Tag Archives: nature

Sunday Quote

There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
there is rapture in the lonely shore,
there is society where none intrudes,
by the deep sea, and music in its roar;
I love not Man the less,
but Nature more.



Helios & Helianthus

Lost … and Found

For years, I was able to find things in stacks in my office by estimating the life of the pile.   Needed something from last March?   No problem.   March was about …. right there!    I was always close.

The same with my photographs.  There was a time when I thought that I would remember every photograph that I took.  And, I was certain, that I would remember when I took it so that if I needed to retrieve it, I could easily.

So, when I went to find a particular photograph — a closeup shot of a milkweed seed — for a forum I participate in, I wondered when I took it.  I knew it had to be fall because that is when milkweed pods burst.  But I couldn’t remember what year it was.  2013? 2012?  2011?

I didn’t start using Lightroom until Spring of 2013.  Previously, I didn’t tag and only rarely named the files with anything other than the automatic IMG_xxxx assigned in camera.

After several hours of searching, over the course of two days, I finally located the shot that I wanted, although I only found an edited jpg, not the original raw file.  And, to my surprise, it appears that I took it when on a road trip, not along the creek near my house as I had originally thought.

Seed pod

Milkweed Seed

Lesson learned?  I’m glad that I now catalog and tag my photos.   LR is such a powerful tool; I’m not sure how I found anything before.   One of these days, I’ll need to go through all of my pre-LR  photos, import and tag them.   Otherwise, they are not much different from the boxes of photographs and negatives  I’ve accumulated over the years.  Looking through them may bring back memories, but it’s time-consuming and too difficult to find what you want.

Here’s a shot of some things I found on my walk today.   It’s cooler than normal; fall is definitely in the air.  I’m hoping that I don’t regret not covering my porch plants this evening.   I’m sure they’re thinking “What the heck?  This cold already?”


Dr Suess -like acorns

Travel Theme: Close-up

For Ailsa’s weekly travel theme, a photo from my recent trip to Keukenhof Gardens in The Netherlands.    The tulips were lovely; the gardens are amazing.   I wish I could visit here every Spring.

tulip, keukenhof Gardens

Pink Tulip Closeup


Linking up with Kim Klassen’s Texture Tuesday.  This week’s theme:  Color.

coquina, donax variabilis, shells

Tiny rainbows:  Donax variabilis, aka Coquina

Coquina (d. variabilis) are abundant on the beaches in Southwest Florida.  Although they are everywhere, I am always taken with the variety of colors and patterns in these little shells.  The bivalves are edible (these were just the shells of the little creatures), but I’ve heard that they are not very tasty!  They’re so tiny, I would never have the patience to shuck enough to make even a small appetizer.

This image was layered with one layer of Kim’s texture kk_0603 with Blend mode of Multiply at 15% opacity, masked off of the shells.  There was already plenty of texture in the wood (love that grain!), but the texture helped the tone a bit along the edges.


Two Views: Tree Project X

I wasn’t home at the beginning of October and it was nearly mid-month before I got around to doing this installment in my monthly photo project.   Several of the shots  (now deleted) of the big oak behind my house look pretty much like the shots in August and September, although the other trees around the oak tree are beginning to display their fall foliage.  While this was initially disappointing, it made my think about how different the tree can look from day-to-day and hour-to-hour.   Like every photographic subject, it all depends on the light.

Crown and Light

Crown and Light

I love the sunflares in this image and how it shows off part of the magnificent crown of this tree.

Here is another perspective of the crown, arching above the other trees on the side of the hill.  (For a sense of scale, note the stop sign in the lower right corner.)  The sky today isn’t nearly as blue, but the colder weather the last few days have painted the trees in fiery reds and oranges.   The oak tree, which occasionally becomes a rusty red before turning to its normal russet shade, isn’t likely to change for another four weeks or so.  In the meantime, most of the trees on the hillside will have lost their leaves long before Old Oak begins to shed.

Across the Road

Across the Road

You can find other posts in this project here.


Gerbera Daisy

A few weeks ago, macro photographer extraordinaire, Mike Moats, started a new Facebook group titled “Let’s See Your Best Shot“.  This forum works like many other weekly challenges throughout the internet:  each week there is a subject listed and members of the group post a shot that fits the category.  Unlike many other forums and challenges where the subject is a generic idea like “fun” or “big“, so far the topics in this group have been very specific.   Last week’s topic was “Dragonfly“.   Who knew that there were so many species?   Next week’s topic is “Car Headlights“.

And this week’s topic?   Gerbera Daisy.  These are such wonderful flowers to shoot.  Each bloom seems infused with its own personality.  They bend and arc gracefully.   Some petals twist and turn.  There isn’t an angle that doesn’t provide an interesting opportunities for photographs.

Gerbera Daisy, Wasp:  August Afternoon

Gerbera Daisy, Wasp: August Afternoon

I figured I would find something in my archives, but as I was making a mad dash through Lowes this afternoon, intent on only picking up the one small item I needed, I saw Gerberas on sale.   The plants practically jumped out into the aisle and into my shopping cart.   As soon as I finished my errands for the day, I grabbed my camera and lost myself in shooting this interesting bloom.  As I started to shoot, this nectar-thirsty stinging creature found a perfect resting place.  I think he was enjoying the flower as much as I.

What about you?  What’s your best shot of a Gerbera Daisy?  If you’re on Facebook, consider joining the group.

