Snapshots from an Early Evening Walk

As I mentioned in the previous post, my guys and I took an evening walk some days ago in a nearby nature preserve to see if we could spot the recently released rabbits that were under our care. We didn’t find the bunnies, but we found nature being her wild best.

We love walking in this park. We encounter beauty with each step, whether on the open trail which frames the pond, or the covered trails where we’re more likely to encounter the creatures that make the park their home.

Though much of the brilliance of summer has faded, there’s still so much to enjoy: Unloved flowers showcasing their beauty for those who have learned to see it.

Bugs that feast on the flowers. [Look closely]

Sun-kissed clouds floating above the trees, making way for night.

Random splashes of color.

Feasts for birds…

and the smallest animals.

Remains of fallen trees that continue to give life.

A surprise gift–a moth waiting patiently to be photographed.

A brightly colored flower captured as we exited a trail.

The final gift of the evening.

I hope you take some time this weekend to sit [or walk] quietly in nature, find strength, heal your soul, connect with the Divine.

#ThursdayTreeLove |Trees Full of Butterflies

Mixed with rain, they are mistaken for the fallen dew;
In the wind, they look like flying butterflies.
Liu Hsiao-ch’o, “Ode to the Pear Blossom”

In these parts (Northern Alabama), early spring bursts forth with magnificent color. The trees usually blossom in succession–the Japanese magnolia, followed by the red buds followed by the pear blossoms, followed by the dogwoods followed, finally, by the cherry blossoms. This year, with the exception of the magnolia, the trees seemingly bloomed at the same time!

The cold weather and rain of this past winter kept me indoors, so on one of my first campus walks of spring, I was pleasantly surprised to find my usual path lined with blossoms.

The red buds were beginning to fill out her limbs, but the pear blossoms were on full display. I had only my phone, but I took another short walk before the end of the workday…with my camera.

A week later, I walked another path…

…to enjoy the trees in another part of campus.

They did not disappoint.

The bumblebees were out in full force, so my visit with the trees ended abruptly. No matter–my camera and I were pleased and we have so many more trees to share!


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

Learning to Make Mistakes: Another Mini Lesson in Creative Photography

There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes.   –R. Buckminster Fuller

I have this book called Mess, by Keri Smith, creator of Wreck This Journal. The book encourages making a mess and serendipitously arriving at something beautiful. I look at the prompts regularly, but the book has remained untouched for the five months I’ve had it. Why? Because I’m afraid of making mistakes.

Eye roll.

Bear with me. I’m making progress. I now take the book to work with me and I am inching toward making a mess in the book. Until then, I’m learning to take risks and accept mistakes with my photography.

To that end, on our way to shoot a couple of brilliant trees yesterday, my friend Amanda gave me another mini lesson in creative photography–this one on creating sunbursts. After suggesting settings, she said, “You’ll have to play around with it till you get what you want.”

I know photographers don’t always hit the perfect shot the first time, and of course I rarely do, particularly with an 18-200 mm lens that is becoming frustrating (time for a new one!), but there was something in the phrase “play around” that gave me permission to make mistakes and not feel bad about the shots that fell flat.

I zoomed out for some shots. I pulled the lens all the way in for others. Shooting at 18 mm produced the best bursts, but of course, they were tiny. I knew to crop the image to make the sun appear closer, so here’s the lesson I learned intuitively: in art [and to some degree in life] our messes are often salvageable.

So I’ll keep working on it.

The funny thing is, the image I [initially] liked least has sun flare, an effect some photographers try to achieve, according to Amanda.

Serendipity.

Let’s Take a Drive (or a swim?)

I’m back with more happy mail! This time, I’m sharing the photos Gale D (grstamping) shot for the “Take a Walk” photo series hosted in the A Thousand Words Group on swap-bot.

Gale’s July “walk” took her to the Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa, Ontario where she has been asked to photograph exhibits to make cards for the museum gift shop. While there, she takes her time noting the details of each object, as you will see from the photos in this post.

“Car Lamp” by Gale D.

I don’t know much about old cars, but I’m drawn to them, especially the vintage elements and features like the lamp (above) and the steering wheel (below).

“Steering Wheel” by Gale D.

Here’s a fun “don’t touch me” sign sitting on a car seat.

“Don’t Touch Me” by Gale D

And what would a photo walk through an automobile museum be without a whole car?

“Amphibious Car” by Gale D.

