Sunday, May 31, 2020


I visited a park in the New Jersey pine barrens this week, planning for a picnic lunch. I'd forgotten that although the parks are open, the picnic areas are closed. This picnic pavilion was festooned with caution tape. Click to enlarge.
I peeked inside one of the closed buildings and took this picture of the roof. It's pretty, right? Nicely built by an anonymous carpenter. And the wood patterns are lovely. Frank Lloyd Wright once said: "Wood is universally beautiful to man. It is the most humanly intimate of all materials."
And with a little tweak from Photoshop...
It turns into twisty designs.
So I spent most of a rainy day twirling and flipping to make images like this.
Here's another series. Looks carved, doesn't it?
And one more...
All from this. By the way, had a picnic in the car and it was fun. I hope everything starts to look up everywhere soon. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Memorial Day

Beverly National Cemetery in Burlington County, New Jersey.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."

from For the Fallen (1914)
by Laurence Binyon

I will be back to nature blogging next week. Have a safe holiday.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Pink Lady's Slippers are Back

Mid-May is time to go hunting for lady's slipper orchids in the New Jersey pine barrens (with a face mask). Did it. Found them. Here they are. Click to enlarge.
 Joseph Pullman Porter wrote a poem called Wild Orchids that begins: 

Under the pines, near the murmuring brook,
I know the wild orchids grow, 
Fair and pure in their shady nook... 

Exactly describing the spot where I found this orchid. Brook, shady nook, and all.
Beautiful but a little bit creepy, right? These are the first sightings of my 2020 orchid season. I will be on the lookout for more and post them when I find them.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Happy Mother's Day

Sending virtual flowers to all the mothers!
Click to enlarge.
And have a wonderful day.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

New Jersey Parks Open

New Jersey parks opened yesterday with great weather. There are restrictions. Keep your distance, wear face coverings. Parking is limited to half of capacity. If the park is full, come back later or try another. The playgrounds and organized sports areas, picnic areas, visitor centers, and bathrooms are closed. Everyone I passed (from six feet away) was following those guidelines and just enjoying being outside and walking in a park again. 
As Katrina Mayer says: "Time spent among trees is never wasted time."
There's always something to see, like this tufted titmouse.
Or white-breasted nuthatch.
Or an immature red-tailed hawk doing an Exorcist-style 180 degree head turn.
Rachel Carson once said: "There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter." Rancocas Creek yesterday on the verge of a new season. 
Click to enlarge.
In the park with my quarantine curls and homemade mask. 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Rain Puddles

Yesterday dawned sunny and still and I took my socially distanced walk. There were lots of puddles on the streets. Some with mirror-perfect reflections of trees. Click to enlarge.
It was, as E.E. Cummings would say, "puddle-wonderful."
There is an entire stately old tree in this puddle, and part of a house, perhaps with people inside drinking coffee and looking out the windows. Dogen Zengi once wrote "Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected in a puddle one inch wide."
A cherry tree.
A huge old cracked trunk that looks like it should not fit in a gutter.
A vignette in the middle of the road.
A branch that's about to evaporate.
And a watchful rabbit.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Twirling Nature Photos

Here's what can happen with time on your hands and Photoshop on your computer. Click to enlarge this abstract design made from a unique palette of colors.
These colors! The unique palette of colors in this photo of three domestic geese on a pond. Would you like to see that again? 
All these lovely greens and creams and blues.
Are from this portrait of a peregrine falcon among evergreens. See where I'm going with this?
 Have Photoshop? Would you like to make this pattern? 
Start with this. You can find and watch the twirling method in lots of videos on YouTube. Here's a condensed version. Open a photo in Photoshop and make it a Smart Object. Pixelate it with the Mezzotint filter however you like. Then Radial Blur it three times: draft, draft, best. Distort with the Twirl filter until it looks nice, maybe to 120. Duplicate all of that. Then click the Twirl Smart Filter on the upper layer and change it to the opposite direction, in this case -120. Change the blend mode to Lighten, Darken, Pin Light or whatever pleases you. Be warned that this can be addictive.
Wonder what this bunch of heather would look like twirled?
Beautiful, right?
And you can duplicate and flip them and come up with lacy fairy things.
And every larger and more complicated images.
This paper wasp on goldenrod becomes...
this pretty abstract.
A daffodil in sunlight.
If you don't change the second twirl to the opposite direction it can look like the brush stokes of an oil painting. I love these colors. 
And here is the daffodil image complete with an opposite twirl.
You are not limited to twirling nature photos, of course. I made this one from...
this Negroni cocktail that I photographed in a dark bar in New York City the last time I was there, a few months ago. I am looking forward to the time when I can go back and have another. Maybe something blue that will twirl well.