Thursday, July 17, 2014

More Sunflowers!!!

Have you ever had a voice/sound/feeling that you should do something… not next week, not soon, but now? The sunflowers have been calling my name since the beginning of the month. I drove out just because I was curious at the beginning of July and then went back last week for photos. The flowers were young and bright… and I kept thinking back to last years… more mature, bigger sunflowers… and thought I would go and see the flowers again. I went yesterday. 

Unlike the last visit the weather was perfect, “COOL”.  There was  severe weather and thunderstorms on Monday and Tuesday and overnight to Wednesday, so some of the sunflowers were pretty battered. It was amazing to see the difference in just 5 days.


Since it wasn’t as hot, and I was there a little earlier…. there weren’t as many bugs flying about yet, nor as many. The grasshoppers didn’t jump every time you took a step. The bumble bees were slow and still warming up on the flowers.


Several flowers were still glistening with rain drops on the petals.


There are still a few flowers that are late to open.

cr-new-flower-wb-372    cr-opening-wb-361

But not many. The fun thing is finding more… in a place. The first time I saw a green bee was in Nebraska. I have spotted a few… but they were much to quick for me to snap… but I found one yesterday that was so interested in the many chicory blossoms, that I was able to get a decent shot.


I also found a green lady bug, aka Green Cucumber Beetle, which is a pest. It almost looks yellow.


As I mentioned before, there were several other people at the field, most of these were like me… there for the flowers, (no characters), but all of them were shooting at the front edge and corner of the field. The field is huge, a couple of acres. So I walked around it. When I got to the far end, I could hear birds… When I looked over toward the long grasses I could see the gold finches… and I could hear them flying and talking over head… then I spotted one on the sunflowers… but it flew off before I got a picture. So I waited. The picture isn’t great… and if I am still here next year I will bring the big lens and sit and wait!!!! The finch is right smack dab in the center, yellow on yellow!


I saw lots of honey bees… at least they look like honey bees. I saw one go into the ground, so they may be a different type of bee. These guys were loaded with pollen… some how I shot this one… makes me think of the supply shuttle for the ‘space station’.


After a good soaking… mushrooms appear. Usually in a single or maybe a two-sie patch, or at least well separated from one another. I saw a whole bouquet… Not particularly pretty, but delicate.


After the sunflowers, I thought I would stop at the ponds and see if the water flowers were blooming. Lots of buds again, but no blossoms. I wonder if they bloom at night? I took a short walk… looking for ‘more’. I could hear an eagle screeching, but it didn’t fly where I could see it. But I almost missed something.

Here is a vista of the pond.


and here is what is in the center of the vista shot above.


If it hadn’t done some preening, I don’t think I would have spotted it. Even though it is taller and a different color, than the vegetation! I was hoping that it was hungry and would catch a fish…

More later! Beth

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunflowers 2014

Over in Maryland there is a Wildlife Management Area where they plant fields to draw the wildlife, (and feed). In several field they plant Sunflowers. One of the fun things is that the fields are open to the public and we can walk among them. I have been itching to see them. I went over last week to see if they were in bloom. They were not, but I found lots of other things to photograph.

I managed to get to the fields yesterday… in the late morning. I would have skipped it altogether, but we had high clouds to cut the sun glare. I could see some differences from last year. Last year they bloomed later in July, that they were taller and I think I like a bit more maturity in the flowers! This is a favorite from last summer.


These are from yesterday.


I always like to find the one that is facing the wrong way! I only found 2… and this one I’d title…. “There’s one in every crowd”



cr-sunflower-chacter         sf-character-2

I don’t know who these ladies are, or what the significance of the masks are, but I snapped these 2 pictures… There are all kinds of characters at the fields… from engagement sessions, to modeling sessions, to just your average folks coming to see them, to professional photographers… with all the gear. Yesterday there was even a guy with a drone equipped with a camera. I will say it was annoying while if flew overhead… and a little unnerving, to think I was also being photographed as I photographed the flowers.


The Drone


The drone operator- He is wearing a pair of Google Glass. I wish I had that much money and time to play! I know the the Glass is $1500 without prescription lenses.

