Monday, December 30, 2013

Best of 2013: May

Inner Light

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, I am reminded why this is both a fun and occasionally frustrating way to produce a "best of" album. It's fun because going through a month's photos looking for a pick if a great way to reflect on the year. It's frustrating because some month's you have a wealth of choices and others, the pickin's are rather slim!

May of 2013 was a good month. The semester ends in early May, and I celebrated with a trip to South Louisiana. I went to Baton Rouge first, where I met Google+ friend Irene Kato for the first time, not to mention her delightful family. After a lovely photowalk of her back yard and the neighborhood encountering many wonderful flowers, I sat in her kitchen and enjoyed her children, good conversation and watching her husband skillfully make delicious pot stickers, which we all consumed with abandon.

From BR, I went to Lafayette, Opelousas and New Iberia, then home by way of Camp Hardtner and my beloved quarry, and I shot all along the way. But perhaps the most amazing place of all was Lake Martin, southwest of Lafayette on the eastern edge of the Atchafalaya Basin. There I shot dragonflies, a great blue heron, egrets, and an anhinga, plus cypress trees draped with Spanish moss and the most amazing dinner-plate size American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) flowers.

A group of dedicated photographers on Google+ established a community they call "High Quality Sharing Photographs" or HQSP for short. Every day they pick and promote winning photographs in a variety of categories. picked this one. This shot was honored to be selected an HQSP Winner. You can see the winner post here: HQSP Winner July 6, 2013

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Best of 2013: April

Ruffled Steel

On this Fourth Day of Christmas, I chose an image I did not process and share back in April when 14 boxcars derailed about two miles from my house.

How do you make visual sense of piles of jumbled steel? How do you say something about the astonishing force involved when tons of coal and steel fly?

Of about 95 shots, I have processed four, three that I shared back in April. None of them are great photos, but today this one makes me shiver at the sight of steel folded into a ruffle.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best of 2013: March

My Friend the Beast

On the Third Day of Christmas, I chose this photo for two reasons.

First, I took it at the Chicago Zoo on an outing with my Google+ friend, Tom Tran. It was a blast, even though quite cold, and resulted in many wonderful photos--not only from the zoo, but also from the conservatory and an icy beach. Indeed, I have many yet to process from that day!

Second, it is another photographic accomplishment for me. The sun was too bright and the shadows too deep that day, and this creature mostly stood with his butt toward me and his head in the shadow. I snapped a couple of shots anyway, with little hope of having anything worth working on.

Then he turned sideways for just a moment and our eyes met. I got one shot and then he walked into the shadow. The shot didn't look all that promising in the camera. But on my computer using Photoshop, I was able to bring out detail in both shadow and highlights, and the b&w conversion seemed a perfect treatment for this subject.

When I was an undergraduate at the University of Iowa, I had a reputation for being able to do this kind of thing in the wet darkroom. I am finally beginning to believe I'll be as good someday in the digital darkroom!!

Best of 2013: February

Open Water

On the Second Day of Christmas, I chose a photo of the cattail pond at ULM's  Charles Allen Biological Station near Columbia. I have taught at ULM 17 1/2 years, but it was not until fall 2012 that I learned we own almost 100 acres of wonderfully diverse habitat along the Ouachita River just about an hour from home. The first two times I visited, this pond was completely covered with a vigorous green and red algae bloom. On this, my third visit, I was thrilled to find open water--and a perfectly still mirror surface.

I love this image, first, because of the detail in the reflection--not only of the trees but of the late afternoon light, and, second, because even though the light was fading and this is handheld, I achieved sharp detail throughout an extended depth of field. And that was my goal, in contrast to the shallow depth of field I often use. Recently I printed this one 11 x 14 and want to get it framed for the next time I do River Market.

And now I am reminded that I am overdue for a visit to CABS. Must get there before this all-too-short break is over.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Best of 2013: January

Delta Dragon

On this First day of Christmas, I begin my photographic year in review. This image might, indeed, be the best of the year, but I'll reserve judgment on that until all 12 are picked!

I shot the photo early Sunday morning, January 27, driving south on Highway 65 to St. Joseph to lead worship at Christ Church. As usual, I had left home early so I could stop and shoot along the way. The Sunday road trips I take to lead worship in nearby small towns double as all-too-rare opportunities to take pictures.

