Category: Nature

What Is Reality, Really?

Leaving Reality Behind

When we finish a vacation or come back to what we call home after a trip or a long weekend. One of the first things we often say is “Back to reality!” What is reality though? The world we have created with all of its things and stuff is truly not reality. Well it is in a sense reality, but it is a fake reality. It is what we have settled for. We surround ourselves with stuff that other people think we need. Things that typically only satisfy temporarily. We smother ourselves with these things we are convinced we need which in turn often forces us to become slaves to someone else and someone else’s agenda by working for them. How is that reality?

Looking At The New

Looking At The New

Get Off The Grid

I recently got home from a two week wonderful trip in which I visited several national parks. Zion, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite. I spent an average of two days “roughing it” at each park, took the off the beaten track routes, stopped at several state parks, and drove down roads that I had no idea where they would take me other than into the sunset. It was a beautiful trip that filled me with amazement and awe.

The world we live in is truly a beautiful incredible place. The negative in the world is brought on by people. Fortunately no matter what we go through as a person, the negative makes up a small portion. If you think about your life only, (not everything going on in the world at one time) then you do begin to realize that there is more positive than negative. Negative stands out significantly because of this. If all was negative, then negative would be normal and would go unnoticed. 2017 has been exceedingly unkind to me, yet through it all, I still see mostly positive.

There Is More Positive Than Negative

One way to see the true positive is to frequently immerse yourself in nature. Nature is pure and wholesome. We can learn from that. The important part of being in nature is, letting nature be. Protect it, observe it, let it be. I see so many people go into nature and act crazy. Throwing rocks, breaking branches, shouting and being obnoxious. Some find that it is okay to vandalize and paint graffiti. There is a place for street art and graffiti, it’s not in nature, keep nature sacred. Go into nature to find calm and peace or please don’t go

.

Are We Doing All We Can?

How do we treat the planet when no one is looking? Every action is accumulative, every wrapper, every piece of gum, every cigarette butt is additive. It is careless, lazy and self centered to think otherwise. There are people who go into nature that have no regard for nature what-so-ever; litter, graffiti, destruction, reckless driving, disrespect, etc. I find people like this to be seriously disturbing. Where is their place in this world if even in nature they are violent and hateful. I thought maybe if people who are not happy, depressed, hurtful or hateful would go into nature, into the wild, and find solitude, peace, themselves maybe they could become a different person. However after seeing some of what I saw maybe this is not possible?

Garden Of Light

Garden Of Light

For me, being in nature is a humbling experience, knowing I am part of it, and in a broader sense part of the universe and being connected to all of it. Which means I have to do my part in protecting it, cherishing it and keeping it safe for generations to come.

Nature is true-pure reality. It is what remains of what it all used to be like, before roads, high rises and pollution. The planet free of debris, clutter, man made crap and crud is what I consider real genuine reality. Those places are becoming fewer and fewer and smaller and smaller. Even in the national parks there are so many visual reminders of modern human interface. In my opinion there should be and could be so much less.

Too Much Clutter

Railings, boardwalks, signs, fences, buildings, power lines, etc. etc. seem to be almost everywhere. As a photographer I really notice things like that because I desire clean shots. My selfish desire for a clean shot has presented an awareness of the clutter we have created in our natural preserves. In some locations where there was an epic panorama there would be a building planted right in the middle of it all. I’m like “Why? Why there? Power lines cutting through beautiful epic scenery. I understand we do need some of these things. We just need to make much better decisions on how we implement them. We have preserved these natural locations for a reason, lets preserve better.

My experience in the wild left me with something I will get to keep with me forever. I have been to Yellowstone three times now and the other parks I mentioned for the first time. Though I had been there twice before I wanted to see Yellowstone again in October because of the cooler weather. I wanted to see it in that setting where the steam truly interacted with the crisp cold Rocky Mountain air. I was not disappointed, it was surreal. In many cases it felt fake. Bryce Canyon seemed fake. It is impossible for it to be real. It is real though and that is true reality. Experiencing true reality means getting out there and exploring. Exploring, discovering, admiring and being educated by nature.

Spacious Skies

Spacious Skies

More Please

Fake reality has brought me back to San Diego, to my studio. Life has placed me in a circumstance where my photography alone is not paying the bills. Therefore I am now seeking other means in addition to my photography to fulfill my obligations to others. I put a lot into this road trip because I was very aware that when I got back that I would need to get very busy. So this trip meant a lot to me. It meant really truly doing some soul searching, it meant really truly doing my part in this life to promote being in nature and to promote preserving it and to promote respecting it. I am left with an emptiness in my heart because of what I saw, its flawlessness and its innocence. I want much more of that in my life.

Dear Universe

Dear Universe,

I have been talking to you for quite awhile now. I have verbalized my thoughts, desires, needs and wants to you. I have been patient, waiting, doing what I can to stay positive. However lately I haveThe Universe had my doubts that you are listening. I know we are one, one and the same. I am in you and you are in me. My thoughts are your thoughts. Your energy is my energy. However it is not translating. What I need is not manifesting.

I am at a place where I am truly scared. I have worked very hard to get where I am at and I feel I am going to lose it all if something doesn’t happen today. It needed to happen yesterday. I need help! I need your help! I need things to fall into place. I need your energy!

Universe you are my only hope. You gave me this talent, you gave me a wonderful studio to work in. Why? If I am going to lose it all, then Why? I cannot accept that! Where is the give? I give and give and give. Where and when is it supposed to come back to me?

Universe you know it isn’t just about me. You know I do not have much. You know I do not ask for much. I just want to be able to take care of my daughters. I don’t want them to have to endure this struggle. I want them to be what they are intended to be. To be able to use their talents freely, without inhibitions. I need to be able to use my talents without inhibitions. I am not free! I have so much more to offer! What is the point of being talented if I have no means to exploit it? How can I help others if I have no means to do so? Milky Way GalaxyWhere is the confusion? What am I missing?

You have done so much for me. When I think positively it comes to me. It has so many times. Why is it so different when it comes to selling my art? I have worked so hard to this point. I have dished out thousands of dollars and lined other peoples pockets to get to this point. Where is my return? Why does this need to concern me? I shouldn’t need to worry about this at this point! Do I really need to go work at McDonald’s? Do I really need to give my energy to someone else, to those who do not care? To those who only want to further their agendas and fill their deep pockets? Who won’t give back? Do I really need to go work for someone else and be imprisoned to their ways and means for a few bucks? To deal with that just to scrape by? Is that what you have intended for me universe? Then why bother giving me talents and skills and the mind I have? I can’t do that. That doesn’t help me and it doesn’t help anybody else.

Universe hear me. Please listen. Please come to me and hear my voice. I cannot do this alone. I need your energy. I need your positivity. Let your Starry Nightpositive energy flow through me. I am at a difficult place universe. The tables have turned on me. I don’t want to lose it all. Please show me the way. I need things to fall into place now. I need things to happen now. I have been extremely patient. I have worked hard. I have been diligent. I have been humble. What more must I do? What am I doing wrong? What am I not seeing? What am I not understanding? Show me! Show me please!!!

Universe I accept your help. I know you hear me. I know you want me to succeed. You know I want to help others succeed. I feel your peace. I feel your energy flowing into me.

Thank you,

Paul W. Koester

Believe Tree and Believe Tree Enchanted

Believe Tree - Black's Beach Sunset

“Believe Tree” with motivational/inspirational words on Black’s Beach Sunset background

In December 2014 I came up with the idea of a tree with motivational and  inspirational words written on the branches. The original design was this powerful oak tree with a lake in the background and the words on the branches. The message was delivered by this amazing tree but the background was too busy, I wanted the tree to really stand out. To do this right I knew it was not going to be an easy task. I spent over 10 hours isolating the tree, its branches, and its leaves, creating a clean layer. The resulting image was well worth the tedious task.

The first believe tree I created was on the teal background. I loved how the silvery effect of the tree stood out in contrast against the metallic blue background. Initially I was concerned that the words would be too much. I wanted them to blend in and be part of the tree. Present but still subtle, yet strong enough to read. I wanted them to be part of the tree and flow with the branches.

From there it evolved. From the suggestions I received I made a few changes here and there. A friend suggested that I also make the tree available as a designer piece. I was way ahead of him and had already created those images, which I titled Believe Tree Enchanted. Believe Tree Enchanted is the tree alone with no words. I chose the word enchanted because the tree literally lured me in. It was captivating and beautiful and stood out from all of the other trees around me. Rick further suggested an idea that lead to my unique Paper Series. There are currently two choices in the Paper Series, brown and teal. At this point the brown paper is my favorite. I like the grungy earth tone textures I created for the background.

Another friend suggested sunsets, “Can I get one with a sunset background?” she asked. Hmmm yeah sunsets, why not? So I created the Sunset Series which are derived from San Diego sunset images I captured over the past couple years in. There are currently seven different sunset backgrounds to choose from in the Sunset Series.

There are nine original Believe Tree and Believe Tree Enchanted choices on various colors and black & white. These all look amazing when printed on metal with the silver gloss process. A metal print is the only way to go when displaying these trees.