Of course what would a day out be without a couple of bugs? I did see the bumblebees on the sunflowers, but none presented anything interesting. I also saw a June Bug and a Stink Bug on the sunflowers. I was able to capture a Grasshopper flying in place, but it was too small to share… without a huge explanation.

I love to watch dragonflies…. This little guy posed for me… on several plants.


and I fond this guy near a pond that has a million water lily… type plants, no blooms though. I am thinking about going back later in the week for more mature sunflowers and maybe some lilies… in bloom… yellow ones!


I saw many more dragonflies…. but I’ll spare you the pictures.

It was a hot day…so I think I will stay inside today… and play.

More later! Beth

Monday, July 7, 2014

A day of Nature

One day last week I took a drive to see if the sunflower fields were in bloom. It was hot and humid too. Before I even left town I saw some thistles blooming, with bees a buzzing. I am always amazed by the symmetry and color of these plants. This is a rather small variety of thistle… but with lots of blooms.


When I first started shooting these I was going to catch a bumble bee… but then out of the corner of my eye… I saw a Hummingbird Moth. Not really pretty, but very interesting… in how fast their wings can go. I had to bump my shutter speed up from 1/800th of a second  to 1/1250th of a second to stop the wings without blur, and even then, not quite a perfect there is still a bit of blur.


Before I was finished with the thistles another bit of color caught my eye. A goldfinch having a bit of a morning snack.


The sunflower fields were not in bloom… but maybe by next weekend! So I will keep an eye on the weather. I am lucky,that I only live about 20 miles from the fields and can get there in less than an hour.

So I decided to do a bit of exploring…. with the camera in hand. I found a butterfly


and a strange green beetle, that is called a Tiger Beetle - Cicindela sexguttata,


I also saw at least 6 or 7 different varieties of dragonflies, here are two.


A Halloween Pennant- found hanging out in a wheat field.


A Widow Skimmer. Dragonflies are fascinating creatures, and a very big contributor to our ecology. The have been around since the dinosaurs too.

On the way home, aboard the ferry… I saw these 2 sitting on the stump in the middle of the Potomac River. They are a cormorant, but I am not able to figure out which, for certain.


As always… more later,


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Thread Painting

I have been thread painting…. miles and miles of thread have been used recently.

The Guild I belong to, Waterford Quilt Guild in Virginia, had a speaker cancel for later in the year and I was asked if I would share the Thread Painting process… Of course I said SURE!

So to be ready… I have been making samples. I showed 2 small pictures a post or 2 back. I have one of them completed.  The Flower Basket.

This is a detail of the stitching on one of the flowers. The threads I used were mostly Master Piece and So Fine, in the colors I had on hand. One or two, regular weigh threads may have made it into this…. because I did not want to go shopping or to wait for thread in the mail!


This is the back, before I put the quilt backing on and quilted it


And this is finished. It measures about 25 inches square.


The elephant is being quilted now. Originally I wanted the back to be visible… since I Thread Painted in 2 layers, but I also wanted to get it quilted so I could get to the really fun part and embellish! I plan to add lots more sparkle and beads to the headpiece and blanket.


The last one so far….is this large flower runner. I decided to quilt it in a large geometric pattern, just to keep the graphic look, and only the top flower area is quilted, so the front and back are visible. So, for now it is done. The threads are the ones I thought I would use… not shown is a black, a green and a blue blue thread… that I used in the darkest areas of the center flower.

flowers    graphic-flowers

I alluded to another one…  actually I have 2 that I am thinking about. I only have enough time to make one of them. I think I want to paint one -as in whole cloth…(of a flower that I took) to show that you can do more than just echo the commercial fabric… with the thread. You can also use the thread to create depth and dimension. Let me say from the beginning that I am NOT a painter…. I lack a very important ability that applies to drawing and painting. I cannot see and translate the subtle shadings of color and the dimensions of shadow and apply it… and then there is perspective and scale… also difficult for my flat mind to comprehend. The other involves a tree… which just now occurs to me that I could combine the 2 ideas into one if I were to do the tree… hum, I have some thinking to do!

As always, More Later- Beth