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Welcome to my blog!

The name, “Seen Along the Trail,” should be a big clue that there has been some serious walking, as well as plenty of photography, involved in its creation. Years ago, when I bought my first digital camera, a wonderful new world opened up for me. Because of my love for nature, I was instantaneously motivated to take daily photowalks. As my collection of images grew and grew and grew, I needed a way to share these pictures with my family and friends…and anyone else who came by for a look. That’s why I started this photoblog. Scroll through the sliding pictures above to view a small selection of my recent pictures.  if you like what you see, click on the three horizontal lines in the top right corner to open  the menu bar. That’s a good place to find out more about me and my blog. If you would like to join me for more trips down the trail, click the FOLLOW button so you can come back again and again because there will always be something new to see.

Thank you for stopping by today.
I hope you will stick around for many more trail walks.

Carolyn aka Skip

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Running behind, playing catch-up, and finally a Friday Face:Rae

I’m running behind again this week…still trying to catch up from my week of VBS (Vacation Bible School). There are some weeks when nothing much gets done except the foremost task of the week, and the week of July 12-17 was one of those. The day after VBS ended, I managed to post a blog about our community arts festival, but, after that, the little energy I had left evaporated. Pffsstt, and it was gone! That’s why i”m playing catch-up this week. On everything: my photowalks, blog posts, and even leaving comments on all your blogs. So playing catch-up is the mode of the week.

Unfortunately, starting tomorrow, my schedule turns demanding, frenzied even, again. What’s this all about anyway? I’m retired! My time should be my own. Shouldn’t it? Umm…? “No, you say!” What do you mean, it just doesn’t work that way? I always assumed when I retired I would be a lady of leisure, free to come and go as I please. Sleeping late, Long hours immersed in books by my favorite writers. No need to set the alarm clock. No need to wear a watch. No need to worry about my schedule! Okay, I admit there are some things I have committed to that need to be done on schedule, and this week I’m even behind on most of those. Like my Friday Face blog post for example. It should have been posted four days ago, and I’m just now getting around to it. Mea culpa, blogmates. It’s late, but here it is…on Tuesday evening.

The Friday Face for this week is Rae, a creative, energetic, and very personable vendor I met at the Arts Festival in Willoughby on Saturday morning. Two things attracted me to Rae: Her colorful hat was one. She designed it because that’s what she does in her basement workshop. She takes all sorts of items she has collected, gets a vision for one-of-a-kind-original creations, and turns them into amazing hats.  Then she sells them. The second thing that attracted me to Rae was her friendly smile. It spoke so loudly, Rae didn’t need to use words to get my attention, but she was good with words too, and I enjoyed meeting her and learning about her creativity. Thank you,Rae. You create much more than hats. You create fun, serendipitous experiences for people who are fortunate enough to meet you, and this time I was one of the lucky ones!

Rae is the latest addition to my Friday Faces gallery, which you can see here.

Carolyn aka Skip  

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Annual Art Festival

Vacation Bible School, which I wrote about in my last post, ended last night with a celebration and presentation for the parents and grandparents. It was a week full of fun and an opportunity for the children to learn about God’s love through stories, songs, and crafts. I enjoyed my second time as “official VBS  photographer,” but by the end of the week I was ready to crash on the couch. When I woke up this morning, I made big plans to do nothing, or at least as little as possible. However, that wasn’t to be because today was the day of the Arts Festival in downtown Willoughby.

Bob, who had volunteered to help with the set up, called twice and all but implored me to bring my camera and join him at the festival. “There are a lot of things for you to take pictures of,” he said. The man knows very well what button to push…the camera button. Just tell me there are photo possibilities, and I’m on it. And he was right. Vendors were set up along both sides of the street,  displaying handcrafted items of all kinds. There were also plenty of food vendors: crab cake sandwiches, ice cold lemonade, ice cream cones, and more; and the Saturday outdoor market was in full swing…. definitely lots of pictures just waiting to be taken. This is just a sampling:

On this quintessential (and hot) July day, things were hopping in our little city. Now I’m headed back to my comfortable corner of the couch or maybe just straight to bed because I’m too tired to write any more. The pictures will have to show you how much fun everyone was having.

Thanks for taking time to visit the Arts Fest with me.

Carolyn aka Skip

It’s VBS time again!

