The photographic explorations of a former film student.

Posts tagged “Spring

Change and Tulips

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.

PinkOpenYellowOpenPinkAndYellow

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.


Macro Spring Flowers

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.

VioletSwampButtercup

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.

BeeOnDandilion

Later that day, I visited a city park and photographed this flowering viburnum. I liked the bright pink buds on this particular variety.

Viburnum


Dear Spring – Are You Coming?

I woke up this morning to find a thin, fresh layer of snow on the roads. It is the middle of April. This should not be. I want spring, and so does everyone else. We are in protest. My boss reportedly put his snow blower away weeks ago. I am not washing any more winter outerwear until I can put it away for the summer. The daffodils are trying, but they keep getting snowed on. Too bad. Some flowers would be really nice right now.

About a week ago after exercise class, I was commiserating with some ladies in the class. One said there were flowers at a local park. From her description, I was hoping they’d be grape hyacinths, but at this point, I’m not picky. There were two colors of what I believe are Scilla and some little yellow flowers. Quite small. I should have brought the macro, but the park is in a so-so area of town, so I was a bit insecure about it.

 

Old grass and leaves from the winter were still hanging on and refusing seasonal change.

OakLeaf

GoldenLeaves

There were ducks in the large cement water feature. It used to be more of a natural pond when I was young, but now it looks like a fountain close to the greenhouse and main gardens and rather like an industrial drainage ditch as you get farther away. The ducks don’t seem to mind though.

MrMrsDuck

The whole world is full of both change and consistency, and here I am wanting to rush one thing on while complaining that another has changed. There will be beauty in the future, but there is also beauty now.


Spring Beauty

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.

BrightYellowFlowerPrairieTrilliumVioletWhiteVioletsWhiteWithLeaves

 

Next Time: More Nature or Objects on White

Everything depends on the weather and what the plants do.


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.


Spring Cup of Tea

Spring is playing hide and seek with us. One day, it looks like Spring is finally here! . . . then we get four inches of snow again. Unfortunately, that means no nature photos yet. So I turned to one of my favorite indoor subjects – mugs. This little mug/teacup/coffee cup is one I’ve had for a long time. Since it is rather old, I decided to go with a vintage theme and photograph it on a table from the 1970s with the matching china cabinet behind.

SpringTeacup TeacupAndCannister

I also shot it with a tea canister that includes many of the same colors. However, I think I like the photo of the teacup by itself better.

Next Time: More Mugs or Finally The Great Outdoors


Thaw-Freeze

It’s freeze-thaw cycle time around here. We’re more in the thaw today, thankfully. However, one morning last week I went out to get some shots of a creek that was thawing and had frozen in places again. Thaw-freeze, if you will. this makes the ice patterns more interesting and complex. There were also trapped bubbles, and added bonus.

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Next Time: Mugs or Spring
I have some more mug photo ideas wandering around in my brain. Otherwise, well see how quickly Spring gets here.


A Look Back at 2014 – On to 2015

Overall, 2014 was a good year of photographic explorations and blogging. I did some archive posts because of other things I was involved with, and I didn’t finish my video essay (yet). However, I did have some memorable explorations: two new cities, a new park, and some foggy conditions. That and a new camera for higher resolution and video capabilities. I explored and learned a lot. Below are some highlights from 2014:

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2015:

As usual, I plan to keep blogging every other week and spend a lot of time in nature – all four season are beautiful. I also want to get back into more table top (it’s a skill I need to work at and winter isn’t just beautiful, it’s cold!). Hopefully, I will finish the video, shoot macro, post more good cat photos, and have a few adventures. Only time will tell.


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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Tulip Season

The one or two weeks a year that tulips bloom in my corner of the world have come! I always loved looking into their centers and seeing all the various parts of the flower, but I’ve come to accept that the side view illuminated by a low sun has a surreal kind of beauty.

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Next Week: Abstract or Phone


Barking Up the Wrong Tree?

I hope I’m not barking up the wrong tree with this post. May is high time for some nature photography, but the only flowers out right now are small and the weather isn’t conducive to macro photography. So, I photographed bark. Don’t quit on me yet, I found some unusual examples. Promise.

This rough yet somewhat orderly old tree trunk is shrouded in a kind of green lichen. I love the color. It really gives the whole tree a surreal quality.

greenbark

Near the base of the same tree, there is this cute Shamrock shape.

