Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Visiting the Animals on Christmas

We had a quiet family day today. After a yummy breakfast of blueberry pancakes and bacon, we as a family of three humans and two furry dogs, opened our Christmas presents. Everyone was pleasantly surprised with their gifts, including the dogs.

Needing to walk off all the food eaten over the last two days, I set out for an afternoon hike and Walk and Click adventure. I decided to visit the Outdoor Discovery Center for something different. There are quite a few animals that live there due to accidents that have happened to them.

A family of Elk.

They have a wonderful Birds of Prey area. There are Bald Eagles, a Golden Eagle, different hawks and  owls. So many beautiful and majestic creatures. This is a Barred Owl that has one eye damaged.

I could just stand and watch them all day. All the birds were active and seemed excited to see us. We wished each bird a Merry Christmas before we moved on to the next cage.

Yes, I said we. I was so happy to have Mallory join me today on my Walk and Click adventure.

The Outdoor Discovery Center is used for outdoor education for school age kids, so there are many interesting areas set up. This is a replica of an Ottawa Native American Summer Village.

We have a small dusting of snow on the ground here, and there was a little ice on the ponds, which was something new to photograph for Walk and Click.

Winter exposes the bare bones of everything, things that wouldn't be seen the rest of the year with foliage covering them.

Mallory and I had a wonderful time spending the afternoon together. It was so nice to have somebody to go exploring with, and one of my favorite people to go exploring with is my beautiful daughter.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Road to Perdition

I happen to live quite near to the place where they shot one of the final scenes in the movie Road to Perdition starring Tom Hanks. The scene is the one of the cottage on the beach where Tom Hanks confronts the killer of his wife and son.

The spot where the cottage use to stand...

The same beach where Tom Hanks walked in the movie...

I had visited this spot once before this fall, but Monday I went with the intention of shooting for Walk and Click Wednesday. I loved the film and it was fun to explore the spots where this scene took place.

It was great to be able to walk on the beach in Mid-December with no blowing wind or snow in the air.

I even took the time to take a "selfie"while I was there.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Park and Some Props

The weather here lately has been gray and gloomy, not to mention damp and chilly. Not the most inspiring weather to go out on a shooting adventure. Also with the holidays fast approaching the big blocks of time I was blessed with in November seem to have disappeared.

Friday morning I was able to get out for a couple of hours, combining it with a couple of errands I had to do. I needed to go someplace close and in the general direction of my errands. I love it each week how someplace seems to magically pop into my head and this day was no different. Howard B. Dunton Park...not a place I normally hang out, but a place with wonderful memories. Glen and I use to go here after work when we first started dating and "make out", he proposed here and we also renewed our vows here four years ago.

When I arrived I did a quick walk around without my camera, just using my eyes to "see" what possibilities were there. I noticed a lot of different textures so that became my shooting focus for the day. Also looking for scenes already set, all I had to do was shoot.

I did cheat a little on this one, I turned the leaf just a bit, but it was already on the post.

Next, I drove around to the lower parking lot to a covered pavilion and hauled out my props. There is a bench in front of pavilion facing the water that has wonderful texture on it.

I found this leaf in front of the bench and it went so perfectly with my cup...

My dried hydrangea blossom from last week made a return appearance...

The Paisleys also wanted in on the fun...

They did some major additions to this park a number of years ago, so much of it is different from our dating days. This upper section and bathrooms did not exist back in those days.

Ahh...wonderful memories! And such fun to play with some of my props for a little while.

Linking up with Lissa at laf Custom Designs for Walk and Click Wednesday.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Beauty in the Barren

One thing that is becoming very apparent to me as I do these Walk and Click Wednesdays is that I LOVE structures. Cottages, Lighthouses, Bridges, Barns, even benches and stairs. I love them all.

This past Friday I visited Upper Macatawa Natural Area, my 9th Ottawa County Park visited out of the 26 I need to visit before June 19, 2013. I knew right away I was going to be challenged, not a structure in sight, not even very many trees. I was going to have to "see" new and different things to photograph.

Then some gifts started to present themselves. The beauty of a red cardinal in a tangle of vines. That was the spark I needed.

I continued down the wide mown path and really started to look and down and all around.

More gifts became apparent...

I had some processing fun with the remains of these Queen Anne's Lace using some Lightroom presets and Sarah Gardner textures.

I did find somewhat of a structure in this fence...

