Playing with Photography – A Focus on Light, Glass, and Silver at the Vineyards


Five Bottles and a Pitcher © 2014 Bo Mackison

Exploring what my camera will do with a row of glass bottles stored on a shelf behind a white wooden shed.


Filling the Pitcher © 2014 Bo Mackison

Add a spigot with running water as it is filling a silver pitcher.


Still Life and a White Shed © 2014 Bo Mackison

The glass bottles and pitcher, running water from spigot, and two silver pitchers.


Silver Pitchers © 2014 Bo Mackison

Two silver pitchers, overflowing with bubbling water.


Glass, Water, and Light © 2014 Bo Mackison

And finally the glass pitcher surrounded by bottles with caps.

… from Mattebella Vineyards’ website:

Mattebella Vineyards is a small family farm, in New York State’s oldest town, Southold (established in 1640), on the eastern end of Long Island. The vineyard is a gently sloping 22 acre parcel of land and has predominantly European clones of grape varietals, tight spacing (6×3), and low vigor rootstock.

At Mattebella Vineyards things are done the old way, by hand. No mechanical harvesters or leaf removal equipment. Fine wines are difficult to make consistently if mechanized harvesters and other machines are introduced into the process. Machines simply cannot execute our commitment to quality and make the decisions we consistently must make throughout the growing season. Hand crafting includes fruit thinning to ensure even ripening and higher quality concentrated juice, leaf pulling, weed removal, pruning, canopy management and, most importantly, hand harvesting of all our fruit.

Mattebella Vineyards is committed to using sustainable viticultural practices and incorporating organic practices as feasible into our farming methods, hoping to make a “footprint in your memory but not on the environment”.

Coneflowers in the Tallgrass Prairie


Purple Coneflowers © 2014 Bo Mackison

“What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.” ~ John Lubbock

Purple coneflowers. One of my favorites. Since it will bloom from June through September, there are usually pockets of these purple beauties in the prairie during any summer visit. My favorite part is the spiny center, that red rusty cone.

The species is even named for its distinctive center – Echinacea means hedgehog in Greek. Evidently the center disk looked like a hedgehog to the plant naming folks way back when.


Desert Art – Chihuly Night Show at Desert Botanical Gardens

Red Reeds at Twilight

Red Reeds at Twilight © 2014 Bo Mackison

Chihuly’s art glass on exhibit at Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix.

After dark, the installations are illuminated , and offer a totally different viewing experience.

Illuminated Purple Reeds

Illuminated Purple Reeds © 2014 Bo Mackison

Summer Sun by Chihuly, Night

Summer Sun by Chihuly, Night © 2014 Bo Mackison

Yellow Octopi in the Cacti

Yellow Octopi in the Cacti © 2014 Bo Mackison

Blue Sapphire Star at Night

Blue Sapphire Star at Night © 2014 Bo Mackison


Desert Art – Blue Fiori Sun

Blue Fiori Sun, 2013

Blue Fiori Sun ©2014 Bo Mackison

Chihuly in the Garden is the second exhibit of glass artist Dale Chihuly held at Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Gardens.

I was lucky enough to attend Chihuly’s first exhibit, The Nature of Glass, in the winter of 2008. I fell in love with his signature hand-blown glass art sculptures. When I discovered a second Chihuly exhibit was returning this winter/spring, I knew I would be back, too.

This time I went better prepared, with six more years of experience with photography, and the proper equipment — a tripod — to handle low light, long exposures. (Still processing the night photos — coming soon!)

Blue Fiori Sun, 2013

Blue Fiori Sun Amid the Desert Green © 2014 Bo Mackison

This exhibit is Chihuly’s twelfth installation in an outdoor botanical garden setting.

There are 21 installations in the Phoenix exhibition. I saw 16 of them in a whirlwind 4 hours. I wasn’t planning on making the trip to Phoenix again, and so I tried to see as much as I could — not the way I prefer to see art in any setting. I did take extra time at each installation,  just to take in the art glass in desert surroundings, but I seldom had as much time as I would have liked.

Now I’m planning a return visit, determined to build more time into the visit for pure appreciation.

Blue Fiori Sun, 2013

Blue Fiori Sun ©2014 Bo Mackison

The exhibition is strategically placed on  55 acres of the 140 acre garden.

There are 21 installations. Major installations are at the entrance, groupings of slender reeds follow pathways, and large works of art highlight the desert landscape. The Blue Fiori Sun, completed in 2013, is one of two major installations at the entrance.

A 2010 creation, Sapphire Sun, greets all visitors as they walk through the gates.  Just beyond that global wonder in the Blue Fiori Sun set amid cholla, barrel cacti, and yucca.

Blue Fiori Sun, 2013

Close Up Blue, Fiori Sun © 2014 Bo Mackison

[Chihuly] “produces the psychedelic experience of a magical, glowing, and sparkling, brilliantly alive panorama without drugs. This enchanted glass world has as much to do with Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz as it does with the great Renaissance and Baroque festivals that sovereigns arranged to entertain their courts and subjects.”
Barbara Rose, Dale Chihuly’s Paradise Regained

Blue Fiori Sun, 2013

Blue Fiori Sun ©2014 Bo Mackison

 I love how the glass art nestles into the nearby landscape, giving it the appearance of a desert life form.

A highly unlikely blue color, but still, the art looked as if it truly belonged there, as if it had grown organically from the desert ground. I love the natural desert, solitary walks in the wilderness desert, but Chihuly offers a unique, mind-stretching experience in a desert based garden.

More Chihuly: The Night Show

It’s The Berries!

Autumn Berries

Autumn Berries © 2013 Bo Mackison

“I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering ’bout the big things and asking ’bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love.” ~ Alice Walker

What a wonder-filled, little things, big things, crazy month this month of October has been! I’ve had years less busy than the last few weeks. And I’ve had months when this much head-on living would have knocked me flat on my back, begging for a deserted island, a stack of books and a few cases of chocolate.

But I’ve given up that desert island wish – it sounds pretty boring these days – and I can read my ever-growing stack of books wherever I am, and I just happily devoured the most delicious, once-a-year, chocolate birthday cake made from scratch from two of my favorite daughters, so I’ve had my quota of chocolate for the near future.

No, instead of living life on a deserted island, I’ve been living a very colorful, action packed life right here in the Midwest. This past month reminds me of this bunch of autumn berries. Colorful. A bit on the wild and ragged side. Full of life and potential. Lots of goodness, all  crowded together.

All that brightness won’t last, and it would be hard to handle if it did. But a spurt of bright-berry living is good now and then – even for an introverted soul.

October ushered in several out-of-state visits to family. Then the highlight of the month – the arrival of the first grand-baby of our family – was the most precious of days! I celebrated one of those milestone birthdays, and family flew in from both coasts for a weekend celebration. There was sunshine almost that entire weekend, much appreciated. I sent my Desert Wisdom Cards out into the world and I am gratified by the generous response. (Thank you.)

As always, there were some difficult times amidst all the good times. But the difficult times helped shine a brighter light on the many blessings of each day.

There’s some catching up to do, emails to answer, a pile of papers on my desk. Plus a few hundred (or so) photographs to process. But I’m incredibly thankful I had the opportunity to celebrate the many blessings of this October with such special people.

What an October this has been…