Christmas Lights Shining On The Wall
Welcome to year four of my photo-a-day life, this is day 1,100*.
To start the new year off, here is a photo of Christmas lights, shining on the wall in our front hall. I had the camera on a tripod and had to be careful to keep the string of lights out of the picture. The circular shape on the right is the shadow of the end of the bulb, which I think is pretty cool.
* Currently, only years two and three are on this blog. I still hope to get year one posted at some point, but it’s a time consuming endeavor and I haven’t gotten around to it yet.
We had our first snow fall of 2014 today. It wasn’t a blizzard, by any stretch, but it was more than was foretold by the weather prognosticators. I opened my garage doorway and set up my tripod and took some pictures of it this evening. The light was interesting. Sometimes, when it is snowing, it seems much brighter out than on a normal night. It wasn’t so noticeable, tonight, but the light was quite yellow, a consequence of being from fairly yellow street lights in our neighborhood. This photo was a 15 second exposure but with several (actually, about a dozen) one-eighth power flashes that lite up the snow as it fell. Without the flash, the falling snow would have blurred into nothing.
I bought these tiny octopuses and last night I cooked them because I wanted to try stuffing them with sausage and sautéing them but they turned out to be too small to stuff properly. I’ve also got some frozen squid that I think are going to work better. Since these didn’t work out last night, I figured I should eat them for breakfast. They were quite good, sautéd in olive oil with chives sprinkled over them. Not everyone’s idea of a lovely breakfast bit I enjoyed them.
Snowy Back Yard
I had the picture of the snow coming down from last night. For today, here is picture of what the back yard looked like this morning. As I said, it wasn’t a huge snow storm but it was enough to cover everything. Although the county can’t clear all their streets in anything like 24 hours, many still had a good bit of snow on them. Not enough to keep us at home, but a few more inches and it gets a bit iffy on the hillier places in the neighborhood, especially when the temperature is right at the freezing (or melting) point. No trouble getting to work, though.
Sunset Colors on Contrail
It was a wonderfully clear, bright day today. Cool, but clear and bright. I didn’t go out during the day today, except to take a few pictures shortly before sunset. There were more than half a dozen contrails crisscrossing the sky this afternoon and as the sun sank into the west, they all lit up with a beautiful orange color. This one didn’t stick around, but faded from view shortly after the plane was past, but it was the brightest of them all, while it lasted. The plain is heading southwest, possibly towards a landing at Reagan National or Dulles International. When you see planes overhead, does it make you want to travel? It does that for me. I’m ready to go, let me grab my passport.
Silhouetted Against The Snow
I only took a few pictures today, mostly out the back door. These are what’s left of the black-eyed Susan flowers around our patio, silhouetted against the snow. Not all that exciting, I guess. They looked nicer in real life.
Maybe tomorrow will bring something better.
Drinking Glass Shadows
We were having dinner and I noticed the light shining through my glass, after I had finished drinking. The light source is a chandelier with a bunch of small lights, so it throws multiple shadows at slightly different angels. Because the glass isn’t perfectly smooth or pure, and because it is blue, there are bright lines in the light coming through the glass, crisscrossing each other to form these patterns on a sheet of white paper I put under the glass. Naturally, as the glass gets thicker toward the bottom, the light shining through it becomes bluer.
After taking a bunch of pictures of the shadows of the glass, I tried using a blue glass vase that was in the room. The glass is thicker and the blue is darker so no light made it through to turn the shadows blue. I suppose I could have made them blue after the fact, but this is the color they looked to me at the time.
In his picture, the multiple lights produced shadows that feel to me like mountains fading into the haze of distance.
Frosty Car Windscreen
How do you photograph cold? I guess it’s easy enough if you live in the mountains with lots of snow and ice. But what if it’s dry out? That makes it considerably harder, I think. The ground doesn’t look all that different. The trees and bushes are as bare and lifeless looking as they were when it was considerably warmer. But this morning my outdoor thermometer read 1.3°F (-17°C). That’s cold. Even if the reading is slightly off because the sensor is too close to the house (which would mean it was actually colder than that), it’s close enough to know that you want to do more than just roll your sleeves down. Yes, I admit it, I put on a jacket before going out. This photo was taken in my car while waiting at a traffic light. I like the network of little lines that have formed on the glass.
