Carmen’s tableau

28 07 2009

This weekend Regina and I joined Karen at her lake house for a girls-only retreat. Our friend Carmen drove all the way up from South Carolina to join us and Sue happened to be in town from Alabama and stopped by to join us for several hours on Saturday. En route from South Carolina, Carmen bought this beautiful bouquet as a lake house warming gift for Karen at a farmer’s market in Petersburg, VA. She called ahead to see if we had a vase available. Since we were already out running errands, I hunted an appropriate vessel (without even knowing the color scheme of the bouquet) and found this beautiful glass vase on clearance at a local Michael’s Crafts for just $4.00! Karen had the fabric handy in our project stash to serve as a table scarf (thanks to Sue for suggesting we scrunch the fabric). I added the glass bowl and Carmen added the yellow and purple bell peppers. She then declared, “what a lovely tableau.” I teased her about her “fancy college word,” but it was a perfect noun for the finished result. I have to admit I don’t remember ever hearing anyone actually use that word—maybe in college in Art Appreciation 101 class, perhaps? And in the end, as you know—I love any opportunity to shoot a photo, so this was a photographic-can’t-not!

Floral arrangement courtesy of Carmen Mezzacappa.
Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Carmen's Tableau





Early morning at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

23 07 2009

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C.

Click here to view images from July 20, 2008.

Click here to view images from July 22, 2007.

For more Kenilworth photos, click here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Kenilworth Collage 7232009





Craft project: The Monet Chair

20 07 2009

My friend Karen inherited this rocking chair from her grandmother and took it out to the lake house a few weekends ago. She has often declared, “I’ve never met a little chair I didn’t like!” Since the fabric wasn’t in great shape, she asked what I thought about painting something on the chair to make it more whimsical. And, of course, I took on the challenge with gusto!

NOTE: The chair is not finished yet—the photo on the right is a Photoshop collage utilizing the chair in its current state with an overlay of a screen grab image of one of Monet’s water lily paintings. I combined the two images to use as a painting reference. This is what it should look like when I’m done!

Over the July 4th weekend, I painted a base coat of metallic blue, green and gold paint (finally, a use for all those little bottles of fabric paint I bought when such-and-such store was going out of business!). My initial plan was to paint sketchy leaves or swirly abstract shapes on top in a lighter color. I thought that it was starting to look like the water in one of Monet’s paintings of water lilies at his garden in Giverny, France. I shot some record shots of the chair after I was done. Karen loved the idea of turning it into a “Monet chair,” and it was her idea to split up the painting with the Japanese bridge on back of the chair and the water lilies on the seat. We found one of Monet’s many water lily paintings on the web, including one with very bright blue/teal and green combination of tones in the water. I did a screen grab of the painting and superimposed it over the chair in Photoshop to see what it would look like. She loved the effect—so guess what my project at the lake house this next weekend is? I’ll shoot some during-and-after shots so you can see how it turned out. I’m estimating it will take about 3-4 hours to complete.

Monet Chair





Blooming in the garden today…

17 07 2009

Song of the Flower

I am a kind word uttered and repeated 
By the voice of Nature;
I am a star fallen from the
Blue tent upon the green carpet.
I am the daughter of the elements
With whom Winter conceived;
To whom Spring gave birth;
I was Reared in the lap of Summer and I
Slept in the bed of Autumn.

At dawn I unite with the breeze
To announce the coming of light;
At eventide I join the birds
In bidding the light farewell.

The plains are decorated with
My beautiful colors, and the air
Is scented with my fragrance.

As I embrace Slumber the eyes of
Night watch over me, and as I
Awaken I stare at the sun, which is
The only eye of the day.

I drink dew for wine, and hearken to
The voices of the birds, and dance
To the rhythmic swaying of the grass.

I am the lover’s gift; I am the wedding wreath;
I am the memory of a moment of happiness;
I am the last gift of the living to the dead;
I am a part of joy and a part of sorrow.
But I look up high to see only the light,
And never look down to see my shadow.
This is wisdom which man must learn. 

