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!