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Wending Our Way Winterward. November 8, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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A dried basket of Queen Anne’s Lace emits a wind-driven thrum as it lords it over a meadow of grasses already laid down by our recent preview of winter:

It was 60 degrees here today, and I can’t help thinking that this field hit the mat sooner than it should have.  But then, two feet of snow in October will do that to you.

That’s from Elliot, in Williamstown.


More Summer Wildflowers. August 19, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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At the risk of looking like a one trick pony, here are a few more shots of wildflowers taken this past week.

Spotted Joe Pie Weed, dotting our meadows with towering sprays of mauvey goodness:

Bur cucumber, an invasive vine with lovely cream flower spikes, topping every bush and shrub within this field of view in Williamstown:

Touch-me-not (or Jewel weed, as you wish) in both its orange and yellow incarnations:

This leafy succulent frequently grows amidst poison ivy and, miracle of miracles, its thick, aloe-like stem fluids can be applied to the skin to prevent the deleterious effects of the latter!

And a gone-by sprig of Queen Anne’s Lace, assuming its birds-nest late form as it stands guard for a bit of purple Cow vetch at its feet:

I used a variety of lenses to get these shots, from Elliot for the Bur cucumber to Ziggy for that last one and probably Ollie for the others; it’s been a long week, and I’m really not remembering all the details.

Anyway, that’s it for now.  Weather’s coming, so something other than wildflowers is likely to appear here soon.

While Noodling My Way Home… August 2, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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I accidentally (sorta) went West to Williamstown, lured by tumultuous skies and a bad case of Latent Photo Wood.


Anyway, conditions looked right for a shoot, so I affixed Elliot to my box and got jiggy wit it.  It was windy as hell (is hell windy??) so I eschewed the tripod, figuring the world was shaking faster than I ever would, and snapped one off at 7 degrees of tilt:

Spotted Joe Pie weed below a shoulder of Mount Greylock.

And Queen Anne’s Lace in a cornfield nearby, presenting its umbels in a sufficiently planar way to suggest a tilt-shift take:

Purple lustrife, the little invasive bastards, illuminated a view of cornfields and clouds:

All of these are hand-held and wingin’ it, panning about to plant that plane of sharp focus on something I knew the name of, except for this one, which was tripod-mounted and grad filtered (albeit hand-held) and swung about eight degrees right:

I dug the densely algied surface of that swamp, and managed to get the Lustrife and snags dialed in fairly sharply.

Gawd,  I loves me some Elliot!  🙂

Then, alas, it was homeward through a driving rain to not  mow the lawn.

Funny how that worked out…

It Stormed To The South… July 27, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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…So of course, I had to go see.

I mean, it’s not that I wanted to be devoured by a meteorological event, but rather that I expected to capture a bit of the kinetics which infuse the atmosphere in such situations.

Well, as so often happens in my life, I was late to the party; whatever was going to happen had already done so, and to the south of my photographic venue at that.  I’d driven madly to get to a patch of corn fields down by the Connecticut river near the Northampton airport, a place I’ve gone before when the weather sucked; it has the potential to give up an iconic photo of the Western Massachusetts I know, but does so only when caressed just so by rain and sun.

But the weather passed primarily to the south, and I was left with…

…what was there.  A farm with a truck-patch of leeks:

That’s from Elliot, with perhaps five degrees of tilt.  The storms passing to the south were pushing low clouds over the Seven Sisters, as the range of hills in the background are known hereabouts.  I liked the way that looked against the darker sky, and the scene was so planar that it begged for front-to-back focus.

I worked my way along the farm roads and tractor paths down to the Connecticut river, where yellow tanzies grew atop a high bank:

That’s Mt. Holyoke (the mountain) in the background, with the summit house of Skinner State Park atop it.  I didn’t get the “tilt” right to get it in focus; I was too close the the plane of the tanzies and wanted them more.

Well, having a tilt-shift lens on the box made me look for planar subjects which might benefit from its attributes, so I composed in two dimensions.  A fallow field harbors a bloom of Queen Anne’s Lace and asparagus:

The line of hills running away in the background is the Mt. Tom massif, with big basalt cliffs facing westward and some fun ice climbing in the early winter (for those who enjoy that particular trial.)  This afternoon it was simply a horizon element as I tried to pin down the Lace dancing in the breeze.

I wandered the field roads looking for foregrounds and sky elements, pulling over whenever I encountered something like these mullein plants with their flower stalks almost ready to bloom:

These things feel vaguely Southwestern, like a cross between saguaros and gerbils.  And again, I caught those low clouds sneaking in from the south.

A ways further along I was admiring another patch of Queen Anne’s Lace when a flash of rose caught my eye – a milkweed blossom audaciously pink among the pure Queen’s blossoms, and horror of horrors, hosting two beetles fucking in it:

They’re the reddish spots down left of center.  Trust me, in a print-sized blow-up they’re embarrassing.

Anyway, I thought all of this was augmented by the leaning power pole and the swarming low clouds, though diminished a bit by my inability to get this shot without the camera’s  shadow being in the picture (I ducked.)

