Lightning #36M

Lightning #36M

November 22, 2014

This photograph was taken somewhere around fifteen years ago, down on the farm. Needless to say, it was shot on film, then the 4×6 inch print was scanned onto my computer where some digital adjusting was made to greatly darken the original print. In this particular image, I was able to add some additional lightning along the right side of the photograph, copied from another print, shot during the same storm. I also removed two very small, funky looking bolts long the top border. For years, these two bolts have stuck out like a sore thumb in the 20×30 enlargement hanging in my office (i.e., what should be my dining room). During the past year, I have worked with this print many times, as I now have nine different photos of the original image. I have yet to decide which photograph I like best.

This image, most likely an once-in-a-lifetime photo was shot as my band (i.e., my brothers Brian and Willie, though Willie was technically an ex-brother-in-law. Sadly, Willie passed away a few years back from a work accident) was loading their equipment into the SUV. They used to come out every other Saturday (visitation rights every other weekend, as we were all divorced) for a day of rocking, rolling, and drinking, in addition to cooking a big feast. Some sessions, a guest musician would sit in with the band. It was during those five years of playing rhythm guitar as they both played lead and sang, that I learned what little rhythm I now have. My talent level may be questionable, but I can keep time.

As they were loading their guitars and amps, and I was getting my farmhouse back in order (I am a neat-freak and perfectionist, and making matters worse, I now have OCD), I remember Brian coming back inside, telling me that I needed to go out and see the lightning. It did not take me long to go back inside to get my camera, tri-pod and cable release cord, set up and start shooting. It was the perfect storm, to borrow a pun, and since it was a good distance away, it wasn’t raining at my house. Shooting a whole roll of film that night, this image was the last one on a thirty-six exposure roll of film, which was a good thing as the very large bolt of lightning spooked me. The farmhouse sat up on a small hill, and I was out in the middle of the backyard attached to a metal camera and tri-pod, standing in the middle of two yard lights high up on telephone poles. That bolt was so huge it seemed like it came from way back over my head.

Perfect timing!

Steven H. Spring

Flowers #125F, 125D, 126D, 125H, 126C & 125G

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November 15, 2014

These photographs were some of the last that I shot on film, just before replacing my thirty-three year old camera and finally going digital in June of last year. I have no idea what type of flower these are, however, they are one of the weirdest flowers I have ever seen. I came across this plant one day while walking around town, on the prowl for something to shoot.

Back in the old days, I would only shoot a few photos of each flower. When I first started taking pictures with the new camera, I continued this practice. However, that all changed this past spring and summer. Now days, I shoot six or eight photos of every shot, sometimes even more, changing both the aperture and/or shutter speed on each shot. I will then move either closer to, further away, or get a different angle on the plant and shoot another half dozen photos. As any one who has ever taken a photograph of a flower knows, even the gentlest of a breeze will cause a flower to sway greatly, resulting in a retake. This is especially true the more you zoom in on the flower. Due to the marvel of digital cameras, I will then edit that day’s photos, deleting any under or overdeveloped, and any out of focus shots.

If this plant had been growing in my yard this summer, I would have most likely shot several hundred photos over the course of its blooming cycle. I only wish I had taken a few dozen more photos of this very exotic looking plant.

If anyone knows the name of this flower, please let me know.

Steven H. Spring

Sedums 165BR, 172BR, 169CR, 166BR, 162B, 167BR & 171BR

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November 8, 2014

Sedums are a large genus of flowering plants in the Crassulaceae family, with as many as six hundred different species. These succulents vary from herbs and annuals to shrubs. Sedums, sometimes known as Stonecrops, store water in its thick leaves and stems, making them drought resistant. The plant is also deer resistant. These plants need very little, if any care and are a favorite of bees and butterflies. Sedums have green leaves, with many of the different plants’ leaves turning red in late fall.

These flowers range from low-growing groundcover to those growing to a height of two feet. Their blooms usually have five petals, and range in color from pink, red or purple to yellow or white. The darker color flowers bloom in the fall while the lighter colors bloom from May until August. Sedums are easy to grow and do best in a sandy (or average), well-drained soil and in full sun but can grow in light shade. These plants will tolerate poor soil and hot, dry weather. If the plant is grown in too rich a soil or receives too much water, they will flop over when its flower heads get too heavy. The plant sprouts in early spring in a dense crown of shoots. The origins of this flower are Asia.

This particular Sedum in these photographs are Autumn Joys. This plant grows upright to a height of eighteen inches, with grayish-green three-inch leaves. Autumn Joys blooms from August until November. Its flower, which many describe as looking like broccoli, are four to six-inch clusters of half-inch blooms in the shape of a star that range in color from yellow and orange to pink and red.

