May 5th, 2013 permalink
After many false starts, spring arrived this past week with several warm sunny days. The early spring flowers took their cue and began to bloom. By the time this exuberant season ends, you’ll tire of seeing so many posts with branches filled with buds.
Above, a small tree behind the Old Town Hall was one of the first to flower. I’m not wise enough to know the species, but I think it’s in the crabapple family. Right, a tulip almost glows in the dark as it prepares to fully open. It’s in a raised bed of tulips in the front of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church beside the millpond.
December 22nd, 2012 permalink
December 18: After the fog lifted, the clear blue sky was in sharp contrast to the dull color of the dormant millpond water plants.
The reflection of the dark plants against the blue sky is the most visually interesting part of the top image. The image to the right is just the opposite. The blue sky is secondary to the pattern and color of the plants. It’s not as successful but worth a look.
December 14th, 2012 permalink
Looking at the remains of trees brings almost as much pleasure to me as gazing upon maps. The swirls, changes in color, scars, and evidence of insects feeding on them tells so many unexplained stories that I can fantasize about what has happened during their lives and after they’ve died. All of these images were taken on the same overcast day in early December following a rain that made their colors richer.
December 12th, 2012 permalink
When I was growing up, most of my friends could open the hood of the old cars we drove and fix damned near anything. The wiring was simple to trace from dashboard lights and headlamps. Not anymore. After firefighters cut them to practice their rescue techniques, there’s no way to put Humpty Dumpty back together again (right).
Unless you have Photoshop! I started with the photograph to the right and created a symmetrical pattern and punched up the colors and sharpened it. If you click on the top image, you’ll be downloading a very large file (1.3MB) that will fit your desktop if it’s 1920 X 1200 pixels.
December 11th, 2012 permalink
People sometimes wonder what I’m hunting for when they see me looking at the ground. A contact lens? A quarter? Fact is I really enjoy finding patterns in the way leaves arrange themselves; their colors, shapes and textures.
Above is a detail of the photograph at right. Below are three color variations of the detail. They are nothing special but each one brings out different characteristics of the leaf litter to show the shapes and patterns. It’s just visual ways for me to explore while the real world is in its monotone phase.
December 10th, 2012 permalink
On the foggy morning when we had men in trees at the millpond, they chain sawed one that was surrounded by old thick vines. The tree had hidden how they had knotted together through the years. Their contrasting colors highlight their fight for sunlight and space as they have grown.
The one plant’s bark is so light it appears bleached. At the ends of the branches, delicate twigs form an intricate lace-like pattern that floats above the dark leaf litter on the ground under them (right). Along most of the pond’s shore, tiny branchings like this form an impenetrable barrier that protects the wildlife and shoreline from human activity. It’s a true hedgerow that is most evident in the winter months when the bare branches are revealed.
The growth rings on the cross section of the tree stump shows how it was composed of two trunks (left). The color is still fresh but will soon fade from exposure and the shape is unusual. Why do I suddenly have a strong urge for a salmon steak?
December 8th, 2012 permalink
December 3: A dead tree overhangs the Brighton millpond behind the Fire Station. On this foggy morning the wet wood’s red tones appear more prominent against the steel gray reflections of the sky and black shadows of dead branches in the water.
December 8th, 2012 permalink
December 3: This grungy cottonwood leaf was plastered to the pavement of a parking lot. I find it interesting how its colors and texture contrasted with the pebbly asphalt yet it seemed close to disappearing in the soft foggy light of mid-morning. If you click this image to see the larger version, you might be surprised with the multitude of colors in the asphalt. We think of asphalt as a uniform gray but the tiny pebbles within it are often colorful.
December 6th, 2012 permalink
After a couple of “gravy days” (unexpectedly warm for this time of year), the tables turned on December 4 when a cold front brought clear skies at sunset. It was a kind gesture that the front chilled/thrilled us with extraordinary color, but we were all willing to endure grayer skies if the warmth had been willing to stick around longer.
