Walk in Wonder

It’s late autumn in the far southern part of the United States. I’m enjoying late afternoon walks near my house and here are ten things I’ve noticed while walking:

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia
  1. The warmth of the late afternoon. No matter how cold the mornings are starting, by the late afternoon, I don’t need a coat to walk outside. The same temperature in the spring feels much cooler, I think because the earth is retaining cold. But at this time of the year, the earth is retaining warmth.

  2. The trees have such variety! Some are golden yellow (no red ones on my walk), others have no leaves, some have barely started to change. But overall, the branches are more bare and it is a definite look of autumn. Interestingly enough, our crepe myrtle is nearly bare and our neighbor’s tree, which borders our yard, is still green and lush with leaves. I wonder if they watered it more when it was so hot in the summer.

  3. The clacking of the leaves as they fall or bang against each other. I always know when summer is ending because while the leaves are still green and on the trees, they’ve dried out and make noise when they hit against each other. That accelerates in late fall though – dried leaves on the pavement and sidewalks has a distinctive sound. It’s melancholy – winter isn’t far behind – and a signal that it’s time to put summer to bed and get ready for winter.

  4. The crunching of the leaves under my feet as I walk. My grandsons (and their mother before them) love to drag their feet and hear the leaves crunch. Even my beagle enjoyed it! If there was a big pile of leaves somewhere, he had to walk through it both to sniff what was there and I really think he enjoyed hearing it too.

  5. The street can be slippery with all the leaves, especially when it’s wet. I have to be careful to not walk on top of a bunch of leaves on the pavement. I can feel them slipping under my feet on some days; I walk in the middle where there’s less leaves and my footing is more sure.

  6. Our neighbors are burning leaves and a tree that they’ve taken down. It’s more smoke than I’d like when I’m near it, but when I’m at the other side of the neighborhood, it smells good. Burning leaves has always been a sign of autumn and goodbye to summer.

  7. With the leaves down, there’s so much more sunlight on my face as I walk. I have to make sure I bring a hat, although even with more sunlight, it’s not always warm. Somedays I still need a coat, especially when I’m in the shade.

  8. I love the light at this time of the year! No matter when I take my camera out, it’s always a warm yellow, from morning to late afternoon. I don’t take my camera to walk around the neighborhood, but I still observe the gorgeous light that the autumn brings, from the trees to the house windows to the overall scenery.

  9. A neighbor is using their outside grill. I can smell the meat cooking and the charcoal. It’s making me hungry! It also reminds me to buy a pork shoulder to smoke on my Big Green Egg this weekend. I love using the Egg in the cooler weather. I’m not fighting the bugs or mosquitoes and it’s very primal to play with fire when it’s cold outside.

  10. It’s so much easier to breathe at this time of the year. The humidity is down, but it’s not so cold yet that my bronchial tubes hurt. As a result, I can go farther and the hills aren’t so hard to walk up.

What are your favorite observations when you go for a walk at this time of the year? Please. . . add to my list!

One Spot Challenge

I’m doing a photography class with Kim Klassen titled “The Month of Multiples”. It’s purpose is to encourage us to really look at what we’re photographing and shoot with intentionality.

I took the class a) for inspiration in my photography; b) Kim is a great teacher and I always learn something and c) it sounded fun / interesting.

The take-away for the first week? Don’t be so busy behind the computer that you neglect taking pictures. Yep, that’s easy to have happen.

Week 1 had a one spot challenge, which wasn’t hard to do at the botanical garden. The goal was to truly look at what’s in front of us and take multiple pictures without wandering more than four feet away.

Of course, having a zoom lens and the ability to crop my photos helps too. It was pretty breezy at the moment I took these. That poor butterfly was whipped back and forth and I had to wait for the plant to stop moving before I even got this. Even so, it’s a bit over to one side.

I loved these grasses! There was no signage telling me what they were, but the backlighting made them shine like little jewels. And those green mounds were gorgeous.

These pretty little flowers just begged for a close-up study.

The last one in here was at the end of the curve in the first photo so it was not within four feet of the one spot. But when I got down there, I turned around and looked back and thought huh. Not bad!

I don’t usually take pictures facing that way, but I did this time. So I was paying attention and shooting with intention.

I took many more pictures than this, but they weren’t in one spot. The biggest surprise was the crepe myrtles were back in bloom for a second time – big deep, lush, beautiful blooms. Even better than they were a month ago. Apparently some rain and cooler temperatures were to their liking!

Taking a Walk

Smiling Back at Me
Taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Richmond, Virginia
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I love taking walks and often use my camera as an excuse to do so. Having a wonderful botanical garden so close to my house makes a big difference too – I can be there with a short drive and the scenery changes constantly.

With my camera, I’m much more observant on my walks. This is true with my cell phone camera as well. I’m looking and scanning for what could be an interesting picture. I’m also looking to see what’s new, different, or what’s changed since the last time I was there.

Not every picture is perfect and not every photo is worthy of post processing work. But by showing up and taking pictures frequently, many are in fact worth further work. But to have such pictures in my inventory, I have to be out there taking them.

The flowers above are so cheery – I feel like they’re just waiting for me to smile back at them.

This was post processed using the Fresh Start Haze and Soft Boost actions from 2 Lil’ Owls. Textures were from Jai Johnson’s Impressionist Spring and Splendid Spring collections. Topaz provided the Artries Movie Poster abstraction, and ON1 was used for various finishing effects.