Delta Dragon was first shared on Google+ among a community of photographers with whom I was engaged in a mentorship program. Their response to it was gratifying. Thus, a couple of months later when the invitation to submit to Art Melt 2013 arrived, I knew instantly this would be one of my submissions.

Art Melt is the largest juried art exhibit for Louisiana artists. It is sponsored by Forum 35: Young Leaders for a Better Baton Rouge, and the art works are exhibited in the Louisiana State Museum for six weeks in July and August.

I was and am very proud that Delta Dragon was selected!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

iPhone Diary

iPhone Diary: 17 November 2013   


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Things Unseen

Not Two

The brilliant Ken Wilber says that “the fact that life and death are ‘not two’ is extremely difficult to grasp, not because it is so complex, but because it is so simple.” And the equally brilliant Kathleen Dowling Singh, who has given her life to hospice work, says that “We miss the unity of life and death at the very point where our ordinary mind begins to think about it.”

--Fr. Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation
August 30, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Industrial Evolution: Philly's Regional Rail

Making the Train Go
Okay, so... I take lots of nature shots: critters, especially dragonflies; trees and botanicals of all kinds, especially wildflowers; landscapes and waterscapes of all kinds. Love it and will always do it.

But cities and industry have their own beauty. Just came home from Philly a few days ago, and one of my favorite things about that city is regional rail. Of course, Philly has subways, trolleys and buses, too, and I ride those as well.

But the regional rail is special: clean, efficient stations and trans staffed with pleasant conductors. And affordable: $8 for a relaxing, comfortable 30-minute trip from the airport to Center City!

If Louisiana were a more forward-looking state, willing to invest in the future rather than pinch pennies in the present, we'd have one of these between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, maybe even interconnecting Lafayette. IMHO, of course!

Next time you're in Philly, hop aboard. "Mind the gap" between the platform and the car, as multiple signs warn you. But don't forget to look up to see some of the beautiful infrastructure that makes the trains go!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Photographer's Journal

Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword

Back in May, I had to drive to Baton Rouge. As is my pleasure, I left plenty early so I could stop along the way and shoot.

Just south of Winnsboro, I noticed a small lake on the west side of Highway 15/425. A road or driveway, I wasn't sure which, turned off the highway and extended around the south end of the lake, but I drove in just far enough to pull off onto a grassy area and walk to the lake edge.

It's a beautiful site and I went back in September. Dragonflies abound. Birds and butterflies are there. The plant life is varied and interesting.

In September, I stopped twice in one day, in the morning on my way to BR and in the late afternoon on my way home. And in the afternoon I walked north along the east shore of the lake to a stand of cattails at the northeast corner. Dragonflies were everywhere.

As the light faded and I was about to head to my car, I noticed a dragon sort of hanging from the top of a stick up. "That's an odd perch for a dragonfly," I thought to myself. But as I got close, I realized the dragon was dead. And when I got real close with my macro lens, I finally spied the reason the dragon was dead!

But if you look really close, you can see that the green lynx has a stump for one leg. I'm guessing the Halloween pennant went down fighting.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Things Unseen

Soul Inside Out

Did you ever feel so in touch with the beauty and the woundedness of the world and everything in it that you could hardly keep back the tears? Me, a lot. More and more.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Things Unseen

Finding Butterfly Wings

Finding butterfly wings...

It's about death
and life.

Beauty and pain.

Love and loss.

It's about living,
and dying,
and about living
when you'd rather die.

Especially that.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Photographer's Journal: Louisiana Agriculture

After David Plowden

One of the wonderful things about leading worship at Christ Church in St. Joseph is driving home up Highway 65. I always see something I must photograph!

My take from last Sunday includes several I like a lot. This one is my nod to David Plowden, a photographer who documented Iowa agriculture and whose work I greatly admire.

I should admit that Plowden would have done this in black and white, and his photographs are wonderfully minimalist: the fewest possible elements. Indeed, I look at my book of his photos and wonder if he waited until the sky was free of clouds to shoot.

I greatly admire minimalism and occasionally do minimalism. But most of the time I am "defeated," in a sense, by my delight in such things as a blue sky, low-hanging clouds, the gold-brown of late summer grass, and even power lines leading the eye into the distance.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Odonata Love

Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)

I can't remember exactly when or where I photographed my first dragonfly this summer, but it has turned into another near-obsession I really didn't need! But it is a lot of fun.

