iPhoneography: Eastern prickly pear cactus

9 06 2018

Eastern prickly pear cactus blooms (Opuntia humifusa), photographed at Cape Henlopen State Park, Lewes, Delaware. iPhone 7Plus, Camera+ app in macro mode, Snapseed app border

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Shooting Star

1 05 2018

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Wildflowers, Hwy. 281 in San Antonio

9 05 2013

Here’s a record shot of the median strip on Hwy. 281 in San Antonio….there were wildflowers everywhere last month!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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A meeting of creative minds

8 01 2012

On Wednesday morning I drove from San Antonio to Austin to visit my friends Brian and Shirley Loflin. The next day I had the pleasure of lunch at P.F. Chang’s in Austin on Thursday with four fellow creatives.

BRIAN LOFLIN
Brian is my former boss, photography mentor and friend of more than 25 years. He is a freelance photographer and photography instructor in Austin and his career spans more than four decades in the advertising, aviation, bio-medical and publishing industries. Brian is past president of the Minnesota Nature Photographers and founder and current president of the Austin Shutterbug Club. He is a photography instructor in the Informal Classes program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Brian and his wife, Shirley, actively teach and conduct seminars and workshops in many areas of photography. They authored, produced and photographed Grasses of the Texas Hill Country and Texas Cacti, two photographic field guides for Texas A&M University Press and available at most booksellers. They have just completed text and photography for their next book, Texas Wildflower Vistas and Hidden Treasures, also by Texas A&M University Press.

Visit Brian’s natural science photography blog here. You’ll find his commercial work here. In his other business, The Nature Connection, he provides photography and digital imaging services to biologists, professionals, educators and others involved in the natural sciences. He is also available for workshops, seminars and presentations, as well as group and one-on-one training in nature photography, macro/close-up photography, beginning digital photography, field photography and composition and light.

STEVEN SCHWARTZMAN
Austin photographer Steven Schwartzman began his blog, Portraits of Wildflowers, just eight months ago. He commented on my blog many months ago and we formed a sort of mutual admiration society and have kept in touch ever since. His work is beautiful and many times I have said to myself, “I would have shot that one just like he did.” I think that his style, composition and capture of light is so similar to mine.

I e-mailed him when I left Virginia and asked if he would like to get together for lunch when I came up to Austin. It was then that I discovered that he also knew Brian through the Austin Shutterbug Camera Club and the Native Plant Society. He said he was surprised to learn, via my blog posts last March after I visited Brian in Austin for a Joe McNally / Dave Hobby workshop on the Flash Bus Tour, that I had known Brian for more than 20 years!

Steven’s photography has been published numerous times in Texas Highways magazine. In 2007, his photograph of a basket-flower was one of a hundred finalists in Parade magazine’s photo contest on the theme “Celebrate America’s Beauty.” In 2009 and 2010, he was commissioned to provide all the photographs and text for three laminated wildflower guides for Quick Reference Publishing. He has contributed more than 200 photographs to the native plant database of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. His other interests include natural foods and language. I particularly enjoy his fascination with words in his other blog, Spanish-English Word Connections. He has written an excellent tutorial about his photography techniques on his blog here.

From Steven’s blog:
I grew up on Long Island and went to college at Columbia University, where I majored in French. Upon graduation I spent 1968 and 1969 as a Peace Corps math teacher in Honduras; I learned that I was good not only at math (which I knew) but also at teaching it (which I’d had no reason to suspect). It was also in Honduras that I learned the rudiments of photography and got my first “real” camera, a Pentax Spotmatic. In the late 1970s and early 1980s I did a fair amount of art photography and eventually published three books of 3-D infrared photographs. The combination of 3-D and black-and-white infrared was an unusual one but I was fond of it, at least in part because it was unique. My book
Bodies of Light won an award from the Printing Industries of America in 1981.

