Each New Day Filled With Gratitude

November 2, 2017

Have you ever heard the phrase, “There’s light at the end of the tunnel”?  I think it may be an American expression but I suspect there are similar phrases in many other languages. For my international readers, and speakers of English as a foreign language, here in the U.S. we primarily use it to console someone who is experiencing difficulty in one form or another. Mostly, it’s endearing and meant in a supportive way to comfort the person. Things will get better.

There is a contrary derivation of that phrase that can be interpreted as a dire warning or in a humorous way – or ill-humored depending on the person and situation. It goes like this: “There’s light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s a train!”

Short interpretation: You got trouble comin’, buddy!

I surmise every human being on this planet has experienced “the train” at one point or another. Unfortunately, given some of the places I have worked (Afghanistan, Rakhine State Myanmar, the Thai/Myanmar border, to name a few) and the people I have striven to help, “the train” is ever-present in their lives. Another story; another time. This past year and a half have been a challenge for me. Let me repeat the key word in that last sentence: C-H-A-L-L-E-N-G-E. That light at the end of the tunnel HAS been a train all-too-often, and it has been heading in my direction frequently. This post is not about trains or lights at the end of tunnels, however. Hmmm, or is it? Certainly, they are integral elements of the message I really intend to impart. The key word here is:


As I reflect in these challenging times, the greatest spiritual, personal, and professional growth I have experienced in my life has come through some of the greatest adversity. And when I look back on those times and examine my current circumstances I am filled with gratitude! The Universe, God, Spirit, Angel, Mother Earth – call it what you want – presents us with gifts both big and small each day (we only must be observant) that enable our growth and contribute to our happiness and fulfillment.

This morning, I received this gift – and many more – that filled my heart with immense gratitude for where I live and all the love that surrounds me each and every day:

This is sunrise and fog at Pleasant Valley. Yes, that’s really its name. This is where I ended up after an early morning jog a mile down my dirt road with a short detour into a small apple orchard. And for the photographers visiting this site, no fancy Nikon camera here, just an iPhone pulled from my vest pocket.

Be grateful.

And tell someone in your life every day that you love them.

Gracias por me vida!

Sending love and blessings to all of you!



All content copyrighted © Stephen Tavella



Bees on Dahlia: Nikon and iPhone Comparisons

October 6, 2017

We have had unusually warm weather in Vermont for early October, providing a welcomed extension to what was a mostly cool summer. A few mornings ago, however, the nighttime temperatures dropped into the 30’s (single digits Celsius). On an early morning walk around my gardens, I spotted dew-bespeckled bees seemingly painted on my dahlias. It was a magical moment. I ran back to the house and grabbed my Nikon SLR and tripod. I shot this photo:

I thought to myself, “Is this the way some bees die at the end of the summer? Their metabolisms gradually slow as the temperature drops on a waning day and through the night. While they are drinking the sweet nectar of a beautiful flower, they eventually drift into a sleep brought on by what we humans call hypothermia.”

I have read that after the initial pain from the cold, death by hypothermia is relatively peaceful. The bees in this dewy, motionless state perched upon my dahlias seemed impervious to the chill if it weren’t for their inability to move. I don’t think they would have moved had I petted them.

I am happy to report that when the warm sun filled my meadow the bees were dancing happily from flower to flower.


I visited that same garden this morning. It’s not nearly as cold today, but it is damp and grey. I discovered bees (the same ones?) perched atop the same dahlias “frozen”, but not covered in dew, awaiting the warm sun to invigorate their exoskeletons. This time, iPhone in my pocket, I decided to snap some pictures and compare them with those I took with my Nikon a few days earlier. Here is one I took of a singular bee on a singular petal:

I am more than occasionally surprised at the quality of the photos I get from my iPhone 6. Their quality falls short of those from my Nikon but given the convenience, portability, and surprising resolution and color, I always keep my iPhone handy.

Now, as to the surprises I find in nature, I never cease to be amazed!

Here on my mountain in southern Vermont, I am frequently delighted by the soaring hawk above my meadow, flocks of turkey guiding their young through the edges of my woods, owls that call to each other in the night, the black bear that plods along my brook, the snake that warms itself on the stone wall, chipmunks that chatter noisily, robins that pluck insects from my gardens and fields, and goldfinch that feed on my sunflowers.

The wonders of this magical natural world no doubt alight in front of each of us every day – most likely even if you are an urban dweller. Be attentive, be mindful. The natural world has much to teach us if we choose to observe and listen.



All Content Copyrighted © Stephen Tavella

Stormy Seas and Foggy Ports on the Maine Coast

May 8, 2017

The photographs will do most of the speaking on this post. My partner and I spent two glorious days exploring the southern Maine coast from Ogunquit to Portland. Rain, fog, a cold persistent wind, and stormy seas created the atmosphere for this series of photos, along with a little long exposure magic from my Nikon DSLR.

