Thursday, July 31, 2008

138/365 Ordinary household items

I like trying to make interesting photos of objects that you wouldn't normally think of as the subject of a photograph. It hopefully gives a little surprise to the viewer of the photo, and it also helps me try to think outside the box.

I'm trying to be more conscious of that right now -- expanding my thinking of what I would normally see as a photo.

This is one such instance. I looked at this tub faucet and considered ways I could make it artistic and interesting, because it could very easily be incredibly dull and ordinary. One way I tried, and this is the result, involved setting the shutter speed longer to intentionally throw it out of focus as I hand-held the camera.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/5s, f/2.8 at ISO 100 in natural light at about 8:00 p.m.

137/365 Foggy morning

Fog may not be the best weather phenomenon to drive through, but I love mornings like this one, when the sun is up and shining, but the fog still lingers at ground-level.

Scenes such as this are exactly the reason why I carry a camera with me at all times.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 7:20 a.m.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

136/365 Grandfather clock

This is a closeup of the minute-hand of our grandfather clock. My grandfather actually built this. He's a fantastic woodworker, and one of his favorite things to put together has always been clocks. And this one is beautiful.

Every room in our house has at least one item that Grandpa has made -- tables, cabinets, jewelry boxes, turned bowls, picture frames, clocks, bookcases, you name it. He'll be 88 years old in October, and he is still as creative and busy as ever. Whenever I smell sawdust, I immediately think of being in Grandpa's workshop.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 1600 in natural light at about 8:00 p.m.

Monday, July 28, 2008

135/365 Concentric circles on old telephone poles

This is a closeup of one of three pieces of old telephone poles that sit in the corner of our deck. They’ve weathered the sun, snow, and everything in between for at least 10 years in this spot, so they’re starting to crack down the middle.
The even patterns of concentric circles is what drew me to make this photo. The evening sunlight deepened the shadows on top, so I thought it would be especially interesting in black and white.

I tried this both abiding by the rule of thirds and ignoring it, and I’m happier with this – the one that proved “all photography rules are meant to be broken.”

I’m pleased with the result!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/500s, f/2.8 at ISO 100 in direct sunlight at about 7:30 p.m.

134/365 Fat Fred and the struggle to stay on top

We’ve named a hummingbird that has returned to our feeder for several years in a row.

His name? Fat Fred.

We know it’s the same bird every year because he zooms around the corner and perches on the hanger from which the feeder is suspended – as he’s doing here:Fred comes back to this hook in the spring even before we’ve hung the feeder, like he knows it’s supposed to be there. So we’ve realized he’s not a new bird who’s just stumbled upon it.

He sits there, scrunches down into his legs and puffs up – so he looks like a little butterball, if you can call a hummingbird a butterball.

And he defends that feeder like it’s his only motivation on Earth. Any other hummingbirds who come zooming up for a drink themselves are fiercely dive-bombed and screeched away. Then he returns to his perch, fluffs himself up again, and waits for the next attempt.

Ah, the politics of being a hummingbird. Must be a rough life.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 in direct sunlight at about 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

133/365 Carrie Newcomer in concert

Each July, one of my favorite artists, Carrie Newcomer, holds a free concert in the 3rd Street Park in Bloomington.

She's a folksy singer-songwriter who is actually from Bloomington. She plays to an eclectic audience in this park, where there's hardly a spot left available for latecomers with their lawn chairs.

She has an extensive repertoire of fantastic songs. Two of my favorites off her current album, The Geography of Light, are "Don't Push Send" (about the perils that come with sending email in haste) and "Leaves Don't Drop." [You can listen to both on her website and her myspace page.]

This is the third year in a row I've been to her free concert in the park. Mom and I usually meet after I get off work, drive down with Subway sandwiches in hand for dinner, and claim our favorite seats an hour before the concert begins.
Rain clouds threatened us overhead through the entire concert, but they wisely held off and didn't cause a problem. I'll definitely be going back next year!

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 400 under overcast skies at about 7:30 p.m.

132/365 Nearly perfect green beans

It's green bean time at my house.

Mom picked the first batch of ours last week and has been canning since then. She said they're nearly perfect, with hardly any bug damage.

The smells in this house over the last few days have been intoxicating... green beans... fresh bread... and homemade granola in the crockpot. It's like one ridiculous Yankee Candle labeled "Homemade"that makes you hungry for everything in sight.

That's exactly why I can't burn candles that smell like cake batter or fresh cookies. It becomes all I can think about.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 800 in natural light at about 7:30 p.m.

