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Posts Tagged ‘Lowbush Blueberry’

This post is about firsts as much as anything else; the first post I’ve ever done in black and white and the first post that’s been about photography more than the subjects of the photos. This is also the first time I’ve had to see things so very differently, and for that I have Patrick Muir to thank. Patrick has a blog called Patrick’s Garden, which you can visit by clicking here. He saw the first black and white photo to ever appear on this blog and challenged me to do an entire post in black and white, so Patrick, this one is for you.

 1. Dead Tree in Ice

I thought I’d start at the beginning with this photo of a dead tree that I posted back in December. Though I admire photos by people like Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange I haven’t ever been very interested in black and white photography, but then I saw a black and white photo on Tootlepedal’s blog (another one worth a visit) and thought it might be fun to give it a try. I found out by doing this little project that color can actually be a distraction and a hindrance, and sometimes you don’t really see until you remove the distraction.

 2. Dim Sun

Often in winter the world is more black and white than anything else so it was no work at all to turn the photo above and the first photo of the dead tree to black and white. If I showed both the color and black and white versions side by side you could barely tell which was which.

 3. Pixie Cup Lichens

These pixie cup lichens (Cladonia asahinae) are the color of wood ash but many times they look almost white in a certain light. They have a granular, pebbly surface and the absence of color makes it much easier to see.

4. Japanese Knotweed Seed 

This is the seed pod of Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum). The plant itself is a terribly invasive weed that is almost impossible to eradicate, but its tiny whitish seeds have three wings that fly 120 degrees apart, and make up a papery husk around the seed. I never noticed the texture of their wings until I saw them in black and white.

 5. Icicles  in Black and White

Ice and water seem to make good candidates for black and white photography. The icicles are much easier to see.

6. Mushrooms on a Log 

Long time readers of this blog have probably heard me talk about my colorblindness at one time or another. The kind I have isn’t severe but, though I can see red and green traffic lights, if a red cardinal lands in a green tree he disappears. The above photo was rejected because it was (to me) monochromatic, showing only varying shades of brown. The mushrooms almost blended into the background but in the black and white version they really stand out.

7. Tree Wound 

Tree wounds can be interesting but this one seems even more so in black and white. The absence of color helps me to think more about shape and texture.

 8. White Poplar Leaf

If you find something that looks like a maple leaf but has a deep green upper surface and a pure white underside, it is a leaf from a white poplar (Populus alba). Making this photo black and white did nothing to the leaf-it really was as snow white as it appears in the photo.

 9. Mushroom Gills

I like how the texture of the oak leaf that this tiny mushroom cap is sitting on becomes almost reptilian when seen this way.

 10. Hoar Frost

The dark water and white hoar frost again meant little change when this photo became black and white.

11. Gray Birches in Winter 

This photo of gray birches (Betula populifolia) was another one that showed little change from color to black and white.

12. Lowbush Blueberry Blossoms 

Last September, on a very foggy morning, I climbed Mount Caesar in Swanzey and found a lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) blooming long after any blueberry should have been. I posted the color version of this photo then, but I like the black and white version more. The water droplets make sense because of the dense fog, but I still can’t figure out what would have caused the bubbles on these tiny blossoms.

This was a fun post, if for no other reason than forcing me to climb out of my comfort zone and try something new. I feel though, because black and white photography is very easy in the winter when the world is black and white, that I’ve cheated a bit, so I’ll do another black and white post in the summer or fall. I have a feeling that will be a real challenge.

To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul. ~ Andri Cauldwell

Thanks for coming by. 

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Here are a few more of those things that never seem to make it into regular posts.

 1. Alberta Wild Rose Hips aka  Rosa acicularis or prickly rose

Color is everywhere you look right now and nothing represents the color red better than rose hips. I’ve never seen such prickly ones before, but I think these are the fruits of the Alberta wild rose (Rosa acicularis), which is also called prickly rose.

 2. Baby Spider Nest

Some friends told me about a large spider nest on one of their plants, so I tried to get some photos of it. It wasn’t easy.

 3. Baby Spiders

A closer look at the nest shows that it was full of hundreds of baby spiders. These were near water and I’m wondering if they were fishing spiders.

