Friday, July 30, 2010

69/365 Gladiolas

What do you think of -- or who do you think of -- when you see gladiolas?

Maybe this particular flower doesn't evoke any kind of association in your mind, but I bet there's another flower that does. I have several, since I feel I've been surrounded by different flowers throughout my life.

Poppies make me think of my beloved dog of the same name. Peonies make me think of my mom, and the story she tells about receiving a beautiful bouquet of peonies when I was born. Red geraniums remind me of Dad, because they're one of his favorite flowers to include in his seasonal flower pots around the house.

When Mom sees gladiolas, she thinks of her grandmother.

When I see gladiolas, I think of cows.


When I was a kid, we had a flower garden that featured gladiolas and grew near a farm fence on the edge of our property. The farmer on the other side of the fence kept cows, and Chase and I used to climb the fence to pet the cows, if they let us.

How's that for an association?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 500 by a window in natural light

Thursday, July 29, 2010

68/365 Stargazer lily

One of the aspects of macro photography that I love is the ability to focus on minute details that often go unnoticed.

Take this stargazer lily, for example. Have you ever noticed that its dark pink spots are three-dimensional extensions on the petal? Honestly, I hadn't until I studied it with my camera in hand.

It's not the first time I've viewed a plant up-close and been reminded of a sea anemone. I suppose they're probably distant cousins ten-times removed, though, so it shouldn't be terribly surprising!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/60s, f/2.8 at ISO 500 by a west-facing window at about 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

67/365 Playing kids at the symphony

At my third attendance of the summer at Symphony on the Prairie this past weekend, I found myself watching a group of kids almost as much as I kept my eyes on the stage.

We sat in the shade near an open grassy area, and a handful of kids between the ages of about 4 and 8 ran circles around each other -- unfazed by the 90-degree heat -- for at least the first half of the performance. This little girl was loving the lush green grass. Doesn't it make you smile and remember those days of running around with complete abandon and just flopping down in the grass whenever you feel like it?

Judging by the grin on her face, she loved it.

When Mom and I were performing on our clogging team years ago, I always got a kick out of watching the kids that would approach and try to dance along with us at the edge of the audience. No concern about what other people thought, just pure enjoyment of the music and the entertainment.

I need reminders like that every once in a while! Don't you?

Camera: Canon 40D with 70-300mm IS lens, 1/125s, f/5 at ISO 320 and 200mm at about 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

66/365 Changing sunrise

When it comes to sunrises and sunsets, I'm a sucker for the times when the sun's rays are visibly peaking through the clouds in shafts of light.

Like most people, I have a standard route that I take to and from work every day. The route I've chosen is curvy and don't rise above 45mph, but in my mind, it beats sitting in traffic on the interstate. I'd rather be moving.

When I saw this scene, I pulled off the road to capture it before it faded away. I often find myself looking for a sunrise photo in this spot simply because my route is so wooded -- meaning this is often the most unobstructed view of the sky I get before getting to the edge of Indianapolis.

On this morning, it worked!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 7:30 a.m.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

65/365 Sci-fi sightings at Symphony on the Prairie

Yes, Luke, that is your father, and he was sighted in Indianapolis this past weekend at Symphony on the Prairie.

After having missed attending Symphony on the Prairie for too many past years, I've now gone twice this month, and I've loved it! This past weekend, I went with a group of friends for the Sci-Fi Spectacular performance. As a fan of action, adventure, and sci-fi movies, this was right up my alley. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra played songs from the scores of Star Wars, Star Trek, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Day the Earth Stood Still, E.T. and Up, among others. (How Up fits in there, I'm not quite sure, but it was still enjoyable.)

Darth Vader himself made a couple appearances, and George Takei -- Sulu from the original Star Trek -- was a guest narrator.

It made me want to watch all of these movies again! And it made me go to IMDB to see when the next Star Trek movie is coming out, because I loved the last one. (The answer is 2012.)

The crowd wasn't nearly as large for this show as it was for the July 4th spectacular, so my seats were much closer to the amphitheater and the view unobstructed by trees.

I'm sure you'll be seeing even more photos of Symphony on the Prairie, because I'm planning to go yet again this coming weekend. What a great way to spend a summer evening in Indianapolis!

Camera: Canon 40D with 70-300mm IS lens
1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 8:30 p.m.
1/125s, f/5 at ISO 200 at about 9:00 p.m.
1/60s, f/3.5 at ISO 640 at about 9:15 p.m.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

64/365 A new project in the kitchen

I have a new project.

I almost always have a project or goal I'm working on, so this isn't an unusual statement for me to make. You've been seeing quite a bit more food photography here in the past few months. I cook dinner at home nearly every night of the week, so it's a handy subject! And when you consider that most of those dinners involve working with fresh produce, you can understand why it catches my eye.