Plan a visit to Maine sometime. It’s such a special place. Hope you enjoy!

Stormy Seas and Wind: A View from the Marginal Way (Ogunquit)


Reflection and Fog in Wells Harbor


Moored in Fog (Wells Harbor)


Stormy Surf and Fog (Portland Harbor)


Portland Light (Portland Harbor)



All Content Copyrighted © Stephen Tavella

Vermont in Autumn – Transition (series 3)

November 29, 2016

fairlee_airport01_smallStick season, as we call it here in Vermont, occurs in that space between foliage season and the onset of snow. Generally, that means late October to early December, give or take some weeks on each end depending on how Mother Earth chooses to behave. Any wise person knows you don’t slap dates on Mother Earth. She has a mind of her own, and so it should be.

The mention of ‘wise’ people sets me to contemplating, especially as the rain pours down here in southern Vermont on a grey, chilly, late November day in Stick Season. It is the sort of day I consider near perfect for sitting, and contemplating, and writing.

But I won’t take much of your time. A few meandering thoughts, if you will…

I find this time of year of low light in the northern hemisphere drives not only my physical body to be sheltered inside in the comfort of my tiny home in the woods, but also sets my soul to settle on more solitary ground. As I sit here today my heart and mind travel across the years that seem to pass more swiftly despite my futile attempts to apply the brakes. Mostly, I am nonplussed to consider my situation. I am not in this predicament alone… friend. On the grey and chilly side of this current deliberation lies the reality of time passing more quickly than the many tasks and dreams I hope to accomplish and attain before that final hour. On the brighter side of the equation lies the wisdom I feel I have attained – and continue to attain – as a sum of the rich life I have lived and the providence the Universe, God, Spirit, Luck (call it what you will) has showered upon me. Yes, ultimately I see the glass as half full.

Pour me more wine, please!!

Attention! I did not claim to be wise! A wide chasm separates those who claim to be wise from those who claim to be attaining wisdom. I entreat you to consider me humbled at the feet of the ultimate wisdom of the universe!

I have gone philosophical. That’s what a grey, chilly, late November day in Stick Season will do to me. I will release you to a few photographs that evoke the season. I hope you will enjoy. And please do feel free to leave your thoughts and comments. I always enjoy hearing from those who are gracious enough to visit these pages.



On my meanderings through my neighborhood


The stillest of days with the waters of the West and Connecticut Rivers like glass

(iPhone photo)


The Dummerston Covered Bridge (Vermont’s longest), just down the road from my home


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(iPhone photo)


Foggy morning and sunbeams on Beaver Pond Road

(iPhone photo)



All Content Copyrighted © Stephen Tavella


November 8, 2016

It is November 8th and it is time to vote, America! If you live in the United States and are registered, then you have no excuse – GET OUT AND VOTE TODAY! Voting Rights law requires an employer to give you two hours off to vote. So you don’t work, but can’t drive or take public transportation to the polls? Call family or friends to give you a ride. If you do not vote you are not exercising your most fundamental right in the oldest democracy in the world. This election is too important – every election is important – to not exercise that right. Your vote does count.

And here is my in-your-face opinion if you do not vote: You do not have the right to voice your opinion about how this country is run and the politicians who were democratically elected to draft our laws. Climb back in your hole and keep your mouth shut. Or better yet, maybe you should go find a country where you have no rights at all? Our democracy is far from perfect, but I do not think it takes a lot of contemplation to appreciate the freedom and rights we have in the United States.

Maybe you have become cynical to the fact that the system is rigged and your vote is not really counted? I confess to a degree of cynicism myself, BUT I vote. Maybe, if you consider a little more deeply, you might see that it’s not the system that’s rigged, but the fact that the electorate in this country has become complacent. Here is a cold fact for you: Voter turnout fluctuates in national elections, but on average only about 60% of eligible voters actually cast their vote. Consider, on the other hand, countries like Belgium and Malta, which have a voter turnout that reaches 95%!

You say you don’t like the choices we are given? Neither candidate represents you? Then write in your choice. This blog is not telling you who to vote for, it’s just asking you, telling you, pleading with you to vote. So get out there and do your duty! But before you do, enjoy these few long exposure photos I took of the White House, Washington Memorial and Capitol Building during a visit to DC in September.

Happy Voting!


