Vernal or ephemeral ponds fill up in spring as the winter snows melt. For a few months, they host breeding events for amphibians and macroinvertebrates.
After competing for mates, frogs and salamanders deposit eggs masses in these shallow, seasonal ponds. While the water is usually fish-free, the early-born often prey on the late-comers and even insect larvae can take young tadpoles.
Eventually, the surviving amphibian larvae become adults and repeat the dramatic cycle.
View the story at: https://maptia.com/stevendavidjohnson/stories/vernal-pools
I spent 2012-2013 in Lincoln, Oregon, collaborating on a series of photo essays about the ecology of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument with creative writer, Anna Maria Johnson. The CSNM is the first National Monument created specifically to protect biodiversity.
View the project at cascade-siskiyou.org
A new collaboration with good friend, and media guru extraordinaire, Dave Huth. This site explores the wonder, beauty and diversity of the amphibian and reptile world in the Appalachian region. A work in progress, we’ll continue to add new entries as we explore and document this oft hidden world.
Magdalena and Eliza
Maggie and Liza, born only nineteen months apart, inherit a world of rapid change, shifting societal expectations, and aggressive marketing. But they also live lives apart, spending their hours in our old farmhouse in rural conservative Virginia, the daughters of progressive Mennonites in the Shenandoah Valley. I’ve documented the lives of these my children since they were born, and I have watched, fascinated, as the young sisters have navigated the tension between worlds. Inquisitive and wonderstruck, lovers of the natural world, their imaginative lives sometimes incorporate the symbols and rituals of consumer culture, but often twist them to their own (often subversive, aesthetic, and humorous) uses.
The spiral is a complex natural form that repeats in everything from nautilus shells to galaxies. Leonardo’s sketchbooks reveal energetic spiral forms in plant growth, the curl of a woman’s hair, and the vortices of whirlpools.
Like our own bodies, whirlpools take the molecules of the material world and organize them into temporary dynamic systems. For me, these abstract images of whirlpools on the Shenandoah River, North Fork serve as metaphors for the energy, beauty and brevity of life.
Read more about the whirlpools project in two collaborative multimedia essays with Anna Maria Johnson in the following journals:
Prints featuring the whirlpool series are available at my Gallery Store.
The Inuit people of sub arctic Labrador have recently reclaimed parts of their ancestral homeland in a series of complex negotiations with the Canadian government. For the young Nunatsiavut government, issues related to cultural, environmental and economic sustainability are top priorities. Anna Maria and I recently led a university study group on a cross-cultural experience to Hopedale, Nunatsiavut. We collaborated closely with a group of community leaders who are developing best practices in eco and cultural tourism.
As part of a week long workshop with Eugene Richards, I created a photo series on swimming holes. I love the freedom folks demonstrate in these natural gathering places. Plus, it was a great way to spend 100 degree days in Virginia!
Images from this series have appeared in Orion and Blue Ridge Country.
I am intrigued by how archetypal aspects of human existence can be conveyed through the specificity of the moment. Vermeer’s paintings serve as models for me in this regard. As a painter, he uses light to reveal psychological or spiritual overtones in seemingly mundane events. In his Young Women With a Water Jug, the soft golden glow of window light transforms the common act of grasping a pitcher into a sacramental reality. A casual fleeting act paradoxically becomes an eternal moment. In my own photographs I record moments where the quality of light reveals the archetypal nature of everyday life. Photographing domestic scenes has offered me a way to pursue these ideas while at the same time drawing me closer into the mystery of my family.
Images from this series appeared in a collaborative exhibition with Anna Maria Johnson the Fountain Arts Center in New York State.
In the series I have been exploring how it might be possible to reimagine common animals that have become almost invisible to us through their close proximity.
I published the Virginia Journal photoblog for about five years from 2005-2010. I’ve been gratified to get so much positive feedback from so many loyal viewers. I always love hearing that my photography helps people feel connected to this marvelous landscape even when they have moved far away.
Anna Maria and I recently exhibited a collection of photography and mixed media at the Davison Gallery near Rochester, NY.
View images from the gallery opening (including Anna Maria’s fiber and mixed media work).
The images from this series are photographic responses to place – places I have lived, places I have visited, places to which I am somehow connected. They serve as a type of visual shorthand – icons of my experience of being in the world.
I’m interested in how place defines us. What does it mean to become rooted? What does it mean when we lose those roots?