Today is officially the first day of winter. Does that also mean yesterday was the last day of fall? Didn’t fall end more than a month ago? I considered this early November outing to be my goodbye to fall this year.
The first park I went to that day was pretty bleak. Almost all the leaves were already down.
So I moved on to another nearby park. I wandered and took in the end of the season: the trees turned colors or bare, the dry prairie, the late afternoon light. I parted with the day and the season. My last fall shoot of the year is almost a ritual. Hopefully, finishing my editing and blogging it will help me prepare for the end of 2021. In a way it feels like 2020 and 2021 were one big long very weird year. In another way, it feels like 2021 is ending before it even got going. Whatever the feeling at the moment, it’s time to reflect and part ways with 2021.
Hopefully, I’ll still get a Christmas post in this year. What I have planned would be more appropriate for solstice. I’ve been to some outdoor light shows at parks in my area.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
August is gone already! I’m a couple days late for my monthly blog, so here’s a quick photo from a local park popular with the photo club.
June flew by so quickly. Before it’s over, I have one picture to share with you real quick.
These fungi frequently look like bugs or butterflies to me.
A few weeks ago, the weather was nice, and I got out to photograph some flowers. It was late in the woodland spring wildflower season, so swamp buttercups and violets were about all that was left. I decided to shoot with the macro lens. The flowers are small, and practice with manual focus is good for me.
I spotted this large, fuzzy bee. It’s so fluffy looking I almost wanted to touch it, but it’s a bee, so photographing it will have to do.
Later that day, I visited a city park and photographed this flowering viburnum. I liked the bright pink buds on this particular variety.
Some weeks ago, Dad and I ran away from the deck and other house projects to find the last traces of fall with our cameras. We had to go south a ways. Since it wasn’t the best day, we decided to make the trip double as a scouting expedition of Matthiessen State Park. We’d been to Starved Rock several times, but Matthiessen never got past “if we have time”.
It so happens lots of people wanted to enjoy the end of fall. There was also an enormous geology class field trip. However, both of us did manage to get a clear shot of the dells and some other photos of the scenery.
Next Time: Merry Christmas
My goal this year was to blog once a month. I’ve been a few hours late a couple of times, and I’ve used a good bit of “archive” shot in previous years, but I’m calling it close enough. One more blog in observance of Christmas is all I need.
Fall is a beautiful season. Unfortunately, it’s also crunch time for home improvement projects. I have not been out to shoot this year. Fortunately, I have a few photos left over from last year when I wasn’t blogging.
I’m still plotting to get out this year. I’ll have to run away and go south a bit, but I’m still plotting.
These photos were taken on the 30th of September 2017, an entire year ago. It was a beautiful day. I was visiting my parents about two years after moving out on my own. I don’t live that far, but it’s far enough and I’m busy enough that I don’t get out to the parks and forest preserves I used to frequent. Dad and I went on a long photo hike that day. We went to the park with the confusing set of foot trails and horse trails (where you need to watch where you step), with streams, woods, meadows, and hills. No fall color at that point, but the vegetation was browning and fading for the year.
We crossed out of the woods up the hills towards the horse path area. There were trees and a stream.
We continued to the horse path area because there was milkweed there, and Dad loves to photograph milkweed. I’m sure he has better pictures. It is a small obsession of his.
Then, we ended up out on a country road a little uncertain of exactly where we were. We found our way back to the park entrance. I kept getting gravel in my shoes and having to empty them. Does that matter a year later? No, but it’s part of the experience. Kind of a minor slightly humorous inconvenience.
We had the light, the nature, the photos, the time together. It was a beautiful day. Not perfect. Just beautiful.
Last fall, someone in the photo club told my father about a “waterfall” not too far from where we live. Technically, it isn’t a waterfall. It’s a man-made spillway, but it looks like a waterfall. The spillway was not easy to find. At one point, we gave up looking and decided to go to a park in the area instead. However, when we stopped at the park office, we found a sign featuring a large photo of the waterfall and the words “are you looking for this?” It then provided directions. Thus we continued in our hunt, but it still wasn’t easy. Roads were under construction or had similar names, I couldn’t get the maps app on my phone to work because the cell service was spotty, and we had to be careful to stay off private property in the area. The spillway was located right off the road. You had to be looking in the right direction at the right time to see it though. After a considerable bit of driving around in circles, we finally found it.
While Dad was photographing it with his view camera, I found a Japanese beetle on a wildflower to photograph.
It was a long day, but we found what we were looking for. Sometimes, persistence does pay off.
In 2017, I made no commitment to blog. I rather abandoned it in the hopes that I would get farther with other things. It didn’t work out the way I had hoped. I spent less time in nature, hardly photographed, and failed to edit most of what I did shoot. So in 2018, I am going to blog at least once a month. It may be archive from last year, and it may only be one photo per post, but I need to get back to the blog. It made me get out, shoot, think about my work, and edit it. More than that, it made me find and appreciate the small but beautiful things in life.
Early last spring, I found this flower growing among the broken down limestone path at a local park. Photography and blogging are two of the things that have helped me stop and appreciate the flowers along the path of life, rather than passing them by or stepping on them as I hurry off to other things. What is life if we fail to take the time to enjoy it?
Way back on the 4th of July, I went out to appreciate the wildflowers:
I came home from work one day and found this cricket hanging out on a flowing shrub. Fortunately, he hung around long enough for me to run and get my camera and macro lens and take a few photos. You never know what you will see when you take time to look and appreciate the small everyday things in life.
Next Time: Jewelry or Garden
A short distance from my home, there is a park with a lake. One lovely weekend morning, I decided to go walk the path by the lake. Morning or not, may other people were up and about fishing, biking, camping, and hiking. Maybe I should have gone out earlier – less crowding and better light. But it was still a pleasant excursion.
I liked the way the light was hitting the new foliage on these trees.
Farther down the path, I spotted these lovely wildflowers.
Humans weren’t the only ones out. Mommy duck and her babies were hanging out in the shade looking for food as the day got hotter.
Next Time: Milk
Yes, milk. June is Dairy Month, and I was a Midwestern 4-H kid for 10 years (no, I didn’t have any animals, not even a cat at the time). This means I spent the entire month of June promoting dairy like crazy for 10 years straight. I’ve never quite forgotten it.
Spring at last! This is one of my favorite times of the year. Rain washes the snow and dirt of the long winter away and nourishes the gentle flowers. Last week, I went to the park I normally shoot wildflowers at, pulled out the macro for the first time in months, and had a little fun capturing the rebirth of the green outdoor world for the season.
Next Time: More Nature or Objects on White
Everything depends on the weather and what the plants do.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My research on the park paid off for our afternoon hike. Two more out of the way canyons with three waterfalls total.
Also some lovely rock formations. One almost looks like a person emerging from a cave.
Camera or Necklaces
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.
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.
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.
Eventually, he settled on an old Coast Guard station and museum in the area. I took a few pictures of the place as well.
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.