Posted in My trail walks, nature, photography, trailwalking

Let’s go trail walking!

 

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Hello friends. Several years ago, I created this blog by combining three of my favorite activities…

  • trail walking
  • photography,
  • and writing.

I named it Seen Along the Trail because most of the posts will be about the sights  I see and the people I meet on my trail walks in local parks. If you enjoy the outdoors as much as I do, I hope you will follow my blog and become a trail walker too. I will add new posts on Tuesday, Thursday, and at least once on the weekend. Please leave comments or “like” the posts you enjoy, so I will know you have been walking the trails with me.  I’m looking forward to your visits!

A little more info…

  • I sign my blog posts “Trail Walker,” but my friends call me Carolyn or Skip. I hope you will too. If you want to know more, you can read my full profile here.
  • I took the picture at the top of this page along the trail in Chagrin River Park on July 5, 2016.
  • I love visitors, especially when they leave comments on my blog.  😊
  • To see my recent posts, please keep scrolling down!

 

Thanks for visiting my blog! I hope you will come back soon.
Trail Walker

 

 

Posted in Holden Arboretum, landscapes, My trail walks, nature, photography, Portfolio, winter

Winter walks in Holden Arboretum

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My project for this week is assembling a portfolio of my winter trail walks . Although I take regular walks in Chagrin River Park which is only five minutes from my home, another of my favorite places to walk is Holden Arboretum. If you follow my blog regularly, you have seen many pictures from my walks along the Arboretum’s trails. Today’s post is a compilation of my personal favorites from the last three months of trail walks in the Arboretum. It is a special place, and we are blessed to have it so close to home…not quite as close as Chagrin River Park, but only about 20 minutes from home to the entrance. So put on your boots and let’s head down the trail for a snowy walk!

As we continue to ease eagerly into spring, I hope you enjoyed today’s wintery trail walk.

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
Trail Walker
Posted in Environmental portraits, Fabulous Friday Faces, Friday Faces, My trail walks, photography

I never know…

Fabulous Friday Faces

You can find other F.F.F. blog posts here and my original gallery here.

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Bill, Ken, and Tom

I never know what I’ll see or who I’ll meet when I set out on a trail walk with my camera. I don’t actually plan these blog posts, they’re usually just centered around the things I see and the people I meet along the trail. While most of the posts in my blog are nature-related (you’ll see a lot of birds), I also like to post other subjects. If you have been following my blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed that one of my favorite subjects is taking informal portraits of people I meet in the park. When I first started trail walking (after I retired from teaching writing to middle school students), my main goal was to improve my photography by taking pictures of birds, deer, and landscapes. Simple things like that. I rarely engaged in conversation with strangers along the trail. Then, about three years ago, I had an epiphany. Chagrin River Park, the most popular park in Lake County, is filled with people (and their dogs), and because I was blindly walking past those people, never thinking to lift my camera to ask if I could take their pictures,  I was missing out on some wonderful photo opps.

That was the beginning of a project I call Fabulous Friday Faces. The picture at the top of this post is the most recent addition to my F.F.F. gallery. When I stopped to say hello, the three fishermen pictured, Bill, Ken, and Tom, told me that they are from the Cincinnati area and had spent the last three days fishing different rivers in northeast Ohio. I’m not sure how many fish they caught in those three days, but I’m pretty sure they had a great time. Their question to me was, “Where is a good place to get lunch (and a beer) in Willoughby?” Later in the day, when I was walking in the park with my husband and springer spaniel Gulliver, they were just packing up for the day and planning to head back to Cincinnati on Saturday morning.

A few minutes later, as I followed another man along the narrow trail, a young (and reckless) bike rider flew past. If either of us had stepped an inch or two to the left, things might have gotten messy. I think I am an easy-going person, but one of my pet peeves is bike riders and runners who come up from behind without giving any warning of their approach.  I don’t appreciate being surprised like that. The bike rider flew on down the trail, while the other walker and I paused to reflect on our close call. I learned that his name is Dan Just, and he was out for the exercise.

