In mid August, I went for my first hike since foot surgery. Hot weather and time constraints kept me from venturing out sooner. Returning to my favorite woods after a couple months felt like a long awaited breath of fresh air. As I walked along the familiar trails late that afternoon, I felt summer fading away.
The sun was low and the late summer flowers were moving gently in a light breeze.
I continued on to my favorite spring wildflower site. It was now overgrown with nothing but green. Fall will change it, and winter will change it again. Summer is certainly the least photogenic season for that area of the park. It makes me want fall.
However, as I continued out of the park, the fading sun and fading milkweed made me realize I should enjoy the season presently slipping through my fingers.
I stayed late and photographed the moon at dusk. Remind me not to rush ahead thinking the next season of life will make all things better. Remind me to stop and enjoy the good in what I have now. If I rush through life, I will miss so much texture, so much joy, and so much beauty.
Back in June, my Mom’s side of the family had a belated memorial service and a small reunion on the same day. We were just out of some COVID-19 restrictions in our area, relatives traveled from out of state to be there, and I was just able to drive again after foot surgery. The whole thing was oddly normal.
Our reunion was at the home of one of my Mom’s uncles. For the sake of privacy, let’s call him Uncle A. I don’t know him well, but this was an opportunity to know him more. Uncle A. was in Japan after WWII. He showed us his collection of Japanese objects from his time there. He has a much larger collection: canes. He has canes he purchased and also canes he made. Many of those he made play off the natural shapes and textures of various pieces of wood he’s found. I thought this was the coolest of them all.
Uncle A. may be up there in age, but he sure is an interesting guy. He grew up on a farm and acquired a large bull whip at one point. He can still crack it. He tried to teach to teach some of us how to crack the whip. It isn’t easy. The man has skills. Don’t underestimate your elders.
Yes, I shot these on July 3rd, and I’m just getting around to posting them. July has been one crazy month for me. Family reunion, physical therapy, dentist for the first time in more than a year, etc. I had 5 appointments in one week! What was I thinking? I suppose I was trying to make up for all the stuff I didn’t do last year. Maybe I still am.
It naturally follows then, that after spending the afternoon with my sister, I would try to catch the fireworks on the way home. Mind you I was recovering from foot surgery and having some trouble walking. It also follows that after getting to the point of recovery where I was again permitted to walk and drive, I wasn’t letting a little hobbling hold me back. Well, not too much anyway. I accidentally parked farther away from the fireworks than I wanted to. Walking took longer, as I mentioned, so when the show started, I stopped walking and started shooting. Perhaps I was a bit too far away. Maybe there were some trees in the way, but I could use them for artistic purposes in some shots.
In a way, shooting fireworks is like life. You try to be prepared. You check and adjust. But it just keeps coming at you, and you don’t know what’s next. You have to learn to use what you have and make the most of the time you have to enjoy and capture the show.
I’ve been preoccupied by work and some personal issues. (I’m fine, just temporarily physically limited). I knew I’d have to be off my feet for awhile, so there were many things I wanted to accomplish first. One was a spring photo shoot in the woods. It wasn’t the best of conditions, but I there were still some flowers blooming. Yes, yellow violets are a thing (https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/viola-pubescens/).
Yellow violet because I was intrigued.
My parents wanted three photos of their cats and mine to hang in their home. For their two cats, they used photos I took of their cats with books some years back. However, I could not find a picture of my Maggie they found suitable for their project. As I thought about it, I realized I hadn’t taken any serious photos of Maggie for several years. Yes, I have numerous phone photos of my darling, but nothing of better quality.
Therefore, I decided to put my prop books on the floor and sprinkle them with a little catnip to attract Maggie. Perhaps I should have used something else. Maggie got a little high on the nip.
Maggie settled down a bit and decided to “own” the books.
She continued to move around and I continued to take photos of her. I think this is the one my parents settled on. Dad probably edited it a little bit differently, but this is my girl.
So, I am a little behind on my posts for this year. I did two shoots in March, but I didn’t think snow photos were the best for right now. Hopefully, I will be able to photographs some wildflowers soon.