I moved to Austin on July 6, 1976, two days after my birthday and the 200th anniversary of American independence. In my early years in Texas I did some landscape photography, still primarily in black and white infrared. I was an early adopter of digital photography: in 1999 I launched into a project to produce a photographic CD documenting the Austin area. In the process, I grew increasingly aware of and captivated by the many species of native plants that grow here; they became and remain my primary photographic subject.

It was such a treat being able to meet Steven in person. He is the first fellow blogger I’ve officially met in person and likewise for him! I’m hoping to be able to do a mini photo field trip with Steven in Austin before I head back to Virginia later this month.

SONYA MENDEKE
Sonya Mendeke, a freelance print and web designer living in Austin, is my former college classmate, one-time roommate and lifelong friend. You can see her design work on her newly-redesigned website here. Her hobbies include painting, sculpting and photography. You can see her graphic design work here. She also created whimsical and colorful paper clay “Bugs with Attitude” as well as birdhouses and plant pots.

During our lunch, I shared one of my favorite memories of Sonya. When we were both in college, I lived with her in a large two-bedroom apartment not far from the university. Both of us made extra spending money by doing odd freelance illustration jobs. At some point Sonya connected with a cattleman who wanted her to do drawings of his prize sire bulls for a catalog he was publishing. She showed him her portfolio and one of her illustrations was done in an illustration method called stippling. Wikipedia identifies stippling as “the creation of a pattern simulating varying degrees of solidity or shading by using small dots. … the dots are made of a pigment of a single colour, applied with a pen or brush; the denser the dots, the darker the apparent shade—or lighter, if the pigment is lighter than the surface.” Folks, we’re talking thousands upon thousands of dots to create one illustration. Thousands.

The cattleman loved the stippling style and asked her to replicate it on at least a dozen or more illustrations. She recalls being offered something like $300 for the project. Since we’re talking early 80s, I’m quite certain it wasn’t $300 per illustration. It was most likely that much for the entire portfolio of drawings. With dollars signs in her twinkling brown eyes, Sonya jumped into the project immediately.

It wasn’t long before I heard sailor-worthy words muttered from her bedroom studio, occasionally drowned out only by the never-ending tap-tap-tap of her trusty India-ink-filled Rapidograph pen. Night after night I would find her, mechanical pen in one hand, cigarette in the other, endless cups of coffee nearby, stippling into the wee hours of the morning—exhausted, hopped up on caffeine and almost losing her (creative) mind. The illustrations were wonderful and she did get paid. Afterward, check in hand, she vowed she would never stipple again, no matter what the compensation. I’m sure that, to this day, she still hears the tap-tap-tap sounds deep in her subconscious. In addition to the stippling method, I doubt that she is so fond of things bovine either.

Two years ago, Sonya was interviewed in a video by Roy Gatling and Austin-Artists.com. You can view that video, Saving the earth, one piece of art at a time, here. Roy Gatling is Senior Manager, Project Management at Dell and the husband of another of my college classmates, Maria Gatling, also an Austin artist. Roy and Maria are the co-founders of Austin-Artists.com and Austin-Architecture.com. Check out Maria’s self-published notebook and workshop titled, Be Inspired—Creative Something Every Day, here and her creativity blog here.

PHIL CHARLTON
Phil is a friend of Brian’s and a professional photographer in Austin. He specializes in architectural interiors, but shoots beautiful landscapes and fine art images as well. I especially love his images of Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas (at left). The chapel looks very much like Garvan Woodland Gardens’ Anthony Chapel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which I photographed a few years ago on a road trip with my friend Sue.

From Phil’s zenfolio site
(www.philcharlton.zenfolio.com):
I am a native Oklahoman with a Cherokee heritage. After graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1966 with a double major in math and physics, I moved to Texas where I entered the space industry at NASA. During my 17 years at NASA I worked in the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs designing and testing many systems essential to space exploration.

I left NASA for a second career in the computer business. I held positions at Compaq and Dell before taking early retirement. It was during my NASA years that a friend influenced me to buy a professional quality camera and that led to my current interest as a professional photographer.

