Posts Tagged macro photography

A Delicately Tough Tree

I’ve committed to trying to post at least once a week now that I’m retired and have set a project of going through the 32,000 plus images on my hard drive. That’s a noble objective, to be sure, but things do get in the way.

Things like going out in the field and getting more images and practicing photography techniques that I need to work on.

Last week at the Grand Canyon I was reminded how much I love Aspens. There’s something very attractive about these trees. Sure, the white bark and quaking leaves are attractive, but there’s something more. Something that I’m still trying to figure out.

Much of it comes from the aspen forest being not individual trees, but a living organism, with many trees connected through a series of underground runners. The saying in the nursery business that I’ve heard is that you don’t buy an aspen, you buy an aspen grove. I’ve seen this with captive aspens in my yards. There are always shoots coming up in the least convenient places. Yes, a grove of aspens is the way Ma Nature intended it, so we should let them grow that way where they’re most comfortable, I guess.

Aspens do some cool things.

In the fall they turn a sparkling, brilliant yellow. Mostly. Some of them for some reason turn to a lovely orange. This orange interspersed with the yellow adds visual interest and makes you think about what could cause that.

In the spring, the electric green of freshly-sprouted aspen leaves is a thrill to observe. In the right light it looks like the forest is alive with green flame.

Aspens are tough, too. They can take a lot of punishment and survive. I’ve seen aspens with trunks twisted in a circle by snow and wind, then continuing to grow toward the sky. Some show the lifelong marks of thoughtless people, people who see the aspens as perfect candidates for scratch pads, carving their names or initials in the bark. Years later, those scars remain and show who passed before (and who didn’t treat these stately trees with respect). Once in a while you’ll find a real artist has attacked an aspen. I found a carving of someone’s horse in a tree a while back. Interesting.

Even when they die and fall to the ground, aspens are interesting. Some host lichens, some host critters, but they decay in stately and interesting ways that draw one’s attention.

Aspens are the first trees to recover after a wildfire. As we traveled through areas at the North Rim where a wildfire had destroyed thousands of acres, we saw thickets of six-foot-tall aspens, already starting the process of reforestation.

I’m toying with the idea of doing an aspen portfolio, a series of photographs of one of my favorite trees. If I do so, I’ll make it into a downloadable e-book you can grab if you want it. It will take me a while to get this done because I’d like to use all new images. I’ll get it done, but it will take a while. So stand by and keep reading. Here are some aspens I saw last week:

 

There are a surprising number of multiple trees growing from the same or near the same root system. These twins were framing a pinyon pine and I thought I’d capture that view. (As always, click to see the full size image.)

Twins Stack

Twin Aspens

 

 

This is the orange we see far too rarely with aspens in the fall.

Orange Aspens

Orange Aspens

 

Fallen aspens offer life support for lichen, critters, etc.

Lichen Stack

Lichen Stack

 

Those who came before left their marks.

Who has passed before?

Who has passed before?

 

 

Aspen Horse

Aspen Horse

 

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Caught in the Act!

I took a hike today down by the Yellowstone River. Under a highway bridge I found some interesting icicles. The photo conditions weren’t very conducive to photography, but when I noticed there was water dripping off the icicles, I decided I had to try to capture a drop.

After several tries, I guess I got my timing OK. While it would have been better to have a faster shutter speed, the drop was changing shape as it fell, so the squashing is probably pretty natural.

Here it is (click on the image to enlarge):

Icicle

Icicle caught in mid-drip, Yellowstone River, Billings, Montana.

 

A little way down the trail, I met a woman who expressed some disappointment that she couldn’t find any Cedar Waxwings. All I had seen so far was a Magpie, so I wished her well and headed back to the car. Soon I was in the middle of a flock of Waxwings. Here’s one:

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

 

Quite a handsome bird!

Moret to follow,

Bob

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Oregon 8

After we visited Yaquina Head, we went to a sort of nautical junk yard. Except it wasn’t really a junk yard. They take a lot of worn or rusted equipment from fishing vessels and repair and refurbish it. The first look gave the appearance of random piles of junk, but once we got in and started looking at things, we found an order to the chaos. There were huge nets, running gear and lots and lots of rusty equipment.

