Cool Spider and Snake Pictures

First off, I’m freaked out by spiders and I imagine them scurrying up my arms . . . but, I think their webs are interesting. And when I see a snake my heart beats so fast, my adrenaline kicks into high gear, and I’m outa’ there.

I feel so alive in those moments.

And even though I imagine snakes slithering up my leg and eating me alive, I am completely fascinated by these age old beguilers.

Spider

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I noticed this spider web glistening in the morning sunlight. The wind was really strong, so I used a faster shutter speed than metered, which resulted in a pretty dark picture.

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I used auto correct for this picture and I thought the background lost too much of the darkness that allowed the spider to pop. Also, The highlights and the green at the top were a little brighter than I liked.

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So, I tried again doing the work manually. I brightened up the exposure slightly around the edges which resulted in a more balanced contrast between the light and the dark. The differences between these pictures are small, but I wanted to include both.

I really like how the lens flares and the rainbow colors turned out.

Snake

Later in the afternoon, my dog Sunny was barking wildly. I checked it out but I didn’t see anything. When we got back from our walk she went right back to the same spot and that’s when I saw it.

The snake looked more brown when I was running away from it.

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He’s actually blue with a yellow belly. How cool is that? I can’t tell what kind it is though. I’ve narrowed it down to three possibilities:

  • Blue Indigo
  • Yellow Bellied Blue Racer
  • Yellow Bellied Water Snake

If anyone can identify this snake, I’m all ears.

Fight or Flight . . . Flight!

Even though she’s an amazing snake killer, I got Sunny in the house and I went back outside to try and get a picture. I like to think me and snakes have come to terms with each other. Because this one let me take his picture and then he was gone.

I love that I got the opportunity to photograph and to experience the snake, without being in any danger.  What’s cool about this picture is the tree limb right in front of the snake mimics the bend in his body. They’re amazing at camouflage.

I wonder if I was staring right at him before when I checked, but he was hiding . . .

 

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Quick Pics 18-27 – A Fishing Trip

Welcome to my 4th installment of Quick Pics coming straight to you from the backroads of East Texas. I was headed to go fishing with my family friends, and what I like most about these pictures is how they show that we were truly just enjoying the moment. That feeling of letting the cool breeze hit your face while riding down the beautiful road with people you care about.

Quick Pic 18 – Juxtapose

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I love how the leaves take over the ground and the trees.

 

Camera Setting: Cross Process

I named this photo Juxtapose, because the lines created by the trees, fence, and the frame of the window are running perpendicular to each other, which creates an interesting and balanced image.

Juxtapose: to place (different things) side by side (as to compare them or contrast them or to create an interesting effect)

When I’m taking pictures from inside the car, I like to sometimes include the car to let the viewer know where I’m shooting from. In this case, the car helps :

  • to frame the image
  • to mimic the lines of the fence
  • and to add more horizontal lines, which juxtapose to the vertical lines

Quick Pic 19 – Down Country Roads

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Camera Setting: Normal

I was really wanting to take pictures but there wasn’t anything grabbing my interest. So, I was just playing around with the zoom and snapped this blurry view of the road winding in front of us.

Quick Pic 20 – Memories, Old and New

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Camera Setting: I don’t remember and I can’t tell . . . My guess is Cross Process.

Still playing with the zoom, I managed to capture a bright burst of sunlight over my friend’s shoulder. She was wearing a Blake Shelton concert shirt and telling a story about when she was a kid and her parent’s would take them down these backroads picking buckets and buckets of blackberries.

Quick Pic 21 – Which Way Should We Go?

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Camera Setting: Cross Process

We weren’t catching any fish at Lake Nac, so we got back in the truck and drove around looking for a better spot. When I snapped this pic, we were trying to decide if we should go left or right. I love the way the sun is shining on the ground in the distance.

