Fireworks Over Mount Rushmore

Fourth Of July, 2020

In celebration of the president’s defiance of his own COVID-19 task force’s guidelines regarding social distancing and wearing of face masks by having a taxpayer-financed campaign rally Friday night at Mount Rushmore, complete with fireworks celebrating America’s 244th birthday, I thought it fitting to post my own version of fireworks over a mountain sacred to this country’s indigenous people, on land “appropriated” from them many years ago.

On June 30, 1980, in United States v. Sioux Nations of Indians, the Supreme Court ruled that the Black Hills did indeed belong to the Sioux Nation, declaring the government violated the terms of the Fort Laramie Treaty of April 29, 1868. Every one of the more than five hundred treaties agreed to by the federal government and the indigenous people were broken in some manner by our government. One was broken by the rightful landowners.

Like most people that attended the campaign rally last night, my family and I were not wearing face masks, nor did we abide by the six-foot social distancing guidelines. Neither did any of the other people that were there among us. However, our blatant disregard of task force guidelines were not born out of civil disobedience, but judging by the size of my precious babies in other photos from this vacation, merely due to our trip out west occurred most likely in very late 1980s, possibly 1990.

Furthermore, I do not remember which month we made the trip, but there were no fireworks the night in which I shot this photograph. Judging by the size of the pyrotechnics in the original photograph, these fireworks most likely exploded over London. London, Ohio, that is.

Digital photography is truly an amazing invention.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

 

To “B” Or Not To “b” (Apologies To Willie Shakespeare)

July 2, 2020

Before reading the op-ed column in last Sunday’s Columbus Dispatch by Jenice Armstrong, a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, in which she detailed the new custom of capitalizing “B” when referring to Black people, I had noticed this practice for several weeks in both the newspaper and on television. My viewpoint regarding categorizing people by the color of their skin, although convenient still seems racist even if capitalizing the first letter. Ironically, for the most part, black nor white does not really describe one’s actual color of their skin.

Why is it that skin color is only used to describe Black people or White? We no longer refer to Oriental people as being Yellow. Nor do we refer to America’s indigenous people as Red, except, that is for the National Football League’s Washington Redskins. I have written numerous letters to the NFL, NAACP and Washington’s owner during the past several decades regarding the derogatory nickname, calling for its banishment.

While reading Armstrong’s article, the thought occurred to me if this new capitalization procedure would apply to the word white. Before the week was out, I found the answer when reading an article by Ben Walker of the Associated Press that appeared in Wednesday’s sports section when he wrote former baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain “Landis broke up exhibitions between Black and white All-Star teams” in his article about why Landis’ name should be removed from Major League Baseball’s annual MVP award.

The non-capitalization of the letter “W” in the word white did not bother me as a White person; it just looked funny capitalizing one color and not the other. That bothered me as someone who suffers from being a neat freak, perfectionist and OCDer.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Alstroemerias #155BR, 156BR, 158BR, 110BR & 111BR

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

June 27, 2020

Commonly called Lilies Of The Incas, Peruvian Lily, Princess Lily or Parrot Lily, Alstroemerias are named after Swedish botanist Baron Klas von Alstroemer. Originally from the cool mountainous regions of The Andes, most species originated in either central Chile or eastern Brazil, though they have become naturalized in the United States and several other countries. Those species from Chile are winter growing plants, whereas those from Brazil bloom during the summer.

Alstroemerias, a staple of most bouquets of flowers, are a member of the Alstroemeriaceae plant family, with fifty different species. They flower in a variety of colors, including purple, red, orange, pink and white, blooming between June and October. Each bloom has three sepals, three petals, six stamens and a style. With three to five flowers on each stem, they provide a full appearance as cut flowers. Cut flowers will last up to two weeks. An interesting bit of information about these plants is that their leaves appear to grow upside down. Each leaf twists as it grows out from the stem, and as such, the bottom ends up face upward.

