On January 5, 2022 I participated in a Zoom webinar about Street Photography. Although it is not one of my photographic interests, I thought I might learn something applicable to my primary interests, which I did.
We had had a 6″ snow on January 3 and when Beverly and I walked in our neighborhood that afternoon after the webinar, I took my camera to take photos of things that might be interesting Street Photography subjects.
The presenter suggested watching for unusual shapes and lighting, things such as lines, shadows, and things that seem out of place or that draw your attention.
Some of the photos I took during that walk are in the gallery in the Additional Images section below. I have included what attracted my attention to each subject in the image Description field below the title.
We had our third significant snowfall at the beginning of last week: 7 inches on Jan 16, 4 inches on Jan 7, and 6 inches on Jan 3. The low temperature here was -1.7 F yesterday, the morning of Saturday Jan 22, and all that snow meant there was moisture from our snowblower in the garage and the condensation was frozen on inside of the garage door windows.
This morning I was outside taking pictures of last year’s sunflower stems against the snow and noticed water drops from the melting ice running down the inside of the garage door so I took a few photos – please see the Additional Images gallery below for more photos.
One afternoon in late December, Beverly had looked out the sunroom windows, which face in a southerly direction, and saw clouds which showed multiple colors which changed as she watched. She immediately called me and I came with my camera. The clouds involved were relatively thin and the only areas with the colors were near the sun. To photograph these clouds I had to keep the sun out of the picture frame, otherwise no colors were visible because of the brightness of the sun. As I watched, the colors changed and sometimes they disappeared and then reappeared. The phenomenon only lasted for a few minutes as the moving clouds got thicker and the color formation was no longer possible. The seven photos in the Additional Images gallery below were all taken within a minute and 43 seconds.
The formation of colors in clouds, known as irisation, is relatively rare. It is a similar to the colors seen in soap bubbles or the sheen of oil on a water surface. It is an optical phenomenon that occurs in thin clouds, only in the direction of the sun. The colors are caused by diffraction or bending of the sun’s light around the small water droplets in the cloud. This is different than mechanisms that form rainbows and sun dogs.
This is one of a series of posts about our trip to North Carolina in October 2021. Please see our post Sunset Beach, North Carolina for links to the other places and things we visited.
We were driving through Calabash, NC, which is just west of Sunset Beach, when we saw a man with several large tortoises in a vacant lot, so we stopped to see what he was doing there. He said they were Sulcata Tortoises (also known as the African Spurred Tortoise) and he was with a tortoise rescue.
Although Sulcata Tortoises are native to arid and semiarid regions of Africa, they can adapt to a variety of living conditions, which is one reason why they have become popular as pets. However, adults can reach 32 inches in length, weigh more than 200 pounds, and have a life expectancy of more than 70 years, which is why people dispose of them after a while.
He described his tortoises and asked for a donation, but later, when I asked which group he represented, he hedged and said he was doing it by himself. I suspected he was using the tortoises to raise money for himself but a recent Google search (a link is the Additional Information section below) yielded several newspaper articles which indicate the man is a calabash native who rescues tortoises, usually from people who purchased a baby tortoise as a pet but later realize the tortoise had gotten too big. One newspaper article said his largest and oldest tortoise can eat about 80 heads of romaine lettuce a day, which costs about $160.
He had a truck and an enclosed trailer and there were at least four more tortoises in the trailer. While we were there a woman and a young boy stopped and the man invited the boy to ride one of the tortoises. He also said we could feed romaine lettuce to the tortoises, which we did. While we talked he was holding and stroking a baby alligator which he let Beverly hold – see more photos of the tortoises and the baby alligator in the Additional Images section below.
In mid-October 2021 Beverly and I took a trip to North Carolina. The primary reason was to spend three days with her daughters and granddaughter in Sunset Beach, NC. On our way to Sunset Beach we visited the Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Scotland Neck, NC. After we left Sunset Beach, we enjoyed the rural North Carolina scenery as we drove to the Outer Banks where we stayed for several days to see the area and the lighthouses. I had never been there before and Beverly hadn’t visited the area for a long time. On our way home we made a final stop to see a state park near Farmville, VA.