— Khalil Gibran

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.    
http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135

Blooms7172009





Cover girl Jennifer Cheng

17 07 2009

JenCheng CoverIn May I photographed Jennifer Cheng for the July/August 2009 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). We met at Founder’s Park in Alexandria on Mother’s Day (when we scheduled the shoot, we didn’t realize it would fall on that holiday—parking was scarce and we attracted a lot of curious onlookers during the shoot!). She’s not only the cover girl for this issue—she also wrote the feature article about living with hearing loss. Jennifer was diagnosed with progressive sensorineural hearing loss ten years ago at age 17 and wears a hearing aid. She is an infectious diseases epidemiologist for the United States Public Health Services. She graduated from George Washington University with a Master of Public Health degree in International Health in May 2005 and has since been working with the Division of Immigration Health Services.

Jen AwardShe was born and raised in Seattle where her family and childhood friends still reside. She is a competitive road cyclist for Team CycleLife powered by Specialized, a promoter of women’s cycling and racing in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Read more about Team CycleLife on their blog here. I caught up with Jen again during the recent HLAA Convention in Nashville, where she received the HLAA Outstanding Young Adult Award.

Patrick Holkins, who was the cover feature for the September/October 2008 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, presented the award to Jennifer on Sunday, June 21 in Nashville.

Patrick and Jennifer are both HLAA members and have worked in HLAA’s headquarters. In 2009 Patrick launched HearingLossNation, the social network for the young and hard of hearing. Jennifer participated in the National Capital Area Walk4Hearing event last year. This year’s honorary chair for the event is Washington Redskins starting safety Reed Doughty, who was our cover feature for the November/December 2008 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. I photographed Reed and his family earlier this summer and will post a few of those photos soon.

Jen Cheng PagesJennifer’s article is available for download in pdf format here: Jen Cheng Feature. Click on the link, then click on “Jen Cheng Feature” again and the pdf will open on screen.





Orange you glad(iola)?

15 07 2009

About the title—admittedly, very bad. I had to go with my first thought. Sorry.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135.

OrangeYouGladiola





Re-post: Rhymes with Orange

15 07 2009

DCUC Cover 2Why I feel the need to revisit orange: I’m working on final changes to a conference program for a client. The conference is next month in San Francisco. The client is working on conference signage and just asked if I knew what PMS (Pantone Matching System) ink color would be closest to the color of the Golden Gate Bridge. I googled “what PMS color is the Golden Gate Bridge?” Apparently the Golden Gate Bridge people have answered that question many times before. It’s PMS 173! See the background info in the two links below. Hmmm…Now I’m thinking I might change that red-colored bar at the bottom to something closer to PMS 173! I need a color pick-me-up—who doesn’t? So here you go!

PMS173Swatchhttp://goldengatebridge.org/research/factsGGBIntOrngPaint.php

http://www.flickr.com/photos/telstar/2903029/

________________________________________________

Original posting, January 30, 2009: 

For several months now I’ve been trying to catalog my images better, bit by bit (there are thousands and thousands of photos). While organizing my garden photos folder I noticed that I have a plethora of orange-hued flowers so I put together this collage of all things orange-ish to brighten your winter day.

Tangerine. Coral. Day-glow orange. Push-up popsicle orange. Sunset. Pumpkin. 70s shag carpet orange (I did window display at a department store while in college and there was multi-shaded orange shag carpet in each window. Do you know how hard it is to design around that color scheme? I covered it up every chance I got—with a decorating budget of zilch, unfortunately. I asked for $5 once for a huge set of markers and my boss freaked out).

Orange peel. Safety orange. Salmon (did you know that the “l” in salmon is silent? The correct pronunciation is “sam-uhn.” Don’t believe me? Click here).

Frou-frou-big-bowed-bridesmaid-dress-apricot (yes, I had to wear one once upon a time). Carrot. Persimmon. Vermilion. Orange-red. Rusty can orange. Burnt orange. Tomato. Panama Brown orange (the color Dad insists his old diesel VW Rabbit was—sorry, Dad, it was ORANGE).

After a week of designing at the computer in a cold basement, pausing only to look out at winter gray skies (save for that remarkable sunset on Wednesday), I needed a jolt of color to inspire me. What better color than orange?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

rhymeswithorange





Re-post: Cool and Green and Shady

15 07 2009

This shot of one of our pond plants (the center “poof ball” is a type of Dwarf Papyrus, as I recall) reminded me of a song from John Denver’s “Back Home Again” album. It’s called “Cool and Green and Shady.”

