Search Results for: intimate landscape photography

The Essence of Place – Defined

Palo Dura Canyon

Palo Dura Canyon Abstract © 2014 Bo Mackison

The Essence of Place, Defined

Essence of Place: A limited selection of photographs that, when combined, offer a unique glimpse into a place. The mood or emotion portrayed in the place is emphasized, and included are elements that are unique to the area. People also can be included to illustrate culture or connection.

Abstract. An abstract uses form, texture and color. Emphasis is more on the composition and less on the subject.

Landscape:  The term landscape represents a segment of nature from a single point of view. It encompasses land, and can also include animals, buildings, and people.

Intimate Landscape: Photographs typically do not include a horizon line, or when the horizon is present, conveys only a hint of where the image is photographed. The grandeur of nature is captured in a smaller space. Less is more.

Still Life: A photo which depicts inanimate subjects. Includes common objects in nature, such as rocks, sticks, leaves. Simplicity is key.

Macro-Photography: A close-up image of a subject. Technically, the image is at a 1:1 ratio (life-size) or larger, magnified up to 5 times the life-size image.

Wabi-Sabi:A Japanese aesthetic of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete…” ~ Leonard Koren. Includes objects connected to the earth: rustic materials, rich in raw texture; effects of weathering and aging by sun, wind, heat, cold; rusty, tarnished, warped, cracked or peeling surfaces; faded colors, muddy tones, or grays/blacks; simple, yet poetic. (source: Leonard Koren)

Combinations are also possible, such as:

Intimate landscape + portrait: A portrait of a person or animal which includes landscape to provide a context for the subject, or defines a landscape by contrasting the human perspective in a natural setting.

To capture the essence of place, I did some basic research and pulled key words and concepts for which the region is particularly noted.

Here are my notes:

Palo Duro means “hard wood”. Southern high plains. Rim of canyon is shortgrass prairie, canyon floor has more trees, shrubs, tall grasses. Canyon is 800 feet deep, formed by erosion from Prairie Dog Town Fork of Red River. Rock layers of gypsum (white) and claystone (red) and is called “Spanish skirts”. “Grand Canyon of Texas” – second largest canyon in US. Erosion shaped lands, caps of erosion resistant sandstone creating mesas, pinnacles, buttes.



Palo Duro Canyon © 2014 Bo Mackison

Palo Duro Canyon

“Spanish Skirts” © 2010 Bo Mackison


Prairie Dog Town Fork of Red River  © 2014 Bo Mackison

Intimate Landscape:

Palo Dura Canyon

Juniper Tree in Red Canyon © 2014 Bo Mackison

Intimate Landscape + Portrait:

Palo Dura Canyon

Karate Chop © 2014 Bo Mackison



Yucca Seed Heads © 2014 Bo Mackison

Still life.

Palo Dura Canyon

Red Earth © 2014 Bo Mackison

Wabi sabi.


Twisted Wood © 2014 Bo Mackison




Essence of Place – San Pedro Riparian Area

San Pedro Riparian Area

River Reflection © 2014 Bo Mackison

On a visit to San Pedro Riparian Conservation Area, I again captured the essence of the area in a few select photographs.

When I visit a natural area, I make a point of taking a variety of photographs including landscapes, intimate landscapes, portraits (wildlife or people), macro-photographs, abstracts, and details which capture the essence and personality of the place. I capture the essence of the place using one or two photographs in each of the categories.


The above photograph, the river with reflected trees, is abstract in feel. But it gives a feel for the area — river dependent, tall trees along the river banks, a quiet place.


The next two photographs, black and whites of the San Pedro River and its riparian corridor, are typical landscape photographs.

San Pedro Riparian Area

San Pedro River © 2014 Bo Mackison

The San Pedro Riparian Conservation Area encompasses a desert riparian ecosystem – a river flowing through a desert – rare now but once common throughout the US Southwest. Tall trees – mostly cottonwoods and willows – hug the river banks.

San Pedro River

San Pedro River © 2014 Bo Mackison

The San Pedro River is one of the few rivers with a perennial flow. Its headwaters are in Mexico and it flows north into the United States. The river is protected from the US/Mexico border to St. David, Arizona, a span of 40 miles.

Intimate Landscape

The next photographs are intimate landscapes — they show only a part of the landscape and focus on color, texture, patterns.

San Pedro Riparian Area

Log Dam on San Pedro © 2014 Bo Mackison

San Pedro Riparian Area

Aquatic Plant on San Pedro River Bend © 2014 Bo Mackison

 Macro-Photography in a Landscape

The close-up of the soaptree yucca dominates the photograph, but the background of desertscrub provides context.

San Pedro Riparian Area

Soaptree Yucca © 2014 Bo Mackison

The San Pedro River flows through the Chihuahuan and Sonora Deserts. Away from the water, the landscape is dominated by Chihuahuan desertscrub — soaptree yucca, creosote and agave are common. Mesquite and sacaton grasses grow in the bottomland.

