an everyday photo, every day | photography • art • poetry

Posts tagged “outdoor photography

But My Hair!

messy goldfinch
messy goldfinch

But My Hair!

This male goldfinch is having a little bit of a bad feather day as he continues through his spring molt from the drab olive plumage to his bright yellow and black. He doesn’t look too happy about having a camera pointed at him, though. Many are done molting into their spring colors, but these must still be migrating from the far north.


They’ve Got the Feeling: 2011

photo of pussy willow

They've got the feeling.

The pussy willow is blooming now—for real. Those hard-shell buds have been waiting, ready to burst, since the January thaw when several of them actually did burst.

I’ve seen snow on the pussy willow, but it never amounts to much. I’ve been watching this branch of the pussy willow all winter outside the bathroom window, and the fat, fuzzy catkins, the blue sky, the sunshine, the mild breeze, tell me spring is here.


Sands of Time: 2011

photo of layers of limestone and sandstone

Sands of Time

What primordial wash left these deposits of colored sand between layers of limestone? How many times did the landscape change to create these layers? How much time does this represent?

This highwall is a man-made cut along the Panhandle Trail in Collier Twp., PA, a former rail line from Pittsburgh to Weirton, WV and connecting to points north and west. A section at the trail head runs through the McShane Quarry of Collier Stone, providing Collier Gray limestone and other products around southwestern Pennsylvania.

The portion of the quarry around the trail is no longer mined, but several quarry ponds still provide interest and habitat, and in the woods huge quarried and natural boulders left behind are covered with lichen and moss. And like most limestone and sandstone formations, there’s a natural cave to explore. Farther along the trail is another limestone feature, the Fossil Cliffs where millennia of flora and fauna remain in this ghostly form.


Saplings

saplings by creek

Saplings

Hundreds of slender upright saplings along the creek in a moment of bright sun today.They are all just a little bit out of focus because it’s very windy and I think that added to the interest of the photo—each sapling is in a different level of focus, sometimes having little to do with its placement in the photo.


A Delicate Balance (2010)

snow piled on rose of sharon pods

A Delicate Balance

I posted this on December 27 last year. It’s so beautiful I wanted to share it again, and here’s hoping we have some snow.

The dried pods of the Rose of Sharon look like hands reaching to catch the gentle snowfall, each flake silently landing on another, piling lightly, filling the space between to make a perfect cap, glowing with the warm light of sunrise. Some things are so beautiful they must simply be seen.


Red

virginia creeper on weathered door

Red

Sometimes the scene is just visually stunning, especially with a little flash of angled late afternoon sun on that bright red Virginia Creeper. Love the peeling paint, the weathered wood, cloudy windows and the door hinge. Yet the plant flashes its brilliance before it fades, while the building simply fades.

This is actually from last year, but I passed the same door, sans Virginia Creeper, and couldn’t get the photo out of my mind.


The Elves Had a Party

mushrooms growing out of table.

Mushroom Tables

And they left behind quite a mess on my picnic table—their table and chairs, and this orange dust all over the place. Who knows what those elves were up to?!

[I knew my table was slowly rotting away under the trees, as it has been for about 15 years, but this is going a little too far!]


Me and My Shadow

black-winged damselfly

Damselfly

A busy damselfly pauses on a leaf, her shadow clear in the bright mid-day sun. She looks right at me and seems just as curious of me as I am of her.

I’m not as informed about damselflies as I could be and can’t really identify this one beyond a few guesses. I found it as I was wading in Robinson Run in Collier Township, Pennsylvania this weekend.


Fossil

photograph of fossil

Fossil

Just a pattern in the rock, or a fossil?

We visited Fossils Cliff in Collier Township on Sunday, the limestone layers in the valley the ideal for finding impressions of archaic living beings between the layers. Sometimes the patterns were clearly just a pattern of the layers settling against each other, but other patterns clearly looked organic. This, to me, looks like a spine and perhaps even ribs. It’s about 12″ long and on the underside of an outcrop, impossible to take away.