Quick Pic 22 and 23 – Untitled

Camera Setting: Toy Camera

The wind was too strong here so we just circled the parking lot and left. I liked how the sun was glistening off the water and the ramp.

Quick Pic 24 – A Church

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Camera Setting: Cross Process

We have 100’s of historical churches in this area. We also have 100’s of historical cemeteries . . . many of them were the subjects of photo projects I did in college. At the time, I thought about doing a series on churches, but I guess I never got around to it.

I didn’t like how the image looked when my camera was horizontal so I tilted it quickly and snapped. I think it’s a pretty cool pic.

Quick Pic 25 – Ugh, Teenagers

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Camera Setting: Cross Process

I was mostly taking pictures on the right side, so I shoved my camera in front of my friend on my left, and he thought it’d be a good idea to try and block my lens with his hand.

Quick Pic 26 – Untitled

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Camera Setting: I can’t tell if this is Cross Process, or the Miniature Effect.

I took this while we were crossing a tiny bridge. I really like how the reflection of the trees look, and the blurriness around the edges. I love this picture. It’s my favorite quick pic of the day.

Quick Pic 27 – Fallen Tree

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Camera Setting: Normal

I noticed this scene when we went down this road the first time but the 70 mph speed limit was too fast for me. We headed back down this road, and this time I had my camera ready. I thought I missed it again until I was looking at the pics on my laptop.

I’ve seen a lot of fallen tree scenes like this all over, and I think it would look better if I used a DSLR and got out and got closer. Quick pic didn’t do this scene justice but I was happy that I did capture it, when I thought that I didn’t.

Sooo . . . Did We Catch Any Fish??

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Not a “quick Pic”

Camera Setting: Cross Process

We finally found a good looking spot under a bridge where we caught one large blue catfish and a couple of small fish that we threw back.We laughed so hard trying to walk on the slippery mud.

I had a couple of pictures that are left untitled . . . I just couldn’t think of a good name. Anyone out there good at naming photos? If anyone thinks of something, I’d love to hear your ideas.

I hope you enjoyed these quick pics as much as I enjoyed taking them.

 

A Walk through the Woods

I walk through the woods a lot. Always fun and an incredible workout, by the end of the walk I’m gasping for air, dehydrated, and every muscle in my body feels alive. My last walk was with a few of the kids in my neighborhood. Every year when the weather warms up they’re begging me “Can you take us through the woods???”

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How did I become the Woods Excursion Guide? It’s Ok . . . I love it. I took this photo with the toy camera setting on my point and shoot.

About 7 years ago we got a new neighbor who wasn’t too friendly. He put up a gate with a no trespassing sign and threatened to “put down” the dogs that were running free. It was crazy. We all stood up for the dogs and eventually the gate and sign came down. It is a public road after all.

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Now, without fear of being shot, we have access to the pond and a bunch of woods again. When I was a kid, my friend Chase was the person who dug this pond. It was bigger and much cleaner. It’s trashed and toxic now.  Hmm, could make a good location for a horror or end of the world flick.

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We walked the trail around the pond which was lined with bamboo. While we were immersed in discussion about Koala bears, one of the boys managed to scare everyone with the old “SNAKE!” routine.

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The woods are so interesting. I like seeing the changes in the environment as it transitions from winter to spring. The leaves on the ground are crunchy and so pale and bland looking.

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We came across this beetle which spurred a discussion about beetles and their behavior and their grossness. And of course there’s always someone who touches it. The same person who tries to scare people by yelling “SNAKE” in a crowded woods.

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Does anybody watch Ninja Warrior? I love that show. It always makes me want to get out and get better at traversing obstacles, and the woods is a perfect playground for that. Plenty of places for climbing, jumping, running, balancing, and so much more.  I took a break from climbing up a steep incline to take a quick pic of this dog loving the walk as much . . . if not more than we were.

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Years ago I told everyone these were alien spacecraft. The story has stuck. My imagination is always vivid, but there’s just something about the woods that makes my imagination go wild. I took this picture with my toy camera setting. It works pretty good as a digital lomo pic.

