paypal and order from this category. Once an edition series is sold out, I do not reprint. Also look at my post card sets. They are available and more affordable.

I want to thank Doug Varone of Doug Varone Dance Company, New York, New York for his  his kind e-mail. Doug  is embarking on a series on new works. I highly recommend attending one of his dance company’s innovative performances in New York City, Portland, Maine, Boston/Cambridge, MA, and San Francisco, CA. He has other dates noted on his website. Doug’s choreography often reminds me of the motion of birds in flight–ethereal, lingering is space. In other works, members of his dance company swing their arms,  leap with wild abandon, then drop to the ground—similar to a life changing event that “sneaks upon you—hard on the right—like a speeding automobile on the L. A. Freeway.” 

I travel south this weekend to photograph a particular city at night. I too am like the swallows of Cape Cod, longing for flight and a warmer setting to create new art. I will bask in the glow of neon on wet pavement. I will capture the glow of a streetlamp, humming and buzzing to n0 one but I.

Brendan Ben Feeney

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A Time of Change

Sep. 11th 2010

James Taylor, Massachusetts singer/songwriter and inductee of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame once wrote:

                      Once again, a time of change

                        And the change makes music

                         And the children will dance

As I begin a new round of artistic projects for the fall, I reflect on the change of season here in New England.

Leaves are beginning to turn from green to brilliant shades of orange, yellow,  earth tones, and variations of red. When leaves turn color—one knows we are

in the midst of change.

Today I rise early to shoot a body of work, knowing the light this morning will be stunning, yet, years ago today, the sky was also stunning. A sharp blue. I remember September 11, 2001 like it was this morning.  The day unfolded with a brilliant blue sky—a photographer’s dream. Moments later, change. This wonderful setting shifted in a heartbeat and our world and nation has not been the same since the attacks on America.

Please take time today to reflect on those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks on America . Also remember the brave men, women, and young adults who selflessly went into action to assist those in need. Give remembrance to the volunteers who served coffee, the brotherhood/sisterhood of police, rescue and fire professionals who were first responders—and later stayed on the job. Think of the mental health professionals who reached out to the search and rescue community and the survivors. If religious, pray for of the survivor families. If non-religious,  look at the morning sky and remember the victims of the  September 11th attacks. Sing  paise for the rescue animals and their assistants who flew in from all over the country and the world to help with the search and rescue mission. In short, remember today ALL who lost their live s in New York City, Pennsylvania,   and at the Pentagon Building.  Think of all those who selflessly went into action mode to help in any way they felt able to do so..  Think of those left behind to mourn the loss of loved ones and family.  I lost a classmate in Twin Tower One.

Make today a time of change. Shift the dynamic from anger and hate, to one of reflection, volunteerism, and/or silent prayer or reflection..   Take a look today at the photography of Joel Meyerowitz. Joel wsa the official photographer of the 9/11 New York site. Joel is an amazing chronicler of the world though his camera.  Our paths have crossed on Cape Cod, yet one time I saw hime working in a remote area, shooting, and I did not want to disturb him. Joel, if you read this. Coffee at the Wired Puppy this winter?

So as Mr. Taylor notes— seasnon’s change . Change causes a reaction.  I want my faithful blog readers  readers and admires/collectors  of my artwork  to find the music in their soul today and reflect upon what is just and good about our country, this being the anniversary  of the September 11th attacks on America. Love conquers hate. Change makes music. We will hurt, yet heal collectively. We keep dancing.

Watching children dance without a care in the world centers me. I see happiness in children’s quixoticdance  motions. Watching children dance makes me zone out. Sorrow melts. 

 I woke today and had an ache of sorrow in my soul– yet I will witness the day unfold from behind the lenses of my cameras  with reverence, reflection, and the spirit of change. And the children will dance.

Brendan Ben Feeney

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Oh, No! Mr. Earl…..

Sep. 4th 2010

Oh, NO! Mr. Bill……………….I mean Mr. Earl!                         (People of the Saturday Night Live generation can relate to Mr. Bill.)

