from the wildflower garden

from the wildflower garden
I\’m raising a small vegetable garden this year.  The plot next to it had been a wildflower garden sowed by my father in years past.  Without any encouragement, it has flourished much better than the vegetables seem to be doing.  I\’m not sure what this bug is, but it made a nice picture.

Peonies at Henry Clay

Peonies at Henry Clay

The Peony Garden at Henry Clay’s Ashland
Lexington, Kentucky

I made one stop at the Peony garden this year and caught just a few of them in bloom.  For me, they are an interesting colorful bloom that is elusive, only lasting a short time.  Here is a video on the peony garden at the Henry Clay estate and the history of the unique varieties they have.

 

Grumpy before coffee (lens test)

Grumpy before coffee (lens test)

I’ve been testing out the Canon 55-250 IS STM lens for awhile and I’ve neglected to give a review of any kind.  In short, this is an amazing lens considering the selling price point and the value that it gives.  The focal length of 55-250 is very convenient and gives a range that allows much creativity and versatility in every day shooting, in fact I find that I leave it mounted on the SL1 for much of the time.  An added bonus is the close focusing ability of the STM lenses allows a lot of versatility in shooting flora and still life objects.

I suppose this is considered an entry level lens but the sharpness and stabilization is pretty impressive in my opinion.  In the above shot, using my standard subject for lens shots, the 35mm equivalent of 280mm was shot at 1/60th of a second with the onboard camera flash.  In the old days, you would have to be very careful even at 1/125th of a second but this lens easily gives 3 stops of hand holding advantage in low light with nice focusing ability.  Center sharpness seems very good to me, but to tell you the truth I put much more value on how convenient a product is to use.  This lens is largely plastic and that seems to work as an advantage as I can put it in a fanny pack or carry it mounted on the small camera for the entire day without hardly ever noticing it.  The build quality seems very nice even if it is of plastic design.  On Amazon, it has more than 100 reviews with a 4.8 out of 5 average, so most folks seem to feel the same.

I’m sure there will be others who see the plastic mount and the lack of heft to the lens and think otherwise but I can’t imagine an overall more convenient lens for a general walk-around or vacation application on Canon crop body cameras.

 

 “…they may be lost and just applying
all the usual rules of thumb to something
that is not a thumb.”

(source not recorded)

August Tomatoes

August Tomatoes

We have a few plants by the back porch and have been really surprised about the number of tomatoes and cucumbers that a back porch gardener can enjoy over the season.  To me, though, the tomatoes taste different this year, a bit more acidic than normal, even with the yellow ones.   The one lonely cucumber plant has grown along a section of fence and the yield has been so high that it is becoming difficult to give them away.

I’m reminded of the Garrison Keillor story about the fictional town Lake Wobegon.  As he told in a the story: you know it is the season for zucchini because everyone starts locking their car doors at church for fear of folks slipping in their extra ones.  So it goes with our cucumber plant.

 

 

Jumping spider in the bean patch

Jumping spider in the bean patch

It was bean picking day today and I found this tiny jumping spider when I was halfway down the patch.  Not as sharp as I would like but I didn’t have any lights with me in the bean patch.  It was a short row and we ended up with 7 quarts canned as well as a good mess of them cooked up today and another last week.  I like the Roma bean variety, they are a wide Italian type of bean that you can get in the pole or bush variety.  Here is a link to Rareseeds, though Roma seems to not be all that uncommon around here in the farm supply stores.

 

“To climb steep hills
requires slow pace at first.”

William Shakespeare

Big Black Horse Fly (probably)

Big Black Horse Fly (probably)

I believe this critter is a big horse fly but I’m not entirely certain.  Whatever it is, it’s laying a bunch of eggs and was pretty patient during the photography.  I found it fascinating and beautiful, in the same way as a black sports car, or a black stealth fighter, or the dark nearly-black police dog that I saw the other day.  In the original image, the fly is hanging from a window in a vertical position but it pleases the eye better to rotate it to the horizontal.  For the accuracy of a biologist, though, the eggs are laid in a way that they will fall to the ground after hatching.

 

Fly on the Crape Myrtle

Fly on the Crape Myrtle

All over our area stood dead Crape Myrtle bushes, someone even said so on television.  Such a difficult winter.  We just had to wait a bit longer.  Two of the bushes traveled back from Virginia with me a very long time ago- I had found them on clearance during a mountain trout fishing trip when we visited a local grocery for supplies.  Not long ago, the fellow up the road had taken his down to the ground, dug up the roots, and planted grass.  We were about to do the same but finally a bud appeared.  Then another and another.  It may be June before it is fully leafed out and I doubt we will see flowers this year.
I like the simplicity of this shot, I got luck with the focus with this one.  It’s interesting to follow the razor thin band of focus across the brown smooth bark.

“You get old and you realize there are no answers, just stories.”