It’s been a while since I posted a picture of Cathy, so, here’s one. She’s a good sport to let me take pictures all the time. Once in a while, she even appreciates it. One really nice thing to do is to go back about ten years and look at pictures. We can go back much farther, of course, but 2003 is when I got my first digital camera and most pictures from before that are not on-line so they are a little harder to get at. Once it a while we’ll look through prints, of course, but a lot are also slides, which are harder still. I really need to start at the beginning and scan pictures. Even if they are not good enough scans to let me really get rid of the originals, it would make looking through them easier. It’s a bit of a task, though. There are more than a few dozen pictures to scan, as you might imagine. Still, if I got started, even if I only did a little at a time, I’d get through them eventually. Who knows, maybe I’ll do that in 2014. The Great Digitization Project needs to begin.
Frasier Fir (Abies fraseri)
This is the end of a branch on our Christmas tree. Last year it came down fairly early but this year we decided we’d leave it up at least until Epiphany (January 6). As you can see by the date this photo was taken, we’ve gone over a little. I expect the tree to come down in the next few days, however. It was a small tree and We went fairly light on the decorations. There were a few strings of lights and we put up about a half dozen ornaments but that was it. The tree has stood up to being in a dry house fairly well. Of course, it was only cut on December 14, so it was pretty fresh.
Snow and Leaves
After a significant but fairly short cold spell, it’s been warmer (but still cool). Last night and today we had a good bit of rain and most of the snow has melted and is gone. Mostly there is only snow left where it was piled up when parking lots were cleared (and there are three snowmen left in a yard in our neighborhood). This picture is by the parking lot at work, where snow was piled, decorated with leaves that were scraped up with the snow.
Burning Christmas Tree
One of my favorite annual rituals is the burning of the Christmas tree. As I mentioned a few days ago, we kept it up a bit later this year than last but it came down today. It was a small tree so I was able to cut all but the lowest part of the trunk without a saw. I carried it to the family room, where our fireplace is, and burned it, bit by bit over a small fire I had already started. Naturally I put the camera on a tripod and took a few pictures. Getting the exposure right for flames is a bit tricky. You want the background to be black and you don’t want the flames to be too bright. On the other hand, you have to play with the shutter speed to get the right amount of blur (or lack of blur). This is by far my favorite from the evening.
If you are looking for a mid-size tree with fabulous fall color, you should seriously consider Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua). It turns a most satisfying orange-red or crimson and it’s a nice tree the rest of the year. If you run around in the yard barefoot, however, you might consider the cultivar ‘Rotundiloba’ because it is sterile and does not produce these little balls that will otherwise litter your yard (it also has rounded lobes on the leaves, which explains the name). Personally, I like the fruits, but then, I don’t have them all over my patio, either.
It was a busy day today. I didn’t get out of my office and then came home and made dinner. In the evening I realized I hadn’t taken a picture today so I thought I’d take a few of Dorothy’s new guitar, her big Christmas present for the year. This is the back, which I think is beautiful. The guitar is a Fender and it sounds great. The back is made of bubinga, an African hardwood from the Guibourtia demeusei tree. It is used because of the mellow sound it produces, as well as the fact that is has an exceptional strength-to-weight ratio.
Tail Lights and Rain
Time for another somewhat abstract image. This is rain on my windscreen with tail lights shining through them. As usual, I was not actually moving when I took this picture. I’m not sure what I get out of this picture but I like it, certainly better than the others I took of the same thing. Maybe it’s an alien planet with a red atmosphere and a huge, bright, white sun. Maybe I just like water and red. I don’t know. Do you?
United States Flag
It was quite windy this evening, as I drove home. While waiting at a traffic light, I pulled out my camera (like you do), opened my window and took about a dozen pictures of the flag flying at the Chevy dealership on the corner. I’m glad I did because I got busy when I got home and totally forgot about taking pictures. As it turned out, the flag pictures were the only pictures I took today. So, that’s what I have to share with you. It’s not bad, considering that it was night time and taken with just natural lighting (ISO 6400, 1/25 sec., f/5.7).
It was a cool but beautiful day today and around lunch time I walked from my building over to the one with our main cafeteria to pick up a salad from the salad bar. I carried my camera with me, which still feels a little awkward after three years of having it with me most of the time. I don’t carry it around at work, although I have it there every day. But walking between the buildings often gives me something to photograph. This is the end of my building as I came back with my lunch.
Dorothy at BWI
Dorothy left for Boston this evening. Well, technically she left for Wenham, northeast of Boston, but her flight was to Boston’s Logan Airport. She has an interview at Gordon College scheduled for tomorrow, as well as plans to sit in on one or two classes. Of course, I’m posting this on Sunday and she left on Thursday, so tomorrow was the day before yesterday, as I write this. The interview went well and she enjoyed the classes. We don’t know if this is where she’ll end up, but she could do worse. Here’s a picture of Dorothy at BWI before her first airline flight with no one else that she knows. She’s flown without us a few times and once with her friend’s brother on the same plane, but this time, she’s really solo. All went well, I’m happy to report.