Alstroemerias are considered an easy plant to grow. Hardy perennials, they love the full morning sun, and some shade during hot afternoons. Thriving in zones six through ten, these plants may stop producing flowers if their root systems get too hot. Their roots develop tubers, allowing the plant to store both water and nutrients, letting them survive in periods of drought. These tubers also enable a gardener to divide the plant easily. Liking a well-drained soil, too much water can cause the tubers to rot; Alstroemerias are also thought to be deer resistant.

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
Earth

Stupid Commercials ~ LiMu Emu & Doug

June 24, 2020

I started a series of stupid commercials a few years back, and though there is a plethora of them saturating our airwaves, my photography and political commentary usually prevent me from criticizing the advertising industry on a regular basis. Since buying my first new camera in thirty-three years, finally going digital seven summers ago, then updating yet again two years back, I have shot slightly more than two hundred and fifty thousand photos, nearly every one of flowers.

That being said, I find one of the numerous commercials hawking Liberty Mutual insurance airing seemingly non-stop on television in which LiMu Emu & Doug are racing down a street in their yellow 1970 Plymouth Duster, when Doug yells to another car that he can save them, implying that they might be in grave danger. However, Doug then hands the passenger in the other vehicle his business card and tells the women he can save them money by switching their car insurance to Liberty Mutual. Moments later, both cars come to a stoplight.

What makes this commercial stupid is not so much the dialogue, but the overall content of the advertisement. It is a commercial hawking Liberty Mutual’s auto insurance, yet having Doug pass a business card to a passenger in another vehicle while speeding down a city street is reckless behavior, and possibly a traffic violation as well.

Full disclosure, I purchased auto and renters insurance from Liberty Mutual just last Friday. Moreover, they did reduce my combined auto and renters insurance by thirty percent.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Chrysanthemums #561BR, 590BR & 585BR

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

June 20, 2020

Chrysanthemums, more commonly knows as Mums, are a member of the Asteraceae family of flowers. This flower is considered a hardy perennial, although many consider them only as a short-season, fall-planted annual, as they bloom in late summer and fall. There are forty known species and thousands of different varieties of Mums. Most species originally came from China, Japan, northern Africa and southern Europe, although China is thought to be the original starting point of the plant, dating there as far back as the fifteenth century, B.C., where the flowers have customarily been boiled to make a tea and also used medicinally to treat influenza. The plant has been grown in Japan since the eighth century. Over five hundred different varieties were known to exist by 1630. Chrysanthemums are considered to have been introduced in America in 1798, when Colonel John Stevens imported a variety known as Dark Purple from England. The plant is considered the death flower in Europe because of its widespread use on graves.

The word Chrysanthemum is a derivative of two Greek words, chrysos (meaning gold) and anthemon (meaning flower). This particular genus of flower at one time included many more species, but was divided into several different genera a few decades ago. The National Chrysanthemum Society recognizes thirteen different classes of flowering blooms of the plant, based on form and the shape of its petals, although there are only eight major types; anemone, cushion, decorative, pompom, single, spider, spoon and quill.

Chrysanthemums are divided into two basic groups, garden hardy and exhibition. Garden hardy are perennials capable of surviving winters in northern latitudes and produce a large quantity of small blooms. Exhibition varieties are not nearly as hardy and sturdy; usually require staking and being kept in a relatively cool, dry location over the winter, sometimes requiring the use of night-lights. In addition to its many different types of blooms, Mums come in a wide variety of colors, ranging not only of gold, but also white, yellow, bronze, red, burgundy, pink, lavender and purple. The plant also comes in an assortment of heights as well, ranging from a height of eighteen inches up to three feet tall, depending on the particular variety, growing conditions and whether they are pinched regularly during the growing season. Pinched plants will generate a smaller, bushier plant, producing many more blooms.