Virginia Is For Lovers

LOVE Sign, One of Many Around the State
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, Virginia
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Virginia has these LOVE signs around the state, including at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where I hang out. It’s a shout-out to the state them of “Virginia Is For Lovers”. This one (of course!) has a gardening theme.

I didn’t realize it was a state wide thing until I started seeing them come up on the Exploring Virginia Facebook page. So here’s my contribution and some links where you can see the other signs.

http://www.chesapeakeliving.com/virginias-love-signs/ https://www.12abouttown.com/virginiaisforlovers-guide-finding-love-signs/ https://www.virginia.org/love

Tourist in my State – Orange, Virginia

Along the Train Tracks
Orange, Virginia
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It’s so easy to be a tourist in my own state – there are interesting things everywhere! The town in Orange, Virginia has some lovely brickwork next to the tracks. There was also a large monument to the memory of the soldiers who died in the Civil War.

Orange grew because of the train terminal. The train brought passengers and supplies from Alexandria, at the other end of the state and carried away produce and products from the farms and factories.

In 1888, a trestle near the town collapsed when a passenger train struck it. The trestle was named after a woman who lived there – Fat Nancy (hmm. . . wonder why that name would stick with me). According to the signage, 34 people died and 11 more were injured.

In 1965, the station was significantly damaged when girders came loose as a freight train came through town. There were no casualties and it was quickly rebuilt.

The train eventually ceased to stop in Orange and Amtrak refused to add the town to the stops. More recently, the buildings were sold to the city and became offices and the tourism bureau.

The town of Orange is located in Orange County, north of Charlottesville, Virginia. It is about a 1.5 hour drive from Richmond. There are several antique stores there, along with other shopping.

Sunflowers In Virginia

“I don’t think there’s anything on this planet that more trumpets life that the sunflower. For me that’s because of the reason behind its name. Not because it looks like the sun but because it follows the sun. During the course of the day, the head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky. A satellite dish for sunshine. Wherever light is, no matter how weak, these flowers will find it. And that’s such an admirable thing. And such a lesson in life.”

― Helen Mirren

I had no idea there were sunflower farms in Virginia! Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery graciously allowed my husband and I to take pictures even though they weren’t open to the public at that time.

Fields of A Thousand Suns
Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery
Goochland, Virginia
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As you can see, the clouds were beautiful and dramatic, making the sunflower fields even more beautiful. When a gentle wind came through, they nodded their heads in unison, making for a field of golden delight.

“A sunflower field is like a sky with a thousand suns.”

― Corina Abdulahm-Negura

Plentiful Sunflowers
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There were bees everywhere, along with wasps and butterflies. Many sunflowers had multiple bees on them too, rolling in the pollen.

Competition for a Sunflower
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The opportunity for taking these photos was unexpected. And what a gift it was! All kinds of pretty pictures came home with us, along with the memories of walking the fields and seeing all that beauty around us. It was a wonderful day.

Bee Chases Bee

My turn! My turn!
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Photo taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Richmond, Virginia
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While photographing the bees with my camera, I’ve observed how they attempt to knock each other off the flowers. I imagine it’s a survival technique – if the flower is good, why should they try a different one even though others are nearby without competiton?

The bees try to chase away each other, as well as wasps, butterflies, beetles, and anything else that might be collecting pollen. Sometimes they’re successful in getting the prize, other times they lose and have to find their own flower.

What’s interesting is that the butterflies aren’t easily dislodged. Often I hear a thunk as the bee bounces off a butterfly and careens off, usually acting a bit wobbly.

This was post processed using;

  • Topaz Studio – AI Clear, Precision, and Contrast; Abstraction 2 provided simplification
  • OnOne – Sunshine Radiance
  • Textures – 2 Lil’ Owls Canteen and French Script Collection
  • Border – Photomorphis Textural Borders

Bee Butt Cuteness

Bumblebee at work on a thistle
Taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens
Richmond, Virginia
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“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should,

for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”

Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
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The sight of this bumblebee buried deep in the flower made me laugh. As I looked for a quote to use, I realized that I didn’t have a bee butt in the picture. Instead, I photographed an upside down bee that was so laden with pollen, it looked like it was wearing pantaloons.

I was surprised to find there’s a Pinterest board for bee butts, as well as articles, tweets and all kinds of social media.

And those little round fuzzy rumps are cute as long as they aren’t sitting on me.

The original picture had a leg sticking up, looking like a turkey drumstick. I cloned that out. It was funny, but not picturesque.

The picture was post processed mostly in Topaz Studio by using AI Gigapixel to upsize it, AI Clear to remove noise and BuzSim 2 for the abstract look. Black Dust and Black Magic 3 textures in the background were from 2 Lil Owls. The picture was finished in onOne with a center spot vignette and torn paper frame.

Perfect Peony

Tree Peony at
The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Richmond, Virginia
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Sometimes I don’t realize that I’ve taken a perfect picture until I get home and start reviewing my work. That was the case with this tree peony.

The color, the symmetry, the unfolding of the petals – all made for a rich and luxurious flower, waiting for me to release it to the world.

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The background was replaced with Daily Texture’s Sweet Tooth. Finishing was done in ON1 with radiance sunshine, center spot vignette, and the Martha border.

This was taken at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia.