Sunset light and still water make for scenic landscapes in the Alabama delta area. And a few ripples in the water add some interesting patterns to the scene.
I’ve rarely gotten so close to a Great Blue Heron, especially as it took off right in front of me. I think this might have been a juvenile heron, one a little less leery of human presence. There were three of them chasing each other around a settlement pond at Campbell Park in San Jose CA the other day, and the heron’s reflection in the shallow water seemed very artsy.
It’s pretty quiet in the backyard these days, and even the deer aren’t stopping by. But a walk in Reservoir Woods the other day produced some surprises, even if the wildlife weren’t cooperating.
Continuing on down the trail, I found a variety of forts had been built around some of the cottonwoods and oaks in the forest. Some were simple constructions that might fit one pre-teen sized kid inside…
But this next find was the real gem of my 4 mile stroll through Reservoir Woods.
Even with all the very bad experiences that 2020 brought us, there are also quite a few pleasant surprises. People who take time to decorate a lonely little fir tree and who bring a moment of joy to a walker with their humorous construction are just a few of the “benefits” of time away from our usual busy routine to think more creatively, to get out and enjoy the natural world, maybe leaving a little piece of ourselves to bring joy to others.
The sun came out this afternoon to give us a brief reprieve from the gray gloom that set in after the recent snow. I thought the new snow might look pretty in sunset colors, so I took a walk through the woods in the backyard.
Somehow, I changed the settings on my camera without trying, and took a few photos using the “watercolor” picture effect. This might be a nice start to a watercolor painting, if I knew how to do that.
Even on a foggy day with intermittent drizzle, Quebec City shows off its colors with beautiful fall foliage, its festive shops, fall harvest decorations, and incredible fresco artistry on the sides of public buildings.
These frescoes have popped up just in the past 15 years and were commissioned to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the city’s founding by Samuel de Champlain. Most depict some features of the city’s history and its notable landmarks.
On the road again, we stopped off in Wausau, Wisconsin to visit the Leigh Yawkey Woodson art museum and see their amazing exhibition of birds in art. This place is definitely worth a weekend field trip, and in addition to all of the paintings, carvings, and sculptures to marvel at, there are classrooms and materials for creating your own bird art (primarily for kids). A small sample of the pieces…
Outdoors, pieces are scattered around the extensive gardens.
Indoors, smaller sculptures and paintings draw you over for a closer look.
Russia!! More specifically, St. Petersburg, what a gorgeous and hospitable city. A two-day, whirlwind tour of palaces, gardens, city sights, museums, etc., but no biology, unfortunately. What contrasts from new, modern skyscrapers and malls to old Soviet style offices and huge apartment complexes to 18th century or earlier palace constructions. It’s definitely spring here, and we hit two of the 9 sunny days they average here each summer.
Yellowstone national park has the highest concentration of thermal features anywhere in the world, but it is far from a sterile place as far as living organisms are concerned — even in the hottest of the hot springs, “life has found a way”.
Two groups of microorganisms (Archaea and Bacteria) are the foundation of Yellowstone’s thermal ecosystems. By utilizing the chemical elements liberated by steam and boiling water from the rocky matrix, they build vast and deep mats of bacteria that encircle the hot pools, different species existing in different thermal gradients from just below boiling temperature to simply “hot” water.
Ephydrid flies specialize on eating the bacterial and algal mats in the hot pools, although they too (especially their eggs) must be heat tolerant. These consumers in turn attract a variety of predators, like spiders and dragonflies, who must be mobile to escape sudden spurts of boiling water.
Or how about this one — what do you see in this accumulation of bacterial growth at the edge of the hot water?
I’ve been trying out a new, quick photo editing program on the iPad, Snapseed. It’s a real time saver, compared to my usual method of editing images in Lightroom. It’s easy to get carried away with special effects, though, with these landscapes from the geyser basin at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.
Ansel Adams introduced us to the grandeur of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada mountains in his early photography in the 1920s and 30s, but his famous capture of the light on the Grand Tetons and Snake River was made about the time he invented the 10-point zone system of tonal contrast (varying from pure white to pure black) in the early 1940s.
It’s hard to reproduce that scene today, because the vegetation has changed quite a bit — in fact, the trees have grown so much they obscure part of the view of the river.
On another day (with better air clarity), we got a good sense of the rugged texture of those famous peaks, punctuated with a little fall color from the yellow aspens.
This location provided an opportunity to try to “channel Ansel Adams”, for some dramatic Black and White photography. So, here’s my rendition of the Grand Tetons a la Ansel Adams.
What a location for landscape photography, to say nothing of the wildlife we saw as well.