VBS, or Vacation Bible School, started Sunday night. Everyone is busy, and the kids are having a great time! I love being the official VBS photographer! It brings back long past memories.

Anybody else have memories of VBS? How about sharing them with us in the comment section.

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Photo of the week: Bee and blossom

On Friday, July 10th, I wandered through the Arboretum, trying out my new monopod for the first time. That’s when I took this photo. I’m hoping the monopod will steady my camera and help me get sharper images. What do you think? Did it do the job?

Feedback is appreciated at any and all times.

Thank you!
Carolyn aka Skip

Here is a link to Clare and Dean’s photo of the week, a little “joey” straight to you from Australia, and here is a link to the “how to” for participating in the photo of the week feature.

chipmunk

Birding (and more) from the backyard bench

My camera, a Nikon D7100, gives me the option to choose between two image areas”

  • DX crop (24×16) uses the full 24mm x 16mm image area, uncropped.
  • 1.3X (18x12mm) crops each image using an 18mm x 12mm image area.

Do I understand the math of these options?
I recommend David Busch’s Nikon D7100 Guide to Digital SLR Photography.Truthfully no, but I have a fantastic handbook on the D7100 by David Busch that says one argument for the 1.5X crop factor is that it “transforms any telephoto lens you have into a longer lens, which can be useful for sports, wildlife photography, and other endeavors that benefit from more reach.” of course, there’s more to it than that, and not everyone agrees, but, being a bird (and other wildlife) photographer, I decided it would be worth investigating.

This morning, instead of hitting the trail in search of photo opps, I walked out to our back patio, sat down on the bench and spent a half hour playing around with the settings. The greatest test of the added reach the 1.5X crop factor afforded me was these two hummingbirds. For some reason, the hummers have stopped coming to our sugar water feeders; however, they still fly through the back yard and love to rest (as hummingbirds do) on the tip-top branches of our neighbor’s apple tree where they have a good view of the feeders and any back yard action. That’s where this little one was sitting when I took his picture:

It’s certainly not a closeup or even a good picture, but as a capture of a tiny bird about 18 feet (or so) from my lens, it’s better than anything I got with out using the crop factor. In my half hour of bench time, I captured the following images using the added reach afforded by the crop factor:

A note about the chipmunk: Chipmunks cant’s fly, but they can climb!!As we all know, chipmunks can’t fly, but they can climb. This summer my husband transformed an old step ladder into a bird feeding station. The birds like it, as do the squirrels and chipmunks. This little chippy jumped onto the bottom step and dashed upward to reach the big blocks of seeds (designed for the woodpeckers). As you can see, he was enjoying his meal.

That’s it for my first experiment with the 1.5X crop factor. Did it give my camera more reach? Yes. Is it “magical?” Maybe not, but I did get closer pictures with it than I have without it, so I guess I will keep on using it. It does lower the resolution of my images from 24mm to about 15-16, but since I usually don’t print my picture, that’s not a great concern, just something to keep in mind when I might want to print them for a contest or a gift or something.

So there you have it. If you have any thoughts to share about this topic, please add them to the comment section.

Thanks for visiting.
Carolyn aka Skip

 

Daffy-nitions: disheveled

An unhappy windblown cardinal is complaining.

Disheveled: untidy, disordered

“What a bad hair day it’s been. I look awfully disheveled, and I’m beginning to feel desperate.  I’ve combed and combed, and it just won’t cooperate! Maybe I need a styling.”

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I can certainly relate to what this cardinal must have been feeling. As the expression says, “Been there; Done that!” What about you? Have you been there too?

Carolyn aka Skip

Karen's beautiful smile represents  the spirit of Relay for Life.

Walking in the “Relay for Life”

Today was the annual Relay for Life event in Western Lake County. A group from our church, calling themselves Team B.A.R.B., has been a presence at Relay for 10 years in honor of their friend Barb who lost her battle to cancer before she was 50 years old. The goal of the many teams who participate in Relay is to raise money for cancer research, and today the “track” at North High School was crowded with people, young and old, eager to do their part in the fight to eradicate the scourge of cancer.

