Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vernonia gigantea

The title of this post is the Latin name for my favorite wildflower - Ironweed. Specifically, Tall Ironweed. There is also New York Ironweed, which , according to my National Audubon Society Field Guide to Wildflowers (Eastern Region), could also grow in these parts, but the preferred habitat differentiates them. The New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveberacensis) prefers moist low ground and streambanks, whereas Tall Ironweed grows in meadows, open woods and pastures, which is the predominant landscape in rural Athens county, and is certainly the landscape where I took these pictures.

There are other details which separate the 2 species from each other (such as flower size and type, and leaf size and type), but I don't have the flower in front of me right now to verify that information. So it's possible that my ID still isn't correct, even though the differing habitats would seem to indicate that it is. But we'll leave the challenges of flower identification to another post.

What I do know for sure is that I love this plant, with its vibrant color, tall stature, and implied hardiness (the term "ironweed" makes me think of something that is very tough and durable). I certainly never want to wish summer away, but I always look forward to the blooming of the Ironweed in August and September.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Morning dew

Those who know me know I'm not a morning person. Oh sure, I'm fine once I'm awake, and I'm usually pretty perky and talkative once I've gotten going.... but I don't like the getting out of bed part. Especially if it's still dark outside, or mostly so.

So it took a lot of discipline for me to drag myself out of bed by 6:30 on a Saturday morning just so I could go out and... take pictures? Yes, the weather the previous few mornings had been primo for lovely scenes of dew shining like ice as the sun rose through the various valleys in the neighborhood, and the forecast for Saturday morning called for a repeat - no clouds Friday night, and "patchy, dense fog" for Saturday morning. Granted, I didn't expect a lot of fog, as I hadn't seen any the previous mornings, but I knew the dew was a sure bet.

So yes, I got up early to take pictures of dew soaked flowers. It was quite chilly out there, so I had a couple of layers on when I headed out the door - seems a bit odd for a morning in the middle of August, wouldn't you say? Sounds more like September or October. But, I digress...

Chicory flowers waiting for the sun's rays before opening for the day

Joe Pye Weed

Bull Thistle (I think)

Don't have an ID on this, but I was intrigued by the coloring and texture

Before I even took any pictures, I knew that getting up early just to be out in the beauty of the morning was worth it. While I can share with you the things that I see, I can't readily share the things that I hear. Many sounds made themselves heard while I was on this walk:

Crows cawing loudly overhead
Deer chuffing in the field
Roosters crowing just down the road
Hummingbirds buzzing by
Neighborhood dogs barking, warning me to keep my distance
Catbird mewing in the trees
Dew dripping from leaf to leaf in the trees
.... just to name a few!

Flowers in the mist

I think these are Prairie Coneflower. There's some Joe Pye Weed giving that pink color in the background.

Here's that Catbird I mentioned earlier...

The Chicory flowers are starting to open

More shots in a forthcoming post!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Praise to summer rains

It's mid-August, and we need some rain. We're not in a drought or anything, but a nice little shower would be nice. I think the plants would appreciate it. I took these photos earlier this month, the morning after a storm. I love the look of beaded water on plants.

A Japanese fern that I planted this spring - it has done very well this year.

New Guinea Impatiens - I love the contrast of the bright flowers against the dark foliage. I'll take these over regular Impatiens any day.

Keep on blooming, my sweet dears. Let me hang onto summer as long as I can...
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Sunday, August 3, 2008


Dave and I took a walk last night through the woods across the road from our house, and I took my camera along, hoping to photograph some flowers. Well, we got sidetracked by something much more interesting - some large bird flying around from tree to tree. Oh how I wished I had the binoculars with me, in addition to the camera. Always, always take the binoculars along for best views of birds and other things high up in trees!!!!! Luckily the bird came out into a relatively clear branch on a sycamore tree and I was able to snap a few shots. I was pretty sure it was a cuckoo, and sure enough, upon consulting my Peterson's field guide, my ID was verified - a yellow-billed cuckoo. Bet you didn't know we had those in Ohio, huh? This year I learned their call, thanks to a bird call CD. I have heard them calling in this neck of the woods, so I knew they were around, but this is the first time I've ever laid eyes on one. The photo's pretty crappy, at least from the standpoint of the type of bird pictures I like to take, and doesn't really do justice to the size of the bird (they range between 11" and 13" long), but it was the best I could get.

And on the way back to the house, we were treated to a lovely sunset.

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Getting the shot

As I explore photography more and more, I find myself creating scenarios in my head that I would like to shoot, especially if we're going on a trip. For example, before we headed off on vacation up in Michigan a little over a month ago, I knew I wanted to take some pictures of a kayak in motion on the lake. I wasn't entirely sure what this would involve (would I have to be in the water myself to get the best shots?), but I knew I had to try something while we were there.

I ended up taking pictures from the dock, laying on my belly, trying to capture some movement and feeling. A lot of pictures I took looked like this.

Despite constantly snapping off pictures, I seemed to have the best knack for getting photos when the paddle was in the water. I did manage to get one good shot of the paddle coming out and drawing up some water with it (I doctored this up in a couple of different ways).

Interestingly (for me) though, was the fact that my favorite shots actually didn't involve a whole lot of "action" at all. Instead, they created more of a "mood", which was enhanced even more by being turned into B&W.

The moral of the story, I suppose, is that while I may have a certain idea in my head of what I'm trying to create with a picture, I need to be open to the fact that something else totally different, but equally appealing (or perhaps more so) may be there, even though I may not be aware of it as I'm shooting. The end product may not necessarily what I was going for, but that usually turns out not to be such a bad thing.