Weekly Photo Challenge – Scale

Sometimes when you take a photo it’s hard to get a feel for the actual scale of things.  It isn’t until you add something else to the picture that you get a better sense of just how large or how small that object really is.  Normally the vehicle seen in the lower half of the first image might seem quite large but, seen against the immensity of the mountains in Utah, it appears no bigger than an ant scurrying across the landscape.

The same could be said for the buffalo seen here on Antelope Island in Utah.

The cars in the lower decks of Marina City in Chicago look like nothing more than children’s toys.

You will have to look closely at the left of this picture to make out the parasailer, dwarfed by the mighty Mackinac Bridge in Michigan. He makes even the boat seem huge.

A close-up of these two window cleaners in downtown Chicago wouldn’t necessarily give you any idea of the height at which they were working which is why I pulled the camera back to give a better view of where they really were.

For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge go to Scale

Advertisements

A Good Day At Spring Valley

Because it was Columbus Day, school was out and the weather was gorgeous, Spring Valley Nature Center was packed!  The new recreation area was full of super-excited children, happy to have at least one more opportunity to play outside in shorts and sandals.  I was pleased to see, too, that parents were encouraging their families to not only enjoy the slides and climbing frames but to go exploring the rest of the nature center.  Great for them but not so good for someone who is hoping to do some wildlife photography.  Screaming youngsters and timid woodland creatures unfortunately don’t make for a good mix.  However, I had all day and waited patiently for the rare quiet moments when I was able to get a few shots.

Any day at Spring Valley is a good day.

A Hidden Gem in Marion

During our visit to Marion, Illinois, a couple of weeks ago we decided to take a chance and visit a place called Mandala Gardens.  I had read a brief review of the Gardens on TripAdvisor which sounded promising but the Mandala Gardens website itself mentioned something about calling ahead, and like many of the side-trips that we make, this one was rather spontaneous.  When we got to the privately owned Gardens early in the morning the gates were closed and I gazed longingly through the bars at what looked like an intriguing vista. I was just about to get back in the car when a lady came out of the adjoining house and walked down to greet us.  I explained that our visit was rather a last-minute idea and were sorry to turn up unannounced but she told us that it wasn’t a problem and ushered us in.

You immediately feel the peace and serenity that emanates from this tranquil setting.  Diana Tigerlily (pictured below) and her husband Greg Reid have lived at the property on North State Street for 20 years and during that time have put a lot of effort into making it the lovely place that it is today. Diana kindly allowed us to wander around and enjoy the Gardens and of course I made the most of this great photo opportunity.  For more on Diana and Greg’s story go to ABOUT

There are several interesting structures to explore at the Gardens one of which is The Infinity Arch created by Thea Alvin.

Another feature, also created by Thea Alvin, is Moongate which stands at the end of the pond. Here at the Gardens Diana holds Yoga practice sessions which are named Blue Heron Yoga and just as I was about to walk around the pond the blue heron, for which these sessions are named, flapped lazily away. Unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough to get a shot with the camera but luckily the pond and Moongate were still there.

Looking through Moongate you catch a glimpse of the sandstone labyrinth, a quiet place to meditate, or take a walk through the trees just beyond and return to the garden via the bridge. Both the labyrinth and the bridge are the result of Greg and Diana’s hard work.

 

Back among the flowers, there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the various pieces of artwork than can be found at Mandala Gardens, including Talisman, a metal sculpture by Carey Netherton and some delightful little stained-glass windows which are part of the potting shed.

If you are ever in the Marion area of Illinois, I can highly recommend a visit to Manadala Gardens.  Diana was most welcoming and made us feel right at home.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – Down on the Farm

The topic for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is anything farm related.  I have some happy childhood memories of staying at a farm during one summer holiday and, although I don’t think I’d fancy living a farm life, I still enjoy visiting them either locally or when we’re away on one of our trips.  These pictures were taken at Kline Creek Farm, run by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, in West Chicago. This living history farm is open year-round with free admission.

For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: All Things Farm Related

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Garden of the Gods

This week, Cee’s ‘alphabet with a twist’ is looking for g words, which is lucky for me since I recently spent some time at a place in southern Illinois called Garden of the Gods, part of Shawnee National Forest.

Most people who have driven through Illinois will tell you that much of the State is rather flat and uninteresting but southern Illinois is anything but that, as we discovered last week.

I was told that Garden of the Gods is one of the most scenic and visited areas in Shawnee National Forest and I could see why.  The views were spectacular!

320 million years ago, a shallow sea covered the land shown in the image below. Rivers deposited sand and mud along the shoreline which gradually hardened to stone.

The textures and colors in the layers of rock were stunning! The red-brown swirls and rings are called liesegang bands and are comprised of sandstone and iron.

The paved Observation Trail that winds through the Garden of the Gods takes you through and past some very interesting rock formations including one named Devil’s Smokestack.

 

I wouldn’t recommend bringing young children on this particular trail as there are some steep bluffs that drop 100ft down.  I was very cautious while finding a good spot from which to take pictures and I got quite nervous when I saw my husband, who is in charge of the video camera and is just recovering from knee replacement surgery, swiveling about rather close to the edge in order to get some panoramic views.  Good grief!!!

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter G – Needs to have the letter G (log, goggle, geometry, lodge)

Weekly Photo Challenge – Layered

The subject for the Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post is layered and my first thought was for some of the many flowers that grow in the gardens of my photo files. Like ladies in their frilly ball gowns, these blooms show off their layered petals to their best advantage.

For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge go to Layered

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Trees

The subject for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge requires two E’s in the title this week, so trees seemed like a good fit. These images were captured at the Chicago Botanic Garden and Morton Arboretum in Spring and Autumn (my favorite time of year.)

“He who plants a tree

Plants a joy;

Plants a comfort that will never cloy;

Every day a fresh reality,

Beautiful and strong,

To whose shelter throng

Creatures blithe with song.

If thou couldst but know, thou happy tree,

Of the bliss that shall inhabit thee.”

Lucy Larcom.

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter E – Needs to have two E’s in the topic word