These plants can be planted either in the fall or in early spring. Those planted in the spring will produce a more vigorous flower. Mums prefer fertile, highly organic, well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. The plants should be spaced roughly eighteen to twenty-four inches apart, although some varieties might require spacing up to three feet. They can be fertilized once a month up through July. Mums particularly need plenty of water once they start blooming. Every two or three years, Chrysanthemums should be divided to invigorate their growth. If bought as a potted plant in the fall, as many people do, they should be planted at least six weeks if not more before the season’s first killing frost, although it seems that many who buy fall pots will throw the plant away after the frost kills the blooms, having never transplanted the flower into a garden.

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
Earth

Lilies #6405CR, 6417BR & 6411BR

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

June 13, 2019

Lilies, whose scientific name is Lilium, has more than one hundred gorgeous species in its family. However, there are many plants that have Lily in their common name; yet not all are true Lilies. A few examples of this misnomer are Day Lilies, Calla Lilies, Peace Lilies, Water Lilies and Lilies Of The Valley. True Lilies are mostly native throughout the temperate climate regions of the northern hemisphere of planet Earth, although their range can extend into the northern subtropics as well. This range extends across much of Europe, Asia, Japan and the Philippines and across southern Canada and throughout most of the United States.

There are a number of different sub-species of Lilies, such as Oriental, Asiatic, Trumpet, Martagon, Longiflorum, Candidum and several others. The most commonly grown are the Orientals and the Asiatics, especially for gardeners in more northern regions. Both the Oriental and Asiatic sub-species are hybrids. They are possibly my most favorite flower to photograph, as their design and colors makes it so easy to do so. Friends might think I am a little nuts when I tell them that they like having their picture taken, as they are so photogenic.

Asiatic Lilies, who gets its name because they are native to central and eastern Asia, are probably the easiest to grow, reproduce effortlessly and are very winter hardy. A healthy bulb can often double in size from one season to the next, and produces many smaller bulblets near the surface of the soil. Asiatics can reach heights up to six feet tall and have long, slim, glossy leaves, all the while producing flowers in a wide variety of colors, including white, pink, plum, yellow, orange and red. The one color in which they do not bloom is true blue. Blooming in June and July (depending on one’s region), the flowers produce no fragrance, unlike that of Orientals. Another distinguishing difference between the two is its petals. Whereas Asiatics have smooth edges, Orientals are rough.

Oriental Lilies, native to Japan, are a little harder to grow and tend to reproduce much more slowly, mainly by bulblets sprouting near the surface of the soil. They look somewhat like a football when they first surface from the soil, rather pointy, and its leaves hugging the stem tightly. Their deep green leaves are wider, further apart and less numerous than those of the Asiatics, which first come into sight similar to an artichoke in appearance. Orientals are usually taller than Asiatics, reaching a height up to eight feet tall. Because of their height, many refer to them as Tree Lilies.

Orientals tend to bloom in pastel shades of white, yellow and pink, although some such as Stargazers and Starfighters produce very deep pink blooms. One more characteristic difference between the two types is that Orientals often will be rimmed with a different color, or having two or three colors, whereas the Asiatics most often have just a single color, although there are some exceptions. This sub-specie of Lilies also blooms after Asiatics, usually in August and September, again depending on your region. Other sub-species, such as Trumpets, bloom even later, so it is possible to have Lilies blooming all summer long by planting different varieties.

Most Lilies are very easy to grow. They are not especially particular about soil neither type nor pH level. Their only requirement is a well-draining soil. Lilies grow best in full sun; however, they may thrive in partial sun as well. An interesting fact about this plant is that most Lily bulbs have very thick roots that have the ability to pull the bulb down into the soil at a depth that is most optimum for their continued survival.

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
Earth

Daisies #65AR, 116BR & 102AR

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

June 6, 2020

The Common Daisy, also known as an English Daisy, is a member of the Asteraceae family of plants. Daisies, whose scientific name is Bellis Perennis, are native to western, central and northern Europe. Over time, they have become widely naturalized throughout most of the world’s temperate regions, including the Americas and Australasia (Australia, New Zealand and a few other neighboring island nations). They are now found to be growing most everywhere on Earth with the possible exception of Antarctica. Daisies can become so abundant that many people throughout Europe and northeastern United States consider them a wild flower, nothing more than a weed.

