I call it My Meadow, but it isn’t mine. It belongs to itself. Nature belongs to itself.
That is exactly what happened. Unlike other paparazzi, I didn’t follow. Visions of an enraged swan attack kept me at a distance. That’s ok. I got my shots.
Blink and you’ll miss it. You’ll probably miss it anyway because you are focused on driving. I’m glad. That means I get it all to myself, because you won’t see it to stop, unless you’re looking for it, it’s that inconspicuous.
Daubenspeck Community Nature Park is a gem. It is prairie meadows, wetlands, and forest all hugged together on 22 acres. I go there to walk and to meditate and to enjoy the meadow. It is lovely and secluded even though it is surrounded by roads and cars and houses. But once in the park, you forget everything else.
I am surprised I haven’t already featured these photos yet! I searched and searched through my posts, using every keyword I could think of but came up with nothing. I know I’ve posted these somewhere besides on Flickr. Probably on Facebook back in 2010 when I initially took the photos.
I remember the evening. I was restless and had to get away. Usually that means I end up somewhere like Kentucky where I hit the Bourbon Trail, or St. Louis where I attend Mass for the first (and only) time at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. Or I go somewhere more local like Oliver Winery located an hour away down south near Bloomington. But this time I went to Holliday Park, just across town. And I pretended to have a Greek vacation. The ruins can do that for you.
At the time I lived in Irvington. Irvington is about 30 minutes away from Holliday Park so it was like a mini-vacation. Now I live just a few blocks away and can walk there whenever I want. So happy!
Actually, this isn’t really catching up since I haven’t posted ANY May photos here and I’m only including the more recent days. But I have posted May’s photos on Flickr. The photos earlier in the month were rather boring, so I’m not bothering. These are a bit more interesting only because bourbon is involved…and possessed cats.
I won’t tell you what I think the master’s graduation hood looks like. (The hood is what drapes down the backs of master graduates.) It is so highly symbolic and makes sense, but we Americans, who are descended from the Puritans, titter at the thought. Oh, all right. I’ll tell. It looks like a vagina, especially Informatics’ hood because the color is blood red. I can’t go to a graduation ceremony without seeing all these heads sticking out the birth canal. But it makes sense! When the ritual ceremony for graduation was created, symbolism was de rigueur. We refer to our school as our alma mater, which means nourishing mother. So if we are leaving our mother’s womb and entering the world, why not fashion the hood (another euphemism) to look like the vagina? And it occurs to me that the person who hoods us is like a midwife. I love the symbolism.
One day while getting gas, I ended up in Lexington, Ky. So I thought, what to do? THE BOURBON TRAIL! I only had time for one distillery, though, so I chose Woodford Reserve.
Up until this time, I didn’t like bourbon. It burned! But I discovered that only the first sip burns. So now I can drink bourbon, but I still prefer rum. I’m a pirate. Aaarrgh, me matey.
If I’m going to include cats, they might as well be possessed.
One evening as I was reading in bed, I noticed that the folds in the sheets and the length of my legs looked kinda cool together. It’s like my legs are part of the sheets. The photo translated especially well to black and white, also.
In Irvington, I had ivy creeping across my porch. Yes, it inched towards the door, slowly, as if it didn’t want me to notice. Kinda eerie. Curious, though, I let it grow until it started creeping up the door. But this photo only shows it reaching towards the door…patiently waiting to consume me…in time. Someday the ivy will win.
May is iris month. I stumbled upon an iris show at Holliday Park today so it’s nice to find a photo of irises in my stash.
I remember the day. I remember walking along a path and coming upon this incredible convoluted set of branches reaching out way beyond other branches. It took my breath away and I tried, oh how I tried, to capture what I saw. I failed. I only had a 50mm f/1.8 lens on me so I couldn’t get a wide angle shot. In order to get the expanse of the limbs, I had to back up. That made the limbs small and inconsequential. Up closer though, I lost the breadth of the limbs. I tried it at an angle, but, again, lost the breadth so I stopped photographing it and took my losses. But the memory of its strength persisted.
After that, though, every time I looked at photos of it, I was disappointed so I avoided it. I pretended it didn’t exist. And yet, in the back of my mind I thought there must be SOME way to make it work.
I took many other photos that day and I would have used one of them for today’s post, except I already wrote about them. (Astonished By The Story) So today, when I realized I would be using a photo from this set of photos, I thought I’d attempt to salvage the branches.
My first thought was that all the color detracted from the branches. The green grasses and evergreens, the yellow flowers, the blue sky, and even an orange cone in the distance all fought against them. I thought I’d convert it to black and white. I use Photoshop CS4 as my photo editing application. I don’t remember all I did but I know I took it into LAB at one point, applied contrast, curves, and played around with the various channels. My results are so-so, some of it is because this really isn’t a good photo to convert to black and white. The main reason, though, is because I’m not used to working in black and white. Tonal values are important and I feel like I missed out on this photo.
However, all that being said, I made an attempt and now I’m curious as to how to convert a color photo into a decent black and white one. I have a book buried deep in a box that I remember had a great section on black and white conversion. It’s very technical and convoluted (hence, the reason it’s buried deep in a box) but I may pull it out again and review it.
Here is the original color version.
I think it’s just too messy. Ultimately there is too much going on. Oh pooh! Forget all this and just go to the link above (Astonished By The Story) and see the better photos.
Two weeks going on three. That’s how long it has taken me to shake off the flu. I clung to health, clawing to hold onto it. Ultimately, though, the flu won and I felt like I fell into some kind of fever oblivion. I lost two weeks to the flu and almost one week to catching up on work and other projects that I couldn’t deal with while fighting 102° fevers.
Enough, though. I am well and although I have not yet left my apartment to enjoy the wonderful spring weather that snuck up on me while I was out, I still wanted to post a photo of something fresh and uplifting.