 4. Black Chanterelle

Earlier this year I found some rarely seen black chanterelle mushrooms (Craterellus cornucopioides.) This mushroom is also called the deep purple horn of plenty and I really didn’t expect to ever find them again but here they are.

5. Dead Man's Finger

Another mushroom I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see was dead man’s fingers (Xylaria longipes) but I saw two examples recently. This black “finger” was about two inches long and was hard to see. Scientists recently discovered that this fungus will affect spruce wood used for violin making in such a way as to make instruments made from it virtually identical in tone to s Stradivarius violin.  Stradivarius cut his wood during the cold winter months and the wood had a very low density. Dead man’s finger fungus works on wood at the cellular level to make it denser and at a recent test event an audience of 180 people couldn’t tell the difference between the tone of a Stradivarius and a new violin played with wood treated with this fungus. I assume that the audience was well versed in violin music and would know about such things.

 6. Orange Mycena Mushrooms

I found more orange mycena mushrooms (Mycena leaiana) growing on a log. I like to get a view of the gills on these little mushrooms if I can. Scientists have found that the compound that makes this mushroom orange has antibiotic properties.

 7. Burning Bush Foliage

The leaves of burning bush (Euonymus alatus) go from green to crimson to purplish pink and, before they fall, will fade to a light, pastel pink. In the fall drifts of this shrub in the forest are truly a beautiful sight. Unfortunately the red berries make it one of the most invasive shrubs known. So invasive in fact, that buying or selling this shrub is against the law in New Hampshire. Unfortunately the genie is out of the bottle and I think that it is here to stay. This shrub is also called winged euonymus and is originally from northern Asia.

 8. Hobblebush Leaves

Hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides) leaves change color slowly, with the veins last to go. Viburnums have been used by man in many ways since before recorded history. The Neolithic “Iceman” found frozen in the Alps was carrying arrow shafts made from a European Vibunum wood.

 9. Maple Leaf Viburnum Foliage

Maple leaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium) leaves become light, pastel pink before they fall, much like the burning bush. These examples were kind of splotchy, with green still showing. This is the smallest of our native viburnums, usually only 3-4 feet tall and its berries are dark blue-black. It grows mainly at the edge of the forest.

10. Indian Pipes

Indian pipes (Monotropa uniflora) are still poking up out of the ground despite the cooler nights.

11. Indian Pipe Seed Capsule

Most Indian pipes look like this at this time of year. When its flower has been pollinated Indian pipe raises its nodding head and begins to turn brown and woody. Over time its dust like seeds will be released. Next year’s flower buds form in the fall, but don’t break ground until it is warm enough.

 12. Toadskin Lichen

Common toad skin lichen (Lasallia papulosa) has a pit on its underside for every wart on its face. These warty bumps are called pustules. Like many lichens this one changes color, becoming greener as it gets wetter. I kind of like the blue-gray color this one was when I found it.

13. Crown Vetch

Crown vetch (Securigera varia) still blooms in the tall grass on roadsides. This plant has been used extensively on the sides of larger roads and highways to prevent erosion. We haven’t had a hard frost or freeze yet, so it might bloom for a while yet.

14. Lowbush Blueberry Blossoms

One foggy morning I met a very confused lowbush blueberry blooming about 6 months later than usual. The fog explained the water droplets, but I don’t know what would have caused the bubble. If it is a bubble-maybe it was just another water droplet that was an over achiever.

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. ~Frank Lloyd Wright

Thanks for stopping in.

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Since New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the country after Maine, with 84% of the land forested, forests are easy places to explore. More difficult is finding untouched places that are as close to true wilderness as you can get, but it can be done. I visited one such place last weekend.

1. Forest

In these pockets of older, sometimes protected forest there are often no marked trails or other signs of civilization, so it is wise to be well prepared if you decide to penetrate them very deeply. People get lost in these forests year round-even experienced hikers and hunters.

2. Violets

Violets always make a hike more pleasant. This one had very downy stems, and that makes me think that it was an ovate leaved violet (Viola fimbriatula.) The only trouble with that line of thought is, ovate leaved violets are supposed to be purple and my color finding software tells me that these are very blue.

