Wednesday Wonderment – pt 14

Never ceasing, we hope!

This Wednesday, it’s once again time to take a look at the wonders of the world around us. Today’s inspiration is drawn from the current Northern Hemisphere season of Spring: the time of re-birth and regeneration of the massive scale that only Nature can conjure up!

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Regeneration after generation

In early Spring, this tree was just about ready to get its juices flowing again to start the truly amazing process of accelerating its growth processes slowly, but surely.  In another couple of weeks, leaves would start showing, first as little buds, then quickly advertising their green presence to the world and hogging all the sunlight for themselves to provide what we call, appreciatively, shade.

It doesn’t cease to amaze me that trees can play this balancing game in the harsh climate of New England and further north, where they retreat from the onslaught of weather to conserve their energies for the next cycle.

Hug a tree today, and thank it for the breath that it provides!

Technical Details

I captured this image with a Canon EOS 5D Mk II using an EF 24-105mm f/4L lens.  Exposure settings were 1/25 second at f/18 and 160 ISO (leaning against a tree can make even 1/25 second shutter speed very steady).

I did perform a bit of post processing in Photoshop for basic sharpening and minor adjustments.  Additionally, I used Topaz Labs Texture Effects with a mild application of the Bluesy Trees effect to get that feel of images processed in an earlier age.

Wednesday Wonderment – pt 13

Among green giants

As we continue to explore the amazing world and universe, in which we find ourselves, I find myself continually drawn into the simple aspects of the natural world that surrounds us.  And when I say simple, I’m referring to the commonplace items, such as leaves, which show shape and variety seemingly without bounds.

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Form, shadow and light

On this beautiful Summer’s day, it was pure joy to look at the interplay of light and shadows among these variegated leaves.  These leaves already have stunning form and structure, which would also be a wonderful subject for a macro study (maybe later).  The bright light of the day just made them look that much more imposing.

When I see scenes of this kind, I very much enjoy approaching them from an angle that is low to the ground, as it allows the featured artists to be even bigger stars.  Looking up to the blue sky, the verdant leaves are imposing in their size, shape and beauty.  It is as if we find ourselves surrounded by an army of green giants, who are ever marching toward the sun.

Hope you enjoy this little bit of wonderment.

Technical Details

I captured this image with a Canon EOS 5D Mk II using an EF 24-105mm f/4L lens.  Exposure settings were 1/50 second at f/16 and 100 ISO (yes, there was a lot of light).

I did perform a bit of post processing in PhotoShop with an adjustment to crop this to a 4:5 aspect ratio and some minor sharpening and contrast adjustment.  The other ‘trick’ that I used was Topaz Labs Texture Effects with a mild application of the Lilac Tinge effect and the addition of a bit of Light Leak to get the sunburst in play.

Wednesday Wonderment – pt 12

Waste not, want not

There are lots of things in the universe that fill me with wonder, and there are a significant number that make me wonder.  Today I present you with something in the latter category.

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A Vista?

This was during a photography trip, led by John Slonina, to the Chincoteague area.  To finish up the first day of shooting, John had brought us to this beautiful stretch of beach where we’d have a great opportunity to catch the sunset over water.

As I’m not always the one to go for the obvious shot, I decided to add a little point of interest to the stunning beauty of the sunset: the not-so-stunning view of waste receptacles just off the parking lot by the beach.

The human footprint on our planet is something that I often wonder about, as I’m sure many of you do as well.  Minimizing our footprint and living in harmony with our space home is in our best interest, as we don’t want to overstay our welcome; the planet will survive, but will humanity?

Technical Details

This shot was captured with my Canon EOS 5D Mk III using a EF 24-105mm f/4L lens.  The HDR effect came from the in-camera HDR.

Wednesday Wonderment – pt 11

Fibonacci is everywhere!

There are certain aspects of Nature that inspire amazement when we look at them and even greater amazement when we analyze them even deeper.

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Fibonacci’s Flower

The mighty sunflower is an amazing little piece of mathematical design, when we analyze the spiral shapes in which the seeds are laid out.  I think most of us have heard of Fibonacci numbers: the sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, and so on, so that each number is the sum of the last two.  When looking at the spiraling shapes in cauliflower, artichoke and the sunflower floret, as seen above, we see this sequence appear in front of our eyes.

