The Praying Mantis

I’ve been away from the world of blogging for a few days due to the chaos I call life in a family of five.  Knowing how busy life was going to be during the last couple of weeks of summer, I recently  made a list of the images I wanted to post, and the order in which to post them.  Despite this effort, I did not achieve a blog post the past two days.  Then today, as I was walking by my Dahlias I noticed the difference in each bloom and figured I had to grab my camera.  I photographed the large, beautiful flowers for a bit and then, out of the blue appeared a Praying Mantis on one of the large, fully open flowers. Once again my list of blog topics is pushed back, but I’m hoping no one minds.

After photographing the Praying Mantis, and taking a few more shots of the Dahlias, I had to confirm my thoughts that the Praying Mantis had symbolism of peace associated with it.  Sure enough, I found a plethora of information on this unique looking insect.  One website was especially interesting.  This website is Souled Out.org (http://www.souledout.org/earthday/mantis/pm.html). The information reported on Souled Out.org is below.

The praying mantis is the oldest symbol of God: the African Bushman’s manifestation of God come to Earth, “the voice of the infinite in the small,”* a divine messenger. When one is seen, diviners try to determine the current message. In this culture they are also associated with restoring life into the dead. “Mantis” is the Greek word for “prophet” or “seer,” a being with spiritual or mystical powers.

Meet the eye of a mantis and feel the presence of God. Interspecies communicator Sharon Callahan says, “the I of me, and the I of the creature became one and we rested on the breath of God.” She notes that a praying mantis appears sometimes in person, other times in a dream or even in an object of art, but always with the “shiny conscious eye ~ God looking at me through the eye of the Mantis.”

The praying mantis shows the way. In the Arabic and Turkish cultures a mantis points pilgrims to Mecca, the holiest site in the Islamic world. In Africa it helps find lost sheep and goats. In France, it’s believed that if you are lost the mantis points the way home.   

“Follow Mantis” means putting that core aspect of yourself, your foundation of Spirit, at the helm and let it direct your intellect and ultimately your life.

On other websites I found the following meanings:

  • Symbol of the eye of God.
  • She represents strength, adaptability, and ease of communication.
  • The Praying Mantis will make an appearance when we need peace, quiet, and calm in our lives.  She visits to tell us that we need to be more like her and take our time and live at our own silent pace.

As I was reading all of the summaries of symbolism for the Praying Mantis I thought about how well each one of them could represent the reason she appeared on my Dahlias today.  First and foremost, I believe in the power of prayer and experienced it first hand a couple of times this week.  Secondly, I have had a lot of chaos and emotional unease looming the past few weeks.  I’m not sure if this is because my oldest child will be starting a new chapter in his life and moving onto middle school while at the same time entering the teenage years, or if it is simply the business and sadness that accompanies the end of summer.    I would like to think that this beautiful insect happened to arrive on my Dahlia at the same time I was photographing as a reminder to keep life in perspective, to realize how blessed I am, to slow down and take deep calming breaths, and simply love and cherish those around me.  A little message from God to keep myself in check.

The Oldest Symbol of God? A Reminder to Pray?

Peace, Quiet, and Calm?

Strength, adaptability, and Ease of Communication?

She really is magnificent.  Nature is so incredible.  She blends right in with her environment.  At first look I was disappointed that the Dahlia was not perfect, but had brown blemishes.  Then it it occurred to me that this was the natural process and she was using it to her benefit.  I wonder how long she stayed camouflaged watching me photograph.  The thought of it makes me smile.

One Beautiful Family

Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!  ~Albert Einstein

Family

The family is a haven in a heartless world.  ~Attributed to Christopher Lasch

Family at Heart

When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.  ~Joyce Brothers

Family Fun

You don’t choose your family.  They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.  ~Desmond Tutu

Daddy and his Girls

Momma’s Boys

The Big Election

In life, it is never the big battle, the big moment, the big speech, the big election. That does not change things. What changes things is every day, getting up and rendering small acts of service and love beyond that what’s expected of you or required of you.  – Cory Booker

When I saw this truck I had to photograph it.  At the moment, it felt like I was truly capturing a moment in history.  Note the bumper sticker in the back window.  The image is especially relative at this point in time as we are in the throws of a presidential election year.

The Pigeon at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

During a recent visit to New York City my mother, sister and I took a quick peak inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  When exiting the church, this pigeon was sitting on the steps outside.  It reminded me Mary Poppins.  Do you remember the scene when she takes the children to the city and they meet the poor woman on the steps feeding the birds?

I intentionally shot this so that there was no room to the right of the frame.  I was able to get so close to the pigeon that it seemed as though he was just standing guard and no intention of leaving.  I shot the pigeon at several apertures, but F2.8 was my favorite as it made the stairs just fade away.

His post.

