Still searching for Spring!

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As I wrote two days ago, our beautiful faux-Spring weather has sent me out on the trail, searching for signs of Spring. In northeast Ohio, the signs aren’t usually abundant, or even noticeable, until well into March. That makes the search a bit of a challenge, but interesting nevertheless! The most obvious sign this week has been the temperature, which has reached upwards of sixty and even seventy degrees in the past five days. This inbreaking of Spring has changed February from a churlish month into a season to be enjoyed rather than dreaded.

A personal note: I don’t dread February as much as I do March. February is my month, the month I was born, and therefore mine to celebrate, which I was delighted to do just a few days ago. I had plenty of help from my family and friends in the celebrating, and Bob bought me a new lens for my camera that is going to be a lot of fun, as well as producing sharper pictures…as soon as I learn how to use it, of course. But then, the learning is part of the fun.

Back to searching for Spring. Here is another early sign of Spring that helps to demonstrate the potential of my new lens:

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If you’ve been reading my blog this week, you have already seen these little snowdrops. I’m cheating by posting them again, but I’m delighted with them. They make me smile, so I hope you will understand and indulge my cheating.

My friend, Lisa, who was walking with me, pointed out the colorful flowers below. Do they count as a sign of spring? Maybe, but then maybe not.  Many people think robins (the American robins) are one of the first signs of Spring, and we did see robins, but I have been seeing them all winter long in Northeast Ohio. It’s not really true that they are a sign of spring, at least not in this area. (Redwing blackbirds are much more accurate in predicting the arrival of spring, but I saw some redwings a few weeks ago, so maybe they aren’t all that accurate either).

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One more flower, and then a little Springtime anecdote. This next flower  doesn’t really belong here in a post about Spring, because it is an evergreen that blooms throughout the winter, but the color is what caught my eye. (After a winter of mostly overcast skies and drab landscapes, any color is bound to provide a diversion). One gardener referred to this varigated greenery as a cold-weather friend that puts out cheerful chartreuse blossoms throughout the winter. It goes by the unfortunate name of stinking hellebore, but it is deer resistant, and apparently has other redeeming qualities too.

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So, NOT a harbinger of Spring, but the cheerful color does brighten the winter garden, according to what I read.

A side note: I’m reminded of a trip I took with my parents many (very many) years ago. We left our home in southeastern Pennsylvania to drive to Florida on a cold Saturday morning in February. Heading south, we drove for most of the day until we reached Summerville, South Carolina. We had rooms for the night in a B and B, and after getting something to eat, we settled in for the night. (I know it probably seems as if I’m rambling and have totally lost the thread of this blog, but stick with me. I want to share another special memory of Spring that has lingered in my mind for many years.

Saturday morning, when we left Pennsylvania, it was winter. On Sunday morning, when we woke up in Summerville SC, winter was gone, and Spring had sprung. Church bells were ringing. Birds were chirping outside the bedroom window, the sun was shining, and the air was warm. It was magical! I have never forgotten that impression of Spring as something magical. Maybe that’s why the S-L-O-W arrival of Spring in northeast Ohio and the tediousness of most of February and March make the search for Spring a challenge. I’m waiting for the magic I experienced on that long ago Sunday morning. Don’t get me wrong. I like northeast Ohio, and I love living here…for ten months of the year. But when Spring rolls around, I’m eager for the magic that is so slow in coming.

The last picture from today’s trail walk is a scene I will reprise each time I visit the Arboretum in my search for Spring in the coming months. Just as I revisited the sugar maple in Autumn to capture the changing hues of that season (seen here), I plan to snap a series of pictures of Lotus pond over the coming months to capture the changing colors as winter advances to Spring and eventually to Summer.

 

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Lotus Pond

That’s all for today’s blog post, but there will be future posts in this searching for Spring series. Watch for them. We can enjoy the changing season together.

Thanks for walking with me today.
Trail Walker

 

 

Working your subject: a photographic essay

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Part two of a three part series from Holden Arboretum

When I bought my first digital camera and starting shooting pictures, I didn’t have the faintest idea what I was doing. As I look back in my files at pictures I took in those early years, it is painfully obvious I had a lot to learn.  Because I really wanted to improve, I began reading books about photography and spending a lot of time on the websites of photographers I admire. And I learned…a lot!

One valuable piece of advice I heard early on is “work your subject.” Don’t just take the shot that catches your eye and then walk away, thinking you have captured all there is to see and learn about the subject.  Don’t immediately lift your camera to your eye and shoot off a burst of shots.  Unless the subject, whatever it is, will jump up and dash away, slow yourself down. Take time to walk around and view it from different angles. Try to find the best angles and then shoot from several. If possible, revisit the same place on a different day at a different time. If your first photoshoot was in the morning, come back in the evening. And if you are shooting outdoor subjects like landscapes, trees, and wildlife, try returning to the same location at different seasons throughout the year. You’ll be amazed at the results. Today’s blog post is a gallery of pictures I have captured at one location throughout the past year. Taken together, they illustrate the advantage of slowing down and getting to know your subject.

If you follow my blog, you know that Holden Arboretum is one of my favorite places to shoot. On my frequent visits to Holden, I almost always stop to say “hello” to the golden willow tree at Lotus Pond. The size and shape of the tree and its location make it a focal point of the Pond, and it draws people (and geese) to its neighborhood.

You’ve probably heard that one picture is worth a thousand words, so I will stop “talking” so you can scroll through the gallery to see if you think “work your subject” is good advice for a photographer (Click the first picture to begin your stroll around the golden willow tree).

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

Joyce Kilmer, 1913

So there you have it. One tree, rooted in one spot, will have many different moods. Perhaps Joyce Kilmer got it right when he wrote his poem “Trees.” What do you think?

And what do you think about the advice to “work your subject?”
Is it something you already do or will try to do in the future.
Do you have any advice you could give to an aspiring photographer?

Thanks for visiting the golden willow tree with me today.
See you soon.

Can you believe…

This sugar maple tree at Holden Arboretum is one of my favorite trees. Can you believe how quickly it has changed over the past few weeks?

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Sugar maple tree at Holden Arboretum on October 3, 2016.
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Same sugar maple on October 11th
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Here it was two days ago-October 18, 2016.

 

Here is what it looked like last October.

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Same tree a year ago: October 22, 2015!

If the weather cooperates, I will head out to the Arboretum this weekend and take a picture exactly one year after the one above. Why am I doing this? No scientific reason, but I think it is interesting to compare the seasons, and it looks as if we are pretty much on track to match last year’s seasonal transition….According to the sugar maple tree at least.

Thanks for stopping by today. See you soon.
Trail Walker

Think Spring!

As our long, cold, snowy winter recedes into the past, we can look forward to blue skies and sunny days, bird song, and flowers bursting into bloom. No, they won’t arrive at warp speed, but there is no denying they are on the way, so bring ’em on! In the spirit of spring, today is a good day to post some of the birds that are welcoming spring in Chagrin River Park (Remember to click on a bird to scroll through the gallery).

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” ~Maria Robinson

I plan to start today to think spring! How about you?

Thanks for stopping by.
Carolyn aka Skip

PS: No exercise to report today, but the sunshine has been great!

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