Tag Archives: sun

Warm Rocks and Cold Stares

Walking along a lush tropical garden path we often find ourselves in the company of Warm Rocks and Cold Stares.  This particular sunny morning we were not disappointed.

The warm Floridian sun had just begun to shine its way through tall trees into the lush green underbrush below.  As pockets of the sunlight lit up this hidden dark world you could see life start to move again signifying the beginning of a new day.

This brown anole lizard has discovered the perfect spot to start warming her chilled and sluggish reptilian blood.  The round white water worn stone provides the perfect location for her to warm herself to begin the day’s hunting.

Normally, these lizards will eat just about anything Warm Rocks and Cold Staresthey can fit in their mouths.  She will undoubtably go on to find a smorgasbord of mealworms, spiders, crickets, and anything other insect she can find.  Anole lizards are also known to eat the young of other lizard species and strangely enough, they will even eat their own previously shed skin.

Life is not perfect for her though, she has to wary of a number of natural predators that would happily make her a mid morning snack.  Snakes, larger lizards, and even birds would not think twice of devouring her.

To protect herself from these hungry predators, she has a series of defenses to rely on.  Her first line of defense is to use her camouflaged body to try to remain unseen.  The second defense is her unique ability to lose her tail.

This species of lizard are able to detach their tails at will.  The detached tail will continue to wiggle and move hopefully causing the predator to pay attention to it while she escapes.  Her tail will grow back eventually, however it may never reach the same length, as it’s original.

We know that this particular lizard looking at us inquisitively is a female due to the diamond-shaped colored markings running the length of her back.  While the males also have a discretionary multicolored pattern on their backs, the patterns tend to be one of spots and not actual lines.

Like what you read about Warm Rocks and Cold Stares?

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Cottonwood Art Festival- A Lesson Learned

 

There is a festival held in Richardson, Texas twice a year known as Cottonwood Art Festival. Artist line up rows upon rows of tents and pavilions in Cottonwood Park for the public to come and see, buy and experience fine art.

 

This festival is a wonderful chance for artists to meet collectors face to face without the usual art gallery atmosphere.  The artists have to send their work through a juried selection process so every year you find new artists and different media.  While the festival is an excellent place to buy art, it’s also a great place to watch people.

 

Dallas is an international city and you will find all forms of cultures mixed together in one place to enjoy the art. In fact, one of the big draws to this event is not only the fine art, but the ability to people watch.  People watching is a neat sport that allows you to see what people wear, how they act, and learn about culture.   It is not unusual to see people in sarees, hajibs, slacks and polo shirts and even a kilt.  I walked past two women in a full dress and hajib talking next to an artist wearing a knee cut sundress and a pair of cowboy boots.  It is always a neat experience when cultures can blend together and enjoy each others company.

 

People are not the only ones who get to enjoy the art.  The park is also dog friendly and you will see all sorts of breeds from tiny toys to Great Danes.  There are even whippets adopted after their dog racing careers end.

 

There is a serious side to the festival.   Some people go to Cottonwood to complete or add to their art collection.   It is in this atmosphere that I heard a lady learn that all too important lesson of fine art.  The valuable lessons of  “if you like it; buy it.”  She was telling her husband, or friend, that the piece of art she had wanted to buy was already gone when she had gone back later to buy it.  As the saying goes “Don’t say there is still time.” or “I’ll get it later”. Because there is the concept of “It’s too late”.

 

People who buy and sell art, or even your average collector often learn this painful lesson and do their best to avoid it.  As a photographer/artist I have often heard, “Well can’t you just print off another?”  Sometimes, that is possible.  But, even in photography, there are occasions where an artist archives a picture  to make room for another.  Or a picture is part of a limited printing such as a private commission.  This causes the lesson to ring true even in the photographic art world.  Whenever you buy any art, all three people win.  You win, the gallery wins, and so does the artist.

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Nature’s Puzzle Fun: Sunflowers and Shapes

This sunflower is an amazing example of living geometric engineering. I know of several middle school math teachers that would giggle with delight at this mouth-watering choice of shapes and forms.