Upon analysis, we see that those spirals pack florets as tight as can be, maximizing their ability to gather sunlight for the plant. But how do plants like sunflowers create such perfect floret arrangements, and what does it have to do with Fibonacci numbers? A plant hormone called auxin, which spurs the growth of leaves, flowers, and other plant organs, is the key: Florets grow where auxin flows.  This has been modelled mathematically by researchers to demonstrate the Fibonacci spiral count is the optimal dense-packing strategy.

How to Count the Spirals


The sunflower seed pattern used by the Museum of Mathematics contains many spirals. If you count the spirals in a consistent manner, you will always find a Fibonacci number (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, …). Below are the three most natural ways to find spirals in this pattern. Note that the black pattern is identical in all the images on this page. Only the colored lines indicating the selected spirals are different.
The red lines show 34 spirals of seeds.
The red lines show 34 spirals of seeds.
Choosing another slope, the green lines show 55 spirals of seeds.
Choosing another slope, the green lines show 55 spirals of seeds.
And choosing a very shallow slope, the blue lines show 21 spirals of seeds.
And choosing a very shallow slope, the blue lines show 21 spirals of seeds.

– See more about this at: http://momath.org/home/fibonacci-numbers-of-sunflower-seed-spirals/#sthash.XF0YpZoT.dpuf

Hope you enjoyed this bit of in-depth view of the sunflower!

 

Wednesday Wonderment – pt 10

Not so quotidian after all

In this post, I’d like to get things back to some of the very basics of Nature, which has no shortage of amazing, wonder-worthy attributes.

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The Simple Leaf

The leaf is a a rather everyday item that we encounter in many places. However, lest we forget that leaves are the powerhouse of plants. In most plants, leaves are the major site of food production for the plant. Structures within a leaf convert the energy in sunlight into chemical energy that the plant can use as food. Chlorophyll is the molecule in leaves that uses the energy in sunlight to turn water (H2O) and carbon dioxide gas (CO2) into sugar and oxygen gas (O2).

A leaf is made of many layers that are sandwiched between two layers of tough skin cells (called the epidermis). The epidermis also secretes a waxy substance called the cuticle. These layers protect the leaf from insects, bacteria, and other pests. Among the epidermal cells are pairs of sausage-shaped guard cells. Each pair of guard cells forms a pore (called stoma; the plural is stomata). Gases enter and exit the leaf through the stomata.

Most food production takes place in elongated cells called palisade mesophyll. Gas exchange occurs in the air spaces between the oddly-shaped cells of the spongy mesophyll.

Veins support the leaf and are filled with vessels that transport food, water, and minerals to the plant.

And, if this is not enough to amaze you, leaves are things of beauty as well.

Hope you enjoyed this!!

Technical Data

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mk III using an EF 24-105mm f/4L lens with a circular polarizer.  Exposure was at 1/320 second at f/8 and 320 ISO.

Wednesday Wonderment – pt 9

The tide is out

My apologies for having been a bit sporadic in my posts over the past couple of days, as I was on the road for a new job.  This Wednesday, we’re back to one of the regular features.

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Bay of Fundy

 

Natural forces can come together to create some amazing effects, which is what happens with the tidal forces in the Bay of Fundy.  The difference between high and low tide can average as much as 14.5 meters (47.5 feet) in locations.  As you can see from this image taken at low tide, the high water line on the wooden dock is well above these little boats that have settled in the sand.

This shot was taken in 2007 in the town of Digby (if memory serves me), Nova Scotia.  Nova Scotia is a province that is just filled with natural wonder, where I certainly hope to get back at some point for some additional photography.

Technical Details

This shot was taken with a Canon EOS 1D Mk III using an EF 24-105mm f/4L lens.  Exposure settings were 1/125 second at f/11 at 640 ISO.  This is a shot that never really did much for me, until I decided to use Photomatix Pro and give it a bit of single-shot HDR treatment to get the clouds more dramatic and a couple of other minor enhancements.

 

Wednesday Wonderment – pt 8

Lowly beauty with benefits

With Spring fast approaching, I have been in a somewhat more floral mood, which leads me to this little flower that soon every gardener will be trying to remove from their lawns: the dandelion.

