Just a Little Time Outside

Haven’t been out for many walks lately as I have been consumed by choosing products for our Florida rebuild after the storm surge. I also made the decision (in one of my less sane moments) to make quilted Christmas gifts for all family members that will gather at our house this year. I did however walk down our short drive to take some photos of the gorgeous Maple tree in the side yard when it was at its most colorful.

The leaves have since fallen and we have what seems like an early snow on the ground. It was challenging for Jim to get the leaves raked and I stopped myself from helping because the raking and bending would have inflamed the arthritis in my lower back. Our son came to help with the second raking but there were still leaves that hadn’t fallen. Then we got the best help of all – we had a couple of days of very strong winds – like rattle the rafters strong – and we looked out and all the rest of the leaves were gone. We smiled big. It seems like one of the greatest challenges of reaching old age is to recognize that we can no longer do many of the things we used to do and to (gasp) let someone help us when we can do it perfectly well ourselves.

This post was inspired by Becky’s November Squares theme Walking Squares. It’s a nice theme, Becky.

Lens-Artist Challenge: Following the Sun

When I arrived at the Dahlem Center the sun was peeking through the trees.

This morning I went to buy fruit from Ken & Janet who once a week have their Blueberry Hill fruit stand in front of my favorite meat market – about 3 miles from our home. This week they had blueberries but were sold out by the time I got there, peaches, nectarines, plums, and a couple of early apples. As I was leaving to go home, I decided to go to the Dahlem Nature Center as it was almost on my way home, I had my camera, and the sun was shining so I was pretty sure I could get some good photographs for this week’s Lens-Artist Challenge: Here Comes the Sun.

I have taken a few photos of sunrises and sunsets but what I really enjoy about early morning photography is catching the moment when the rising sun shines through the trees to illuminate a subject. In those moments the ordinary is transformed into extraordinary. On my walk through the wooded area of the conservatory my mission was to find these moments.

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. Rachel Carson

When I take photographs of nature in these circumstances, I think about the definition of beauty. When I do the post processing I become concerned that what I saw as beauty out in a wild field or along a dirt road won’t be perceived by others as beautiful. I wonder what a professional photographer would say about my images and whether anyone would want them matted, framed and hanging on the wall.

These questions and worries don’t discourage me from moving forward with posting them on my blog, however. I think it is because my photography is driven by a desire to share emotions, whereas my life’s work was driven by thought and skill. It seems like those posts of bloggers I follow that focus their photography on the natural world are the most enjoyable. And for me the most exciting, the most gentle, the most evocative are the ones that are gently bathed in early morning sun.

It had been years since I walked the trails of Dahlem Center and I have changed in body and soul. I am thinking that Jim and I need to take regular walks here. I was wandering along an easy path, taking a few photographs and enjoying the bird calls when something caught my eye. If you look closely you will see the doe and spotted fawn on the path ahead watching me. As I slowly walked closer, they ran away.

Here is a gallery of nature’s late-summer offerings, at least they are the ones that the sun wanted me to aim my lens toward and put into focus.

It seems to me that Mr. Wright needed to add, ‘take care of nature.’ Maybe he thought that loving nature would cover it but I’m not sure. If we don’t respect and protect nature it will destroy us instead of being there for us; if we fail nature, it will fail us.

A special thank you to Amy for choosing a topic that motivated me to grab my camera and hit the trails. It has been a long time since I have felt the joy of searching for beauty with my lens.

Backlit Waterlily

I have taken thousands of photos of waterlilies, most of them awash with the gentle light of the Florida sun hovering low in the morning sky. Usually the waterlilies bloom parallel to the surface of the water, but this one was standing perpendicular to the water – so it was backlit by the morning sun. I got down low on the paved walk (not easy for this aging body) because it felt so special for me.

Lens-Artists Challenge: Curves

My many strolls around the Botanical Garden with camera in hand have given me many files to peruse for curves. The hard part was deciding which ones to showcase. To make the decision I evaluated the quality of the photograph, whether there was inherent beauty or interest, and the bottom-line-truth is that these are the ones I like best of all. They trigger fond memories and personal thoughts, some of which I will also share. Here are my gifts of curves and words.

The colors of this orchid drew me in, but I really enjoy how curvy they are and how the curves create ruffles.
This fond caught my eye because it was the only curved one within a cluster of straight spined fonds. It made me wonder what makes some parts of plants grow in unexpected ways. I shouldn’t project human attributes to plants, but it sure seems like it is leaning down to hear the whispered thoughts of the plant growing beneath. Maybe I need to do more leaning in to listen to what nature is telling me.
I fell in love the moment I saw this ornamental cabbage, I felt the excitement of finding a treasure while photographing it, and experienced the satisfaction of creation as I did some editing to make it look like what I remembered. What’s not to love about the ruffly curves, the freshness of rain drops, the purple veins. The only thing that could make this more beautiful is a little more photographer practice.
We are moving ever closer to the time when we will be moving back to Michigan so… Where the mind goes so does my search of files. I love how the soft fall/early winter light hits the gentle curves of grasses going to seed.
We were camping along Lake Superior last summer when a storm came through, creating big waves. Waves are just water that is curving over itself so I searched my files for a good crop of a wave in action.
The waves grabbed my full attention and it was only after I felt I had more than enough photographs of the waves that I turned around and saw the beautiful curve of the grasses in the stiff wind. Gee whiz, how lucky that I found a reason to take even more photographs.
We stayed just outside Munising and there are a lot of water falls in the region. I took this photo of the Au Train water fall, through the trees as I was walking down the steep dirt road towards the small power plant. Those are some pretty curves in the rock layers. This was in the fall; I bet it would be really pretty in the spring when the snow melt and rains swells the river.
We will be visiting our daughter in Winston-Salem on our way home and this reminded me of the curvy roads of the Blue Ridge Mountain Trail. This is a two-fer – a curved road and a curved bridge. Lovely.
Two days ago was the first day of Spring so I felt it only appropriate to include some curves of spring flowers – taken at Hidden Lake Garden (MSU) in southern Michigan.

There have been a lot of interesting photographic representations of curves posted for this challenge. You can check them out here and learn how to join in the fun.