This one was at my beloved quarry, the one I visit whenever possible on my way to or fro Camp Hardtner, Alexandria and other parts south that require traveling on Highway 165 south from Monroe. And as you can see, I caught it in flight. That is no easy trick, but this particular one accommodated me somewhat by hovering a lot.

I needed help identifying it and called upon our local naturalist, Kelby Ouchley. If you don't know about Kelby, you're missing a lot. He does a great program on KEDM-FM 90.3 called "Bayou Diversity" and he has a great website:

I have also posted this photo and about a dozen others to an international database called Odonata Central. Check it out here:

Friday, August 9, 2013

Louisiana Wildflowers

Virginia Meadowbeauty (Rhexia virginica)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Photographer's Journal: Louisiana Agriculture

Corn Rotation
Friends who live in Monroe might have seen a recent article in "The News Star" that resulted from my photograph currently part of the Art Melt 2013 exhibit in Baton Rouge. The story locates that image in a new project of sorts. I have gotten interested in photographing Louisiana agriculture.

Those who know me best might recall that I grew up on a farm in Iowa. I spent many hours driving tractors, milking cows, feeding chickens, and more. Perhaps most unusual, I rather than any of my brothers was the one who wanted to help my dad repair the farm machinery. And I did, many times and many hours, handing him tools, holding the light, and more.

A few days ago I headed south on Highway 165 for a meeting with the Bishop, and left a couple hours early having decided that I would stop at the first farm where something was visibly going on. I did, just south of Monroe, and it was a farm & grain elevator operation. They were shipping out corn that day, having been offered a premium price for "all the corn we can deliver before August 1."

With permission, I shot a bunch of photos and this is the first one processed. I think I surprised the farmer by knowing enough to ask some intelligent questions. I learned that corn and cotton are good crops to rotate, and that's what he does to prevent crop and soil "fatigue" resulting from the same crop year after year. I also was surprised to learn that corn is less expensive than cotton for Louisiana farmers to grow because, even though it requires more fertilizer, it requires fewer pesticides.

The next time I go to this farm, I'm asking permission to climb the stairs to the top of the silo. I want to see if I can show the relationship between the farm, the levee and the Ouachita River.

Oh, and anyone who happens to be familiar with the photography of David Plowden might recognize an influence here! Plowden photographed my home state, Iowa.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Louisiana Wildflowers

Lanceleaf Indian Blanket (Gaillardia aestivalis var. flavovirens)

Indian Blanket (Gaillardia) is widespread in Louisiana, but most varieties have varying amounts of red in the center and petals. Some petals are mostly red with a yellow tip, and some are mostly yellow with just a bit of red at the center. The particular variety in this photograph is the only one with solid yellow petals and a yellow center. All Gaillardia have the distinctive lobed petals you see here.

Lanceleaf Indian Blanket prefers sandier soil than other varieties, so it is not surprising that I find it plentiful at my beloved quarry. You'll find many photos from the quarry on this blog, but I probably have not properly labeled them all. Guess I really need to come up with a name for my beloved quarry and use it consistently! Suggestions anyone?


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Things Unseen

Home of the Wounded Healer

This is my beloved quarry. I began photographing this place in February 2010 when it was a fresh, raw gash on the face of the earth. It draws me back again and again. It reminds me that all of creation bears seeds of reconciliation with and within The Creator.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Photographer's Journal

In Memorium

Although I love photographing flowers and landscapes and machinery and more, things that fill my viewfinder with colors and shapes and so forth, I also enjoy challenging myself to put as little in the frame as possible and still have an interesting photo. It's called "minimalism," and minimalist images are often--not always--rather abstract. By my definition, "abstract" means the viewer is not quite sure what it is. An online photographer acquaintance coined the term "ministract" for those images that succeed at both. I think this one does! What do you think?


Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer Solstice Safari

Spider Butt Surprise

One of the most fun things about doing macro photography in natural habitats is what you do not know is in your image until you see it big on the computer screen.

This surprise came from a photo hike in the Kisatchie National Forest with friends from the Louisiana Native Plant Society. I should be able to identify the flower, but right now I'm not sure where my notes are!