3. Anemones

In places hundreds of anemones carpeted the forest floor. As I moved on I realized that, instead of feeling thankful for the beautiful scene before me, I was wishing that the anemones were white trilliums like the amazing displays I’ve seen on Michigan and Ohio blogs. I need to work on gratitude.

4. Low Bush Blueberry

Low bush blueberry bushes (Vaccinium angustifolium) grow in great profusion in any spot that gets enough of sunlight. The berries are an important food source for bear, deer, and many other animals and birds.

5. Beaver Pond

This forest has low, wet places made even wetter by beavers. Beaver ponds are active for an average of 30 years and the first stage in creating one is damming a stream to form a pond. Our native trees aren’t meant to live with their roots under water because they take in a lot of oxygen through them, so living trees in an area like this means it was flooded recently.

6. Old Beaver Pond

This was another wet area that looked to be in the process of becoming a sunny clearing with a stream running through it. The dead trees show that this was once a forest that became a pond. Older beaver ponds fill with silt or the beavers move away and their dams erode enough to drain the land. In either case the beaver pond of today will eventually revert back to forest. When the forest has re-established itself and there are enough trees for beavers to eat they will come back and again flood the land in a slow but ever repeating cycle. I feel lucky that I was able to see both the birth and death of beaver ponds without having to travel very far.

7. Goldthread

Three leaf goldthread (Coptis trifolia) is very happy in moist places. This plant gets its common name from its bright, golden yellow roots. Both Native Americans and colonials used goldthread to treat soreness in the mouth, hence the common name “canker root.” It is said to be very bitter.

 8. Starflower

Starflowers (Trientalis borealis) grow all through the forest and make use of any place that might get an hour or two of sunlight.  The Trientalis part of the scientific name means “one third of a foot” and relates to the plant’s 4 inch height. Two or three flowers are the usual number for this plant but each year I like to try to find the plants with the most flowers. I think my record is four.

9. Foamflower Blossoms

Heartleaf foamflowers (Tiarella cordifolia) like to grow in moist, shady places. This plant is a good example of how wildflowers becoming garden flowers. People liked this plant enough to create a demand for it and nurserymen obliged by collecting its seed and growing it for sale. Of course, plant breeders also got ahold of it and have bred many new and unusual varieties.

 10. Strawberry

Wild strawberries (Fragaria virginiana) like sunny spots and help keep the forest inhabitants well fed.

 11. Foliose Lichen

All kinds of lichens fall from the tree tops and litter the forest floor. I think this one is a fringed wrinkle lichen (Tuckermenopsis americana) but there are many that look very similar so I’m not 100% certain. Lichens can be very hard to identify because they change color as they dry out, and then when it rains change back to their “normal” color again. That’s why serious lichen hunters only hunt for them after it rains.

12. Unknown Fungs

The fungus growing from under the bark of this tree reminded me of those dinner rolls that come in a tube and pop out if you smack them hard enough.  I’ve looked through three mushroom identification books and haven’t found anything that resembles it.

13. Hobblebush Blossoms

Hobblebushes (Viburnum alnifolium) grow in the clearings and along the edges of the forest. Hobblebush grows very low to the ground and is known for tripping up, or “hobbling” both men and horses.

 14. Hobblebush Blossoms

The flowers are beautiful but deceiving. The fertile flowers are small and form in the center of the flat topped flower cluster (corymb). Larger and showier infertile flowers ring the outer edge of the cluster. This shrub is a favorite of mine and has been very popular for a long time. Even Gorge Washington grew them in his garden.

There is a love of wild nature in everybody, an ancient mother-love showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties. ~ John Muir

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These photos are of what nature has shown me over the last week or so.

1. Hornet's Nest

Piece of a hornet’s nest blew down onto the snow, so I had to get a picture of it. It looks very abstract and I wonder if I would guess that it was a picture of part of a hornet’s nest if I didn’t already know.

2. Hornet's Nest

When I took pictures of it with the new Panasonic macro master camera, it was even more abstract, but also more interesting and beautiful.

3. Goldspeck LichenCommon gold speck lichen (Candelariella vitellina) grows on granite rock in full sun. This crustose lichen grows in small patches in this area so I always need a macro lens for it. The fruit bearing bodies of this lichen are tiny, flat discs-so small that I’m not even sure that I could get a picture of them.