131/365 The corn in the soybeans

Scenes like this make me smile when I drive by. It's a soybean field -- with a lone corn stalk poking up above the surrounding beans.

It happens when a few corn seeds get accidentally mixed in with the bean seeds, and you don't know it until a couple months into the growing season. I don't know at what point that happens, because you don't see it in every field. Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

130/365 Peeking at lilies

This photo reminds me of standing just off stage while peeking through curtains at the people on stage. The stamens look to me like a chorus of people lined up facing into the audience. And with the foreground and background petals out of focus, it gives me the feeling that I'm peeking at them.

It could be a scene in a Disney/Pixar animated film... who knows, maybe their next movie will be Lil-e or Finding Lilies. You never know!

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 in shade at about 7:00 p.m.

129/365 Growing geraniums

One of my dad's favorite flowers to pot every year are geraniums. For as long as I can remember, we've had pots of red geraniums on the front porch and deck every summer. I always think of him when I see geraniums elsewhere.

These sit on the front porch, and they're the healthiest and largest I've seen yet.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 in direct sun at about 8:00 p.m.

128/365 Dawdling in Denver

When we booked our flights in June for this trip to Colorado, we chose a departing flight from Denver at 6:30 p.m. in order to squeeze as much vacation out of our five days as we could.

But when Sunday rolled around, we were tired, satisfied with the trip, and ready to be home -- yet we still had half a day to kill before heading to the airport.

So, we ventured into Denver and visited the Downtown Aquarium, which we had passed on our first day.

The Aquarium was small but nice, and didn't take nearly as much time to get through as expected.This flower was one interesting feature of an exhibit. It's Rafflesia, the largest single flower on Earth.
Now, if you've followed this blog at all, you know I love photographing flowers. But I have to say, this flower was actually... ugly.

It grows in the Malaysia area. The petals look entirely fake -- like thick rubber -- and apparently it emits a smell like strong, rotting meat. I didn't get close enough to see for myself. I half expected it to reach out and scream, "Feed me, Seymour!" like the evil plant in Little Shop of Horrors. Eek.

The Aquarium had a nice variety of jellies and seahorses. These are moon jellies.
Some were the size of a golf ball, others closer to a softball. They look so serene and pleasant in their monochromatic world, but I wouldn't want to come across them without having the glass separating us.

The final exhibit was a stingray petting/feeding pool. Visitors held a small fish between their index and middle finger, then the stingrays would come up out of the water to pluck it out of their hand, flapping water everywhere.
After we left the Aquarium, we still had a few hours to kill, so we pulled out our downtown Denver map and picked a museum -- the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Though the Aquarium was nice, the Museum was great. I wish we had gone to the Museum from the start. We only made it through three exhibits in two hours because they were so extensive and fascinating; we barely scratched the surface of three floors' worth of exhibits. I would absolutely put it on my list of activities for my next time in Denver.

Camera: Canon 40D indoors between noon and 1 p.m.
Bird: 1/60s, f/4.5 at ISO 1000
Flower: 1/60s, f/11 at ISO 1000
Jellies: 1/60s, f/4 at ISO 1600
Stingray: 1/60s, f/4.5 at ISO 1000

Friday, July 25, 2008

127/365 Rocky Mountain National Park

I've visited the western U.S. before -- Yellowstone, Montana, Wyoming -- but never Colorado. My mom's brothers and their families constantly rave about how Colorado is The Place To Be, so my curiosity was thoroughly piqued before the trip.

And to be honest, the mountain scenery idea I had in my head, jagged, rocky peaks capped with snow... wasn't there. Until we drove through Rocky Mountain National Park on our way to Boulder.

Granted, the mountains didn't exactly have jagged peaks, but they rose above the tree line and still retained white snow in mid-July.

Acres and acres of lodgepole pines greeted us, but unfortunately much of it has shared the same demise of pines across the rest of the Routt National Forest: infestation of the Mountain pine beetle.

See this beautiful scene near the west entrance to the Park? Notice all the brown trees? It's not an early fall -- they've all become victims of the beetle.

As you drive across this section of Colorado, west of Denver, entire mountainsides of pines have been devastated by these beetles. At the ranch where Chase is working, and in many other areas, they are logging the dead trees, not as a way to combat it, but to remove the trees near the buildings because of the fire hazard they pose.