Portrait in an Intimate Landscape

The portrait of waterfowl in this intimate landscape adds another dimension of place.

San Pedro Riparian Area

Waterfowl in Lake © 2014 Bo Mackison

The riparian corridor and its abutting lakes are home to 250 migrating birds, and over 100 breeding birds. Half the known breeding birds in North America have been spotted in this riparian region.

Macro-Photography and Detail Photographs

These photos capture the personality of the place, and often focus on wabi-sabi characteristics – textures and details.

San Pedro Riparian Area

Shindagger Agave © 2014 Bo Mackison


San Pedro Riparian Area

Branches in San Pedro River © 2014 Bo Mackison


San Pedro Riparian Area

San Pedro River Cottonwood © 2014 Bo Mackison

An added note: This area is also home to a significant archeological site – home of the Paleoindians or the Clovis Culture, the earliest known inhabitants of North America. They lived in this area and hunted mammoths in the last Ice Age, over 11,000 years ago.


6th Annual Photo Alphabet – Metaphors to Place

M is for Metaphors.

Looking at the Past

Mission Past © 2013 Bo Mackison

Much is happening in the coming year. For the past year, I’ve been defining myself and my work, considering who my “perfect people” are – those who most connect with my work – and what I might offer of value.

And so I offer my first online workshop.

Rearview Mirror

Rearview Mirror © 2013 Bo Mackison

Photography and Metaphor: A Springboard into Self-Expression and Exploration will take place in February 2014.

We will focus on making photographs to use as metaphors. Then we’ll use our “photo metaphors” as creative springboards into contemplative writing and other expressive arts projects.

Details and registration information will be announced in early January.


N is for National Parks.

Grand Canyon 7:26 PM

Grand Canyon 7:26 PM © 2012 Bo Mackison

I have a deep and lengthy love affair with the National Parks and Monuments.

I visited many National Parks on family vacations in the 1960s. Sherpa and I spent our honeymoon at a national park. When our children were of a long distance traveling age, we assembled our family of five and took three-week long, cross-country trips, exploring and camping at National Parks and Monuments whenever we could. Sherpa and I still travel to National Park destinations. And when I travel alone, once again, I map my travels so I can visit the National Parks.

At the end of each year, I note the parks I’ve visited in the past 12 months. They are easy to recall, because I record each visit in a National Park Passport. Whenever I visit a park, I stamp my book. It’s a ritual I’ve been doing since 1997, and I’m currently stamping my third passport book.

Parks I visited in 2013.

On day trips or weekend camping trips in Arizona:

Saguaro NP, Organ Pipe Cactus NM, Chiricahua NM, Coronado NM, and Tumacacori NHP.

While traveling on my Circle Tour of Arizona in April, long distance practice for my solo cross-country trip:

Casa Grande Ruins NM, Montezuma Castle NM, Tonto NM, and Tuzigoot NM.

While on my cross-country trek from the Southwest to the Midwest:

Petrified Forest NP, Mesa Verde NP, Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, Scotts Bluff NM, Agate Fossil Beds NM, Mount Rushmore NM, Wind Cave NP, Jewel Cave NM, Badlands NP.  No wonder it took me so long to get home, zigzagging to visit out-of-the-way parks!

When traveling with family:

Lassen Volcanic NP, Redwoods NP (California)

Twenty in all. Wow!


O is for Oceans.


Olympia © 2013 Bo Mackison

Some of my most memorable times of this year I spent standing on ocean shores, mesmerized with the infinite waves. I never tired of studying the constant, yet ever-changing waves.

Staring out into the ocean triggers my imagination.

There is nothing but the relentless pounding surf, and yet an entire world exists in its depths. Even though my feet are solidly upon the sandy or rocky shore, I feel a resonance with the deep beyond, a connection I can only imagine.

Relentless. Changing. Hidden depth. And a connection, strong and intangible.


P is for Place.

Light Puzzle

Light Puzzle © 2013 Bo Mackison

I am intensely devoted to place.

Place is the setting I settle into, deeply, with reverence, with attention. A place of nature, history, culture. Urban, rural, wilderness. A visit in solitude, with a friend, or be one in a crowd of people.

I see the sacred in all places.

There are rare times when I want only to be one with the place, experience it with only with my senses, unencumbered by camera or journal. But I feel most in synch with place when, after I have absorbed the space in quiet, I then reinforce my memory with my photography or journal practice.


Territorial Architecture in Tubac

Place © 2013 Bo Mackison

One of my joys, when I contemplate a place, is to take a set of deliberate photographs.

This may seem at odds with taking inspired, intuitive, capture-the-moment shots. I don’t believe so. I take those kinds of instinctive photographs also. My deliberate photographs of place purposely expose a larger view of place, capturing it in different moods.

To collect a set of place photos, I take photographs that may include: a panoramic view, a landscape, perhaps a portrait or an intimate landscape (a photo of a subject in the context of the landscape), and a close up photo.

