I will share more California pictures, but first some from a recent and not-too-successful trip into the woods. Yes, I did get some usable photos, but was nearly driven insane and carried off by deer and horse flies. Dammit why do they ruin everything? Bug repellent in any form is useless against their onslaught. Vicious little bastards spoiled my fun. I found this gorgeous fern display, complete with a young orb weaver spider and could only get one good image –
It was crazy. Between each step like taking the tripod out of its sleeve, mounting the lens, mounting the tripod etc, I had to dance around and wave my hat like a mental patient just so I could get maybe 20 seconds of peace. Plus I was sweating profusely and it was running into my eyes. Stingy! This is the only frame I have like this because the flies were so relentless it was just impossible to concentrate or really start to ‘see’ the compositional possibilities. No way I could take the time to photograph the spider. I have a few handheld frames, but none worth a damn. Bah!
I decided to head back to the car, muttering aloud to myself that I was giving in, are you happy now, nature? I give up. Back to the car I go. You beat me. All the time waving my hat and trying to get enough footspeed to outrun the flesh eating flies. Looking at the map, I decided to retrace my steps as it was probably shorter than taking the trail that basically formed a loop with the one I came out on. I didn’t really want to hike back on the dirt road, but thought it would be easiest. Then I realized that another trail would take me by my favorite little pond and probably wouldn’t add any time to my trip. I was temporarily fly-free and chanced it. A little way in and I found a good boulder overlooking the pond where I could see almost all of it. The flies even stayed away long enough for me to switch lenses again –
Of course I forgot my polarizer, but thought I could try anyway. I was there so what the hell. Amazingly the flies stayed away and I actually could stop to have a snack and some water. Sure, the ants noticed and wanted their tribute, but they didn’t really bother me. I could hear some other folks on the trail now. They went right by me and didn’t see me on my rocky perch. Eventually I followed them up the trail and split off onto another one at the edge of the boulder field. Then what to my wondrous eyes should appear? Why Hemlock Varnish Shelf, my dear.
I think I actually said ‘wow’ out loud. These things are huge. Like dinner plate huge. And they really are that colorful and shiny. Varnished is right. The whole log was host to a troop of them. They must grow really fast, too since I don’t think they could over-winter and stay so fresh looking. It was cool and the flies stayed away. My snack and water had revived me and I felt relaxed and comfortable photographing these huge mushrooms.
So I’m glad I stuck with it and decided to chance the trail instead of the road. I would have missed a good opportunity to shoot my favorite little pond (and check the progress of the beaver dam – it’s been shored up and is even more effective than last fall when I think it got a bit bedraggled) and find some mushrooms I’d never seen before. Take that nature, I win!