And what is ironic is that fire is one of the only ways the beetle can be stopped. They can weather water, winter, you name it. What many people don't realize is that fires are beneficial for landscapes like this, because they wipe out beetles, allow sunlight to reach the undergrowth, and let new life flourish. But with increasing populations of people who want a log cabin in the middle of nowhere, far from their neighbors, fires can't be allowed to happen. And yet that's what they need.

I couldn't believe how widespread the damage has become throughout the state.

Nevertheless, I was still captivated by the natural beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park.
The only wildlife we stumbled across were herds of elk -- large and small. These bulls -- velvet still on their antlers -- rested only about 40 feet from the road.
All other wildlife had wisely retreated away from curious eyes and sweltering temperatures.

Only one more day left of vacation, and I was not ready to go back to work!

Camera: Canon 40D, all around 2:00 p.m. under clear skies.
1st photo: 1/125s, f/8 at ISO 100
2nd and 3rd photos: 1/125s, f/11 at ISO 100

Thursday, July 24, 2008

126/365 Seeing Steamboat

Friday was my favorite day of our trip to Colorado, if only because we spent the whole day with Chase.

Our original plan was to start the day at the restaurant my parents have raved about for 25 years... but somewhere between 1983 and 2008, the Tugboat Saloon has stopped serving breakfast. Instead we ate at Chase's favorite breakfast restaurant, Freshies, where the granola is homemade and the cinnamon rolls are as big as your head. He's quite proud that he's the only one of his friends who can finish a roll in one sitting.

We rode the gondola to the top of the main mountain while our stomachs settled, then Chase took us out on the winding back roads, through acres of open range, to the ranch where he's working.

Before we toured the ranch, we detoured down a dirt road to his favorite location -- Box Canyon. It's an unmarked curve in a rushing river where you can climb out onto boulders and sit in the midst of the whitewater.I agree with Chase, it was definitely one of my favorite spots!

I loved seeing all of the aspen trees. Don't get me wrong, the forests of lodgepole pines are wonderful, too, but I love the gray-white bark of the aspens and their fluttering round leaves.

It struck me how quiet it was away from town -- and my home in the Indiana countryside is by no means noisy. When you're surrounded by narrow, rigid lodgepole pines, it takes a rather strong wind to make sound as it sweeps through those forests. But come upon a grove of aspen trees, and you suddenly have the more familiar rustle of soft leaves.
When we arrived at the ranch, Chase gave us a tour of the grounds, including the tack room and barn, where they keep equipment for their 87 horses. Each saddle and bridle was numbered (you'd have to, to keep that many straight).
Above the barn is a room where they hold barn dances and teen social activities. I loved this big, open window.
We spent the afternoon doing more touristy things, like racing down the alpine slide in town (he beat me, of course) and visiting galleries. That evening, Chase took us to the weekly Carr Pro Rodeo. They had every event you'd expect and some you wouldn't -- like peewee barrel racing. Three little girls competed in barrel racing, and the peewee who won, pictured below, was five years old. She was fantastic!
It was incredibly hard to leave Chase at the end of the night and send him back to work, but the day was absolutely worth it. And we get him back in a month!

Camera: Canon 40D
Box Canyon: 1/125s, f/8 at ISO 100 under overcast skies at about noon
Aspens: 1/60s, f/8 at ISO 100 under overcast skies at about noon
Bridles: 1/60s, f/5.6 at ISO 200 in natural light at about 1:00 p.m.
Window: 1/60s, f/11 at ISO 200 in natural light at about 1:00 p.m.
Rodeo: 1/60s, f/5.6 at ISO 1250 under halogen lights at about 9:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

125/365 Tea time and the venture to Steamboat

What do you do when you have some time to kill on the west side of Denver?

Take a free tour of the Celestial Seasonings tea factory!

Chase didn't get off work until dinner time Thursday night, and since it only takes 4-5 hours to drive to Steamboat Springs from Denver, we had some time to kill before we could snatch him. We considered going to Boulder early and getting some time in there, and as we were perusing a downtown map, we found the listing for free tours of this factory.

Sign us up!

It reminded me of being inside a Mister Rogers episode when Mr. McFeely would bring a "how they make that" video. I loved that part of the show as a kid, so I was really interested to take this tour.

And it was just as cool and interesting as I would have hoped! At the time we were there, they were working on processing hibiscus flowers, which is a main ingredient in a lot of their teas, including all of their zingers. They can't clean the leaves with water (because then they'd have tea), so they have to use a different sifting process using air.