Saturdays, holidays, easy afternoon
Lazy days, summer days, nothing much to do
Rainy days are better days for hanging out inside
Rainy days and city ways make me want to hide
Someplace cool and green and shady

Find yourself a piece of grassy ground
Lay down, close your eyes
Find yourself and maybe lose yourself
While your free spirit flies

August skies, lullabies, promises to keep
Dandelions and twisting vines, Clover at your feet
Memories of Aspen leaves, trembling on the wind
Honeybees and fantasies
Where to start again
Someplace cool and green and shady

Cool and green and shady
Cool and green and shady
Cool and green and shady
Cool and green and shady

Words and music by John Denver and Joe Henry






Stinging scoundrels

12 07 2009

Earlier this week I ventured out, camera in hand, with some trepidation—just to see if I could get a clandestine photo of the bat rastards (actually, just one stung me) that chased me into the house last week. I’m fairly confident they’re Eastern yellowjackets. I didn’t want to get too close to the nest (for fear they recognize my behind), so this is more “record shot” than art! (Oh, the things I do to entertain my visitors!)

Yes, I know they need to be removed from the garden if I’m ever to be able to work out there again. I can’t do it myself (for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is I don’t like killing anything—even if it did sting me), so Michael is taking up the task. Read the details of my attack in my posting here.

Here’s something alarming I read on Wikipedia:

Yellowjackets are social hunters living in colonies containing workers, queens, and males. Colonies are annual with only inseminated queens overwintering. Fertilized queens occur in protected places as hollow logs, in stumps, under bark, in leaf litter, in soil cavities, and human-made structures. Queens emerge during the warm days of late spring or early summer, select a nest site, and build a small paper nest in which eggs are laid. After eggs hatch from the 30 to 50 brood cells, the queen feeds the young larvae for about 18 to 20 days. Larvae pupate, emerging later as small, infertile females called workers. By mid-summer, the first adult workers emerge and assume the tasks of nest expansion, foraging for food, care of the queen and larvae, and colony defense.

(Here’s the really alarming part below)

From this time until her death in the autumn, the queen remains inside the nest laying eggs. The colony then expands rapidly reaching a maximum size of 4,000 and 5,000 workers and a nest of 10,000 and 15,000 cells in late summer. At peak size, reproductive cells are built with new males and queens produced. Adult reproductives remain in the nest fed by the workers. New queens build up fat reserves to overwinter. Adult reproductives leave the parent colony to mate. After mating, males quickly die while fertilized queens seek protected places to overwinter. Parent colony workers dwindle, usually leaving the nest and die, as does the foundress queen. Abandoned nests rapidly decompose and disintegrate during the winter but can persist as long as they are kept dry but are rarely used again.

Now I highly doubt that 4,000 workers could possibly fit in this small decorative birdhouse, but then again I was surprised that even the eight that I did see could fit. I’ve managed to water the garden in spurts over the past few days, but always with a wary eye to the left side of the garden. So far, no more keister bites! Flashback: the only other time I was stung by something was when I was about eight years old. My younger sister and I were playing house in the front yard. We were hanging sheets over the bushes outside our bedroom window, pretending to do laundry I suppose (we had strange ideas about what was considered fun when were kids, didn’t we?). I unknowingly tossed my sheet over a yellowjacket nest. Yes, yellowjackets. Déjá vu.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.   http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135

BatRastards





Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity

11 07 2009

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, discusses the creative process and how to nurture it. For more inspirational talks, head over to TED.





I know what you can get me for my next birthday…

10 07 2009

TreeBedYes, I am fully aware that $15,000 is pretty pricey for a bed frame, but if just 15,000 of my currently 82,733 blog visitors chipped in just $1 each, I could sleep in this bed every night! Imagine that. (I didn’t account for tax and shipping charges, though—this thing must weigh quite a bit. Does anyone have a large truck?)

Of course, it might bring on recurring nightmares about the snake-and-doomed-robin-chick episode of last week that I posted here. The scene atop the bed looks eerily familiar. You see, I have this visual penchant for trees, leaves, nests, feathers, birds and eggs. Oh, and sleep. That’s a good thing, too. So, this present would combine four of those faves of mine in one simple gift. And you don’t even have to wrap it! Oh, and I’ll provide the linens, so no need to fret about including those.

