7-Day Nature Photo Challenge – pt 5

Winter relinquishes its hold

I was nominated by a fellow blogger, Stella of  Giggles & Tales, for a 7-Day Nature Photo Challenge.  Stella’s blog is always full of interesting posts, which are a blend of poetry, photography and perspectives on the world around her.  Go check her blog out!!

After a brief hiatus to catch up with things, here we continue for the final three days of the challenge…

Spring’s Thaw

This image came from a walk in early Spring 2011, on a beautiful day that showed the promise of the season that had just commenced.  Walking by this small pond, my eye caught the interesting aspect of having two distinct types of reflection at work: the slightly rippled water and the not-quite-perfect ice.

What attracted me about these reflections is not only the difference, but also the similarity.  In transition from water to ice, the character of the reflection is preserved, as can be seen in a number of the birch trunks.  But then, we also see that the reflection is more muted and diffuse in the ice.

Hope you enjoy this image, as Spring moves forward in the Northern Hemisphere.

Technical Details

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mk II using an EF 24-105mm f/4L lens.  Exposure settings were 1/80 second with f/9 at 400 ISO.

The Rules

Post a #naturephoto every day and nominate another blogger for this challenge.


The challenge of nominating a fellow blogger…  Walking with a Smacked Pentax is a truly fantastic blog with beautiful images of the sights of Northern England.  Go check out this talented, creative blog!  If he accepts this challenge, I look forward to the results!

Monday Food Moment – Adzuki Beans

Simple, yet effective

Today, I’m presenting you a food that is not extremely glamorous, but, nonetheless, should be considered for a starring role in your diet: the Adzuki bean.

Simple Ingredients

This little bean hails from East Asia and was later crossbred with native bean species in the Himalayas.  The earliest known archaeological evidence of this bean comes from the Awazu-kotei Ruin (Shiga prefecture) of the Japanese mid-Jōmon period of 4000 BCE, and later occurs commonly in many Jomon sites of between 4000 BCE and 2000 BCE in Japan.  The analysis of the unearthed beans indicates that it first was cultivated in Japan during the period from 4000 BCE to 2000 BCE. In China and Korea, specimens from ruins date from 3000 BCE to 1000 BCE, and these are thought to be cultivated ones

The adzuki bean is commonly used in a sweet, dessert bean paste across Asia; it can also be used in bean salads and makes a wonderful soup ingredient.

Some of the nutritional benefits of the adzuki

1. No fats

Even though adzuki beans (especially when they are dry) are rich in calories, they are free of fat content. One cup of dry adzuki beans is estimated to contain only a gram of fat. These beans contain saturated fat of not more than 4 grams.

2. High in fiber

Besides being rich in calories and proteins, these beans are also a great source of fiber. The main benefit of dietary fiber is promoting satiety as well as regulating the levels of both sugar and cholesterol respectively.

3. High in protein

Dry adzuki beans are an ideal menu option for high-protein diets. Protein is quite essential in the human body since it aids in building and repairing worn out body tissues, hormones and cells.

4. Minerals and vitamins

Dry adzuki beans have a certain amount of various minerals. Some of the minerals contained in these beans include calcium, phosphorous and magnesium. Dry adzuki beans are, however, not too rich in vitamins. Nevertheless, these beans contain vitamin A, vitamin B-9 and Folate.

Health Benefits of Adzuki Beans

1. Improve bowel movement

Since they have a high fiber content, adzuki beans greatly improve bowel movement. This helps in keeping the digestive system smooth, thus preventing constipation. The fiber contained in these beans also helps in preventing colon cancer.

2. Stabilize cholesterol level

Due to high concentration of soluble fiber in adzuki beans, these beans are ideal for stabilizing the cholesterol level. They also help in eliminating cholesterol and toxins from the body.

3. Prevent breast cancer

Adzuki beans have certain components that help kill cancerous tissues. Consuming a cup of these beans on a regular basis lowers the risk of getting breast cancer among women. These beans can also be consumed to lower the risk of getting different types of cancers.

4. Treat bladder infections and urinary dysfunction

The high amount of soluble fiber in adzuki beans helps in treating bladder infections and urinary dysfunction in both men and women. This soluble fiber has a soothing effect and is thus ideal for healing an infected bladder and urinary tract.

5. Lose weight

Since they are rich in soluble fibers, adzuki beans help keep your stomach full for relatively long hours. Therefore, these beans will keep you satiated for long hours. They are also rich in protein and can therefore help in keep sugar levels low. As a result, they help in keeping weight off.

