Saturday, January 31, 2009

Silken Pincushion Cactus

Silken Pincushion Cactus
Mammillaria bombycina
(mam-mil-AR-ee-uh) (bom-BEE-kin-uh)
Synonyms: Chilita bombycina, Ebnerella bombycina

Pincushion Cactus is a generic name for about 170 species of Cactus mostly native to Mexico. It also covers several other genera. This little specimen was growing in Tucson and you can see just starting to flower. It had formed a nice low growing colony about 2 feet wide and 2 feet long. The white tops made an interesting contrast with the flowers and spines.

I have been really lazy about doing anything including taking pictures but I am going to go out today. There are a couple of nice Bird of Paradise flowers in the foundation planting of the house and they looking like a good candidate for pictures.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Lodge at Ventana Canyon

The Lodge at Ventana Canyon
Tucson, Arizona

This is where we stayed while in Tucson. I shot the first photo with Skywatch Friday in mind. Both of these shots were taken from the windows of the room. I am glad we paid the extra $15 for the mountain view room. The hotel was a little more than we like to pay but it wasn’t much more than the hotel we stayed at in El Paso the night before and that was literally 100 feet from I-10. Plus there were some. uh, industrial smells at the other place.

When I saw all the grass and flowers at the Lodge it was very uplifting. I felt like rolling around on it but it wasn’t that type of place. The staff at the Lodge was one of the friendliest we have seen and the place is very canine friendly.

Nestled in the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains (pictured here) amongst the giant Saguaro cactus it certainly is a nice place to unwind for a few days. For the more athletic people there is golf, tennis and hiking. Here is a link to the resort:
The Lodge at Ventana Canyon

For other skies from around the world check out the
Skywatch Friday Home Page

As a side note the top photo was shot with the D700 and 60mm lens and on the other was shot with the D70s with the Sigma 24mm. There is not much of a comparsion as to which I like better.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Butterfly Magic at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

Butterfly Magic at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

Not sure what species of Butterfly this is but it was beautiful and it didn’t mind posing for a couple of shots. This was shot with the D700 and 60mm Micro-Nikkor lens. So far the 60mm is still my favorite and it costs half as much as the 105mm, go figure. Maybe someone can help with the identification of the Butterfly.

This picture was taken at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. We stopped there for 2 days before arriving here in San Diego. Tucson was beautiful and we stayed up in the foothills. It was a nice break to get out of the car and do a little sightseeing and happy snapping.

The Tucson Botanical Gardens are small, relatively speaking, but we loved the place. I felt like I was in a personal garden that was very intimate. Almost like someone’s house that really loved plants but didn’t have to have everything maintained perfectly. The garden was maintained nicely but not overly so. I seem to be able to tell when a garden is built on a lot of love and that was the feeling I got from this one.

There wasn’t a whole lot blooming but we did find some stuff. The Butterfly was in the Butterfly Magic exhibit. There were a lot of Butterflies and they were flying around loose. One even landed on my camera lens while I was shooting a flower picture. Karen got a laugh out of that one.

Link to the Tucson Botanical Garden

Check out the link for a 2 for 1 entry coupon into the Butterfly exhibit. They were kind enough to give me the discount even though I couldn’t print it out. The staff at the garden is wonderful, real plant people if know what I mean.

We are now in San Diego and our little house is a funky California type of place. Not fancy at all, which suits the dogs and us perfectly. Another perfect thing is the weather. It is about 75 degrees and sunny.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Daylily 'Evening Gown'

Hemerocallis 'Evening Gown'
from the Greek words hēmera "day" and kalos "beautiful"
Wordless Wednesday

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bentham's Cornel Dogwood

Bentham's Cornel Dogwood
Cornus capitata
(KOR-nus) (kap-ih-TAY-tuh)
Synonyms: Himalayan Flowering Dogwood, Evergreen Dogwood, Himalayan Strawberry Tree

This tree was growing at a very unique Botanical Garden in Glen Ellen, California (Sonoma County). Our visit in October was fascinating and to read more about the garden click this link.

