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Wild Roses

Wild Rose, monochrome

I was hiking along the Patapsco River a few days ago, and happened to note a familiar scent in the air. The fragrance brought back memories of similar hikes throughout the years, although for all my efforts I could not place what produced that aroma. With a little investigation, avoiding poison ivy at every step, I discovered that this wonderful smell was coming from wild rose bushes that littered the landscape. They're in prime bloom right now, so take a moment to smell the roses.

Best wishes,

     Bob

Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwing in Mulberry Tree, color

The cedar waxwings have started to gorge on the ripening mulberries in our neck of the woods. Often flocks of 50 or more birds will descend on a tree for a few minutes and then fly off for a momentary roost in the safety of a taller tree. They repeat this cycle until the last ripe berry is eaten. These birds favor the tallest of branches and seldom stay put for very long; they're always a challenge to photograph. The best approach is to listen for their distinctive song and watch for movement and location.

I captured this lovely bird who had just feasted on some berries at a nearby pond that is a birdwatcher's paradise.
 

Please feel free to leave comments, and thanks for stopping by.

Bob

Early Cicadas

Cicada exuviae macro, color

We had an unexpected emergence of 17-year cicadas over the last week. This brood was supposed to stay in the ground as nymphs until 2021 but, for unknown reasons, a portion of these insects has emerged early leaving their exuviae (the remains of the nymph's exoskeleton) on low-lying plants and bushes. (There are hundreds, to give you an idea of their numbers.) I thought it might be interesting to photograph some of these exuviae, and here are early results.
 

Cicada Dance, b/w


If you're interested in these cicadas, the Washington Post has an article at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/05/17/the-giant-bugs-on-the-sidewalks-are-cicadas-that-rose-from-the-dead-4-years-too-early/?utm_term=.2656716a5b9c

Thank you for stopping by. Your comments are, as always, welcomed.

Bob

A Backyard full of birds

Spring is a wonderful time of year for watching birds in my backyard gardens. With the 2017 migration in full swing, I've seen numerous warbler species, grosbeaks, indigo buntings, and plenty of native birds.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak at rest, color

Sunbathing Robin, color

House Wren Takes Off, color

I've seen black and white warblers in my neighbor's holly trees, a sure sign that summer is near.

Best wishes,

    Bob

My Woodland Nemesis

Portrait of Nemesis, black and white

My nemesis: Toxicodendron radicans, known more commonly as poison ivy. I am hyper-allergic to urushiol, the group of chemical compounds found in poison ivy that cause the rash, and have learned from past experiences to pretty much stay out of the woodlands from May to October. If I venture into them, I walk as one treads through a mindfield, look, step, look, step, etc. Judging from what I've seen recently along the Patapsco River and nearby reservoirs, 2017 looks to be a banner year for poison ivy in Maryland. So, to appease the PI gods, I present "Portrait of Nemesis" in the hopes that they leave me alone and I avoid all contact with the plant for this year.

I enjoy reading your comments, and thank you for stopping by.

Best wishes,

       Bob

Spring is here (Hiking on the No.9 Trolley Trail)

Our weather has finally and decidedly turned spring-like, and none too soon. A few days ago, I went for a hike on the No. 9 Trolley Trail and the nearby woods around Banneker Park in Oella, MD. The woods had come alive over the last week. The trees had small leaves. The forest floor was covered in green, and the birds were singing. Pine warblers and blue-gray gnatcatchers were flitting about the branches, as were many other species. One species made a spectacular appearance: a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers! Check out this photograph:

Pileated Woodpeckers, color

I was delighted to see quite a large number and variety of butterflies, such as this swallowtail.

Swallowtail on apple blossoms, color

Lucky for me, the poison ivy has yet to emerge, and I was able to walk uninhibited in the glades, giving me an opportunity to photograph nature as it awakens from its winter rest.

Spring leaves, color

If you are a resident of Catonsville or the surrounding towns, you really deserve to treat yourself to a (very easy) walk on the No. 9 Trolley Trail, especially in springtime.