Inspired by Julie & Julia (an excellent movie if you haven't seen it yet), Mom and I have embarked on this new project together: using our respective libraries of mostly unused cookbooks, we're each fixing one new recipe per week.

It's not as ambitious as Julie's project is in the movie -- cooking her way through a 500-recipe Julia Child cookbook in a year -- but it's still a fun challenge. So far, I've made a couple Curtis Stone recipes, a Rachel Ray, and we made a baked eggplant parmesan together this past weekend.

This photo shows the prep for one of those Curtis Stone recipes: caramelized nectarines with yogurt and honey. Sounds fantastic, doesn't it? Well, I have to wonder about the directions, because as simple as it was (just four ingredients), the sugar burned and it just didn't work out.

Undeterred, I'm on to the next recipe!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 400

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

63/365 Acidic soil and blue hydrangeas

I just recently learned that the color of a hydrangea bloom often depends on the pH of the soil. Dad's are usually pink, being in central Indiana, but he acidified the soil this year to produce these gorgeous blue-purple blooms. They're absolutely stunning. He clipped one to bring inside, so I took it back out into the late-day sun and spent at least 10-15 minutes photographing it from every possible angle.

This influence on colors reminds me of the science experiments we sometimes did in elementary school, where we put a white carnation in water that included food coloring. As the flower drank the water, the petals changed color.

Thinking about that makes me want to turn on PBS and watch kids' shows!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/250s, f/4 at ISO 100 at about 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

62/365 Growing baby birds

Much to the chagrin of Mama Bird, I peeked in on these newly hatched baby birds that are nesting in Mom and Dad's grapevine.

Mama B couldn't have chosen a better photo-accessible site for me if we'd chatted beforehand. I was able to peer in at the nest without touching any of the plant around it. She never stopped squawking at me from a few feet away, so I made my photo as fast as I could, then left them alone.

Until they can fly, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that the babies stay in the nest and away from the jaws of the Great White Hunter.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 125 at about 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

61/365 Sunset over the reservoir

If you're a sailing fanatic, Indiana generally isn't the best place for you to be. We have plentiful land, but we fall short on water. For those who want just a taste of sailing, or those who are desperate for a fix, there's Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis. It even sports a sailing club.

In my case, I've never been sailing (but would like to), so Eagle Creek is just a nice reservoir to have nearby. Located right on the water is Rick's Cafe Boatyard, a restaurant whose outdoor deck overlooking the water gets a lot of traffic in the summer time. I had several girlfriends in town recently, and we met for dinner there to catch up.

One of these days, I'll actually have to get out on the water instead of just gazing at it longingly as I sweat on the deck!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

60/365 Symphony on the Prairie

I love Indianapolis, and having access to annual events like Symphony on the Prairie just makes me love it even more.

For those of you scratching your heads, saying, "Huh?", allow me to elaborate and make you just a teeny bit jealous.

Each summer, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra holds weekend performances at Conner Prairie, a living history museum on the northeast side of Indianapolis. Conner Prairie is a must-do field-trip destination for school kids all around central Indiana, because they can spend a day walking through the 1800s, seeing blacksmiths in action, watching how food was cooked over a fire in cabins, and marveling at their ability to wear shorts and tennis shoes that light up when they walk.

(For those of us who grew up west of Indianapolis, we also got a similar experience on a slightly smaller scale with field trips to Billie Creek Village in Rockville.)

Then, on the weekends, it's the adults' turn. They (I can say "we" now) flock to the Prairie, toting their collapsible lawn chairs, wheeled coolers (though I didn't see any that were nearly as cool as this one), deluxe picnics and bottles of wine. I went to the performance over the Fourth of July weekend, which happens to be one of the highest-attended performances of the year. I haven't found the exact figures, but I do know more than 15,000 people were expected for the weekend of shows.

And boy, did they ever turn up!

We went to Saturday night's performance, and I completely believe there were more than 5,000 people there with us. We arrived nearly two hours before show time, and it took some searching to find a spot to sit. As you can see in these photos, we were in the trees. It was both a good and bad thing: good, in that we were in the shade until the sun went down; bad, in that our view of the amphitheater was a little obstructed.

But isn't that the great thing about the symphony? You really don't need to see much at all.

Perfect weather, fantastic performance, great experience. I'll definitely be going back!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 7:30 p.m. and 1/50s, f/3.5 at ISO 800 at about 9:00 p.m.

Monday, July 12, 2010

59/365 A thriving garden

Boy, am I glad that I started my garden with just six plants this year. The tomato plants have outgrown their cages, the cucumber is taking over the yard (well, at least six feet of it), and I'm going to have more jalapenos than I know what to do with!

