Sunday, May 8, 2016

Flowers!

In an attempt to usher in spring and as a follow-up to my last post, I will start posting some of my numerous flower pictures.  Between trips with Erika to Longwood Gardens, walks at the Arboretum, and other random pictures from the game lands, Savannah, etc. I have a TON of flower pictures.  We'll get started in a sec.

I've taken this week off from running.  For some reason these last two or so weeks my body has been completely rebelling against everything-extreme fatigue, aching everywhere.  I try to run, work out, and can't make my body do what I want it to.  Such a frustrating feeling.  A full blood panel shows only that my thyroid is hypo again.  Okay, fine, but that isn't the cause of this.  I think I've physically caught up with where I am emotionally.  So hopefully a week off will help and then starting again slowly.  Sigh.

I'm eager to get started again as I keep getting recruited by the Nittany Valley Hash House Harriers.  I'm not totally sure what to think...for those who don't know what this is, here's some info.  But basically it's running in the woods, drinking, and...I don't know what else.  That's the part I'm nervous about!  One of the people who tries to recruit me is someone I kind of know through my previous work with DUS at Penn State.  Anyway, could be fun, could be scary.  I'll speak to it should I decide to join them one day!


My recruiting card above and my recent snack addiction.  Since I've tried to be more regular in my running I've been craving protein like crazy.  So almost every afternoon I make my way to the HUB on campus (curse you for being so close) and get my chicken jerky and Quest bar.  Better than the Creamery, I suppose!

So I've decided that the fox is my spirit animal.  Since my last post I've seen two more foxes in the game lands for a total of four sightings in recent weeks.  It's not a surprise, actually...I've always been drawn to foxes.  I subscribed to Ranger Rick magazine as a kid and my favorite character was Scarlett Fox.  I probably also related to her short temper.  :)


If I had to choose a favorite old school Disney movie (I was more of a "Watership Down", "The Last Unicorn", etc. fan) it was Robin Hood.  Specifically because the main characters were foxes.

When I used to letterbox, my personal traveler stamp (that people could only access after guessing my Meyer's Briggs type...good grief) was a fox.  They are beautiful creatures.  Now to just figure out what it means!  I'm bummed I was out with the dogs and didn't have my camera this last sighting...she stopped close enough that I could have gotten a great pic!  Oh well.

So that's about all the news for now.  Now for some flower pics.  Keep scrolling...haha.  All pictures taken and edited by me from this point on.  Enjoy!






















Pretty much straight out of the camera-the background photographed this dark making for an interesting picture.




I love how lotus flowers always seem to glow...

The following may or may not be technically flowers but I like the pictures nonetheless!






And why not a Christmas flashback?


Sunday, May 1, 2016

April Snows Bring May...?

So I've been anxiously waiting for winter to end and, despite having a few teasers, summer just can't seem to get a foothold here in central Pennsylvania.  Annoying for a cold-natured southern girl like me.  At least, as of May 1, it isn't snowing.  Chilly and rainy, yes.  Snowing, no.

That was NOT the case less than a month ago when I kicked off my trail running season at my usual inaugural race, The Dirty Kiln.  Or, as they were calling it this year, The Snowy Kiln.  Fortunately, we didn't get as much snow as predicted and the temps were a bit higher than expected.  They took out the water crossings due to the below freezing temperatures, which was disappointing.  But I'm glad they did.  I got some extra warm running gear and enjoyed a nice 5.5 miles in the snowy woods.  I performed much better than expected too, which is always a bonus.




One thing is clear, I need to work on my running faces!  I never think about the fact that people take pictures during these things.  I look through the pictures and everyone's smiling all cute and then there's me.  I'm not a natural "pose for the camera" person I guess!


As I've alluded to previously, the last few months have been tough.  My motivation to do much beyond the required has been minimal but I've pushed on.  The last few weeks have been especially difficult.  I'm a strong person...I have been much of my life.  But the problem with being the strong person is that you usually get the short end of the stick in the way people treat you because they know you'll survive.  Doesn't matter how you come out on the other side, you'll make it.  A lot of what has happened of late has really gotten to me and I'm tired and beat down.  

In desperate times I think one grasps for meaning in everything and my grasps at meaning have come from encounters on my runs and walks with the dogs in the woods.  Within the last week I've encountered a coyote, a fox (twice), and a bear in the game lands.  I don't think it's a coincidence that all of these have appeared in my life at one of the lowest points though I'm still working out what exactly they mean!  Though it isn't unusual for me to see animals that many people don't (I spend a lot of time in the woods, my energy is nonthreatening, who knows) it's been years since I've seen any of these three.  So, we'll see what I can take away from that.



I had to get a picture of the bear since I missed out on the other two, even though they were actually closer to me when I saw them.  I was out with the dogs when I saw the coyote...it crossed the road right in front of us, stopped, and we all just stared at each other for a minute then it trotted off.  I was running when I saw the first fox.  Caught it out of the corner of my eye, skidded to a stop not unlike one might see in a Loony Toons episode, walked back to look at each other before he also casually trotted off.  When I told my parents about this encounter, the following conversation occurred:

Mom:  Did you have the dogs with you?

Me:  No, I was out running so I was by myself.

Mom:  Good because foxes carry rabies.

Okay...so the two creatures of the household that have actually been vaccinated for rabies are the ones she's worried about!  Thanks mom!  Hahaha!