The origins of the name, it is believed goes back to the old English language of “daes eag,” which is thought to translate as “day’s eye,” because of the manner in which Daisies close up at night, opening up again the following morning. Growing to a height up to two feet, Daisies are technically actually two individual flowers. The inner yellow center (which can also be pink or rose color) is a Disk Floret. The white, petal-like outer part is called the Ray Floret. The plant’s stems are smooth and leafless, with a hairy bract just below the flower heads, while supporting a single flower, up to two inches in diameter. The leaves of the plant varies in texture, are narrow at the base and becoming slightly oblong.

A long-lived, perennial plant, Common Daisies generally bloom from early spring through the middle of summer, even into autumn, depending as always on your location. Traditionally, Daisies bridge the blooming gap of Tulips and Irises. As an especially hardy plant, they love a full sun, but will do well in partial shade. As for soil type, they will thrive in most soil, the only requirement is that it is well-drained. As far as disease and insect pests, there are no known serious problems with either.

Though this particular specie of Daisy has white petals in nature, as you can see these are anything but white. The first time I bought a bouquet to photograph, I noticed that some of the stems were not green, but colored, which I thought very weird. I have since discovered that florists place the cut flowers in colored water, and as the stems soak up the water, it gives them their stunning appearance.

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
Earth

Alstroemerias #131AR, 137AR & 134BR

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

May 30, 2020

Commonly called Lilies Of The Incas, Peruvian Lily, Princess Lily or Parrot Lily, Alstroemerias are named after Swedish botanist Baron Klas von Alstroemer. Originally from the cool mountainous regions of The Andes, most species originated in either central Chile or eastern Brazil, though they have become naturalized in the United States and several other countries. Those species from Chile are winter growing plants, whereas those from Brazil bloom during the summer.

Alstroemerias, a staple of most bouquets of flowers, are a member of the Alstroemeriaceae plant family, with fifty different species. They flower in a variety of colors, including purple, red, orange, pink and white, blooming between June and October. Each bloom has three sepals, three petals, six stamens and a style. With three to five flowers on each stem, they provide a full appearance as cut flowers. Cut flowers will last up to two weeks. An interesting bit of information about these plants is that their leaves appear to grow upside down. Each leaf twists as it grows out from the stem, and as such, the bottom ends up face upward.

Alstroemerias are considered an easy plant to grow. Hardy perennials, they love the full morning sun, and some shade during hot afternoons. Thriving in zones six through ten, these plants may stop producing flowers if their root systems get too hot. Their roots develop tubers, allowing the plant to store both water and nutrients, letting them survive in periods of drought. These tubers also enable a gardener to divide the plant easily. Liking a well-drained soil, too much water can cause the tubers to rot; Alstroemerias are also thought to be deer resistant.

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
Earth

Tulips #227AR, 230CR, 241CR & 226AR

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

May 23, 2020

Tulips, whose botanical name is Tulipa, are a genus of flowering perennial plants in the Lily family. With approximately one hundred wild species, native Tulips range from Spain to Asia Minor, including northern Africa. First cultivated in Persia around the tenth century, there are now more than four thousand cultivated species. This plant is further classified based on plant size, flower shape and bloom time.

Introduced to the western world in 1551 by Augier Ghislain de Busbecq, the Austrian ambassador to Turkey, the word Tulip seems to have originated from the Turkish word tulbend, which translates into the English word turban. It is thought that the name came about because of a translation error concerning the wearing of Tulips in the turbans of Ottoman Empire men. Tulips were first imported to the United States in the mid 1800s.

Tulips range in height from as short as four inches up to more than two feet tall. The plant usually has two or three thick strap-shaped, bluish-green leaves sprouting up at ground level in the form of a rosette, though some species have as many as twelve leaves. Most Tulips produce a single flower per stem, although a few species do produce multiple blooms. The cup or star-shaped flower has three petals, three sepals and six stamens, although the petals and sepals are nearly identical. They come in a wide variety of colors, with the exception of pure blue. The colors range from pure white through all shades of yellow, red and brown, as well as those so dark purple they appear black. Several species have “blue” in their common name; however, their blooms have a violet hue.

