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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Getting Away

Another timely choice of theme for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge from our guest hosts this week, Rusha and Bert, who would like to see our take on Getting Away. We haven’t been far afield for some time but we did manage to get away on a trip to Wisconsin this past weekend. It’s amazing how many activities you can pack into a single day when the moving force is a three-year old.

Our youngest granddaughter started the proceedings with a demonstration of her ballet skills. I think she has quite an interesting technique.

Next she showed us how to have fun at the beach. Her choice of venue on this occasion was Bradford Beach, just north of Milwaukee, and I was able to get one or two interesting shots while we looked for shells and feathers, including one of the historic water tower nearby and an impromptu exercise class that had been conveniently set up next to the bar. I had to admire their enthusiasm and I joined them in spirit if not in body.

Our final stop of the day was at the Milwaukee Zoo, where we got some useful tips on feeding the goats. In between trying to stop our tour guide from climbing into all the animal enclosures I did manage to snag some shots of a Cinereous Vulture, one of three, who demonstrated clearly why it was unable to make it in the wild.

Also in the same enclosure were a couple of Southern Ground Hornbills. I’m not sure if this was part of a courting ritual but one of them seemed intent on impressing its partner with a dead rodent. She clearly wasn’t interested so he hopped nearer to the fence to show us. I could imagine him thinking, “What’s not to like?! as he waved his trophy around, looking for some sign of appreciation..

A little further on we came across two grizzlies, one of which appeared to be playing a game of hide and seek.

The last shot of the day was of a peacock chick. I’d never seen one before so I was quite pleased to be able to capture this image.

After all that, our tour guide was showing signs of fatigue and it wasn’t too long before she was fast asleep in the back of the car as we made our way home. I was feeling quite exhausted too and although it was great to get away and see the family, I have to take issue with that old saying about a change being as good as a rest.

Square Trees In Illinois

Looking for Square Trees for Becky’s Square Tree Photo Challenge, I found these in the photo files. If you are familiar with Illinois you may recognize some of these places. Images were captured in and around:- Arlington Heights, Batavia, Cairo, Des Plaines, Elgin, Long Grove, Marion, Mount Prospect, Oakbrook, Rockford, South Barrington, Starved Rock, West Chicago and Wheaton.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – On The Water

This week, John, our guest host, is asking us to go On The Water for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I can’t swim so I never feel very comfortable in or on the water. However, I do occasionally venture out, usually on a pontoon boat, which is how I captured the first two images, one with the Yacht Club in Des Plaines and the other on an excursion around one of Wisconsin’s many lakes.

Needless to say, the next few subjects are totally at home in the water. Images captured at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford and Crabtree Nature Center in South Barrington.

Square Trees At Spring Valley

Becky’s Square Photo Challenge is back and this month the topic is Trees. By their very nature, trees are not that easy to capture in a square picture, Most of the tree images in my photo files don’t fit the bill, they’re either too tall or too wide but, by including a bit of scenery or on the odd occasion some wildlife or zooming up close, I think I’ve found a few shots that may work. So to kick off my entries for the Square Trees Photo Challenge, here are some trees at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – One Photo Two Ways

This week, Tina would like to see One Photo Two Ways. Very often, after I’ve been on a photo shoot, I look to the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge for a way to share the resulting images. This may not be exactly what Tina was asking for, but it’s my take on looking at a scene in two different ways. These images were captured on a recent visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden. I’ve taken so many pictures there over the years, that I’m always hoping to find a new way to look at the many familiar views.

In the Heritage garden, some flowers really stand out on their own, but they are only part of an overall display that also stands out in the Garden.

The Circle Garden is one of my favorite spots to sit and enjoy a break so the second shot was taken from a nearby bench.

The English Walled Garden is another favorite place at the Botanic Garden for photographers and artists alike. You can just see an artist painting a picture in the first shot. I got a little closer with the second image to try and get a glimpse of her work.

In the next image, it would appear that this busy volunteer was toiling away in the garden on her own, when in actual fact there were two others working with her. Usually I do my best to leave people out of the picture but on this occasion they just seem to fit in so well.

The Rose Garden has an abundance of beautiful blooms but it’s difficult to capture everything in one shot so I usually take individual pictures of the roses and put them into a collage.

On Evening Island, the bells ring out the hours so that you can hear them from quite a distance. The Carillon is only a small part of the overall landscape but the bells really make themselves known.

Two more views from the English Walled garden.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – It’s A Wonderful World.

This week, Amy is thinking about the song “What A Wonderful World” and has carried it through as the theme for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I agree! It is a wonderful world and nowhere do I feel that more than when I’m outside among the flowers and wildlife in the garden. Everything has been blooming beautifully so far this year and it certainly is gratifying to see some positive results after all the hard work. The peonies have come and gone but they were spectacular while they lasted.

Also gone, for now, are the irises. They really put on a splendid show this year. So many different colors, it was hard to choose a favorite. It looks like I’ll be able to put quite a few out for anyone to help themselves, when I divide them later this year, as I do with the daylilies and other perennials. What I don’t appreciate is people coming into my garden uninvited and pulling up armfuls of plants as I saw one woman doing while I was walking home one day with my youngest granddaughter asleep in her stroller. I was too far away to remonstrate otherwise I would have given this audacious plant pincher an earful. Of all the nerve!!

Caught in the act! A baby bunny eating the nigella plants. No worries! There’s plenty to go around. Nigella reseeds (isn’t nature wonderful?) and comes up again without any help from me, although I do collect some of the seeds to scatter in other parts of the garden. It’s a pretty little flower and even the seed pods are quite decorative.

The possum re-appeared, and a tree in a neighbor’s backyard across the street disappeared. We have lost so many of the large trees in our area over the past several years due to diseases of one kind or another. The Village has replaced many of them on the parkway but it will be a while before they are large enough to provide much shade or attract any of the larger birds like the hawk or the flicker. It’s wonderful how they seem to return to the same places to nest and raise their young and I’m sure there will be a few of our feathered friends that will miss this one-time home.

Poppies added a blaze of color to the garden and the white ones brightened up any shady areas. This is probably when the garden is at its most colorful, with poppies, irises and peonies all blooming at the same time, and we very often see people stopping by to take pictures which is fine by me. I’m out there with the camera myself most days.

The birds have been busy in the garden too. the goldfinches making good use of some nesting material provided while a hawk stops by in search of a quick snack.

After some much-needed rain last night, the garden is refreshed and ready to produce the next lot of blooms which will include daylilies, oriental lilies, coneflowers and phlox among others. We live on a corner lot so every part of the garden is visible from the sidewalk and it’s nice to take a break once in a while and chat to passing pedestrians. I also love it when the little group from the local daycare walk by and wave, with the occasional tiny voice piping up “Hello!” as they go past. They are our future and I hope they will grow up to appreciate nature and perhaps share the interest in gardening that I have enjoyed for so many years. It truly is a Wonderful World.