Tag Archive | Lens-Artists

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Making a Splash

This week, Patti has chosen water as the subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, but more specifically, as she implies in the title, she is looking for us to make a bit of a splash, maybe like these sparrows taking a bath in the fountain at the Chicago Botanic Garden or koi fish threshing about in a feeding frenzy at the Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford.


For the Polar bear it was not so much about making a splash as blowing bubbles, but you can always be sure of seeing lots of splashing at the Dolphin Show at Brookfield Zoo.

For larger birds, it isn’t always easy to perform a graceful takeoff or landing on water but they do their best. A cormorant takes of from the pond at Clearwater Park in Mount Prospect and a pelican settles down after making a splashdown on the Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa.

For more on the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge go to #21 Splash!

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Blending

This week, Ann-Christine asks if it’s better to blend in or stand out in a crowd. Frog and Toad evidently feel it’s a good idea to blend in with their surroundings. They know their lives may depend on it, the frog in a pond at Spring Valley Nature Center and the toad crouching on a dry river bed in Lafayette, Indiana.


The monarch butterfly, however, enjoys flaunting its gaudy patterns in the open and doesn’t seem too concerned about standing out in a crowd. These two, in downtown Chicago and at the Morton Arboretum couldn’t resist showing off their true colors.



So is it better to blend in or stand out? The next picture was taken in our garden and shows another creature who likes to remain inconspicuous among the leaves, a praying mantis, and its hapless victim, a monarch butterfly. So I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

For more on the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge go to Blending In – or Standing Out?

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Big Is Beautiful

This week, the subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is big, really big!  Not only big but beautiful too, as Tina’s wonderful images show, here at BIG Can Be Beautiful Too!.  It’s a strange thing but despite my life-long fear of birds, I’ve discovered over the years that I am far less afraid of large birds than I am smaller ones.  This enabled me to get surprisingly close to a pair of sandhill cranes in Wausau, Wisconsin recently. They didn’t seem to be afraid of me either so things worked out very nicely.


Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A Once-Familiar Path

My photo files are overflowing with images of paths in various forms and places, both town and country, but today I made a trip to Crabtree Nature Center specifically for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge as I wanted to document a path that really had some meaning for me.  Mum and I used to visit Crabtree Nature Center in Barrington quite often, but in the eight years since she passed away I have rarely gone back there. I don’t know why. There are plenty of other places that we used to go to together that I still visit regularly but for some reason I feel uncomfortable taking this once-familiar path alone.


All living things change over time, and I was curious to see how Crabtree had fared during the intervening years. Would it have changed that much? I used to know this path like the back of my hand but would it still be like it was when we came here to see the spring flowers or rustle through the autumn leaves, very often talking nineteen to the dozen but also sharing a companionable silence as we made our way through the fields and woods.

As was nearly always the case, I was greeted at the head of the path by several chipmunks, chattering and skittering about among the dead branches. That much, at least, was still the same.

There are two paths that wind their way around Crabtree, covering only a small part of the one thousand acres that make up this sprawling nature reserve. Phantom Prairie Trail is about 2 miles long and Bur Edge Trail, the path that we usually took, is approximately 1.5 miles, the first part of which skirts Sulky Pond.  I was rather disappointed that there was no sign of any migrating birds. I had expected to see a few egrets at the very least but everything was totally still and silent on the pond.

The foliage on either side of the path had become overgrown, covering what once used to be a hide overlooking the pond, and the little causeway at the top of Bulrush Pond where we used to sit for hours sometimes, waiting to see a family of water rats or a beaver, offers very little view of the water now.  However, I did manage to find a turtle well-camouflaged with pond weed and a frog who gave me the cold shoulder.

Even in the last week of September, the mosquitoes were still rampant in the shade under the trees so I was glad to get to the other side of Bulrush Pond and out into the sunshine. I noticed that they have added quite a few more seats along the path but there was always one here where we loved to sit and talk or just look out over the pond.

The path zig-zags through tall grass and spent summer flowers, the milkweed pods bursting open to spread their seeds in the first passing wind, and one or two faded butterflies flitting about among the autumn asters.

 


The path gradually curves back towards the entrance to Crabtree. The observation platform that overlooked neighboring fields has gone but other than that there is very little that has changed.  The big difference now is that my best friend is no longer by my side to have a laugh or wonder at all the things that we have seen, like the time we turned and discovered a deer following close behind us down the path or coming across a huge snapping turtle lumbering back to the pond after laying her eggs or the time we found a nest of snakes among the fallen leaves.



Perhaps I’ll return to Crabtree one day but for now it was enough to have travelled down and become reacquainted with that once-familiar path.

For more on the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, which was set for us this week by Tina Schell over at Travels & Trifles go to #12 – PATH

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Small is Beautiful

This week, Amy has chosen ‘Small is Beautiful’ as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.  I didn’t need to search the photo files for this one. The choice was obvious. Our youngest granddaughter, just a few days old, small and beautiful.  For more on this photo challenge go to #11: Small Is Beautiful.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Farm Fences

In response to Ann-Christine’s topic of #10: Fences, this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, let me take you on a quick trip to Volkening Heritage Farm at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg.


Here, fences are not so much an intrusion as a picturesque part of the overall scene.  Many of them are weathered and some used only as a temporary measure but all of them seem to blend in with their surroundings.


Naturally, the animals on the farm play a large part in many of the fence images in my Spring Valley photo files.


And flowers play an important role in the pictures too, the fences sometimes appearing to be merely an adjunct to their cheerful color.

 

Whatever purpose the fences serve, they are nearly always a welcome addition to any image of Volkening Heritage Farm.


Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Weird and Wonderful Water Lilies

The subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, set for us this week by Tina Schell, is Colorful and, following her example of introducing a little “fun and frivolity” into the mix, I decided to experiment with some pictures that I took recently at the Como Zoo and Conservatory in Saint Paul, Minnesota.



One of the reasons I started playing around with these images was the fact that, after looking at the many pictures of water lilies that I’ve amassed in the photo files over the years, they’ve all started to look very much the same.


For those of you who approve, I’ll try this ‘digital messing about’ again sometime with another subject. For those of you who don’t, I promise to try and restrain myself from getting too carried away with the experiment in the future.



For more on the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge go to #8: COLORFUL