The scene unfolded before me. All I had to do was wait.

Here are my Father-in-law, Tom, with his daughter, my wife Karen’s sister, Lisa. They’re deep in conversation, catching up and enjoying eachother’s company.

We’re all in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area, visiting my wife’s Aunt Kay, my Mother-in-law’s twin sister who lives here. It’s been such a good visit. Lisa, who lives in Boston, Massachusetts, flew in for the weekend to get in on the visiting.

Today, we spent the afternoon and early evening with Karen & Lisa’s cousin Nancy and her wife Robin’s home. The house was full of family, as two of Robin & Nancy’s grandchildren were over. With these two babies being 10 and 11 months old, it was an afternoon full of fun and laughter.

I kept seeing the light on Tom and Lisa’s faces. I was entranced by the setting and the story it told without any words. I took several pictures with other family folk in the frame, but when I saw this setting with just the two, daughter and father, I grabbed it quick.

When I went to process the images taken today, I instantly saw this in black & white. Cinematic beauty to my eyes.

A nice memory for these two to hold in their hands.


Minnehaha Falls

Copyright © 2013 Matthew D. Penning All Rights Reserved


Autumn Seeds

Late in the afternoon, the light gets a golden cast to it. The “Golden Hour” is the hour before sunset, when the longest rays of the setting sun turn the world into a flattering gold color. During a recent walk in a prairie grass preserve, it was just about that golden hour when I came upon these tall stalks of grass, ready to send their seeds off, in hopes of the next generation.

When I spotted them, the wild hair look to the thin strands attached to the seeds struck me as odd looking. I had forgotten that this is the natural look just before the seeds let go of the stalk. Elsewhere in the fields, younger versions of this grass have a sleekly combed look to the hair-like strands.

They remind me of the limbs of an apple or pear tree that is overburdened with fruit, the weight of the fruit pulling the tree limbs down towards the ground. I imagine part of the reason for the bent look here is that the stalks have begun drying up, their purpose in giving the seeds a place to grow having been completed.

I also like the contrast here, with the seed-stalks being in full sunlight and steps away, the greenery laying in the late afternoon shadow.

Nature’s canvas is wide and complex, it’s wonders to behold.


Bully Bird

This hummingbird has effectively chased off all other birds and wasps from our feeder. It’s declared itself to be king of the hill and has the bully attitude to back it up.

Most afternoons, this bird is perched on the shepherd’s hook that we have our feeder hanging from on our deck. It (I think it is a her) will occasionally fly down for a sip of nectar, then fly back up to stand guard.

Whenever another hummingbird comes to feast at the feeder, it promptly dives the intruder and off they go, like two fighter jets in a dogfight. Eventually, this one returns, drinks and perches. It will also go into a nearby tree and watch the feeder and attack any who dare stop. I’ve also seen other hummingbirds, up in those trees, watching the watcher, waiting for a chance to sup at the sugar water.

It’s a big bird. It’s breast is much bigger than others that we see. The bully name fits.

Today, I sat out on the deck for about an hour, camera in hand, waiting for this one to come claim its perch. Except for the intruders, I believe this bird would have stayed away. Once the intruders came by, i proved my innocuous intentions, and it began to perch, then preen. It was using claws and beak to root out insects or other irritants in its feathers. This is one of the contorted poses it got into while giving itself the once over.

It’s in their nature to protect a food source, but I still call it a bully.


Splendor in the Grass

Autumn is in full bloom. The light is fading ever earlier, the leaves are starting to drop (not turning colors en mass yet), and the insects are furiously making final preparations for the coming winter.

While out walking through the Centennial Park Prairie Trail fields of prairie grasses, the late afternoon sun was putting on a show. These long grasses, their ends drooping with the weight of the seeds that are ready to be sown, were lit up with the golden spotlight of sunshine.

The tree frogs, cicadas, an occasional bullfrog and other fauna were giving me a symphony of song to accompany my trek. There were bunches of butterflies, singles and pairs, fluttering their chaotic wings among the plants.

I had a memorable walk.


Through the Woods

The woods are on the cusp of the seasonal change. Next week or three or four could bring an explosion of color to this part of the world. I’ve been feeling it, everywhere when I go walking.

This path is one of many found in Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Park, near Ashland, Illinois in the heart of the central plains States. There are a couple lakes and at least one pond, and lots of woods to explore.

Karen and I were walking one of the paths around Drake Lake. It was a short trail, and, when it crossed another trail, I took a diversion onto the other path, and ended up extending our walk by about twice my intended walk. It was fun to get a bit lost, and then find our way.

This scene had me stop short, and fire off exactly one frame as you see here. The play of light and shadows among all the textures of trees, shrubs, grasses and such was visually stunning to me.

We didn’t get to grandmother’s house, but we did have a very nice trip over the river and through the woods.


So We Can Talk

Their office happens to be up a 100+ foot cell tower.

These two network equipment installers were up there, mounting and hooking up new cell equipment. I spotted the rope, seen here at the left, as I pulled into the drive through at my bank. At that point, I couldn’t see them, but figured that someone was working at the top of the tower.

I pulled into the bank lot as soon as I could. Out came my camera and on went the telephoto lens. I had brought it with me in preparation for an afternoon walk. That lens allowed me to get up there with them.

Just another day at the office for these two, but a palm-sweating moment for me, just thinking about climbing up there, let alone concentrating on the delicate work of installing the cell tower equipment.

At least it was a nice day for it.

All so you and I can chat or text or check out the latest social site posting.