Shamrock

It looks like there’s been some controlled burning in the woods. Most of the bark fell off of this tree, leaving some charred remnants and unusual marbled patterns. What shapes do you see?

burnttree

 

marbledtree

Closer to home, I found this small tree trunk with a coral-looking lump of lichen growing on it. Since it was pretty still, I did a little macro lens practice.

Lichen

And just incase you wanted to see for sure, this is about where most of our flowers are.

greenbuds

 

leafinprogress

Next Time: Flowers or That Awesome Old Phone

 

 


Pink Spring

It never occurred to me before, but a lot of the plants in our yard have pink flowers:

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Next Time: Shiny

Time to photograph more reflective metal. It looks good in portfolios.


Easter Baskets

Easter baskets. Probably everyone who celebrated Easter as a kid got one at least once. Most are made of plastic or wicker and are about six inches in diameter. For me, however, an Easter basket is something a bit different.

When I was little, my grandma used to make my sister and I crochet or plastic canvas Easter baskets every year. Some were quite small, others were a bit larger. One of mine doesn’t have a handle. She would fill them with Easter grass, a couple of plastic eggs, chocolate, and maybe even a small toy of some sort. As kids, we were always excited to get our baskets, mostly because we wanted to see what Grandma had made us that year. All the stuff inside was nice, but the basket itself was the big deal. Eventually, Grandma’s arthritis got bad enough that she could no longer make the Easter baskets. I still have mine, all of them. They make wonderful Easter decorations, by themselves, or trying my limited floral arranging skills, with flowers.

This is the last Easter basket my grandma made for me. Overall, I think it has the most elegant shape.

Next Time: Security

I decided I need to practice my indoor photography skills.


Awakening

Spring came early to my little corner of the world. Temperatures were in the 70-80 degree range last week, which is unheard of for March. The cold will come back, but for now we’re enjoying the nice weather. Spring is in the air. The first flowers are up and everything else is budding.

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Dormant World

It’s March, and the world lies dormant waiting for enough rain and warmth to spring forth and greet us. Remnants of last year still linger to remind us of the coming life.

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Jewelry: What is it to You?

Sometimes, jewelry is symbolic of a belief, a hobby, a birth month, or a relationship. It is also given to commemorate special occasions. Here are a few pieces and the stories they tell and bring to mind.

This old ring came to rest in my sister’s jewelry box after my mother found it in an older jewelry box she purchased at a thrift store. It is quite aged and makes me think of the passage of time and the marks it can leave. However, the ring remains decorative and pleasing. From a normal distance, you would never notice how scarred it is. I wonder who owned it before, how she got it, and what it ment to her.

My Aunt sent me this dragonfly necklace for my birthday during my sophomore year of college. I thought it was darling and proceeded to wear it the very next day – to my splicing test. Ah, filmschool rites of passage.

This last one may be the first piece of jewelry I ever owned, or at least I’ve had it as long as I can remember. I believe it was given to me for my baby dedication. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the idea, baby dedication is common in many evangelical Christian churches. Essentially, the parents bring their baby up to the front of the church and promise to do their best raising him/her. The pastor usually reminds the church they are to support the family and prays that God will bless the child. Pretty simple and short. Usually, this happens one baby at a time when the baby is a few weeks old. I recently found a piece of paper that informed me mine was not so. Apparently, I was dedicated on Easter with several other babies. I guess that explains the pretty flower in the center of my necklace?

Do you have any special jewelry that reminds you of an important event, concept, or time in your life?

Next Week: Shoes

Yes, I did just randomly decide on that. I want to do something different, and shoes have been on my mind for other reasons.


Exploring a State Park

Last week, I went out to explore a nearby state park. It’s much larger than the forest preserve I normally go to, so I wasn’t able to cover all of it. On the bright side, there’s more for another day. For the most part, it was your typical midwestern trees with the occasional flower, bug, or fungus. There is an unusually large piece of fungus decorated with tree leaves and seeds.

This dead tree had a particularly curvy shape. It was irresistible. It also had to be a black and white.

A river runs the length of the park and provides a nice scenic view, as well as a habitat for birds and other animals. Other animals like the mosquitos that had me for a late breakfast. I left my repellent at home thinking mosquito season hadn’t started yet. Bad idea.

Walking along one of the trails, I suddenly came upon this enclave of pine trees. A small group of conifers is surrounded by their deciduous cousins, making the spot out-of-place. If you look closely enough at the top of the cut off tree, you can see people’s names written on it. Such unnatural graffiti broke the otherworldly spell otherwise surrounding me.

Bark is also missing on some of the intact pines.

Likewise, the bottom of this tree is bare. Something is afoot.