Best wishes,

        Bob

New Cathedral Cemetery

New Cathedral Cemetery, located on the western edge of Baltimore City, was founded in 1871, and combines three old cemeteries: St. Peter’s Kirkyard, opened in 1770, the Cathedral Cemetery (1816), and St. Patrick's cemetery (1936). The headstones and markers from all three old cemeteries were moved from their original locations within the city proper and installed at New Cathedral Cemetery. Many of these headstones are marble and have been severely weathered; however, there is much beauty and magnificence to be found in the old headstones and statues, and the magnificent view of Baltimore City one witnesses from the Cemetery's grounds.

New Cathedral Vista #1, monochrome

Edward Reilley, monochrome

Wm. Connaughton, monochrome

John Nunan, monochrome

George J. Kern, monochrome

Not all the grave markers are so elaborate and ornate. Simple often is sufficient, as these three so eloquently demonstrate. Something about their simplicity tugs at my heartstrings even now as I view the photograph for the upteenth time.

Mama, monochrome

I hope you enjoyed these photographs, and equally hope they inspired you to take a trip to New Cathedral Cemetery.

All my best,

     Bob

Orchid Cattleya aclandiae

Cattleya aclandiae, color

We're in the midst of a late winter snow storm, the perfect time to show off an orchid. This one is a Brazilian species, Cattleya aclandiae, named in honor of Lady Lydia Elizabeth Ackland, who was the first European to grow the plant successfully. Besides the beautiful colors, these flowers produce an aroma that can best be described as reminiscent of a middle east spice bazaar. Just the thing to lift one's spirits while the snow is falling. This is the first bloom for this plant, so it's a bit smaller than what I'd expect from this species being ca. 2.5 inches across. Another flower spike is on the way, so that flower may be larger.

I hope you enjoy this photo, and please feel free to leave your comments.

Thanks for viewing,

Bob

Ruins of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church (Patapsco State Park)

Alberton Road in Patapsco State Park (Maryland, US) at one time led to the town of Daniels. The town and the road were destroyed when hurricane Agnes flooded the Patapsco River valley in 1972. Along the trail is much evidence of the community that once thrived in this old mill town. One of the ruins is the St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church that was built in the 1800s and stood until a fire destroyed it in 1926. The remains of the church and its cemetery now lie in the forest that is slowly taking over the site. If you're interested in a bit more information, old photos of the church can be seen here: http://www.thefirering.com/ROP_Stanislaus.php.

I recently hiked to the church to photograph the remain. As I approached the site, my first views were of the cemetery and some of its grave stones.

St. Stanislaus Cemetery, monochrome

St. Stanislaus Graves, monochrome

Mary Smith's Grave, monochrome

St. Stanislaus Stones, monochrome

Walking west through the cemetery one enters the remains of the church. A few stone walls, along with their arched entries, are visible, but most have crumbled leaving the individual construction stones scattered on the ground. Even though it is the middle of winter, there is abundant evidence that the forest is reclaiming this land.

St Stanislaus Arch 1, monochrome

St Stanislaus Arch 2, monochrome

St Stanislaus Entry 1, monochrome

St Stanislaus Entry 2, monochrome

The woods are reclaiming the land, but St.Stan's is a wonderful site to visit when hiking in Patapsco State Park.

Best wishes,

       Bob

The Dead Of Winter

The Dead Of Winter, b/w

I had an opportunity for a late afternoon hike in the Hilton area of Patapsco State Park on superbowl Sunday. The area was devoid of people and dry as a bone. We haven't had a decent rain or snowfall this year, and things are dry. All in all, the area was desolate: brown, dessicated leaves covered the forest floor, leaving only leafless trees and the ever-present schist and gneiss rocks and boulders as prominent landmarks. These large rocks, however, had a majesty all their own, and were extremely worthy subjects for photographs. I took multiple images, and think this one is a great example of that day and time.

I hope you enjoy my photography. Please feel free to drop me a comment.

Best wishes,

     Bob

River Rocks: Patapsco River in Mid-Winter

River Rocks #1, panorama, monochrome

We have been free from snow thus far, and the Patapsco River is free from ice and clear. The scenery around the river is barren and leafless, brown and gray, but all the same wonderfully interesting. I think these panoramas accurately reflect the intermixing of the barren landscape with the slowly moving river currents. I hope you will agree.