Thursday, July 4, 2013

New England Adventure

Untitled (Pink)
After a day and a half of hiking in the Berkshire's, I needed an easier photo assignment! So I went to the Berkshire Botanical Gardens, where I walked on wide, gravel paths and mowed grass, mosied through greenhouses, stood in the shade and never once broke a sweat or saw a mosquito. It was great. And this lovely being was in a greenhouse full of amazine cacti, most of which I had never seen the likes of before.


Monday, July 1, 2013

New England Adventure

Rain Approaching Monument Mountain
I just returned from several days in New England. My first stop was Enders State Forest, just west if Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, and my last stop was my grad school friend Lisa's wedding in Amherst, Massachusetts.

In between, I spent a day hiking with a photographer friend and his family. I met Chris online through the Google+ photography community; he's the third photographer from the G+ community I have met in real life through my travels. Chris' wife and two of his teenagers joined us and we had a fabulous time. As I told Chris, I don't think I would agree to meet anyone I have met only online through any other social network than the G+ photography community--which is really quite special.

So..., here we are at the top of Monument Mountain near Stockbridge, Mass. when a rain storm approaches across the valley. It had been a serious climb and it was a hot, humid day so getting rained on was a pleasant prospect. However, the storm broke up in the valley and did not reach us. Indeed, seconds before this photo, it had been much darker and more threatening in appearance. By the time I got the proper lens on my camera and had framed and focused, it was already fading and breaking up.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Photographer's Journal

Quilted Steel

Yes, I love to photograph butterflies, dragonflies, wildflowers and more. But I'm also fascinated by the work of human hands. We too are gifted creators.

Grain elevators dot the Louisiana landscape. This one is in Winnsboro. I shot this for a project I'm involved in on Google+. A group of photographers shoots photos on a theme, then gets together in live, online "hangouts" to share and discuss their two best images on that theme.

This was one of my submissions on the theme "Industrial." The group liked it a lot, but one person suggested I make the blacks a little more intensely black--which I did, just a little bit, and I think it an improvement.

Many complain that online social networking is a waste of time. I disagree. It certainly can be used in productive ways while still being great fun.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer Solstice Safari

Painted Lady (Phyciodes tharos) on Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa)
Today I had the rare privilege of hiking on Nature Conservancy land near Copenhagen, La. This preserve is not open to the public, but the Louisiana Native Plant Society got permission to visit, led by botanist Dr. Charles Allen.

What an amazing place and experience! We spent most of our time in a large plot of prairie thick with grasses and wildflowers. This was the only painted lady I saw. The bee balm was blooming everywhere, and we saw prairie clover, prairie conflower, purple coneflower and much more.
This is one of my favorites from the morning. Many photos to come!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice Safari

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)
It was plenty hot, but we had a fantastic hike today at the Charles Allen Biological Station, led by Dr. Allen himself, with friends from the Louisiana Native Plant Society. It was our kick-off hike for the Summer Solstice Safari that continues through Sunday noon.

Tomorrow we will visit the Nature Conservancy reserve in the Copenhagen Hills that neighbor the CABS where we spent today. I am so excited! The Nature Conservancy is not open to the public, but Dr. Allen can take use in.

This beauty is tasting Brazilian vervain, a common wildflower in Louisiana that butterflies love.


Louisiana Natives

Barfweed (Lobelia spicata)

Lobelia has many common names, almost all of which are pretty good descriptions of what happens if you ingest it, heaveleaf, pukeweed & vomitwort being among them! Nevertheless, a lovely flower, "spicata" being a pale blue and a bit less common in Louisiana then appendiculata, according to my botanist friend Dr. Charles Allen. I found this specimen in the ditch along Hwy 463 in west-central Louisiana.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Photographer's Journal: Dragonflies

Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera)

This is a small dragonfly and he stayed on the other side of the drainage ditch, so this is not as close as I'd like. I say "he" because, based on descriptions of their behavior, I'm guessing it's a male. He stayed on this twig or sashayed out a ways and came back, which indicates he had chosen this as a mating site. Indeed, while I was watching, another one come in and out several times but did not stay. That was probably the female and maybe she didn't like the "amenities" of this spot!