So, go try some of these beneficial beans; you can find creative and tasty recipes that will please even the most distinguishing palate.

WPC – Half-Light

Coming out of the water…

Another episode of Half-Light, the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge . This one is a little more ethereal or even spectral, with a nod to this day in one religion.

Spectral Apparition

Marcellus to Horatio and Bernardo after seeing the ghost:

Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,
This bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,
The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.

— Hamlet Act I, Scene I
William Shakespeare

In response to WordPress Daily Post – Weekly Photo Challenge – Half-Light

Cheap Sunglasses

Flying through space…

One of the areas of photography that I enjoy is product photography.  One of the reasons is that there is always the challenge of making the product you’re shooting look even better than it is.

As part of building my portfolio, I set myself some challenges along those lines, one of which I present to you here.

Beam me up, Scotty!

My goal with this shoot was to make these $4 sunglasses look like an expensive pair.  When you look at advertising of high-end sunglasses with those high-end lens coatings, you always get this warm glow from the lenses; of course, silver mirror-lenses get a completely different treatment.

When shooting reflective surfaces, the photographer’s first worry is to control what is reflected in the surface, as you want to control what is visible in the image.  In this case, I allowed the one softbox to reflect, but managed to keep everything else in my studio out of the reflections.

The second tricky part in capturing image is the black.  One might think that black is pretty straightforward; if you try to create a black background in camera while lighting your subject, any light spillage results in losing that perfect black.  Of course, it can be fixed in post-processing, but it never has that same look that you get from shooting it properly.  Judicious utilization of gobos (go between objects), can ensure that no light spills on your precious background.

Note that I added a little bit of light toward the end of the temples, so that they don’t disappear and to add a bit of visual interest.

How much post-processing was done?  Very little, as I only had to remove the very thin, non-reflective thread that supported the temples and a smidgen of sharpening.

Oh, and of course, you want to know how much did these sunglasses cost:  about $4 at Wal-Mart.

Hope you enjoyed this little tour of a product shot.


Full Disclosure Sunday

Do you hear snowbells?

Last week was a bit of a slump on posting, as I started the week on the road to attend New Hire Orientation at headquarters of the company I just joined; it took me most of the week to get my energy, and some of my inspiration, back, as I had spent the prior three weeks working my tail off to  get everything finished and my previous job and exhausted myself.

So now it’s time to revitalize and look toward the beauty that will soon return..

Snowbells Popping Up!

These cute little snowbells  comes from the same day of shooting as yesterday’s post Spring Into Saturday at Tower Hill Botanic Garden.  Whereas yesterday’s post was taken indoors, the temperatures on that March day were pretty comfortable, so I checked what might be growing outside (in northern Massachusetts it’s usually not much).

This is where I found these pretty snowbells that had just popped up within the previous couple of days.  Getting down low, they provide a nice little grouping.

I think that I might go find some more of these beauties on this fine Easter Sunday.

Technical Details

Shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mk II using an EF 24-105mm f/4 L lens at 98mm.   Exposure settings were 1/200 second at f/9 and 400 ISO.  As the focal distance was rather short, the depth of field becomes nice and shallow for this image.

Spring into Saturday

Softly through the tulips

Even thoguh the Spring season has made its entry by virtue of the Sun passing the vernal equinox, New England has not seen very Spring-like weather; overcast skies, occasional snow and temperatures only coming a little above freezing have made this week feel more like a continuation of Winter.

Time to off-set the mood with something more reminiscent of what we’re hoping for…

Tulips in Soft Light

These tulips were indoors at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, which is a 10-minute drive from my house.  A wonderful place to go recharge, when the weather hasn’t allowed for nature to catch up with the beauty you are hoping to see.

When I took this photo 5 years ago, the weather was much like it is today, so I took a trip to Tower Hill.  The displays were breathtaking, as usual, with indoor growth providing stunning color and even the occasional outdoor display showing signs of revival.

Hope you enjoy!

Technical Details

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mk II using a Lensbaby 50mm Soft Optic.  Exposure was at 1/100 second at f/5.6 at 400 ISO.  The Lensbaby Soft Optic has a center hole surrounded by many smaller holes, which produce the effect seen in this image.

WPC – Half-Light (reprise)

Rage against the dying of the light!

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge gave us the prompt: Half-Light.  The intent is to share a photo that is inspired by a poem, verse, song lyric or story…or, alternatively, the actual half-light, or both, as here.

20131212-SW-2013-12-12 07.21.20 HDR-1
Birth of the Sun

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

— Dylan Thomas (1937)