 

As you view the sunflower carefully, the discovery of cones, triangles, circles and even pentagrams suddenly show themselves in a magical and alluring way.  Nature creates a puzzle of various designs and structures all the while implementing them in a living plant.

 

The amazing thing is the shapes found inside each shape.  Notice the focus on the band of black cones, each ending with 3 dimensional shapes in a star pattern on top.  All of those star patterns connect to a cone shape that sprouts majestically from a small pentagram.  Yet, all together, they form a sweeping black band in a semi-circular pattern that divides the work and flower into each part.

 

This band separates the ever-increasing density of the sloping conical-shaped face and the flat expanding petals of the flower.  Even the colors divide into separate areas due to that black and yellow band.  Nature even allows colors to join in this dance of geometry.  The sun-kissed greens of the undeveloped seeds slope towards the more traditional sunflower yellow of the petals.  Indeed, the sunlight striking the petals actually enhances our perception of the color changing from green to black towards yellow.

 

Only nature exists in such a perfect form.  All of these shapes and colors exist for attraction.  Sure, we has humans enjoy the fragrance, sight, and complexity of the flowers but it irresistible to the insects like butterflies and bees that the plant wished to attract.  Such beauty allows a perfect winning scenario. The sunflower becomes pollinated, the insects get a meal, and we get to decorate and have a snack of sunflower seeds.  Perfect wins all around!

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4 Rules of Lighting and the Outdoors Photographer

One of the great aspects of lighting in photography is that it doesn’t work the same for everyone all the time.  There are general guide rules of lighting, but the solutions to making a photographic shot better are not always so cut and dry.  Some typical rules include:

  1. The closer the light source the harder the light and vice versa.
  2. The larger the light source the softer the light  and vice versa.
  3. Sunlight is always hard light unless in the shade.
  4. A flash will always give you a hard light unless you diffuse it or bounce it on the subject with a reflector.

Those rules are pretty easy to live with and with a little imagination you begin to see possibilities that will improve your photography.  However, sometimes the situation you find yourself in is not so forgiving.

Let’s say you are a photographer faced with the task of photographing the lions of the Serengeti.   Your only solutions to controlling the hard sun light is to use filters, the time of day, and possibly something in your environment to help you create some shade.   It’s not always possible, nor advisable to drag your entire studio with you.

Indeed, outdoor photography has it’s own lighting challenges in that you can’t always ask a subject to help you with the shot.  Flashing a strobe light in the face of a large bull will result in a great action photograph but probably not the kind you were hoping for.  Further, location is an issue also.  I know of a tree that, when in bloom, is gorgeous and has not one but two distinct colors of the flowers.  The problem?  The two angles to capture the shot with the best lighting are either in the middle of a busy 2 lane road or standing on active train tracks.  I can’t move the sun, and I can’t move the tree.  Yes, solutions to this problem exist, but none of them are particularly easy or inexpensive to do.

Weather can also play a factor in your lighting plans also. I had a photography instructor who swore that the best weather to take pictures on was an overcast grey day.  The light would be diffused by the clouds and he instructed us to use those clouds as our grey cards to find our neutral grey.

In a way, challenges to correct the lighting or sometimes even getting the lighting outdoors to do what you want is what make this form of photography fun.  The lighting found outdoors constantly create opportunities of creative thinking and doing things  “outside the box.”

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The Story of Gulf and Clouds

The really cool thing about photography is that often times there is a story that goes with a particular picture.  Such is true with the picture Gulf and Clouds.

Ann and I were sitting at a bar in Key West Florida.  We were enjoying beautifully created Piña Coladas on a well deserved vacation.  It was one of those magical moments where you could feel the warm breeze, hear the ocean, and smell the salt of the water.

Our fabulous get away was suddenly interrupted by that satanic spawn of technology known as my wife’s cell phone.  I thought “Well, that ruins the moment.”  It was a text message from her co-worker asking where such and such file for a customer was.  Annoying!!!!   Hello!  She is on vacation!

Her response was to take a picture of the scenery with her phone.  She sent the picture back to her coworker with the following response.  “ I’m not in my office.  Be back Monday.  Maybe…..”

It was such a perfect response that I grabbed my camera and took the shot you see now.  Thus, Gulf and Clouds was born.

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