I came home with a pocket full of smaller possibilities.

Below is a photo of the cliff with my niece and her children and Bingo the dog at the bottom, to give a sense of scale. It is easily three times wider than this, and between visitors and natural rock activity pieces of limestone are constantly falling. The fossil above is right about the center of this photo, on the shadowed outcrop right above the top of the loose limestone. We could only step around on this loose limestone, no climbing for us!

photo of fossils cliff

Fossils Cliff


Bee Balm

bee landing on bee balm

Bee Balm

A bumble bee comes in for an intoxicated landing on yet another newly-opened bee balm blossom.

The flowers were literally humming with bees, and apparently the flower is a balm to them as they weren’t at all interested in me.


Chocolate Bunny

wild baby bunny

Chocolate Bunny

Not to be too precious, but the little wild rabbits, when they sat still and alert, have always looked like chocolate bunnies to me. This is a baby, not even half the size of an adult and still has a white spot between its eyes, but quick on the draw. Oops, human! Run! All I saw was a white cotton ball disappearing under the honeysuckle.


Spring Bouquet

spring flowers

Spring Bouquet

Just can’t get over the simple beauty of yellow and blue, buttercup and forget-me-not in the evening sun.


In the Sky

hawk and crow in the sky

In the Sky

A crow harasses a very patient red-tailed hawk high up against the flat sky before a storm.

I followed a red-tailed hawk around this afternoon, trying to get the perfect photograph, but I did not succeed. The hawk was circling a fairly large valley that is a local county park, riding the thermals and gusts on an unusually hot day on the front of a storm. I couldn’t follow quickly enough on foot so I was actually driving my car and parking it, hopping out and looking at the sky for the hawk. It was always gracefully circling elsewhere, so I quit the pursuit and headed home, followed by the storm.

But I did remember this photo I’d taken several years ago with an older digital camera. The photo itself is a little grainy, but I like the interplay of the two birds in this one. The crow was really dive bombing the hawk and you can see a few feathers missing in one wing. But the hawk didn’t divert from its circling on the rising wind, and I presume the crow eventually lost interest.

And neither bird paid attention to the leading edge of the front just entering into the photo, the tip of a big thunderhead pushed along by winds. As today, it likely developed into a cataclysm of hot and cold air, then settled down into rain.


Patterns

sparrow on fence in black and white photo

Patterns

One tiny sparrow decorates the picket fence, washed by angled morning sunlight.

Patterns, both natural and man made, work so well in black and white photography because you can avoid the distraction of color and just enjoy the shape and form, the play of light on an object and the abstract shapes created by the light and shadow. Running my eyes on the pattern of light and shadow on the picket fence for me is almost like walking along and dragging a stick on the pickets, hearing both the taps and the silences as they make their aural pattern, the companion to the visual pattern.

The waving habit of the fence adds interest to the pattern, creating a visual rhythm all its own.

The shadow on the ground, while not as strong, is also intriguing, broken up by grass and gravel.

And, of course, the common little house sparrow sits atop like a punctuation mark.


Fiddleheads on Parade

curled fern fronds

Fiddleheads on Parade

The ferns in my back yard popped up with great enthusiasm, apparently late for some important activity.


Forget Me Not…

forget-me-nots

Forget Me Not

The forget-me-nots have suddenly begun blooming, responding to a few slightly warmer days and lots of rain, sprouting stalks whose growth can be measured in the course of one day, the round green buds popping open to revel the perfect five-petaled blue flower with its yellow center.

The overnight rain still clings to their leaves and stems and one drop hangs suspended from the edge of a tiny round petal.

And as the flower implores, I remember past springs and my yard a sea of blue as I had let them naturalize, and I remember past gardens and cats who spent the days outside with me and all the pleasant memories from 20 years in my little back yard.


But My Hair!

messy goldfinch

But My Hair!

This male goldfinch is having a little bit of a bad feather day as he continues through his spring molt from the drab olive plumage to his bright yellow and black. He doesn’t look too happy about having a camera pointed at him, though.


