Archive for the ‘Lens-Artist Photo Challenge’ Category

Color in April is different in Arizona than in every other place I’ve lived, starting from ground level up. Except for Steamboat Springs where April was mud season, April almost everywhere else starts with a carpet of green grass covered or at least dotted in many places by innumerable wildflowers. Not so in Arizona where in populated areas grass is replaced by a layer of rocks with individual or small groups of plants dotting it, and in the desert, not much of anything with the same individual or groups of plants. There is grass, but it requires large amounts of water, something I find irresponsible when you live in a desert.

Be that as it may, we were blessed in our rental house because we have a great variety of plants. Most of the other rentals I viewed had nothing in the backyard and I mean nothing, nothing but “dirt” and “dirt” here is a cement-like thing called caliche, nothing like in the Midwest where you can easily sink a shovel into the earth almost anywhere. One of the nicknames of caliche is “hardpan” for a reason.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t beauty and color, such as this yellow trumpet bush which just showed up one day in a corner where it appeared nothing was growing, a welcome surprise! We have another much larger bush of these and an enormous one with orange flowers.

Red yucca isn’t really yucca (go figure) but its flowers are beautiful. There are streets with a row of these along the side which makes for very attractive landscaping.

As far as I can ascertain, this is Britton’s wild petunia, one of the flowers the bees love but one that can be invasive.

You can’t have a colorful April in Arizona without the spectacular flowers and fruits found on the cacti that are everywhere. There may be thorns on many plants but there’s also luxurious beauty and sometimes food, as in the case of the fruit of the prickly pear cactus you see here. These will open up.

Finally, there are these short-blooming, one day, flowers found on the trumpet cactus. Our cactus is small, but welcomed us with three rounds of gorgeous flowers when we moved here just over a year ago and has already has two flowers this year.

Now that we’ve seen some of the April color in our backyard, have a seat on the patio and just relax for a bit. I’m always happy when you stop by and I have some delicious jasmine green tea if you’re so inclined or some iced English breakfast.

Ann-Christine gives us the choice today to pick what we’d like to share and her beautiful flowers can literally be picked. What do I have here in Arizona? Since our move just over a year ago, other than cacti, I’ve been mostly taking photos of birds, so here are a few recent favorites.

Let’s drop in at the Riparian Preserve and see what we can find. A harrier hawk is always fun.

“He imagines a necessary joy in things that must fly to eat.”
― Wendell Berry

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”
― Robert Lynd

Then there’s the spoonbill who came during one of the storms in the south and has been here all winter. Here it’s balancing on one leg while looking astonished. Is that like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time? Pretty in pink but what a big mouth!!

may my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living ~e. e. cummings

There are lots of spectacular birds but there are also the cute, more approachable ones that you might see in your yard.

Wherever there are birds, there is hope. Mehmet Murat Ildan

If you’re a fish, you’d prefer to see this haughty cormorant perched on a limb rather than in the water where they run silent, run deep, run deadly.

Tomorrow, the birds will sing. Be brave. Face life. ~Charlie Chaplin

A pod of pelicans arrived towards the end of last year and a few have stuck around. I didn’t realize that pairs like this fish and swim in tandem, for all the world like synchronized swimmers. Of course the swimmers don’t usually eat fish while performing, at least I hope not!

And now it’s back to the weekend. I hope you’re enjoying yours.

Patti has asked us to find shapes this week. I’m sticking close to home for mine, as all are taken in our house or yard. I always enjoyed geometry; in fact I enjoyed math, because everything was logical. Just call me Spock. 🙂 I enjoyed math until I got to trigonometry, at which time I realized that unless I went into math, I probably wouldn’t have any use for it, even for figuring out the width of a creek from the shadow of a tree.

We’ll start with an edible shape, one cherry tomato from my patio plant, sharing shapes with part of our patio table (not edible.)

A shapely part of an aloe plant.

Cacti are made for geometry!

Some early morning geometry, courtesy of the sun and blinds.

Although there aren’t innumerable leaves here as there were in the Midwest, we still get some.

Thus endeth today’s geometry lesson. There will be no quiz and it’s pass-fail, so happy weekend!

This week Tina has set us a daunting task: to share special moments with the Lens-Artists community. Just the thought of trying to choose only five or six special moments out of all the years of photos almost made me give up in despair. Instead, I decided instead to limit my special moments to moments since moving to Arizona just under a year ago…and believe me, that’s hard enough!

Not long after we arrived at our new rental house, the torch cactus in the backyard bloomed with beautiful flowers that have a fleeting life of only about one day. I was stunned by their beauty and thrilled that they bloomed a number of times in the ensuing weeks. What a welcome to the desert! But like much of the desert, be careful how close you get! Beauty and danger have a habit of co-existing here.