Love is a word people throw around a lot, especially this weekend. If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself asking what love really is. It seems pretty clear to me there is more than one kind of love. After all, I don’t love chocolate, my cat, and my parents in quite the same way. Nor do I love them in the way I would love a significant other. According to an article from psychology today, there are seven basic kinds of love. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201606/these-are-the-7-types-love)
Some of these seven types remind me a bit of the Agape – Philia – Eros I was introduced to as a student at a strict Christian college. Agape was prized there, Eros was shunned, and Philia was undervalued. However, the word “love” got thrown around a lot, especially in a disciplinary context. I developed a disdain for it. “How can you love me?” I asked in my mind. “You don’t even know me. To you, I’m just a collection of stereotypes, an underling who doesn’t fit the mold of what you wish I was.” You can’t throw the word “love” around in the context of punishment and not confuse some people.
Since college, I’ve started to slowly unpack the baggage this word carries. I rejected the institution’s idea of love. I don’t find it biblical.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in lovehttps://www.biblica.com/bible/?osis=niv:1jn.4.18
So what is Christian love? Can we love those we don’t know? Aren’t Christians told to love their enemies? How does this all work? Yes, I’m still a bit confused. I believe that deep, true love requires really knowing someone and accepting them in spite of or sometimes even because of their flaws. But there are many kinds of love. So what do I know for sure?
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails . . .https://www.biblica.com/bible/niv/1-corinthians/13/
Maybe I can’t always deeply love some people. Maybe throwing the word around, saying things like “we love everybody” does cheapen love. However, I can always show people a facet of love. I can be kind, I can have hope for them, I can watch my actions so I don’t dishonor them, I can forgive them, or even just keep my cool and trust. May we all find ways to love today, tomorrow, and in the weeks to come.
I don’t particularly like winter, but every season has it’s own beauty, even this season.
I apologize for not doing a Christmas post this year. Most of my time and energy went into figuring out how to celebrate the holiday during a pandemic while still bringing some joy to my older, more at risk relatives and spending some time with my immediate family. (Not to mention, COVID precautions can be time consuming.) I hope we will be able to celebrate together in 2021.
Outdoors was the place to be for most of 2020. Nature is good for us. Some of my most fulfilling hours last year were spent out shooting. I hope to spend more time out photographing in parks this year. But, as someone who wants to do more things than I have time for, I also want to practice and improve my still life skills. And, I have some photos from the fall I haven’t edited yet. Never enough time. Whatever 2021 brings us, may we all make the best of it.
We had an unusually warm day in November. Most of the leaves were down, but it was such a nice day, so I decided to go out anyway. Who would want to waste the one last nice day of the year?
Christmas is coming soon. I do plan to do one last post for the year with a Christmas theme, but there is something that has been on my mind lately. I know the holidays will be different for many people this year. They will certainly be different for me from this year on. So take the pictures. Everything ends. Everyone dies. You never know when it will be the last day or the last Christmas for a loved one, a home, a relationship, a tradition, or a pet. I made the decision to haul my DSLR and speedlight to a crowded family gathering last Christmas. It was the last Christmas for someone there. My sister recently asked for the picture of us. We would not have a good one if I hadn’t brought the camera. Take the pictures. No regrets.
My apologies for not blogging in October. I will have to blog twice in November to make up for it. Fortunately, I’ve been out to shoot three times since I last blogged, so I have material.
My first shoot for the fall was at a local forest preserve I enjoy. There was lots of colorful ivy on the trees.
One of my favorite things about going out in nature is that it is always changing and full of detail. There is always something different, something I haven’t seen before or haven’t seen in this light. To me, this tree trunk looks like the head of an animal with its mouth open. What do you think?
I don’t think I’ve ever photographed the pond much, but I liked it that day. I liked all the leaves blowing in the wind and the late afternoon sun.
I hope you were able to get out and enjoy some lovely fall scenery where ever you live.
This is my quick, late blog for September (still September in my time zone, but not for long at all). I didn’t forget. It’s just been one of those months. I lost someone quite dear to me. Before arthritis, she was skilled in crochet – her primary handiwork. She made numerous items including doilies for her living room tables, afghans, doll dresses, and fake flowers.
Like the doilies, the flowers were made from a fine, threadlike yarn known as kint-cro-sheen. They also had to be starched. I’m sure it was quite the process. There’s been talk of washing and redoing them. Perhaps I will someday as a relative knows how and has offered help. But for now I will leave them as they are: still showing the skill of their creator and reminding me of her and how much she enriched and nurtured my life.