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Dan Just

We agreed that a pleasant walk in the park shouldn’t include the prospect of broken limbs or bloody bodies. Nevertheless, today’s encounter turned out to be a blessing for me. Not being one to pass up an opportunity to add another face to my Fabulous Friday Faces gallery I also asked this stranger if I could take his picture. Two pictures, four new faces for my gallery. I was having a good day!

As I have written on previous blog posts, creating the F.F.F. gallery was a turning point in my hobby as a photographer. Since then I have met many interesting people along the trail. I am no longer driven to “find a new face” every week, but when I meet someone new along the trail, I take that as an opportunity to say hello and ask them for a photo opp. I never know who I might encounter along the trail, but I’ve met many interesting people and have even made new friends that I see time and again along the trail. Asking strangers for a photo opp has definitely enriched my trail walks. Thanks to Dan, Bill, Ken, and Tom for enriching my trail walk today.

(Note: If you have been featured as a F.F.F. and would like a copy of your picture to print, you can contact me at cgl220@gmail.com.)

See you soon for more tales from the trail.
Trail Walker

 

 

Posted in Environmental portraits, Fabulous Friday Faces, Friday Faces, My trail walks, nature photography, photography

How photography changed me

On a recent walk along the trail, I captured two new faces for my Fabulous Friday Faces gallery (Click the link to learn more about my F.F.F. Gallery).

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Ron
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Lynn

I ran into both Ron, and later Lynn, while I was standing near the split rail fence where I had stopped to photograph some birds on that snowy morning. It’s always a pleasure to encounter new people on the trail, and it’s even better if they are willing to pose for my Fabulous Friday Faces. When I first started taking pictures in the park, I rarely took pictures of people and definitely not pictures of people I had never met. I wouldn’t say I was shy,  but I wasn’t confident about my portrait-taking skills, and the idea of being rejected when I asked someone to pose made me reluctant to approach a stranger and ask for a photo opp. Each time I decided to try, I had to take a deep breath and give myself a pep talk (along the line of “Carolyn, you are able to do this,”) as I headed in their direction, camera in hand.

My attitude about photographing strangers changed a few years ago when I discovered another photographer, living in Scotland, who had started to photograph one stranger every day on the streets of his city. To this day, he is still posting them, and his gallery of photos is beyond amazing (See them here). At that point, I decided if he could post a stranger’s face every single day, I could  post at least one a week, so I started. To be honest, I haven’t been faithful about getting one every single week, and some weeks I post two, but every Fabulous Friday Face I have added to my gallery has help me advance as a photographer. Granted, I am only an enthusiastic, amateur photographer, not a well-trained professional toting a serious looking full-frame  camera and a tripod, but  I get out with my camera in all seasons; I constantly try to learn new photography and photo processing skills; and I challenge myself to improve, instead of settling for the status quo. I’m happy with that, and I think it’s a good (and healthy) place to be.

As I have written elsewhere in my blog, taking that first step, asking a stranger to pose for my camera, was both scary and life changing.  It was a giant step, but one that has challenged me to become a different person, and, I think, a better photographer.  When I first started, I was galaxies away from my comfort zone every time I approached a stranger to ask them to pose for my Fabulous Friday Faces Gallery. I am no longer reluctant to ask. What can they say other than “yes” or “no”?  In all this time I have only had one or two who refused to pose, and I have met many delightful people. My Friday Faces Gallery is a simple concept, but it has turned each walk along the trail into an adventure; taught me new skills; helped me become more outgoing; and proved that you can “teach an old dog new tricks.” I encourage other photographers to give it a go.

Thanks for visiting my blog today. I hope you will return for more photo walks along the trail and more Fabulous Friday Faces.

Trail Walker

Posted in My trail walks, nature, nature photography, photography

Out of my comfort zone…Again!