4. Turtlehead Seed Pods

I took a picture of turtlehead blossoms (Chelone glabra) last fall and wrote that I didn’t really see any resemblance to a real turtle’s head. A friend said just the opposite-he thought the blossoms looked just like turtle heads. Now, on the other side of the solstice, the seed pods do remind me of turtle heads- a bunch of hungry, snapping turtle heads. According to the U.S. Forest Service this native plant is also called balmony, bitter herb, codhead, fish mouth, shellflower, snakehead, snake mouth, and turtle bloom.

5. Hawthorn

The hawthorn (Crataegus species) is a tree that doesn’t mess around and is not about to be used as browse for moose and deer. Its 1-1/2 inch long thorns are every bit as sharp as they look, and they keep the browsers away. The unlucky person who finds themselves tangled in a hawthorn thicket will most likely need some new clothes. And maybe some time to heal.

6. Lowbush Blueberry in Snow

I like the way the branching structure of shrubs and trees is so visible in the winter .This is a low bush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) no more than 8 inches tall.

7. Oak Leaf on Snow

Something about this oak leaf on top of the snow grabbed me, but I’m not sure what it was. Maybe that it seemed so alone.

8. Rose Hips

Rose hips are the fruit of a rose. In this case the plant is a multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora,) which is considered an invasive species. Its small red hips are one of the most colorful things in the winter landscape. Unfortunately, birds like them and spread them everywhere. I think I could have worked on the depth of field a little more in this picture, but you get the idea.

 9. Intermediate Woodfern

Intermediate woodfern (Dryopteris spinulosa var. intermedia) doesn’t let a little snow slow it down. This is one of our native evergreen ferns and is also called American shield fern, evergreen woodfern, or fancy fern. This clump I saw growing on a boulder was smaller than my hand.

10. Tall Grass I drive by this clump of tall grass quite often and have admired not only its 4 foot height, but also its resilience. It’s been through two snow storms and still stands proud as the tallest weed in the field. 

11. Oak Leaves Close Up

I took a couple of pictures of a cluster of oak leaves that interested me because of the way they hung-they seemed to all be clasping each other, trying to stay warm. When I got home and looked at the photo though, I didn’t like it. Then I cropped it just to see what would happen, and it became an entirely different picture that I do like.

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is, in the eyes of others, only a green thing that stands in the way ~William Blake

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As I write this the weatherman is telling me that we will see the 20s tonight, so that will be the end of flowering for all but the hardiest plants for this year. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been watching to see which plants were going to hold on until the very end.                       

The last thing I expected to see were low-bush blueberries blossoming (Vaccinium angustifolium,) but here they are. 

This striped wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata) didn’t have any flowers but I think the leaves are as beautiful as the flowers. They turn a deep purple color as it gets colder. This plant is also called spotted wintergreen but I don’t know why because it isn’t spotted at all. Native Americans used this plant medicinally and as a flavoring. It is still used to flavor some candies today. From what I have seen it is very rare in this area, and might be endangered.

A few asters are still blooming where they were protected from frost. Goldenrod (Solidago) also still blooms were it has been protected by overhanging tree branches. Last year I saw a dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) blooming on December 21st. This one might make it to that date-it looked good and healthy.

Fern leaved bleeding heart (Dicentra) can take a lot of cold and often survives light frosts. This plant had a lot of trouble with the dryness this summer. I found this display of chrysanthemums and asters at the local college. They even had ornamental cabbage and kale tucked in here and there. Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is probably the flower most seen here right now. It can take a lot of cold and will survive heavy frost. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium ) is going into its second blooming period and I‘ve been seeing it regularly. Sweet everlasting (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium) holds its flowers in tight buds that seem to never open, but I came across this plant with open flowers. What look like petals are actually bracts that open and fall off as the seed ripens. This plant is also called rabbit tobacco and resembles pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea.Common Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) is another plant that holds its disc flowers with no petals in tight buds, but these had opened slightly. Tansy is a cultivated plant that has escaped into the wild. It is also a very old plant and has been used medicinally for centuries. Tansy is also an excellent natural insect repellent and in colonial times meat was often packed in its leaves.

Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower ~Hans Christian Andersen

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