“Wood Nymph on Crab Apple Leaf”

“Wood Nymph on Crab Apple Leaf”

“Miracles… seem to me to rest not so much upon… healing power coming suddenly near us from afar but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that, for a moment, our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there around us always.” 
― Willa Cather

For those living in the path of today’s solar eclipse, I’m sure it will be tough to compete with the spectacle in the sky. If I had to chase those spectacles, I’m sure I would have stopped making photographs years ago. Fortunately, that is not the case and there is so much wonder in the seemingly mundane spaces around us daily.

Today, I set out mid-morning to make a few images of local wildflowers, only to find many have already gone to seed and the next ‘wave’ is just starting to bud. Yet, in my periphery I caught movement and noticed this wood nymph floating and fluttering from plant to plant, occasionally sitting to sun itself, then taking to the sky again.

It took a while for it to finally land on a leaf that offered me decent lighting and a side view. And, it took me a while to get close enough to get a good image, without spooking it away. Persistence paid off and I was a able to get a few nice shots of it. Despite some wear and tear, so common in butterfly wings this late in the season, it was a fairly nice example of this common woodland butterfly. The only drawback was that the butterfly was content to just sit there and did not open its wings to offer me a top view. Despite this, I’m always happy to be reminded that being in nature frequently puts me more in tune with it and makes it easier for me to spot things like this that others simply don’t notice. I often have people looking at my photos surprised that I made the image steps from home.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/40 sec, f/16.0, ISO 100

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Monarch on Purple Coneflower”

“Monarch on Purple Coneflower”

“There are times to stay put, and what you want will come to you, and there are times to go out into the world and find such a thing for yourself.” 
― Lemony Snicket

For the past several days, I’ve watched one or two monarch butterflies on my purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpura) and I have not had my camera handy. By the time I gathered my camera and got outside, it seems the butterflies had flown off. Or, they fly off as I slowly approach the flowerbed, not to return that day, to my knowledge.

Today, fortune was with me. I was on my way to gather a blossom to photograph in my studio and I noticed a Monarch as busy feasting on the flower’s nectar, along with many honeybees. Once more, I did not have my camera with me and, once again, I went inside to get it. On my return the butterfly was still on the flower, but flew away as I approached. I decided to wait it out by photographing the blossoms and the bees, seeing the butterfly floating around in my periphery. Well, it paid off, and the butterfly, unable to resist this large cluster of Echinacea, returned once more and gave me the opportunity to snap a few shots before taking off once more. This is one of the three images I made while it fed.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/160 sec, f/10.0, ISO 320

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“End of Day Cool Down”

“End of Day Cool Down”

“There’s a special quality to the loneliness of dusk, a melancholy more brooding even than the night’s.” 
― Ed Gorman

After a day filled with sunshine, family, volleyball, and too much food, a quick dip in the lake after the sun has set is in order. As I considered this photo of my son standing in the shallow beach waters at Sauble beach, surrounded by the incredible reflected dusk, I realized how strange it may appear to someone who did not know that the water is so shallow.

The beach is made up of long underwater dunes which reach far out into the lake. From the shore the water is very shallow and a few meters out, drops to about waist or even chest level, depending on the shape of the dune (and your height). The water then becomes quite shallow, again, as the next dune rises, say, knee deep. In the photo, my son is on the outside of the second dune, where the waters once more drop a bit deeper.

It’s also a bit of an unusual photo for me because my landscape and nature photos tend to deliberately omit people. In this case, I like the inclusion of the silhouetted form of my son, being part of the beautiful scene that spread before me, after the sun had already set. As a side note, I joined him in the water soon after this image was made, enjoying my own cool down and revelling in the beauty of dusk on Lake Huron.

iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1/120 sec; f/1.8; ISO 32

“Purple Loosestrife” – Sauble Beach, Ontario

“Purple Loostrife” - Sauble Beach, Ontario

“When one with honeyed words but evil mind
Persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.” 
― Euripides

Continuing on my “purple phase” theme, here’s a beautiful invader. Though a beautiful flowering plant, in Ontario and other areas where it was introduced as a garden flower, this garden escapee soon established itself in meadows and wetlands, crowding out native plants.

It spreads through rapidly spreading rhizomes and seeds. Each plant can produce over one thousand seeds. It also has no naturally occurring predators, so it spreads uncontrolled, though something, likely earwigs or slugs, seems to be feasting on the leaves below the blossoms.