River Rocks #3, panorama, monochrome

By the way, despite its appearance, the Patapsco is alive with activity. Just this week, a warm spell brought out the stoneflies, and with the stoneflies came rainbow trout slurping at the water's surface and gulping up an insect feast.

Best wishes,

     Bob

Orchid Sophronitis cernua

Sophronitis cernua, color

I have a fondness for miniature orchids, and one of my favorites is a Brazilian species, Sophronitis cernua. My S. cernua is mounted on a cork slab, and started to bloom a few days ago for the first time. The small flowers (mine are about 3/4 inch edge to edge) are a pleasant orange with a yellow center. The anther cap is tinted purple, which nicely contrasts the rest of the flower. I hope you will agree they photograph rather well, and are especially nice to see during the gloomy days of January.

Thank you for viewing, and I appreciate your comments.

Bob

Patapsco River Rock

River Rock, monochrome

The Patapsco River (Baltimore County, MD USA) remains free from ice and snow. While the banks are muddy and the rocks slippery, it is still pleasant to hike along the river. The day was cloudy and somber, and the river clear and its surface still. Of course, my camera was with me. Here's one of the photographs taken from that trek.

Thank you for viewing, and please feel free to leave comments.

Best wishes,

      Bob

The Abandoned Tree

Abandoned Tree, b/w

I often pass by a lone, but elegant and stately tree that sits in a field that must have once been a site for a housing development of some sort or other. There is evidence of paved driveways, power lines that lead seemingly nowhere, some vestiges of past dwellings that have since undergone decay, and many shrubs and other small bushes that suggest ecological succession from a cleared field, but there is only one large tree. The tree in this photograph. It sits all alone in this field, and I must confess that I think it is magnificent in its stoicism. I guess it's an oak, but I don't know what type. (I'll say I think it may be a post oak.) I sincerely hope it lives for many, many more years. It is an absolute beauty. (I apologize for being something of a romantic.)

Thank you for stopping to view my photograph. Please feel free to leave a comment.

Bob

Where There's Smoke... Part 3

And here is a final set of smokographs. By using a white background and coloring the smoke, you get a much different effect, and one that can be visually stunning.

Thrust, color

Dancing Lady, color

Genie's Out, color

Emergence, color

I'll be back with more landscape and nature photographs shortly.

Best wishes,

    Bob

Where There's Smoke... Part 2

Here are a second set of 'smokographs', a term that certainly isn't in anyone's lexicon but mine. These are more chaotic and abstract and colorful.

Psychotwiester, color

Colorful Demon, color

Kosmic Karma, color

Mean Cephalopod, color

Yes, they are a bit trippy, but I do hope you found them interesting and visually stimulating.

If so, please let me know. Thanks for stopping by.

Best wishes,

     Bob

Where there's smoke... Part 1

Smoke Abstracts v1: Sinuous smoke

Scenario: Set up a black backdrop. Get out the 100mm macro, tripod, and flash with snoot. Light an incense stick, Take photos. Leave basement smelling like a temple. lol.

Smooth Smoke #1, color

Smooth Smoke #1, color

Smooth Smoke #1, color

Smooth Smoke #1, color

Thank you for viewing. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments.

Yours truly,

     Bob

Cold Lake

Cold Lake, monochrome

Fishing season is nearing its end, as the cold north winds blow in and the ice forms. I visited one of my fishing spots recently to capture this photograph taken on a winter's afternoon just before sunset, as the wind created windrows and the clouds fled across the sky.

I hope you enjoy my photograph. Please feel free to leave comments, and thank you for stopping by.

Cheers,

      Bob

Season's Greetings

Christmas 2016, color

Wishing you peace and harmony throughout the year

Season's Greetings from Bob Belas Photography

Last Season's Catch

Last Season's Catch, color

I am fascinated by light and texture and the interplay of one with the other. While visiting a favorite fishing spot, I noticed the remains of a largemouth bass that had decayed and withered to scales and skeletal remains. The late afternoon winter sunlight had lit the fish's corpse obliquely, providing an interesting, if somewhat gory, image.

I rather doubt I'll see this photo to the local seafood restaurant, but I do like, and I hope you do too.

Thank you for viewing, and feel free to leave comments.

Best wishes,

     Bob