It’s fall. I hope to have a few good fall color shoots this year. We’ll see.
My last photo outing was in early July, and I’ve finally edited it for the blog. There are a lot of other things on my mind right now, as there have been for the past several weeks, but at some point, a person has to move on.
It was a lovely early July day. I met my father out at a local forest preserve.
My intention was to photograph wildflowers, but I didn’t find much that interested me. Lighting was also a bit stark.
I ended up photographing the pink clover, blue cornflower, and grasses at the entry to my parent’s subdivision. There were some bugs as well, including our much hated invasive Japanese beetles.
Summer is about over now. Time to think about fall. This next month will probably not be the best for me, but I might try to get out for photography or do some still life. I’m not sure what my official September blog will be, but I hope I’ll have some good fall photos for October and November.
I photographed more than one subject on July 4th, 2019. That was a normal 4th of July: festivals, parades, car shows, and fireworks. No worries about COVID-19. I had no idea where we would be today when I chose to save these photos and post them in July 2020. Since some cities are cancelling fireworks shows this year, I’m glad I saved these photos for today.
Photographing fireworks is not seen as serious photography, but it comes with its own set of challenges. To begin with, you are working in the blind. You can’t really see what you are capturing. The subject is there one moment and gone the next. It’s a long exposure, requiring a tripod. Usually, I focus on the first blasts. I’ve read to focus at infinity, but that doesn’t seem to work. I also ignore the recommendation to include a building or other landmark for sense of place. This is mostly because the best fireworks show in my area for good looking buildings is in a part of town I don’t feel safe in, particularly after dark. I forsake the city and trudge along the cornfields to the athletic field of a small town high school. The roads are lined with trucks full of families, and the ditches are thick with mosquitoes. But I can get close and get a clear view. Sometimes, I decide I need to back up a bit after the first bursts go off. I stand with my camera on my tripod and work as the blasts light up the sky and the sound waves resonate around me and through me. For me, a fireworks show is an active event, not a passive one. I am caught up in it, seeing it, feeling it, and capturing it.
Digital is a big help with fireworks. I can see if I’m on the right track with exposure. I used to always start my exposure when I heard the launch. I’d read to do that somewhere. The problem is, a long exposure captures the event much differently than we see it live. The fireworks end up looking like flowers with long stems.
It’s a cool effect sometimes, but it doesn’t really look like fireworks the way we see them in real time. So I started waiting longer and trying to time them closer to the actual explosion. There’s also the problem of the light trails. To they eye, fireworks are little specks and dashes of light. But again, the exposure to capture the whole thing unfolding makes them look like continuous lines. So I started trying to time it so I didn’t have the full duration of some of the fireworks to get a little more sparkle. The loud little gold ones could be helpful with this, but they also make a lot of smoke. The smoke illuminated by the blasts does not look pretty.
Practice, luck, and some editing for contrast and saturation. And I crop. As you can see, I chose to abandon normal aspect ratios for many of these. Fireworks photos are pretty abstract sometimes. Find the flowers, the trees, the space jellyfish, etc. Imagine. Have fun. In the two below, I see a flowering cactus (I admit I rotated it) and an ornamental tree. What’s a celebration for if you can’t have fun with it?
I know things are different this year, but I hope you are able to have a safe and happy holiday anyway. You made it a little more than halfway through 2020, and that itself is worth celebrating, even if you aren’t an American observing our Independence Day.
Time-wise, at this point I’m just going to say I’ll do two posts this month to catch up. Anyway, to the blog.
May first was the first day local forest preserves in my area were officially open (COVID-19). Earlier in the year, you could park outside and walk in. Dad had been itching to go out for some time, I wanted to do wildflower macro, and Mom was worried Dad would be mauled by coyotes. With parks officially open, Dad and I decided to meet at a forest preserve we’d never been to, but many members of the photo club recommended. Mom was OK with this. Upon arriving, Dad did not see anything that interested him. We did see several people. No coyotes. We agreed to reconvene later at Dad’s favorite spot across town. I stayed and got in my annual spring macro wildflower shoot. Different species this time, but still a nice day.
