A Well Designed Weed

I am a fan of great design. When something has a beautiful aesthetic design that is also completely functional – for me that’s the pinnacle of design. I know that to most homeowners, this weed is the bane of their existence, requiring bags of chemicals and funny-looking tools to tame. I have come to appreciate their amazing design – to see that from not only follows function, but that functionality can be truly beautiful.

It begins like this…

I have always marveled at the intricate detail of it's flower's structure.

I have always marveled at the intricate detail of it’s flower’s structure. So much geometry.

…and transforms into this…

The symmetrical seed ball is also filled with structure and geometry,

The symmetrical seed ball is also filled with structure and geometry, a nearly perfect circle made mostly of air.

To really appreciate the beauty and the geometry of the dandelion, you must get closer…

As you get closer you can see the almost engineered structure that holds the whole seed system together.

As you get closer you can see the almost engineered structure that holds the whole seed system together. Dimples as perfectly spaced as any man-made golf ball.

As you get even closer the structure of the seeds themselves becomes much more intricate than you might imagine…

Here you can begin to make out the structure of the seeds - quite intricate with symmetrical barbs holding seeds to center.

Here you can begin to make out the structure of the seeds – quite intricate with symmetrical barbs holding seeds to center.

Getting still closer, the center is revealed to be less like a golf ball with dimples and more like the ports of a futuristic space station…

Now we see that the holes in the center actually have structure too - they have small "latches" that hold onto those seeds until just the right gust of wind comes along.

Now we see that the holes in the center actually have structure too – they have small “latches” that hold onto those seeds until just the right gust of wind comes along.

Of course the flower is just the opening act. The seed itself has an ingenious design…

The seed of the dandelion suspended from the center of a pinwheel of very fine parachute. It not only keeps the seed airborne to scatter in the wind - it makes for a perfect landing with the seed down.

The seed of the dandelion suspended from the center of a pin wheel of very fine parachute. It not only keeps the seed airborne to scatter in the wind – it makes for a perfect landing with the seed down.

When I lived in the city I fought the good fight with the weed. I would even treat my lazy next-door-neighbor’s lawn to prevent more from invading my little green space. After all, if I failed to take care of my lawn I would be bringing a pestilence upon my neighborhood. When I moved to the woods I recall that my neighbors chuckled when they saw me unloading a bag of “weed-n-feed”. They gently told me that what I was calling a lawn was really about 10% bluegrass filled in with wild clover, dandelions and any other ground cover that would grow out in the open. Over the course of the next few days I thought about the deer and birds and finally about my own well water and decided to embrace the idea of a wild lawn with no chemicals added. That first summer I learned to appreciate the dandelion and over the years I have explored it with better and better glass.

The dandelion in all it's glory.

The dandelion in all it’s glory.

I have come to see the majesty in that well designed weed.

The first of many

I don’t typically post multiple times a day, but this is important. Today on the way home I saw it. It was there in the woods waiting for me…

The first of many…

Today the first dogwood made it’s appearance in the woods. Spring is officially here.

Carry on.

Holy Macro!

I have been out taking a very close look and am happy to report that spring is springing. It’s not busting out all over yet, but if you look close, very close – it’s all there to see.

Yesterday after work I took a walk with my macro lens. It’s a Leica 45mm f2.8 so I can shoot in overcast conditions or in low light – that pretty much describes the conditions. I love the tonality of evening shots – past the golden hour, but early enough to keep the ISO and noise at low levels.

The remains of our glorious autumn are still around. I snapped this by accident, I was not even planning a shot - stupid trigger finger. Sometimes a great lens makes a decent shot out of a misfire.

The remains of our glorious autumn are still around. I snapped this by accident, I was not even planning a shot – stupid trigger finger. Sometimes a great lens makes a decent shot out of a misfire.

I was beginning to despair. The heat last year did so much damage and until yesterday I saw no buds. They are higher up, I'm hoping they fill in. These are edible and quite tasty in a salad.

I was beginning to despair. The heat last year did so much damage and until yesterday I saw no buds. They are higher up, I’m hoping they fill in. These are edible and quite tasty in a salad.

I don't know what these are called by my "lawn" is full of them. This shot focuses on the center of the plant.

I don’t know what these are called by my “lawn” is full of them. This shot focuses on the center of the plant…

...while this shot focuses on the outer blossoms.

…while this shot focuses on the outer blossoms.

These flowers appear to float in the woods. They are about a half-inch across...

These flowers appear to float in the woods. They are about a half-inch across…

...and resemble very tiny roses. These are tough to shoot because the are on very thin branches that move with any breeze.

…and resemble very tiny roses. These are tough to shoot because the are on very thin branches that move with any breeze.

This inch-long bundle of feathers is suspended over a limb on the lilacs...

This inch-long bundle of feathers is suspended over a limb on the lilacs…

...another view of the debris from the impact - the breeze makes the lower portion blend together.