Then again, $15,000 would buy at least three of the pricier prime Nikon lenses that I don’t already have but certainly still lust after. (Which ones, you ask? Oh, say the 600mm f/4D IF-ED II, the 200-400mm VR f/4 AF-S, and maybe the 200mm Micro f/4D IF-ED, in case you were curious or just taking notes.)

Tree bed, Nikon lenses. Tree bed, Nikon lenses. Hmmmm. What do you think? Talk amongst yourselves. I’m sure I’ll love whatever you get me.

Take a look at artist Shawn Lovell’s other metal creations on her website here. Beautiful work!





DIY overcast sky

10 07 2009

As promised, I have new photos for you!

Picture this: Today. Green Spring Gardens. High noon. Not the best time to photograph flowers, but ventured out anyway. And I brought my own overcast sky. I carried my trusty Interfit 5 in 1 collapsible reflector (translucent portion only) to block the mid-day sun and get more saturated color. Amazon sells the 32-inch version for just $38.99. And, of course, you can use it as a regular reflector once you zip on the double-sided covers that utilize four other colors—gold, silver, opaque white and black. I just noticed that there is an even larger one (43″) for just $29.95, made by Opteka. These handy little contraptions fold down to an easy-to-carry size, so I would recommend buying the larger one for almost ten bucks less. You can find that one here on Amazon. If you don’t already have one—run and get one! They are invaluable in and out of the studio and for virtually every subject, from portraits to plants to products. I especially like the 5-in-1 products. Just don’t lose the zip-on cover (I speak from experience)! And you’ll most likely need to use your tripod to use it. I set the camera up, focus on my subject, then hold the reflector over my head with my left hand to block the sun (doubles as protection from the sun on you, too!). This leaves my right hand free to focus and shoot. Yes, you’ll look silly, but you’ll also look like a pro and intimidate people passing by. You can purchase an arm-and-stand holder for these reflectors, but that means more equipment to carry—who needs that? If you can convince your significant other or a friend to hold the reflector in exchange for a free lunch, good on ya (again, I speak from experience)!

Today’s photo challenge: Can you spot the little bug playing peek-a-boo in “Kilroy was here” fashion in the Cleome flower—the first image? I didn’t notice him at the time I was shooting this image. He popped out at me when I opened the image in Photoshop. Here’s a clue: he has black and white striped antennae with an orange-ish colored head.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Check out my garden gallery here: http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135

GreenSprings7102009





Re-post: On color…

10 07 2009

I promise I’ll have some new works posted by this weekend. Perhaps some new images of lotus blossoms from Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens? Or maybe something from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden? I’ve been going through my oldest archives and have found this collage I posted two years ago that makes me really, really happy when I view it. I also love the quote. Hope you don’t mind the reruns!

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.” — Georgia O’Keefe, American Painter, 1887-1986

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

punchocolor.jpg

Check out my garden-photos-only portfolio at:

http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135





Blooming in the garden today

10 07 2009

My Star Gazer Lily
blooms
with colossal flowers of pink fire.
Its stamens lick the air
with pollen-covered tongues
of orange flames.
The trinity of blossoms lean heavy,
would topple and only ogle earth
with bright freckled eyes
if I had not propped them
against a colorful pot.
Heady fragrance fills the room,
demands attention.
A lower petal rests like a benediction
on the porcelain head
of an angel poised with a silent harp,
as if flower shakti could bring
the angel to life.
No shy, tiny violet
this plant blares its presence
in a trumpet of color,
declares its allegiance
to life with the vibrancy
of a Flamenco dancer,
castanets clacking,
red dress whirling,
feet stamping.
Its verve stirs me with purpose,
calls me to action
with the torch of love blazing,
a conflagration of pasión.

© 2006 Sher Lianne Christian

This beautiful poem was reprinted with permission by Sher Lianne Christian. Find more of Sher’s poetry and creative essays on her blog, www.lusciouspoetry.typepad.com/. Sher hosts the Third Sunday Poetry Reading and Open Mic at Coffee Catz in Sebastopol, CA, accompanied by her husband John on accordian and keyboard. She is the author of Star Kissed Shadows, Divining Poetry, available for purchase on her website. Click here to learn more about Sher, John, and their spoken-word CD, Sweet Tongue, Assorted Poems & Music, released in 2007.