Place photos can capture moods — such as the first photo of layers of leaves captured in sunlight. They can capture the feel of a place in its architecture and surrounding details.

When I combine photographs with a few words, I create a photo-journal of place – a contemplative portrait documented in my art.


Prior post: Invitation to Labyrinth

Next post: Quilt to Trees

A New Beginning — Working with Cigdem

Purple Conelfower - Intimate Landscape

Purple Coneflower – Intimate Landscape ©2013 Bo Mackison

I love my evolving business. I am passionate about the changes. I am passionate about moving from one who seeks healing to one who offers a healing or self-discovery experience. I wake up every morning, excited by the work that is ahead of me for the day. I also get overwhelmed at the shear volume of what is ahead of me.

But if I’ve learned only one thing in the last 20 years, it’s to put effort into living every day, to not spend a lot of time making excuses that give me permission to quit, get sick, etc. because the never-ending excuse mill is what stops so many great projects. So I keep moving. Forward. Yes, with lots of questions and some fears but I know how to work through fear. You keep moving.   ~ Bo Mackison


Cigdem Kobu is a multi-dimensional business coach and creative woman, Her life’s mission is to work with quiet-loving, purposeful solopreneurs, helping them redesign sustainable, creative businesses so they can savor more joy and success in their lives while still being true to who they are.

When Cigdem asked if I would be interested in working with her on a restructure of my solopreneur business — from a photography-based platform to a business that encompasses my photography, love of nature, book-making, and a deep calling to share my products/services with other women on self discovery or healing journeys — I responded with a whole-hearted “yes”.

Not only is Cigdem offering me an intense program of business coaching and support over the next five months, but she will also be working with Vicky White from The Spacious Life. And for the first time, she will be openly documenting her specialized business coaching process, writing about our progress as we work on our individual businesses in weekly case studies on her blog.

This is truly a dream opportunity for me, an opportunity to work closely with Cigdem as I redesign my website, transition to a new business, develop new products and marketing practices, and make my business sustainably profitable. All this, while I develop a business that allows me the opportunity to be of service to fellow journeyers.

I know there’s a lot of work to be done, but this was not an opportunity to pass. I hope you will join Cigdem, Vicky and I as we work together.  You can follow and learn from every stage — as I learn, too! — beginning with the post that describes this creative business transformation journey.

Please join me on this exciting (and a bit scary) business adventure!


Bo Mackison is artist, photographer, book-maker, collector of stories, naturalist, poet, curator and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is embarking on a grand learning experience, and visualizing what her dream business will look like in six months time!






Vintage Golden Poppy

Vintage Poppy

Vintage Poppy © 2012 Bo Mackison

There are times in our lives when too many voices seem to be pulling us this way and that. We can seek silence and order within. Then we will hear the truth.   ~ Osho

I’ve been in a wild and whirling space the past few days. So much to do, not enough time. Too many shoulds listed on my to do list, and I am ignoring them. The script rushing through my mind sounds like it was written by a convention of gremlins, intent on keeping me on the practical path. Except I am not one who appreciates the practical as much as I appreciate the spur of the moment, the adventure, the explore, but on my terms. I love the adventure but I like to have my feet firmly on the ground, adventuring in safety perhaps. Are those two incongruous? Adventure and safety?

I don’t think so. I like to have a little planning in my explores. Maybe I head west not knowing exactly where it is I am going, but I have a list of three or four places that are possible destinations. I am not one to travel the open road without some idea of where I am. But I also like to leave my schedule open enough to accommodate the serendipitous meeting, the landscape I just have to get to know more intimately, a town that demands more than a cursory visit.

I have been having many conversations with myself. These talks invariably consist of what should I be doing. Now? A month from now? A year? What plans do I have for exhibiting my photography? Where am I going with my art? What path should I follow? As a wise person once told me, “You can’t just sit in an arroyo and watch the poppies bloom.”

Currently I have two of my photographs in an art exhibit at University Hospitals in Madison, Wisconsin. I have another photograph accepted for an  exhibit in March and April, an exhibit called Beyond the Lens at the Tubac Center for the Arts in Tubac, Arizona. I do freelance photography, shooting interiors and exteriors of living spaces. My art fair and festival schedule is slowly taking shape. I’ll be at Tucson’s Fourth Avenue Street Fair in March and I have Midwest art festivals on my calendar from May through September, and adding more each week as the notifications come in. And I photograph and work on my photographs – editing, post-processing, printing, matting, framing – 50+ hours a week.

The conference of my gremlins settled on a conclusion – they want me to expand my photographic repertoire. Actually, in plain-speak, my gremlins want me to become financially solvent. And then save for retirement. Save for a rainy day. Save for their retirement. All excellent suggestions.

And here I am, feeling quite the contrarian, wanting to return to the lovely arroyo to see the poppies again. Maybe I can go sit there and re-think my business plan WHILE watching the poppies grow.

A compromise?


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. If you need to find Bo today, she’s sitting on a rock in an arroyo in the Tucson Mountains, and talking to the poppies about life goals.