A special exhibit currently at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens is titled Orchid Mania. Today my friend Marti and I went to see the orchids. Visiting the Botanical Gardens is always a treat. Today was no exception. The displays were amazing. I took a lot of pictures and chose four for today’s post. As you may have noticed, I am not a “flower photographer.” Nor am I  a gardener or an orchid aficionado, but orchids are gorgeous, and today’s trail walk was a wonderful opportunity to stretch my photography skills again. The four pictures I chose for this post include two orchids, one tree, and one exotic bird unlike any I would see on my usual trails.

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An exotic bird at the Botanical Garden
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Baobab tree

The baobab tree was huge!  Much too large to capture with my 35mm lens, so you’re only seeing part of it. Orchids, vines, butterflies, and birds were at home on its gigantic trunk, limbs, and branches.

And now the orchids. Only two for today, but I will post more tomorrow when I have more time. Naturally I don’t know their names. Anyone knowledgeable about orchids is welcome to leave that information in the comment section at the end of the post.

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A very pink orchid!
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Pink and white striped orchid

Time to stop for tonight. Flower person or not, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Botanical Garden today, and I’m looking forward to a return visit in the spring. Today was a beautiful day with blue skies and puffy clouds, but it wasn’t spring yet. The thermometer barely made it above the freezing mark, but I’m not complaining. It isn’t snowing!

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
See you soon!
Trail Walker

Posted in Fabulous Friday Faces, Friday Faces, My trail walks, My trailwalks, photoblogging, photography, portraits

Photo Almanac: January 1-8, 2016

A new feature on my blog, the Photo Almanac (originally titled The Week in Review), will appear every week to highlight some of my favorite photos from the previous seven days. While many of them will have already been included in other posts throughout the week, some will make their first appearance in the weekly Almanac. This week I have categorized the selected photos and  posted them in three separate galleries. You can click on any picture to open and scroll through the gallery.

Gallery one: Wildlife

As you know if you have been following my blog, I love being outdoors, and trail walking is one of my favorite activities. It is on the trails in local park that I usually take most of my photos. This week, after experiencing Northeast Ohio’s warmest December on record, things began to cool down. In midweek we had a few very pleasant days with temperatures in the forties and low fifties, but by the end of the week, they continued to drop. Happily (from my point of view) there was little snow or rain and not a lot of windy days either, so I  headed out on the trails almost every day.  My most exciting day on the trails this week involved a confrontation between a red-shouldered hawk and a hapless field mouse, but other critters made an appearance too. All the photos in this gallery were taken on trail walks in Chagrin River Park.

 

Gallery two: Landscapes

Although Chagrin River Park is my most frequently visited place for trail walking, Holden Arboretum is another favorite. At Chagrin River opportunities to observe and interact with birds and other wildlife are plentiful, while at the Arboretum there are seemingly endless trails and gardens, each with its own special beauty. I try to visit Holden at least once a week, and this week I was lucky to be able to enjoy it with my grandson Michael. Here are a few pictures from our visit on Thursday.

 

Gallery Three: Fabulous Friday Faces

In December 2013, I screwed up my courage and began asking  many of the strangers I encounter on the trails if I could take their picture for a special feature on my blog called Fabulous Friday Faces. Prior to that time, when I saw people I didn’t know, I would pass by with little more than a smile and a nod or brief “hello.” I was essentially a solitary walker and happy to be that way. I’m not sure what triggered my decision to change, but, however it happened, I began to pause, engage strangers in conversation, and ask them to pose for photo opps. It was difficult at first, but has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made as a photographer. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I have come to enjoy these brief encounters immensely. Of all the new people I have encountered, only one has refused the request to pose for my camera. Over time, I have learned a lot, met many fantastic people, and become much more connected with the world around me when I am on the trail. I keep an ongoing gallery of Fabulous Friday Faces and an explanation of the process here on my Smugmug site if you want to know more. Here are two new FF Faces that I added during my trail walks this week followed by  a new photo of one of my earlier Fabulous Faces. One of the benefits of the FFF is the number of friends I’ve made. I repeatedly meet some of them in the park, and it’s always a great feeling to see them.

