Reading a Tulip

What does this wide open violet tulip say to you?

Does this singular tulip bloom tell a story of sorrow or joy? What do you find at its core?

My first impression of this tulip is of “arms wide open,” a loving embrace. The bright yellow and white center look like light and goodness at the core. The purple color and fine texture bursting out of the darker disorderly background also speak to me of joy, and the renewal of Spring.

Christians may see an Easter message: purple for the Lord’s Passion, his suffering and death. The white center revealed could symbolize the divinity and hope of the Resurrection.

What do you think?

Encore: Great Egret in Flight

Today is a rainy day in Southwest Florida, and I’m packing up for my own migration back to Pennsylvania. I’m definitely sad to leave. Looking back on my photographs in the Everglades, I found another series of three photos of the Great Egret lifting off from the swamp, showing its beautiful wings outstretched.

Keeping my camera poised on the Great Egret standing, I caught the moment that its feet left the water. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park.
Observe the feathers stretched out to create a wide fan shape, as the Great Egret clears the trees. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, April 2019.
Final view of the Great Egret from below, its neck tucked in for flight. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park.

Silent and Strong

On my recent visit to Shark Valley in Everglades National Park, I challenged myself to photograph the Great Egret and the Great Blue Heron in flight. Both wading birds are large and beautiful while standing still or wading in the shallows, but their look is entirely different when they take flight and display their enormous wing spans.

My friend Caroline, who accompanied me on this 15-mile bike trip, noticed the exquisite silence around us as we observed the birds and watched them fish and eventually take flight. I needed to keep my lens focused on the bird, as without warning and without a sound, it would take flight. If I looked away, I would be too late to capture take-off. Freezing action and maintaining focus on the egret in flight was a serious challenge!

Here is a series of three photographs taken in quick succession. I enjoy the brilliant feathers from each angle.

Silent lift-off of the Great Egret in the grass of the Everglades. Shark Valley, South Florida.
American Egret uses its massive wings in a graceful arch to gain more height. Its long black legs extend behind. Everglades National Park, Florida.
Great Egret tucks its neck and reaches for the sky as it flies above the Everglades in Florida.

The Ghost Tulip

“Ghost Tulip” is my own affectionate name for this unique tulip that reminds me of the Ghost Orchid, the elusive tropical orchid that blooms in Florida in mid-summer. Seasonal Florida residents can’t catch a glimpse of the ghost orchid, since they have months ago fled to northern climes.

The Ghost Tulip stands out brilliantly from its green leaves and earthy roots. Find it at the Spring Flower Show, Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh.

My good friend Sharon was patient with me as I composed, focused and captured 64 photographs at the Phipps Conservatory Spring Flower Show. I shared with her my thoughts on photographing flowers.

“I’m mainly concerned with finding good compositions here. The background must be simple yet show some depth. If I choose a single flower to dominate the composition, it’s helpful to have a second flower play best supporting actor, to echo the main actor, but play a secondary role, as in this composition,” I added.

Later, “I mentioned that a star pattern is always a good thing, as is an S curve or a diagonal.”

“Why?” she asked. “Ha, ha, good question,” was my reply.

Rosecliff in Newport, Rhode Island

Soon after I flew home from the Wild West of Wyoming, I found myself booking a flight to Rhode Island to help out with the grandchildren. I can’t say no to an invitation like that! ¬†In fact, I got myself to Newport a day early so I could visit a few of the historic mansions built by American Industrialists at the turn of the century (c. 1900).

Rosecliff is a gleaming white mansion inspired by Le Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s private retreat in the gardens of Versailles, near Paris, France. Silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs commissioned architect Stanford White to design and build Rosecliff in 1899. It was completed in 1902 and was often the setting for lavish parties. This elegant home has a grand ballroom in its center that spills out to a grassy lawn, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. You may recognize it as the setting for the movie The Great Gatsby. If you are very fortunate, you may have attended a wedding reception here.

I found it interesting to learn that the exterior may look like white marble, but it is actually made of white ceramic, which was made more quickly and economically in molds.

#rosecliff, #newport, #white, #architecture, #greatgatsby, #gatsby, #mansions, #historic, #rhodeisland, #travel
Rosecliff was a private home until 1971, when owners Mr. and Mrs. J. Edgar Monroe donated it to the Preservation Society of Newport County.

#rosecliff, #historic, #architecture, #1902, #newport, #mansions, #newportmansions, #greatgatsby, #gatsby #makeanentrance
Stanford White’s heart-shaped grand staircase is unique and unforgettable.

This weekend, I’ll have the opportunity to compare Rosecliff with its inspiration, Le Petit Trianon in France, as I am currently visiting France and hope to tour Versailles this weekend.

If you are interested in touring Rosecliff or other properties like the Breakers, The Elms, or Marble House, refer to the Newport Mansions website for hours and admission fees.

Peony Season

How can peony season be nearly over? I came home to Pittsburgh after a week out of town, and the weather had nearly ruined all my pink and white peonies. Dozens of blossoms were falling apart and lying on the wet ground. I’m afraid it was a bad week for a gardener to leave town.

Just a few late bloomers have withstood the heavy rainstorms and stood tall for today’s photography.

#peony, #white, #may, #spring, #rain, #season, #sony, #depthoffield
On a cloudy day in between rain showers, this white peony shows off its delicate petals.

#peony, #peonies, #whiteandpink, #may, #spring, #rain, #raindrops, #mygarden, #season, #earlyspring
The white and pink peonies from the same bush share the spotlight.

One Happy Crowd

These White Pelicans can fly and float anywhere they like, but they all seem pretty happy to crowd onto a tiny sandbar, wing to wing with one another. This image shows only a third of the line of white pelicans gathered at J.N. Ding Darling Nature Preserve on a sunny Sunday morning.

#pelican, #whitepelican, #snowbirds, #white, #birds, #blueandwhite, #wildlife, #nature, #photography, #nikon, #tamron
Nature’s Way: Comfort and safety in numbers. A cozy morning on the sandbar in Sanibel Island, Florida.