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. See another Stargazer lily I posted in July last year here.

Check out my garden-photos-only portfolio at:

http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135

StargazerLilyCloseup





What’s on my nightstand now…

9 07 2009

OnMyNightStand1Some people like light reading to lull them to sleep. I sometimes opt for the techie photography books! Currently residing on my nightstand are two very informative books on the subject of closeup/macro photography—Macro Photography for Gardeners and Nature Lovers, by Alan L. Detrick (published by Timber Press, Inc.) and Cyrill Harnischmacher’s Closeup Shooting: A Guide to Closeup, Tabletop, and Macro Photography (published by Rocky Nook, Inc.). The latter link allows you to download sample pages in pdf format.

Another of Harnischmacher’s books, Low Budget Shooting: Do It Yourself Solutions to Professional Photo Gear, is also on my nightstand at the moment. The author shows you how to create ingenious DIY projects with inexpensive supplies. What a great idea for a book! I read the reviews on Amazon and many readers wish the author had expanded on the how-to portion of the book with more details. Even so, if you want to replicate expensive studio accessories on a budget, the book is still worth purchasing. You can download sample pages in pdf format on the link provided.

As you might well assume, I own a plethora of photography books (who am I kidding—I own books on just about any subject you can toss at me—unless it involves math, that is). Alan Detrick’s Macro Photography for Gardeners and Nature Lovers is one of my top favorites on that subject and I highly recommend it. Click on this link here to view 17 pages from this book.

Check out my garden-photos-only portfolio at:

http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135





Re-post: my favorite dragonfly photos

9 07 2009

I photographed these two Blue Dasher dragonflies at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia, this time last year. These were both photographed in natural light without fill flash. You’ll get your best shots (of almost any subject, but insects in particular) on an overcast day.

Check out Eric Isley’s article, Dragonfly Photography 101, for great tips on capturing these beautiful insects, as well as David Westover’s (very detailed!) article on How to Photograph Dragonflies with Flash.

Today I discovered 5 min Life Videopedia, which features short videos on all sorts of topics. Check out this informative one posted by Go Wild TV on photographing dragonflies (love the photographer’s accent, too!).

Click here for a list of 326 short photography how-to films on 5 min Life Videopedia.

_______________________________________________________________________________

I’m overdue for a field trip to Lewis Ginter (just about 1-1/2 hours away). I haven’t been there since April. Their Butterflies LIVE! exhibit is open (until October 11), so I’m sure that will be ripe with photographic subjects. Then again, I think the lotus blossoms are starting to do their thing at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens (less than 30 minutes away). Decisions, decisions, decisions!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

See more of my photographs from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden below:

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/spring-blooms-at-lewis-ginter-botanical-garden/

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/04/19/glorious-day-at-lewis-ginter

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2007/09/12/how-can-something-this-beautiful/





Re-post: One of my favorite macros

9 07 2009

Since I haven’t seen any praying mantis in my garden this season, I thought I’d go through my archives and look at past macros of this fascinating insect. I posted this photo much smaller in size and part of a collage in 2007 when I began this blog. To see the collage of various praying mantis in my garden, click here. This is one of my favorite shots because of the stark contrast of the bright green mantis against the purple potato vine.

I punched up the color a bit more true-to-life than the original posting, which upon revisiting I’ve noticed the color was a little flat. With improved Photoshop skills and the Pantone Color Huey calibrating my monitor, my color correction is more spot-on than. It’s a reasonably priced instrument (it’s now just $65.21—I got mine for about $80 at the time at Amazon here). I highly recommend it if you’re having problems with color from your monitor to print! My Costco prints are much closer to what I see on my monitor now. I’ve had great results with it and it’s very easy to use. It prompts you to recalibrate your monitor approximately every two weeks.

The Praying Mantis by Ogden Nash

From whence arrived the praying mantis?
From outer space, or lost Atlantis?
glimpse the grin, green metal mug
at masks the pseudo-saintly bug,
Orthopterous, also carnivorous,
And faintly whisper, Lord deliver us.

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135

MyFavoriteMacro






Partake as doth the Bee

9 07 2009

Partake as doth the Bee,
Abstemiously.
The Rose is an Estate—
In Sicily.