Sometimes, one of the most interesting things about a preserve is how things just come down. How they sit and weather and age unmoved by humanity.

It was supposed to rain all afternoon, and it looked like it was going to haul off and drop several inches, so I began my trek back to the car. On the way back, I saw signs saying “No alcohol allowed in the park” and evidence that the signs were ignored. Naughty, naughty. But the bottle cap was pretty, and I have this weird artist thing about taking pictures of metal objects against pavement surrounded by natural objects. I try not to do it too often, mostly because it doesn’t make sense to me.

I plan to revisit the park someday when the weather is better and I have more time. I also plan to bring my bug spray. However, this wasn’t a bad first expedition. It’s always good for me to get out in the woods for a good long walk, even if it is mosquito season.

Next Week: Fireworks or Small Town Festival

Since the fireworks are part of the festival, I might post a little bit of both. We’ll see how it goes.


Unconventional Flowers

My apologies for the late post. Around 6pm yesterday as I was preparing to finnish the photos, my home was plunged into an uproar with tornado sirens going off and humans frantically trying to locate flashlights and kitties. The power came back on around 3pm this afternoon. Other than that, it was beautiful last week. Not many new flowers were out, and the ones that “made the grade” for my blog were not exactly what you think of when you hear the word flowers.

The blue spruce outside my window is unfurling for the spring. The new growth comes out of reddish-brown casings and is a lovely shade of green swirled up so the end looks semi-flower-like.

The dandelion, a common weed, produces the most magical looking fluff towards the end of its life cycle. Here, I used a macro lens to capture the detail.

As for other weeds, I was a horrible gardener and let this one grow in my shade garden because I wanted to see what it would look like when it bloomed. It paid me back by producing a lovely, yet unusual flower. The anthers seem to be attached to small petals rather than the normal stalk like structures on most flowers.

Lastly, these tiny flowers come from a red, thorny bush. I’ve passed those bushes many times without noticing the delicate ornaments. When I finally did see them, I had to wait for enough light to photograph them.

Sometimes there’s beauty in less than obvious places. Life is short, so take time to smell the roses, or whatever else you find out there.

Next Week: My First Camera

Since I’ve been threatening to do it for so long, I’m going to show you what my very first camera looks like. I may have a few others as well.


Indoor Abstracts

Last week, the weather was poor and I was in an odd mood. I felt inspirationally dry, so I decided to play a game, resulting in some less serious photographs. The rules of my game were as follows: all images were to be shot as if in monochrome, toning/split toning in Lightroom would later be used to enhance the feel of the image, photographs were to be of everyday objects in one room, objects should preferably not be easily recognizable in the final shot, normal object orientation was to be seen as a barrier to overcome.

This was the first object to grab my attention. The soft, round shapes and contrasting materials made me think of three things: a flower, ice cream in a cup, or some sort of mod-style architectural detail.

desk lamp

 
 
Next, there was this open end of an old clear glass vase that for some odd reason I saw as a horizontal with limited depth of field. I don’t know why. Anyway, the point of this exercise was to do what I felt like doing randomly. So I gave it a try.
 
 

 

For the third image, I went a bit more standard than the rules. The detail on my new lamp provided a symmetrical heart shape with some additional ornamentation. I found it hard to resist.

Lastly, I wondered about the bottom side of vases. I’ve photographed lots of them, but always right side up. This particular example had a flower shape on the bottom. The unrefined and scared glass bottom coupled with a purple tone reminded me of the photographs of uncut amethyst in science books.

I couldn’t do this every week. For one thing, it wouldn’t be adequate practice and skill building. It’s a break. A chance to let loose and do something different for once just as a creative exercise.

Next Week: Outdoors or First Camera

Depending on the weather, I’ll either shoot more of the natural world or give you a look at the first camera I learned to use.


Budding and Blooming

The world is finally getting ready for summer up north. About time. Our trees are no longer bare, and the flowers are starting to bloom. I love the leaves when they first break out of their tiny buds. They’re so fine and delicate, not to mention the unique hues they take at first.

The bleeding heart bushes are beginning to catch up with their wild counterparts. My fringed bush shows off her clusters of embryonic flowers amidst fragile foliage.

My mother’s more traditional pink bush is way ahead of mine. It displays arching tresses of hearts.

Now is the time to enjoy what we’ve been waiting for: to drink it in knowing more will come. For awhile, at least, it will be here, and then the seasons will turn again.

Next Week: Indoor Abstracts or Rainy Day and Water Drops

The first would be a creative exercise in how I look at objects and how lighting and color affect form. The second would be trying to make something most people don’t like look good. Both have interesting potential.