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Spherical Beauty

The humble dandelion is a simple yet beautiful flower that is maligned only for its propensity to spread very quickly, as its seed head has the ability to start many other plants. In many parts of the world, this plant is cultivated.  The name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion, which translates to lion’s tooth; the dandelion leaf has a resemblance to lion’s teeth.

Historically, dandelion was prized for a variety of medicinal properties, and it contains a number of pharmacologically active compounds. Dandelion is used as a herbal remedy in Europe, North America, and China. It has been used in herbal medicine to treat infections, bile and liver problems, and as a diuretic.

The flower petals, along with other ingredients, usually including citrus, are used to make dandelion wine. The ground, roasted roots can be used as a caffeine-free dandelion coffee. Dandelion was also traditionally used to make the traditional British soft drink dandelion and burdock, and is one of the ingredients of root beer. Also, dandelions were once delicacies eaten by the Victorian gentry, mostly in salads and sandwiches.

Dandelion leaves contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C, and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese.

Overall, the lowly dandelion is a good little plant, except when it disturbs the green of your lovely lawn!

Technical Details

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mk II and an EF 100mm f/2.8L macro lens .  Exposure settings were  f/7.1 at 1/125 second with ISO 400.

Wednesday Wonderment – pt 7

Blossoming just for you

Nature is full of amazing and beautiful displays, many of which are taken for granted.  Go into any grocery store or super market and apples abound; how many of us take a moment to appreciate how this apple started?

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Apple’s True Beauty

About five years ago, I decided to follow the development of an apple orchard, which was close to my daily commute throughout the year.  It’s one of those fun projects that keep one’s interest in photography keen, and taking a walk through an apple orchard in the morning is a great way of invigorating the senses for the day that lies ahead.

This shot is from early May, when the blooms were fully developed, just before the wither and start developing into tasty, crisp New England apples.  With the beautiful light, it was just amazing to look more closely at these trees and their wondrous adornment!

Hope you enjoy this moment of wonder and think about it, when you bite into your next apple.

Technical Details

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mk II and a 24-105 f/4L lens (with circular polarizing filter).  Settings were  f/10 at 1/400 second with ISO 200.

Wednesday Wonderment – pt 6

Leaf power

Today, I am going back to Nature for this installment of Wednesday Wonderment, as she is a source of immeasurable variety, beauty and amazement.

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Structural Integrity

This amazing leaf was in a tropical greenhouse at the Botanical Garden of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.  This botanical garden is both a fantastic exhibit to visit and see plants from a variety of biomes, and a research facility for the students of the University of Technology.  During our visit, a group of students was working with a professor to study soil characteristics, which was interesting to watch.

One of the aspects of Nature that continually grabs my attention are the structures that make up plants, leaves and trees; the distribution of strength in support of the energy production machinery is sheer perfection.  Even today, when I look at this image, there are little details such as the feathering of the lamina between the lateral veins; it might be indicative of the flow of energy and fluid through the leaf.

Each of these details have evolved over the ages, as successful function edged out other variants by the thinnest of margins.  It would be amazing to see the entire book of variations over the ages, as that would provide insight beyond anything that we have ever possessed.

Technical Details

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mk III and a 24-105 f/4L lens.  Settings were  f/5.6 at 1/320 second with ISO 1000.  The image was processed using the camera’s HDR capability.

Hope you enjoy this leaf, as much as I do.

Wednesday Wonderment – pt. 2

Folded right, we can turn over a new leaf…

The Wednesday Wonderment series examines some of the things that amaze and inspire me; lots will be in nature, but there may be some surprises.

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Perfect Folds

“What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.”
― Albert Einstein

Today’s image is all about structure.  Nature provides us with a dazzling array of structures that are optimized for the function that they perform.  Such is the case here with this palm leaf, which is perfectly folded to provide the strength needed to support its size, which allows it to capture as many of the sun’s vital rays as possible.

Structure that lends strength is seen in many places in nature, maybe none more dramatic than the giant sequoias.

There is also beauty in these forms beyond just the functional aspect; this beauty has us coming back time and again to appreciate a level of perfection that is rarely achieved in human endeavors.

What structure in nature is your favorite?  What draws you in when you look at it?

Thank you for reading this post; I hope you enjoyed it!

Technical Details

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D MkIII with a 17-40mm F4 lens.  F-stop used was f/8 at 1/25 second, ISO 640.

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