After the formal opening events, a group of cancer survivors took to the track for the first lap, known as the “survivor’s lap.” Following that first honorary lap, everyone is invited to step out onto the track and take their turn walking laps. Relay lasts 12 hours, from noon until midnight, and someone from each team is required to be walking the track at all times. A special luminaria lighting event when dusk falls recognizes those in whose honor the luminarias were purchased, and funds from those purchases go to cancer research. Relay for Life is a battle against cancer, and like any battle, the intent is to fight a good fight and eventually to win. However, there is a fun side to Relay also, with games, contests, costumes, food, entertainment, and other festivities. It is a family event for children of all ages. Take a look at the picture gallery to see what I mean:

Survivors' lap

Survivors’ lap

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Survivors’ lap

That’s Relay here in western Lake County, Ohio. If there is a Relay event in your community, I hope you will find a way to support it, so we can win the battle against cancer.

Thanks for walking the track (instead of the trail) with me today!
Carolyn aka Skip

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Friday Faces: The ” face” inside the cow costume

Yesterday on my walk in the Arboretum, I was so focused (pun intended) on using my new monopod that I passed up two really good opportunities to add someone to my Friday Face gallery. On the way home from the Arboretum, I briefly berated myself for my forgetfulness, but it was too late to go back and recapture the moments I missed. That’s the thing with Friday Faces. You want to get them when the “getting is good,” as the expression says, because you may see that particular person again, but you, equally well, may not.

So today I was determined to capture a new stranger for my Friday Face, even if I was a day late. (Remember, the rule says to post a “Face” on Friday, but rules can be broken). So don’t cry over spilt milk, or forgotten Faces, just find one and post it on Saturday or Sunday. There is no penalty for not posting it on Friday. And today I definitely found a strange face for my Friday Face.

Chick-Fil-A is a popular restaurant here in northeast Ohio, serving, as you would expect, chicken. (They also serve excellent chocolate milkshakes, but that’s just a side note). The restaurant chain is very community-minded and, with a delightfully counter-cultural attitude, refuses to open their doors on Sundays. When I spotted the Chick-Fil-A cow at the Relay for Life event where they were one of the sponsors, I said to myself, “There’s your Friday Face.” The cow was happy to pose, actually quite professional about it, and snap! I had my Friday Face.

Carolyn aka Skip

Lily Pond

If you took a photowalk with me today…

…you could have given me a break by carrying my monopod part of the time. Just kidding really, but I wouldn’t have turned you down if you had offered because carrying it is a new discipline for me…  and discipline is possibly the best way to describe it because I’m not yet accustomed to carrying (or using) this new piece of equipment. Put simply, it doesn’t feel natural yet. I will have to discipline myself to use it regularly.

Would I fall in love with this new addition to my photography kit?I bought this latest addition to my camera kit a couple of months (or so) ago, but then had to order a special plate to screw into the base of the camera to mount (wrong word maybe) both my camera strap and my monopod at the same time. It took 6-8 weeks, but the plate ($21 from Dodd Camera store) finally arrived. So off I went, out the door of Dodd Camera and directly to Holden Arboretum to give it a tryout. Was I going to fall in love with it? Umm, I had my doubts because it is a bit awkward to handle. However, after walking through the butterfly garden, down the trail to Blueberry Pond and returning by way of Lotus Pond, I could see at least three advantages:

  1. It steadied my camera (and me too, and that was a primary reason for investing in it.
  2. It helped me frame my pictures. I don’t know how, but it just felt better.
  3. It made me feel like a “real” photographer, not professional of course, but it made me consider each picture more seriously, if you know what I mean.

Conclusion: For the first time out, the “stick” and I were on pretty good terms. Although I’m not feeling the love yet, I’m planning to keep it! Now take a look at some of the sights you would have seen in the Arboretum today. What do you think…did the monopod do a good job?

Thanks for walking the trail with me today (even if you didn’t carry the monopod).

Carolyn aka Skip

The blue dasher dragonflies were dashing around everywhere!

Dragonflies, damselflies, and birds, oh my!

Today I took a new trail, well, actually not new to me, but new to some of you. North Chagrin Reservation in Cuyahoga County is a Cleveland Metropark that borders our community. Lots of trails, good hiking, picnic grounds, and much more make it a popular park. Today, a weekday, there were many people walking, a few running, some with children, and still others, like me, carrying cameras and looking for birds, dragonflies, and such. I was hoping to come home with a picture of a great blue heron and maybe even a green heron. Seeing the GBH wasn’t inconceivable. There is at least one that fishes regularly in the marsh. Unfortunately, today he just did a flyover, landed briefly in the top of a very tall tree, beyond the reach of my lens, and then flew out of sight.