German nurseryman and Sedum breeder Georg Arends (1863-1952) crossbred two types of Sedums, Spectabile and Telephium to create Almond Joys, which were first sold in 1955. Their flowers start off bright pink and turns to a cherry red when in full bloom. These plants should be left alone over the winter to provide birds its seeds. Autumn Joys should be divided every three to four years. Older plants tend to split in its center if not divided.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring

2014 U.S. Midterm Election

November 5, 2014

Before Americans become overwhelmed with giddiness over the Republican Party taking control of Congress, and looking forward to taking back the presidency in 2016, they should remember that the last time Republicans controlled both Congress and the presidency, they:

Turned a record budget surplus into a record deficit,
Turned a roaring economy into the second coming of the Great Depression, of which the nation is still trying to recover,
Allowed Wall Street to nearly collapse and was punished with government bailout money, which the bankers used to award themselves record bonuses,
Engaged the country into not one but two wars, both still ongoing and the longest in U.S. history, both unfunded and unwarranted,
Approved the use of torture, in violation of the Geneva Conventions,
Abridged American civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism,
Passed a massive, unfunded Medicare prescription drug plan,
And they let the city of New Orleans drown in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Let the good times roll!

Steven H. Spring

Evolution Of A Photograph: Zinnias #44H, 44F, 44D, 44B & 44

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November 1, 2014

My initial thought was to post these five photos in reverse order, showing the original first, as to show the true evolution of the photograph. However, I decided that in order to catch your eye, it would be best to post them in the order shown. The leaves of this plant are green, however, because of the setting I used on my relatively new camera, they appear blue in these photographs. I now know which setting to use, but I like this look.  I would like to request of you to let me know via a comment which particular photo you like best. I’m not sure which is my favorite, and you doing so will help me in the future as I work on whatever limited skill I possess as a digital photographer. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Zinnias are a genus of twenty species of flowering plants of the Asteracea family, however more than one hundred different plants have been cultivated since crossbreeding them began in the nineteenth century. Zinnias, which is also their botanical name, are native to the scrub and dry grasslands of southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America. Noted for their long-stemmed flowers that come in a variety of bright colors, Zinnias are named for German professor of botany Johann Gottfried Zinn (1727-1759).

These flowers are perennial plants in frost-free climates, but are an annual everywhere else. With leaves opposite each other, their shapes range from linear to ovate, with colors from pale to middle green. The blooms come in different shapes as well, ranging from a single row of petals to a doom shape. Their colors range from purple, red, pink, orange, yellow and white to multicolored. There are many different types of Zinnias. They come in dwarf types, quill-leaf cactus types, spider types, ranging from six inches high with a bloom less than an inch in diameter to plants four feet tall with seven-inch blooms. This plant will grow in most soil types, but thrives in humus-rich, well-watered, well-drained soils. They like the direct sun at least six hours a day; however, they will tolerate just the afternoon sun.

If grown as an annual, they can be started early indoors around mid April. Any earlier and they just might grow too large to manage as the plant germinates in only five to seven days. However, these plants are said to dislike being transplanted. If seeding is done outdoors, they should be sown in late May, after the threat of the last frost, when the soil is above sixty degrees. They will reseed themselves each year. Plant the seeds a quarter-inch deep, covered with loose soil. For bushier plants, pinch off an inch from the tips of the main stems while the plant is still young.

Steven H. Spring

Columbine #25C, 35B, 41B, 39C, 26C, 30B, 27C & 38B

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October 25, 2014

Columbine, whose scientific name is Aquilegia, which is derived from the Latin word aquila which translates as eagle, is so named because the spurred shape of the plant’s sepals on many of the sixty to seventy species of the flower resemble an eagle’s talons. This easy to grow, hardy perennial blooms from late spring through early summer. Though not particularly a long-lived plant, most die off after only two or three years. However, the plant does grow easily from seed, and if seed pods are allowed to develop annually will reseed themselves. The long spurs of the flower produces a nectar that is a favored by hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.

Native to Asia, the plant is now found growing in the wild in meadows, woodlands and at higher altitudes throughout North America and Europe. Columbine, which come in many colors ranging from red, pink and white to purple and blue, are propagated by seed, growing to a height of fifteen to twenty inches. The plant will grow in full sun, however it prefers partial shade and a moist, rich, well-drained soil. Having a long taproot, which allows it to survive periods of drought, this same taproot does make transplanting the plant somewhat difficult.

Columbine, the state flower of Colorado (Rocky Mountain Columbine), were consumed in moderation by Native Americans as a condiment and are said to be very sweet. However, the seeds and root of the plant are very poisonous and if consumed can be fatal.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring

Another Senseless School Shooting

October 24, 2014

Turning on the television to catch up on the day’s news while I eat supper, I was expecting wall-to-wall coverage of the Ebola epidemic, however, it is being reported that there was yet another school shooting, this time at Marysville Pilchuck High School, just north of Seattle, Washington. It is said that as many as five students were shot, one fatally, before the student fatally shot himself. This makes the eighty-seventh school shooting since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Be it our movies, television, music and especially video games, America is a violent, violent nation, one that has been at seemingly continuous war for nearly thirty years. Other countries watch our movies, listen to our music and play our video games, yet they do not have our violence. The difference? Most other civilized countries have some form of sensible gun control.

To date, only one American has died from Ebola, yet members of Congress are proposing drastic measures, doing whatever it takes, such as building a wall around the nation to combat the virus, yet have done nothing since the tragedy at Sandy Hook to curtail something truly epidemic.

Guns are not the solution, guns are the problem.

Steven H. Spring