Yoga Tree Exhibit – vol. 1

Choices, choices

As some of you might be aware, I have been asked to do an exhibit of my photography at my place of employment.  There is a significant amount of wall space in our cafeteria seating area that doesn’t have any art hanging on it, which space I suggested that we use for quarterly employee exhibits of their work outside work.  The idea was well-received, but given that such an endeavor takes a while to get up and running, I was asked to do a solo exhibit of my work to get the proverbial ball rolling.

My thinking is to do a show of just the Yoga Tree, as she presents a nice theme and I have plenty of choices, from which to select.  Also, the square format will make for a very consistent presentation of images, which helps with having a very coherent display.

This is where you, dear reader, come in…  I’m asking you to provide some assistance in selecting which 12-14 photos are the best to hang for this show.  Your feedback will be much appreciated for this event!

 

Here are the first 4 choices!  I’m very much looking forward to find out which are your favorites from this set.

Thank you for your help!

Monday’s Food – Tomatoes

The golden apple

You say tomato, I say tom-ah-to!  This ubiquitoes ingredient in dishes ranging from salads to pizza, is well known to all of us, but were you aware that this plant is in the same family as the deadly nightshade?

Let’s take a a bit of an exploration and check out this interesting plant and some of its history.

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Delicious tomatoes!

First of all, even though in culinary circles it is treated as a vegetable, the tomato is a fruit of the berry variety.  There are around 7,500 tomato varieties grown for various purposes having been selected with varying fruit types, and for optimum growth in differing growing conditions.

About 161.8 million tonnes of tomatoes were produced in the world in 2012. China, the largest producer, accounted for about one quarter of the global output, followed by India and the United States. For one variety, plum or processing tomatoes, California accounts for 90% of U.S. production and 35% of world production.

History

The tomato is native to western South America and Central America. Native versions were small, like cherry tomatoes, and most likely yellow rather than red. A member of the deadly nightshade family, tomatoes were erroneously thought to be poisonous by Europeans who were suspicious of their bright, shiny fruit.  The leaves are in fact poisonous, although the fruit is not.

Mesoamerica

Aztecs and other peoples in Mesoamerica used the fruit in their cooking. The exact date of domestication is unknown: by 500 BC, it was already being cultivated in southern Mexico and probably other areas.  The Pueblo people are thought to have believed that those who witnessed the ingestion of tomato seeds were blessed with powers of divination.  The large, lumpy variety of tomato, a mutation from a smoother, smaller fruit, originated in Mesoamerica, and may be the direct ancestor of some modern cultivated tomatoes.

Spanish distribution

Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés may have been the first to transfer the small yellow tomato to Europe after he captured the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City, in 1521, although Christopher Columbus may have taken them back as early as 1493. The earliest discussion of the tomato in European literature appeared in a herbal written in 1544 by Pietro Andrea Mattioli, an Italian physician and botanist, who suggested that a new type of eggplant had been brought to Italy that was blood red or golden color when mature and could be divided into segments and eaten like an eggplant—that is, cooked and seasoned with salt, black pepper, and oil. It was not until ten years later that tomatoes were named in print by Mattioli as pomi d’oro, or “golden apple”.

After the Spanish colonization of the Americas, the Spanish distributed the tomato throughout their colonies in the Caribbean. They also took it to the Philippines, from where it spread to southeast Asia and then the entire Asian continent. The Spanish also brought the tomato to Europe. It grew easily in Mediterranean climates, and cultivation began in the 1540s. It was probably eaten shortly after it was introduced, and was certainly being used as food by the early 17th century in Spain.

Italy

The recorded history of tomatoes in Italy dates back to 31 October 1548 when the house steward of Cosimo de’ Medici, the grand duke of Tuscany, wrote to the Medici private secretary informing him that the basket of tomatoes sent from the grand duke’s Florentine estate at Torre del Gallo “had arrived safely.” Tomatoes were grown mainly as ornamentals early on after their arrival in Italy. For example, the Florentine aristocrat Giovanvettorio Soderini wrote how they “were to be sought only for their beauty” and were grown only in gardens or flower beds. The tomato’s ability to mutate and create new and different varieties helped contribute to its success and spread throughout Italy. However, even in areas where the climate supported growing tomatoes, their proximity of growing to the ground suggested low status. They were not adopted as a staple of the peasant population because they were not as filling as other fruits already available. Additionally, both toxic and inedible varieties discouraged many people from attempting to consume or prepare them.  In certain areas of Italy, such as Florence, the fruit was used solely as a tabletop decoration before it was incorporated into the local cuisine in the late 17th or early 18th century. The earliest discovered cookbook with tomato recipes was published in Naples in 1692, though the author had apparently obtained these recipes from Spanish sources.

Unique varieties were developed over the next several hundred years for uses such as dried tomatoes, sauce tomatoes, pizza tomatoes, and tomatoes for long term storage. These varieties are usually known for their place of origin as much as by a variety name. For example, Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio is the “hanging tomato of Vesuvius”. Five different varieties have traditionally been used to make these “hanging” tomatoes. They are Fiaschella, Lampadina, Patanara, Principe Borghese, and Re Umberto. Other tomatoes that originated in Italy include San Marzano, Borgo Cellano, Christopher Columbus, Costoluto Genovese, and Italian Pear. These tomatoes are characterized by relatively intense flavor compared to varieties typically grown elsewhere.

Consumption

The tomato is now grown and eaten around the world. It is used in diverse ways, including raw in salads, and processed into ketchup or tomato soup. Unripe green tomatoes can also be breaded and fried, used to make salsa, or pickled. Tomato juice is sold as a drink, and is used in cocktails such as the Bloody Mary.

Tomatoes are acidic, making them especially easy to preserve in home canning whole, in pieces, as tomato sauce or paste. The fruit is also preserved by drying, often in the sun, and sold either in bags or in jars with oil.

Although tomatoes originated in the Americas, they have become extensively used in Mediterranean cuisine. They are a key ingredient in pizza, and are commonly used in pasta sauces. They are also used in gazpacho (Spanish cuisine) and pa amb tomàquet (Catalan cuisine).

Though it is botanically a berry, a subset of fruit, the tomato is a vegetable for culinary purposes, because of its savory flavor (see below).

Nutrition

Tomatoes are now eaten freely throughout the world. They contain the carotene lycopene, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants. In some studies, lycopene, especially in cooked tomatoes, has been found to help prevent prostate cancer, but other research contradicts this claim.  Lycopene has also been shown to improve the skin’s ability to protect against harmful UV rays.  A study done by researchers at Manchester and Newcastle universities revealed that tomato can protect against sunburn and help keeping the skin looking youthful.  Natural genetic variation in tomatoes and their wild relatives has given a genetic plethora of genes that produce lycopene, carotene, anthocyanin, and other antioxidants. Tomato varieties are available with double the normal vitamin C (Doublerich), 40 times normal vitamin A (97L97), high levels of anthocyanin (resulting in blue tomatoes), and two to four times the normal amount of lycopene (numerous available cultivars with the high crimson gene).

Technical Details

This photo was taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mk II using an EF 24-105mm f/4L lens.  Studio lights were used so that exposure settings were 1/100 second at f/6.3 at 100 ISO.

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Round-Up 6

Cloudy is a good forecast!

Another week with fantastic entries, which were a delight to see, as it looked like you found some inspiration in this week’s topic.  In this sixth installment of the Tuesday Photo Challenge, the theme was clouds, particularly keeping in mind how they can enhance the scene that is captured in an image.