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Bill Arotin, Chagrin River Park
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Tom Dodge, Chagrin River Park
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Joe Morandini, Chagrin River Park

That’s it for this week’s edition of the Photo Almanac. If you have enjoyed this new feature, I would love to hear your comments.

Thanks for visiting!
Trail Walker

Posted in My trail walks, nature, photography, photowalk, trailwalking

The hawk and the field mouse

I was nearing the end of an afternoon trail walk in Chagrin River Park. More than happy with the images I had collected on my memory card, I was ready to head for home when a large hawk, perched on a fence post just off the trail, caught my attention.

It must be a decoy, I thought to myself. I had heard other people talking about the hawk they had seen along the trail, but I hadn’t been lucky enough to spot him, so I didn’t believe my eyes until his head moved, and I realized it really was a hawk, a very large one! Lifting my camera, I began shooting frame after frame, while any minute expecting him to fly away.

Instead, he spread his wings, rose a few feet into the air and plummeted into the gully next to the post where he had been perched.

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After a short skirmish, with a small field mouse gripped tightly in his talons, he returned to his perch to enjoy his lunch.

If your sympathy lies with the little mouse, you will probably agree that nature isn’t always pretty because the field mouse didn’t have any hope of surviving his encounter with the redtailed hawk. The hawk, on the other hand, was happy to capture a meal and survive for another day of hunting.

That’s it for today. Although I actually have more pictures of this encounter, I decided not to post the most graphic parts of the sequence.

I’ll be back soon with another post, one that I promise will be more cheerful! I hope you will join me then.

Trail Walker

Posted in Highlights of the Week, nature, photography, weekly photo feature

Highlights of the Week: A new feature

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Not much snow so far this year

This is the inaugural post of my “Highlights of the Week”feature. At the end of each week, I will review all my images and choose those I believe best represent the week.  At the end of the year, if I manage to remain faithful to my concept, I will have posted 52 eclectic galleries, not all taken from my trail walks, but a mixture of pictures from the places and events that constitute my week. More photos than words, it will be a summary of where I’ve been and what I’ve done during the preceding seven days. I will begin with images captured between December 25, 2015 and today, January 1, 2016, so the pictures will be a mix of our family Christmas, our church Christmas Day community dinner, and our New Year’s Eve trail walk, the last one of 2015.

I chose the photo at the top of this page because it gives me an opportunity to show the tiny bit of snow, mostly sleet, that  has fallen in the past 12 hours. According to the newspaper, last month was the warmest December on record. I, for one, am not complaining.

On Christmas morning we helped serve a Christmas dinner for anyone who came through the door in search of a hot meal. Volunteers from the church and community prepared and served the meal, then cleaned up the kitchen and fellowship hall before heading home to spend the rest of the day with their families:

After helping with the cleanup at the church, we gathered at Alison and Mike’s home for our Christmas dinner and gift exchange.

 

During the week between Christmas and New Years, we helped to undecorate the church, updated the sign in front of the church, and took the very last trail walk of 2015.

That’s it for this week. I have had a tough time completing this post. Apparently WordPress has made some changes since I last posted that I will have to figure out before I do my next weekly update.

Happy New Year everyone.
See you soon!

Trail Walker

 

Posted in Holden Arboretum, My trail walks, nature, photography, trailwalking

There’s something about the Canopy Walk…

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Since it opened in September I have made four visits to the Canopy Walk. The novelty of walking through the tree tops, looking out at a squirrel on a nearby branch or down at people below me, while looking up at the the nearby Emergent Tower is something special that draws me back. There’s always something new to see, so every visit is a unique opportunity.

