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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge- Colorful April

This week, Amy has chosen the Colors of April as the theme for our Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Here in our garden I mostly associate April with pink, blue and yellow although there are one or two other colors that appear here and there.

NB. Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting quite as regularly and have been rather slow to respond to visits and comments, for which I apologize. For the past month or so I have been suffering from what I can only describe as some kind of severe anxiety disorder which has left me struggling to keep up with correspondence and sometimes even the common normality of life. At this time of year, when I would typically be rushing to photograph daffodils at the Morton Arboretum, tulips at Cantigny Park and Lilacs in Lombard, I can’t even drive myself to the local grocery store. The process of constantly fighting to control how I feel has sometimes left me exhausted but on the few occasions when I’ve been able to whack up the enthusiasm to get out in the garden I have managed to capture a few of the colors that April means to me. Needless to say, this has hit me like a bolt out of the blue but with the amazing support of a very understanding family, things are slowly improving. Even though I may not be on here quite as often, I hope you will stick with me until things are back to full strength. Thank you for your patience.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A Change Of Scenery

This week, Beth has suggested a Change of Scenery as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Good idea! I was starting to get cabin fever a couple of weeks ago and was itching for a change of scenery (anything other than my own back yard) so even though there was still a little snow on the ground, I decided to take a trip up to the Chicago Botanic Garden.

The garden looks lovely in any season but I’m looking forward to the next visit when there should be some Spring flowers in bloom, providing a whole new change of scenery.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Natural Light

This week, Amy has suggested that we look at things in a Natural Light for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Many years ago, when I first started out with my Minolta film camera, I used very high speed film for most low light situations, which probably accounts for the grainy texture of many of my earlier pictures. This one was taken just after sunset at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Since then, I’ve tried to capture different kinds of natural light with the Canon Rebel including sunset over Lake Michigan from Mackinaw City and at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

And the softer light of sunrise, over Lake Huron from Mackinaw City and in Nebraska.

Late afternoon in Arches National Park in Utah and early morning in Custer State Park, South Dakota.

It seemed like the light changed every minute while we were on Antelope Island in Utah. There had been intermittent thunderstorms all day and another one rolled in just as we were leaving, but in between, the sun came out and lit up the landscape.

Sometimes I only have to step outside the front door to see a natural light show.

The Last Of The Snow

We have just about seen the last of the snow, although there was still some lingering in patches at Spring Valley Nature Center when I made my first visit there this year, earlier this week.

The usual access to the nature center was closed as they are making some alterations and improvements to the Visitors Center area so I had to take an alternate route and with many of the paths that were in the shade still covered in ice, my walking was somewhat limited. Still, it was so nice to get out in the fresh air and see something other than our own garden. I was glad that I decided to wear my wellies, however.

There were a few people about but for the most part it was very quiet, which is why I probably came upon these two deer.

I almost didn’t need to use the zoom lens, they were so close and they didn’t seem at all bothered about my being there. They eventually ambled across the path and disappeared into the undergrowth. I stayed for a while, hoping that they’d come out again but no such luck, so I continued on my way.

I can’t wait to see see what the improvements look like at the Visitors Center. It’s supposed to be finished by late Spring which means I will probably have to use this alternate route for a couple more months at least.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Soft

This week, Ann-Christine invites us to look at the Softer side of life for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. My first instinct was to go to the young; a baby’s cheek, a gentle calf’s eyes. Some years ago, I recall a baby rabbit jumping into my hands, light as a cotton ball and as soft as thistledown.

And, of course, speaking of the young makes one think of the soft, subtle shades of Spring.

And even the mellow days of Autumn have their softer side, when the silky milkweed seeds swirl skyward. (As you can see, I still have some S’s left from last week.)

Playing Possum

Yesterday morning we spotted a possum trekking across the snow in our garden. It must have been really hungry to venture out in daylight. Usually we only see them roaming around the house in the evening.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – The Letter S

This week, Patti has suggested that any subject starting with the letter S will serve splendidly for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. While strolling around our garden, we see all sorts of subjects starting with S including snapdragons, sedum, sunflowers, scabiosa, snowdrops and squill.

We have also spotted several species of birds, the most common of which is the sparrow, but the sora was a total surprise as it had evidently strayed well off-course.

In summer we see skippers and swallowtails sunning themselves.

And in the fall we may occasionally spot a squirrel snacking on some squash.

Winter Observations

You don’t have to tell me twice to stay inside and keep warm, especially when the mercury is struggling to reach 10F. On the rare occasions when I’ve ventured outside to shovel snow, I’ve taken one or two pictures but for the most part, I prefer to observe things through the window.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – Vanishing Point

This week, Cee has chosen Vanishing Point as the theme for her Black & White Photo Challenge. There are several sections of the walk around Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg that provide a ‘vanishing’ perspective. I always wonder what I’ll see when I get to the other end or around the next corner.

The images were captured last year. We are expecting a blizzard this evening and these paths will probably be under several inches of snow by tomorrow so it will be a while before I walk them again.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Patterns in Nature

I’ve been hoping for an opportunity to share these images and this week’s theme for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Patterns in Nature, seemed to be the ideal spot. They were captured at Cantigny Park in Wheaton last year and although they were growing in a heavily shaded area, the patterns on these plants really caught my eye.