My wife Amanda and I have lived in the Austin area for the past 18 years. We enjoy traveling the world and have visited many exotic locales such as Belize, South and Eastern Africa, United Kingdom, Peru, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, and Canada. The beautiful sites of these distant lands are inspirational to my photography.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Re-post: Wildflowers in Damariscotta, Maine

28 09 2011

Originally posted 8.26.2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Pink Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)

14 04 2011

Also known as Showy evening primrose, Mexican evening primrose, Showy primrose, Pink ladies, Buttercups and Pink buttercups, this perennial plant spreads to form extensive colonies that are hardy and drought resistant. Most evening primrose species open their flowers in the evening, then close them in the morning. The farther south they appear (in this case, Austin), they will open their flowers in the morning (as shown here) and then close them in the evening. Photographed at the Mueller Prairie

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.








Lulu & Kato

5 04 2011

Lulu (left) and her brother Kato are five months old and live with their humans, Brian and Shirley, in Austin, Texas. I flew into Austin on Thursday, March 24. Brian and I attended Joe McNally and David “Strobist” Hobby’s Flash Bus Tour 2011 on Friday (recap and photos to come—it was one fantastic day-long workshop!). I stayed with Brian and Shirley and had an event-filled, fun and informative weekend. Every night Lulu and Kato slept at the foot of my bed and made me feel quite welcome—and they were quite photogenic, to boot!

My week+ away was full and I’ll cover several events in future postings, including a recap of the energetic Flash Bus Tour 2011 workshop on Friday with Joe McNally and David “Strobist” Hobby (read Joe’s recap of the Austin workshop here); a wonderful sneak preview at the University of Texas campus of Dinomorphosis, the upcoming National Geographic film by filmmaker Jenny Kubo, followed by Dinosaurs in Living Color, a lecture by Dr. Julia Clarke, Associate Professor, Jackson School of Geosciences, UT-Austin; visiting the wonderful Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin to view the first photograph ever taken (1826)—by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce on his country estate near Chalon-sur-Saone, France (awe-inspiring for this photographer!) and see The Gutenberg Bible, one of only five complete examples in the U.S.; a grand tour of Austin the morning of Sunday, March 27 with Sonya, my dear friend/fellow graphic designer-artist/former college roommate (check out her adorable Bugs with Attitude in her etsy store here), followed by an afternoon photo excursion with her to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (my first visit there); then on to San Antonio to visit my family for the rest of the week (which included a fun wire crochet/beaded necklace class with my sister this past Friday—the process is actually easier than it looks and I’ll share our results in a future post—yeah, as if I needed another hobby).

From the “It’s a small world after all” department: Sonya and I reconnected as a result of this blog! She was looking for photographs of goats to use as reference in a clay sculpture project when her web search led her straight to my blog. I had just posted a photograph of cute goats in Nova Scotia. She saw my blog name and thought, “could this be my Cindy Dyer?” Indeed, it was! And the rest is history…

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Maine wildflowers

28 08 2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Wildflowers in Damariscotta, Maine

26 08 2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Yes, more yellow.

27 04 2009

I’m not sure (yet) what kind of flowers these are, but they’re shorter than the newly-identified Wild Turnip flowers I photographed in rural Virginia on my road trip. This photo was shot just outside of Huntsville, when Sue and I were en route to Arkansas on Monday to visit her Aunt Gay in Little Rock. The flowers could be Wild Mustard or some kind of buttercup. Help in identification would be much appreciated!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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All that’s left is a band of gold…

26 04 2009

April 18, 2009 / Highway 81 South / field of yellow flowers near the community of Natural Bridge, Virginia / Shenandoah Valley, Rockbridge County

I spoke to the proprietor of the Herring Hall B&B (in Natural Bridge) and she said the flowers, while definitely beautiful, are considered weeds and can take over a field in no time. She identified them as Wild Turnip (Brassica rapa), family Cruciferae.