The Dogwoods were completely covered with these fruits, which were quite a bit larger than the ‘normal’ Cornus kousa we grow here.

There is a variation that is supposedly hardy to USDA Zone 6 called Cornus angustata though both times I tried it didn’t make the winter even after a couple of years. Cornus capitata is hardy to Zone 8 which is two zones warmer than most of Connecticut.

We made it across Texas to El Paso. I found the hill country to beautiful in a stark, abstract way. I had a visit from the Texas Department of Public Safety about three quarters of the way across. Luckily they just issued me a warning. It’s off to Tuscon where we might spend a couple of days before heading to California.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cactus Dahlia

Cactus Dahlia

We haven’t seen any flowers yet other than a brave little Camellia in Central Mississippi. This Dahlia is from this summer at work.

Just as an update we have made it Columbus, Texas, which is a couple hundred miles east of San Antonio. After visiting friends in Arkansas and Mississippi we are on more of a beeline towards the west coast. The weather has been pretty nasty temperature wise (better than home though) but other than a little rain here and there it has cooperated enough to let us keep driving.

Traveling with the dogs is always a bit of a circus and after a little rough start Juno has fallen in with the program. Ruby is a good traveler having been to Florida and Canada a couple of times.

I have my eye out for flowers. I would have tried to shoot a couple pictures of the Camellia we saw but the 30mph wind made that impossible. There have been a few palm tree sightings, which always make me feel better.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Purple Ninebark

Purple Ninebark
Physocarpus opulifolius 'Diabolo'
(fy-so-KAR-pus) (op-yoo-lih-FOH-lee-us)
Synonym: ‘Monlo’

This is the flower of one of the nicest foliage plants to come out in a long time. The dark reddish purple leaves add a lot of drama to the garden. These flowers are almost inconspicuous compared to the leaves. ‘Diabolo’ gets a little bigger than the 4-6 feet advertised; it is quite a vigorous grower. There are several other nice Ninebarks available including the dwarf ‘Summer Wine’, which has smaller leaves and stays a lot shorter. I am also partial to Golden Ninebark as it a nice splash of color. Most Ninebarks require hard pruning every once in awhile.

Today we are loading up the car and driving out to California from Connecticut. Ruby, Juno, the computers and quite few cameras are going. Oh and of course Karen is going too. There may not be many updates for the next couple of days although I am interested in trying Blogging on the road. Certainly when we get to San Diego I plan on taking a lot of pictures and posting regularly.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Caucasian Daphne

Caucasian Daphne
Daphne caucasica
(DAF-nee) (kaw-KAS-ee-kuh)

This little flower was blooming on November 1st, which is pretty late for this area. I am not going to recommend Daphne for most gardeners. My experience is that they are difficult to grow and prone to sudden death. If you approach them with the attitude they you are going to possibly lose them then go ahead. Their fragrance is one of the best in the garden.

This plant was bought by a client at a plant sale as Daphne caucasica but I still have my doubts. Selecting an area with lean, neutral pH soil and above excellent drainage is important. They like a little shade during the winter. I like mounding them up a little and try to keep the summer watering to a minimum.

There is a variegated form called ‘Carol Mackie’ (Daphne x burkwoodii) that is a little easier to grow. It is a cross between D. cneorum and D. caucasica. We have been growing a couple patches of that and it seems to be a little more perennial than some of the other species. Sometimes after a cold winter they are completely defoliated and look dead but they usually releaf and look good fairly quickly in the spring. My favorite of the over 75 species is Rose Daphne (Daphne cneorum) but I have given up growing it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Peppermint Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia 'Peppermint'
(KAL-mee-uh) (lat-ee-FOH-lee-uh)
Synonyms: Ivybush, Calico Bush, Spoonwood, Sheep Laurel, Lambkill, Clamoun

Today’s flower is one of the best native flowering shrubs that grows in this area. The species has a white flower and often forms thickets in areas where it is happy. ‘Peppermint’ is a cultivar and like most of the garden origin varieties it grows smaller than the wild plants.

Mountain Laurel is the state flower of both Connecticut and Pennsylvania. It generally blooms in late May and June with flowers that can last two to three weeks if the conditions are good. That is nice since it kind of extends the Rhododendron and Azalea seasons, both of which it is related to. The wood is strong and grows in underground burls which are valuable for furniture and tobacco pipes. Mountain Laurel seems to grow in sun or shade here and likes moisture. I have found that it does not do well in foundation plantings or too much shade. It is very difficult to transplant native plants but we have done it before.

When I first started gardening there were virtually no cultivars available and now there are many ranging from striped, banded and almost completely red ones. Most of the cultivar development has been done by Connecticut plantsman Richard Jaynes. His book, Kalmia: Mountain Laurel and Related Species, is one of my favorite plant books and is a must for anyone wanting to know more about Mountain Laurel. Mr. Jaynes now runs Broken Arrow Nurseries in Hamden, Connecticut. It is a nice nursery with a lot of rare and unusual treasures. Mr. Jaynes is usually there and will talk plants with you. The nursery is doing some mail order now but in the past I have always picked up things.

Here is a link to a page with a lot of cultivars:
Mountain Laurel Cultivars
For more flowers from around the world check out Today’s Flowers.
It starts at 6pm GMT.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dwarf Snapdragon

Dwarf Snapdragon
Antirrhinum majus 'Montego Yellow'(an-TEE-ry-num) (MAY-jus)

One plant that I would like plant next year are Snapdragons. These flowers were growing in a commercial planting that somebody thankfully left a tag in. For many years we stopped growing them because of various cultural problems and the fact that you just don’t see them very often especially at the wholesale places. Sometimes when a flower falls out of favor you need to retry it later since the breeding on the annuals eliminates the past problems. One of the nicest things about Snapdragons is they are quite cold tolerant and can extend the season in the spring and fall.

These yellow Snaps would be nice combined with some purple pansies, or even some red ones. All I can do right now is dream about the combinations since it so cold out. What a winter! Here in Connecticut the winters are not too bad but every once in awhile we seem to tap into the polar stuff like today when it was below zero (F) at the house this morning. We are so lucky to have a blanket of snow to insulate the plants. That should help mitigate the damage from the cold temperatures. This is the kind of winter that will teach you to stay in your hardiness zone.

The new computer arrived yesterday so that is taking some time to set up and I have to take the dogs to the vet for a final checkup before the trip.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Connecticut Sunrise and a Rose

Connecticut Sunrise and a Rose

There are certain benefits about living on top of a large hill. The sunrises and sunsets are beautiful and you really don’t have to be worried about getting flooded out. The negatives are the winds and there seems a bit more precipitation. Going down the hill in the winter can be kind of a crapshoot, too.

This picture was taken a couple of days ago with the new 70-300mm VRII Nikon lens at 169mm and the Nikon D700. I am really chomping at the bit to shoot some flower pics with this new camera. Just another week or so and hopefully there will be some flora to try it out on.

Just to keep with the flower picture theme of this blog here is a rose picture from this summer. The rose is a floribunda called ‘Sans Souci’. It is the first rose ever featured on this site that was bred in Italy. This rose really has some nice color shading. Sans Souci is also the name of my favorite beach on Oahu . It is quiet refuge from the storm of Waikiki. We usually stay at the New Otani which isn’t the most plush hotel but we love the location and people.

For other skies around the world check out Skywatch Friday

Thursday, January 15, 2009

White Marigold

White Marigold
Tagetes erecta
(TAG-e-teez) (ee-RECK-tuh)

This White Marigold was from a big container we planted with a flaming red Mandevilla vine, some red Verbena, a couple of different Nemesia and some silver Licorice plant. Almost forgot there was a Cigar plant (Cuphea x purpurea) in there too, which we hadn’t used before.

The conglomeration grew well together. I am never sure how all the different plants will look midseason but it usually works out. Changing some of the elements is always a possibility but that isn’t usually necessary. The different plants usually find their own level and spot to shine.

White Marigold has been discussed here before, including the interesting story of its development.
Link to previous post about White Marigolds

Several (actually many) times over the season I tried to get a picture of the Cigar plant. It seem to resist it every time and no matter how I tried the depth of field wasn’t right. That flower is high on list for next year’s photos.

We are considering trying to get a new Mac laptop to replace the Titanium Powerbook . I want a wifi enable computer. The new ones seem to have better specs and a cheaper price. Just like any electronic purchase it will take hours of research and searching for the best price.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

24mm Lens Test

24mm Lens Test - Wordless Wednesday
Testing the Sigma 24mm lens @ F/1.8 with the new full frame camera. It did well considering the available light.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Yellow Daylily

Yellow Daylily
Hemerocallis 'Jen Melon'

2008 was certainly the year of the Daylily and Dahlia as far as photography was concerned. This yellow Daylily was shot on the Daffodil and Daylily walk at the NYBG on August 3rd. The Daffodil and Daylily Walk as been featured here before and I have to again say that it is a great combination. There are several ‘copies’ of the walk in Southern Connecticut, if you know what I mean. After the Daffs come up and bloom the Daylilies quickly come along and hide the spent bulb foliage. Of course with both species of plants there are a myriad of cultivars to choose from, something to make almost everyone happy. Deer leave the Daffodils alone but the like to eat the Daylilies so it needs to be in a protected area.

Daylilies have to be one of the hardiest and easiest perennials to grow and in my opinion can form the backbone of the perennial garden. They like full sun and are drought tolerant. Depending on the site and cultivar they can need to be divided every three or four years or can go several years without being divided. We usally end up dividing to get new plants. The flowers are edible, which is something I didn’t know and probably won’t try.

‘Jan Melon’ is a large flowered cultivar from Oakes Daylilies and was introduced in 1987. Oakes looks like my kind of place, check out the prices on the clearance sale. I think that I will order a few new cultivars for the Estate. These pictures were shot with the D70s and the 24mm/1.8 Sigma EX lens.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tall Morning Glory

Tall Morning Glory
Ipomoea purpurea 'Grandpa Ott's'

This is a nice Morning Glory. I was happy to see that the NYBG had a sign identifying the cultivar. It’s funny that a lot of people complain that their Morning Glories seed too much but I never seem to get any seedlings from mine and have to plant them every year.

Morning Glory is common name that encompasses 5 different genera and well over 1,000 species. It was first used in China for its medicinal purposes and later exported to Japan around 800 AD. It soon became a treasured ornamental.

Over the years we have grown some interesting types of Morning Glory from seed. It is generally easy to do. The vines like to grow in full sun and not too dry or too wet conditions. The soil doesn’t seem to matter and often times it will grow very well in lean soil.

Now I am off to shovel the snow we got last night. Only about 4 inches of the 10 forecasted fell so the job will be easier. There are a lot of below zero (F) temperatures forecast for the upcoming week. That hasn’t happened here in several years. Maybe I shouldn't have planted those Crepe Myrtles last summer :lol:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More Archive Pictures – Orchids

More Archive Pictures – Orchids

While wading through the archives on my computer I found these Orchid pictures from the NYBG show. Backing up everything on the computer is proving to be a chore but the added benefit is getting rid of some useless stuff. The upgrade went well and instead of upgrading the processor we just tried doubling the RAM, which has helped with the speed issues. Since my computer is a Quicksilver 2002 it should really be replaced next year. Getting a new computer is actually a hassle to me especially since the operating system will have to be upgraded to 10.5 (leopard) and I really like 10.4 (tiger).

