Flippers are Flying


This is one of my least favorite times of the year to do yard work, and that is because of the maple tree flipper onslaught. They are pretty little creations,but they clog my spouting, start growing by the thousands in my mulch beds and stain my sidewalks. Right now they are beginning to fall in large numbers,landing everywhere,and I found a few shots in our garden that I thought looked interesting enough to capture. As I sit and type looking out the window,they are spinning to the ground by the hundreds,thanks to a stiff breeze.



A Tasty Dickens Village



Every year a local architectural firm takes a week out of their busy schedule to create a unique gingerbread village of some sort. The display is always incredible,with each employee vying to claim first place. The edible display is always full of humor,intricate design and detail and covers an area approximately ten feet by eight feet.It has scenes inside the buildings,lights, and they are generous enough to allow the public to come view it on certain nights. My good friend Larry is the official photographer for this project and he is gracious enough to allow me to shoot on the night he does his shooting. This little vignette from one corner features a bakery,complete with hot cross buns in the window,queen victorias secret on the corner,baskets of scones and baguettes out front and a sweet old lady out front offering cookies. It has become a holiday treat I look forward to every year.Another combination of flashlight,spotlight,available light.

Where is the tree?


This is the third cicada shell that I found this year in a strange location. These insects usually climb trees and hatch from there as they hang on the bark, but this one seemed to prefer greenery instead. The hibiscus was 10 feet from the tree,so maybe he was too tired to keep going.  Not sure how the pollen got on him, but it was windy the day before. Their jagged legs are perfect for clinging. I only wish I had seen him hatch from here.they usually can be seen on the move around dusk as they seek out their spot to open.


Hey Alvin, seen any seeds?

Had the pleasure of photographing a local home being featured on a garden tour and on the way out I noticed these active little chipmunks feeding on sunflower seeds. The one on the left kept shoving more in his cheeks as the one on the right kept looking for seeds. It got to the point where I almost had to burst out laughing as the little guy had his mouth so full, that I could almost hear him say, no I didn’t see any seeds around here, as seeds trickled out in the process.

Romeo and Juliet

This image was taken last evening at my mother’s house when I stopped for a quick visit, and thankfully I had my camera gear along. I always try to come up with an appropriate title for my photo each day, and although this particular one may leave you scratching your head, it’s what I decided on. First,let me say this image is exactly how I spotted it, and although it had just begun to rain, I still grabbed the tripod, camera and a huge umbrella and got set up. As I was working on the image at home, I was listening to a song by the same title, and that’s when the title landed in my lap. I knew the subtle colors had a delicate feeling and were almost like male and female colors.  This image is so soft and relaxed, yet it grabs you to look at it and appreciate its beauty. So perhaps these flowers belong together, complimenting one another in muted tones. I found it interesting that the blue flowers held the rain drops,but the pink repelled them.

Meet Croaker

This is the resident frog at my mother in laws house who has laid claim to her tiny backyard pond. He has been affectionately  named croaker for obvious reasons and my mother in law has almost perfected the mating call that emanates from croaker on a normal night. I used to have a backyard pond as well, and was always amazed how frogs found their way to these small sources of water. For this hand-held shot, I had to all but fall in the pond to get the low angle, but croaker gladly posed as I was about a foot away, and never even flinched.

A Dusting of pink

I woke up sunday morning to beautiful spring conditions that beckoned me to get moving and look for some images. I grabbed the camera, a lens and my tripod and walked around our garden in search of anything that said spring. the first thing I noticed was one of our hosta was covered with freshly fallen pink petals from what my wife thinks is a flowering crab apple tree we have.The tree is in full bloom right now,but overnight rains knocked a good number of petals to the ground, and helped adorn the hosta in delicate petals of pink. The soft light of an overcast morning, provided the perfect illumination to capture this graceful scene.

Tulip Splendor

Todays post for Easter features two images that I took at Longwood Gardens in the past. I wanted to go this past week to see the tulip display, which is supposed to be at peak right now, but the weather has been nothing but sunshine and breezy. Not to complain, but personally I think flowers look much better in soft overcast light with very calm conditions to allow the use of a tripod. Tulips are among one of my favorite flowers and Longwood has an absolutely stunning display each year. If you live anywhere on the east coast of the United States, you should head there this week and soak up the spring beauty.

Pysanky Eggs

With Easter rapidly approaching, I noticed my mother in law had placed a glass egg with several painted eggs inside it on display in the dining room. I asked about them and it turns out they were hand painted by members of her family from past generations. The eggs are called Pysanky eggs and are meticulously painted using a wax resist method. To me it looks like something I would never have the patience to do, but I am very impressed with the ones done by the family. I have no idea if these samples would be considered good,great,average or whatever, but I enjoyed photographing them using my flashlight, which you will notice I decided to let the light streaks from it show in the final image here.

Bleeding Heart blooms

The bleeding hearts are beginning to get toward their prime in our garden and a light rain shower provided the perfect complement with glistening beads of water. I set up some wind barriers on two sides to keep movement to a minimum at slower shutter speeds. I like how the plant seems to open in stages, as evidenced in this image.