Sunset Beach is the southern-most community along the North Carolina shore. About ⅓ of the town is located on a barrier island separated from the mainland by marshes and the Intracoastal Waterway. There is a 900 foot long fishing pier on the beach opposite the access road to the island.
We stayed at a rented house at 413 Dolphin Street, which is in an area back from the beach but where all the houses have a waterway at the rear of the house – these waterways eventually connect to the Intracoastal Waterway. There is a link to a Google Satellite view of the house area in the Additional Information section below.
The places we visited that I photographed during this trip are listed below. As we post photos of the various places we will link the place below to the related post.
Wright Brothers National Memorial – Kill Devil Hills, NC
High Bridge State Park – Farmville, VA
The featured image shows the houses and the waterway where we stayed – our house is about midway down on the left side. The images in the Additional Images gallery below are typical Sunset Beach scenes.
A few years ago, Beverly and I were enjoying a ride in the country looking at the autumn leaves when we rediscovered an abandoned panel truck with a tree growing though the middle of it. It is in a cow pasture near Keezletown, VA and has been there for many years. I took a picture as a reminder to return and take more photos with a telephoto lens to capture more detail. Last month, we went back to the truck and this time I took close-up photos of the truck from several directions.
From the truck’s grille, it appears to be a mid-1940’s Dodge. Apparently, the floor and roof of the truck have been removed to allow the tree to grow through it.
Early in September Beverly saw an invitation to participate in a photographic scavenger hunt called Nature Treasure Hunt: Photographing and Finding the Gems of Seven Bends! It was sponsored by an organization called Friends of Seven Bends State Park. Seven Bends is the newest state park in Virginia, and as we had previously discussed visiting this new park to learn more about it, this seemed to be a good opportunity, so we signed up for the program.
Sharon Fisher, a local photographer, led the program and provided a scavenger hunt list to guide the participants. She showed us some photos she had taken in the previous days and provided a link to a Google Photos album where we could post our photos. After an introduction to the park and photography using smart phones (for most of the participants), individuals and small teams split-up to find and photograph the items on the list. We wandered along some of the trails for about an hour but couldn’t complete that area of the park because of the heat – unfortunately it was the hottest day in mid-to-late September. These are the items on the list:
Something representing Autumn
Something with petals
Something that begins with the letter “T”
Something that shows textures or patterns
Something you or other animals can eat
Something that pollinates
Something about birds
Something in the sky
Something that makes you happy
Extra: Something that is an amphibian
The photos I selected for the Google Photos album for the scavenger hunt are shown in the Additional Images section below. The category(ies) of each image is included in the image’s description.
Geography and Park Background
We live in the Shenandoah Valley in western Virginia. The Shenandoah Valley lies between the Appalachian Mountains to the west and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east. Massanutten Mountain bisects the northern part of the valley. The Shenandoah River, which flows southwest to northeast, is a tributary of the Potomac River. It consists of two branches known as the North Fork (which lies to the west of Massanutten Mountain) and the South Fork (which lies to the east of Massanutten Mountain). Both the North Fork and the South Fork meander back and forth across their portions of the valley.
Seven Bends is the newest state park in Virginia. It consists of 1066 acres of land, both donated and purchased, and opened in late-2019. It is located adjacent to the town of Woodstock along the “Seven Bends” of the north fork of the Shenandoah River, where the bends are unusually sharp and tightly packed: in 48 miles of river flow, the river travels only 16 miles as the crow flies. For visualization, the Additional Images gallery below includes both a topographical map and a Google Earth view of the Seven Bends area.
In our neighborhood, there is a spot in the grass between the street and the sidewalk where a wild mushroom occasionally appears. Sometimes it is mowed or cut down and sometimes it just withers away. One day on her way out of the development Beverly noticed that it had returned. When she reached her destination, she called me to tell me about it, so I went there and cut it off at ground level so I could photograph it. (Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of the mushroom in place before I removed it.)
