The photographic explorations of a former film student.

Nature

One Last Fall Day

Several weeks ago, I went out for my last Fall shoot of the year. There wasn’t much left, but the colors were vibrant.


Fall Again

I went out for a hike and fall photography last weekend. I don’t think it was quite peak color. This is a hard thing to judge as the landscape often jumps abruptly from too green to all the leaves down. At least it was a nice day out.

AspensbyHill

DriedUp

SumacLeaves

TreeAndSumac


Impressions of a Windy Fall Day

Oak Leaves

Fall is here. It isn’t peak color yet, but I’m hoping to clear some time for that next weekend, if I’m not too late. Here are a few shots from our windy early fall. It’s interesting what moves and what stays still sometimes.

Flowering Bush

Oak Leaves

Pine Needles in Sun


Butterfly House

I’ve had an exceptionally busy week, so unfortunately, this post is late. It is also archive that I’ve been saving for a time like this. When I was in Michigan visiting family and the Sleeping Bear Dunes, I also visited the butterfly house in Traverse City. It was not quite ready to open at that point. My uncle works for the local MSU extension office in the area. As a result, he  and my aunt got to know the young couple who own and run the butterfly house.

Unfortunately, we arrived on a sad day for them. Many of their butterflies had died due to pesticides. I did not realize this, but most plants purchased at greenhouses and box stores have pesticides on them or in the soil. These pesticides kill butterflies as well as undesirable insects. Of course, the owners of the butterfly house knew this. They had asked the company they purchased the plants from specific questions about pesticides. However, the answers they got did not match with the plants they got. Fortunately, not all of the butterflies were out of their cocoons yet, and all of the fruit feeding butterflies were fine.

FruitFeederButterflies

They look rather drab on the outside, but inside, these butterflies have brilliant blue wings.

BlueWings

I did not touch the butterflies. They are delicate, and you have to know how to handle them so as not to hurt them. Others in our group did know how and had permission.

ButterflyOnFinger

The butterflies can and do land on people. They have signs on the way out of the enclosure asking guests to check for hitchhikers. Since my dad is a quite and steady type, the butterflies liked him.

HitchHikerButterfly

Despite the sad death of some of the butterflies that day, I enjoyed visiting the butterfly house and photographing the butterflies. Perhaps I will be able to go back someday or visit another butterfly house. In the meantime, I should do some pesticide research.

OrangeOnRocks OrangeOnPlants ButterflyOnRocks

Next Time: End of Archive?

I’ve a three-day weekend coming up, so hopefully I’ll be able to shoot something.


Squirrel Stalking

Photographing squirrels can be a challenge. In my first college level photography class, our instructor strongly suggested we avoid any small, fast-moving animals for our film-only projects. Several students tried squirrels anyway. Only one met with any amount of success.

I’ve never walked out the door with my camera intending to photograph a squirrel. However, a few promising opportunities have presented themselves. The squirrels I photograph must be either exceedingly curious or otherwise occupied so they don’t just dart off. This squirrel is an example of the first case. Last fall, my extended family and I were celebrating my Grandma’s birthday. We were sitting on the porch as she opened her gifts. I think my uncle noticed the squirrel first. Mr. Squirrel was staring at us from the tree outside. He allowed me to approach him and take a series of photographs of him. I would walk a ways closer and take a couple of shots, then come closer still for another few. This continued until I was quite close – much closer than I had expected to get. Then the squirrel’s curiosity was outweighed by his fear of my camera, and he scurried away.

BirthdaySquirrel


Waterfall Hike

I’d planned it to be much more. A few days of vacation to take from work that month were supposed to be a long weekend for two parks and an architecture shoot. It rained until the last day. Fortunately, that last day was a great one. Sunny, not too hot, and enough rain to make falls that aren’t always there flow steady. Dad came with and managed to haul all his gear (he shoots 4X5 film) up and down long staircases and around waterfalls through steep and narrow trails.

In the morning, we only saw a few smaller falls.

SmallFallsAndFlowers

My research on the park paid off for our afternoon hike. Two more out of the way canyons with three waterfalls total.

LaSalleCanyon TontyFalls

Also some lovely rock formations. One almost looks like a person emerging from a cave.

RockWall RockMan

Next Time:
Camera or Necklaces


Hiking the Dunes

Earlier this month, my family and I took a trip to Michigan. Dad and I went to explore and photograph Sleeping Bear Dunes for a day. Dunes are new to me. I’m used to hiking in woodlands or prairies with black dirt and limestone.

TreesFallenAndStandingSandTreeAndShrubs BirchOnTrail

Dad, on the other hand, grew up near the beach and close enough to a different set of dunes in southwestern Michigan. He takes to them both like second nature – skipping stones and scaling dunes despite the wind.

DadOnDune LakeRocks

We spent most of the morning and early afternoon scouting out the place, then came back to some of the more interesting spots later in the day. This is particularly important for Dad, since he shoots 4X5 and has a lot of gear to haul.

