Saturday, December 8, 2018

FENG SHUI ICE

On one of my recent morning walks I came across a water detention ditch in our neighborhood in which the standing water had frozen, thawed, and refrozen, creating some interesting abstracts.

First, just the plain ice, which I converted to a black and white.


What might have been more interesting were areas where rocks were poking up out of the ice or whee leaves had been trapped in the ice.  (Note the ginkgo leaf.)




Sort of a feng shui effect.

John

Friday, November 16, 2018

LEAVES UNDER ICE

I had thought that the fall color season was entirely over, particularly after a couple of early snows, as well as considerable wind that blew virtually all of the remaining leaves off the trees in our neighborhood.  However, this morning I noted that a light snow from last night, along with a bit of wind, had left a very modest drift on the small pond in our subdivision and thought there might be a photo op as we transition to winter (ugh).

So I walked back to the pond with my camera.  The drift was hardly an interesting opportunity.  I cropped the image a bit, turned it into a black and white, and increased the contrast.


Meh.  Abstracts are all right, but this one is essentially unintelligible.

However, when I was at the edge of the pond, now covered with a layer of ice, I noticed that the ice had trapped leaves from a variety of trees, including those from the trees in the neighboring woods. I thought that the distortions created by the layer of ice were interesting and gave the images an artsy look.




The definition in the leaves is dependent on how far they are below the surface of the ice.  Here is a closeup of a portion of the above shot.




I thought that the "white" leaf in the above shot added an interesting focal point.

I wish that the ice had not incorporated air bubbles, but there they were.  I think I should point out that I did ramp up a bit the color saturation and the contrast in order to bring out the colors in the leaves.

John

Friday, November 9, 2018

EARLY SNOW

We had our first snowfall of the season last night. On my morning walk I noticed that some of the trees still bore leaves, along with the 2 inches of new-fallen snow. So I grabbed my camera to capture what I could before wind and sun eliminated the opportunity. Here is what I got.

First, a few photos of the trees in our front yard.




Below is a wider shot of the pond and woods in our subdivision.  I tried to frame the shot with a foreground shrub and overhanging branches of a tree still laden with leaves and berries.


On my walk I had also spotted a couple of trees, one still bearing red berries and one hanging on to leaves on its lower branches.



I thought what helped this shot was the fact that the snow had reduced the apparent color in the shot to just the leaves and the flag.  The flag could be seen as a bonus.

My walk also includes passing by a small creek.  I enjoy the scene that the creek and woods provides, but I find it difficult to capture that scene in a photo.


I enjoyed the following tree in the neighborhood.  Even though it did not feature any leaves, I thought the complexity of tree's branch structure offered some interest.


Then it was on to a nearby park, Virmond Park, which is situated on a bluff above the Lake Michigan shore.

The park features a large open field that serves to frame a small but well-proportioned evergreen that I have shot many times previously.  I felt this shot offered some placidity.


The park also includes a nice cedar fence that is backed by a line of trees at the north side of the park.


Finally, I visited a stand of trees in the park.  I was shooting to the east, toward the lake, and it was apparent that the snow and wind had come from the west, setting up an interesting snow pattern on the mature trees.




With these shots I was interested in trying to keep the depth of field as large as possible, to keep as many of the trees as I could in good focus.  So I shot these images at a narrow aperture of f/22.  As to this last shot, I generally avoid placing the object of interest--in this case the large tree trunk--in the center of the image, but I thought that composition worked OK in this shot.   The unusual snow pattern on the tree trunks, I thought, gave these photos the appearance of a painting or drawing rather than a photograph.

John

Monday, November 5, 2018

FALLEN LEAVES

The fall color season is essentially over.  And yesterday we had a major rain and wind storm, which did its share to strip the trees of their remaining leaves.  As a result, virtually the only place left to look for color is on the ground, and that is what I did this afternoon--before another bout of rain came through.

In looking over the images that I kept, I noted that they could be divided into two sets, one emphasizing color and one texture.  First, the color.