We saw the room where they store the white, green, and black tea leaves, which is apart from the rest of the factory to keep it from acquiring different smells and flavors. What I didn't know is that white, green, and black tea leaves all come from the same plant. The white tea leaves are harvested first, while they're still "baby" leaves, then the green tea leaves are harvested after the leaves have further matured, and the black tea leaves are harvested after the leaves have oxidized even more. It's that process of oxidation that weakens the antioxidant properties from the white and green levels, but it makes the black tea good for your heart.

My favorite part was the Mint Room. They have to store peppermint and spearmint separate from everything else in a sealed room because the fragrance is so strong. Our tour guide, who I bet got her training walking backward doing college campus tours, introduced this room by saying, "Now, feel free to stay in this room as long as you like, or leave as soon as you like. Since you're the first tour of the day, it's liable to be especially strong."

She opened the sealed garage door, we stepped in, and the scent of fresh mint completely engulfed us. Our nasal passages were instantly cleared (I need to get one of these rooms!) and the menthol in the mint made our eyes water.

We bought some flavors of tea that we hadn't seen before here in stores (they make 101 flavors) and then headed on to Steamboat.

On our way, right outside of Boulder and just inside the mountains on highway 119, we stopped at a lookout on the side of the road and saw some rock climbers.

See the little white dots in the top left third of the photo?
(Note: If you click on any picture, you can view it larger. When you're done, you'll need to go back in your browser to return to this page.)

Another climber was about 100 feet ahead of them up the side of the mountain.

We finally collected Chase in Steamboat, had dinner at a local pizza joint, and watched a beautiful sunset right across from our hotel.
And after a day like that, we crashed, only to have an even busier day on Friday.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 (1st photo) and Canon 40D (2nd and 3rd).
2nd photo: 1/125s, f/11 at ISO 400 under overcast skies at about 1:00 p.m.
3rd photo: 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 640 at about 9:00 p.m.

Monday, July 21, 2008

124/365 Denver arrival

SightSalad is back online after a fantastic trip to Colorado. I am sorting through 520 photos and will post the best as quickly as I can, and in chronological order.

We flew into Denver last Wednesday, 7/16. I assumed my role as Official GPS Unit (a.k.a. full-time map-wielding navigator) as we first tackled Denver traffic at rush hour.

I only took a few photos that night, and this was one of them. It's the Broncos' stadium, Invesco Field at Mile High. It's very eye-catching architecturally because of the smooth, sweeping lines and glinting steel in the sunlight. It looks about as different from our own new Lucas Oil Stadium as it could possibly be.

By the time we found our hotel, checked in, and got some dinner, it was 10:00 p.m. Indiana time and we were so tired we hardly talked at all while we ate. But we were excited to be there!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250, f/8 at ISO 100 in direct sun at 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

SightSalad on hiatus

Due to a fantastic trip into the gorgeous Colorado Rockies, SightSalad will be on hiatus until Monday.

Don't fret -- I plan on coming back with some great photos.

For reading material until then, I'll leave you with some of my favorite photography blogs:

Digital Photography School. Great photography tips for both the amateur and pro photographer.

Strobist. Focuses on lighting using accessory flashes, not studio lighting, though that is occasionally included. Great links to other blogs with up-and-coming techniques and styles.

Danese Kenon. Not really a blog, but a daily photography site. She's a photographer for the Indianapolis Star -- and an excellent salsa dancer!

The Big Picture. My latest favorite. Posts at least three times per week, all pulled from international media, all timely.

Enjoy, and see you Monday!

123/365 Checking the list twice

I'm in the midst of packing for a trip to Colorado to see Chase!

To tell on myself, I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to packing (well, more than packing). I make a comprehensive list every time I pack for a trip, but this year I took it a step further.

I made it in Excel, so I can save it for future use. And it has columns for check marks and number of each item.

Am I missing my calling?

Camera: Canon 40D 1/60s, f/4.5 at ISO 800 under incandescent light.

122/365 Close-up on a green bean leaf

When I first found this leaf in our row of green beans, I knew I wanted to focus on the veins running through the underside. The sun was shining through the top, highlighting it perfectly.

As I studied it more closely, though, the actual pattern of the veins grabbed my attention. I noticed, as this shows most clearly in black and white, that the veins don't merely branch out to the edge of the leaf and stop. Instead, they curve toward the vein above and connect at the end, forming a loop.

In this shape, they actually remind me of some of Mom's quilting designs, which are meant to flow as completely from one shape to the next in one continuous motion.