But the overriding visual element of my drive through the fields was corn, tall and lush and loving the heat, and occasionally bordered by an un-tilled roadside shoulder of Giant Sunflowers (Helianthus giganticus),  so named for their height rather than the size of their blossoms:

They gave me a little foreground color for the last dim shot of the day:

…and were barely more than a silhouette against the flushing western clouds:

So I missed the storm, but got some shots anyway.  There will be other storms, and I will be back.

I hope you enjoy seeing these shots as much as I enjoyed the process of making them.





Queen Anne’s Lace. July 24, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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Among the summer roadside flowers which I most love, Daucus Carota  tops the chart.  Its complex umbel of tiny white flowers is at first gilded with pink highlights:

…then flattens into a jungle of fine little blossoms:

…hosting a steady parade of predators and prey.  There are no obvious dramas unfolding in these particular shots, but I’m committed to finding you some.

Later, – TCR.

Daucus v. Cicuta July 8, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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That would be Daucus carota,  or wild carrot, compared to Cicuta virosa, commonly referred to as poison hemlock.

Yeah, that Socrates stuff.

They’re very similar looking plants on the outside, but that’s where the similarity ends.

In fact one, “wild Carrot,” also known as Queen Anne’s Lace, has a tap root which is edible and delicious.  Unfortunately for many people each year, poison hemlock has a similar tap root containing a respiratory depressant, a paralytic in fact, which results in the deaths of its hapless ingesters by suffocation as their diaphragms stops doing their jobs.

Fortunately, Wild Carrot has a calling card which helps to safely identify it: a tiny red flower in the middle of its white umbel:

This one is a typical dark blood-red, and the young umbel is still in-curled; when fully open it will present a broad dome of complex white flower clusters, something like this:

…but this last shot is conspicuously lacking a central red blossom; in fact, it’s a Cicuta,  or poison hemlock.  They’re similar enough that one need stop the car and get out to ascertain their identities.

One thing they seem to have in common is that they’re nearly all inhabited by tiny tenants.  Perhaps it’s because so many, many flowers are arrayed in this particular geometry, all facing the same way, all within lazy walking distance of each other, so that one need not even raise a wing to get from here to there, but at any rate, they’re a favorite of pollinators, like this quarter-inch long wasp:

And, you know, where the sheep graze, wolves will congregate:

I think this half-inch spider’s gonna trump that quarter-inch wasp.

But hey, I’m just a dumb human, so what do I know?

A Few Views Of Queen Anne’s Lace. July 28, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.

This flower really is a weed – it’s everywhere in these parts, nondescript, long and leggy and waving in the breeze.

But through its many forms and stages, I always find its umbel interesting, for its constellation of parts:

whole QAL washed

…and for its structural genius, with an array of solar collectors arranged in fractal iterations:

QAL side washed

…for the detail in its center, the blood-red blossom where Queen Anne’s needle missed its stitch:

QAL red spot

…for its angelic blush on first opening:

curled QAL

…and for how it Plays Well With Others:”

QAL and chiclory

But that’s another post.

Ruby Tuesday: The Late Edition. July 21, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Ruby Tuesday!.
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…But perhaps, “better late than never!”

We’re back to the endless rains, atypical at best for a New England “summer,” and the only bright spots in this environment are the wildflowers.

So without further whining, here are a few I found with Ruboid Tendencies.

This is a little Who-Knows-What:

pink bonnets

Found at roadside, with myriad half-inch flowers on knee-high creeping vines.  The flowers look like Beach Pea, but the leaves are long and lanceolate, and the stems have flat “wings” running their length, which doesn’t at all sound like my guide’s description of beach pea.  Any ideas?

Here’s a shot of part of a just-unfurling (or past-mature and in-curling?) umbel of a Queen Anne’s Lace, with its distinctive Ruby central flower cluster:

curled QAL

The complexity of these compound flower heads blows me away – they’re nondescript as drive-bys, but mesmerizing through a decent macro lens!

And finally, an Irresistibly  Rubylicious Rugosa Rose:

Rugosa rose

Found wild in a pasture, as they are wont to be; they and their many close relatives defy ruminants and flourish in these parts.

Thanks to Mary over at Work of the Poet (“Hi, Mary!”) for this delicious Ruby meme – go there and browse the many other blogs who participate in this weekly rubyfest!

Queen Anne’s Lace. July 15, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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What a common sight – Queen Anne’s Lace, an invasive weed, “wild carrots,” waist-high and leggy, boring on the drive by, white umbels presented in profile as they bob and weave, floating like butterflies, dodging the bees, unremarkable white blurs garnishing unremarkably sparse green foliage.

But please, do pull over. There’s a turn out, and it’s a short walk to back there, and you can bring the camera.

Because up close, that Queen Anne’s Lace might look like this:

Atop a single graceful stem, an umbel of florets explode like the night sky above Poet’s Seat Tower on the Fourth of July, a glorious little disk expanding into the universe like a nascent galaxy,and at it’s heart, near the Event Horizon, a singularity:

Another iteration, another paradigm, another vision of the beauty and mystery of That Which Is, a whole ‘nother universe to acknowledge.

Will there be life in that universe?

You betcha!