This is one of those ideas that truly came out of no where. I was helping a friend and I realized there was a correlation. I saw a universal commonality in the ordeals that many of us are confronted with daily. The struggles we face. Many of which are derived from simply our own thoughts. The saying “I am my own worst enemy.” comes to mind. Many of the thoughts, concerns, and questions that we conjure up never cross the minds of other people when they view us or our work. As I wrote down the words that I felt were useful and helpful it began to take on the form of a tree. I then envisioned the words written across the branches of this tree. From there the idea of the Believe Tree was born.

The whole idea of confidence, success, not quitting, and improving stems directly from “believing in yourself”. Against all odds, believing in yourself. No matter what, believing in yourself. Though it may sound too simple. It really isn’t. Especially if you face challenges daily that seem to fight against you getting to that finish line.

Believe Tree Enchanted - Brown Paper

“Believe Tree Enchanted” as a designer piece on brown paper background

Life is intimidating. Taking on a new project is intimidating. Learning something new is intimidating. When I face intimidation I remind myself that I have been here before. Each time that  I faced intimidation in the past I forged ahead. I learned what I needed to learn and practiced what I needed to practice. Eventually without even realizing it, I had become good at what I was doing. So I take that with me to the next challenge. “I have been here before, everything previous to this was an intimidation at some point-in-time, but now it is not. Therefore this situation will be no different.” Again the root of this is believing in yourself. Knowing what you are capable of based on previous experiences. Even if those previous experiences were not incredibly challenging you still mastered them.

Another mindset that I keep in my arsenal is; if other people can do it, then so can I. Seeing other people accomplish something is evidence that it can be done. Or the knowledge that many people preceding you made it through. Running a marathon should be impossible, but obviously it is not. The same concept can be applied, if they can do it, then so can I. The key to this is to not overwhelm yourself with the big picture. The big picture is a goal. Accept the challenge one step at a time. What can I do right now? What can be accomplished today? Anything outside of that is out of your hands for the time being. Occupy your mind and thoughts with accomplishing the doable. Taking care of what can be done now will move you faster than you think. Soon you will see the big picture is not so big after all.

Believe Tree - Teal

“Believe Tree” with motivational/inspirational words on teal background

I have my days when I wonder if it is all worth it. Am I doing the right thing? Will I be successful? Who am I kidding? Am I a joke? I could go on and on. I am very hard on myself, many of us are. There are days I tell myself, “You should quit, you are wasting your time!!”, but what if I quit one minute before something awesome happens? We never know what awesomeness is lying just around the corner. Ready and waiting for us. There really is no such thing as an overnight success. It may seem as if someone becomes something amazing over night, but it is probably very unlikely. It almost appears that way sometimes but in reality it typically takes years. Trust me, I wish there was an easier way, a faster route. There is a lot of sacrifice, there are a lot of doors slammed, there are a lot a people laughing in your face, there are a lot of doubters, haters, and those who want you to fail. If you truly believe in yourself none of that will matter. Truly believing in yourself gives you the knowledge that all of that is nothing but lies. The truth is inside of you! If someone says “You can’t do that!” you don’t need to say anything. You instead show them that it can be done. Do it for yourself though, not for them. Don’t do it to prove them wrong. Only do it because it is your passion!  Prepare yourself mentally that the road ahead is going to be full of challenges. I have been fueled countless times by people telling me it cannot be done. Guess what? it can be done! It all begins with believing in yourself and pressing on and overcoming. When you do this those people around you will have no choice but to believe in you too whether they want to or not.

Believe Tree and Believe Tree Enchanted are available for viewing and purchasing on my website at Paul W. Koester Photography and at my Etsy shop Paul Koester Photo. Prints purchased from my website are printed at Bay Photo Labs and are high quality however I have no direct input in the production and they are shipped directly to you from the lab. Prints purchased from my Etsy shop are printed by the printers that I have specifically chosen and I have direct control over the production of these images. If you are located in the San Diego area I can deliver and sign the image if you purchase the image through my Etsy shop or by contacting me directly. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

 

A Moment In Time

From the beautiful shores of  La Jolla, California.

Scarlet Fever

I noticed the skies were cooperating as far as clouds are concerned. So as always I hoped for a great sunset. From October to January we had some amazing sunsets here in San Diego. I missed almost all of them for various reasons. I got to watch several of the photographers I follow post them on social media. Lots of great photos, none of them mine. That’s how it goes sometimes.