Today’s Orchids were shot with the Nikon Coolpix 8400 compact camera. While going through the photos of the show it was nice to remember the sights and smells. Hopefully we will be back from California in time to see this year’s show. Seeing the start of the show is best because the flowers are freshest.

Epidendrum Fantasy Valley ‘Starburst’

Epidendrums are easy to grow and although the flower is smaller it blooms in such nice colors and masses of flowers that it is special. These Orchids are Epiphytic, which means they “grow upon or attaches to a living plant.” The name Epidendrum comes from Greek meaning ‘upon trees”.

While rummaging through the pictures I have decided to put a couple of six picture portfolios together and enter them in the International Garden Photographer of the Year contest by Kew Gardens. It’s not that I think I am good enough to win but more of just trying to take a critical look at the pictures and see what I can work on this year.

We have another big snow storm forecast for today. So far Connecticut has gotten a lot of snow and ice this winter. A polar outbreak is supposed to follow the storm (great). We are usually dancing on the rain/snow line here during the winter and lately the rain as stayed just to the south by as little as 25 miles.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Lantana Trees

Lantana Trees
Lantana camara
(lan-TAN-a) (kuh-MAR-uh)
Synonyms: Shrub Verbena

Lantana can stir up some heat as you discuss it with other gardeners. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground. Personally, Lantana is always a good performer in our gardens and it doesn’t seem to be as water hungry or afraid of the hot summer temperatures as most of the other annuals. Of course we don’t have to deal with the seeding and wild varieties that make this an invasive plant. To some people this plant is an unwelcome scourge.

Even if you don’t like Lantana you would probably find these trees impressive. Not sure how old they are but they imparted kind of a regal and ancient feeling. It was over a 100 degrees F when these photos were taken at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, New York. The Lantana wasn’t even flinching but some of the other plants were showing some strain of the heat. I am not sure which variety this is but I like the bold colors as opposed to some Lantanas that have kind of washed out pastel type colors.

We often use Lantana in containers and occasionally over winter it in the greenhouse. It does seem to get a little susceptible to white flies but other than it does pretty well. There are getting to be some nice colored cultivars now and some of them seem to be a little smaller growing.

My computer is going in for an upgrade and they couldn’t tell me how long it would take so I maybe off the air here for a while.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tickseed - Coreopsis 'Redshift'

Coreopsis 'Redshift'

Last year we used two new (to us) Coreopsis cultivars. There seems to be so many now. These were both ordered from a wholesale nursery without any real idea of how they would perform. Both of them did great and the only test now is if they come back next year. That usually isn’t a problem with Coreopsis and both of these flowers are rated to USDA Zone 4 (cold).

‘Redshift’ was interesting as the flower colors get more red as the season progresses and the nights get cooler. At 3 feet tall it is a little taller that ‘Sweet Dreams’ and that made it a little more floppy, but livable. This cultivar is from the new ‘Big Bang’ series developed by Darrell Probst of Hubbardston, Massachusetts. He is a leading expert in the field of Epimediums. I am interested to see where the ‘Big Bang’ series goes.

Pink Tickseed
Coreopsis rosea 'Sweet Dreams'

This plant did really well and each time I visited the garden it was planted in it seemed to be blooming profusely. The color is nice and rich and different from most Coreopsis. ‘Sweet Dreams’ was a natural mutation from C. roseaAmerican Dream’. It took minimal care and produced well in the garden, two good ingredients in any plant.

Coreopsis rosea is a separate species and I don’t think it has the drought and heat tolerance of some of the other species of Coreopsis. It does look like C. verticillata (the more common garden plant) but is a bit more delicate. These plants were under irrigation and got a bit of afternoon shade so that maybe the reason they did so well.