The Plant For a Future database report states that the flowers are hermaphrodite (having both male and female organs) and are pollinated by bees. The plant is self-fertile and has medicinal uses.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Bull Run Bluebells

9 04 2009

For many years I’ve been meaning to go see the Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) en masse at Bull Run Regional Park in Manassas about this time of the year. I can now cross that excursion off my list! If you live in Northern Virginia (or thereabouts), there’s an annual Bull Run Bluebell Walk at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday, April 12.

As I mentioned in my earlier posting here, I wanted to avoid the crowds and certainly did. We encountered less than a dozen hikers and photographers on our hike down the Bluebell Trail.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of plants in bloom, though, and a bit hard to work around the plethora of trees, trunks, and fallen branches to get that stellar shot. Many of the landscape-with-Bluebell shots I got were more “record” shots than stellar. Michael found a plastic bag in the car (the ground was still quite damp), and we both hunkered down on the ground to get up close and personal with a few perfect specimens. Our positioning also allowed us to discover other plants in bloom: Trout Lilies (Erythronium americanum) and Cutleaf Toothwarts (Dentaria laciniata, a member of the Mustard family, Brassicaceae). From a distance, Cutleaf Toothworts, whose beauty belies their nefarious-sounding name, look very similar to the ‘Spring Beauty’ wildflowers.

We also took along the Interfit 5 in 1 collapsible reflector (translucent portion only) to block the mid-day sun and get more saturated color. I’ve used the reflector in the studio and for outdoor portraits, but since I usually follow the rule of “shoot flowers in early a.m. or late p.m.,” I’ve never used it for this purpose. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before—I can now shoot flowers even in the worst light of day for flower photography—that mid-day sun!

While researching where best to photograph fields of Bluebells, I stumbled upon Chris Kayler’s posting about them here. Take a look at his Nature Photography Gallery. Chris, a student at Northern Virginia Community College, specializes in nature and wildlife photography, and lives in Manassas. Spectacular work, Chris!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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‘Spring Beauty’ wildflowers

9 04 2009

These are ‘Spring Beauty’ (Claytonia Virginica) wildflowers that I photographed at Bull Run Regional Park. This perennial herb is a member of the Portulacaceae family and related to the also-edible purslane. Learn more about about this flower’s edible and tasty tubers (who knew?) by reading Scott D. Appell’s article in Plants & Gardens News, published by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden here. These tiny little flowers measure approximately 1/2 inch in diameter and are lightly fragrant. They prefer moist to slightly dry conditions and are planted as corms. These were scattered in clusters among the Bluebells in the park.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Virginia Bluebells

6 04 2009

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are also known as Virginia Cowslip, Lungwort Oysterleaf (which, as Dave Barry might say, would make a very good name for a rock bandladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Lungwort Oysterleaf!), Roanoke Bells and Languid Ladies (again, a very good name for a rock band!).

Blooming in spring from March to May, these herbaceous woodland wildflowers can be found in upland forests, floodplain forests, wetlands and bluffs. They will grow in sun but prefer slight to full shade, and are ideal plants for rock gardens. Each inch-long blossom consists of five petals that form a tubular shape. The buds begin with a pinkish hue that changes to a violet blue color as they age. Although they can be pollinated by bumblebees, butterflies are the most common pollinators.

I’ve read that Bluebells bloom in profusion at Bull Run Regional Park in Manassas about this time of the year, so guess where I’m heading soon! If you’re in this area, there’s an annual Bull Run Bluebell Walk at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday, April 12. I want to avoid the crowd, so I’ll try to break away a bit from design work later this week.

Read Joel Achenbach’s recent homage to Bluebells in a Washington Post article published last month here. I especially liked: You can buy a bluebell at a garden center, but that’s like seeing a fox in the zoo. Nothing makes me weep like the sight of a wildflower in captivity.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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