Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Two 4 Tuesday

This is a mediocre shot of what I think is a Bluestem goldenrod (solidago caesia) growing near Farmington, PA.  Like a troll, this was growing almost beneath a little foot bridge.  Notice the long leaves and how the flowers on this goldenrod are growing in bunches along the stem.

This second shot is of a bunch of New England Asters (Aster novae-angliae), not that I've done anything to help you in identifying these.

Snap Art was used to give these an Impasto-style Impressionist appearance.  The rendering process left my computer feeling profoundly depressed.  It's thinking of cutting off one of its speakers and sending it to the pretty little laptop across the street.

Monday, September 24, 2012

On Touchstone and the Noon kie oo nah yeah

I spent the weekend at the Touchstone Center for Crafts near Farmington, PA, trying to learn a bit more about photography.  It was a pleasant time of year to be in Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands.  The class was taught by Daniel Salitrik, who's more or less my contemporary, but who has been serious about photography his entire life.

My three classmates presented a mixed bag:  an artist/painter from the corporate side of advertising, a business professor with a background in fine arts, and a hospital employee who likes to shoot weddings and flowers.

I stepped out of my comfort zone to experiment with shooting people in some other classes, trying to vary the shooting speed in order to capture motion.  Results were not impressive.  It was good, however, to see and critique people shots with this kind of group.

So while others were telling stories of people in pictures, I found some sunlit spots in the forest that held my own interest.  These two variations of the same shot are perhaps my personal favorites.  Meet the Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens), growing amid some moss.  While this is the beginning of Fall, this subject looks more like a Christmas theme.  The only thing missing is snow.

I first thought that the plant and berry were Wintergreen, but I knew that Wintergreen is a solitary plant, whereas this plant trailed along the ground.  An interesting Wikipedia factoid about the Partridge Berry is that it is native to both United States and Japan.  That's quite a separation.  If you're still at a loss as to my title for this piece, the Wikipedia entry cited above says that "Noon kie oo nah yeah" is the Mohawk Indian name for this plant.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Don't Take Your Love to Town

This shot of Ruby Memorial Hospital was taken yesterday, while I was waiting for my wife to have an MRI scan.

It was taken through a Canon 20-35mm wide angle lens, and you can see the converging building sides caused by lens distortion.  A polarizing filter emphasizes the blue sky.  A part of the architectural design that I never appreciated before is how the center glass facade reflects the sides of the building in the foreground, making it appear as if you are looking through the glass.

If you're puzzled by the title of this piece, you may not be familiar with this old First Edition song.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Brush with Painting

I decided to take up the brush and see if I could do justice to a couple of my wildflower shots.

 Above is my attempt at a watercolor of one of my favorite Forget-me-not flower shots.

Below is a colorized pen and ink rendering of a sweet goldenrod.

I must confess that I'm a lousy artist, and I could never pull off anything like the above.  These are actually early experiments with an Alien Skin plug-in canned Snap Art.  It goes far beyond the filter capabilities that come with Adobe PhotoShop.  You can play with art styles, media (i.e., oil, pastel, watercolor), and materials (i.e., canvas, wood, paper, etc.).

It makes me feel like an artist (with apologies to true artists, everywhere).

Friday, September 7, 2012

Prickly Lettuce

Edith Prickly
Meet the Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca serriola).  I'm not sure if it bears any relationship to Edith Prickly; perhaps it's named for her.

According to the Wikipedia entry, prickly lettuce is the closest wild relative of cultivated lettuce, with pretty much world-wide distribution.  From this fact, I would deduce that it is another non-native to these here parts.

This is another case where I should have photographed more of the plant -- like getting the leaves.  After a bit of Googling around, I see that this plant also resembles another variety of wild lettuce.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Spotted St. Johnswort

Pictures aren't very good, but I hate to pass on the opportunity to record a new find.  Meet the Spotted St. Johnswort (Hypericum punctatum).   I saw only this one little stand of plants, but they closely match the pictures and descriptions I found at the MissouriPlants site.

I did not notice the little black spots on the leaves, which are what give this version of St. Johnswort its name. One thing in favor of this ID, though is that Common St. Johnswort has dark dots on the petals. This one doesn't:

The Spotted St. Johnswort is a native plant.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sweet Goldendrod

One of my current challenges is to get a decent shot of some goldenrod.  It's not as easy as it might seem because the plants are often in motion with the slightest breeze, and because there's so much to their depth-of-field.

The Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora) specimen below is the best that I've managed so far.   It's temptingly close to perfection, but it still falls short.   This was with the help of a small tripod, which allowed me to sit on the ground in some poison ivy.  It was a somewhat overcast day, do I couldn't push the depth-of-field too far and still maintain an acceptable shutter speed.

I used Adobe Lightroom to dodge some oversaturated areas, and I put in a slight vignette effect.

Yesterday was #textureblendphotography day on GooglePlus, so I looked for something that might qualify for that theme.  Ultimately, I chose this variation on the Sweet Goldenrod, running it through PhotoShop's texturizing filter with a "sandstone" setting.

The results are nice, rendering the image as sort of  a Japanese silk painting.  I might have to go back and tone down some of the vertical highlights, though.

A final thought (yeah, right) is the dilemma I have when composing a shot like this.  I was able to give it a pleasing layout for a screen image.  However, when it came to cropping and sizing this for a standard photo paper format, such as 5x7 or 8x10, the results compromised the rule of thirds and diminished the results.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Misty Morning Blue

Meet the Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum), which is growing in random places along the Mon River rail trail between Little Falls and Opekiska L&D.

According to Wikipedia and other sources, the Blue Mistflower is a native North American wildflower and a member of the aster family.

I've been reading The Digital Photography Book, by Scott Kelby, and it reminds me to get down low among the flowers while photographing them.  Artistically, the side-on view is a lot more interesting than the top-down view.  Something that Kelby does not mention, however, is to be careful of where you are laying on the ground.  I paid for this shot and a few others like it with poison ivy on both legs.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lovely Lobelia

The Great Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) along the Mon River rail trail between Little Falls and Opekiska L&D. 

Incidental bugs of unknown pedigree.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Natural Art

Yesterday's bike ride from Little Falls to Opekisa Lock & Dam (and back again) had lots of photo opportunities... and lots of unknowns.

I hunted through probably a hundred Google images to come up with an ID for this bug:

It's an Ailanthus webworm (Atteva aurea).  The Wikipedia entry for this indicates that it's an import from the South.  The pattern on the bug reminds me of an art pattern that I cannot recall. Chalk it up to CRS (can't remember sh*t) syndrome. Maybe it will come to me later.

And I still have not been able to identify this flowering shrub, which it was feeding on.  The plant is about three-feet high, and it seems to prefer growing in wet soil close to the river.

Update: I have a name for the flowering shrub.  It's a Japanese knotweed (polygonum cuspidatum).  It's a real stinker, too, listed as one of the world's 100 worst invasive species.