So if you look at the shape of the veins, it actually looks like a rounded leaf inside a leaf. Or the swirl of soft-serve ice cream in a cone, depending on how hungry you are.

Who knew?

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 200 in direct sunlight at about 8:00 p.m.

Monday, July 14, 2008

121/365 Feeling tropical

If you haven't guessed already from the myriad of flower and wildlife photos posted here, Mother Nature really interests me.

Take, for instance, this palm plant. It sits in our screened porch at my left elbow when I'm sitting in my favorite rocking chair. And if the recent steamy Indiana weather wasn't enough, it gives the porch an extra tropical feel.

It loves its home. Yesterday Mom noticed that a new shoot has sprouted. What we found especially interesting was the way it grows -- it has a tall, cylindrical spike shape. And now it's splitting open:But here's the cool part: we expect that today or tomorrow it will "pop!" open and end up like this:
It amazes me that all these leaves are folded inside of that one shoot, and they unfold, perfectly spaced along the stem.

Without seeing how it started, I would have thought that the individual shoots would just keep extending at the ends, growing new leaves as it went.

I'm sure there's a reason it grows this way. Isn't Mother Nature fascinating?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens in natural light at about 7:00 p.m.
1st photo: 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 400
2nd photo: 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 400

Sunday, July 13, 2008

120/365 Water droplets

After the first round of rain we had last night, I found these gathered droplets on a table in the screened porch. It has a perfectly smooth glass top, so it is ideal for collecting the water this way.

In some ways it reminds me of shiny bubble wrap.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 800 in natural light at about 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

119/365 Watercolors

I tried something new for this photo. I set a very small aperture so I could use a longer shutter speed, then I focused on a part of the center flower and while the shutter was open, leaned toward it.

That's what gives it the motion blur along the edges. It makes me think of watercolor paintings, with the flowers colors blending together, giving it an ethereal quality.

Fun! I spend so much time thinking "make it sharp, get the focus right" that it makes breaking out of that box a challenge.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/6s, f/29 at ISO 100 in sunlight at about 7:45 p.m.

118/365 Patiently waiting

Buster's behavior is interesting when Mom goes out to the barn.

If he stays in the house, he runs, rather frantically, from window to window, looking out at the barn, desperately wanting to be with her.

But if we put him in the garage -- the way we leave the house to get to the barn -- he's calm as can be. No windows are available for him, so his only option is to wait.

He usually stays in one of two locations: sitting on the steps that go up into the house, or sprawled on the floor, tummy against the cool concrete.

And he just waits and watches the door.

It's very cute. But not as pathetic as this.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/60s, f/4 at ISO 800 under fluorescent light and window light at about 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

117/365 Corners

The challenge for week 24 on the Flickr group Project 365 was "corners," so that's my inspiration for today.

This is one of the few corners on our house that does not have a rain spout attached (which I didn't realize until I went looking for one). It's actually on the front porch and is under the roof, but at the hour I took the photo, it was in full sun as it set.

I like texture photos, and that's my focus in this particular photo.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s, f/4 at ISO 100 in direct sun at about 8:00 p.m.

116/365 Ominous skies

My first recollection of tornado sirens dates back to elementary school.

Our old, small-town school served as a bomb shelter in wars past. During the standard periodic tornado drills, we filed into the basement, a cold concrete level painted battleship-gray from floor to ceiling. We sat scrunched in rows along the walls, and waited while the teachers took roll.

My heart pounded every time, even though I knew it was a drill. No matter how prepared I was, the bone-shaking horn still made my adrenaline jump two levels. I don't remember ever having to take cover at school for a true warning.

Even now, when many sirens are tested weekly, it still makes me jump.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000, 1/25s, f/8 at ISO 200 at about 8:30 p.m.

Monday, July 7, 2008

115/365 Home remedy

One of our tried-and-true home remedies for an upset stomach is to sip a 7-up.

When I was a kid, this meant I was lying on the sheet-covered couch, iced 7-up in hand, in a tall plastic cup, with a sippy lid (no spills, even if you're sick) and a straw.

I've had a slightly unsettled stomach since Friday afternoon, so this evening I took it easy and reached for what I knew would help.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 640 in natural light at about 6:15 p.m.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

114/365 Truly girlie

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday evening is paint my toenails.

I don't often paint my fingernails, because I rarely let them grow long enough to make it really matter. But I almost always have my toenails painted.

And I like painting them on Sunday evenings because they make me start my work week feeling fresh and pretty. It's one truly girlie activity I enjoy.