Flowers: Domestic and Wild

It’s spring in the midwest. Rains pour frequently, and when it’s sunny, winds still blow. The first flowers are finally out. In my yard, the daffodils unfold for spring, brining their bright yellow hue to the rain and clouds around us. A welcome contrast.

In the woods, there are also flowers. Untamed by man, nature’s wild charms adorn an otherwise plain scene. These small yellow flowers are about the size of your thumbnail.

Slightly larger white wildflowers grow in clumps around trees.

Nearby, the ground is covered with strange leafy vegetation. Yet there is something oddly familiar about those leaves. The flowers tell all. These plants appear to be the wild cousin of my beloved bleeding heart bush. However, their flowers look a bit more like butterflies than hearts sometimes.

These wildflowers are out in bloom before most of their tame counterparts, daring the snow and frost and showing the strength of their beauty. They are proof that wild beauty is natural and tough.

Next Week: Vases 2

Time to get back to indoor shots. As I mentioned last week, someone I know would like a couple of vases photographed.


Looking Back and Looking Forward

I was going to do log monsters this week, but the more I thought about it, the less I liked it. Recently, I’ve been backing up my photographs and watching the world outside my window slowly change and come alive with Spring. At the change of every season, I find myself looking forward to what will come, but also looking back with just as much anticipation. Back because the smells and images of last year and the many years before are deeply ingrained in my mind. Here’s some spring from my archives.

These tulips, hazy and glowing as my impressions of spring at home, were photographed last year not so far from my dorm room at school. Being a busy senior, I rarely had time to stop and smell the flowers. It’s not the same emotional attachment I have for my own plants back home, but they were flowers. They were shadows the ones at home. And today I saw our tulips pushing through the ground.

Something I won’t see this spring are the flowering trees I became accustomed to during my college years in the South. They seemed too charming for an institutional campus. Sticks suddenly bushed up into bright ornaments showering us with little blossoms. It’s only now that I begin to miss them.

One odd thing about the plants at college: most plants I found familiar were hidden away in the far reaches of campus. Roses, classic and beautiful flowers, were far behind dorms and other buildings.

Looking back farther, I remember the last time I was at home with my plants. Soon I will smell the lilac again, soon I will feel the grape hyacinth, and soon I will see (and photograph) the iris. I am so impatient. But it’s never to early to start weeding, so maybe that will keep me busy in the meantime.

  

Next Week: Liquid Experiments or Old Camera

Man, what having your wisdom teeth out will do to your blog! I thought I’d get over this faster. Anyway, a new week, a new challenge. I’m still curious about what food coloring dropping into water would look like, so I’m going to do some experiments along that line. If it doesn’t work out, I’m thinking box camera or perhaps something more interesting. We’ll see what Dad lets me borrow. For midweek updates, follow me on Twitter!  http://twitter.com/#!/MyCameraFriend


Early Spring

After months of waiting in the snow, Spring is finally coming over us. Though the leaves are not yet on the trees, I started to think about going for a long walk with my camera. Seriously thinking about it that is, it’s been in my mind all winter. Just yesterday, I mentioned my thoughts to my father, who as fate would have it, also wanted to go out. I loaded up my DSLR and tripod, and he loaded up his 4″X5″ and tripod. There we were, hauling our gear around a forest preserve practicing two very different styles of photography. I shot what interested me while he patiently hiked around the park looking for one thing to shoot that day (he only had two sheets of film left.) It was a great day to be out. The small stream in the forest was thawed and running with melt off.

Throughout the forest, we saw evidence of tree trimming along the path and what looked like some sort of controlled burn. Must be maintenance time for the trails.

Eventually, we ended up back where we started. I was drawn to an old dead tree covered in lichen. It had a combination of shape and texture I had to check out.

Dad was drawn to a still-standing old oak tree he’d spotted when we first arrived. Eventually, I came over to see what was going on in his photographic genius mind and practice being an assistant. Watching him, I couldn’t help but think I should revisit his kind of photography. The discipline and precision of old-fashioned 4″x5″ view camera photography mandates careful thought, an exercise I could use to keep me from getting lazy. I’d have to scan it for the blog, but it may be worth it.

Next Week: The Log Monsters

Due to my unusual schedule this week, I’m going to do a part two of sorts for next week. While out in the woods, I found some logs that looked like unfriendly animals. Since the log monsters wouldn’t really go with the tone of this post, I decided to save them for next week. I know, I was just talking about being lazy, but trust me, there are extenuating circumstances.