Garfield Park Conservatory provides a tropical refuge even in winter. In January I went to see a blown glass exhibit in the conservatory. I have a few photos on my Flickr account with more of the blown glass and other tropical plants. I need to add more, though. It’s not complete.
Now I’m off to enjoy Spring!
I haven’t been posting photos to 365 Days Journey Through the Past for the last couple of days because I’m rather discouraged. Don’t get me wrong, I’m on track. I’ve been adding them to my Flickr account and at the end of the month they will be included in the monthly wrap-up, but right now I can’t help but wonder, what’s the point? I can tell that in the past during January I wasn’t really inspired and under other circumstances the photos would remain filed away on my computer because they really aren’t that good.
Part of my problem right now is that I don’t know what direction I want to go with photography; nature? people? animals? urban? other???? I love cemeteries and have tons of cemetery photos. I also love urban decay and have done some fun things with that. But I’m not inspired by either one right now. I want to include a human element to my photos, also—I had a lot of fun photographing my friend’s children!—but I’m still rather reticent to ask strangers if I can photograph them. I think I need an infusion of newness. I love Indianapolis, but I’ve been here too long without a change of scenery! I need a vacation!
Anyway, it snowed FINALLY and the snow is still on the ground so I thought I’d go to Holliday Park and see what I could find. At first it was the same stuff as always. I live a few blocks from Holliday Park so I go there a lot. Then I went into the Nature Center and sat watching the birds and squirrels through the one-way window. I lifted the camera to my eye and before I knew it, I got lost taking photos. Enjoy!
I used my 55-250mm zoom lens. I set the white balance for cloudy, which worked well outside. When I went inside the Nature Center and shot through the windows, I assumed I should keep it at cloudy. But, nope, when I color corrected in camera RAW, I learned I should have set the white balance to fluorescent. I’ll have to read up on why the indoor lighting superseded the outdoor lighting when my subjects were outside. Hmmmmm…..
UPDATE: I pondered this over the course of the day and came to the conclusion that the actual light hitting the camera sensor was from inside the building, not the outside light, and therefore need to take into consideration the indoor light situation. That is my conclusion at this point, but I’m still going to look into it.
I looked at the forest, barren and repetitive, and raised the camera to my eye. Stark brown trunks rose to the sky, contrasting beautifully against the clouds. I captured a number of shots, each one unfolding a surreal blue landscape, not the repetitive brown landscape I saw. Where did the blue come from? Why did my camera present me with weirdly-colored trees in a landscape that I saw as bleak brown?
This frustrated and perturbed me. The Canon EOS 30D was new to me. My previous cameras were point-and-shoots (Canon PowerShots of various kinds) so this was my introduction to the DSLR world. What was happening?
I don’t know how long after this photo shoot it took me to figure it out, but I remember thinking about a photography class I had taken at the Indianapolis Art Center a couple of years prior. I had just received a Canon PowerShot S2 IS with manual controls for Christmas. I wanted to learn as much as I could on how to use the controls so I signed up for a beginning photography class. I was the only one with a point-and-shoot but I soaked it all in. I learned about white balance and Kelvin color space and many other things. My point-and-shoot had white balance presets so I played around a little with the various settings and got a fairly decent understanding of white balance. Eventually, though, I left it on auto white balance (AWB) and then promptly forgot about it. AWB served me well. But I never really got that whole Kelvin thing.
With a more advanced camera, though, there I was, looking at a blue forest and wondering what I was doing wrong. Later, I remembered the whole white balance lesson. I looked at my camera and noticed it was set to “K”. Haha! So I changed that setting to AWB and that made everything return to normal. Much later, when I was reading about my camera, I noticed my color space setting was set to 2800. That accounted for the blueness when the white balance was set to “K”. So, mystery solved!
Now, five years later, I look at this unnatural world I captured using a cold setting. No longer frustrated, I am intrigued by the mystery. What would it be like to wander through a blue forest in a blue world during the blue hour of twilight?
How delicious! One morning back in 2009 on a cold, snowy day I went walking through my Irvington neighborhood and discovered the neighbors had hung apples and oranges from an evergreen tree. It was beautiful and fresh, just like the snow that day.
Today, when I look out the window, I see gray skies and dark, wet pavement. No snow. Not yet. Will we see it this year? Before the turn of the calendar? I have never longed for snow like I do now.
Through the visual tumble of branches, lingering leaves hold their own, last relics of a wild summer.
I’m not sure how I’m going to approach this project yet. I figure I need to start, though, or I won’t start.
I am not doing the typical 365 photo-a-day project. I know I won’t stick with that. What I want to do, however, is go through my photo library and find photos I’ve taken on this same day in the past. During October I uploaded my cemetery photos to Flickr and was surprised to see how I viewed life in the past. It opened my eyes to a vision I once had. I want to continue to revisit past photos to gain a better perspective of where I came from. I believe it will help me to envision my future. It is definitely reminding me of the wonder I had in the past. Right now I feel like I’ve lost that sense of wonder and I’m hoping that as I progress through my photos I will regain it.
I took a much-needed break yesterday and headed south. I didn’t know where I was going, I just wanted to go. I ended up at Oliver Winery, which is a very pleasant place to end up. Oliver Winery is a favorite destination for me when I’m roaming because of their bucolic setting and wonderful tasting room. And they are far enough away from me for it to be an adventure but close enough for me to get home easily. The sun was high and clouds floated by. It was a cool—cooler than it had been for weeks—and very bright day.
Are there times when you just have to get away but don’t know where you want to go but you go anyway? These times are magical times. Follow the urge. You’ll find the destination to be just what you need.
(I am not affiliated with Oliver Winery. I just like them. A lot.)