We got an ice storm here last night. Luckily it warmed up enough that the last bit was mostly plain rain. The trees are encased with ice and there seems to be some broken branches here and there. Overall it could have been a lot worse.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Pink Chrysanthemum

Pink Chrysanthemum

Wordless Wednesday


Digitalis purpurea

Another shot from the summer archives. Customers are always asking for patches of Foxglove and we have been working on ways to keep them going. Digitalis is a mostly biennial around here. Sometimes a few plants live for more than one year but hardly enough to make an impressive stand. My new way of dealing with this is to buy some new plants every year to supplement any that over wintered or seeded. I have also found not mulching in the Foxglove areas is conducive to getting more seedlings.

Part of doing this blog is so I can learn new information about the flowers that are pictured here and my botanical knowledge has increased dramatically since starting it. When researching Foxglove I was amazed to see all the species, subspecies and cultivars that are available. Most are not seen at garden centers so I am thinking of trying to grow some from seed. That is a two year process until they bloom, however. As a gardener I am always trying to think two or three years ahead so that isn’t a stretch.

In addition to seeing all the new cultivars I learned the basis for the common name of Foxglove. Surprisingly it doesn’t have anything to do with foxes. It is thought that it is a corruption of the phrase ‘folk’s gloves’ referring to fairy folk that used flowers as gloves. The Latin term Digitalis refers to the flowers, which are finger like when emerging.

In general Foxgloves are easy to grow but I have found that when they are happy they tend to thrive. They don’t like wet and dry extremes and do better with a little shade. There doesn’t seem to be too many pests and diseases that affect them. Many of the taller varieties require staking, which is a little bit of work. We now insert a stake at planting time.

This is a picture of Verbena boranensis that I had laying around.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Two Orchids

Beallara Pacific TreasuresEverything Nice

A couple of Orchids to start off the week, along with some freezing rain here. Both of these Orchids were growing at a local wholesale Orchid nursery. They have quite a collection of varieties and types and usually there are a good number in flower. They grow a lot and also have the ‘exotics’ shipped in every Tuesday.

The Sigma EX 24mm/1.8 did a nice job considering the amount of light that was available. In general it is a nice lens and gives you a good chance to get the shot.

This second Orchid is ‘Vuylstekeara Fall In Love’, I think. It is pronounced vul-stek-ee-AH-ruh. This is like the trigeneric hybrid that was featured here a couple of weeks ago. The three genus contributors are Miltonia x Odontoglossum x Cochlioda. I try and never get intimidated by the fancy names of the Orchid genera and species. I just learn them when I can but first and foremost appreciate the beauty of the flower.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Scarlet Leadwort

Scarlet Leadwort
Plumbago indica
(plum-BAY-go) (IN-dih-kuh)
Synonyms: Plumbago coccinea, P. rosea
Today's Flowers

This is a beautiful red version of Plumbago photographed last year in the Conservatory at Wave Hill Gardens in the Bronx.

It took me a little by surprise, as I hadn’t seen the red flowered form before. Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) is a favorite flower of mine. We northern gardeners don’t have the rambling plantings of it like the tropical people do. So it is a little more special and less common to me. Scarlet Plumbago hardy down to 10 degrees F (USDA Zone 8a) and blooms this time of year. I will have to try growing some in a container. The Blue or Cape Plumbago is a native of South Africa where the red flower species is native to India and Sri Lanka. There are about 15 to 20 total species in the genus.

Plumbago has several medicinal uses as seen on this page. Please be careful as the page states “Caution: Use this carefully. High doses are dangerous and can cause death” and “Taken in large doses, this herb can cause paralysis leading ultimately to death.” Sometimes a little of something is better than a lot of it.

Too bad this little plant isn’t in flower as the color is a brilliant red. Graptopetalum (Graptopetalum amethystinum) is a rare plant from the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains of central Mexico. It is commonly know as Lavender Pebbles or Jewel leafed plant. They are related to the Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) and Kalanchoe.