I took severe liberties to achieve the painterly image (below). Too bad that pesky railing ruins it, but the colors and patterns are still fun to look at.
November 14th, 2012 permalink
I often see things arranged by some random natural occurrence that look like they were skillfully placed together. Chance makes some great decisions! This small leaf looks like it’s been oiled. Maybe it was buried in the boggy mud for a while and was then kicked up by a passing white-tailed deer. The way it’s positioned on the larger leaf of a contrasting color caught my eye. I’m glad I was able to record it for all time. Small things like this reflect the wonder of nature to me.
November 12th, 2012 permalink
October 25: If the veins weren’t orange, this could be an image of a watershed from a satellite. Note how the green hugs the veins in the same way vegetation lines stream and river shorelines.
An oak leaf (left) shows its edges have lost their life sooner than the rest of the leaf. Perhaps this is evidence of the dry summer weeks we had instead of end-of-the-season deterioration. I’m grateful autumn brings delight to our eyes before the colorless months descend upon us.
November 11th, 2012 permalink
October 25: These leaves are long gone now, but I took so many autumn shots, I’ll be posting more for a while. These are maples but I don’t know the species. They grow near the shore of the Brighton millpond. Click on them to admire their patterns and flaws. I enjoy posting leaves in close up because we rarely look closely at them as we walk past. When you see them on a large monitor, you can take time to appreciate their complex structure and intricate beauty.
November 10th, 2012 permalink
Blonde Bombshell #2 began her life in the fall of 2011 as a platinum blonde, but you’d be hard pressed to identify her now if you are looking for a really light-colored duck. She’s more of an apricot color these days. I have trouble picking her out in the flock.
All duckings look almost alike first born except for those that are domestic breeds like this one. She was one of four siblings and the only blonde one. After the first few couple of months of life, she became a peachy platinum and stayed that way until mid-summer. Then she transformed herself again when she molted. The results are shown here. Take a look at all of her posted photographs during the past year.
November 10th, 2012 permalink
A few pruned-to-be-roundish evergreen shrubs are right beside the Brighton millpond trail where it passes by the Stillwater Grill. They are cultivated plants in the Euonymus family originally from Asia. Even though I’ve walked past them at least once on each visit to the pond, I don’t ever remember seeing fruit on them before. I recall tiny spring flowers but nothing coming after their bloom. This year, they are covered in seed pods that have recently opened to reveal a quartet of vivid tangerine orange berries on each stem. They’re small but are grouped in clumps hanging below the leaves so they are easily spotted.
There must be an evolutionary advantage to having bright orange berries at this time of year. The color is almost identical to the pods on bittersweet vines. Maybe birds see it better than other colors when skies are often gray in this season. Euonymus berries on most varieties are poisonous to humans but not to birds. The plant uses birds to scatter its seeds. Birds eat them, they past through their intestinal tracts and are pooped at locations near and far.
November 9th, 2012 permalink
November 1: I enjoy looking at untrampled leaf litter. The natural arrangement of leaves, how their shapes and colors interact, is always interesting. All three of these compositions were created from the same photograph to highlight different things. In the top image, it’s the dark shapes of holes eaten by insects countering the cavernous dark area above them. Below left, it’s the mixture of shapes. The close up (lower right) emphasizes the details on veins and edges as well as dull versus bright tints. The salmon color of the central leaf sets the welcoming tone for these images while the light from an overcast sky softens the shadows.
November 8th, 2012 permalink
October 28: Growing near the butterscotch toned oak posted earlier today, another oak’s leaves have redder tones but patterns that are just as interesting. Note how the leaf edges are more curved and their tips aren’t pointed. Insects or microbes have marred the leaf surfaces. Soon, the colors of these leaves will be lost. They’ll turn the gray-brown color of dust but won’t begin to deteriorate until the ground warms and the rains come in spring.
