In the Woods

Everything in the country, animate and inanimate, seems to whisper, be serene, be kind, be happy. We grow tolerant there unconsciously.
– Fanny Fern –

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Early fall in the wooded area near our house. Color levels adjusted, slight sharpening

The only people I am aware of who don’t have troubles are gathered in peaceful, little neighborhoods. There is never a care, never a moment of stress and never an obstacle to ruin a day. All is calm. All is serene. Most towns have at least one such worry-free zone. We call them cemeteries.
– Steve Goodier –

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Serene.

Leaves in the Fall – When the Smoke Cleared

Smoke from wildfires in British Columbia settled into Alberta for much of the summer – but it finally cleared late last week – when it snowed… Today was the first day that more normal early fall weather arrived.

It was a perfect day, one you wish you could bottle and save for winter. Layers of clouds piled up all the way to the snow capped mountains (which you can just see along the horizon if you imagine hard enough.)  Mixed green and gold foliage contrasted with the changing colours just beyond the fence line.

Wild raspberry leaves are turning colour – they stand out in sharp contract to the layers of greenery that haven’t yet responded to the frosty nights.

The spider web layer – fortunately clearly visible or I would have walked right into it!

What is the first thought that pops into your mind when you hear the word ‘Layered’?

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Layered.

Leaves in the Fall – Encased in Ice

It’s fall here in Alberta. Sunny days, temperatures well above freezing – until a few days ago. We woke that morning and greeted our first snow day. Over the next few days we had more snow, some melting, a misty rain that was almost snow and another freezing night.  The next morning it was sunny – perfect weather for exploring a garden full of ice sculptures!

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I’m assuming it was slightly windy when the freezing was taking place, because the majority of ice was on one side of these upright grass stems.

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The freezing pattern was the same on these leaves.

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Another ice leaf.

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A frozen water drop on a fall leaf.

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?
– J.B. Priestley –

Do you have sudden changes of weather where you live?

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is H2O.

Cotoneaster Leaves – The Polar Coordinate Filter Makes Digital Marbles

Photo manipulating programs have a polar coordinate filter that can turn a photo into a circular shape that is reminiscent of a fortune teller’s orb or marble. They are also commonly called Amazing Circles. I recently found a post by Russel Ray with full directions and illustrations for how to create An orb in Photoshop. Be sure to go to his post to see his intriguing results!

I’m very excited with my marble photos, though I will soon have so many of them that I expect the novelty will wear off – for you. I don’t think I will tire of it soon because each one is so unpredictable. I never know what will be inside the marble photo until it is complete! Here are the directions for making these using one purchased program and one freeware program.

1. Photoshop Elements 10:

a. Open your picture in Photoshop Elements or Photoshop and enhance it as desired. I usually adjust the lighting levels and sharpen.

b. Crop it to a square, or a ratio of 1:1 (photo above)

c. Click on Filter – Distort – Polar Coordinates – Polar to Rectangular – OK (photo above)

d. Click on Image – Rotate – Flip Vertical (photo above)

e. Click on Filter – Distort – Polar Coordinates – Rectangular to Polar – OK. Then I opened FastStone Image Viewer to add borders and text, and also t0 resize it to fit my blog. This finished marble is 778X778 pixels.   (photo above)

2. GIMP: is a freely distributed program. The technique for making Amazing Circles is similar to above.

a. Enhance the photo as desired.
b. Choose the Crop Tool (looks like a knife, sort of). Select a Fixed Aspect ratio of 1:1 and select the area you want to use.
c. From the menu bar, choose Filters- Distorts- Polar Coordinates. Uncheck the “To Polar” button.
d. From the menu bar, choose Image- Transform- Flip Vertically.
e. From the menu bar, choose Filters- Distorts- Polar Coordinates again. Check the “To Polar” button.
f. The resulting circle may not have the background color you desire. Use the Color Picker Tool to select a color from the image. Then use the Paint Bucket Tool to fill the background.

3. Darla-Amazing Circles

GIMP also has a plug-in that you can download and use – it automates most of the task for you. It is called Darla-Amazing Circles. You crop the photo as before, then select the Script-Fu Darla-Amazing Circles script. I use these settings:

a. set to the maximum size of 2000 or whatever setting is closest to the original
b. set border size to 10
c. set border % to 10
d. set edges: border growth 1; border feather 1
e. run script
f. add color to background – use paint fill on the white section
g. save as jpg

This isn’t a new technique. It has been around for a few years. Click on this link to see a large number of Amazing Circles that have been submitted to flickr.

Foliage Throughout the Seasons in Alberta

I got an invitation from Ailsa at Where’s my backpack? to take part in a Photo Challenge called Travel Theme: Foliage. In my part of the world, foliage is plentiful in three of the four seasons.

Canadian Seasons have been described as: Six months of winter, and six months of poor sledding. These can be broken down into: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction season. To be more specific, the four seasons are: June, July, August and Winter.

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In the spring, the patch of Ferns start out in tight rolls.

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In the summer, our forest is home to the Cotoneaster bush.

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In the fall, the poplars at the cabin are beautiful, especially when they prepare for their winter sleep.

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In the winter, our forest of spruce trees are often covered with snow.

This week’s WordPress photo challenge is Changing Seasons.

Poked – Barbed Wire and Rose Thorn Macros

I hate weddings. Old people would poke me saying ‘You’re next’. They stopped when I started going up to them at funerals and poking them, saying, ‘You’re next’.
– Author Unknown

macroAlthough it isn’t very polite to poke someone with your finger, the only thing that might get hurt is someones feelings. Not so if you get poked with one of these metal menaces. Do you know what it is?

AlbertaNot quite as dangerous, but painful none the less, are the thorns on a rose bush. I don’t think there are a pair of gardening gloves that can protect your hands when you try to prune one of these plants. The rose is just one of many plants with very prickly personalities!

Fall Foliage – Something that is Orange

Each fall, when the vegetables have been harvested, I swear I am NEVER going to plant another garden – too much work! Early each spring, when I dig the compost in, I say “I am going to plant the whole thing in poppies and never plant another vegetable seed.” Late each spring, well past when the job should have been done, I dig deep holes and plant a few of last fall’s potatoes which have sprouted in the box in the cold room. Then, realizing I have some carrot and romaine seeds left over from last year, I plant those too. A few packets of beets or peas will have been donated by family. Their gardens are too small to use all the seeds they buy. Before I know it, the garden I swore never to plant again, is planted.

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The past few days I have been harvesting the garden. Bugs Bunny would be happy – the Carrot crop is good. They smell so wonderful when they are just pulled from the ground! I eat a few right away (after a quick rinse with the garden hose.) The Car Guy, and his dad, simply rub the dirt off with their shirt sleeve.

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Things I Didn’t Plant
Right next to the garden are Cotoneaster bushes that have sprouted from the berries that the birds pooped out. The leaves are more red than orange and lend quite a dash of color in amongst the aspen, willow and spruce forest.

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For truly magnificent fall leaves, though, we head out to the cabin. The trees that line the roads are majestic old poplars that drop enough leaves to blanket the whole resort. This results in a flurry of activity on the part of the people who prefer to keep their grassy areas leaf free. They spend weeks blowing and raking the leaves into piles, then bagging them. I prefer to leave the leaves where they lie – let nature do the work.

Who, in the rainbow, can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blendingly enter into the other? So with sanity and insanity.
– Herman Melville –

Now it is your turn – What is on your list of things you do every year, even though you say you aren’t ever going to do them again?