Sunday Quote, 2013, Week 32

How cunningly nature hides every wrinkle of her inconceivable antiquity under roses and violets and morning dew! 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

roses, emerson, art

A lovely rose from a lovely friend’s garden

The Forest Primeval (Travel Theme: Wild and Tree Project VIII)

I’ve joked that I live in the Forest Primeval.   That isn’t true:  it’s just a little spot of forested land, a ravine overlooking a mostly flat landscape of typical suburban homes.  We’re lucky that we have this little oasis in the middle of a city, close to downtown, close to shopping areas, close to most anything we could want, except the airport, but that is only an issue when running late to catch a flight.

When we were house-hunting, we thought the lack of a yard to mow was a wonderful bonus.  I still do not miss owning a lawn mower.   Our “yard” can be rather wild, though; a wooded lot is anything but maintenance-free. This year the pignut hickories have been bombarding the driveway, creating a crunchy blanket that needs to be swept regularly.  Those that bounce off the drive frequently end up in the pond.   I fish about 3-4 dozen out of the pond every day.   Pignuts are one of the few hickories that grow in Indiana that aren’t pleasant to eat.  Too bad!  I could have collected enough to make pies and nut breads for weeks.

As I’ve written previously, there is a big old oak — the eponymous oak of this blog — that sits on a rise behind the house.  A red oak, it may be the tallest tree in the neighborhood and in the fall, its rufous crown can be seen nearly a mile away.  It isn’t easy to get to the top of the rise where this tree sits.  The hillside is steep and no paths have been maintained.  There has been a rampant growth of  honeysuckle in the past few years which seems to have been aided by last year’s drought.  Smaller trees struggle to grow, but, likely crowded out by the Big Oak, many grow spindly and frequently fall during storms.

I’ve been photographing this tree since we moved here many years ago, but this year I’m making an effort to shoot it at the beginning of each month.   Since it is the beginning of the month, I decided that I would cut a swath through the debris (or at least step over and through the wild honeysuckle) and take some shots up near the base of the tree.  Since Ailsa’s theme this week is WILD, these images are doing double-duty:  Ailsa’s weekly challenge, and my monthly tree project.

From the bottom of the hill, about 50 feet away.

From the bottom of the hill, about 50 feet away.

Looking up from the base of the tree.

Looking up from the base of the tree.

Perspective:  Size 6 shoe at the base of the tree.

Scale: Size 6 shoe at the base of the tree.

One of these days, I should measure the circumference of the tree.

You can see other images in my Tree Project series here.

Here are a few randomly selected posts of how others have interpreted this week’s Travel Theme.   Be sure to check out these and others listed on Ailsa’s site.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

A masterpiece of nature:

A masterpiece -- and masterfully peaceful

A masterpiece — and masterfully peaceful

I love how a lotus flower in bloom seems to have an inner light shining.   It is truly a wondrous piece of work by Mother Nature.

See how others have interpreted this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge here.    Below are just a few examples:

When Life Hands You Lemons…

We’ve all heard it.   It’s pretty simplistic advice for traumatic, real-life problems, problems that matter that can’t be cured by simple clichés.   But….for those non-issue “problems” we run into regularly, it sure helps if you can pick up what you have and go with it.

So, for instance, when you’re standing at a mucky pond edge trying to get just the right shot without falling, camera in hand, into the water, you have to expect that you might need to deal with a little blur.  Don’t hit delete immediately though!  Get a little creative – there still might be something in the shot that will save it from the bit bucket, like a great composition and some amazing color despite the over-exposure.   🙂

Early Morning Bloom

Early Morning Bloom

This may not have been the picture I envisioned when I lined up the shot.  It may be that I don’t have the ability to draw freehand and have the results look like anything recognizable.  But, with lots of trial and error, I figured a way to make this image into something that I think is worthy.   And I had a lot of fun creating it as well.

Original shot:  Lensbaby Composer Pro with Wide Angle Lens, ISO 100, 1/2500, aperture = 0 I forgot to bring my Lensbaby aperture disks with me, so had to make do with the wide open lens.  Once I was wet and having little fishes brush against my legs, I wasn’t willing to go back into the house to find those disks.  So, I stayed with a fast shutter speed and tried to shoot in the shadows — except for this one shot, my first today with the Lensbaby, taken a few seconds before the realization that I didn’t have an aperture disk in the ComposerPro.

First I did some minor adjustments in Lightroom with exposure (it didn’t help much) and with saturation levels.  Then, using PS Elements, I copied and inverted a layer, set blend mode to Color Burn, then used the filter for “Minimum” to bring out the lines in the flower.  This is a variation of the “Sketch” effect that I’ve used previously.   (You can find the entire process in a tutorial by Bill Barber here).

In a separate layer, I applied the artistic filter Smudge Stick and then applied a Gaussian blur to soften up the background which was already pretty blurry.  Thanks camera shake and Lensbaby:  without that blur this image wouldn’t be what it was — or became! Erased this layer over the surface of the flower.  Set the blend mode to Overlay and merged the layers.  Then, I added a solid color screen in a light pink hue to add some complimentary color to the background and erasing it over the area of the bloom.

Et voilá!  I like the way this turned out.   I would love to be able to create something like this with paper and pencil or pastel or something, but instead of calling it “Early Morning Bloom”, I’m afraid I’d have to title it “Early Morning Blob”.

I took several other photos.  Hey – some of them were even in focus! I predict that a few of them will show up here over the next few weeks.   The water in the pond was warm but it probably was a stupid idea to climb into the water with my camera.   Everything turned out okay though.

And then I went inside and had some lemonade.   Not because it is what life has thrown at me; (lemons have to be imported in my neighborhood)  but because it is really hot here right now and lemonade was a perfect refresher.