Categories: People, Travel
I had another eye check-up today. After the assistant did an initial test of my vision, I waited for the doctor to come in. While I was waiting I decided to take a picture of myself behind the phoropter. I don’t often take pictures of myself and of course, since the pictures posted here are taken by me, I don’t show up very often. The last time I was at the eye doctor’s, though, I posted a picture of the phoropter so I wanted today’s picture to be a little different. Autofocus is a wonderful thing.
Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center
Cathy and I took a little outing today, driving across the bay bridge and onto the eastern shore. Just east of Kent Narrows and south of US 50 is the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (CBEC). It’s a small, private, wildlife preserve and education organization. Back in 2004 I went there with Brady and Albert for a day-long course on raptors. Two hawk and one owl picture from that day are among my favorites at HartleyPhoto. The CBEC owns approximately 510 acres of land and it’s a good place to see bay wildlife. Of course, the middle of January isn’t necessarily the best time of year for that but it was quiet and pretty and we only saw a few other people. Of course, it was about 26°F (-3°C) and the wind was 15 to 20 mph, so it was a bit chilly. For those of you thinking the question, the answer is yes, I did wear a jacket. On the Marshy Creek Trail as we neared the lake, there were some wet areas that provided great reflections and that’s what I posted for today’s picture. After that, and a brief stop on Kent Island, we went into Annapolis for a hot meal at Chick and Ruth’s Delly.
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
When I was little I thought that the appearance of robins was a sign of spring. They do migrate and that even contributes to their Latin binomial. Turdus migratorius translates as migratory thrush. In our area, however, they are pretty much a year round feature. Those we have now probably travel to the north in summer, to be replaced by their sun-bird relatives coming up from Florida. The American Robin is not to be confused with the smaller, daintier, and in my mind prettier European robin, Erithacus rubecula.
Well, actually, it was a beautiful day, so the saying wasn’t right today. They say we may have snow tomorrow, but that’s another matter. Because I didn’t have to get Dorothy up for school today, I didn’t set an alarm. As usual I got up about the same time anyway, but without that annoying noise. As I came downstairs there was an orange light coming in the front windows. I grabbed my camera and went outside to take a few pictures (barefoot and with no jacket, as it happens). What a beautiful sight.
Snow Falling on the Buddleia
Yesterday there was that beautiful sunrise, leading one to think that a storm was coming. Yesterday turned out to be beautiful, bright, and clear, however. Today, it was hard to tell when the sun came up because there were thick clouds covering the sky. No red for warning. It started snowing a little before 8:00 AM here and came down pretty steadily all day. the flakes were tiny so it took a while for the accumulation to amount to anything, but it was cold enough that it only melted on roads that had been treated. This was taken out the back door in the early afternoon. I should mention that I really love the fact that I can work from home, when it’s inconvenient to go out.
When it’s cold outside, and the temperature has currently dropped into the teens, it’s nice to build a fire and feel the warmth on your face. Cathy and I both worked from home today and she was in the family room. That room tends to be a bit cooler than the rest of the house so I build a fire and that warmed her up. As I was building the fire, I was thankful for an attached garage. There are many benefits to an attached garage. I understand that some people claim to put their cars in them, which I think is mostly urban legend. One thing it means for me is that our supply of wood can be got at without going outside. It’s still cold but it is dry and there isn’t any wind. The wood is also kept quite dry, so it lights very easily.
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)
It was a little chilly out today but I went out for a bit because the snow was so pretty. I walked around my office building, looking for things to take pictures of. At one point I heard a tap, tap, tap sound and looked up to see this little downy woodpecker on a dead branch hanging on a tree. She was quite busy looking for things living in the branch and most of my pictures aren’t very good. She kept moving around the branch, and of course I was looking up at a fairly steep angle. This one turned out pretty nicely, though, when she looked over her shoulder.
A Stream Through The Snow
It was another chilly day today. Our outdoor thermometer registered -0.3°F (-18°C). It was partly cloudy and actually snowed fairly heavily between about 2:15 and 2:30. An hour later I walked over to one of the other buildings on campus and then at about 4:30 walked back. As I often do, I carried my camera with me. The sun was reflected in the stream that runs between the buildings and I thought it made a pretty picture. I didn’t bother wading down into the snow for a better angle for a few reasons. First, the the shoes I had on, I almost certainly would have slipped on the hill and landed on my keister. Second, my shoes don’t currently keep water out very well and I wasn’t anxious to have wet feet, especially while walking around in the cold. Bad enough that I wasn’t wearing a jacket.
