Archive for May, 2016

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Wordless Wednesday 5/25/16

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The toughest in the land

In northern Wisconsin we still get frost and freezing overnight temps well into May. What’s a demure beauty to do? Get tough. Spring beauty is one of the most hardy wildflowers we have and though it’s quite small and looks fragile, it survives almost anything Mother Nature can throw at it.

Out of the shadows

Out of the shadows

In addition to frigid temperatures, spring beauty can, and does, flourish in nutrient-depleted areas like housing developments and deforested areas like farms. It’s pretty undemanding.

Pleasure's traces

Pleasure’s traces

Here in the yard though, there’s no skimping on soil nutrients, they grow in the lawn as well as in the woods where they have to push up through some very deep leaf litter.

They’re still blooming and I think I’ll have to go pick some because in addition to being adorable, they’re edible! The roots are actually tuberous, like potatoes, and it’s said they taste very similar, albeit sweeter and kind of chestnut-y so far as I could tell from info online. They can be eaten raw or cooked so I’ll have to get out there and get some while they’re at the peak of ripeness.

 


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Wordless Wednesday 5/18/16


A serious camera bag that’s seriously stylish

After a while every photographer accumulates a lot of bags. Most of mine are task specific, like my sling bag is for those days out in nature when I need more photo equipment with me than other stuff like lunch or a place to store clothing layers; when I need to bring that stuff, I choose my old backpack. Since about ’02 or ’03 that bag has been my carry-on when I travel with my camera with me. It’s ok and holds pretty much everything I need, but I feel kind of like a country bumpkin sometimes. Especially when I’m not going to need a backpack for the trip itself (not hiking). In those cases I wanted a protective bag that looks like it belongs to a grown up woman. Harder to do than you’d think. Oh sure there are plenty of manly or hipster-doofus messenger bags, but that’s not what I wanted. And yeah, there are purses/totes galore, but who wants to wrap her $1500 lens in a t-shirt?

Aide de Camp to the rescue! (No, I’m not a shill, I just thought an article about a nice bag that is actually useful would be helpful for other women in my situation.)

So before I get into the bag itself check out what I got into it with ease!
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Yes, that is a full-sized tripod (a Really Right Stuff TQC-14)! Sure, I had to detach the head (a RRS BH-30 LR), but better than either carrying it alone or putting it in a checked bag. I didn’t mind when I had an el-cheapo travel tripod, but not my precious. That stays with me whenever possible. Oh and I just realized my Oakley case for my Half Jackets and their 2 extra lenses isn’t in that shot. It’s a relatively big hard shell sort of egg-shaped (7 inches by 4 or so). That fit, too.

They’re bad cell phone pics, but here’s how the bag came to me in the first place –

There’s a bonus kitty in that one, I think it’s Matilda.

 

Isn’t that lovely? It comes so beautifully packaged and presented and shipped relatively fast from Singapore. I’ve bought some reasonably high-end bags in my life and this was on par with those. It even included a little note thanking me for my purchase.

I decided on the Nadine after about a day of research. Most other bags were either hideously ugly, got poor reviews or were too small and/or flimsy. It reminded me of buying motorcycle gear in the mid 1990s; most of it was pitiably useless, offering no protection or technical edge, but instead had fringe or rose appliques. I had to by men’s gear which usually didn’t fit correctly. Ridiculous. Why don’t companies take the needs of women as seriously as they do the men? Sure, there may be fewer of us in certain sports or activities, but it doesn’t mean we don’t do those things with any less dedication and it certainly doesn’t mean it should be a more risky activity as a result. Anyway, I’ll stop ranting.

At first I thought it might be a little too big, but once I filled it (with the tripod!) I realized it’s pretty perfect. When I arrived at the hotel and removed the toiletries and a few other things, this became the bag that went in the car with our daily needs tucked right inside. It was great. It’s made of soft, canvas and the straps are of the same material as car seat belts (I do wish they were a little wider or padded, but you can’t have everything).

For an airline carry-on it works quite well and it fit under the seat of a small regional jet. There’s a large padded pocket for a 15″ laptop, but I used it for my iPad. I didn’t take up all of the camera section with gear, but used some of it to stack small items like the watch and jewelry box I travel with. My rectangular black cases, one for camera and one for charging accessories, fit on either end of the padded photo drop in. There’s a flap for securing it to a rolling suitcase which makes schlepping it easier when it’s fully loaded. My only complaint is that the straps are a bit short for me to comfortably sling over my shoulder without breaking my wrist or using two hands. I’m 5′ 9″ and don’t have particularly long arms, but it still could use a couple of inches to make that ideal. If you’re short it shouldn’t be an issue.

So I hope that was useful. If you need a bag for your camera gear, but that holds other things and looks good doing it, put this one on your short list.

For more information about this bag, visit The Nadine Collection. I don’t have direct experience with any of the other bags, but on the strength of this one, I recommend Aide de Camp if you’re looking for a stylish bag that offers real protection and flexibility.


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Wordless Wednesday 5/11/16


Ephemerally yours

Taken together, early spring wildflowers are often called ephemerals. This refers to their short life cycles, but strictly speaking means flowers that die back completely leaving no trace of their presence above ground. It’s a trait that allows them to be very successful, emerging after the most harsh winters, before bud break when the trees hog most of the sunlight.

Trout lily (Erythronium americanum) is a true ephemeral; its leaves quickly break down and disappear after the flowers wither. It is the leaves that give this flower its common name; the mottling resembles the fish.

I’m not in love

Like many early widlflowers, trout lily closes completely when it’s cold, overcast or rainy. As an evolutionary strategy I think it works. Flowers that lose petals to wind and weather stand a lower chance of being pollinated versus those that keep their petals. Flower structures and petals help guide pollinators to them.

Bliss

Pollination is especially important to trout lily because so few of the pollinated flowers actually seed – approximately 10% only which is a pretty small percentage. To make matters worse, it takes 7 years for the flowers to mature and none bloom during that time. Despite those odds, some botanists believe that large, undisturbed groves of trout lily to be 300 years old.

Taking the Queen

Pretty amazing for a ubiquitous little wildflower that hardly shows its face for more than a few weeks a year.

Have a little mercy

 

Minor disturbances

 

In the spirit of renewal

 

Never been kissed

 


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Wordless Wednesday 5/4/16