Macro Monday

Queen Palm frond’s droplet.

Music to my ears for twenty years.

Liquid crystal.

Texture and lines.

Vertical and diagonal lines…in my favorite hues as reflected in my interior.  I love to bring the outside, in.

It grows where it grows.

Reflections in water.

She follows me.  What am I supposed to do but take her picture?

Water sticks.

Bud and bokeh.

Goodbye to Discovery

On Thursday, February 24 Space Shuttle Discovery launched for the last time. This hardly comes as news to anyone but since we’ve enjoyed watching many launches – day and night – from our neighborhood beach, I couldn’t let this occasion pass without mention.

About ten minutes before launch time, which I monitor from NASA’s Twitter feed, people flock to the beach, young and old. So these forays into space are still magical to most people.

I regret not being more aware of that final nighttime launch last year, and not having set up the photo gear to try to capture it. Many did, as it was a dark, clear night, and have heart-stoppingly beautiful pictures to show for it.

Discovery was visible to us for maybe a minute before it vanished into the bluish sky above the horizon.

Then we all went home.

Macro Monday In The Park

My meager offerings for this week’s Macro Monday segment were from a trip to two parks in Atlantic Beach.

I was looking for inspiration without feeling inspired. It was the end of long week, filled with activity and emotion; highs and lows. So I went to my favorite little hideaway park in Atlantic Beach:

I wandered about but didn’t see anything of interest for macro photography but look! There were two owls together on the branch, high in the tree. A telephoto lens would have been useful but it was so fun to watch these birds interact with each other. One groomed the other and was generally more active than his counterpart, who occupied that limb so regally. I kept waiting for one of them to fly off so I could possibly capture the owl in flight but of course, neither did, not until I’d given up and moved away. So, while taken with a macro lens, I give you two owls, in Howell Park.

And finally, the lonely swing.  In Jack Russell Park it waits, expectantly, for someone to come along and put it to good use.

Lastly, a Pampas plume, with bokeh.

Not every Macro Monday means magnificence. But I shall persevere because practice makes magnificence.

Well, Hello Sunglasses. I’ve Missed You.

It’s a gorgeous day at the beach.  After several days of gloomy but mild weather, today is like SPRING with people outside, soaking it up.  Guys without shirts in the front yard (well, not a look I’m exactly fond of unless a guy is at the beach) and girls in bikinis getting their tan on. Convertibles.  Surfing. (They surf all winter, anyway.) But still.  There’s a lightness of being about today and my spirit likes it, very much, thank you.

(This is an interesting house in Neptune Beach, oceanfront.)

So today, a video snippet of beachlife for a February afternoon:

And, part deux:

(photo and video compliments of iPhone 4)

Macro Monday: This is Not A Cat Food Commercial

When I was in college, I took a photography class.  A pedestrian student, I loved my camera but lacked inspiration.

The thing I loved to photograph was my cat.  Maybe that’s because he was always nearby, and I didn’t want to work that hard.  Whatever it was, I did take many photos of Frye, processing them in black and white, and happily mounting them for class exhibition.  That cat had the best disposition of any cat I’ve ever had (and I loved him the most, but don’t tell Angel or Pumpkin, because I really, really love them too).

My takeaway from that photography class –

Where Jeannie Made Boring Prints in Photography Class

where I toiled in the Kresge Art Center at Michigan State University on my cat masterpieces – was the professor’s critique of my work.

One day in class he said, “Miss Shmina, this is not a cat food commercial.”


I’ve never forgotten that comment.  I have always associated it with that photography class.

I still have one photo of Frye, gazing serenely through my lens, lying calmly in the grass, mounted on art board, somewhere.  It was pedestrian, but I loved it, because I loved Frye.

Today, I give you my cats, in macro. Perhaps the images are still ordinary, but since they are always around when I’m in the yard with my camera, I snapped a few of them during my ‘seeds and nuts’ shoot.  They are happy to dine on Purina, Meow Mix, and lizards, with the occasional baby bird if they get lucky.

Perhaps my work has not improved much.  That’s up to the viewer to decide.

At least I have a better lens, now.  But I must say, I did have a 50mm 1.4 on that beauty of a film camera.  They don’t make them like they used to; that’s for certain.

Pumpkin, the Calico, has the best fur, so soft.  She likes to jump onto my back, nuzzle my hair, and then she starts biting it.  Odd.

Angel, the black-and-white part Tiger, likes to drink water from the hose.

They are my yard pals, following me as I roam, looking for better subjects to shoot.  For today, though, this is all I have to offer for Macro Monday.

If I showed a partially eaten lizard stiff with rigor mortis, its eyes open and front legs extended as though the possibility of escape still existed,  its bottom half having been thoroughly enjoyed by one of my pals here, now that would have been a cat food commercial.

“Tastes like chicken, and high in protein.  Fresh, locally-sourced,  and no cost to you.  Serve lizard daily, with a clean bowl of water, and your cat will be happy for years to come.”