Gardens begin to wake

It seems a bit early yet, but the crocuses are already blooming in many gardens in my area. The snowdrops already made their appearance weeks ago, so I guess I am officially ready to jump into the spring season. I always enjoy tulip season,but the last couple years have brought bad weather at just the wrong time, so I am hoping for a good stretch of calm overcast days, with even a hint of mist or fog in the air when tulip time arrives in a few weeks.

Machine shop End Mills

Many of you may have deduced by now that I have been thoroughly enjoying my visits to the old machine shop, and each trip is an opportunity to practice my light painting techniques in the hopes of getting better. This past trip had me trying to come up with some earth shattering image, which wasted an hour of time till I finally decided to shoot this detail shot of end mills and tool holders that were on a shelf. I added the cool oil can and rustic old cutting oil can to spice up the shot. I settled on the tighter shot because I wanted my shots to have some diversity to them. The background is just a wood panel that was part of the shelf unit, and I lit it with a flashlight.

A Stitch in Time

I spent the morning sunday shooting with my friend larry who is light painting master, and we each did our best to do something unique at our local historical society. I chose an old sewing machine, and friends Margi and Dan loaned me several antique sewing items to help bring the shot to life. I used small pen flashlights and my big spotlight to accent the pieces, and the shot took me nearly an hour and a half to do. The best I could figure was this sewing machine is one made by the man who got the first patent for a lock stitch design in 1846, and his name was Elias Howe. Mr Howe had to defend his patent in court from 1849-1854, because he found that Isaac Singer, and Walter Hunt had been selling a facsimile of his machine and lockstitch design. He eventually won the case and won considerable royalties from singer. I can imagine the many hands that worked diligently on this machine in the late 1800s and early 1900s, creating garments and necessities for the family. My grandmother was a great quilter and I remember her working countless hours on her old sewing machine doing patches,and a few times over the years she would relay the stories of how a needle had gone straight through her finger and nail while sewing.

The Bloated Sea lion

Since we are now into the weekend, I thought maybe its time to share another one of my misadventures near water. That blurred man in the lower photo is me standing on a beach in washington state alongside one of several dozen huge tees washed ashore. My morning started out with my wife and I taking in the beauty along the washington coast, and as you can see, sunny blue skies were in abundance. I said, lets walk all the way down to that island, which you can see in the background of my image, and I calculated it to be only a half hours walk. Well, we walked and walked, rested and walked, and as we get within a hundred yards of the island, you could see a fog bank quickly coming in off the ocean. I thought oh that’s neat, but that was only up until the fog got so thick that you could only see 10 to 20 yards in front of you.

Now in most situations fog would not bother me, but guess what?  As soon as that fog hit us, you could literally see the tide starting to come in, and on a normal beach one would just move up on the boardwalk or something similar, but considering the entire length of this beach was strewn with trees that had trunks 10 feet around, it was quite clear,we were not getting over them, and had to get back to the parking lot quickly. I was like a marine corps drill sergeant, telling my wife to keep moving as fast as she could, and carrying all my gear was really wearing me out. We went on and on, and waves were washing ever closer the entire time, and the final straw was realizing the little sign marking the parking area was nowhere to be found in the fog. we had no idea if we passed the lot a half mile ago, or had a half mile to go, UNTIL we saw the lovely bloated dead sea-lion that was washed up right at the path. luckily we noticed this poor creature at the beginning, and I can truly say I was never so glad to see a blob of blubber as I was that day. My heart was just pounding as adrenaline and survival instincts were on high alert.

The calming feather on rounded stones image was taken the same morning, up the road a bit after our little nature hike. The whole ordeal was magnified in my mind as it was happening, because we had read many signs warning about getting trapped in coves etc along the beach at high tide. Just another great memory around the peaceful waters.

The Doll Maker

For those who follow me here, and are not very familiar with me, nature and scenic photography is what most people know me for, so it is somewhat ironic that I post so many images other than that style here. I have found myself sharing things that I don’t always share in public, and I like to mix things up to keep folks interested. This shot from a local doll maker was done using a lensbaby,which creates a very specific plane of focus,depending on how you articulate the front elements. For me it was more frustrating than fun using it, so after the initial few days of trying it, it is now collecting dust. There are some neat shots on the lensbaby site, but I personally lost interest in it pretty quickly. This effect is exactly what the lens did and was not blurred after the fact. I thought this subject was a good choice to test this device out on, and I like the result on this image.

Mixing things up

A friend sent me a link to a little photo project to try, so today I gave it a whirl. The original idea was to mix water and cooking oil and shoot the resulting effect. After initial tests, I decided to mix rubbing alcohol and canola oil. This seemed to work pretty well as the two were easy to stir up and then they slowly separated from tiny circles to progressively larger circles as time went by. I have included an image of my messy setup to give visual aid to anyone wanting to try this. In the setup photo, you will see a clear glass bowl that the camera looks straight down into, and I simply cut a hole in a board slightly smaller than my dish. I did this to keep spill light from the flash hitting anything but my colorful items and not the glass bowl. The arrows point to my two flashes that were aimed at the pile of colorful clothing that I placed about two feet below the dish. Basically the flash hits the colorful items and the liquid picks up the colors. Flashes were set on manual and I shot around f 16-22 for most shots. I may try water and oil at some point,but initially it seemed they separated too quickly. Lens was a 105 micro and I was almost at 1 to 1 magnification.The three white sticks are to keep my dish from moving.