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this picture was taken earlier on the walk, there’s my dog, Sunny

The sun was beginning to set and the excursion was finally coming to an end. I was glad, cuz I was so beat. Sometimes I can’t believe there is so much variety just in one area of my neighborhood. I know your area has tons of variety too. Grab your camera and have fun exploring it with your family and friends.

Photographing the White Iris Flower

I sat down near these irises to spend some time looking at them and practice taking better photos. I sat there so long a couple of large birds landed at the top of the trees right in front of me.

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They were squawking loudly but I couldn’t see them. I wanted to, so I got up to try and spot them and of course I startled them. As they flew away I got a glimpse of one that was brown . . . I think it was a hawk. I have a friend who never believes me when I say I saw a hawk, but I’m pretty sure it was one.

I was using my Nikon DSLR with a kit lens and I was shooting in aperture priority. It was around 10 to 11 in the morning, and the light was slowly moving and landing on different parts of the flowers. The shade of the trees acted as a natural diffuser so the sunlight wouldn’t be too harsh on the delicate petals.

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I’ve taken so many pictures of irises since they bloom every year in my yard and all over my neighborhood and I don’t want to get caught up taking the same boring pictures of the same flower, like in the photo below.

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The light is flat, the background is boring and distracting, and I could have gotten closer to focus on a specific part of the flower.

3 Things to Remember When Photographing Flowers

Light – Flowers look better in a flattering, soft, light just like in portraiture. You can use a diffuser to soften the light on a bright day, clouds on an overcast day, or shade from a tree.

Background – Using a shallow depth of field helps to separate the beautiful flower from a potentially distracting background. Always be aware of the area all around your subject and decide if your background will add interest or take away interest.

Get Closer – Unless you’re taking a landscape photo of a field of poppies or bluebonnets, you should practice getting closer to the flower. It will help pull your viewer in closer to the subject and highlight unique details. You could also sprinkle water onto the flower and get close to the droplets and play around with the light.

If you’d like to know more about irises , I found this article at American Meadows interesting. I’d also like to share a video about light metering, by the Angry Photographer. I came across his stuff a while back, and this guy knows his stuff.

 

Early Spring Flowers in East Texas

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The weather in Nacogdoches is a comfortable 70 degrees, and the early Spring flowers are starting to bloom. My area is well known for the Azaleas, but we have so much more than that.

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I’m not 100% sure on what each flower is, but I think the pictures above are a pear type of flower.

 

As I was walking my dog through my neighborhood, my eyes were drawn to a bright yellow burst of color from a distance. As I got closer the sweet aroma just pulled me over. I think this is a Forsythia bush. The pics I found online weren’t exactly like mine, but pretty close.

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Whatever they are, they are so pretty and smell soooo good.

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I feel pretty confident that this one is a Texas Redbud. They show up early and the purple pops beautifully against all the deep greens.

 

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Flowers can be hard to photograph, but it’s a challenge that’s always a lot of fun to tackle. I love to watch them change throughout the season and enjoy their pleasing aroma.

I don’t know if I can choose a favorite because I love them all, but roses and tulips are high up on the list. What are your favorite flowers?

National Kolache Day

“Kolaches have always been the underdog in the pastry world, and National Kolache Day will pave the way for this overlooked pastry to gain its much-deserved recognition.” – Vatsana Souvannavog, the owner of Koala Kolache.

The Houston Mayor declares March 1 National Kolache Day because the owner of Koala Kolache wanted the pastry and the Czech people in Texas to be recognized.

Voyage to Texas in 1852

Texas has a large Czech population. I know this because my dad’s side of my family immigrated from there to the United States and settled in Texas. My granny was a first generation Czech-American.