This drainage ditch skirts the Arkla Flyers airfield just southwest of Mer Rouge, La. I spent over an hour there a week ago on my way home from leading Morning Prayer at St. Andrew's in Mer rouge. This is my third time to stop there. I love photographing the planes, but the drainage ditch draws birds, dragonflies and more.

On this particular outing, two really unusual dragonflies were cruising up and down the drainage ditch. One was pink, and it finally landed just briefly. I got one slightly out of focus shot. The other had a stark white body and very dark wings. It flew fast and never landed. I have never seen anything like it! So... must return and try again.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Photographer's Journal: Dragonflies

Calico Pennant (Celithemis elisa), female
So... I was photographing at the quarry along Hwy 165 just north of Camp Hardtner, and this beautiful dragonfly obliged by posing for me.

Actually, NOT. She flitted around, stopping just long enough for me to get the telephoto lens in focus, then took off again before I could release the shutter.

But I finally got a couple of shots in focus, this being the pose that best shows her marks and colors. Yes, it is a she. With a little help from a small but enthusiastic band of dragonfly photographers on Google+, I identified the species, then from Wikipedia learned that this is a female.

A week later I was able to photograph a male of this species between two of the Three Sisters Lakes at Camp Hardtner. His markings are red and I'll post him soon.

And thus I discovered the great fun and challenge of photographing dragonflies! More to come.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Things Unseen

tears, not despair

heading south
then west, not east
away, not to

okay, not okay
not despair


Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Annual BBBBB

Tiny Surprise

I did not realize I was photographing a spider until I got my macro lens focused on this wild phlox blossom!

"The Annual BBBB" is a weekend of fun, food and photography for plant/nature lovers, sponsored by the Louisiana Native Plant Society and conducted by Dr. Charles Allen. "BBBBB" stands for "Bogs, Baygalls, Birds, Butterflies, etc." The fifth B might stand for "Bugs," as we saw plenty of those. However, just to be clear, an arachnid is not properly called a "bug." Anyway.....

We had great fun this year and Allen Acres B&B, near Cravens, La., is a wonderful place to stay in west central Louisiana! I'll have many more photos to share from this trip.

BTW, this was taken in the Kissatchie National Forest.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Photographer's Journal

Zarucco Duskywing (Erynnis zarucco) on Lantana

Wow! I'm at one of my fave places--Allen Acres near Pitkin, La.,--and I almost didn't get to shoot today. Cleaning sensor of my camera before heading out this morning, I accidentally turned off one of the "custom functions" that must be turned on so that I can use my old, film camera lenses on my DSLR. Could not figure out what was wrong. Fortunately had internet; went on line to JustAnswers and got help from Mike. Had to pay for the info, but it was worth it. Thanks, Mike, wherever you are!!!!  Got the camera working and went out quickly in the fading light. Shot 40+ frames and this is one of the better ones.

This Duskywing has his head almost buried in one of the little florets that make up a Lantana bloom. I shot about five frames using my 70-210mm zoom. It is really hard to hold that lens still and get a sharp image when it is on full zoom, so I'm pretty happy with this.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

BioBlitz: Critter

Huckleberry Hideout

A critter shot from the BioBlitz at Charles Allen Biological Station near Columbia, La. And I didn't know I had a spider in this shot until I got it on my computer screen! Amazing how much his legs look like part of the blossom.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Whadda you mean, you "see me"?

I'm sure this guy thought I couldn't because these critters don't usually hang around while you get up close and personal with an extension tube! Maybe he was posing so nicely hoping for a lucrative endorsement contract with an insurance company?

This is one of the numerous critters we saw at the ULM Biology Department's BioBlitz at the Charles Allen Biological Station last month.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Images of Australia: South Coast


Falling Upward
Have you ever lost track of which way is down and which way up? I have, twice. Once deep diving in dark water and once standing on the Coast Walk, a path carved out of the side of a cliff on the south coast of Australia.          

Monday, April 29, 2013

Photographer's Journal


Beech among Pines
I love Beech trees in winter. They hold their pale, coppery gold leaves until spring. Their branches are near horizontal, and so, seeing them in a stand of pines struck by sunlight, I think of heavenly beings holding their arms out in blessing.