…another view of the debris from the impact – the breeze makes the lower portion blend together.

This is a hole in a large rock I have on the patio - it fills with rainwater and the birds drink from this crystalline cavity.

This is a hole in a large rock I have on the patio – it fills with rainwater and the birds drink from this crystalline cavity.

Springtime is about exploration and discovery for me. It’s the perfect time to take that macro lens out for a walk.

It’s a Small, Small World

Early spring in the Ozarks is a mixed bag. Soon the hills will erupt in color, but not just yet. The trees are still bare but budding. Sometimes if you want to see what’s going on you have to get closer – much closer.

I have been getting up close and personal with nature – collecting shots with my Leica Macro lens. Sometimes when you get close you see beauty or complexity in the most mundane things. Color emerges, structure is revealed, discoveries are made.

The dandelion is far more complex that it appears from the seat of my mower deck. The center is almost crystalline

The dandelion is far more complex that it appears from the seat of my mower deck. The center is almost crystalline.

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These cover the fields all over this area – they look like a floating purple cloud from a distance. Up close they are more leaves than flowers, but those flowers are so delicate – less than an eighth of an inch across.

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I love johnny-jump-ups, and these remind me of those but much, much smaller. This tiny violet is less than a half-inch across.

From eye level this looks like moss on a rock. When you get down to ground level it is much more complex than expected.

From eye level this looks like moss on a rock. When you get down to ground level it is much more complex than expected.

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These hyacinths are at the end of their cycle. They mysteriously appeared a couple of years ago after my neighbor encouraged me to plant bulbs in the remains of an old cistern.

I don't know what these are, but they look a lot like some I have seen in my neighbor's flower beds. They are new this year. Thank you garden fairy!

I don’t know what these are, but they look a lot like some I have seen in my neighbor’s flower beds. They are new this year. Thank you garden fairy!

 

Here's a closer shot of that blue flower - there is so much structure to these flowers when you get close.

Here’s a closer shot of that blue flower – there is so much structure to these flowers when you get close.

I think this is some form of bluet - it measures about a quarter inch across.

I think this is some form of bluets – it measures about a quarter-inch across.

I'm pretty sure this is southern bluet. Tiny and white.

I’m pretty sure this is southern bluets. Tiny and white.

Is this the face of an owl? Nah, it's just the shell of a black walnut - it was probably a winter  meal for a squirrel

Is this the skull of an owl? Nah, it’s just the shell of a black walnut – it was probably a winter meal for a squirrel.

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The field around the Stone House is a mix of blue grass, clover, and low ground cover like this. An inch-long feather rests atop the ground cover.

I don't know what this is, but it is very tiny - smaller than a head of a pencil. It is so small that it's color is not even visible until you get very close to the ground.

I don’t know what this is, but it is very tiny – smaller than a head of a pencil. It is so small that its color is not even visible until you get very close to the ground.

I see these every year, they are low - under the grass. This one seems to have extra petals.

I see these every year, they are low – under the grass. This one seems to have extra petals. I love its star-shaped foliage.

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This is ice – water frozen in the bird bath.

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Daffodil buds emerging.

Water condensing inside the stalk of a daffodil.

Water condensing inside the stalk of a daffodil.

Getting these shots required me to get down in the dirt and undergrowth. Getting closer is not always easy, but is usually worth it.

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

You know the song.

Since Thanksgiving you’ve heard it a hundred times. Listening to the lyrics it’s not explicitly about Christmas, but it is from a movie we watch during the holidays. The list in the song is not my list. I’m not big on whiskers – I prefer the rest of the kitten. I don’t think I need mittens when using a kettle – it’s all a bit disjointed. Lyrically it’s genius – in practical use it’s not my cup of tea.

So what would my list be? I decided for my 100th post to share the list of things that inspire me behind the lens.

Raindrops on…

Anything.

Naked Lady in the rain

Naked Lady in the rain.

You can see my house inverted in this raindrop

You can see my house inverted in this raindrop.

A newly opened dogwood drenched in the rain

A newly opened dogwood drenched in the rain.

Lilac buds shining after a shower

Lilac buds shining after a shower.

I love redbuds - the first color of spring

I love redbuds – the first color of spring.

I’m not so much into bright copper kettles, but I am fascinated with…

Rust.

This is the rust and patina on my copper fire pit.

This is the rust and patina on my copper fire pit.

This hay rake was in my woods when I bought the house - every surface is beautifully rusted.

This hay rake was in my woods when I bought the house – every surface is beautifully rusted.

This padlock was on the jail in Midas Nevada. The lock spoke to me more than the shack it was attached to.

This padlock was on the jail in Midas Nevada. The lock spoke to me more than the shack it was attached to.

I don’t even know what schnitzel is – it sounds odd to me. I know it’s odd to love…

Dandelions.

I like the delicate structure and I like to find a way to look at them in new ways

I like the delicate structure and I like to find a way to look at them in new ways.

