May 16, 2018

Sunny, 50 Degrees, Calm Winds.

You could not ask for a more beautiful spring day than this. It has that peaceful, soft quality that is typical of this time of year and I’m loving it. Jamie and I drive over to the woods and park. I look forward to the day when we can get back to walking over again. It might not be too far in the future now, as my back is doing much better than it has.

We head into the woods and I’m anticipating a relaxing walk. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends recently, trying to catch as much of spring as possible in the short time that it takes to transition to summer. Already, the woods are looking pretty green, though there is still some distance to go before the trees and bushes are fully leafed out.

A lovely shot from the simplest thing. 

As I write this, there is a little black and white cat writhing around on the couch next to me, begging for attention. It’s pretty hard to resist, as he’s doing the cute thing very well. He’s rolling on his side and then his back, looking at me with his big liquid eyes. Every time I touch him, he leans into my hand with obvious pleasure. This routine will continue indefinitely, so I have to leave him to his cute act for a bit.

Back at the woods, I’m just walking peacefully, taking pictures of anything that catches my eye. The grass in the meadow is already over a foot tall and glistens with dew. I have to wear knee high boots on these walks to keep from getting soaked, even in mid summer. I photograph the grass, and some beautiful back-lit leaves as I make my way down to the Southern overlook.

Trees at the Southern Overlook. 

This view has lost its luster as the trees leaf out. The stark darkness of the tree trunks made for a dramatic shot, especially when the leaves were first coming out. Now, it’s all a big fluffy green that doesn’t do much for a photograph.

I do shoot a couple of nice back-lit trees, with their dark branches and glowing leaves. There’s a flowering tree here that adds to this effect. I can’t remember whether this is a Crabapple, or something else.

Oak leaves are really maturing. 

I have noticed that there are a number of small Crabapples scattered around the property. I don’t think these are native to these woods, but rather are escapees from the decorative Crabapples that are common in the neighborhoods in town. I’m more interested in the wild nature of these woods, but I can’t pass up a pretty shot where flowers are backed up by trees with leaves emerging.

I move up to the Northern overlook, which is fast becoming just a good place to look back at the trail. The trees are filling in, hiding the distant trees. This reminds me that I mean to get over there for a walk, though the trees are filling in there fast, and it may not be of much interest.

The Trillium, as promised. The name comes from the triple petals and triple leaves. 

I get a couple of nice shots of the trail here, then move up into the woods. I shoot a few overhead shots. The leaves are filling in and I want to track this progress. I still love these shots, though they get mixed reviews at our critiques.

I did go print some images for our monthly critique last night. Most of them ended up being road shots. There’s just no denying the power of those big trees and that light at the end of the road. I printed four of them and a couple of the overhead shots with the small leaves.

The Northern Overlook is filling in so you mostly see the trail. 

The road shots are universally praised, while the overhead shots, as I said, get mixed reviews. One person said she doesn’t get these shots at all. One said that she didn’t think they would sell. It’s good to get the feedback, but I love these shots and I’ll take them and print them anyway. This group is good, but I wonder if the gallery might like them better. Of course, they have to be concerned with sales, so they may not be interested either.

I don’t go to these critiques to figure out if my work is good. I make my own judgments about that and am not much swayed by others. I go mostly for the camaraderie. These are all old friends and it’s good to see them and see what they’re up to.

The woods are also filling in, though they still have a way to go. 

Back at the woods, I take a couple of over-view shots of the woods on my way up to the upper level. Up there, I continue to shoot a few interesting details and some flowers that are appearing in the bushes. I also come upon what I believe is a cultivated flower that has either gotten here on the wind, or has been dumped here for some reason.

One more shot of a nice Crabapple, my final road shots for the morning, and then Jamie and I walk back to the car and head home.

A pretty overhead shot, with lots of delicate leaves on the trees. 

I’ve been meaning to mention that I’ve become a real fan of my 70 – 200mm zoom lens. I remember writing about it early on, that it was virtually useless to me. I used the 24 – 105mm zoom most of the time. Now I probably use the 70 – 200 more than any other lens. I’m becoming a fan of tighter shots, often with shallow depth of field to isolate one element of the composition. I shot several of these this morning, in fact.

This change is interesting to me. I didn’t anticipate it. It’s just a bi-product of doing so much photography. I’ve had time to deeply experiment with my lenses and camera. I’m so at home with the camera now that making adjustments to ISO, Aperture, Exposure compensation, and other things, takes only seconds now.

Some brush and grass, back-lit by the sun. Just caught my eye. 

My camera has the ability to store three different sets of settings that you can access with a turn of a knob. I’ve programmed these for three different general types of shooting, to give me quick access to them. Everything is getting nearly automatic, where these changes were clumsy at first.

Just a quick report on the back injury. It’s actually getting better! The gentle exercises I’ve been doing are working. It’s just enough pressure on my back to push that disc back into place, without causing too much pain. I’m even gently increasing the duration of the more intense part of the exercise as the day goes on.

A couple of bushes are blooming right now. 

I had only very little pain on the walk this morning, and the same yesterday.I woke up at around 4:00 am last night and was able to walk with minimal pain. I decided not to do my exercises, and went back to bed. I probably should have done them anyway, but who really wants to spend 12 minutes doing exercises in the middle of the night?

I’m even starting to feel a little more optimistic that this may be a bulging, not a ruptured disc. That would be much better.

The back-lighting, and the little clusters of leaves in the foreground caught my eye. 
A non-native Crab Apple tree in bloom. 
I’ve been be-moaning the difficulty of catching Jamie’s softer side. He often looks beautiful when he’s snoozing around the house. These are some examples of that. 
Almost asleep, he knows I’m photographing him, but he’s not concerned. 
He looks a little sad here, though he’s sleeping on the couch right next to me, so nothing to be unhappy about. 

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