—Emily Dickinson

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Check out my garden-photos-only portfolio at:

http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135

BeeOnConeflower





How my father became the King of Texas

9 07 2009

As a birthday gift one year, my dear friend Debbi wrote and illustrated a fairytale for me. Here is her story.

Once upon a time in the far away Kingdom of Runnymeade lived a beautiful and kind Princess named Cindy. Princess Cindy loved to garden. She was very happy in her little castle, planting seedlings and bulbs and collecting yard art.

Her father was the King of Texas and Princess Cindy loved him very much. Her father came to visit Princess Cindy and was very disturbed by the Kingdom of Runnymeade. “Daughter,” he said, “you live in a tiny Kingdom of cracker boxes. There is no land in which you can grow Texas-sized plants and vegetables. Your neighbors and friends are colorful and strange. Your Kingdom feels like…well, the Projects! I shall forever call your Kingdom ‘The Projects,’” the King of Texas proclaimed.

Princess Cindy was very sad. She knew she had strange and colorful friends but she loved them. Her father, the King of Texas, didn’t understand that the Kingdom of Runnymeade was part of the land of fruit and nuts called Washington, D.C., where everyone was a little crazy.

Princess Cindy looked around her little Kingdom of Runnymeade and realized that her father, the King of Texas, was right about all the royal subjects’ gardens. They were a mess. She summoned two of her loyal friends, Maiden Barbara and Maiden Debbi and told them of her plan to beautify Runnymeade. They loved their garden and thought Princess Cindy had a royal idea. “I will start a Garden Club and beauty will spread through Runnymeade,” said Princess Cindy.

Princess Cindy went to see the Queen President of Runnymeade, Sue. The Queen Prez loved her garden and was excited that one of her royal subjects would volunteer to help the Kingdom. The Queen Prez loved volunteers. “Go for it!” the Queen Prez said.

Princess Cindy printed beautiful flyers, inviting everyone to join her Garden Club. She and Maiden Debbi distributed them throughout the Kingdom. Princess Cindy and Maiden Debbi saw lots of castles that needed help. “I hope they come,” said the Princess.

Princess Cindy was very happy when she realized that there were many subjects who were interested in her Garden Club. They started to meet in Princess Cindy’s castle once a month. Princess Cindy lovingly became known as the Head Cicada because it was Cicada season in her Kingdom and there were millions of them flying all around.

Princess Cindy went to visit Maiden Debbi one day after the cicadas had finally all died. Maiden Debbi’s husband Sir Tom announced Princess Cindy.  “The Head Weed is here!” he proclaimed. “Head Weed….” Princess Cindy thought to herself. “I like that name.” It will be 17 more years before the cicadas return so Princess Cindy decided that Head Weed would be her official title throughout the Kingdom.

Everyone in the Garden Club liked the Head Weed. The Head Weed gave everyone lots of information about gardening. The Garden Club made cement leaves, painted windows, and topiary cone heads. The royal subjects in Runnymeade started caring about their gardens. Beauty was spreading through the Kingdom thanks to the Head Weed. Everyone was happy in the Kingdom of Runnymeade, and they all lived happily ever after.

Moral of the story: Even one little weed can make a difference.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to get to know the King of Texas? Now you can! He actually takes time out from his royal duties to blog. Read his letters to the editor of the San Antonio Express-News. Learn about the time he scolded Axel Rose for being rude at the San Antonio Airport. Discover how he met the Queen of Texas. Uncover entertaining stories from his childhood and his service in the Air Force, too. He’ll teach you proper grammar, offer cinematic reviews, brag about his three princesses and delve into politics. You never know what subject he’ll cover from one day to the next—from Boy Scouts to cats to Vietnam to chihuahuas to wayward M&M’s. Pay him a visit here. And please feel free to comment if the urge strikes you. He loves getting feedback from his subjects.





New print-on-demand option

8 07 2009

Thanks to Maggie Soladay, a photo editor/producer/photographer and member of www.linkedin.com, for writing about print-on-demand books and posting a link to ASMP/NY’s blog on the subject. Maggie is in the “Women in Photography” group I belong to on Linkedin. ASMP/NY recently did a test of on-demand publishers for photo books and the results are posted in the link below.

http://sharpernewyork.blogspot.com/2009/07/print-on-demand-book-test-results.html

So far the only one I’ve tried is Blurb. I did one of their smaller books and although the printing quality was adequate, I wasn’t thrilled by layout and typeface/point size restrictions.

