Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – The Long and Winding Road.

This week, Tina is taking us down the Long and Winding Road for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. We’ve traveled down quite a few of those, over the years. The first shot was taken in Wyoming when we stopped at a rest area on our way to Utah.

Once we got to Utah, there were plenty of winding roads that were so dwarfed by the surrounding landscape that sometimes it wasn’t even possible to tell that it was a road until a tiny dot that may have been a truck or a car came into view.

Of course, distance is relative. After a day of walking around with the camera, looking for things to photograph, especially in hot weather, even a trail at the local nature center can seem like the long and winding road.  Now I can’t get that song by the Beatles out of my head! Thanks, Tina!!

Spring Things

Despite the fact that the weather has been freezing one minute and tropical in nature the next, I did manage to capture some Spring things in the garden with the camera. Because of all the rain, everything is looking very lush and green with flowers bursting out all over.

In fact, everything has been growing so well that even the rabbit can’t keep up. We have had what amounts to a bunny explosion here, of late, but thankfully there have been enough weeds to keep them occupied while my lilies and other tasty bits have continued to flourish unmolested.

On the butterfly front, We had a disappointing outcome to the dozen or so Swallowtail pupa that we kept overwinter, when all but one produced nothing but very mean looking parasitic wasps which were evidently the result of the parent wasp laying its eggs in the caterpillars in the fall. I had all but given up hope when the final Swallowtail emerged from its papery parcel and, after sufficient time to dry off, was released it into the garden. What happened to it after that, I cannot say, but it reminds me of a little anecdote regarding a moth.

When our daughter and her husband lived in Texas they spotted a moth that had fallen into the swimming pool.  It was making a gallant effort to extricate itself without much success.  They were fully clothed at the time (the kids, not the moth) so they couldn’t dive in to assist it but being the tender-hearted people that they are, they searched for the net that was used to scoop out unwanted debris and after much faffing about, finally managed to haul the moth in and laid it gently on the deck to dry whereupon a bird promptly flew down and ate it.

I hope our Swallowtail managed to survive at least long enough to have a look around. We have caught fleeting glimpses of other butterflies  in the garden and received a more prolonged visit from a monarch that appeared to be enjoying the chives by the back door as did a rather large bee which put up with me sticking the camera in its face for only so long before it became irate and chased me off.

Usually at our house, at this time of year, you’ll hear the cry go up, “Ducks are in!”  For nearly thirty years, we have played host to passing mallard ducks that are making their way to the pond at our local park. They’ll return several times and one year they even made a nest behind one of our shrubs. Unfortunately something ate the eggs, but the following year they returned, this time with ducklings in tow. They appear to feel right at home, helping themselves to the bird seed that I put out, sometimes marching up and down on the roof or paddling in the little ground-level birdbath.  They normally arrive first thing in the morning and twice this week I’ve looked out of the window and seen them actually standing on the door mat. They’ll be knocking on the door next.

Strangely enough, ducks are one of the very few species of bird of which I am not afraid. I can’t explain it other than the fact that they don’t do a lot of fluttering, which accounts for the clarity of these pictures as I was standing outside right next to them, rather than taking a hazy shot through a window which is how I get a lot of my bird pictures.

However, it was a different story with this baby robin. The neighborhood probably heard me scream when, going around the garden with the camera and taking pictures of the flowers, I realized that I was within touching distance of this little guy who just sat there looking puzzled as I shrieked and fell backwards into the irises. I ran back into the house to get a longer lens and took this picture from a safe distance.

 

Lens Artists Photo Challenge – Delicate Colors

This week, Ann-Christine is looking for Delicate Colors for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Spring seems to have raced past us at an alarming rate and didn’t really feel like spring at all to me, probably because I missed a couple of the usual spring-time rituals like visiting the daffodils at Morton Arboretum and the lilac festival at Lilacia Park in Lombard. The first picture was taken there last year.

Like many others, I am anxiously awaiting the re-opening of the Chicago Botanic Garden. The palette of colors at the Garden includes everything from delicate pastels to vibrant hues some of which can be found in the annual butterfly exhibit. I’m looking forward to seeing the hummingbirds too, although from a safe distance. (this not because of social distancing but because I am terrified of birds at close quarters.)

After all the rain, the sun finally brought out the flowers on the tree peony in our garden. This event is something that the whole neighborhood seems to enjoy, judging by some of the comments coming from passers-bye. Its delicate colors and heady perfume are something I look forward to every year and it certainly didn’t disappoint, maybe because I gave it some extra words of encouragement.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Challenge last week and for all your comments. I really enjoyed reading all about your pastimes and seeing the accompanying pictures.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #97- Pastimes

Over the past few months, it’s been a great comfort to be able to stay in touch with the outside world through the medium of the internet and more especially through the auspices of the WordPress community, so to say that I was thrilled, not to mention highly honored, to be asked to host this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge would be an understatement.

With so much time being spent at home, many of us have been looking for new pastimes or taking up old ones in order stay occupied or even sane. So that is my theme for this challenge – Pastimes. It could be something that you are trying for the first time or a hobby or interest that you have enjoyed for many years. Feel free to dig into the archives or take a picture to illustrate a current pastime.

If you had told me, a year or two ago, that I would be spending much of my time poring over thousands upon thousands of postage stamps, I would have laughed. But here I am, doing just that. We recently inherited my father-in-law’s stamp collection. That was his pastime; fifty years of squirreling away every stamp that ever came through the door and then some.