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Persistence

For those who’d like to participate in this weekly challenge, the rules are the following:

The following were this week’s participants in the challenge:

  • iballrtw of the Eyeball Around the World blog, posted a beautifully lit cloud image with sunlight streaming around the edges of the cloud.
  • Sonya of Middleton Road, posted a landscape image that together with the beautiful clouds made me feel like I was in a fairy tale.
  • Miriam of the Out an’ About blog, wove an entire story around the cloud photos that she posted, which were fantastic.
  • Nikki, who writes A Kinder Way showed some of the great Texas skies and provided interpretation to some of the great clouds in her images.
  • Debbie, of ForgivingJournal got some of her creative energy expressed through her cloud images, which inspired!
  • Steve, who writes Meandering Maverick, was stymied by a week of perfect, cloudless weather, so he regaled us with some fantastic cloud images from before.

Thank you to all of you who participated and everyone who supported by reading these posts.  Hope you had as much fun as I did!

Next Tuesday, it will be time for another topic…  I have something in mind already, that I hope will give you a bit of inspiration.

Sunday Morning – Ragged Company

Dead Flowers reference?

The sudden onslaught of hot weather in New England caught me a bit unprepared, as my body prefers the gradual descent into Summer’s heat from the cooler days of Spring.  As a result, much of yesterday was spent looking for some new window air conditioning units, and not just any A/C units; as I enjoy making my home smarter over time, I was looking for the Quirky Aros, which can be controlled through home automation.

Three units were found after going to a number of stores, and the installation started 🙂  It’s amazing how the omission of a single step in instructions can make a difference, but that undocumented step cost me at least 25 minutes to figure out what was missing and correct the installation!  After installing the first one, the next step was to program it, which didn’t go flawlessly on the first attempt, but I did learn from my mistakes and get both the living room and bed room units up and running, so that we slept comfortably!

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Winter Revisited

Cool thoughts prevail on this day, as we’re thinking back to those chilly days of Winter!

Plans for today are to not overdo anything outside in the forecasted 93F (34C) weather and do some indoor tasks followed by some music practice on the new song that we started working on in yesterday’s lesson: Ragged Company by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

I really love this song for the mood that it sets and builds up throughout the entire song; it also doesn’t hurt that there is a great version with Willie Nelson joining the band.  Of course, we are our own Ragged Company, no matter where we go!  The one question that remains, whether or not there is a Rolling Stones reference in the title of this song, from the first verse of Dead Flowers, which is another great song.

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday’s Sunrise – pt 2

Cool thought for a hot day

Today is forecasted to be a rather hot day, here in New England, so I thought it might be nice to put up a sunrise reminder of cooler days, just over two years ago.

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Cool Sunrise

On a day, when we know that we’ll be tested in our ability to deal with the heat, we can spare a moment to remind ourselves of days when cool times were appreciated for their beauty.  We know they shall return!

Let’s enjoy this day!

Technical Details

This image was captured with an iPhone 5S using the standard Camera app and some minor adjustments in Instagram.

Inspired by Weekly Photo Challenge – Spare

Daily Prompt – Fork

Eat a dish of this!

With a prompt along the nature of Fork, as is suggested today by the WordPress Daily Prompt, there are many ways that we can go.  Without speaking with forked tongue, we can look at the fork in the road,  while some of us geeks might talk about forking a process on the computer (ask a geek what that means 🙂 ).

Then again, I might do something rather simple, although this was not my original image that I thought to use, as I will use that in another post about conceptual photography.

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Stick a fork in it!

Then I thought that it might be a good idea to stick a fork in it!  And eat that dish of macaroni and cheese, as I’m hungry!

Hope you enjoy this fork!!

Technical Details

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mk II using an EF 100mm f/2.8 lens.  As I used studio strobes for this to get the lighting look that I was look for, the exposure settings were 1/100 second at f/8 and 100 ISO.

Inspired by Daily Prompt – Fork.

Friday Mystery Place – vol 15

Not of this planet?

After last week’s rather tricky post for this category, which long-time readers of my blog, could have recognized as being photographed outside the Botanical Garden of the Technical University in Delft, the Netherlands, something a little easier upon my return from quick travels.

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Otherworldly Mystery

As a hint, if needed, this location was used recently in a big budget film; the latter gave me the idea to use this image, as I saw it during my flight from Rome to Boston.

Have fun!