I couldn't have asked for it to turn out any better, after a rather sad garden last year and the selection of a new location this year. Any time you pick a new spot, even if you take all possible elements into consideration, you still have to cross your fingers and hope that it's going to work. I'd say this did!

This particular bloom is one found on my red pepper plant. I can't wait to add it to my salads along with the cucumbers I'm already harvesting, and some fresh tomatoes.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 400 in shade at about 7:30 p.m.

Friday, July 9, 2010

58/365 New pink lily

It's no secret that lilies are some of my favorite flowers to photograph, and Dad made my day when he bought even more to plant on the banks of their pond.

This one is a shade of pink that I hadn't yet had the opportunity to see, and I caught it before Dad even got a chance to plant it.

And boy, do I love pink!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 1000 in shade at about 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

57/365 Blooming hostas

Hostas are great foliage to have in your landscaping, because they don't just bloom then fade away -- they're attractive greenery throughout the warm months.

They may not invite the most attention, since they're more subtle bloomers, but I recently added a new lens to my arsenal -- and these had to be among the first captured subjects!

I have at least six hostas growing around my little house. Are you a hosta fan? If not, what are some of your favorite landscaping accents like hostas?

Camera: Canon 40D with 70-300mm IS lens, 1/500s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

56/365 Masked horses

With the fly season that comes with summer heat, the my family's horses have been sporting fly masks each day while they're outside.

They make me think of masked bandits when they're wearing fly masks, because you can't see their eyes through the mesh. And anytime you can't see someone's eyes, I think it always adds a sense of suspicion or mystery (good or bad).

Masks on people creep me out, and that includes sports team mascots, people dressed up as the Easter bunny, and Halloween in general. Mascots are particularly creepy because they're expected to be in your face, joking around, sneaking up on you... and you can't see who's under the costume. Eek. I've known a couple people who were my various alma maters' mascots, and it still didn't help.

Luckily I don't have to watch out for a rogue masked horse sneaking up on me at a basketball game. So this sight doesn't give me the creeps.

Camera: Canon 40D with 70-300mm IS lens, 1/500s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 7:30 p.m.

Monday, July 5, 2010

55/365 Civil War driving tour of Knoxville, TN

While we were tossing ideas around and trying to decide what we wanted to do while on vacation, Mom suggested that we find some Civil War sites and include some history in the trip. We consulted the almighty Google and found a turn-by-turn driving tour of sites in Knoxville, TN.

The Confederates advanced on Knoxville in September 1863 in a series of events now known as the Siege of Knoxville and the Knoxville Campaign. The house pictured above was the first stop on our tour, Confederate Memorial Hall. General William P. Sanders was fatally wounded by a shot fired from one of the windows of this house during the siege.

The tour took us all through downtown Knoxville and turned into a great way to see the city.

One of the most striking sights was the Knoxville National Cemetery, where hundreds of Civil War soldiers are buried. The monument in the background of the photo below is the Union Soldier monument, built in 1901 with the intention of outshining the opposing monument of the Confederates across town (I guess it takes more than 35 years to smooth old rivalries, huh?).
After the war, they only accepted Union soldiers for burial here, though there is at least one Confederate grave.

Walking through these historic headstones was a truly moving experience, especially after having just retraced the steps of the siege.

The driving tour was very well done, and we were pleasantly surprised by how interesting it was. I'd recommend it for anyone looking to spend a couple hours in Knoxville!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 between 1:30 and 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

54/365 Blue Ridge Parkway

What better way to drive from Asheville, NC to Gatlinburg, TN than along the Blue Ridge Parkway?

We made a stop at the Folk Art Center east of Asheville, first, which is a shop operated by the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Both Mom and I came away more inspired than loaded down with purchases.

The vistas along the Parkway were gorgeous (above). This was the first day we encountered significant rain -- of course! The day we drive a narrow, two-lane, curvy highway through the mountains is the day the heavens open up, right?

We drove through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and exited in Gatlinburg, TN, which was an assault on the senses, to say the least.

When I was a kid, we spent a few days camping outside Gatlinburg and came away with a lot of great stories and memories. Neither Mom nor I had been back since then (nearly 20 years), so we planned to stay in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area for a day and a half. Unfortunately, the town has changed significantly in 20 years.

The only thing I can guess is that the town doesn't have strong regulations on new businesses and buildings, because the main street is packed to the brim with arcades, chintzy museums, cheap souvenir shops, and pancake houses. We admittedly don't fit into the target audience they're apparently catering to now (young families), but both of us found the sight rather sad. It's no longer a nice, quiet town in the Smokies.

So we reformulated our plans over dinner that night and decided to cut our trip short by a day. The next morning, we drove the arts and crafts loop outside of Gatlinburg, which hosts several local shops that were worth seeing.

After that? Knoxville, TN, here we come!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s and 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m.