I've driven by this tree maybe a thousand times, photographed it maybe 50 times, and never been able to capture the real character of it until now. My friend Rob does a lot of vintage photography, and turns out prints of incredible character and warmth using the old school methods of glass plate negatives and different types of chemical processing. I have always wanted to learn the process, but have never gotten around to it. And to be honest, Photoshop now does a pretty reasonable job of allowing me to simulate many of those processes, including the "gum bichromate" process. I have done these before, with mixed results. It hadn't struck me before that I should have been simulating the old style lenses as well. Doing that has really made all the difference, and in this case is exactly the sort of thing that finally allows the character of this old gnarly pine tree come across as it should.
It isn't Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree, but it could have been. A long, long time ago. 😊
You are going to have to make do with one from the archives this month, as fall is always a busy time of year for me. I am making it a good one though.
This is a cheetah which looks as if it has just finished a Thanksgiving feast and is mere seconds away from a nap. Something tells me that this particular cheetah would not live up to their reputation as the fastest animals on land at the moment. 😊
It is funny how much more I identify the time of year by the animals I see rather than by the calendar on the wall. These mantis are a great example. They become very much more visible when they turn brown, and I always associate that with the beginning of autumn along with hearing the cranes migrating overhead, both of which happen before any leaves turn color or the furnace kicks on at night.
Sure enough, when I checked the calendar September was already half gone.
And now it is October....time for some cider I think. 😀
Well, after a long period of hot dry weather without any rain whatsoever, we are finally feeling a bit of relief here in west Michigan. Along with the rain came a very nicely cool morning and a reminder that autumn is just around the corner. It won't be too much longer and the trees will trade their uniform green coveralls for the gaudy Hawaiian shirts that draw visitors in from all over the country just to witness.
Like a peacock fanning its tail.
Peacock feathers are incredibly interesting, and a lot harder to photograph well than you'd think. The iridescence which gives them their shiny appearance acts as millions of tiny little mirrors, which can play all sorts of havoc with the light and color, as well as the auto-focusing sensors on modern lenses. Accurately capturing both the colors and the iridescence requires very strict control of the light.
Man, we have had a hot summer so far here. And very little rain. It makes for a lot of real challenges if your job is growing things. This gardener is not only very hard working, but smart enough to follow the shade as she works. She is quite attractive as well, which is nice. :)
The cocoa tree is indigenous to Central America, though most are now located in Western Africa, and is unique in that its seed pods sprout directly from the trunk of the tree itself, rather than from its branches. The seeds encased in these pods are the source of one of humanity's most globally enjoyed foods, chocolate. It is so highly sought after that every year 7-9 times more cocoa is bought and sold on the cocoa futures market than actually exists. Given this irrational over-exuberance, one might be inclined to say that we are "cuckoo for cocoa pods". :)
Hope your summer is going better than my bad puns!
This is a Pileated Woodpecker. They are about 14-16 inches tall, and live in forested areas with wet ground and plenty of dying trees, as that is the preferred habitat of their favorite food...ants.
They are a notoriously skittish bird around people, despite not seeming to mind being near buildings at all. So as long as they don't see you, they are pretty easy to photograph once you have found an area where they live.
Around here winter didn't get the point when April showed up, and the snow stuck around until just a couple weeks ago. Spring didn't get a good start until just this week, and now it is already May!
Fortunately, the signs of spring are plentiful now, including a spike in both temperature and in animal activity. Porcupines are very sensitive where habitat is concerned, and while I used to see tons of them when I was a kid they have been quite scarce since then, until recent years when I started seeing them fairly regularly again. I take it as a good sign, even if it means having to be a little more cautious in areas they happen to frequent.
Q: What does a porcupine take for a cold?
No, it isn't the Lone Ranger.
It is the ubiquitous raccoon, or as my daughter calls it, a Trash Panda. An appropriate photo this spring as it seems that time is zipping on by faster than ever, and before you know it summer will be here once again.
In the meantime, spring is in the air here in the woods. It is still just a little too cold for the frogs to come out, although I did hear a couple of them last week. Lots of the birds are back now though, and it won't be long before the morels pop up. The turkey seem very scarce here this year though, which is a little worrisome. Perhaps it is the changing of the habitat, but it could also be a reflection of colder temperatures during winter or a rise in the coyote population. Either way, if there is one thing you can always count on in nature it is that things change.
Well, I haven't done a skull photo in awhile, so here you are. March is coming in like a lion here in the Michigan woods, but it looks to be reasonably short-lived. The maple sap is collected and will be boiled down for syrup this weekend, as sure a sign of spring as the returning blackbirds and cranes which were both heard on Tuesday.
Spring is a wonderful time of year, because while the death of winter is still fresh in your mind, all of the new life springing up around you (something new every day!) really imparts a sense of life and hope, and provides a sense of renewal and rebirth. In just a couple months new fawns will be running around this old stump, turning it back into a place of life and joy.
I am not now, nor have I ever been, much of a morning person. But things like this really make it worth being out there for. Even in the dead of winter there is fire and warmth on the coldest mornings if you know where to look for it. A good life lesson there....