Yesterday I stumbled onto http://magcloud.com/. I’m considering trying the service out for a few projects. I was delighted to then see it got very high ratings in the ASMP test. I have some ideas for a magazine (actually two!) and thought it would an inexpensive way to do some limited run copies for distribution to potential advertisers. I am savvy enough to realize it’s not an ideal market in which to launch a magazine, but really—is there ever a good market to do such a thing? And yet there are new magazines popping up anyway. The economy may be the death of some current magazines, but it doesn’t appear to be a deterrent altogether. A magazine format could definitely serve as a portfolio for a photographer or artist, or even for fun projects such as a birthday or anniversary book. There are several “wedding magazines” that photographers have created for specific clients as a keepsake. You can browse (and even purchase) magazines that have been uploaded to the site. It’s a neat concept—I’ll try it out and report back with my findings.

Check out their help and FAQ pages to learn more about the process, costs and other details.

I discovered an interview with the MagCloud creators here and a good discussion about MagCloud on FOLIO: mediaPRO. I just learned here that the MagCloud project is the brainchild of HP Labs and HP’s Corporate Ventures team. This excerpt from that last link sums up what MagCloud is all about:

It costs you nothing to publish a magazine on MagCloud.com. The service lets you upload a high-resolution PDF and MagCloud takes care of the rest: printing, mailing, subscription management and more. The MagCloud website functions as a virtual newsstand, where readers can browse and, using PayPal or a credit card, order publications. The publisher specifies a markup on each copy sold, which MagCloud collects and pays the publisher at the end of each month.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Truly a thing of beauty…

8 07 2009

Go. Quickly. Check out this living work of art on Flora’s Blog. Wish I had a wall. Wish I was in a gardening zone that would be conducive to growing this.

UPDATE: Wish I hadn’t gone out to weed my garden just now. I glanced over at the decorative birdhouse that I’ve been “allowing” some unidentified hornet/wasp thingie to inhabit (nature lover that I am, I’m regretting that decision at this very moment). I watched as one adult, then another, then another (7 total) flew in to join the first one. I kept my distance, fascinated yet alarmed at the nest they were finalizing inside the entrance. Just as I was finishing up, minding my own business, I apparently stepped straight into the flight path of one of their relatives. I didn’t see him, but I realized something bumped me as I walked by. Just a few seconds later I felt a sharp sting in my posterior! Then my attacker called for reinforcements and I was chased (screaming like a little girl) into the house. One followed me just inside the door (with two others in hot pursuit). I let out a series of short guttural moans—unnhhhhh unnhhhhh unnhhhhh unnhhhhh. My two cats (who were happily basking in the afternoon light by the patio doors) ran off in all directions, ears back and eyes as big as saucers. I grabbed some envelopes and swatted them out (the hornets, not the cats). Sure hope I got them (the hornets, not the cats). Now I’m indoors (with a sore hiney) looking at six large plastic envelopes strewn over the patio. Hornets 1, Cindy 0.

This link here shows what my attacker looks like (or pretty close—I’m afraid to go back out to confirm identification for fear they’ll recognize me!) They’re going to have to GO.





My green-eyed girl

4 07 2009

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Greeneyedgirl





Lacecap Hydrangea

3 07 2009

Hydrangea macrophylla normalis — Lacecap Hydrangea photographed at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia

Click here for an excellent site on various hydrangea varieties and tips on planting, fertilizing, pruning, propagating and drying.

THIS JUST IN: I just checked out my blogging buddy Phillip’s blog, Dirt Therapy, and he has posted an amazing variety of hydrangeas growing in his garden in Florence, Alabama. Go check them out!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/p270076135

Lacecap Hydrangea





Bright Eyes Phlox

3 07 2009

Aptly named Phlox paniculata ‘Bright Eyes’ — photographed at Green Spring Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

BrightEyesPhlox





In bloom at Green Spring Gardens…

2 07 2009

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

GS 722009






Tuesday sky

2 07 2009

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Pretty sky lorez





Check out my first paid blogging assignment!