According to Gale, this amphibious car has never “seen water. The collector kept it dry and clean.” She did a little work in Lightroom on this one to give it an [even more] vintage feel.

Wouldn’t you like to learn more about this car and see it on water? Thanks to YouTube, you can!

I ❤ museums and museum shops, so it’s nice to take a brief “walk through the museum” and find the cards I would have purchased in my mailbox! Thanks, Gale! 🙂

Enjoy your ride!

How to Take a Photo Walk When You Can’t

“Chickadee.” Photograph by Gale D.

Can we say tired? I am so physically and mentally exhausted from grading, grading, grading, and grading. I want to take a photo walk, but (1) my camera battery isn’t charged. I learned this last night when I was about to record my son playing in the strings orchestra. And (2) I barely have enough energy to make it to the door let alone through it.

Therefore, I decided to take my photo walk indoors today. How? Thankfully, Diane W, Midteacher on swap-bot, created a series of swaps for the A Thousand Words group that’s right up my photo alley. The series, called Take a Walk, encourages photographers to take some time with their cameras regularly and share their photos with others in the group.

If you’ve been following Pics and Posts long enough, you know photo walks are my go-to for “getting through the crazies.” I take a walk–camera in hand–quite regularly during the work day to take a break from screens and students, to readjust or reset. Also, my hubby, son, and I take photo walks and drives on weekends when the weather’s nice (or tolerable).

Today, I need to follow a different path, so we’ll take a walk with Gale D, Grstamping on swap-bot.

Gale, from Ontario (Canada), spends a lot of time outdoors and loves shooting “in nature,” particularly in her favorite spot near Lake Ontario. She “can hand feed birds, watch squirrels at play, stalk deer, and be stalked by wild turkeys.” These ventures help her to feel close to nature and clear her mind. They also keep her sane.

She sent me a few of her memorable encounters–either because of their beauty or because of how the animals trusted her in their space–from her January photo walk.

Gale was allowed to get up close and personal with the chickadees. She even fed a few from her hand! They love sunflower seeds!

“Hand Feeding the Chickadees.” Photograph by Gale D.

A vibrant visit with a blue jay added a splash of color to the grays and browns of winter.

“Blue Jay: Vibrant in Winter.” Photograph by Gale D.

And finally, she had a brief tête-à-tête with a squirrel, her favorite subject because they’re not only beautiful but “they’re fun to watch!”

“Squirrel.” Photograph by Gale D.

I love these photos, but I’m kind of interested in seeing a photo captured while she was evading wild turkeys! 😀

You can take a photo walk too, even if you can’t get outdoors. Check out Glenrosa Journeys. Candace takes readers with her as she explores Arizona. Her photography and her blog are inspiring. For photos without the blog, check out the Nature Photography Group on Flickr. You can find more of Gale’s work at Photographic Touch.

Stay tuned. I’ll share more “take a walk” photos soon.

Walk on!

Mid-Autumn Hijinks

I took several walks this autumn, some to capture the scenes and some to escape my office and enjoy the sun, crisp air, and brilliant colors. I usually walk late morning or early afternoon when my office begins to close in on me and the needs of students (and others) begin to take a toll, but early one November morning I noticed an unusual sight as I glanced out the window on my way to make copies. An early morning lightning storm took down a huge limb from a favorite tree. I grabbed my camera, raced outdoors, and explored the area before the grounds team came and removed the limb which blocked an entire sidewalk.

[Click an image for a closer look]

I’m not sure if you can tell from the pics, but the limb was pretty large. It blocked a wide, well-traveled path and even almost consumed another tree (see last pic in the collage).

Once outside, it was difficult to simply go back to my office with papers, students, and last minute class prep, so my camera and I took a short walk to capture more of the season on that post-rainy morning.

There was so much beauty in the trees as the summer green slowly gave in to the autumn glow. [Click an image for a closer look]

Of course, the leaves deserved a bit of “close up” attention.

[Click an image for a closer look]

I took many photo walks alone during the last few months. My friend Cy, who often enjoyed campus photo walks with me, was rarely available to walk this past semester because our schedules conflicted. This turned out to be practice for my future campus walks because Cy moved “far, far away” today to explore “new territory” with her camera. 😦 The good news, though, is that she finally started a blog to share her unique images and experiences, so be sure to welcome her to the blogosphere and show her some blog love: Pink Nabi.

Until tomorrow…