The special feature of today’s visit was having a front row seat for a magnificent display of brilliant  Autumn colors. The transition from summer to fall has been a slow one this year. On my first three trips up the Tower and along the Canopy Walk, green was the dominant color…different shades of green to be sure, but all green nevertheless. Today was different. Green is still evident, but it is submerged by a happy golden hue with glimpses of red and orange in the mix. My words just don’t do it justice tonight, but here are a couple of pictures that might help:

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For an even richer, fuller taste of Autumn, visit my SmugMug gallery where I have posted more pictures from today’s Canopy Walk, but before I close, I want to share two more pictures that I consider special. They seem almost magical to me, so I  hope you will like them too.

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Thanks for joining me on the trail today. Tomorrow I will share some pictures from today’s 12 floor climb up the Emergent Tower. See you soon Trail Walkers!

Trail Walker

Posted in autumn, My trail walks, nature, photography

O what a beautiful day!

A beautiful morning like this one brings people out to the park in large numbers, some taking their dogs for a walk; others bringing their toddlers to the playground; and still others come out with their cameras. I’m in the last group. I thought about going to the Arboretum today, but really didn’t have enough time, so I headed for Chagrin River Park instead. If you’re up for a trail walk along the Chagrin River trail today, come along with me as I look for some vibrant fall colors.

Our first stop will be the pedestrian bridge that crosses the Chagrin. Walk part way across the bridge, sit down, and aim your camera downstream, and this is what you will see:

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For a slightly different view, we’ll leave the bridge and walk to the overlook by the picnic tables. From there, we can get a closer look at the river. Kneel down by the fence rail and snap your picture from there to capture this scene.
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In the first few minutes of our trail walk, we’ve tried two different vantage points, but did you notice that there isn’t a lot of color along the banks of the river? Let’s walk up the steps to the sledding hill. In a couple of months, there will probably be snow, and crowds of sledders, flying down the hill with abandon or crowded around the fire pit, but today we have it to ourselves, except for a few walkers, and it will be our third vantage point for looking at the river.

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It’s a great view, but there’s not much in the way of vibrant color so far. Follow me, and we will take a trail through the woods where I know we will find some colorful trees.

Not only did we find colorful trees, we also ran into Earl and his wife Linda. They were getting ready to head down the trail in search of some good photo opps, but they took time to show me the fantastic eagle pictures Earl shot recently at Lake Erie Bluffs and at Conowingo dam, a well-known site for eagles in Maryland, quite near where I grew up. When I say Earl’s pictures are fantastic, that’s probably an understatement. If you know Earl, be sure to ask him to show you the eagles, especially the ones with fish in their talons. They are amazing! And if you are a photographer, take a look at the kit Earl has devised so he doesn’t have to carry all his camera equipment on his back. It’s very clever.

One last picture, and it will be time to head for home. I had parked myself on a bench on the evergreen trail to look through the pictures on my memory card, when I saw three people and two dogs headed in my direction. If you follow my blog, you probably already know that I like to take pictures of the people I meet along the trail and their dogs.  “Photo opp!” flashed through my mind. Then I realized that I had already met one of the dogs, Bailey, and his person, Ron. Bailey and Cosmo, the other little dog, greeted me effusively, joining me on the bench, and enthusiastically bestowing kisses on my face. Getting them to pose for a picture was no problem, so here they are: Ron and Bailey on one end of the bench and Cosmo and Liz on the other.

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Cosmo and Bailey look like twins, although they are actually two different breeds. Aren’t they adorable? That was the end of today’s walk. I was only a short distance from the parking lot, and it was time to go home for lunch. We did manage to see some color today. I was glad because I don’t know how many more days like this we can expect before the curtain comes down on my favorite season of the year. Thanks for joining me on the trail today. Come back soon. Weather permitting, I am planning another trip to the Arboretum this month and hopefully a trail walk at Lake Erie Bluffs. Maybe we’ll see an eagle there. Although I can’t match Earl’s fabulous photos, I wouldn’t mind trying.😉

Trail Walker