On several visits to the Riparian Preserve, I’d spoken with a birder from, judging by his accent, either Boston or that part of the world, about the harrier hawk (he pronounced it “hairyah”) that he was an expert on. This day I followed him down a back path where he not only pointed out the hawk but told me about where he thought her nest was, her usual flight patterns, and so on. Here’s one of my shots of that special moment.

copyright janet m. webb

This pollen-covered bee ecstatically dancing in a poisonous datura flower was definitely a moment that brought joy to my heart.

copyright janet m. webb

Me finally catching a cormorant catching a fish was pretty exciting as was catching him drop it and an egret snatching it away a few minutes later.

copyright janet m. webb

There’ve been so many more special moments since we’ve moved: in Sedona and Saguaro National Park, seeing a vermillion flycatcher at Tuscon’s Sweetwater Wetlands and seeing alpine growth at the top of Mt. Lemmon. The most special moments though don’t have any photos…being here to spend time with and help out my aging parents and, weirdest of all the special moment, the three of us getting our second Covid vaccinations as well and my husband getting his first. What a year when getting shots is probably the highlight!

This last shot may not seem special but it’s of the only squirrel I’ve seen in this area since we moved here. Small joys.

“Natural light” is this week’s theme, one that’s right up my camera lens. I’m enthralled by light. As a morning person who feels that if I didn’t get walking before sunrise I’m running late, I have lots of sunrise photos…so I’m going to avoid those. Those of you who follow me have seen lots of them in various posts. Let’s go with something different, something smaller than grand vistas, which have already been done beautifully by our hostesses.

I’ve shared this photo before, but it’s one of my favorites for showcasing natural light.

copyright janet m. webb

“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Light in Descanso Gardens, California.

“O, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”
― Roman Payne

Light on milkweed pod.

“We went down into the silent garden. Dawn is the time when nothing breathes, the hour of silence. Everything is transfixed, only the light moves.”
― Leonora Carrington

Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, Gilbert, Arizona

copyright janet m. webb

“My first memory is of light — the brightness of light — light all around.”
― Georgia O’Keefe

Since I held off on sunrises, let’s grab a Wyoming sunset to close.

This week Ann-Christine challenges us to share images that are “soft.” “Soft” immediately made me think of fog…but Tina already did that beautifully. Then I thought about trying to do “Soft in the Desert”…but if you’ve been in the dessert, you know there really isn’t too much “soft” here! “Sharp” I could do for weeks, though.

After scrolling through an enormous number of photos, I propose a virtual visit Cape May, New Jersey, birding mecca (although no bird photos today) and a beautiful beach area and you won’t need vaccinations or a passport. We’ll start with the only bird-related image in this post, a soft feather.

Wouldn’t these make great dusters?

There was a lovely foggy day while we were there. I sneaked out with my iPad (these all iPad photos, by the way, as this was before I ever had a smartphone) and blissfully wandered through a world magically softened.

The sand wasn’t completely soft, but it was soft enough to take footprints, prints that faded into the soft distance.

This is one of my favorite views of that day and if you added a carriage, you’d have a wonderful scene from a historic horror movie! Can’t you just see it racing down the alley made by those trees pursued by a ghostly figure?

This soft land led to a soft, beautiful sunset which brings us to the end of our virtual visit. Wasn’t it great to be able to travel without problems?

I didn’t have to look far for today’s Lens-Artists challenge, although I did have to virtually beam my self back to a summer in Wyoming, something I always enjoy. Here are my the “S” images for this week and I hope each of you is having a Super Saturday. 😉 Silly me.

So sleepy…

Soft and silent…

Stupendous sunset…

Ann-Christine has set forth a challenge of stripes and/checks this week, so let’s go hunting. Or should I say let’s check it out? 🙂 Although we now live in Arizona, I’ve lived in the Midwest with four seasons all my life. So as odd as it seems to many people, I miss winter. So my stripes are from Illinois winters, while my checks are from downtown Chicago. Feel free to curl up with some hot chocolate or hot coffee or tea while viewing.

Snow with the remnants of irises.

From “my” park, a place I miss with a deep longing.

Our neighbors’ fence.

The big city. Not in winter.

Patti’s set us a challenge today, that of sharing photos the convey emotion. I don’t take lots of photos of people, but humans aren’t the only ones who express emotions. What emotions do you see?

Can’t resist a reprise of my W.C. Fields cactus. 🙂

© janet m. webb
© janet m. webb

Yeah, this is what I do…or what I really like to do. Get up close and personal. See small things that others might miss. Look more and more closely. So you can imagine that choosing photos for this wasn’t at all easy although it was fun. After I hit five, I stopped. But I hope you enjoy the five I chose and thanks to Anne for hostessing this week.