With the snow we’ve had, a lot of salt has been put down on the roads. Since it’s been cold and hasn’t enough to wash it away, most cars have a nice coating of salt. It isn’t the best thing for cars and it’s getting pretty bad. I see a lot with back windscreens that look a bit like this SUV that was in front of me on the way home (stopped at a light). It looks like he may have run out of washer fluid in the back. I’m hoping it will get up at least into the mid 30s and then we have a good, soaking rain to wash everything off.
Cathy and I took a walk in the neighborhood late this afternoon. It was a mostly overcast day and there is snow on the ground, so there wasn’t a lot of color to be seen. I carried my camera with me, of course, but mostly what I saw to photograph was the patterns of salt on the road.
Mostly, the shapes made me think of Mandelbrot sets (if you don’t know what that is, take a look here on the Wolfram Mathworld site). Some patterns were mostly round and some were more linear but the pattern of the gravel in the asphalt (which is technically called asphalt concrete, did you know that?) helps creates all sorts of patterns in the salt. Anyway, I thought some of them were pretty. Cathy thinks it’s a mess, and I suppose she’s right, but I still find it pretty.
This is one of the last pictures I took on the walk. The ice, on the left, represents the land mass in this map-like image. At least that’s how I see it.
I was looking around for something to photograph this evening. I had taken my camera with me all day but hadn’t even taken it out of its bag. In the evening I realized I needed to do something. There is a candle in the mouth of a bottle in our family room. I”m not sure why it’s there, but there it is. I took a few of that and then realized the picture would be a lot better if the candle were lit. So, I lit the candle and then took a few more pictures. These were taken with the flash and I managed to balance the flash with the candle flame, so the candle itself was lit but the flame still showed up.
The next thought was that it would be better with a dark background so I moved the candle to another room. I positioned it in the kitchen with the door to he back yard behind it. I bounced the flash so it lit the candle but didn’t reflect off the glass in the door. I got a few that show the flame pretty well. It’s still a little static and I think I’d like it better if, perhaps, there was the slightest wind making the flame move a little, but overall, I’m pleased.
Solid and Liquid Water
It was another cool day today but I went out for a little while to take pictures. As I came into my office parking lot this morning I saw the pattern made by the ice on the pond next to my building. When I went out I took some pictures of that but I prefer this one, of water flowing in the stream leading into the pond. As you can see, it’s flowing over a rock and that motion is keeping it from freezing, although there is ice all around it. There are more fractal shapes here, as well, in the edge of the ice
Salt On the Floor
One really nice thing about having a foyer paved with stone is that you can come in with wet, muddy, or even salt encrusted shoes and not worry about doing much damage. This is a little of what’s left on the floor next to where Cathy took her shoes off. As you can see, she picked up a little salty water from the streets. The forecast says we’ll get a little more snow overnight, so it’s not going to get better right away. Still, it makes for interesting patterns on the floor.
I went out to take pictures again today. It was chilly and I didn’t wear my jacket, so I didn’t stay out more than about 10 minutes. The pond between my office building and the next has been frozen over for a while now and we had a little snow this morning to cover the ice. It’s a flowing stream so there is a section that is clear of ice and it makes a nice pattern. The difficulty here was the concrete wall at the lower end of the pond. You can see the base of it in the upper left of this picture. Such is life.
Dorothy’s Laurel Wreath
Dorothy made a laurel wreath for herself this evening. Actually, she started it a few weeks ago, cutting out and painting the leaves gold. This evening she turned the pieces into a wreath that she can wear. It’s spirit week at school the four “houses” each have a theme and they are to dress in some way that relates to the theme tomorrow. Her house’s theme is Greek mythology so she plans to dress as a Greek goddess, complete with golden laurel wreath.
As I came downstairs this morning to fix Dorothy’s lunch and make us each our morning cup of tea, I noticed a bit of pinkness in the eastern sky. I grabbed my camera and went out to get a few pictures. It was fairly cool, about 20°F (-7°C) and I hadn’t stopped to put anything on over my t-shirt. That wasn’t as much of an issue as my feet.
While I was outside, I had a brilliant idea. What if someone were to knit something like a sweater only for your feet. You could have a simple tube, closed at one end and open on the other, that would fit over your feet and would help keep them warm when you go out to take pictures in the winter at 7:00 in the morning. Dorothy threw cold water on my idea (metaphorically speaking), saying she thought I should do a patent search before committing any money to my idea. She said that she thought our friend Nancy had already invented something very much like it. Oh, well. It was just a thought.