Rick suggested trying to get a few good abstract images of the rust and then of finding images that looked like something else. No problem for me, I love doing detail shots and enjoy seeing if I can find out, as Minor White suggested, what else the object is.

There’s a lot of chain used in sailing and that chain needs to be replaced once in a while, so finding rusted chain was no challenge. It was finding the shark that took a little thought.

 

Rusted Chain

Rusted Chain

 

Sometimes the chain was joined by rope:

 

Rope and chains

Rope and chains

 

And then there are the abstract opportunities. Wear on metal objects is often uneven and leaves us with a great opportunity to select just the right portion of the worn area:

 

Rising against Rust

Rising against Rust

 

As for finding something different in this wide variety of subjects, that wasn’t so hard either. I found a rust shark:

 

Rust Shark

Rust Shark

 

This collection of treasures was a real photographer’s dream.

More to follow,

B0b

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Back in Paradise

I arrived back in my soul’s home the other day. The red rock country is my true home and it is so good to be back. A group of photographers from a workshop I took recently has been planning this trip for months and we’re all converging on the desert to share some good times and fellowship.

I was waiting for Phil to arrive at Moab international airport, so took a little drive. I spotted some white blossoms and knew I had to record one of my favorite flowers, the sacred datura, or, as it’s known in other regions, jimson weed.

If you’ve read the Carlos Castañeda series of books, you know datura is the plant they used to induce visions. It’s a pretty significant hallucinogen, but must be handled carefully or it can kill the person who ingests it. Being a coward, I tread pretty lightly around the jimson weed, but because it has the most spectacular flowers, it’s always an attractive target for my camera. Here are a couple images I made from a respectful distance (as always, click on the images to see the full size and correct color):

 

Sacred Datura 1

Sacred Datura 1

 

Sacred Datura 2

Sacred Datura 2

 

The adventure is beginning and I’ll share some images of the most beautiful country in the world and the week progresses. Check back often.

More to follow,

Bob

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The Jewel is in the Lotus

When we were at the zoo a couple weeks ago, we came across a pond of water lilies. Lotus if you will. The lotus has a lot of meaning to Eastern religions. The Lord Buddha sits on a Lotus Throne. The flower is so complex that it requires a lot of contemplation. It’s very symbolic because its roots are in the mud, yet a beautiful flower is the end result. The Jewel is in the Lotus. That’s the basic meaning, as I’ve been told, of the Mani mantra: Om Mani Pedmé Hung. I’ve read that this is the favorite mantra of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet. When one chants that mantra, one is supposed to realize that no matter what his or her origins are, the potential for inner beauty is there. Our true nature is not in the mud but in the realization of beauty. Not a bad thought to carry around.

Here are the lotus I found in good old Billings. The backlighting was a challenge, but I think Lightroom helped me control it (click on the thumbnails):

 

 

The Jewel is in the Lotus

The Jewel is in the Lotus

 

And the true nature of the lotus may be as a Black & White image. Who knew?

Pink lotus

Pink lotus

 

I’d better go meditate for a while.

More to follow.

Bob

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Brought to you in Glorious Monochrome!

Well, you know me. Still trying to make a good Black & White image. I’m showing improvement and some of the images I’ve done lately I’m pretty happy with. It’s funny how I can be looking at a brilliant green scene and see monochrome written all over it. I guess that’s my preference, so I lean that way. I’ve been up in the canyons lately and have done a lot of wildflower photography. And I’ve noticed the non-floral scenery. While I still can’t understand mountains and trees as well as I can the desert, I think I’m getting there.

Here are some monochrome scenes I’ve seen lately (as always, click on the image to see them full size and with the right color. Oh, no color this time):

 

Here’s my boy Gandalf, The Gray Cat. He was sitting thinking about the birds at the feeder, so he held still for a while. Not a bad portrait.

 

Gandalf the Gray Cat

Gandalf the Gray Cat

 

This False Hellebore or California Corn Lily (I’ve been told) just called to me, saying, “Monochrome.” It was right.

False Hellebore

False Hellebore

 

And these are, to all intents and purposes, weeds. I don’t have a clue what family they belong to, so I’ll take the lazy way out on the naming.