The White House – telephoto lens long exposure


Moon and Birds Over the U.S. Capitol Building

(I will talk about this blended photoshop technique in an upcoming post)


Looking Down the Mall at the Washington Monument



All Content Copyrighted © Stephen Tavella

Vermont in Autumn – Reflections (series 2)

October 29, 2016

Light is most kind to a photographer at the beginning and end of the day. The light is softer, richer and saturates sky, earth and water with deeper hues. Clouds are more dense. Subdued winds invite mirrored reflections on water. Fall’s colors are amplified in those reflections. In this post I share photographs taken at the ends of the day – early morning and late afternoon – with nature’s mirror (water) amplifying the adjacent colors of the landscape.


Morning Fog and Reflection on the West River

Location: Brattleboro


Foggy Morning on the Meadows

Location: Brattleboro


Morning Fog and Reflection at the Dummerston Covered Bridge

Location: Dummerston


Mt. Wantastiquet (New Hampshire) in Color

Location: Brattleboro (VT)


Late Afternoon at the Green River

Location: Guilford


Set Alight by the Sun

Location: Connecticut River between Brattleboro (VT) and Hinsdale (NH)



All Content Copyrighted © Stephen Tavella

Vermont in Autumn – The Year of Brilliant Color (series 1)

October 28, 2016


For more than a year much of New England has been suffering a prolonged drought. My photography friends and I anticipated the fall colors that turn Vermont’s scenic green mountain landscape into a Wolf Kahn painting would be muted this year as a result. Not so! In fact, this year’s foliage has been one of the best in the 30 years I have made southern Vermont my home. The brilliant colors, combined with the dynamic weather conditions, have provided a smorgasbord of photographic opportunity.

This is the first in a series of posts highlighting the short October foliage season that draws thousands of visitors from urban areas to our beautiful state.

Also, enjoy all Vermont seasons – and share the beauty with family and friends – by ordering your Vermont fine art all-occasion/all-season note cards featuring my photography and designed by me, by clicking here. These unique, one-of-a-kind cards are perfect for sending thank you’s, announcements, birthday and holiday greetings, or just simply to say, “I am thinking of you!” Professionally printed in the United States using ecological soy ink, with high gloss, spill-proof coating. You will not find this quality by Hallmark, or any other card sold in a big box store. I have been told by customers that the quality of images, layout and printing is so high they would even consider framing them. Email me directly at gilbertislands@gmail.com, or call 802-254-0057 to discuss special discounted pricing on bulk orders of 20 or more cards.

Thank you for visiting; enjoy your days!


My foliage photography season always starts north of where I live in Dummerston. This photograph was taken in early October on the road leading to the Ball Mountain Dam on the West River, a tributary of the Connecticut River (New England’s longest at 410 miles), which runs the length of the border between the states of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Location: Jamaica


Emerging Color on Ball Mountain Brook

Location: Jamaica


Tree Tops and Birds on a Rainy Day

Location: Dummerston


Going Home to Roost: The Waning Day

Location: Brattleboro

Come back and visit soon for a second set of images in this fall foliage series.



All Content Copyrighted © Stephen Tavella


Vermont Photographic Note Cards – On Sale Now!

Four classic landscape prints from southern Vermont: Grazing horse in a spring pasture, a summer sunset on the river, vibrant fall foliage, and an old barn on a wintry day. You need not have visited the Green Mountain State to enjoy and appreciate the classic rural American beauty captured in these images. These unique, tastefully designed, 4 1/2″ x 6 1/4″ (11.43 cm x 15.875 cm) professionally printed note cards are printed on front and back sides and blank on the inside. Spill-proof coating; individually packaged with envelopes.

Photographed and designed by Stephen Tavella.

Perfect for all occasions – holidays, thank you’s, invitations, or a thoughtful note to family or friends – and as a gift!











Click on thumbnail images below to see the featured photos magnified








Pack of 6 cards (with envelopes): $11 + $3 postage

Total Price: $14

Place your order by Paypal or Credit Card by clicking



(Note: Unfortunately, I am only able to ship to U.S. destinations at this time)



All Content Copyrighted © Stephen Tavella



“Time is Like a Jet Plane, It Moves Too Fast”

October 13, 2016

With news this morning of Bob Dylan’s receipt of the Nobel Prize for Literature, I recalled a line from “You’re a Big Girl Now,” from Dylan’s incomparable Blood on the Tracks record, while I was considering a title for this post. I have had many conversations over the years about this concept of time moving more quickly as we age. There seems to be a general consensus: it certainly seems to do so as we get older. Don’t ask me why. Or better yet, as Neil Young once sang, “Tell Me Why.” I am as confounded by it as many others I have spoken to. Still, I continue to instigate this conversation. I think not so much out of the hope of figuring out why, but more so, I believe, to listen to and consider the many fascinating viewpoints on this ageless subject.