A dragonfly can spend up to several years underwater until it is strong enough to surface, shed its skin and evolve into this beautiful creature. Then it flies free among us but only for a very brief period of up to two months before it dies (Author ~Ruth O’Neill).So no herons today, blue or green. And no barn swallows. They used to be abundant and very easy to photograph, but they must have moved to a new neighborhood. Sad, that’s what I think it is because they were such fun to photograph.

As I wandered around to see what was available for a photo opp, I ran into Roz. I mentioned her in a post two weeks ago when she was kind enough to pose for my Friday photo and again last week when she told me where I could find bobolinks. Today Roz was looking for dragons and damsels. Now I know next to nothing about dragonflies and less about damsels, so I tagged along with Roz for awhile, thinking I might learn something, and that’s how I happen to have more dragonflies than birds to share with you today. Don’t expect me to tell you what the different ones are, however, because I’m not on a first name basis with any of them. They are all just dragonflies to me. Getting sharp pictures is a challenge because they are tiny and fast moving, but I had fun trying.

Thanks for joining me along the trail today.
See you soon.
Carolyn aka Skip

PS: Thanks to my friend Roz for helping to ID most of the dragons and damsels.
PS 2: Click on any picture below to scroll through the gallery and make or read comments on individual pictures. Thanks for taking the time to look!

My photo of the week

Purple flower and a weathered bench

Purple flower and a weathered bench

Walking along the trail in the arboretum for the first time in months, I came upon this weathered bench. I thought about sitting down to enjoy the view, but when I noticed the pretty purple flower, growing up from behind the bench, I decided instead to take a picture. I have no idea what the flower is, but I loved the color, its delicate lace-like effect, and the contrast with the lichens on the weathered bench.

If anyone can identify the flower, please let me know in the comments. This is my first post on Clare and Dean’s Photo of the Week weekly feature. Click here to see what they posted from New South Wales this week.

Thanks for checking out my photo of the week.
Carolyn aka Skip

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Bobolinks, Savannah sparrows, Friday Faces, and more!

Last week, two friends, one a bird watcher and the other a photographer, suggested that I should visit a park in a neighboring county where there is an over-abundance of bobolinks (if such a thing is possible). Because bobolinks are scarce non-existent in my local park, and I trust both of these women to give good advice, I took off yesterday in search of the bobolinks. I found them without any trouble. All I did was park the car, climb out,  head up the grassy hillside pictured above, and there they were. My faith in the advice of my friends had not been misplaced. Take a look at the gallery:


The grass at the bottom of the hill has been mowed, but farther up the hillside, the grass on both sides of the path I was following was knee high and taller. And that’s where the birds were. Some were nesting down in the grass and flew out as I passed by. Others circled and swooped overhead, landing on the tall stalks of grass. I mentally coaxed the bobolinks to land on the stalks of grass that were right in front of me, closer to the trail. Unfortunately, the stalks they chose were usually beyond the reach of my lens, so I found myself mentally coaxing them to land on stalks a bit closer to the path. “How about that stalk there, the one right in front of me?” Hoping they would “hear” me and heed my request, I stood still and silently stared at the stalk of grass. Of course they never heard and certainly didn’t heed, so most of my pictures are heavily cropped. Although I came home with pictures that I deem “good enough,” I also came home with a few additions to my camera kit “wish list,” most notably a longer, faster, sharper lens!

Nevertheless, it was a great experience. Maybe I’ll rent a bigger lens and return someday. That might be a lot of fun. As I followed a winding path downhill to my car, I was thankful for friends who are willing to share information about the best places for birding. In case you’re wondering why I mentioned Friday Faces in the title of this post, it’s because I wasn’t the only photographer on the hillside yesterday. Craig was there also with his camera (that incidentally had a longer lens than mine). Because it was Friday, and I always try to add a photo of a stranger to my Friday Faces gallery, I asked if he would mind posing for a photo opp. However I’ve been a little wordy tonight, and this post is already long enough. I’m going to stop now and make a separate post for Friday Faces here where you can see Craig and read about his photo opp.

Thanks for joining me on this new trail today. It’s good to share my discovery with you.

Clare & Dean

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