But... my attempts to show this in a photograph have never lived up to what I see in the woods! Of course, that is true of many things. This universe is true incarnation and does not bend to the will of even the best camera, lenses and photographers. That's fine. Indeed, good for the human ego.

But I keep trying. And this evening decided to dump the color from one of my attempts. Sometimes black & white shows color and light better than color! Kind of like it.

This was taken at ULM's Charles Allen Biological Station near Columbia, La.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Moments of Grace

Egret Ambush

In her book An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor includes a chapter titled "The Practice of Getting Lost." I've been doing it and it is a wonderful thing.

Of course, I wasn't lost lost when I took this photo, but I had turned down a road heading east from Highway 34 just south of Bawcomville, a road I had never traveled before and had no idea where it would take me.

And this is what I found: A beautiful recreation area with a small lake. And a Great Egret standing in ambush framed by trees on a point extending into the lake.

But I didn't see the bird until I raised the camera with my 70-210mm lens on full zoom! Yes, the bird is tiny in the frame. I really, really need a 400mm lens. But that will have to wait...

In the meantime, getting lost with camera in hand saves my life every time. Moments of grace abound!

BTW, I highly recommend Taylor's book for all seekers of grace. Even if you don't consider yourself "religious," maybe even especially if you don't consider yourself religious, I'm guessing this book has something in it for you.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

BioBlitz: Charles Allen Biological Station

Tree Spirit (Cucumber Magnolia [Magnolia acuminata])
This tree is also called "blue magnolia." It casts the loveliest shade ever from its big, rounded soft green leaves.

According to Wikipedia, cucumber magnolia is fairly common in Appalachia but not so common here in the south, and in Canada it is an endangered species.

This particular tree grows on the 80-acre ULM field biology lab near Columbia, La., along a high ridge.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

BioBlitz: Charles Allen Biological Station

Straight and Tall

I am the beam that holds your house, 
the board of your table, 
the bed on which you lie, 
and the timber that builds your boat.
I am the handle of your hoe, 
the door of your homestead, 
the wood of your cradle, 
and the shell of your coffin.
--from an ancient prayer used in Portuguese forest preservation.

You can see why Loblolly pine is a favorite for builders and carpenters. But happily this lovely stand is on protected land--ULM's Charles Allen Biological Station near Columbia, La.

Monday, April 22, 2013

BioBlitz: Charles Allen Biological Station

Spiderwort (Tradescantia)

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

Saturday was BioBlitz Day at ULM's biology field lab near Columbus, La. It is a place I love to go: 80 acres of ridges and lowlands along the Ouachita River characterized by excellent biodiversity. I'll have many more to share from the 200 frames I shot!

The genus Tradescantia includes 71 species and even the biology students and faculty I was with did not want to hazard which one this might be!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Louisiana Natives

A Touch of Grace (Huckleberries)


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Louisiana Road Trip

Green Bower

The live oak trees that line the drive on The Oaks antebellum plantation near St. Francis, Louisiana, were planted in the 1800s. Today, their spreading limbs are home to thick coats of Resurrection Fern and curtains of Spanish Moss. To me, these trees are the very definition of "voluptuous." Walking into the space created by their welcoming arms is magical. I expect gnomes and elves and fairies to pop their heads out of the ferns or from behind the moss at any moment.

This photograph was taken earlier this year when the ferns were fresh and green and the Spanish moss it's most delicate shade of sage. All of the trees getting new leaves were a tender yellow-green and the grass had not yet hardened into summer green. What a tender, dream-like quality!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

The Sun Always Rises

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chi-town Treasures

iPhone Diary: 22 March 2013

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cool Stuff

From tiny acorns...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Great find, II!

Southern Twayblade (Listera australis)
So... here's a close up of the blooms of the wild orchid I posted a few days ago. Again, this wonderful find was at the Charles Allen Biological Station down by Copenhagen, La. It's about 90 acres of beautiful bluffs overlooking the Ouachita River, ridges, and bottomlands with a cattail pond. The land is populated by a great diversity of plant life (and animal life, I'm sure). I am working with the Biology Dept. documenting and preparing the site for greater educational use.

I just shared this photo with the online Google+ community of photographers a few minutes ago for a theme called "MacroMonday," and one of my friends commented right away that he really likes "the hairs going down the neck."