As might be assumed, I took these shots in an area that featured a number of different species of tree.  My favorite of these is the image that includes pine straw as well as leaves from deciduous trees.  I think I should point out that these colors are natural, though I did brighten up the images a bit.

The second set of photos is more focused on texture and composition.





Even though the colors are muted, I like their complexity.

John

Saturday, October 27, 2018

ANOTHER WALK IN THE WOODS

We are definitely close to the end of the fall color season.  And, frankly, it was not a particularly good one from the point of view of richness of color.  This morning was cloudy, but it was a bright overcast and there was very little wind, so I decided to pay one more visit to our subdivision's woods to get some final shots of the fading color.

But first, I did take note of a shagbark hickory in the woods.  Most of the trees are varieties of maples, oaks, and the mundane deciduous trees, so this tall and very straight hickory, recognizable by its distinctive bark,  stood out.


I am still working to capture good shots of the foliage by pointing up and allowing the light to illuminate the translucent leaves.  I thought my results were mixed.



Here is another shot that I cropped down quite a bit.


For these shots I felt the dark branches gave the images a stained glass look, and they are generally where I set my focus.

Here is the shot that I thought was the most successful of this group.


I also too a number of "horizontal" shots.  In the following photo I was focusing on the clump of leaves and the tree trunk, planning to have the background be out of focus to draw attention to the subject for the shot.  This was shot at a wide open f/4 aperture to minimize depth of field.


Finally, I looked down and took a shot of the two leaves of a maple seedling that was surrounded by fallen non-maple leaves.


John

PUMPKINS

One of our neighboring communities, Whitefish Bay, hosts a pumpkin carving display each year in a small village park.  This year on the Saturday before Halloween I paid the park a visit with my camera.  The display seemed to have two main components, pumpkins carved by residents--of all ages--and specialty pumpkins incorporating more complexity.

First a few shots of the "regular" jack-o-lanterns.




This is just a sampling of what must have been a few hundred such carvings.  It is evident that there is a variety of aesthetic quality to these pumpkins.

For decorative purposes the area was decorated with corn stalks, which I thought offered some opportunities for semi-abstracts.



For whatever reason, I also took a shot of a pumpkin with an elongated stem.  My goal was to keep the stem in good focus and to allow the pumpkins in the background to go out of focus but to remain identifiable.


And then there were the specialty pumpkins, which generally were much larger.

Orthodontics?



Too complicated?




Despite how it appears in this photograph, this last pumpkin was my favorite of the bunch.  Maybe it was the mascara and the eyelashes.

John

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A WALK IN THE WOODS

This week marked the peak of fall color in our area, though the colors haven't seemed as bright as they have in past years.  We have a 5-acre stand of woods in our subdivision, and, as I did last year, I took a walk through the woods with my camera.

I am generally poor at trying to capture more panoramic views of fall color--they always come across as trite.  So I spent my time either looking down or looking up to shoot smaller compositions.

First, looking down at fallen leaves, I was searching for leaves that could serve as focal points for the shots.




I confess to "staging" shots from time to time, but this last shot, which includes the leaves of a maple seedling, was not staged.

Looking up, I focused on leaf-bearing branches that showed diverse color.  My goal here was to keep the leaves in the foreground in focus and allow the more distant foliage to go out of focus.  To do this I generally used a wide-open aperture and tried to find branches whose leaves were more or less in the same plane.  These first couple of shots were just OK.



The following shot was unusual in that I was focusing on just a couple of leaves and wanted to show the tree but keep it out of focus.  A little weird.


One of the problems with the above shots was that there seemed to be too much empty sky that was predominantly white because of a high overcast.  The shot below had more foliage behind the subject leaves, but I found it a bit confusing because there was not enough difference in color between the foreground and background foliage.


The image below seems more successful because the subject leaves do not get lost against a similar-hued background.


The best shot of this group, I thought, was the following, which shows more diversity of color.


John