Leaves on a Trellis, 2015

Leaves on a Trellis, 2015 – Welwyn Nature Preserve, Glen Cove, Nassau County, NY
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For a long time now I have found myself looking up at the light beyond the leaves of trees. It probably goes back to my childhood where I spent a good amount of time in the forest constructing lean-to shelters, tipis and longhouses, as well as pushing down trees that had died.

I made this image while exploring the woods of the Welwyn Estate in Nassau County, Long Island. I had left my apartment near Trenton, New Jersey very early that morning. This meant I was able to avoid any traffic on the Turnpike and made excellent time on the Cross Bronx Expressway. I arrived at the estate as the sun was rising.

My intention that morning had been to walk down to a beach that a friend of mine had introduced me to. The beach rests on the banks of the Long Island Sound with Connecticut visible on the horizon. It’s a small beach, almost as if it was an accidental afterthought, and because of this there are rarely other people there.

That morning had a suspended, soft feeling about it. There were two fisherman out on the water and the loudest sound to be heard was the rhythmic crashing of the waves against the sand and the stones of the jetty. Every color visible was a delicate pastel tint and nothing seemed real. I made a short film about what my time there that morning felt like.

Afterwards, it seemed as though my senses had been heightened a bit. It was a very calming experience, yet it had the effect of making my eyes more keen to my surroundings. As I explored an area of the woods I knew to contain the ruins of a greenhouse, and at least one other large structure, I came across this trellis blanketed by leaves. By now the sun had risen high enough in the sky for the light to pass through the canopy of leaves above.

I came across this image while browsing my archives and really fell in love with it. There’s a lot going on in such a seemingly simple image. Everything is still, but your eye has plenty to seek out in the image as it jumps between clusters of leaves or traces the twisting paths of vines.

It makes me think about how life goes on outside the seemingly homo-sapien centric existence we all play out. Yet it also brings to mind Frances Hodgson Burnett’s children’s novel The Secret Garden and an intimate moment between to young lovers being interrupted when one, overcome with emotion, gazes up in search of relief and sees this intricate composition of leaves resting above them.

If you find this image as enchanting as I do, please consider purchasing a print from me. It would be my pleasure to make one for you.

2019 Mt. Holly Fire and Ice Festival

Having been born in New Jersey and living most of my life here, I feel a bit ashamed admitting that it wasn’t until this year that I found out about the Fire and Ice Festival, an event hosted annually in the historic town of Mount Holly, New Jersey. Its name is a clever bit of word play, as the festival combines a chili contest with the often overlooked art form (or is it a craft?) of ice sculpting. It’s an enjoyable, family-friendly event that draws a large crowd onto the streets of Mount Holly’s High street and Mill Race Village.

I attended this year’s Fire and Ice Festival, which occured on January 26th. Below are a few images I made while I was there.
(click on the images to view larger)


Many tools can be used to cut and shape ice. However, one of the fastest methods for removing large amounts of ice is the chainsaw.
It’s common to see large shards of ice scattered about on the ground where carvers are working.
A lone block of ice sits exposed to the sun prior to being carved. The blocks of ice used weigh three hundred pounds.
Often times you will see the ice carvers cut away significant pieces of the block to be used for later.
A small child admires the windmill design carved by Kirk Clemens of Bear, Delaware.
Ice Carver Kirk Clemens sprays both the ice as well as a piece paper which he has drawn his design onto. The water helps freeze the paper to the block of ice allowing the carver to focus better on the exactness of their actions.
Kirk Clemens using a rotary tool to cut details into the wings of his butterfly design.
One of the popular animal attractions was the Jersey Sands Sled Dog Racing Association dog sled team. [JSSDRA Facebook page]
Alpacas supplied by Scotia Acres Alpacas on display.
A red-tailed hawk being displayed by a handler from Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge.
Sometimes carvers must enlist the help of an assistant. Here, for example, Todd Dedman and his assistant place a large, carved mushroom top on its ice base.
Carver Todd Dedman uses a chainsaw to even out the newly joined mushroom top with its base.
With the paper design stencil applied to the ice, carver Todd Dedman begins to carve out the details.

From the Archives: Three Frames at My Grandmother’s Apartment

A scanned contact strip showing frames 3, 4, and 5.

I made the above images some time in 2017. They depict three scenes from the space just outside my grandmother’s old apartment. I’m not entirely sure on the date when they were made, but it would have to be some time before my grandmother fell, because farther along the film there is a portrait of her sitting in her glider chair with a mug of tea.

Ruth Gandek, 2017

After my grandmother fell the facility required her to transition into a smaller apartment in an area of the property where she could receive assistance should she need it. While I know that my grandmother certainly misses her larger apartment, I can tell you that I miss the walk up to the apartment. The carefully landscaped “pocket gardens” always provided such a wonderful little atmosphere.

Single Frame: Miry Run, NJ

Image: Miry Run
Canadian geese lined up on the ice crested Miry Run, a small manmade lake along the Assunpink Creek.

I’ve spent the past few days exploring Miry Run, which is a small, manmade lake along the Assunpink Creek close to where I live. It’s provided me with some beautiful moments of stunning light this winter season. Earlier today I even watched as two red-tailed hawks flew around and sounded their distinctive screeches.

This has become a favorite spot of mine and Shea, my recently adopted Pit/Hound mix.  I walk her along the water’s edge on a long leash. I’m training her to be patient with me, as I often stop to make pictures whenever we are out walking. So far she behaves well, but does always want to be on the move.

Bonus Frame:

Image: Shea, my Pit/Hound mix, sitting impatiently for her portrait.
Shea at Miry Run, January – 2019