Photo-Art

I have been taking pictures now with my Canon for over a year.  I struggle with the idea of my photos as art.  Some simply aren’t.  Some are just snapshots to accompany an informational article.  Some are rather nicely composed with nice light and might be considered artistic.  Yet I haven’t printed a single one to hang on a wall at my house.  It’s just a lack of confidence, I suppose.  Still, I also want to do more with my photos to make them more…  well… artsy… So, I finally installed Photoshop on my computer and am trying to teach myself to use it.

I find some of my inspiration online:

Fruit - by SabineI love the work posted on Flickr by “*Sabine*”.  I’ve lifted just one of her images for this blog post.  It is linked back to her photostream on Flickr.  Please click on the image here and take some time to look at her work.  I think it is brilliant.  She inspires me.

Recently, she has joined a Flickr Group called the Dictionary of Image.  The idea in this group is that you add text to a photo in such a way that together you have the ultimate definition of the word.  This is just one of Sabine’s entries into that group, and I find all of them enchanting.

Red Sunflower by Bonnie BrunoI’m also inspired by Bonnie Bruno (Photo Buffet).  She pairs images with inspirational quotes.  Click on the image at the right to see her blog.  Her images are taken from nature, but enhanced to a dreamlike state.

I’ve been playing with a couple of my images, imitating the work I’ve seen online.  (I hope those I imitate will remember that imitation is the greatest form of flattery!)

Here are two of my experiments with Photoshop:

Nuts

Winterberry Holly

Let me know what you think!

Before and After: Sensitive Fern

Sensitive Fern - May 17Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis)is so named because it is the first to whither when we have a frost.  Today while hiking around a beaver pond near a friend’s property up in the hills above Bemus Point, I found large patches of  Sensitive Fern that had succombed to a frost.  I don’t recall it being that cold down here in the valley… Now I’ll have to pay attention to see if the ferns down here are green or brown.

Autumn is here, I guess…  Winter can’t be far behind.  That makes WinterWoman happy.

Sensitive Fern - Sept 28

Winterberry

WinterberryWinterberry (Ilex verticillata), according the USDA, provides food to small mammals and several species of birds, but the berries are poisonous to humans.  As with many other species that bear nuts or berries, the winterberry at Audubon is heavy with fruit this year.

Other common names for this shrub are Winterberry Holly and Black Alder.  According to some sources, it can tolerate dry soil.  At Audubon, it is almost exclusively found where it is wet.

I love the way it looks – especially in winter when the red stands out against the snow.  In fact, I’m shocked that I don’t have a winter shot on Flickr to show you.  (I’ll add that to my list of photos I must take!)  I just learned more reasons to love it.  It’s both dioecious and deciduous (two of my favorite words).

Computer update:  My brand new computer started acting up.  I took it back and TechGuy had to put a new motherboard in it.  I hope I’m truly back up to electronic speed now.

Have a good weekend!

 

Autumnal Recrudescence

Common Blue VioletI already told you in August that “Autumnal Recrudescence” is one of my favorite phrases.  I showed you pictures of a Chickadee and a Spring Peeper and told you how at this time, when the light levels are similar to those at the Vernal Equinox, they will sing (normally vernal) their territory/mating calls, a phenomenon called autumnal recrudescence.

Well, it looks like Autumnal Recrudesence isn’t just for animals.  I’ve seen more than one “spring” flower in bloom in the last few days… like Dogwood, for example.

This isn’t Dogwood, of course.  This is Common Blue Violet, a flower that is supposed to bloom only March-June, according to Peterson’s Field Guide to Wildflowers (Northeastern / North-Central North America).  I found it blooming on September 22nd.  Hmmm….

I wonder if dandelion’s autumn bloom is another example of Autumnal Recrudescence?  (Of course there are several species of dandelions, and maybe one kind blooms in spring and the other in fall?)

Gotta love it:  There is always sooooooo much to learn in the natural world!

And the Wheel Turns

False Solomon's Seal BerriesThe Equinox.  A balancing time.  Balancing of light and dark.  Balancing of work and play as we finally settle into our school schedules.  Balance of life and death…  Flowers dying back, but leaving behind the seeds of life to survive the snows….

Bob’s Dad passed away on Wednesday.  We celebrated his life and mourned his death at a service today.  A balance of life and death, joy and sorrow, relief and regret.

After the service, I walked the dog.  It was good.  Here are a few images from that walk.

False Solomon’s Seal Berries

Beggar-ticks
Beggar-ticks

Leaves in the Creek
Maple Leaves in the Creek

Pokeweed Jack-in-the-Pulpit Berries
Pokeweed, Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Asters
Small White Asters

Nature always restores.  May you find balance at this time of the Equinox!

Before and After

I posted a few pairs of before and after photos a while back in my Brambly Trail post.  Here’s another.  The woods where I frequently walk the dog is full of these fruits now.