I do to. But I didn't even see them when I was making this shot. I think it was because I was kneeling in mud! These do grow in damp areas and I ended up with wet, dirty knees because they are tiny plants, close to the ground.

However, I truly wish I had been carrying a mat of some kind. I would have loved to have gone belly down with stacked extension tubes to get an even closer shot of just one blossom.

Oh, well. That's what's compelling about photography: You have to keep going back and trying again for that elusive perfect shot...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Road Trip

Twilight Memory

On my way home from Baton Rouge, I pulled off the road to try a different shot--which did not work out. Not enough light. But I turned to leave and "saw" this shot in my mind's eye. It was a moment suspended between day and night, past and future, alone and lonely. It took just three exposures to get it right. I wanted to linger, but the light was fading fast.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Photographer's Journal

Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)

I went to the woods looking for color last weekend for my online photography mentorship assignment. The week before, I had photographed fragments of corporate logos for my online friends to try to identify. You might be interested to know that even the international photographers in my online community were able to identify quite quickly most U.S. American fast-food trademarks from a photo of a mere fragment!

It was a fun game, but after several days of looking at corporate logos, I was ready to go looking for the subtler hues of nature in Louisiana in winter. What fun it was to find this red buckeye flower stalk with its wonderful reddish pink florets!

This treat for the eyes was photographed at the Charles Allen Biological Station near Copenhagen, La.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Photographer's Journal

"Wide Open" [Cross Vine (Bignonia capreolata)]

This was another discovery on my third trip to the Charles Allen Biological Station, not as spectacular as the orchid Matt Herron found, but Matt congratulated me on spotting it. In the summer, cross vine bears reddish-orange and yellow flowers and is a lot easier to spot. This is the fruit left behind that splits open to release the seeds. I was please that this particular fruit still had seeds; that's the reddish brown papery thing you see inside the wide open fruit.

My "Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of Louisiana" by Charles Allen, Dawn Newman & Harry Winters tells me the roots of this plant are a source of sarsaparilla. The name comes from the cross shape formed by the pith, which can be seen by cutting a cross-section of stem. I didn't. I'll take the book's word for it!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Great find!

Southern Twayblade (Listera australis)

This small plant is in the orchid family. Matthew Herron, a graduate student in biology, spotted it today at the Charles Allen Biological Station (CABS) near Copenhagen, La. I have identified it--I hope correctly--using the wonderful "Louisiana Wildflower Guide," by Charles Allen, Kenneth Willson and Harry Winters. In fact, this is probably two plants growing close together.

Matt and about a dozen students were at CABS today to do clean up and I tagged along to document proceedings. Matt bent down to pick up a piece of trash and spotted this little beauty. As the book states, "This species is probably more common than the records indicate, as it is easily overlooked due to its size." We did not measure these, but I'd guess the tallest stalk to be about 8 inches.

Way to go, Matt! Although the wildflower guide lists quite a few orchid species that grow in Louisiana, this was my first opportunity to see one in the wild. Now I know what to look for!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Photographer's Journal

Lace Over

I am endlessly fascinated by the moods of the cattail pond on the Charles Allen Biological Station near Columbia, La. On my second visit in late January, I approached the pond in early afternoon from a side I had not visited before. I stood on the edge of the pond among saplings that still hung on to their dead and shriveled autumn leaves. I didn't look closely at the trees; I'm not sure what they were, but several tree species in Louisiana hang on to dead leaves until they are pushed off by new buds in spring.

And I reveled in the delicate tracery of the shadows of those leaves on the seemingly solid algae-bloom surface of the pond.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Photographer's Journal

Glancing Light
A shaft of light reached into the woods and drew my eye to the shelving mushrooms on the trunk of this tree. The tree was down a steep ridge from the path, and so I was about eye-level with the mushrooms, even though they were high on the tree. When I walked a little farther, I looked at the tree again, and saw that the bark of the tree around behind the mushrooms was white--still on the tree and looking normal except stained with a large blog of white.

This shot is from my second trip to the ULM field biology acreage near Columbia. It will be called the Charles Allen Biological Station. This Saturday, a group of biology department students will spend a day at the Station picking up trash, clearing fallen trees off trails, digging a fire pit for a camping area, and so forth. I'll go down at about noon and spend a few hours photographing the work. Can't wait!