I was out after Zumba with the dogs for a quick walk but when I saw this guy I took off home in hopes of getting my camera in time.  I did and here I am sprinting through the field, hurdling over those irrigation pipes with my camera to make sure to get a shot or two.  Because I get really excited about seeing things like bears in the wild.  I would have liked to get closer but didn't want to risk scaring it off.  Anything for the photo!  Haha!

I was going to continue on with my April showers play on words from my title and do a series of flower pictures that I've taken over the years.  But...there's just way too many so I'll save that for another post soon.  In the meantime, here's a preview from a series of sunset shots I took in the game lands around the holidays.


I'm hoping with the end of the semester and longer, warmer (maybe!) days I'll get some more local pictures.  I'm trying to recruit people to come on photo walks with me but it seems the idea of randomly wandering to see what wonders you find isn't on most people's list of fun things to do.  Come on, I even have an extra digital camera and a couple older film cameras to play with!  Oh well...I suspect it will be just me.  But hopefully I get some great stuff to share!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Midnight in the Garden

Savannah's popularity really seemed to take off following the publication of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and the associated movie.  Never read the book.  The movie served the purpose of entertainment and did star Kevin Spacey (one of the few actors I actually like) but people became obsessed with it.  Savannah is similar to what I assume New Orleans is like in that it's a safe place for people to be their quirky selves and the book and movie really highlighted some of Savannah's more interesting characters.  I say check it out for mild entertainment and to see Savannah.

I finally got around to pulling some pictures and chose to do some night photos of Savannah (hence the title).  There are a couple of pictures from the phone (you can tell because they totally suck!) but most are real!

But first...in searching through pictures I found some to tack onto the last entry.  I found a few pictures of Corvus's dad from the National Working Dog Championships I attended a few years ago in Grove City, OH (suburb of Columbus).  It was great to see Corvus's dad, Erri, do what he did best-compete!  Erri and his handler, Mike Diehl (super nice guy) have competed at the world level on the US team.  Sadly, due to an accident that resulted in the loss of a leg, Erri had to stop competing prematurely.






Anyway, let's get to the Savannah stuff.


This is the Catholic church.  While most of the south is decidedly NOT Catholic, Savannah's history includes strong Irish influence.  This church often stands out as part of the city's skyline and it takes on a lovely appearance at night.



Forsyth Park serves kind of a Central Park for Savannah.  Lots of open space for people to bring their dogs or join a game of...well, pretty much anything!  There are lakes, playgrounds, beautiful sidewalks to walk and run and...the famous fountain.  If you've ever seen a Savannah landmark in pictures, this is probably it.  I, of course, needed a picture of it at night!



Now, these photos have some editing done to them but still what a difference your white balance setting can make.  Both pictures were taken at the same time with similar settings but different white balance options.  The top one was shot on the "tungsten" setting...you know how incandescent or many street lights have that yellow glow, right?  This setting eliminates that, cooling down the overall temperature of your photo and allowing the blue shades to come out.  The bottom photo is shot on the "shade" setting.  On shady days you'll find a much cooler light spectrum and by setting your white balance to a "cloudy" or "shade" setting, it warms your photos up, allowing the reds, oranges, and yellows to come out.  No right or wrong for this-it all depends on the look you're going for!

I'll demonstrate further with a couple of images of River Street-unedited.



Exact same location, exact same settings (as far as aperture, shutter speed, ISO) with the only difference being the white balance.  Cool, huh?

Another fun photography tip using my night pictures...



Notice how the lights in the first two pictures of River Street have six-pointed stars while the two above multiple points?  Yes, you can buy a filter for your cameral that does that but I prefer to do as much as I can just from camera settings.  Getting these really neat multiple-point stars can be done simply by shooting with a super small aperture (if I recall, these were done at F22).  Fun!

Just a few more random river pics.  The first one here was done without a tripod so is a touch blurry.  But the colors and lights in the water came out really neat so I kept it.  The second picture was an awesome encounter-a Black-Crowned Night Heron!  I've posted a picture of a rarely seen Green Heron before but this was even more of a rare find.  It flew down and sat on the dock the whole time we were photographing the river.  




Everyone knows how much I love having a balcony overlooking River Street when I stay in Savannah.  I love it most at night where I can watch the ships glide silently by.  Stay up late and watch the activity as the restaurants close down.  Watch the mist roll in after an evening shower as it enhances the color of the street below...




Savannah retains many traces of it's history, from the cobblestone roads to the original riverfront buildings to the gas lanterns.  As evening falls you begin to catch the almost ghostly scent here and there of the kerosene fueling the lamps...




On a previous trip I ventured out after a rain storm to take some pictures of some of the neon on Broughton St.  At first I was really annoyed that, as is so often the case down there, my lens fogged up from the humidity.  Then I thought it wasn't a bad effect so...



Obviously the second picture is after the lens adjusted but I still think the first is kinda cool!  Freaky factoid...as I was looking for some background noise while I worked, I found that Netflix just added E.T.  I haven't seen that in ages but wouldn't have to pay much attention as I worked.  Notice the movie on the marquis that was playing?  Weird...  And for the record, I was never a fan of that movie.  And I'm still not.

Finally, I'll wrap up with a few more random pictures for funsies.  




Phone pic-did you spot it in its low quality awesomeness?


So nothing spectacular here but it's a start.  I need to get Savannah posted in its entirety so I can focus on other topics.  It's not a Savannah blog after all!  Now that all the pics are off my camera and exported from iPhoto, maybe I'll actually get something done here!