Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sunflower Glowing In The Sunset


This is the only sunflower that started to grow from one of these strips that are supposed to produce a whole 10 feet of sunflowers in a row. Well, one is better than none and the other day my wife told me to take a picture of the flower in the evening, as the flower will be completely formed.

I waited right before the sun would set behind the cedar bushes, a couple of first shots, I did not use my flash and obviously got pictures with a relative dark silhouette of the sunflower. So to get more details from the flower I started using the flash, slightly diverted from the white brim of my cowboy hat, to not make the extra light not too harsh on the flower.

In post-processing, I had to enhance some of the darks and whites, basically playing with the contrast, till I had the picture I wanted. I also had to increase some of the blue tones in the sky a bit, to get a bit more life into the sky as well.

I then proceeded to make a BW version of the picture, with different contrast settings to make the monochrome tones work. Thanks to the solar flares, I think that picture works as well.

What do you think? Leave me a comment!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Buckeye Butterfly Perched On Unknown Yellow Flower


I do love Buckeye butterflies (Junonia coenia), their big eyes or eyespots on the fore- and hindwings. With the pigmented spots they are actually able to scare off predators. It is believed that the spots developed through evolution to give them a functioning defense mechanism. A Swedish study claims that the spots not only keep birds away but that also chickens are intimidated by the frightening eyes.

We have one or two roaming around our "ranch" so I will share more of these beauties as I shoot them. Last October I posted a picture of one sitting on top of a false thistle in my blog "Buckeye Riding On Top of Leavenworth's Eryngo" and even mentioned that the US Postal Service had a stamp honoring the Buckeyes.


Handrail - Light & Shadow


There is beauty in the urban jungle.
Open your eyes, wander and wonder.

This entry to an office complex was next door to where I was living, so strolling by I was immediately taken by the play of Light & Shadow. Even when I shot it, it was clear to me that this will be a Black & White picture.

I also like the dichotomy between the concrete and metal on one side and the tree in the background. Urban minimalism.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Monochrome Texas Windmill


Stell Dich mitten in den Wind,
glaub an ihn und sei ein Kind -
laß den Sturm in Dich hinein
und versuche, gut zu sein!

Put yourself in the middle of the wind
believe in it and behave like a kid
let the storm embrace you
and try to be good!

German lyrics Wolfgang Borchert / translation by me









Saturday, June 10, 2017

Widow Skimmer Waiting For Prey


Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) belongs to the group of dragonflies known as king skimmers. The nymphs live in the water, molting and growing until they are ready to emerge from the water and then molting a final time to reveal their wings. Even though we don't have standing water on our property, the little marsh obviously was wet enough to give us a Widow Skimmer.

This is still a male youngster - adults have a steely blue body area, but juveniles are yellow with brown stripes.
I hope to see many more, as they normally prey on mosquitoes.





Friday, February 17, 2017

Young Pine Cone


There are at least three dozen different pines all over the United States. Not exactly sure what I found here on the side of an urban road, but the growth of young pine cone fascinated me. Also with the import of foreign species for landscaping purposes I'm not even sure if it would be a domestic US pine or if the "shrubbery" is actually from Asia or from Mexico. As far as I can tell the bundle of needles is two hold together by the sheath.
Not being a biologist I also have no clue, if these are female or male parts. Maybe somebody of the readers could share some insight.




Thursday, February 16, 2017

I Hear The Train A-Comin'


On my first visit to the US, I was staying with a friend who lived close to the railroad tracks. During the night a train was approaching and honked his horn because of a nearby unsecured grade-level crossing. Man, I never woke up that fast at 3am in the middle of one of my R.E.M. phases. I mean I was standing next to the bed wondering what just happened to me. Growing up, I was used to a mere loud whistle, but that intensity could have woken a dead man!
The next morning over coffee, I asked my friend about the trains and he shrugged his shoulders and said, that he can't hear them anymore when they are driving by at night. Well since then, train horns became part of my life, wherever I lived, I was able to hear "short short long short" outbursts of air. Sometimes from a distance, sometimes closer to the tracks.
Trains fascinated me since my early childhood, when my grandfather took me to watch trains passing the big train bridge leading them into my hometown and the love never subdued. Recently we stumbled upon some special locomotives of a small local railroad, in yellow and blue livery. And that's where I took the picture of the train chimes as they are also called. I loved the minimal approach with the blue sky behind the horns.
And no, I did not know that there are that many different manufacturers of horns and that they all chime for a free-passing in different tones, till I stumbled upon the video below.