This mushroom appears to be a poisonous mushroom that we have tentatively identified as Chlorophyllum molybdites, commonly known as false parasol, green-spored Lepiota, and vomiter. It is frequently found near human habitation, and is described as having a cap that ranges from 3″ to 10″ in diameter. This specimen was nearly 6″ in diameter and the cap was still dome-shaped as it hadn’t flattened out yet. Chlorophyllum molybdites regularly sprouts up as large fairy rings in lawns during summer and fall.
When examined closely, the mushroom cap appears to have had a tan leather-like surface that stretched as the mushroom grew and separated into numerous isolated areas. The gills in the underside are wavy and roughly parallel. Details of these features are shown in the gallery in the Additional Images section below.
All of these are macro images which consist of multiple images combined using Helicon Focus. The details in the Technical Data section below include how many separate photographs make up each of the images. For more information about these techniques and topics please see the Cameras, Lenses, and Equipment and Definitions & Apps pages.
This summer I did a lot of macro photography of flowers that Beverly grew in our garden and around our house. She coined the phrase “I grow-em, you show-em” to reflect this activity. (Please see the Definitions & Apps page for an explanation of Macro Photography.)
The first post in this group tracks the stages of a yellow/orange flower, from a bud to the final form. We believe this plant is an oxeye sunflower, also known as smooth oxeye, false sunflower, or ox-eye daisy. If so, it is Heliopsishelianthoides of the Family: Asteraceae.
The gallery in the Additional Images sections below shows nine stages of the flower development with close-up photos of the center of the flower for each stage. These images were taken of different flowers at different times, not in any particular order, but the order in the gallery was selected to show the flower’s development process.
All images were photographed with a Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Macro lens and the close-up images of the centers of the flowers were mostly taken with the Sigma Macro lens, a Sigma 1.4x Teleconverter, and a 68mm extension tube set, which results in a 215mm lens equivalent. The closest distance from the subject to the camera sensor was about 16″.
One issue I faced with taking these close-up images was the very shallow depth of field (1/16″ at f/11). To successfully take these images required using a macro focus rail to move the focus point across the subject. All of the images are multiple exposures combined by focus stacking in Helicon Focus, and range from five to 19 separate images. The Technical Information section below indicates how many images are stacked to form each final image. (For more information about these topics please see the Cameras, Lenses, and Equipment and Definitions & Apps pages.)
When we moved to our present location in January 2020, there was a new development being started a block from our street. For the past 18 months we watched as they cleared the land, dug trenches for utilities, graded for a street, installed curbs sidewalks, and built houses. Even though the street has not been paved, many of the houses have been sold and are already occupied. During this time there has been almost constant activity involving heavy equipment: two excavators, two articulated off-road dump trucks, both bucket and blade bulldozers, large wheeled bucket loaders, and several skid steerers.
This past spring there was a lot of activity moving top soil to spread around the newly constructed houses and one March day we noticed the body of one of the off-road dump trucks had apparently tipped over beside one of the new houses. Only the dump body tipped over, spilling its load, while the cab remained upright. As we watched, an excavator and a bulldozer approached the dump truck and teamed up to return the truck body to an upright position. From the time the bulldozer and excavator first approached the truck, it took about two minutes to return the body to the upright position and for the truck driver to drive it away. The driver remained in the truck the whole time and at the adjacent house, two men on a scaffold who were installing siding were watching the operation. (The school busses visible in the top-center of the featured image are a mile away behind the high school.)
I should note here that an articulated dump truck consists of two separate but connected parts: a cab which is mounted onto the front part of the chassis and a dump body which is mounted onto the back part. The two parts are joined by an articulation joint located just behind the cab that allows the two pieces of the chassis to move independently. This articulation joint provides steering through the use of hydraulic cylinders that pivot the cab with respect to the dump body chassis. The two sections can also rotate around the articulation joint with respect to each other, providing flexibility when driving over rough and uneven terrain. There is a close-up photo of the articulation joint in the Additional Images section below.