They’ve Got the Feeling

photo of pussy willow

They've got the feeling.

The pussy willow is blooming now—for real. Those hard-shell buds have been waiting, ready to burst, since the January thaw when several of them actually did burst.

I’ve seen snow on the pussy willow, but it never amounts to much. I’ve been watching this branch of the pussy willow all winter outside the bathroom window, and the fat, fuzzy catkins, the blue sky, the sunshine, the mild breeze, tell me spring is here.


Sands of Time

photo of layers of limestone and sandstone

Sands of Time

What primordial wash left these deposits of colored sand between layers of limestone? How many times did the landscape change to create these layers? How much time does this represent?

This highwall is a man-made cut along the Panhandle Trail in Collier Twp., PA, a former rail line from Pittsburgh to Weirton, WV and connecting to points north and west. A section at the trail head runs through the McShane Quarry of Collier Stone, providing Collier Gray limestone and other products around southwestern Pennsylvania.

The portion of the quarry around the trail is no longer mined, but several quarry ponds still provide interest and habitat, and in the woods huge quarried and natural boulders left behind are covered with lichen and moss. And like most limestone and sandstone formations, there’s a natural cave to explore. Farther along the trail is another limestone feature, the Fossil Cliffs where millennia of flora and fauna remain in this ghostly form.


Welcome to the Neighborhood

two colorful birdfeeders

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Hand made birdhouses, created by local kids in school, hang in young maples along the Panhandle Trail in Collier Township. They’re not usually hung this close together, but these two look so neighborly.

Local kids finished their art project and hung their birdhouses at the end of last semester so the colors are still bright. I used one of the photos I’d taken just a few weeks ago on a cold sunny walk along the trail for a design project and the colors stayed with me. Today, bright enough in the morning but overcast by afternoon and without the reflected white light of total snowcover, the bright blues and pinks called to me.

I hope they’re calling to the birds too so I know where to find them when I go photographing later in the spring. But in the meantime I enjoy the bright flashes of color in the scrub along the trail.


Winter Berries

photo of wintercreeper berries

Winter Berries

I thought the wintercreeper berries were all gone, but on a bright crisp winter morning they are brighter than anything else in the entire world, or at least the world I can see.

You can see their paper little shells pulled back, and perhaps they simply hadn’t opened before the snow began. Though I love the muted tones of winter, and the addition of a brilliant dawn and morning adds unforeseen highlights to all it touches, these bright red orange berries, shiny and new, are truly like candy for the eyes. Perhaps they’ll see me through til the maple buds swell open and the first crocuses open their arms. That is, if the cardinals and blue jays don’t have them for lunch.


A Little Thaw

water dripping from rocks

A Little Thaw.

Imagine the sound of water.

The limestone cliffs of the quarry seep groundwater dripping down the rock face into the partially melted quarry pond in a constant patter. The gray of the limestone and pale yellow of the wan winter sun color this image into a burnished antique gold.

The trail can be so noisy on a bright winter afternoon with all the water dripping and the stream surging with icemelt, and the birds making the best of a clear day to stock up on food. Even tiny bits of fresh green showed in protected spots, ferns and mosses just waiting for a sunny day to store up some energy to make it through the winter.


Unexpected Berries

Berries with snow

Unexpected Berries

The burning bush continues to flare, even as its leaves are gone for the season. These berries had been there all along, but not nearly as brilliant in the landscape as on a snowy morning, as the snowfall slowed and the sun struggled through the cloud cover to touch each berry, each accented with a little tuft of fresh fluffy white snow, a perfect touch for the holiday season no matter which holiday it happens to be.


A Delicate Balance

snow piled on rose of sharon pods

A Delicate Balance

The dried pods of the Rose of Sharon look like hands reaching to catch the gentle snowfall, each flake silently landing on another, piling lightly, filling the space between to make a perfect cap, glowing with the warm light of sunrise. Some things are so beautiful they must simply be seen.