In early February I went out to the tide pool covered shores in La Jolla and finally got my opportunity. It was a Tuesday so fortunately no one was down there to get into my shot for my 4+ hour shoot. I used the AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8 ultra wide lens to capture this. So it doesn’t take much for something other than the intended composition to enter into the frame. It’s often a game of patience; a plane, person, bird, something in the frame not intended. Some things can be cloned out in post process. I would rather not, it goes against my original intentions. I’m not against cloning by any means, I would just rather it be right when created.

It was a perfect evening from pre-sunset all the way to post. Every stage was unique and different and had its own color and detail scheme. It was multiple special moments in time. At one point the clouds looked like feathers as if a young bird was first taking flight and lost it’s first feathers and scattered them across the sky. As the sun dropped low beyond the horizon the sky turned to crimson. Then ultimately finished out in a deep purple. Collectively a moment that will never reoccur.

While I was standing there, as time stood still, completely lost in the peace and beauty of it all. The world around me continued to change and all that life throws at us the amazing, the crazy, the good, the bad, and all the crap we don’t want to talk about still happened right behind me. For me, the contents of this photo, this is reality. The rest of  it we create, it is our doing, so we need to create good stuff every moment we can.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

When I first heard about Sioux Falls I was pretty excited to check it out. I had heard a lot of good things about the area and being a photographer thought it would be a good place to stop over and spend some time there.

When we first arrived we drove right into the heart of the city, downtown Sioux Falls. The old bridges caught my eye, the old buildings, lots of activity and celebrating going on. So I was interested in getting down there quickly.

Sioux Falls

The amazing and beautiful Sioux Falls.

We finally found a good parking spot. Armed with camera we set off to get some photos. It wasn’t  long I was beginning to regret my visit. As I neared the river I began to see what I couldn’t see from above, while driving. Lots of construction, I mean too much construction! Everywhere I looked something was tore up. There were piles of debris and trash and dirt literally everywhere. Yet I tried to maintain a positive attitude, there must be something here I can photograph.

As I walked the river’s edge looking for worthiness, I felt like maybe I was being too hard on the place. However the construction, dirt piles, and trash were all too overwhelming for me to compensate for.

After an hour or so I decided to give it a rest, look for a hotel room and give it  a fresh try in the morning. At one of the hotels we looked into staying at I found a brochure/magazine on the Sioux Falls area. On the cover was this awesome waterfall and park. So I asked a guy on the street where it was located. He kindly tried to give me directions and actually had a hard time doing so because all the streets were closed or blocked or tore up. He told me, “There are two seasons here, winter and construction.” No chuckle accompanied that comment, he was pretty serious and I unfortunately had no choice but to  believe him.

As I left for our hotel and battled more construction I began to seriously regret the decision to stay in Sioux Falls.

The next day after breakfast, we made our way to Falls Park were the big falls were located. I plugged in Falls Park into the GPS and merrily headed where the calm and soothing Tom Tom voice led me. “Turn here” she said softly,”umm I can’t it is blocked” I replied. “Turn here” again she urged. Everywhere Tom Tom led Paul was sure not to go. At that point I almost left town. It seemed impossible to get to the park that was the ONLY reason Sioux Falls existed and the ONLY reason Sioux Falls has any tourism at all!

Finally I spied what resembled a park, chose the nearest parking stall, and eagerly and anxiously headed out. Somewhat relieved that we finally arrived at our destination, but still apprehensive. This better be the most bitchin waterfall ever I thought to myself!

Not knowing exactly which way to go, we listened and could faintly hear what sounded like the falls. We guessed it right and were soon gazing upon the natural beauty of the Sioux Falls. The natural beauty of Sioux Falls cluttered by guard rails, modern rock work, concrete walk ways, a huge amount of  litter, debris, ugly iron fences, old buildings refurbished with modern day materials. Wow I am ever a whiny little… City of Sioux Falls you really made a mess of this amazing natural wonder and shame on those who are too lazy to find the trash can! I mean the falls were something I had never seen the likes of before and I have been to a lot of places all over the world. Did I get good photos? Yes, of course I did. Did I cover Sioux Falls and represent it as it truly is? No…hell no.

In about 2 or 3 years some of the construction will be done, maybe shorter, maybe longer, I will never know. If you like crisp clean, modern, boring, concrete boardwalks, railings, stairs, fences, then Sioux Falls will be right up your alley. For me it is too much, too much of man’s touch and it is so unnecessary. Keep it natural America! Protect it, respect it, don’t blemish it! Keep it clean, if there isn’t a trash can within reach, carry it out, you carried it in you can carry it out! That’s it, I have nothing left to write.

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