For more flowers from around the world check out
Today’s Flowers home page. It starts after 7pm GMT.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Patch of Coneflowers

Patch of Coneflowers
Echinacea purpurea
(ek-in-AY-shee-a) (pur-PUR-ee-uh)

Pink and White Coneflower go together nicely. When we plant something like this I usually select one kind (pink or white) of a standard cultivar (one that grows and flowers strong) with one of the weaker and showier cultivars. There are a lot of Coneflower photos on this site. They are easy to grow and add a lot to the summer garden. If you are faithful about cutting them back after they have their initial bloom you can extend the flowering time by several weeks.

The DVD writer in my computer has not been working well for a couple of months so it has been very frustrating backing up files. Finally I ordered a external DVD/CD burner and it arrived yesterday. I went from 4x to 24x speed and have been burning a whole new set of back up disks. It is hard to describe the feeling of relief that is. The software that came with it is pretty nice. Full copies of ProSoft Data Backup3 and NTI’s Dragon Burn for free. I was literally burning a disk five minutes after opening the box. Last night I backed up the main hard disk (with the system and software files) and made a bootable back up copy of everything.

Among the great stuff for Christmas that Santa left me was a lot of new music. Some CDs and a couple of nice size download cards. So far my favorite has been Chet Atkins, Picks on the Beatles. Of course Chet is probably my all time favorite guitar player and it is interesting to hear how he interpreted the Beatles songs. Not to knock George Harrison but it made me wonder what it would have been like if the Beatles had a guitar player like Chet.

The Coneflower pictures are a little series that moves away for each shot. That is pretty much how I approach a stand of flowers. I tried to force myself to take more group shots last year and it is something I am going to keep after this year.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Manhattan Snapshots

Manhattan Snapshots

These are a few more pictures from my trip to Manhattan last weekend. Trying to learn the controls and variables of this camera is a little daunting. It wasn’t easy shooting with prime lens in the sea of humanity by Rockefeller Center. It was just a crush of people. Karen wants to go down and see the tree so if we go I am going to try and reshoot some of these. Maybe next week some of the tourists will clear out of town.

Taking a picture of a theater marquee is something that is hard to resist for me. Foot traffic had to come to a halt for a second while this picture of Radio City was snapped. People didn’t really seem to mind but there was literally only seconds to get the shot.

These pictures of tree didn’t come out very well but I thought I would post them anyway. Since it was around 3 o’clock in the afternoon it wasn’t dark but wasn’t twilight either. I am posting these just so you can see kind of what the tree looked like. It was quite beautiful this year.

The fountain shot is next to the ice skating rink. I was quite far away and the few shots that I took with the 70-300mm lens came out ok. It will be really nice to use the lens when the sun is out. The statue of Prometheus was sculpted by Paul Manship in 1934. The quotation in the back reads, “Prometheus, teacher in every art, brought the fire to Earth that hath proven to mortals a means to mighty ends.” The fountain is almost 18 feet tall and weighs 8 tons.

These next two photos were test shots. The photo of my lunch mates in the park was taken with the 60mm. The auto focus on the D700 is amazing. I was holding the camera away from my face and down along the ground. The remarkable thing to me is that this photo was shot in the portrait orientation and was cropped to the landscape format. The cropped picture is almost as big as a D70 photo. The second picture was a snapshot I took in the big hallway that connects Wall and Pine Streets. You can enter the subway inside there too. Well at least you used to be able too, before 9/11. When I took this picture I remember saying to myself there’s no way this will come out since it is dark in here. The camera really surprised me when I got home and it had figured out the exposure pretty well.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year - Fireworks

Happy New Year - Fireworks

I would like to wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year. In a lot of ways I am glad to say goodbye to 2008.

These fireworks pictures are from 2005 and were shot in Somerset, England. I had a tripod and my Nikon Coolpix 5400, which is a compact 5 megapixel camera. The fireworks kind of look like flowers to me. Just about everything here is going to be pictures from the archives until we get out to California.

The Internet was out all morning here probably due to the high winds. We really had some monster winds last night. Now it is just cold.