The plant was spreading like wildfire a few years ago, but recent dry and hot summers seemed, coupled with human efforts to eradicate it, seemed to be taking its toll on the population. This year, which has been extremely wet, seems to have enabled it to bounce back and I’ve seen much more of it an areas where it has not previously occurred. SO the battle goes on.

It’s a shame that such a pretty plant needs to be so aggressively invasive. But, that seems to be a common theme. Plants are introduced from overseas because they are beautiful in gardens, but once they escape, without natural controls, they can quickly take over. The dandelion is perhaps the best known example. Imported for its food value centuries ago, it has now spread to every corner of the continent. However, as evidenced in this image, local insects wildlife also adapts and soon begins to eat the introduced species. Nature is quite adaptable, but with limits.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/60 sec, f/10.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Spotted Knapweed”

“Spotted Knapweed Blossom”

“Stretching his hand up to reach the stars, too often man forgets the flowers at his feet.”
– Jeremy Bentham 

What looked like delicate thistles from a distance turned out to be Knapweed. The dunes and roadside around Sauble Beach were filled with them. It’s yet another flowering plant that I seem to have overlooked in the past. I suppose it’s because I am deliberately looking for new wildflowers to photograph and learn about that I am finding these as well as many of the more obscure plants native to the areas I visit.

As I’ve said in a few previous posts, we’re now fully into the ‘purple phase’ of summer blossoms, with fields and roadsides filled with knapweed, thistles, vervain, and many more. I like this time of year for it’s diversity of flowering plants, though the rain and heat is taking its toll on the leaves and stems and I’m seeing many plants going dormant in preparation for the inevitable autumn, which thankfully, is still a while away.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/80 sec, f/10.0, ISO 200

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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or my website (images are available for purchase)
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Thursday Doors | August 17, 2017

“582 Sherbourne Street” James Copper House, Toronto

This week’s submission to Norm 2.0‘s Thursday Doors. 

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world.

“582 Sherbourne Street” James Cooper House, Toronto

Today, a return to another of the grand old houses of Toronto’s Sherbourne Street. This one has fascinated me for some time now. Whenever I drive by, I’m drawn to the interesting statues installed on the property. So, when I had the opportunity to walk the area a few weeks ago, this was definitely on my list of places to check out.

I had no idea of the history of this majestic “Second Empire” style building. The building was built in 1881 for James Cooper, a wealthy merchant and show retailer. This area was one of the wealthiest places in Toronto at the time the house was built and it’s in the best condition. After Cooper departed, the building became home to the Keeley Institute for Nervous Diseases, an organization assisting those with alcohol and substance abuse problems. In 1910, it became home to the Toronto Knights of Columbus, who used the facility as a meeting and fundraising venue for almost a century. In 2008 the property was purchased by the Tridel Group, with the intention of building a condominium tower on the site, which is designated by the City of Toronto as a heritage building, so it had to be preserved. Or, in this case, moved.

It turns out, it’s also one of the heaviest moves of a building in Canadian history. In 2008, the 800 ton building was moved twenty feet east and five feet south from its original location, to make room for a condominium tower being built on the same property. The move cost the developer a reported $1M but preserved an architectural treasure from Toronto’s past. The developer has taken great care to maintain the house, which serves as an amenities centre for the adjacent condominium tower.

Oh, yes, and back to the statues, the property has several, all in a wildlife motif, with wolves, stags, and foxes attached to metal bases, with a reflected statue beneath it. The wolf and the fox sit horizontal, but the stag is a vertical installation, quite eye catching. I’ve included the Google Streetview link, though it does not do it justice, as well as an image of the house being moved.

The things you learn when you look for nice doors.

iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1/120 sec; f/1.8; ISO 32

“Receding”

“Receeding”

“We’re always attracted to the edges of what we are, out by the edges where it’s a little raw and nervy. “
– E. L. Doctorow

Similar to my photo from a few days ago “Transitions and Sunsets“, this is another transition photo, made on the same shoreline, at a different time. The elements remain the same, but the light and weather conditions are different.

In this image, made mid afternoon, the water is beginning to recede, having been pushed ashore by high winds and waves. The small ripples in the water are the only indication of this wind, all else would seem calm, the timeless ebb and flow of waves on the shore. The effect the water has on the tone of the sand, making it slightly darker, is what first caught my eye, as well as the sorting of sand grains between light and dark, which is so common on beaches around here, creating the streaks of tan and gray.

It’s yet another image that I simply enjoy looking at and drawing meaning from.

iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1/270 sec; f/1.8; ISO 20