Archives for posts with tag: photography

This Thursday’s Child—Migration Time

As I was waiting to have the zipper on my leather jacket repaired, I happened to glance out the shop window. Soaring and swirling over the nearby intersection was the largest kettle of turkey vultures I’d ever seen.

Most people shudder at the thought of them, yet their grace in the air is beautiful. Ordinarily, I only see one, or a pair, and they’re usually flying in the opposite direction than I’m riding, while I’m without my camera in my hand. Someday, I hope to get a close-up shot that includes most of their wingspan. If, after I saw and captured this, they headed south, their timing was ideal, since temperatures are some twenty degrees lower this week.

The first time I caught one in the camera was completely by accident. I sighted a jet high over my neighborhood, even though there wasn’t a contrail. I got it in the shot, and was thrilled, because my point-and-shoot doesn’t have the greatest power of zoom.

Only after I’d uploaded that afternoon’s shots to the computer did I see that below the jet, heading in the opposite direction, was a single vulture. If their timing next year is close to what it was this year, and if their borrowed silo and nesting site shed aren’t demolished in the meantime, a pair will be back in my area during the second full week of March.

This shot has 26 of the birds sharing the freedom of flight.

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This Thursday’s Child—What Troubles?

Joe here bets that you’ve had a time or two when you felt squeezed into a situation you couldn’t escape. Of course you have, I have too.

Back in those days, I could have used this shot as an antidote, if I’d had it. What does it teach me now?

Well, for starters, look out, away from what surrounds you. Keep your eyes wide open, while you wait for friends to arrive. If there are wrinkles in your forehead, let them be from raising your eyebrows in surprise: “Wow, you got here! I’m so glad to see you.” When you do see a familiar face, smile. If it doesn’t immediately solve the problem, at least there might be comedy in it.

No friends? Sorry, that’s a lie. The same God who created animals to make you laugh, also watches over you. Sometimes he sends spiritual angels, some times he sends helpful people, and sometimes, he sends Joe.

This Thursday’s Child—Nests and Roses

Sharing the same parking lot traffic island as the killdeer, this savvy mallard took a different tactic to defend her nest, by backing under a rose bush as far as a duck could go.

Maybe she’d lost an earlier nest to a marauding raccoon. The thorns on these multiflora roses didn’t seem to have much impact on her feathers.

Seeing her reminded me of a story in a book my grandmother gave me. I don’t remember the precise title, and my nieces and nephews now have the book, but it told unusual stories about how a famous zoo gathered some of the animals in its collection. There were tales of a llama who subsisted on brooms during its voyage from South America, an elephant who traded pennies for gumdrops, and a baby African bush porcupine that made its journey to the zoo in the hat of the collector who had avoided hitting the animal with his Jeep.

Now the duck in my storybook had similar wisdom in nest protection. This duck in the parking lot contended with cars and trucks. The storied duck had enemies even more fearsome, the zoo’s lions. She constructed her nest under a thorny bush on an outcropping of the lions’ enclosure. The lions could see her, smell her, and threaten her, but they couldn’t reach her. When the time came, her hatchlings dropped into the moat, and she led them away.

This duck’s family had a slightly longer walk across the parking lot to the drainage ditch. Maybe another duck will try this again.

This Thursday’s Child—Iridescent Glory

In my earlier post, Breakthrough, I mentioned iridescence. Here it is. The cloud between the lens and the sun doesn’t have to be large, but it must be there.

Today I needed to make a sympathy card for a Toastmaster friend. I used a couple of different shots for that, but again, clouds were necessary, as a symbol of sorrow.

My writing may someday have the literary equivalent of iridescence, but not quite yet. I’ve only tried the scansion and notation method on a page and a half of the manuscript. I’m also wishing I could get my hands on a copy of Virginia Tufte’s Grammar As Style. It’s been out of print since 1971. The copies on Amazon are way beyond my current budget. Next month, I might try to spring for Tufte’s Syntax as Style.

Somehow, I need to break free of the “write tight” and “keep it simple, sister” dictums, to cease to see sentences of more than ten words as verbose. If those old seventh-grade essays weren’t gone, (and musty with mold as I remember last finding them, elsewhere than here), they might help too; though I’m fairly sure that in those days I thought nothing of packaging three or four fat adjectives together in one phrase of description.

While that works to lengthen sentences, editors these days view such writing as padded, and the mark of a beginner. I’d like to keep telling myself that I’m beyond that beginning stage, but perhaps it isn’t so. One thing is certain. I write better dialog than I did back in seventh grade. I’ll call that progress.

This Thursday’s Child—When It Works, It Works

Sometimes what looks on the first glance to be a litter of objects needing clean-up proves on the second to be very special indeed.

A few weeks ago, I posted about a moth whose camouflage was not doing the job. This turned out much more positively.

No, not the maple seeds, though those do take root with some abandon. Look again. Did you spot them yet?


This Thursday’s Child—There’s Something about a Path

There’s something about a path that triggers my curiosity. Where does it go? What if I followed it for a while?

This one looks like a good number of people already know about it. The grass has been worn down to bare soil. Canopied by the trees’ generous branches and spotlit by sun-dapples, a stroll here could provide a number of story triggers, and photo opportunities all in one exploration. How often do we glance at a possibility and pass it by?

I’ve done that, more often than might have been good for me. Sometimes other commitments make it unwise to turn aside, at other times what deters me is lack of courage or laziness.

However, occasionally the opportunity can be redeemed. The path is still there, and perhaps the next time I’m at it’s head, I won’t have the same circumstance that once gave me pause. In the meantime, I have the memory, this photograph, and imagination. Something may come of it yet.

This Thursday’s Child—Playing Waves of Shadow.

This Thursday’s Child—Playing Waves of Shadow

The conference center echoed to the chatter of gathered women. Feeling somewhat on the outside, as I frequently do, I turned to my most frequent coping tactic, observation.

The afternoon light had its own pace, and approached the commonly recognized ideal for photography. Just beginning to move diagonally, the rays left a wave-like pattern along the windowsill and scored a stave of shadow along the hearth bench.
I found the corner peaceful, despite the bustle and noise going on behind me. The sleek gleam on the birch wood made a glowing contrast to the coarse textures picked out on the field stones of the fireplace.

It occurs to me that to be at its best, my story must contain some of each of these elements. The stretches of plot that are smooth need scoring by some shadows to avoid the glare of contrived perfection. Rough rock conflict also helps add realism. The theme readers discover allows truth to filter through, whether it’s expressed in light or darkness in my protagonists or their antagonists.

I want to believe that I am deft enough in most of these areas to create an effective tale, but I’m also aware that editing occurs nearly to the moment a book reaches the store shelves or the screens on Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com.

What bird dropped the seed that sprouted in such an unlikely place? Who in the town is old enough to remember the tree when it greenly shaded parents and toddlers? How many children trudged away from the shore and paused here to grudgingly dump sand from their beach toys?

I’ve only encountered this tree today, a gnomon marking by bare branch shadow tracings the passage of hours to years. Storm winds, abetted by little boys’ digging hands, have made arches of the exposed buttressing roots. Yet the tree stands.

After some hours, we returned, and found the color palette changed. Sun-silvered water had gone gunmetal, rendering the tide line subtle against the sand while the black branches clawed a rosy sky. No longer far enough above the waves to cast a gilded path, the sun had melted to a gold puddle on the horizon line.

This Thursday’s Child—The Twisted Trunk.

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