The structure of the actual flower is pretty amazing even before it goes to seed.

The structure of the actual flower is pretty amazing even before it goes to seed.

The substructure is so intricate. I shot this with a manual macro lens from the 70s.

The substructure is so intricate. I shot this with a manual macro lens from the 70s.

I grew up in the desert so the idea of sleigh bells is foreign to me, but door bells make me think of home. I have a strong bent towards…

Sentiment and Kitsch.

I love kitsch and I love it unusual places. I have had lawn flamingoes in the front lawn of every home I have ever owned.

I love kitsch and I love it unusual places. I have had lawn flamingoes in the front lawn of every home I have ever owned.

Keys

These are my Grandpa’s keys. I love shooting things that belonged to someone special.

Purple Glass

My Grandma taught me about purple glass, I love to shoot things that are transparent and have color.

Apricot Pit

My great-grandfather carved this out of a peach pit. I love the surfaces of handmade things like this.

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes. I like snow, but not so much for its photographic opportunities. I prefer…

Spring Flowers

First color on the ground often before the grass starts to green up.

Crocus – the first color on the ground, often before the grass starts to green up.

Cherry Blossoms open skyward

Cherry Blossoms opening skyward captivate me.

Daffodils have amazing color before we even notice them

Daffodils have amazing color before we even notice them.

Lilacs open as the sun hits them - here for too brief a time.

Lilacs open as the sun hits them – here for too brief a time.

My garden fairy planted a few of these a couple of years ago in a spot were there was once a cistern. I love them.

Hyacinths – My garden fairy planted a few of these a couple of years ago in a spot were there was once a cistern. I love them.

Cream colored ponies and dogs biting. I’m not too far off here.  I love the company of…

Dogs.

Sunshine is my Goldendoodle. He’s a lovely goofball and is a bit camera-shy, I like to catch him when he is unaware of me.

These are my brother’s pointers – I shot this one Christmas when Vegas had a rare snow. I loved the sheer joy the pups exuded as they ran in the frosted desert.

These are my two female terriers. They hate each other’s guts unless they are sleeping – they are precious when they sleep.

This is a pup I met on a trip – I love that he was interested in my camera. Curiosity is a favorite thing to capture in an animal.

Zipper was my first Kayak dog – he was so relaxed on the water.

Brown paper packages, blue satin sashes, silver white winters – there’s a lot of color in this song. I love color and am drawn to vivid colors. One color draws me more than all the others.

I shoot anything that is…

Orange.

The color of this car drew me to it - hundreds of cars and this was my favorite.

The color of this car drew me to it – hundreds of cars and this was my favorite.

I'm pretty sure I chose this hard drive for that orange bumper.

I’m pretty sure I chose this hard drive for that orange bumper.

In the shop where I work I see lots of color, but this set of mixers caused me to go get my camera.

In the shop where I work I see lots of color, but this set of mixers caused me to go get my camera.

These Tiger Lilies grow wild around the Ozarks. I have them pretty thick in the springs right at the edge of the woods

These Tiger Lilies grow wild around the Ozarks. I have them pretty thick in the spring – right at the edge of the woods.

This sunset was so vivid that I missed an appointment when I stopped to shoot it.

This sunset was so vivid that I missed an appointment when I stopped to shoot it.

Now that winter is here and it’s a grey day, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so … bad.

Requiem for Fall

The color here in the Ozarks is almost completely gone. Sometimes you’ll find a dogwood deep in a hollow – but the show is essentially over. Here are the last of the stragglers and my attempt to find something interesting or beautiful without a lot of color.

This hickory was one of the last holdouts. More leaves up than down.

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Today even these are on the ground.

Some maples hung on in spite of the recent wind and rains, sometimes the sky was visible right through them.

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Today the maples have all joined the oaks on the forest floor.

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A crunchy carpet of tans and golds a foot thick in spots is all that remains.

Driving west I saw this field full of something fluffy. The sunlight and wind made it dance.

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The puffs were actually quite delicate – like dandelion seeds. Even so they hung on in the wind.

On my way back to town I stopped by to see this old friend – fully exposed amidst its now barren trees. It makes me think of that transition from Fall to Winter.

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It’s just holding on to what little color it has left.

Fall is fleeting and I miss it already.

The First and Last of the Dogwoods

The dogwood is a favorite of mine. It shows itself early. Before the leaves of the surrounding trees have fully opened they appear like clouds suspended just below the treetops. The open and spread their wings, and then they are gone.

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Throughout the summer, the dogwood simply disappears. It’s green leaves blending into the canopy. Only it’s dark twisted trunks give it away. For months they hide as spindly trees in forests of mighty oaks.

In the fall they fight to hold onto their green…

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Giving into the transition slower than the rest, fighting the good fight…

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Until only red remains and they alone are at the peak of their color. As the others start to fall, they take flight.

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Bursting with color as the sunshines right through their translucent leaves.

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Holding on long after the others are gone.

The first and the last.