With that in mind, as I was cutting and stacking firewood yesterday in the brisk fall air while yellow, red, orange and brown leaves sprinkled down around me like autumn snowflakes, I thought to myself how quickly, once again, spring has passed into summer, and summer into fall. Where did spring and summer go? The memories of my partner and me turning our vegetable garden soil in April, planting our seeds and seedlings in May, tending to and eating from the garden in June, July, August and September, and finally taking down the bean poles and dried tomato plants yesterday seem to have all happened within the span of a few weeks.

Time is like a jet plane.

I haven’t posted a photograph here since June, but I have taken a few pictures between then and now. So before I start posting photographs from another picturesque fall in Vermont, I would like to share some summer memories from around my beloved southern Vermont.


Early summer at the Green River Crib Dam, Guilford


Discovery at the Beaver Dam, Guilford


Aquatic Friend on a Trek Up Stickney Brook, Dummerston


Riverbed, Dummerston


Nighttime on the Meadows, Brattleboro


The Secret Pond, Marlboro


Ball Mountain Dam, Jamaica


A Stop Along the Interstate, Westminster



Sunset on the West River, Brattleboro



All Content Copyrighted © Stephen Tavella

Republic of Georgia Photo Exhibition: June 20 – August 8 (more info!)

June 23, 2016

Photographic Exhibit now on display in Brattleboro, Vermont, USA



through the

Republic of Georgia

         Photography from the Caucasus region


                     Eastern Europe and Central Asia

June 20 – August 8, 2016

Brooks Memorial Library, 224 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT, USA

Official opening with artist meet & greet

Friday, July 1 from 5 – 6 PM at Brattleboro’s monthly art’s walk

 Click on the Gallery Walk link to see more

The sixteen photographs featured in this exhibit were taken over a six month period from September, 2015 – March, 2016. During this time, Stephen lived with a Georgian family in Tbilisi while working as a strategic management advisor for an international peace center.

If you are unable to make this exhibit you may still enjoy it by purchasing the Companion Guide on the Blurb.com website. The guide is an 8 1/2″ x 11″ (22 cm x 28 cm) magazine format with a high quality glossy cover. It features a table of contents, a full-color map indicating where each photograph was taken, and one page dedicated to each photo that includes detailed descriptions, stories, artist personal insights, and historical facts that provide a unique and detailed perspective into each of the images.

The cost is only US $7.99. This is an unbeatable price for a 20 page, high-quality, professionally printed companion piece to this unique exhibit. You, your family and your guest will enjoy paging through it to experience a virtual getaway in an exotic land.

See for yourself. Click on the link below to see a full preview.

See a preview by clicking here

Dummerston, Vermont, resident Stephen Tavella has been exploring and photographing landscapes and cultures from around the world since he spent four years in the Peace Corps in the 1980’s. Fifty countries and six continents later, he recently returned from six months of work in the Caucasus country of the Republic of Georgia. With these sixteen select images, Stephen hopes to convey a sense of that which is uniquely Georgian despite Greek, Roman, Arab, Persian, Mongol, Turkish, Russian, Christian, Muslim, eastern and now western invasions and influences spanning over two millennia. Experience the magic!



You can also follow Steve on the following sites:


All content Copyrighted © Stephen Tavella

Photo Exhibition Opening June 20!

June 16, 2016

I am pleased and excited to announce my photography exhibition of sixteen selected prints from the Republic of Georgia opening at the Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro, Vermont, on Monday, June 20th. The exhibit features 14″ x 22″ (35 cm x 56 cm) prints of landscapes, historical sites and people from across the fascinating and beautiful country of Georgia. These photos were taken during a recent work assignment from September, 2015 – March, 2016.

The exhibition opens on June 20th and closes on August 8th. There will be an artist Meet & Greet from 5:00 – 6:00 PM on Friday, July 1st during the monthly Gallery Walk art walk. If you are in the local area, please stop by, especially on July 1st. I would love to meet you and share my experiences, love for photography, techniques, or anything else you may wish to discuss.

Below is the poster advertising the event, along with some of the sixteen images that will be featured. I look forward to seeing you on July 1st. Or, if you are unable to make it for the July 1st official opening and would like to meet, please feel free to email me at gilbertislands@gmail.com. Perhaps we can arrange another time to meet.

Order forms for prints will be available at the show. Coming soon: order directly online!




Tbilisi in Fog
Anchiskhati Orthodox Basilica & Narikala Fortress (6th century)



Grilling, Georgian Style
It’s What’s for Dinner



Fireworks on the Mtkvari (Kura) River
Where Modern and Ancient Meet



In the Shadow of Mt. Kazbek
Gergeti Trinity Church (14th century)
Georgian/Russian border


All content Copyrighted © Stephen Tavella