And in the summer, painting on the screened porch, with a good book at hand while each coat dries... love it!

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 200 in sunlight at about 6:45 p.m.

113/365 Fields of gold

I love driving by wheat fields. Corn and soybean fields are nice in their own right, but the golden color of wheat fields just draws me in.

The farmers are now starting to harvest wheat that they planted last fall. I find it interesting that you get two crops from one wheat planting -- the wheat grain itself, and straw, which is just the remaining dry, hollow stalk.

It took me a while to understand the difference between hay and straw. Both are baled, but hay is a grass, while straw is the stalk of wheat (and other grains). Bales of hay weigh MUCH more than a bale of straw because of that distinguishing factor. You feed animals hay, you use straw for their bedding or in your garden.

I think of Chase when I see bales of either one. He's spent several summers and falls baling straw and hay with local farmers. When the temperature reached 90+ degrees, I know he looked much more forward to baling straw than hay because of the weight of each bale. Talk about rough work!

Camera: Canon 40D 1/60s, f/8 at ISO 200 in sunlight at about 7:00 p.m.

Friday, July 4, 2008

112/365 Make a wish

Happy birthday, Kristin (a few days early), and happy birthday, America!

We had a cool, rainy fourth of July today. When I was a kid, my family used to host an annual extended-family cookout. The two main things I remember about those cookouts are: 1. making individual servings of red and blue Jell-o with Cool Whip in the middle and 2. playing croquet in the yard.

Of course we had grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, and we set off the standard pack of fireworks. But it's the Jell-o and croquet that I remember most.

We haven't done those cookouts for several years, but they used to make the fourth of July my favorite holiday of the year.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/80s, f/4.0 at ISO 1000 with window light at about 1:30 p.m.

111/365 Cucumbers and thorny devils

The edges of the leaves of this cucumber plant are what visually intrigued me. For some reason they remind me of an Australian thorny devil lizard.

Strange, I know.

I think it comes from a fascinating article I read in a recent issue of National Geographic about biomimetics. It's the work of studying nature and biology, then adapting that for new inventions. The thorny devil was one of the featured creatures (you can see it in this photo gallery). They're studying it because they've found that it can stand in water -- or on damp sand -- and move water up its foot, up its leg, across its back, to its mouth to drink. They want to figure out how exactly its skin works, then adapt the idea for water collection in the desert.

I found the entire article enthralling. I recommend it!

The edges of this cucumber leaf remind me of the spines on the thorny devil. How my mind got there? I have no idea.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 400 under overcast skies at about 8:00 p.m.

110/365 Lily season

Nearly all of our lilies are in bloom right now and they're beautiful! I'm amazed at how many different varieties there are. Just at home, we have orange, big yellow, small yellow, red (like this one), and magenta.

It's one flower I don't enjoy bringing in the house, though, because their smell is rather strong and I don't find it pleasant. I think the stargazer lilies are the worst, which is unfortunate since they're very striking, and I often see them in bouquets.

I sure like photographing them, though!

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 200 under overcast skies at about 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

109/365 Stacked panels

Mom and Dad went and picked up the first fence panels for our riding round pen today while I was at work, and I helped unload them when they got home.

These will fit together, with a gate on one side, into a 60' circular pen, with tilled dirt and sand to soften the footing and provide an even surface. We've used Tina's until now. We like riding in it, because it gives you a safer, enclosed environment for you to learn new cues and practice.

We can ride in our corral and field now, but between the tree in the middle, the moon-surface-like ground and the distraction of the grass, it's more frustrating than anything. The round pen will be a handy area to have.

Camera: Canon 40D 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 200 in sunlight at about 5:45 p.m.

108/365 Drive-by (photo)shooting

On my way home last night, right before I got to my exit off of the interstate, traffic slowed to a crawl. It's nothing unusual on I-465, but I could tell something was going on when I looked up and saw two helicopters hovering.

I started planning an alternate route home in my head as I got closer, flipped to the traffic report on the radio, and waited to see what was happening.

An apartment complex, all units included, was still burning just north of the exit to I-74. I could see a lone firefighter suspended above the smoke still hosing the flames from above. As I rounded the curve, I was able to snap a photo over my shoulder.

I think the most interesting part of the photo is the juxtaposition of two very different moments in time: the people driving by on their way to/from work, having an ordinary afternoon, and the firefighter working against the clock to try to save these apartments. And it's all happening under a perfect blue sky.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 5:15 p.m.