Running Strawberry Bush Flower - May 21st  Running Strawberry Bush Berries - Sept 19th

It’s called “Running Strawberry Bush” (Euonymus obovatus) and according to my Newcomb’s guide it can be found “W.N.Y. to Mich south.”  It’s a trailing shrub, 1-2 feet high that likes rich woods.  There’s another variety that gets 2-6 feet high called Strawberry Bush or Bursting Heart or Hearts-a-bursting (E. americanus) which the Newcomb’s guide reports is found “Se N.Y. to s Ill. south.” You can see a picture at Tim Martin’s Flickr site by clicking here.

Are you finding it to be true this year?  It seems like everything is heavy-laden with fruits.  There are so many of these fruits in the woods around here!  Too bad they aren’t good eating.  In fact, according to Tim, they have such a potent laxative effect that they have been known to cause severe dehydration and even death.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Jack-in-the-Pulpit BerriesIn yesterday’s post, I re-posted a posted picture from spring (I love the word post) of the Jack-in-the-Pulpit flower.  Last night I went hiking to the same spot and found what I believe is the same plant, now with berries.

According to the Peterson Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants, the corm (underground root-like structure) can be eaten after it is thinly sliced and thoroughly dried.  You can eat the slices like potato chips, or grind them into “a pleasant cocoa-like” flour.  Don’t eat them raw, though.  They contain calcium oxalate, a substance that will cause an “intense burning sensation” in the mouth.

The book says nothing about eating the delightfully red berries.  My opinion is, since berries contain the seeds, wait until they are ripe – or even gone – before you collect the corm.  That way we’ll have more Jack-in-the-Pulpit next year!  (Indeed, the Peterson Guide suggests collecting from fall through early spring.)

I’m Back… Sort Of…

Well, we have a new computer.  We pretty much lost everything on the old one.  Including the Canon software for downloading pictures off my camera.  I took a walk today and shot a few things in Raw mode that I really wanted to look at on my computer screen…  But… I can’t find my CDs for the camera.  I hope they’re at work… or that Dave will let me borrow his.

Jack-In-The-PulpitRemember this guy.  Today I took pictures of him again… this time with berries.  I hope to be able to show you the berries in the near future.  For now, that picture is stuck on my camera.

On the domestic side, I made 2 more jars of pesto yesterday and 6 jars of peach jam this evening.

Frustrated in Cyberland,
Jennifer

Fungi

fungus 1We had some rain, then some warm days.  As a result, the fungi is just a poppin’ in our woods!  Dave and Anita came by and I convinced them to let me tag along for a photo shoot.  I needed to spy on Dave to see how he gets such amazing shots.  I always learn a lot when I go out on a walk with Dave.  I even learned what I want for Christmas.

fungus 8Mushrooms and other types of fungus have always been very difficult for me to photograph.  The pictures just don’t come out very well.  You are under the canopy of the trees and there just isn’t enough light.  If I up the ISO, the pictures come out grainy.  If I use the flash, the exposure just isn’t right.  It’s so frustrating that I sometimes don’t even try for a shot, even though I think it could be interesting.  Today, Dave gave me the courage to try, and while I threw out a lot of shots, I managed a few “keepers”.  They’re still not as good as his… but I’ll get there!  With practice!

Fungus 2We had a speaker at Audubon last Friday whose passion is mushrooms. Oh my, he presented a LOT of information on this group of organisms.  I’m afraid my mind was drifting a bit to work-related issues, so I can’t say I learned all of what he presented.  There were a couple of tidbits, though, that stick with me.

Maybe I sort of already knew this… but when he presented it, it made a lot of sense.  There are basically three ways fungi can “make a living.”  Some live off of dead stuff.  Some live off of living stuff.  Some form a symbiotic relationship with one or more other organisms.  Can I think of examples of each type.  No.  It’s late at night and my mind is on overload.

fungus 3The other tidbit is sort of funny.  There are so many species of fungi that no one dares put an actual number to it.  The ones that have names mostly have only latin names.  There aren’t really any universally accepted common names.  So when the author of the Audubon field guide to mushrooms and other fungi wrote his book, he just made stuff up.  I wonder if his names will become the accepted names?

It could be fun to make up the names.  Here’s an idea for your next blog post:  Take a picture of something you don’t know the name of, and make up something.  Why not?  Or heck… I don’t know the names of anything posted here.  You could make up names for these!

fungus 5Getting back to the photography angle…  I learned that what I want for Christmas (or my birthday – since that is closer) is a remote shutter release to reduce camera shake and a tripod.  I think I could get sharper pictures of stuff on the shady forest floor if I could leave the shutter open longer… and I can only do that if I find a way to stabilize the camera more reliably than my hands can hold it!

fungus 7

fungus 6fungus 4

There were many more kinds of fungus in the woods today than I have pictured here.  It always astounds me when I see the diversity of life in this beautiful world!