Weeds, Big Timber Canyon

Weeds, Big Timber Canyon

 

I’ll keep working in this old-timey mode, I think.

 

More to follow.

Bob

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More Big Timber Flowers

I went back up to Big Timber Canyon today. I’d heard the flowers are blooming big time, so decided I had to catch them in the act. There were a few that I thought looked photogenic, so I pulled out the macro lens, got up close and personal and clicked away.

While I knelt in the rocky soil with sore knees two things dawned on me. First, I need to put my kneepads back in the camera bag. My cat Spike used to steal them from the bag and chew on them, so I put them where I figured he couldn’t get at them. Now he’s gone, but I keep forgetting to put them in the bag. And if I go do it now while I’m thinking of it, I’ll likely forget to complete this post, so it’s a matter of taking chances.

The second thing is that I need to get a wildflower identification guide. I always say that I know two wildflowers by name. One is Indian paintbrush, the other isn’t. The two you’re seeing here may be bluebells and an LWF. LWF is little white flower. That may not be a very good means of identifying, so I’ll start to study up on them.

Here’s what I saw today (click on the thumbnails to see them full size and properly colored).

 

These are pretty small and they’re mostly white. Hence the name.

 

LWF, Big Timber Canyon

LWF, Big Timber Canyon

 

 

My department head said the bluebells are blooming up there, so these may be those. Or something else. I saw some other blue bell-shaped flowers, but I think they were too big.

 

Blue Bells Maybe

Blue Bells Maybe

 

 

That’s all for now.

More to follow,

Bob

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Two Lips

My daffodils are slowly giving up the ghost. I was pretty smart, though. I planted a row of daffodils and behind them a row of tulips. Seeing as the tulips mature just a little later than the daffodils, I’ll have a good month and a half of pretty flowers, then the nice greenery of their leaves as they absorb sunlight and store up energy for next year in the bulbs. Of course, nobody told me that the daffodils were going to be taller than the tulips, so the Dutch flowers are kind of hidden. Maybe I’ll relocate them for next year. It helps that the bulbs multiply, too. This year I’ve got about twice the flowers I had last year. And this year, the tulips are changing color. I wanted red, but got orange. This year, about 1/4 of them are purple. Nice color. So I cut a couple flowers and brought them in. Here’s what they look like up close and personal. Click the images for a better view and correct color.

Purple Tulip macro

Purple Tulip macro

 

Orange Tulip macro

Orange Tulip macro

With any luck, I’ll have some nice cactus blossoms to share with you later this month. More to follow. Bob

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Moseying up the trail

Man, it’s taking forever to get off this beach. I finally started back up the trail. Along the way some plants started calling to me. The first ones I saw said, “Macro, Black-and-White.”

I agreed. Soon I found a whole group of the plants (no, I don’t know what they are. Definitely not Indian Paintbrush, though) and started working with my closeup lens.

Ma Nature, being the kind of entity she is, tried her best to assist with rain and wind. That always makes macro photography a challenge, but I persevered, and I think I’m glad I did. It may well be that the man who walked by and found me shading the plant with my fleece jacket thought I was nuts. But I figure it was worth it.

As always, click on the images to see them full size and with the proper color. Which, here, is no color.

Plant, Shore Acres State Park

Plant, Shore Acres State Park

 

A little way up the trail, one with berries showed up.

Plant with berries

Plant with berries

 

No, I didn’t taste the berries. I’m smart enough to avoid that.

Getting close to Minor White’s Wall.

More to follow,

Bob

 

 

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Desert Whirlwind 4

After we got to Zion National Park, we spent a lot of time in Zion Canyon. Hiking from the end of the bus line to the start of the narrows, then up to the Emerald Pools, and other stops.

At one point, we came across a Sacred Datura with one lone blossom on it. The flowers are beautiful, but the plant is pretty dangerous if ingested. If you don’t die of heart failure, you’ll have some serious hallucinations. (I’ve been told.) This is the plant that Carlos Castañeda wrote about in The Teachings of Don Juan among others in his series of Don Juan books. Pretty poison, I guess. Of course, I had to get out the macro lens and get in tight. I think it worked out pretty well.

Datura1

Datura1

Datura 2

Datura 2

Not bad for a weed, huh?

 

More to follow,

Bob

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