1 07 2009

A few weeks ago I wrote an article titled, “Got the Blues?” for Bloomin’ Blog, an online florist’s newsletter. All the photos, excluding the poppy image, are mine as well. The link to my newsletter contribution is below:

http://www.flowershopnetwork.com/blog/got-the-blues

Special thanks to Jamie, editor and webmaster of the Bloomin’ Blog, for contacting me and being such a pleasure to work with. I’m planning on submitting articles on event photography for their sister company, Wedding and Party Network.





Requiem for a baby robin

1 07 2009

Not too long ago, a mama robin fashioned a beautiful nest at the top of the gazebo outside my office door. From my chair in front of the computer I could watch her come and go. I wasn’t sure if she was sitting on unhatched eggs or already mothering a hatched baby. Early this morning, after she left for her morning food gathering mission (I assume), I tapped on the gazebo and heard some faint chirping. I pulled out the ladder and climbed up to get a peek (camera in hand, of course). The gazebo has a grapevine growing over it and the area she had built the nest is well hidden by branches and leaves. We also put up one of those light nets that you put over bushes at Christmas so we could have mood lighting during parties. I wasn’t able to get up high enough to look down on the nest, so I just slipped my lens through the net, put the camera over my head, pointed it in the general direction, and snapped away. I got this not-that-great photo of her solitary sweet baby this morning.

About an hour ago, while we were watching a movie, Michael heard a bird chirping loudly and since birds don’t normally make much noise at night, we knew something was dreadfully wrong. Had the baby fallen out of the nest? Had Indie, a neighborhood cat, come into the yard and seen the baby? We ran downstairs, turned on the porch light and watched the mama bird hopping from branch to branch under the gazebo, chirping away. As soon as we opened the door, mama flew to the fence. We looked on the ground; no fallen baby. I looked up—and gasped—was that the curvy outline of a SNAKE? Yes, it was. I hollered to Michael. He went to grab a flashlight and grabbed the (black) snake by the head and pulled it out of the nest, banishing it (unharmed) to the woods nearby. Had we known the baby was already gone, I would have taken the dead bird and the snake out to the woods. I’m not a big fan of snakes, but I would never kill one (unless it was attacking me, that is) and I always discourage my snake-fearing friends from doing just that when they encounter one. I respect them but really…go feast on something else…and not in my yard!

I climbed the ladder to see if the baby was still alive. It was too late. I pulled its still warm but lifeless body out of the nest and began crying. Michael came back and we gave the baby bird a proper burial in the garden. Just 12 hours ago I was photographing an almost-ready-to-leave-the-nest baby and now we were burying it in our garden. I realize snakes need to survive, too, but it’s just such a sad thing to witness so soon after photographing it. Of course, when you build a paradise in your backyard, you’re bound to attract all sorts of wildlife, including the predators. I wish I had a better photograph to honor this sweet baby who lived such a short life. A short life, long remembered.

Speaking of snakes…a few years ago Michael was driving home through our neighborhood and noticed a U.S. postal truck that had stopped in the middle of the road. There was a group of kids on a nearby curb watching our postman beating the crap out of a harmless black snake! Michael gave him a lecture about black snakes and promptly rescued it, taking it to the woods to release it (although I’m sure it didn’t survive the postman’s wrath). The snake was simply slithering into the woods (as snakes are inclined to do) and the postman turned into animal control. Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Michael came home from work, then walked across the parking lot to get the mail from the communal post box. The mailman came running over, shouting “do you have a shovel?!” Michael asked him, “what in the world do you need a shovel for?” He said, “there’s a snake over there and I ran over him a couple of times with the truck but he’s still not dead!” Michael walked over and looked at the snake. Once again, it was a harmless black snake. And guess what? It was the same damn postman, too. When Michael came back in to the house, he told me what had transpired. He was mad, which in turn made me mad. I called the local post office to register a complaint. The man who answered said he would be the one to report to, so I told him both stories. I gave him our address so he was able to pinpoint exactly which mailman I reporting. He said, “that is so not his responsibility nor his job. Plus, doesn’t he know that snakes keep the rat population down?” He apologized for the man’s behavior and said he would speak to him about the incidents.

Obviously Michael is the calm one in this relationship. It’s a good thing I didn’t encounter the postman either time!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Baby Robin








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