Self-Portrait Attempt

Please don’t think I’m crazy.  I feel like I am going out on a limb here.  I look at 100’s, maybe 1000’s of photographs each week.  It is more or less an obsession.  I look at what other photographers do so that I can learn more and more about my passion.  I am of the thinking that this, along with reading about photography every day will further my journey to becoming a good, or even great photographer.  There is always more to learn.  More technical skills, more creative compositions to experiment with, more processing techniques, etc.

Along my journey of exploring the works of other photographers I’ve run across many who have published self-portraits.  Some photographers I’ve met have taken a self-portrait every day of the year for a 365-project.  One of my all time favorites, someone I’ve mentioned here before is Vivian Maier (http://www.vivianmaier.com/).  She’s inspired me in many ways, attempting self-portraits, being just one of them.  The images below are my attempt, on a whim so to speak, to accomplish the task of shooting a self-portrait.  This is not my first attempt.  I will post others at some point.  Others, in fact, that I like better because they are more mysterious, more interesting.  But these are fresh, show the process of my attempt to get it right, and a little fun so I’m going to post them now.

Attempt 1 – not quite there, but I like it.

Almost there, slightly out of focus, but I like how you can see the camera and the way the mirror alters the image in the corner.

I like the camera in this one and I think you can tell I am having a little fun…

The final product. Slightly out of focus, which soften’s the image and I think makes it look a little less self-portraitish, more like it’s a candid and my gaze is on someone across the room.

Yellow Roses

A dear friend of mine gave me a yellow rose plant early in the summer.  The plant has flourished despite the heat and lack of rain and has produced many beautiful roses.  Yesterday evening I took advantage of the soft, diffused light to capture the splendid roses. What you see below is a series of images capturing the various stages of a rose in bloom.

The bud and the bloom.

The rose and the opening bud.

The grand opening.

Delicate beauty.

My personal favorite of this series.

 

 

 

 

 

Photographing Steam

 

The thought of photographing steam is sometimes much easier than actually accomplishing it.  The environment has to be just right.  After several attempts I was able to capture a slight show of steam only to then learn that to photograph steam you really need cooler temperatures.  It was 100 degrees the day I set out to accomplish my mission.  To prevent you from working backwards like I did, attempting, being less than successful, and then going on-line to research, I am going to tell you what you’ll need to be successful the very first time you attempt to photograph steam.

What you need to photograph steam:

Steam – of course.

Light – back lighting, or side lighting.

Temperature – cooler temperatures are better.

Background – dark background.

Air movement control – the slightest shift in air can result in the steam moving in a different direction or taking a different shape.  Sometimes this is beneficial.  Sometimes an aggravation depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

A few websites/blogs I found helpful:

Food Photography Blog -http://www.foodportfolio.com/blog/food_photography/steam.html

Photo.net – http://photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00NWhD

Photoink – http://photoink.org/how-to-photograph-steam

A few of my attempts, better images to come when cooler weather arrives.  Live and learn.  You have to start somewhere, right?

Afternoon tea with a cinnamon butterscotch scone.

Less steam than the first image. There was an air conditioning vent near the placement of the first subject.

Again, less steam, but I like the image.

Old, Faded Photographs

“Still, if you set your heart on God and reach out to him, If you scrub your hands of sin and refuse to entertain evil in your home, You’ll be able to face the world unashamed and keep a firm grip on life, guiltless and fearless. You’ll forget your troubles; they’ll be like old, faded photographs.” – Job 11:13-16 (MSG)

When I saw this Bible verse a week or so ago, I immediately thought about posting it.  The question was how to do so. I decided to post an old photograph, that I did not take, in addition to an image I did take.  It is probably obvious that the term – old, faded photographs in the verse caught my attention.  However, the remainder of the verse has even more meaning.  Words to take to heart.  If only I could muster the strength of Job.  He is a Biblical icon and a true inspiration of strength and faith.

An old faded photograph of my mother on her horse, Topaz. Needless to say I did not take this photograph. But, I found it quite appropriate to post with the verse above.

A photograph I recently took that, in black and white, looks old.

Rim Light Defined Clouds

Two evenings ago we ventured out for a walk along the river.  On our way home, we are driving alongside the sunset.  The sky was so interesting that is seemed as though the clouds and sun were performing for us.  As the storm clouds rolled passed the sun, we say numerous shapes and the best of all was the rim light framing out the clouds just in front of the setting sun.  Because of the fact that there are few shoulders on the roads in our part of the country, we didn’t have a great place to stop so that I could photograph the rim light around the clouds.  There were way too many tall trees that blocked the view.  When we were finally able to pull to the side, the rim light wasn’t as definitive, but from the image below you’ll see how interesting the sky was Sunday evening.  The sun coming through the clouds almost looks like a flame in the evening sky.

Sunset with Storm Clouds Passing By

Dew Drops

The dew drops almost look like tears coming from the heart of the sunflower.

Tears of Joy