Indigenous to mountainous locales with temperate climates, Tulips grow best in areas with cool winters, springs and summers. They prefer a full to partial sun, with a neutral to slightly acidic, dry or sandy soil, though they will bloom in almost any soil type with good drainage. Bulbs are usually planted in the autumn, at a depth ranging from four to eight inches, depending on your soil type. Although they will continue blooming annually for several years, the bulbs will deteriorate over time, and will need replacing. A common thought to prolong the life of the bulb is that after the plant has finished blooming and its leaves have turned yellow, is to dig up the bulbs and store them in a cool, dry place and then replant them in the fall.

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
Earth

Lilies #7570CR, 7571CR, 7549AR & 7562BR

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

May 16, 2020

Lilies, whose scientific name is Lilium, has more than one hundred gorgeous species in its family. However, there are many plants that have Lily in their common name; yet not all are true Lilies. A few examples of this misnomer are Day Lilies, Calla Lilies, Peace Lilies, Water Lilies and Lilies Of The Valley. True Lilies are mostly native throughout the temperate climate regions of the northern hemisphere of planet Earth, although their range can extend into the northern subtropics as well. This range extends across much of Europe, Asia, Japan and the Philippines and across southern Canada and throughout most of the United States.

There are a number of different sub-species of Lilies, such as Oriental, Asiatic, Trumpet, Martagon, Longiflorum, Candidum and several others. The most commonly grown are the Orientals and the Asiatics, especially for gardeners in more northern regions. Both the Oriental and Asiatic sub-species are hybrids. They are possibly my most favorite flower to photograph, as their design and colors makes it so easy to do so. Friends might think I am a little nuts when I tell them that they like having their picture taken, as they are so photogenic.

Asiatic Lilies, who gets its name because they are native to central and eastern Asia, are probably the easiest to grow, reproduce effortlessly and are very winter hardy. A healthy bulb can often double in size from one season to the next, and produces many smaller bulblets near the surface of the soil. Asiatics can reach heights up to six feet tall and have long, slim, glossy leaves, all the while producing flowers in a wide variety of colors, including white, pink, plum, yellow, orange and red. The one color in which they do not bloom is true blue. Blooming in June and July (depending on one’s region), the flowers produce no fragrance, unlike that of Orientals. Another distinguishing difference between the two is its petals. Whereas Asiatics have smooth edges, Orientals are rough.

Oriental Lilies, native to Japan, are a little harder to grow and tend to reproduce much more slowly, mainly by bulblets sprouting near the surface of the soil. They look somewhat like a football when they first surface from the soil, rather pointy, and its leaves hugging the stem tightly. Their deep green leaves are wider, further apart and less numerous than those of the Asiatics, which first come into sight similar to an artichoke in appearance. Orientals are usually taller than Asiatics, reaching a height up to eight feet tall. Because of their height, many refer to them as Tree Lilies.

Orientals tend to bloom in pastel shades of white, yellow and pink, although some such as Stargazers and Starfighters produce very deep pink blooms. One more characteristic difference between the two types is that Orientals often will be rimmed with a different color, or having two or three colors, whereas the Asiatics most often have just a single color, although there are some exceptions. This sub-specie of Lilies also blooms after Asiatics, usually in August and September, again depending on your region. Other sub-species, such as Trumpets, bloom even later, so it is possible to have Lilies blooming all summer long by planting different varieties.

Most Lilies are very easy to grow. They are not especially particular about soil neither type nor pH level. Their only requirement is a well-draining soil. Lilies grow best in full sun; however, they may thrive in partial sun as well. An interesting fact about this plant is that most Lily bulbs have very thick roots that have the ability to pull the bulb down into the soil at a depth that is most optimum for their continued survival.

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
Earth