Later in the day, Dad and I met at his favorite forest preserve. The scene he was watching wasn’t right for the shot he was trying to get. I had walked down the road to and from his point of interest instead of driving because I wanted the exorcise. I found an interesting stump on the side of road. Dad was curious about what I was photographing. He decided he wanted to photograph it too. Waiting for him to get his gear set up, I decided to take a few more shots and see if I could get something I liked better. This was the result. I haven’t seen his yet.
It’s June. It’s Dairy Month. As a former 4-H kid, it is my duty to make milk look good to you this month.
This is officially my April post. Yes, I know it is May. Yes, I need to work on my punctuality. At least I shot all of these in April. Anyway, to the post.
Last fall, I planted tulips. This is always done with hope of spring in mind. There is joy and anticipation as the green shoots make their way out of the damp spring earth. And then, in this instance, there was hail. Hail that shredded the tulip’s leaves. One was trampled just after a blossom emerged. My garbage can landed on a row of them. Nevertheless, the tulips bloomed. Closed at first and still mostly closed when it’s not sunny, they provided a nice burst of color, even if they were a little bedraggled.
Then one morning, they were all open and the sun shone on them beautifully. I had to go out and photograph them, even if the finished product wasn’t as good as I had hoped. The changing hues throughout the petals were lovely, and I had to at least try and capture them.
Since these photos, the tulips have continued to change. Some are nearing the end of their blooming season and look like it. The yellow ones have turned more orange. A few have yet to bloom. It looks like they will be purple or white. I look forward to the continuing surprises they will bring.
In a way, humans are like the tulips. We continue to grow and change, but we do so at different times. Some are hit harder by the hail or garbage cans of life than others. Maybe this isn’t the year some of them will display their full glory. Maybe that will come next year. Right now, we are all trying to make it through the hailstorms of this year. May we bloom and change into increasing beauty on the other side of the storm.
I post about love around just about every Valentine’s day. It’s kind of a broad concept. Again, I encourage Valentine’s Day as a day to share love with friends and family, not just significant others. (Write, call, visit, or e-mail your mom, dad, grandma, sibling, friend, etc.) Lately, I’ve been thinking of another sort of bond we as humans often enjoy: bonds with our pets. (Maybe this is because my cat’s approximate birthday is February 15th?) Those of you who have pets, whatever species they may be, please take time to let them know they are loved this Valentine’s day, even if you have a date with a human.
This was my quick still life practice for the month.
I know llamas are not common pets, but it was a cute decoration, and I was looking for more stuff for my mantle. This is my love-love, Maggie:
(Cell phone pic of her cuddling with me.)
One of my goals for 2020 is to blog monthly. My apologies for being a couple days late on the first one. These are a couple architectural details from a photo club outing to the Old Post Office in Chicago. I decided to do black and white on the first and split toning on the second in Lightroom for fun.
Maybe I will do one for Valentines day in a couple weeks. Otherwise, I can continue with the Post Office photos.
It’s a bit late (an unfortunate theme for me this year), but I still wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas. I wish you warmth, light, and comfort in this often dark and cold season. May you find hope and good things in this time, and in the year to come.
A few weeks back, I went out to a more distant, more in-town kind of park. It is in another city not too far from me. The weather that days was not the best. Dark, cloudy, and somewhat windy. It had snowed recently, then mostly thawed. I had missed peak color. We actually had snow on Halloween and several times after. Not good for any outdoor fall activity. I had to make compromises with ISO and shutter speed. Most of the photos are OK for the blog, but they wouldn’t do well as sizable prints.
Many of the trees along the river were bare.
Oddly enough, the geese cooperated.
The flag above the trees.
I found a stationary subject, so I walked back to the car and got my tripod. Worth it. I like the curve and the way the fungus is on it.
Happy Thanksgiving! Sort of a cultural farewell to fall, or more like the day when we temporarily extract our heads from our Santa hats to give thanks and eat turkey before plunging into Christmas for the next entire month. Naturally, I plan to do a Christmas post next month.
Back in August, my dad and I visited Sleeping Bear Dunes again. It was my second time there. Weather was not optimal (wind) and we were squeezing the outing in between much needed time visiting family. I did get a few quick shots, but no waiting around for people to be out of the picture. I photoshopped them out. Not the best way to do things, but it worked in a pinch.
I am late blogging again this month. Here are a couple of shots from my time in a local forest preserve in August.
I like the texture in the thistles.
This thing is weedy. I’m not exactly sure why I like it, but there’s something about the color and form of it.