New Camera Learning Curve :-O

Colorful bug on a passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Colorful bug on a passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Wow!  Do I ever have a lot to learn!  But I adore macro photography and now I should be able to get some of the closeups I love.

Another passionflower with a bee

Another passionflower with a bee

I am not sure about the color capabilities of this camera.  They looked a little dull without the saturation boost, but I am not sure I like them with the saturation boost either.  And I want the subject sharp and the background blurred.  Maybe I need to do everything with manual focus and skip the automatic settings?  If anyone has any tips for a beginner, I’d love to hear them.   In the meantime, I’ll be doing a lot of reading on it.

A small (blurry) maypop, the fruit of the passionflower.  It will eventually get lime size.

A small (blurry) maypop, the fruit of the passionflower. It will eventually get lime size.

Maybe I should have bought a more expensive camera?  Or maybe I just need to learn this one.  One thing is for sure, it will take a while!  🙂

Today was hot and muggy.  So humid that the air felt heavy and hard to breathe.  So walking wasn’t a lot of fun.  But this evening a cool, brisk breeze is blowing and thunderstorms will be moving in shortly.

I don't know what these are.  The leaves are powdery white, and they have a non-descript white flower -- until you see them up close!

Mountain mint. The leaves are powdery white, and they have a non-descript white flower — until you see them up close! (Thanks for the ID, Lynne.)

I haven’t found a single decent mushroom yet.  They will probably all fruit a couple of days after we leave since more rain is predicted!

Closeup of the powdery leaved plant's flowers.

Closeup of the mountain mint flowers.

Talladega National Forest

Iridescent splendor

Iridescent splendor

Transparent wings

Transparent wings

Ron and I took advantage of the cooler weather to head to Coleman Lake in the Talladega National Forest just 40 miles from home last week.  There is no cell reception there, plus thunderstorms were predicted for the weekend, so we only stayed three nights.  But what glorious days we had!

We met some lovely people there, and I embarrassed myself badly by being a terrible chatterbox.  When I meet people I REALLY like, I tend to do that.

Orange fringed orchid.

Orange fringed orchid. For a real eye treat, click to enlarge, then click the picture again to enlarge it even further. It’s gorgeous!

But most of the time was spent out exploring the trails and the beautiful show of jewels that nature provided.

I find I am starting to forget the names of plants.  I hope that it’s just from disuse, not from aging!  So I’ll present the pictures and allow you to caption the unlabeled ones as you’d like!  🙂

Wild sweet potato flower.  These were all over the place!

Wild sweet potato flower. These were all over the place!

Bracken fern.  This area felt almost primeval.

Bracken fern. This area felt almost primeval.

Milkweed pods

Milkweed pods

Flowers blooming from a crack in the bridge rail.

Flowers blooming from a crack in the bridge rail.

Waterbugs walking on water, each in their little dimple of surface tension.

Waterbugs walking on water, each in their little dimple of surface tension.

unknown

sunshiny

purple2

purple

Swimming beach area

Swimming beach area

Our Casita

Our Casita

 

 

 

 

 

Thunderstorms Today

shoreline

Sunny is getting old.  He can’t keep up with me when we go walking anymore.  So today I left Sheba with Ron and took a gentle stroll with Sunny along the shoreline, letting him take all the time he wanted to sniff and explore while I took pictures.

Blackberries and hairy ragwort.

Blackberries and hairy ragwort.

I always wonder how much more time we have with him, so I want to let him pack all the doggie adventure in that he can in his remaining time.

Shortly after we returned from our walk, the thunderstorms moved in.

The variety of plant life around the lake is amazing.  It’s pretty humbling to see how much I don’t know!

lanceleaf coreopsis (tickseed)

Lanceleaf coreopsis (tickseed)

Anyway, I’ll share some of my photos and hope you enjoy them.

 

Lyre leaved sage

Lyre leaved sage

Oxalis leaves (shamrock)

Oxalis leaves (shamrock)

Ripening blackberries

Ripening blackberries

Spiderwort

Spiderwort

Bobber caughtimus  :D

Bobber caughtimus 😀

The urge to build a kid's fort between these 4 trees was almost irrestible!

The urge to build a kid’s fort between these 4 trees was almost irrestible!

 

Lagustrum.  Not sure if its tree privet or Chinese privet.  (Or another lagustrum!)

Lagustrum. Not sure if its tree privet or Chinese privet. (Or another lagustrum!) But it’s beautiful and smells heavenly.

 

Last Day at West Point Lake

This is the section where we camped in the Aliner on a previous trip here.  It's steep and difficult to back into -- but beautiful!

This is the section where we camped in the Aliner on a previous trip here. It’s steep and difficult to back into — but nicely private.

We had expected thunderstorms today.  But a cloudy morning turned into a beautiful, warm, partly sunny afternoon.  What a wonderful last day of camping before going home.

Baby leaves

Baby leaves

Keeping Sheba penned and Sunny leashed seems to work best at keeping both dogs happy.  And happy dogs make us happy campers!  🙂

Rather than a wordy post tonight, I’ll just post some of the photos I took today.  Hope you enjoy them.

Beargrass (yucca) flower stalks emerging

Beargrass (yucca) flower stalks emerging

Carpet of flowers at one of the campsites

Carpet of flowers at one of the campsites

Entrance to upper loop

Entrance to upper loop

Flowers in a flower.  I'm guessing the large outer petals are actually sepals.