Each tree and shrub species loses its chlorophyll in its own way. You’ve seen how the sun influences the process in previous posts, and cold nights also plays a part. Much depends upon the “micro-climate” surrounding each leaf. I wish there was a way to permanently preserve these color changes beyond photographing them, but perhaps their appeal is their transience.
November 8th, 2012 permalink
October 23: The oaks aren’t as dramatic as the maples, but their subtle tones and patterns all seem to fit together well. Some turn to deep burgunday while others like these move into the butterscotch color phase before reaching an oiled cowhide brown. These leaves have sharp tips on the lobes, but I’m unable to identify the species. I have more photos from this same leaf grouping as it ages that I will post soon.
November 7th, 2012 permalink
Leaves that fall or are blown into the Brighton millpond eventually reach the dam. Some of them amass there caught on rocks and branches. At night, my camera’s flash picks up their colors under the water that paints them with ripples of light.
All five of these images are from the same brief time I spent at the dam. A couple of them are just different croppings of the same image to emphasize different colors, patterns or light. I’m posting all of them because I couldn’t decide which ones I liked better. Each has its own charm as well as flaws.
Have a look at them larger by clicking on them. This is the 28th set of pictures in this continuing series that’s accumulated over the years and it includes some of my most interesting abstract photography.
November 6th, 2012 permalink
Stripped of their leaves by strong winds, the tangle of vines reveals a hearty crop of berries. These blue orbs suspended on bright burgundy stems are the fruit of Virginia Creeper . They’re not fit for humans but the birds enjoy them after they’ve aged a bit from exposure to cold nights.
These berries are in the belly of the imaginary mammoth topiary posted on October 9th. Note how he’s lifted his trunk to his mouth now and extended his right back leg. He still wears his Carmen Miranda headdress. Maybe there’s a midnight festival at the millpond I don’t know about. Click him to see a much clearer image.
November 2nd, 2012 permalink
In autumn, the sun moves across the sky at a lower angle and often has a golden hue that it generously shares with the plants and water. Raindrops beads on fallen grasses near the shore of Little Worden Lake (above).
The shoreline of the small lake is ringed with the skeletons of shrubs and trees that died when the lake’s level smothered their roots. The late afternoon sunlight golds enhance every gnarled texture on the stumps and is replayed in the shallow waters that killed them (right).
A group of Mallards ascended from the pond and circled it before departing to roost for the night elsewhere (below).
October 31st, 2012 permalink
I imagine these leaves have all been detached by the wind but I haven’t visited the millpond trail to check on them since Sandy came to town. Just last week select trees and shrubs still sported some vibrance. The color in these photos is not super-saturated in Photoshop, but my camera tends to make reds redder than reality does.
At right, the blue berries of Virginia Creeper dangle from their deep red stems after most of the leaves have fallen. An untended ornamental tree fights for its life with several tall plants on the north end of the pond (lower right). Its colors matched what I labeled as the Gumdrop Trees last year but its leaves have vanished now, two weeks earlier than last year.
The other shrubs photographed are unidentified plantings. At top, the colors look like an early Christmas display. Below left, half of the color wheel — red through yellow and green — cover the entire plant.
October 30th, 2012 permalink
Michiganders complain about the weather all of the time, but it’s usually January before we refer to it as “bitter.” This year is different. Our autumn vanished quickly. The last two weeks have been cold, rainy, and windy. That was BEFORE the leading edge of the storm named Sandy came to town today. The winds are howling as I write this and might continue for another 24 hours.
Vines of Oriental Bittersweet, a poisonous (to humans, not birds) invasive species, are easy to see. Their tiny spheres seem to float in the night when well lit from my flash as they weave through the foot-long still-green seed pods of a Catalpa tree (top). Most of the darker red-orange berries are still encased in their bright orange pods but as the pods dry, they will crack open. I’ve often photographed bittersweet in past years. It’s beautiful when the hedgerows become tangles of twigs. Take a look at previous bittersweet posts.