TreesOnBeachEveningTreesOnBeach

Eventually, he settled on an old Coast Guard station and museum in the area. I took a few pictures of the place as well.

LoneTreeAndLake RoofAndWindow Stairs

Overall, we had a good long day out. I hope to go back and explore it some more next year.

Next Time: Waterfalls

Photos from the expedition to Starved Rock.


Spring Wildflowers

Spring is here! I’ve been out shooting wildflowers the past couple weekends. Several years ago around this time, I did a post on the wildflowers in a local forest preserve. Recently, I noticed it was about the same time of year, and I decided I wanted to go photograph them again. The ground was thick with several varieties. Due to the wind and small size of my subjects, I used a macro lens and a higher ISO, but no tripod. My tripod doesn’t go very low and the wind would negate many of its benefits. These are always tough subjects, but I love them anyway.

ClosingFlower dutchmansbreeches MaybeButtercup TinyWhiteFlower ToothwortAndBee WhiteTroutLily

Next Time: Archive Club Shoot

The warmer weather means more to do, so I will be a little busy the next couple of weeks. Because of that, I will post some older pictures I took at the local photo club’s table top night back in January.


The End of Fall: Leaves in the Water

It’s been cold lately. Cold enough that I wanted to go check out the ice formation in a nearby park. I remembered that the ice on the stream winding through this park formed in all sorts of interesting patterns several years ago. Unfortunately, it hasn’t really formed yet this year. Instead, an array of fallen leaves and semi-frozen water presented me with other photographic possibilities. With nature and other things in life, there are times I have to find the best in what is there, even when it’s not what I was hoping for. What there is can be just as good.

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This applies more to US readers because we celebrate Thanksgiving here on Thursday, but I wanted to take a moment to remind us all to be thankful. I worry that we are losing a valuable holiday to consumerism. Thankfulness and reflecting on the good we have in life is healthy. Right now, I am thankful for nature, creativity, the ability to express myself through photography and language, the internet, the ability to easily communicate with people from all over the country and the world, and a holiday to spend with family.
What are you thankful for this week? Please share in the comments.


A Little Morning Fog

Halloween is a traditional time for foggy scenery, but these photos aren’t creepy. This is more of a we had some light fog yesterday morning post than a Halloween post. I haven’t played with fog much, so I was excited to get out and experiment a bit yesterday morning.

 

TreeAndCornfield

SunlightandFogPath

 

Next Time: Fall Nature

It’s so lovely out that I’ve been compelled to spend more time than usual shooting.


Somewhat Abstract

I said I was going to do abstract. Well, this is a little more realistic than I normally do, but I would say it counts. Split toning on all but one of them, mostly close-ups, but, yes, a little more realistic than usual for this kind of post.

FeatherAndLeaf

LeafInWeeds

BrownLeaf

SilverLeaves

ChippedAway

Curve

Next Time: Night photography or try again.


Scouting Trip

I was going to do something else for the post this week, but I need something specific for a prop that I can’t seem to find. So I’ll share a few photos from a short location scouting trip I took yesterday instead. Several members of the local photo club have gone to this particular park in a nearby small city, so I knew there was potential in the area. I came a bit late in the day when there was a wedding, so the conditions weren’t the best, but it was OK just to see what was there and get a few shots for reference.

There are several small bridges like this:

BridgeandTrees

A variety of trees line the river.

TreeandSunset

Roses and other flowers add color and present more photographic possibilities.

WhiteRose

 

Next Time: Abstract or night photos.


Summer Wildflowers

Happy Labor Day, otherwise known as the cultural end of Summer in the northern United States. Here are a few photos of Summer wildflowers I shot a few weeks ago. Before you know it, I’ll be posting fall scenery.

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Next Time: Either portrait, otherworldly, or abstract. I haven’t made up my mind yet.


Japanese Garden

Several weeks ago, I took some time for quite reflection and enjoyment of harmony and nature: I visited a Japanese garden. Photography wasn’t my primary goal, but I knew I’d be frustrated if I didn’t bring a camera. Koi food is available in the gift shop. I didn’t buy any, but the Koi have learned to associate humans with food, so they surfaced anyway.

LightKoi

OrangeKoi

Also photographed the main waterfall. It’s a feature of the garden I’ve always loved.

WaterfallSingle

WaterfallTripple

Next Time: Otherworldly or Video Sneak Peek

I’m working on a video project. It’s taking a long time, but I might post a few clips if I don’t get around to shooting the stills I’m thinking of.


Spring Beginnings

Spring is coming ever so slowly. Kind of like this post. Fortunately, there are some signs of spring about, especially in the local forest. I even found a little snake, but of course I prefer the wildflowers.

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Woods and Abstract

I think fall was the last time I did something like this. After my last couple of posts, I just need to get used to shooting out in the woods again before the spring flowers come.

hiding

Ever feel like something is watching you?

peaks

Marbled

I shot and split toned the above two thinking of them more like rock formations than broken off trees.