We had originally thought to sell the collection (6 large Rubbermaid containers) and split the proceeds between five siblings but after calling dealers and doing some research, we quickly learned that stamp collecting is a dying hobby. Nearly every member of our local stamp-collectors club is there because they inherited a collection and many stamp dealers are not interested in buying because they can’t get rid of what they’ve got. So, I offered to go through the collection and make everyone in the family, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren, a commemorative album as a tribute to someone who spent so many industrious hours soaking and sorting stamps on every possible subject and from every corner of the world.


Photography has taken rather a back-seat so far this year because of travel restrictions but I love gardening, so when the weather is fine and I’m not sorting stamps, that’s where you’ll find me most days, out in the garden among the flowers. There are stamps for that!

Another pastime I’ve always enjoyed is nature spotting. For several years, I even made a note of all the birds and animals that we observed in the garden or on our walks around the various nature centers and parks. There are stamps for that too!


It’s never too late to take up a new hobby. One of the pastimes that gave me the most pleasure was one in which I never actually participated, at least not at the time. A year or so before my mother passed away at the age of 96, she became frustrated by her inability to continue her favorite pastimes of knitting and embroidery, due to macular degeneration. I persuaded her to try painting and, even though her eyesight was so bad that she could hardly recognize people in the room, she gave it her best shot and had a thoroughly good time while gaining a much-needed sense of achievement.


My problem is that I can never seem to finish any of the projects that I start. The house is filled with half-written novels, partially refurbished doll houses, never-ending family history research files and incomplete photo albums. I hope I can stay the course with the stamps and accomplish the task but new hobbies and pastimes always seem to keep popping up.


I look forward to seeing your interpretation of the Pastime theme. Please be sure to link your response to this post (use the original post link, NOT the one from the WP reader) and use the Lens-Artists TAG so we can all find you.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to give a big shout-out to our three girls, all of whom are working at hospitals in various parts of the country. A most heart-felt thank you to all those who are concerned with our well-being and are helping to keep things running during these troubled times. Stay safe everyone!

Sue.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Cropping The Shot

This week, Patti suggests that we try Cropping the Shot for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.  One of the most useful tools in the image-processing arsenal is the cropping tool.  I can’t tell you how many shots I rescued from the trash with a little judicial cropping.

I can even ‘zoom in’ by the simple expedient of the cropping tool, giving me a closer look at something way off in the distance, as I did with this shot taken at Arches National Park in Utah.

And if I’m really lucky I can get four shots for the price of one with the aid of the cropping tool, as I did with this image that was captured along Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago, each picture focusing on a different aspect of the overall scene; the more leisurely pace of the bike path, the hustle and bustle of the traffic on the Drive and the work going on aloft.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – All Wet

When Tina suggested All Wet as the topic for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, I didn’t have to go any further than the sea lions at Brookfield Zoo in my photo files.  As a non-swimmer I’ve always admired their graceful movements in the water and even on-shore their ungainly bodies seem to have a certain elegance of posture as they bend and curve to catch the sun’s rays.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Morning

This week, Ann-Christine has chosen Morning as the subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.  Things have settled down into a fairly dull routine here which is why I’m looking forward to being able to get out and about again. The Chicago Botanic Garden is probably the first place I’ll visit once the lockdown is eventually lifted and it’s reasonably safe to venture out, preferably first thing in the morning before the crowds get there. I have a feeling there will be quite a few of us with the same idea. Have a good morning and stay safe, everyone.

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Going Back

This week, John, who is our guest host for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, has asked us to Go Back and take a second look at places we have visited in the past. My reason for wanting to go back and visit the first three places is that I was using a film camera at the time and was extremely limited as far as the number of pictures I could take. So, Niagara Falls (from the Canadian side,) Cypress Gardens in Florida and Virginia Beach are definitely on the list.

The same could be said of the Badlands in South Dakota, although we did go back eventually, one of the first places we visited after I acquired my original digital camera, but I couldn’t get out of the habit of being sparing with my shots and always regretted not taking more while I had the chance.

These days there’s no holding me back and I take literally hundreds of pictures when we’re on our travels, but time was against us on Antelope Island in Utah. We had already visited the Natural History Museum in Salt Lake City in the morning and by the time we got to the island a big storm was brewing so we had a quick look around and headed back to base. We had planned on going back to Utah the following year to visit our daughter but instead, she moved on to Texas. As it turned out, much of the island’s vegetation was destroyed by wildfires that year so it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea anyway but, if I had the opportunity, I’d love to go back to Antelope Island.

To be honest, I’m not sure who took these pictures but it was with my husband’s film camera nearly fifty years ago, so it could have been either one of us. These images represent my final memories of home in England. We’ve never been back, for various reasons, and will almost certainly never have the chance now. If I could magically transport myself back there, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Thanks to John for giving us the opportunity to Go Back and revisit some of our favorite places.

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Simplicity

This week, Patti has chosen Simplicity as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Where I would normally, at this time of year, be enjoying lawns studded with colorful crocus at the Chicago Botanic Garden or photographing woods glowing with golden daffodils at the Morton Arboretum, I am now content with a few simple flowers in my own garden. They bring an enormous amount of pleasure at a point when even the sight of a bee going about its everyday business makes me want to jump up and down with joy.