I took a walk through the woods in Missouri and came across this clump of thistles.
I have a difficult time walking outdoors with my camera and not photographing every flower of color I encounter…even if I have a dozen images of the same kind flower…even when they’re weeds.
Here’s a little of what Wikipedia says about thistles…
Thistle is the common name of a group of flowering plants characterised by leaves with sharp prickles on the margins, mostly in the family Asteraceae. Prickles often occur all over the plant – on surfaces such as those of the stem and flat parts of leaves. These are an adaptation that protects the plant against herbivorous animals, discouraging them from feeding on the plant. Typically, an involucre with a clasping shape of a cup or urn subtends each of a thistle’s flowerheads.
In the language of flowers, the thistle (like the burr) is an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character as well as of birth, for the wounding or provocation of a thistle yields punishment.
The thistle has been the national emblem of Scotland since the reign of Alexander III (1249–1286) and was used on silver coins issued by James III in 1470. It is the symbol of the Order of the Thistle, a high chivalric order of Scotland. It is found in many Scottish symbols and as the name of several Scottish football clubs. The thistle, crowned with the Scottish crown, is the symbol of seven of the eight Scottish Police Forces (the exception being the Northern Constabulary). The thistle is also the emblem of Encyclopædia Britannica, which originated in Edinburgh, Scotland. Carnegie Mellon University features the thistle in its crest.
According to a legend, an invading Norse army was attempting to sneak up at night upon a Scottish army’s encampment. During this operation one barefoot Norseman had the misfortune to step upon a thistle, causing him to cry out in pain, thus alerting Scots to the presence of the Norse invaders.
You can see a larger image of the thistles by clicking on them.
Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do. – Helen Keller
The sunflowers are in bloom! In our area, we are blessed with several fields of sunflowers every summer – thanks to our good neighbors, the Kuehl Seed Farm.
When the field is on a main highway, it is quite common to see people pull over, jump out and snap a couple of pictures with a digital camera. And who can blame them. A field of sunflowers in full bloom is so bright and cheerful it’s natural to want to take it home with you. This field of flowers is on Highway 42, Just north of Kewaunee, WI. (While I was taking these photos at least four other cars stopped to do the same.)
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(Click either image to see a larger version.)
This is an image that dates back to 2006. This photo was the initial inspiration for my experimentation and reasonable success with macro photography.
My old camera, a Kodak Easyshare DX7590, did an exceptional job with macro shots. When I saw what was possible – after taking this image – I started to major on the minors. I can spend hours crouched down by a flower bed, moving slowly, trying to be unnoticed while I position my camera as close as possible to any tiny creatures I can find. I was just a few inches from this bee when I snapped this photo.
I love seeing the normally, unseen details of God’s creation. For instance, in this image, I am facinated by the bee’s wings, the pollen on the flower and bee’s legs, that little dongle thing protruding from the bee’s head, it’s eyes and the orange tipped spears of the cone flower.
If you find this image appealing, please feel free to share it with friends. (If you’re on Facebook, simply click one of the Facebook links below this story.)
To see a larger version and even more detail, click the photo.
There is uncommon beauty all around us that we often miss because we fail to “stop and smell the roses.” These aren’t roses, but petunias that Sara has in a planter by the back door. I pass by them several times a day with hardly a notice.
Well, I stopped for a moment to notice…with a camera in my hand, of course.
For me, that’s one of the great benefits of photography. It increases the awareness of my surroundings. With a camera in my hands, my eye becomes acutely sensitive to beauty, symmetry, bold colors, subtle hues, the dramatic, the sublime. It is a good thing for my soul.
In your all-to-busy life, every once in awhile, pick up a camera and take some time to stop and smell (and snap) the roses.
(To see a larger version of this image, click on it.)
One of the things I love about digital photos is the way you can easily manipulate the images. I almost never post a photo straight out of the camera. There’s always tweaking to be done. It might be simply cropping the image for maximum effect, straightening a crooked image, correcting the color, contrast, brightness, etc. Even beyond making a photo look it’s best, you can easily make a photo look totally different. This is a perfect example.
The other day I returned a book to the Algoma Public Library and on my way in I noticed a group of hollyhocks. My artist’s eye thought that would be a good image to experiment on. I liked the colors and the texture of the stone wall behind them. To the right is the original photo I snapped. I left myself plenty of room to crop it. When I look at the original, I really don’t see anything particularly special about these flowers.
I opened the image in Photoshop and tweaked the brightness and contrast, cropped it, then saved it. I then opened up another image editing software called FotoSketcher. It’s a free program I recently found and am just starting to play with. It allows you to convert a digital photo to a variety of different art styles, such as pencil sketch, oil pastel, watercolors, etc. It also has a number of options for aging a photo, increasing saturation and adding a frame or text.
I imagine any real artist who works with oils would probably snicker and scoff at this type of creation. Yet, if I were to actually pick up a paint brush or pastels, you’d get a lot of stick-people level images. Not being familiar with those kind of mediums, I really don’t know what I’m doing with things like brush size, number of strokes, edge intensity and such, so I trust the software to do the heavy lifting. There are a lot of adjustments the software allows you to make. I just fiddle around until I find something that appeals to me. A true artist, could probably do much better.
On the image above, I simply selected one of the oil painting modes and fiddled. To help you see more detail in the changed image, I’ve enlarged and cropped the image to a certain section and created some samples for a side-by-side comparison.
This first comparison is the original and the oil painting image – seen larger above.
Here’s a comparison of the original and a colored pencil sketch.
And finally, a comparison of the original and an oil pastel version.
I’ve only shown you three, but I’m sure there are literally millions of variations one could make to the same image.
My artistic medium is digital photography, and I don’t expect that to change, but adding another digital twist to the images and a free tool to the digital tool box keeps things interesting.
If you’re interested in the FotoSketcher software (remember, it’s Free) you can down load it here: http://www.fotosketcher.com/
To see a larger version of the main image at the top of this post, simply click on it.
Make a note on the calendar – the first lily to display its beauty at our house this season happened on Wednesday, June 29th. As you can see, there will be many others to follow, but there’s something noteworthy about the first one.
I’ve been keeping my photographer’s eye on the flower bed and could see the bloom was about to begin. The slender, green pods were beginning to blush.
For comparison, I took a picture of the same lily at the beginning of its opening, in the early morning light of the rising sun. (The smaller image on the right.) This would have been a good time to set up a time-lapse camera – if I had one.
The “grand opening” continued through the day until full bloom, as captured in the larger photo, taken in the early evening of the same day.
(You can see an even larger view of the top image by clicking on it.)
The first of the poppies has popped! Sara has a small patch of poppies in a flower bed by the house. I marvel at how these small, fuzzy pods burst into large colorful blooms each spring.
(Click the photo for a larger image.)
After an unseasonably cold spring, we were finally blessed with a sunny afternoon – it was Easter Sunday. We were ready to get outside and took a long walk through a wooded area.
Along the way we stumbled upon a few fresh flowers. These are the very first blooms of the season.
Just a few days ago, the area where we found these spring beauties was under a blanket of snow (nine inches) from a late winter storm.
(Click on either photo for a larger view.)
A few weeks ago my wife dropped some bulbs in a small pot in our living room and…voilà.
I’ve been itching for spring to arrive so I can get out and photograph the flowers, bugs, butterflies and bluebirds.
(Click on the images to view a larger version.)