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My Granny near San Antonio, Tx 1947

She lived on the coast for a while, where a lot of Czech families lived. All of her brothers joined the military and were very proud to serve their country. Then she became a farmer’s wife and moved to East Texas to pursue a career in cosmetology and to raise her son, who also joined the military.

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I guess I’m not the only person in my family who photographs Cows

My Czech Heritage

Being half Czech is pretty cool. I remember going to South Texas and visiting my granny on holidays. The sounds of a thick language I didn’t understand echoing from the kitchen, where there was around the clock cooking. And you never saw the woman sweat! . . . seriously. Her clothes were always perfect, and her hair was always in place. Thanks to Aqua Net.

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I really like this picture. Granny 1949 East Texas

Czech Food

The smell of food was always wafting through the house. I was accustomed to a variety of foreign food because I grew up on a military base and met and ate with people from all over the world. And I wasn’t afraid to try stuff.

But the one thing I wasn’t crazy about was sauerkraut. Always cooked in brown sugar and beef drippings. They put that nasty stuff on their Thanksgiving stuffing, and it’s served with so many meals all year.

I love it now, and crave it. Just last night I had a roast beef sandwich on rye bread with mustard, pickles, and sauerkraut.

The Mouth-Watering Czech Kolache

I was already craving my granny’s food but now . . . thanks to Houston declaring March 1 National Kolache Day, I NEED the original Czech Kolache. The East Texan “pig in a blanket” version just won’t do.

2002

My Granny with her sis, sis-in-law, bro, and nephew- the guy in black was the Kolache Baker, 2002

I remember walking into the kitchen when the uncle who made delicious kolaches showed up, his arms loaded with peach filled, raspberry filled, fruits I couldn’t identify filled. It was heaven.

1968 holiday meal kolache on plate

1968 A plate of Kolaches are on the middle of the table to the right of the candle. Looks like peach flavored. My dad is the kid looking at the camera with the ketchup bottle in front of him. 

I don’t know about you, but my heritage is so important to me. I love knowing where I come from and embracing and learning about it. And I was really happy to hear that the delicious Czech pastry get’s it’s own day.

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The last two Kolache pastries on the plate, to the right of the candle. 

Proud to be an American

So if you haven’t tried them yet, go enjoy a Kolache and help celebrate the true spirit of America. A nation made up of immigrants who all love this country and add to it’s diverse culture.

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My Great Grandparents – My Granny’s Mom, brother, and Dad

Red Morning Pictures

I was headed to the kitchen this morning when I saw a red glow shining through the windows. I grabbed my point and shoot camera and headed outside hoping I was quick enough to capture the red hue before it went away.

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Light changes quickly so I only managed to get one decent picture. It was a tad bit redder when I first saw it, but that’s still pretty red. I wonder what kind of particles were in the atmosphere to cause that color.

Lo-Fi Time

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For this picture I activated my “toy camera” setting and it gave me the option of choosing a warm, neutral, or cool tint . . . I went with warm. The warm glow in the sky was pretty much gone by this point, but maybe that filter helped some. I positioned my camera at my hip and snapped the picture.

I like how it turned out. I like all the vertical lines created by the trees in the background, and the variety of diagonal lines created by the yucca plants and that stick in the foreground.

LOMO Rules Followed

So, is it LOMO? I followed rules 1-3 that are specific to all photography, and I wont list them. Rules 8-10 also didn’t really apply cuz I didn’t worry about what I shot which means I obeyed them. I am focusing on the Golden Rules though, so I guess I broke Rule 10 a bit. Aside from them, I’ll focus on the following Golden Rules of Lomography:

4. Yes, I tried the shot from the hip. The composition turned out pretty interesting.

5. Approach the subject as close as possible. The sharp pointy ends of the yucca got me so I definitely obeyed this rule.

6. Don’t think. Done.

7. Be fast. And done.

Pics Before Coffee

My coffee was ready for me when I was done shooting. I love the feeling of productivity and creativity before I even get coffee into my system. Makes the coffee that much more enjoyable.