One the way back to the car there was a rusted railing, wood planked foot bridge over a small creek. I went back to the car and got a dried hydrangea blossom that I had found that morning on my walk with the dogs. I set the hydrangea blossom in the rusted texture rail and did a few still life shots. Post-processing and a Sarah Gardner texture and here is the final result...

I may not have found the structures that I enjoy shooting, but I did find beauty in the barren.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Other Side of the Channel

I have stood on my side of the channel for the past 44 years looking at Big Red, and for the most part have been content with that.

Although, there was something inside of me that wanted to be on that side, to stand next to the lighthouse, to touch it. And now days with my love of photography so strong, I wanted to be on that side to photograph it.

Big Red is not easily accessible. Most of the land over there is privately owned. There is a staffed guardhouse in the summer and parking near the boardwalk to the lighthouse is either for the marina or for the summer cottage people.

A conversation with a friend a few weeks ago renewed my desire to explore on the other side of the channel. He told me to park near the guardhouse, it's not staffed in the off-season. Plenty of parking with no marina or summer residents in November. All I had to do was follow the boardwalk out to the lighthouse.

It worked like a charm. I picked an overcast, non-windy day and it was perfect. It was wonderful to shoot the lighthouse from different angles, to climb the steps and look inside, and to take some closeup detail shots.

Here is the Historic Marker for the Lighthouse:

I enjoyed my adventure and I am so glad I took a risk traveling to the other side of the channel. I plan to go back, as there are some great old cottages over there as well.

Happy to be participating in Lissa Forbes Walk and Click Wednesdays

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Summer People Are Gone

The summer people are gone...gone back to their other houses in Grand Rapids, Chicago, or basking in the warmth of the Florida sun.

Their cottages stand empty...waiting for them to return again next summer.

This is the time of year that the locals relish. Less people, less noise, less busy, just less of everything.

I went exploring by their empty cottages the other day, something I wouldn't feel comfortable doing in July. As  I walked along the old, cracked, narrow sidewalks. I could feel the history of this Victorian era cottage association in the air.

Cottage History
Construction of cottages in the Ottawa Beach resort began in June 1886. Most cottage owners, hailed from Grand Rapids. Among the earliest cottagers were prominent business people, furniture makers, railroad officers and politicians. For more than a century, the same families returned each summer, often occupying the same houses for decades. From the 1930s through mid 1960s future U.S. President Gerald Ford spent many summer vacations here.

Many of these cottages remain relatively untouched except for routine maintenance. Others look "new" and to me that spoils the charm of these Victorian era cottages. 

After exploring and taking lots of photos, I returned to the Black Lake Boardwalk where my car was parked. It was such a beautiful day that I found a bench along the boardwalk, pulled my journal and pen from my backpack and sat contemplating all this rich history just behind me.

As I sat there, not another human being was in sight. There had been a lone fisherman in his aluminum fishing boat puttering along, but even he had deserted me.

I knew there were others close by, because I hear the sounds of cars, leaf blowers, the beeping of construction equipment and the barking of a dog, but I didn't see them and that was fine with me.

I was enjoying just sitting there writing, gazing out over the lake and reflecting on my cottage explorations. This was a peacefulness you won't find in July. Only in November on the cusp of Winter can this quiet be found.

As always linking up with Lissa at laf Custom Designs for Walk and Click Wednesdays, please click over there to see where the other explorers have gone this week.

Friday, November 16, 2012

5 On Friday

Since the theme of the 52 week project that I participate in was "Happy" this week, I thought I would list 5 things that make me happy.

1.  My Family

This picture was taken in July 2011 when we were in Alaska. It is the most recent picture I have of the three of us together. Going to have to work on that!

2. Photography

I feel like I have grown so much this year in my photography skills. Still lots of room to grow, but the best part is practicing.

3. Exploring

I have been participating in a friend's link up called Walk and Click Wednesdays and I have to tell you I LOVE going out and exploring new places and taking pictures. There are so many places in my own area that I have never been to, so I finally have the reason I need to visit them.

4. Walking the Dogs

This makes them very happy too, and when Scout is happy and tired he isn't grabbing my socks or my slippers from the closet or the kitchen towel from the counter.

5. Wine

I love to visit wineries with my husband. I love the whole process of tasting, trying to find something that we both like, and then enjoying it together at home with a nice meal.

What is something that makes you happy?

Check out other 5 On Friday bloggers here.