 

Next Time: More Nature or Archive


Frozen Waterfalls

A couple of weeks ago, I was part of a small expedition from the local photo club that journeyed to a state park known for steep climbs and impressive waterfalls. Needless to say, the trails were difficult in the ice. This is one of the better footholds.

trail

The falls, however, were worth it. Here are two different long shots of the first and largest fall we visited.

fallandcurvedrocks

largefalls

I also shot some closer shots of some smaller ice formations to the sides of the falls.

shallowiceandrocks

icecycles

icevalence

Up close, the ice on the falls looked like some kind of vintage floral pattern.

icedetail

After lunch, we hiked a short trail to a smaller fall.

smallerfall

iceandwatercurtain

This is what the ice looked like from behind the fall. I increased the saturation and tweaked the color a little, but yes, it was close to this color.

behindfall


Heavy Winter Snow Photos

Winter has been cold and snowy for the most part. Last weekend, I braved the icy roads and took a few snow photos at a local park.

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Next Time: Frozen Waterfalls


Fall Scenic Part 2: Sun and the Rock

A week after my lone, cloudy weather excursion, I returned to the same park in sunny weather and accompanied by my father. Dad shoots with a view camera and 4″x5″ film. He was lured by the promise of aspen trees in their fall grandeur. I really wanted to check out the south trails of the park, which are farther down the curvy two-lane highway from the north trails I visited the previous week. Unfortunately, hunting is permitted in south trails all fall, and Dad and I had no desire to get accidentally shot. However, we were able to explore the large rock formations by the river.

bluffandriver

 

pinesonrock

 

leafinwater

After lunch, we headed back to the north section of the park. Dad found his aspens, and since I joined him in surveying, I thought I’d take a photo as well.

Aspens

Later in the day, I found this tree. I loved how dramatically the sun was hitting it and illuminating the leaves.

Illuminatedtree

 

Next Time:

Jewelry or archive portrait.


Fall Scenic Part 1: Cloudy Weather

My apologies for the late post. I was a little under the weather this weekend, and therefore got behind schedule a bit. Anyway, back on topic. A couple of weeks ago, I spent a nice Sunday afternoon exploring a new park not too far from home. It was a cloudy day, good for emphasizing color, but not much use for illuminating the fall foliage or keeping acceptable shutter speeds for the wind for that matter.

I couldn’t resist the shape of these bushes with the fringe of red leaves still clinging to the top. As far as the orientation, I went back and forth on that and decided that it’s sort of abstract, so it can be horizontal if I want it to be.

RedTwistingBushes

The form of this dead tree rising from the subtle fall foliage really drew me that day, but I hardly noticed it a week later in sunny “magic hour” conditions.

RisingDeadBush

One of the unique features of this park is the many aspen trees on the trails.

Aspens

There was an entire clearing of these bushes with almost nothing but red cones left on them.

RedBunches

I congratulate this park for having an overlook platform that actually looks out on a desirable view, rather than a mess of brush and trees right in front of the platform.

OutlookView

Despite my best attempts to stay wide for once rather than doing mostly close-up work, I couldn’t resist these two groups of fungi. They’re not what I typically see around here.

CondoMushrooms

subtlefungi

 

Next Time: Fall Scenic Part 2: Sun and the Rock


Fall on White

With fall upon us, I lament the lack of fall color this year. Maybe it’s because of the rain or the late warm temperatures we’ve had. However, a few trees did turn brilliant colors. Because of this select group, I decided to do a fall post similar to another post from several weeks ago (https://mycameramyfriend.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/vegitation-on-white/ ).

One maple in the front yard always turns and deep red.

fallingred

The ash trees and the oak have also turned for the fall. Most of the maples are still green.

variousleaves

Pumpkins: fall just wouldn’t be so much fun without them.

pumpkinandleaves

Oak leaves and acorn.

acornandoakleaves

Next Time: Late Fall Scenic


Vegitation on White

I decided to bring some plant life indoors and give it the studio on white treatment. One of my first ideas was to group this bunch of marigolds in a style reminiscent of an old picture at my grandma’s house.

marigoldbunch

Next, I moved on to these purple wildflowers that I often discard as weeds. Most of them grow in the property line by the corn field. I brought them inside for a clean background.

purplewildflower

Lastly, I photographed this sprig of clover, a ubiquitous piece of vegetation in my area.

clover

Next Time: Tools or Abstract


Buds, Blooms, and Bees

I went for a walk in the woods last week and found the bees swarming over the late summer blossoms. Although I’m just as afraid of bees as the next person, the prospect of getting a good shot becomes more important to me when I have a camera in my hands. Enjoy the last week or so of summer!

 

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Next Time: Plants on White or Tools

I might uproot/cutoff some remaining plants and bring them indoors to shoot them on white under more controlled conditions. Either that or I’ll take a close look at hand tools.


Nature Macro

Since the macro lens was sitting all forlorn and abandoned in my camera case, I thought I should use it. Mid to late summer is a good time to photograph remaining small flower and maybe some insects. My subjects range from weeds to strawberry flowers. Since the subject is not still, outdoor macro shots like these can be more difficult than indoor or studio shots.

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