Category Archives: photography

blooming tree in the summer rain

This summer brought its share of rainy days. The Fourth of July turned out to be one such rainy day, leading to many cancelled plans for picnics, barbecues and fireworks. I was in the middle of a frantic work stretch, however, so the rain didn’t much dampen my spirits.

Some friends were kind enough to entertain the kids along with their own kids for the day, while John and I both did work. In the late afternoon, while waiting for my children to be delivered home, I noticed that the sun was trying to break through the clouds, and was lighting the leaves and flowers on the tree next to our front porch.

I grabbed my camera, and stood under the shelter of the porch, and was captivated by the sparkling water drops. (I am such a sucker for water drops.)

Really, I should have also grabbed the tripod, but I didn’t intend it to be an extended photo shoot.

On a side note, I don’t actually know what kind of tree this is. Its deep, dark red blooms appear in early summer. I do like their understated appearance.

a few views of Howth harbour (friday foto finder: lighthouse)

During my visit to Dublin back in May, I took a few short daytrips to nearby towns. One day before the conference started, a friend also in town for the conference and I took the DART out to Howth, a small fishing town on the coast.

A short walk from the train station brought us to a small harbour sheltered by a breakwater with a walkway. We caught glimpses of a lighthouse as we walked.

We walked out to the end of the breakwater, and enjoyed the views of the harbour, nearby rocky islands and cliffs, and this little lighthouse. Then we turned around to wander more around the town and hills.

One of the paths we took led us up to the short round tower that can be seen atop this hill. (The tower is a Martello tower a type of lookout tower/fort that the British built around many locations along the coasts of the British Isles and beyond.)

The hilltop offered great views of the harbour.

And my trusty telephoto lens brought me close to the lighthouse once more.

This little excursion to Howth turned out to be one of the high points of my trip, and I have lots more photos from that day. (Happily, I indeed still have them, because I nearly didn’t. This was the town where I almost lost my camera. I’d left if slung over the back of my chair in a dimly dark little cellar pub below the train station, and I didn’t realize the fact until on the train heading back to Dublin…Perhaps a story for another day?)

This week’s friday foto finder theme was “lighthouse.” To catch glimpses of other lighthouses, pay a visit to the fff blog.
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darling buds of May

Here are some young leaves and leaf buds I saw outside the karate school when I took Phoebe to her class Friday afternoon. I did, indeed, deliberately choose to bring my camera and macro lens set up, since I knew I’d have time waiting. I love how vibrant the colors were in the late afternoon light.

My post title, in case you weren’t able to place it, is taken from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, likely his most famous sonnet:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:

In tracking down the excerpt, I was interested to come across a suggestion that in Shakespeare’s day, May was consider the first month of summer, as it is in the Irish calendar.

Of course, I also found a suggestion that they May of buds mentioned was not the month of May, but the Hawthorn tree:

It probably refers not to the month of May directly but to the May tree (the Common Hawthorn) that flowers in England at that time of year.

I don’t know what sort of buds I found, on some shrubs and small trees and climbing vines. I did find that it was tricky to focus on them, due to the breeze. (It would seem that the rough winds did shake them.)

A case of mistaken identity? (friday foto finder: prey)

Living in the woods as we do, it is not uncommon for small animals to visit us on our deck. We typically see lots of birds (chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals, etc.) as well as squirrels and chipmunks. When I heard a scrabbling sound at the sliding door a few days ago, I naturally thought it was a squirrel or a small bird. I was surprised, though, to see a bird of a substantially larger size: a hawk. I couldn’t get a good look at it. It flew off before I even had a chance to grab for a camera. I imagined that it had been there in pursuit of one of the typical smaller visitors.

A while later, I heard the sound again, and saw the hawk at the glass door. I grabbed my phone, but it flew off again by the time I moved closer. I went over to the door, and saw the hawk perched on a deck chair. I then noticed that Phoebe had left a sweater, one with zebra-striped fur details, on a box next to the slider. It occurred to me that the black and white mottled pattern might be attracting the hawk, perhaps resembling the pattern of feathers on chickens. There are lots of homes with backyard chickens in my neighborhood, and hawks are regular predators. This sweater may well have looked like potential prey.