― Garrison Keillor,
Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegon

Spider on ferns

Spider on ferns

Carter Caves State Resort Park
Carter County, Kentucky

Joe Browning says that photography includes a big dose of dumb luck and I believe it.  After going for most of a week with little luck with pictures, I decided to drive to the state park to see what was left of the wildflowers.  After stooping down to shoot some fern abstracts, I scared up this spider for a photograph.  I think I got just 4 very fast frames before he disappeared and only 2 of them have any degree of focus to them.

There are still quite a few wildflowers out there though not a large variety.  The park was busy with many families with kids in the creeks, as well as two buggies of Amish families taking a slow Sunday stroll.  The Amish families seem to be new to that area, we first noticed them last year in a large van that had brought them for apparently a vacation.  This year they seem to be living close by.

I haven’t been able to identify the spider yet, but I’m looking.

 “Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves,
or we know where we can find information upon it.”

 Samuel Johnson, The Life of Samuel Johnson
Including a Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, Vol 2

Squirrel Corn at Lake Vesuvius

Squirrel Corn at Lake Vesuvius

Wayne National Forest, Lake Vesuvius
Ironton, Ohio

We went to bed with the air conditioner running and woke up with snow flying, it’s been an odd spring.

Even with the odd weather, I decided to take a walk at the nearby Wayne National Forest.  I can say it is probably the first time I’ve photographed wildflowers with a winter coat on (and wishing I had a sweater underneath it).  We walked the paved handicap accessible trail, which is not only convenient but also has a pretty good collection of wildflowers though it pales in comparison to Carter Caves.  We counted 8 different species on our short walk today,  in spite of the snow.

 

Kitchen flower on the I-phone

Kitchen flower on the I-phone

I’ll probably be posting some I-Phone photography experiments this week as I just transferred a number of I-Phone photos to LR recently.  Today’s photo is a orange kitchen flower shot with the native camera and ran through Lo-Mob Superslides app that I’ve been working with (though I did develop it more in LR and PS).

 “You must remember what you are and what you
have chosen to become, and the significance of
what you are doing. There are wars and defeats
and victories of the human race that are not
military and that are not recorded in the annals
of history. Remember that while you’re trying
to decide what to do.”

― John Edward Williams, Stoner

Carter Caves Wildflowers

Carter Caves Wildflowers

Carter Caves State Park
Carter County, Kentucky

I thought I would say a few words about the writer  Breece Pancake today,  I just happened to find out that this is the 35th anniversary of his death, which sadly was self-imposed.

Pancake was born in South Charleston, West Virginia and grew up in Milton, just up the road from here.  I had never heard of Pancake until I happened to notice a book of short stories on my Kindle recently.  Evidently I had somehow “discovered” him at some point in the past and had bought the book where it resided in the cloud for future reading until just a few weeks ago.

Pancake, who used the name “Breece D’J Pancake” attended Marshall University in Huntington WV and after graduation he enrolled as a graduate student in the creative writing program at the University of Virginia.  Pancake really never had a career, during his life he had 6 published short stores, several of them in Atlantic Monthly.  His only book was published posthumously and is made up of these stories plus several others.  He was just on the edge of success when it all ended.

With such a brief career, you would think his life and his writing would both have faded away long ago.   But that is far from the truth, just do a Google search for Breece Pancake and you’ll find pages and pages of articles written.  It becomes quickly obvious that he is a writer that other writers admire.

With Pancake, he is a writer’s writer because of  the “voice” that he gives the characters.  The vivid way he describes both what they see and what they feel.   These are certainly not feel-good stories, at several points I found myself thinking that I can’t believe he is writing about these things.  He definitely does not try to “pretty-up” the scenes.   But it is truthful writing and to the point, like Hemingway.  The stories are troubling though.

 

 

Dutchman Breeches at Carter Caves

Dutchman Breeches at Carter Caves

Carter Caves State Resort Park
Carter County, Kentucky

I was able to spend time outside on several days during the last week.  This shot was made on Saturday and it was a world of difference from the Tuesday before.  I could see wildflowers coming up everywhere.  We are fairly certain that one patch of flowers came out between the times of going down the trail and coming back out.  The USDA website says the plant is widely distributed with an eastern and western variety with both being similar.  The feeling is that the species became separated a thousand years ago and changed slightly but still are very similar.

 

 

Sharp Lobed Hepatica at Carter Caves

Sharp Lobed Hepatica at Carter Caves

Carter Caves State Resort Park
Carter County, Kentucky

This week I’ve made stops at our local parks, Greenbo Lake and Carter Caves, and find the wildflowers are pretty far behind schedule when compared to previous years.  In 2012, I had posted several wildflower photos taken even in March of that year, including a nice Large Flowered Bellwort.

I’m fairly certain today’s picture is the Sharp Lobed Hepatica, which is always one of the earliest and hardy flowers in our area.  There’s a lot of variations in color and number of petals of the flower and this was obvious today because I have some other shots of a white variety.

The Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife website states it was once the prime ingredient in the 1800’s remedy called” Dr Roder’s Liverwort and Tar Sirrup”.  You can read more about this nice early Kentucky wildflower at the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife website.