March 27, 2018

Rain, 40 Degrees, South Winds 5 – 10 mph.

Finally, a change from the string of cold, sunny days we’ve been having, though I can’t say it was a pleasant one. It was raining lightly but steadily during my entire walk this morning, making for a soggy and slightly unpleasant trip. Even Jamie was so wet that he walked at my side the entire way home without any excursions to sniff at or pee on anything. This is unheard of.

I love the variety of these branch and bud forms. These look almost like a Pussy Willow. 

The forecast calls for clearing tomorrow but then snow is in the forecast later in the week. I hope it’s just light snow with little accumulation. We can get heavy snow storms this time of year and I’m definitely not looking forward to that. It might, however, be nice to shoot some of the new locations in Island Lake with snow. Still, I’d bypass that in order to have our spring continue uninterrupted.

Maples have this very distinctive look with the rows of little twigs with buds on their ends. 

It was so wet that I was unable to do more than take a couple of quick snapshots on the walk. I had the Sony NEX-7 with me and I suspect there is little, if any, water sealing on the little lens I had with me. It might have been interesting to examine the difference that the rain makes in the environment, but I was quickly getting soaked through myself, so I was not much inclined even had the camera been up to the task.

I really like the delicacy of these twigs with their tiny rows of buds on them. 

I was wearing my typical uniform for cold weather walks—a light down jacket, jeans, and a hat. The down jacket is not waterproof and down is a poor insulator when wet. The jeans, of course, slowly got wetter and wetter. Not much fun. An umbrella is just one thing too many to carry, though I might have worn a rain coat instead of the down. I really should invest in some rain pants.

This decorative tree is much denser, with many small buds. These flower white in spring. 

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of nice images I got from yesterday’s walk. I didn’t feel like I had gotten much after the walk. It seems that I’m getting quite good at seeing potential photographs—probably from all of the practice I’m getting. One or two of the pictures seem like something I might add to my portfolio, but they’re quite different from my first months work, so they seem a little out of place.

The idea that one can get good at seeing photographs is an interesting one. It seems like now I instantly see a visually interesting image. They’re not things that I have in mind in advance, just things that catch my eye. I couldn’t tell you much more about how to see these things except to go out a lot with a camera and react to what attracts you. That’s all I do.

We happened to see a Turkey Vulture sitting in a tree. He took flight when I approached. 

I don’t know if this skill is something you can learn or if it’s something innate. I do know that when I began photographing, I almost never made interesting photographs. At some point, months or perhaps a year after starting, I suddenly began to see good photographs. I don’t know why other than practice. At some point, I knew a good photograph when I saw one. Or perhaps better to say, I knew how to make good photographs from what I saw.

It’s definitely true that adding these new locations to my routine has complicated and confused what I am doing a bit. All the new kinds of material seem out of place with the same woods that I’ve been walking through. Yesterday I walked around a lake for a while. That’s entirely new. There is a river in the park as well. I guess the rest of the woods and meadows are not very different from my original location, but even they are unique after shooting so much in such a limited area.

The same vulture quickly aroused an angry little bird. he’s taking evasive action here. 

I imagine that I’ll become very accustomed to these new locations as well. I have photographed them before and I’ve ridden a mountain bike all over the park as well. I definitely feel that unless there is a change in the seasons, I’ve pretty well exhausted my local woods. But then, it was the challenge of seeing new things in a limited location that has led to so many discoveries to date.

Of course, winter and early spring is probably the most barren and limited time of year. I honestly doubt that summer will be much better, with its endless sea of green everywhere. It’s the transitions that hold promise and one of them is just around the corner.

Last night, my wife Lisa and I went for an evening walk around town with Jamie. It was refreshing to see another set of things. I was immediately attracted to the tree branches again. They are bristling with buds, some of which are big and look ready to burst. I love that some branches are curving, some straight, some angular, and some wildly curvy.

This is a common seagull but it’s beautiful in the air. I’m starting to really enjoy photographing birds in flight. 

The size of the buds varies quite a bit too, and the timing. The Maples and many of the decorative trees along the streets in town are early, with tiny leaves poking out of some of them already. I’ll have to look more closely at the Oaks. I know they are late to open their leaves. I assume that they are late with their buds as well.

Speaking of tree species, I looked up an app for tree identification. It would appear that identifying a tree solely from its bark is not as easy as you might think. All of these guides illustrate bark, leaves, flowers, and any nuts or fruit, all of which may be necessary to identify the trees. The pictures of the bark in this app are really not that good or helpful. Leaves seem the easiest thing to identify. Flowers are generally pretty high up in mature trees, and nuts seem to be more subtle in their distinctions. The difference between acorns, for example, is pretty subtle sometimes.

A massive Oak tree in the city park here in Milford. 

So, I think I will watch as the leaves appear and try to match them up with my bark pictures to identify species. I really would like to know what I’m talking about with these trees. I remember distinctly from last fall all of the different varieties of oak leaf that littered the ground. I wish now that I had looked up the species then.

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