I decided to leave the sweater, in hopes that the hawk would return. It did, quite a few times, though it rarely stayed at the window long enough for me to get a photo. I did catch it flying off to other nearby perches a few times.

As it flew away, I noticed that it spread its impressive black and white striped tail, giving me an alternative hypothesis: perhaps the sweater resembled another bird of prey, a competitor for the territory.

After a few visits from the hawk, I decided to keep my camera ready with my telephoto lens. (That’s how I managed to get that first photo, the one of the hawk peeking in through the chair legs.) I also got a few photos of the hawk perched in nearby trees.

Yesterday, in the early evening, I heard a scrabbling sound on the front porch. (The deck is at the back of the house.) As I walked into the dining room, I was startled by the flash of the hawk flying past the window. “It’s the hawk again!” I exclaimed loudly. Phoebe then asked, “Why do you keep calling it the hawk?” Then I explained that I was assuming that all of our recent hawk visits at the back deck had been from the same hawk. I grabbed my camera with telephoto lens, and was happy to see the hawk perched in a tree. Right over another hawk perched in the same tree.

It was hard to focus in the dim evening light, especially through the layers of branches. The hawks also didn’t stay put for long.

I now have a strong suspicion that these hawks are nesting somewhere near the house. I have been hearing them regularly. Just now, I heard some hawk cries, and opened the front door and saw a hawk flying away from the porch. (I didn’t have a camera on me…)

I think these may be Cooper’s hawks, but if someone else has a better idea, I’d be interested to hear it.

This week’s friday foto finder theme was “prey.” These birds of prey are higher on the food chain, and probably aren’t typically prey. But they certainly came to mind for the theme. To see what prey have been caught by others, pay a vist to the fff blog.

April showers bring May…showers

This first day of May started out chilly and rainy. Happily, it was not raining hard as the kids and I waited for the school bus, so we didn’t need to huddle under an umbrella. As we waited, the water drops on the pine trees along the driveway caught my eye, as they have before. I tried to get some photos with my phone, but in the low light of the dreary day, I could not get the camera to focus where I wanted it. I kept trying for long enough that Phoebe asked, “why do you take so many photos of raindrops on pine needles?” I found myself thinking, “why wouldn’t I?” But I probably said something like, “because they look so cool.”

After the bus came, I had about 45 minutes before I had to leave for an appointment. The plan was to eat breakfast and take a quick shower. Instead, I went back in and got my camera and macro lens set-up, and went back outside. It was raining lightly, and my hair got wet, so I figure this is practically the same as taking a shower.

(While I may not have taken a real shower, I did take quite a few photos.)

fruit, up close and personal

In addition to wandering the garden with my macro lens, I also went poking around in my mother-in-law’s fruit bowl. (Okay, one piece of fruit was too big to fit in the fruit bowl. It was on the kitchen counter.) Can you identify these 4 fruits?

unfurling

We went down to my mother-in-law’s for a few days this past week. (It was April vacation week for the kids’ school, and we had planned to be there with my mother-in-law for her eye surgery.) I was quite pleased that I thought to bring the lens and extension tubes that allow me to take macro shots with my camera.

My mother-in-law’s yard and garden was full of plants that were just waking up in the warmth of the late April days. (Spring was delayed down there, as well, due to the prolonged and bitter cold winter.)

I had a lot of fun taking photos around the yard, while the kids played.

I got a few shots in the late afternoon. The macro shots are tricky, and need plenty of light.

It’s also hit or miss whether I can keep my target in focus, especially when I am standing, and pointing up into the leaves of an overhanging tree branch.

I’m not really sure why I haven’t much remembered to take macro shots lately. I guess that when I am home, I don’t as often think to take photos. (I’ve noticed this before.)

Walking around with my camera, I saw details that I might otherwise have overlooked. Looking through the resulting photos, I was really charmed by the character of the fresh new leaves.