Have a Seat

What’s better about this beach town  is that we have beach accesses that everyone can share. In Atlantic Beach,  at every block from 1st Street to 20th, there’s a public beach access. There you can cross over to the most beautiful beach on the eastern seaboard. It’s possible I’m biased, but it’s awfully nice, we all agree.   Ours is a residential beachfront. A neighborhood beach.  Locally loved, but visitors are welcomed.

Not all the beach accesses have public parking. But you can find a dozen to fifteen public parking spaces at 18th St. and 19th Sts.; at random other accesses,  you can find a spot or two to park in.  Many are also designated for handicapped parking.  These spots are all tucked in so nicely to the surrounding area that  any parking sort of melds into the landscaping along the walk to the beach.  At about 16th Street, there’s a little shaded cove that allows for six or so cars to park.  You’ll have to be on the lookout for that one.  Up at 20th St. there is parallel street parking on Beach Ave., just south of 20th, for about three cars.  You have to know where to look but you can certainly get onto our beaches at every block. The accesses are publicly marked.

It’s okay to park on the street a block or two away, and walk to the beach too. Just don’t park on someone’s lawn or block their driveway. That would be rude.

See, we’re friendlier here, I think, than some of our neighbors further south. People here ride bikes, push jogging strollers, whoosh past on scooters or skateboards; sometimes with a surfboard tucked under their arm.

Yesterday I was having my hair cut  and the stylist asked which beach club I belonged to. See, if you live  in that town, and if you don’t live oceanfront (I’m not married to a golf pro or Jacksonville Jaguar; and I’m only the CEO of Atlantic Beachlife, LLC), you practically have to join one of the beach clubs to get beach access.  Unless you want to go the the public beach, which is nice, but… why hassle with all that?  Sure the beach clubs are lovely, but I when I moved to Florida I was set on living in a real town; a place that had history and a town center, and the opportunity to walk to the beach from our own house.  I didn’t want to get into the car and drive to the beach.

So we settled for here, instead of there.  Here is Atlantic Beach.  My like-minded neighbors are Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach.

Many of the beach accesses in Atlantic Beach have been personalized by the neighbors who live nearby.  Some have lobbied the city for some basic rinsing showers: nice!

This is the 19th Street beach access in Atlantic Beach. Here, you can park your car on the street.  Here, you can lock up your bike, and rinse off when the day is done, which saves you from bringing all that sand straight into your car.  Atlantic beachlifers, we’re thoughtful like that.

At the 19th Street beach access, you can just pause for a few, and look out over the water, without even having to walk down the path to the beach. I’ve done it myself a few times, passing by on my bike.  I’m thinking how nice this bench is for older people, or anyone who can’t make the walk down the path to the beach and back again, but who crave the salt air, the sea breeze, and euphoric feeling that being here evokes in so many of us who love it.

Be a fine way to spend few minutes on a winter afternoon,  here on this bench, don’t you think?

Macro Monday Texting

Or, how to be with two people at the same time. The one in front of you, and the one in your hand.

Macro Monday Seeds and Nuts

This is a seed from one of the many common palms in the yard.  It will sprout anywhere it’s buried, and its appearance will resemble a blade of grass. As a Florida newbie ten years ago, I didn’t recognize this. I thought those blades were grass, but Northern turf and Southern turf is a whole other blog post (and who really cares except Master gardeners and golf course turf managers – or weed-pullers like me?)   That’s the time to yank it though,  before it’s had a chance to develop its ‘tree’ root system.    These weeds are everywhere in my gardens, and are easy to extract when nascent blades,  but dullsville for people who eschew weeding.  Like children. Like my children. Even when I offer to pay them (I naively thought they’d be glad for the chance to earn some cash.  I’m blogging, and taking pictures of weeds,  I’m a bit busy, you understand …)   But  honestly? I actually love weeding.  It’s quiet time, and really satisfying to work in the dirt, removing weeds, and turning the mulch;  prettying the gardens. I used to have more time for gardening and I miss it.   These palm seeds also pepper our decks, and squash when stepped on. Since we painted the decks black, these seeds are barely discernable. Until you step on one.

A tiny acorn, with its friend, the dimpled seednut.  I don’t know what it is, but it has an interesting texture next to the acorn, don’t you think?  Since I focussed on the acorn as the primary subject, the dimpled seednut plays second fiddle in this image. The blurred green in the background is Spanish moss, which you’ll see more clearly when you keep scrolling down.

I have no idea what this … pointy sphere-on-a-stem is, but they are everywhere about my yard.  I love its texture also and doesn’t it just pop when placed in front of my green deck railings?

A composition of the palm seed, tiny acorn, dimpled seednut or whatever-it-is, against a backdrop of Spanish moss.

Three of my favorite colors: black, green, and gold. Do I need to mention that’s a leaf, on the right? It was just there when I set the seed in front of the Spanish moss, and I liked how it looked in the picture.

Red berries. Obviously.  Probably not good for you if you ate one.

The end.