Flowers in a flower. I’m guessing the large outer petals are actually sepals.

The goose family I also photographed yesterday

The goose family I also photographed yesterday

I was eating ripe blackberries in Florida last week.  Here they are still immature.

I was eating ripe blackberries in Florida last week. Here they are still immature.

Little flower gems

Little flower gems

I think this is Chinese privet

I think this is Chinese privet

I don't know what these are, but they are beautiful.

I don’t know what these are, but they are beautiful.

A good book... one of camping's greatest pleasures.

A good book… one of camping’s greatest pleasures.

Thistle flowers.

Thistle flowers. Beautiful!

The Casita that was here yesterday left this morning, so we didn't get to meet the owners.

The Casita that was here yesterday left this morning, so we didn’t get to meet the owners.

Yellow clover

Yellow clover

Day's end

Day’s end. Not a stunning sunset, but nice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring — Already!

Tiny little henbit flowers

I can hardly wrap my mind around the fact that spring is here again.  Or that I have lived here for so many years and photographed the same little flowers– or their parents — for so many springs.  Yet, their welcome little faces are always new to me.

White daffodils

Everything is very early this year due to our non-winter.  The daffodils are almost finished.  Only 3 blooms remain.

Hope you enjoy the familiar nature show.  🙂

Perennial vinca comes back every year around our front porch.

Sweet little bluets carpet the open woods

These tasteless little Indian strawberries have almost completely crowded out the delicious wild strawberries.

Not sure what these are. I think they are crabapple flower buds.

New fig leaves

New rosebud

Last year's green onions are blooming

 

A bumper crop of dandelions is on the way!

Moss on an old plum tree

The white plum flowers have fallen. Now baby plums are on the way.

Cool Campers & Spring Flowers

Trillium

We’ve seen a couple of intriguing campers here.  The first is an old Trillium.  I think the owner said it was a ’72.  He got it when the previous owner’s wife died, and the guy didn’t want to take it out camping any more.  It’s in beautiful shape, and I do so love the jalousie windows that can be left open in the rain.

The second one is a home built rig.  I can’t remember if the owner said they have been fulltiming in it 6 or 8 years.  But they started out with a truck camper, but their truck was inadequate to carry it.  So they bought a Sprinter flat bed and mounted the camper on it.

Home built rig on a Sprinter flat bed

But they had a big dog, and their dog had nowhere to ride.  They said the Mennonites sometimes salvage old sleepers off trucks for various uses around farms.  So they bought a sleeper from them for the dog to ride in.

But, even though they cut the sleeper down, they still had to raise the truck camper to fit… so they built in a storage basement.  Then they added the cage on front to carry their generator and supplies.

This shot shows the storage area open

Later on, their dog died, so they converted the dog “room” to storage.

She also said they were in a park one time when a terrific storm came through.  So both of them climbed into the carpet lined sleeper with the dog and rode out the storm together.  🙂

I can’t remember all the details, but it was fascinating listening to her explain how their unusual camper, that is perfectly suited for their way of travel, came to be.

The catfish catcher

The people here are amazingly friendly!  Such a pleasure to meet and strike up conversations with them.

The fisherman in the photo and his wife have caught several nice size catfish.  The park has a great screened fish cleaning station.

I have been loving seeing the tiny little spring wildflowers that are blooming down here.  I don’t know the names of most of them, but they delight me.

Yellow clover

Little bluet & common laccaria mushroom

And a sweet little dandelion 🙂

The shelf Rob made me is turning out to be much more than just a coffee shelf! I've started leaving it up during the day, too.

A hint of a sunset

Sweet Wildflower Tonic

Stars of Bethlehem

I was feeling down today so took a walk to lift my spirits.  As usual, the stunning natural beauty that surrounds our property was the tonic that my spirit needed.

I first learned to identify Star of Bethlehem when I seriously studied wild edible plants.  I knew them then as poisonous plants to be avoided.  But now, I see them as little white gems of exquisite beauty.

I learned to identify Venus Looking Glass one year as I puzzled over the  weeds

Venus looking glass. On edit — these are misidentified. A blog reader gave me the correct ID. They are common vetch. Still gorgeous, though. 🙂

with purple flowers that ran rampant in my square foot gardens in early spring.  Now I treasure them as a gift before vegetable garden planting season begins. (On edit, I misidentified these flowers.  See photo caption.)

Little bluets delight me.  They are so small that they are easily missed unless your eyes are open to the tiny wonders under your feet.

I am not sure what the little purple flowers on tall stalks are.  They have always grown everywhere I’ve lived since I was a child, but it occurs to me that I have neglected to learn their name.   I will do a search and try to discover their secret.

Sweet little bluets, almost hidden underfoot

And dandelions.  When I lived in condos and apartments and houses in town, they were an eyesore and a blot on unbroken green, manicured lawns.  Then, in my edible plant studies, I discovered what a marvel they truly are.  Since then I have been fascinated by their intricate, enduring beauty.

I think age has also softened my perspective on what a wonder these precious little weeds are.

I need to learn this little treasure’s name. [on edit, a commenter has identified these as toadflax, possibly blue toadflax. Thanks, Kara!]

The greatly underappreciated, marvelous little dandelion

The endlessly fascinating little puffball that promises the next generation of dandelions. 🙂

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