A what? A hurricane to document using digital photography?

My first thought was–this could be a whopper of an assignment/adventure —or, I could be blown to OZ, with expensive camera equipment in tow, face planted to the windshield of the International Space Station.

So I take on the task.

First stop. Boston. Blue sky. No storm in sight. Let the games begin. Get me to Cape Cod where Mr. Earl is scheduled to hit in less than 12 hours. He is late for his appointment.

I hear chatter. The only 2 bridges leading on and off Cape Cod may close. Panic? No. It causes wrinkles.

I drive my automobile as if I am with a friend who grew up in Wyoming—-making believe the 2 of us are  in the final round of The Amazing Race. To my friend who grew up in the heart of the American West, the word “speed limit” does not exist. 

I find no backed-up traffic lines at the Bourne Bridge. All this rushing for no reason. Hold the phone.  The blue sky did gradually turn to gray as I made my way closer to “The Cape.” There were a few sprinkles of rain on the ride down from Boston.  At this moment in time, I do not sense a hurricane is about slam Cape Cod. I throw into my CD player a Neil Young live recording from the early 1970s, and my worries dissipate.

First Cape stop. Massachusetts Maritime Academy to photograph their wind turbine. Strange……. it was spinning, yet at a pace similar to a spinning wheel one would see at Old Sturbridge Village, used to create yarn for 19th century clothing. Was this the calm before the storm one always hears about?

Next stop. Ambient shots of small businesses with their glass windows covered with plywood.  Then a great shot unfolds before my camera. A gas line. People are filling up  their vehicles  with gas, in case the electricity that runs gas station pumps go kaput. All this is  reminiscent of the photographs from the 1970s energy crisis. Click. Click. Click. Pray that my camera equipment does not radiate static electricity. If that is the case I become the story.  Mr. Earl goes to the back burner.

Rain begins to fall. Darkness descends upon Cape Cod. Park Rangers have all they can do to turn away crowds of people wanting to be photographed with hurricane  surf as a backdrop. Add some wind-whipped rain to add drama to the family picture. Can you say “holiday picture,” anyone?   Or, “Wish you were here!”……………………. Really?

A quick sidebar…….Did you see the brilliant photographs on page 1 of Today’s New York Times? If you did see them, YOU KNOW WHY  authorities close beach access during impending hurricanes and actual hurricane touch-downs. Kudos to the photographer who took these 2 images of a family IN the surf. Picture 1. Smile. Picture 2. Utter panic. Wipe-out! (Now hum that classic 1960s song.)

My alarm goes off at 2 AM. I look outside. Heavy, driving rain.  No trees bending like celery sticks about to snap. In fact, there are few tall trees on the Cape. The early settlers cut them down and the once dense forest never fully grew back. This is not Los Angles, land of swaying palm trees, or Southwest Florida. Shots of palm trees during a hurricane make page 1 of any publication.

I did take visual images of power trucks lined up in a symmetrical row–at 3:30 AM. However, they were parked in a hotel parking lot. If Linemen and Linewomen are NOT out at 3:30 AM  dealing with down power lines, I ponder—why should I be standing in the driving rain?

I drive to the beach. I take shots of waves. Big waves, yet they are not spectacular waves.  A source calls. I am informed  Mr. Earl, whom I am documenting,  is now classified as a heavy rain storm–not a full throttle hurricane.  No breaking news. No page 1 shot.

So here it is Saturday.  Mr. Earl  arrived and departed like an uninvited guest at party—-once his/her bluff is called. The sky today is a cobalt blue. No clouds. Beaches are empty, yet the surf is turbulent. There are seals off the coast, on the Atlantic side of Cape Cod, waiting for low tide to claim their turf on a strand of beach in North Truro.

I take out my casual Cannon camera. I photograph a dog playing on the beach. I collect beach stones smoothed by the action of the sea. I witness sea gulls pecking at each other and bickering about some foolish issue. I chat with some other delightful nature observers, then  leave the beach to meet 2 friends, both accomplished visual artists, to talk about you know who………….

Brendan Ben Feeney

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