A couple of weekends ago, Jay and I went to McAllister Park. Texas parks are a lot different from Utah parks: the majority of them don't have much landscaping or large, manicured grass playing fields. They're more wild and woodsy and veined with walking trails. We brought our new camera along, hoping we'd be able to catch some neat shots.
I've decided that macro photography is my favorite: it's ridiculously easy (of still-lifes, anyway), and it gives the viewer a new perspective of ordinary things, making them seem fantastic and alien and beautiful.
To be honest, San Antonio isn't very pretty this time of year. We don't have much of an autumn, so during winter, dead brown leaves still cling to many of the trees, and most of the natural vegetation is scrubby and grey. Not exactly ideal for a photo shoot.
From looking at these pictures, though, you'd never know it. That's the other thing I love about macro: it allows you to selectively focus on small beauties. Dull or unsightly surroundings blur into a soft, textured background:
I started feeling self-conscious just now because it might look like I'm trying to sound like I know what I'm talking about. In reality, I know almost nothing about photography. I just get really excited when we end up with a few good shots. Here's a deer carcass to distract you from my narcissism:
Jay likes taking pictures, especially when his subject is something as cool as a deer carcass. I also love this shot he got of vestigial autumn leaves: they look like they're dancing in the wind.
One of the perks of McAllister Park is that there's something for everyone: playgrounds for the kids, picnic tables and barbeque grills for families, paved trails for leisurely strolls, and narrow paths for bikers and those of us who like solitude. Since Jay and I fall into the latter category, we spent a long time meandering along narrow, winding paths, pausing for the occasional photo op. I appreciated the silence and the serenity, the plants and the wildlife. I did not appreciate getting lost. Apparently, you can wander a long way while you're appreciating serenity.
We eventually emerged from the trees by a playground on the opposite side of the park. We followed a sidewalk to a drinking fountain, and a few cement blocks away, I noticed this:
How could we pass up an opportunity to find Rainbo Land? We followed the arrow down a small hill, and here's what I swear it was pointing to:
Okay, so probably not exactly what that kid had in mind, but it sure seemed to me like an apt name for the Optimist Club. I'm not sure what those little sun spots are from since they didn't turn up in any of our other pictures. I can only guess that they are manifestations of the sparkles that exist in the lives of optimists. Or maybe, judging by their multiple hues and ethereal quality, they are proof that I found Rainbo Land after all.
Jay fills my life with rainbows. Awww...
Now on to less warm and fuzzy things, lest I lose your attention (and your respect):
I've always thought cactuses were cool. (Yes, I know it's really "cacti." I just think "cactuses" sounds better. Even if my spell-checker underlines it in red.)
Side note: if you're not looking closely, those little groups of spikes on the edges of the cactus don't look particularly threatening; they look like foxtail fibers or immature, harmless pricklies. Let me just tell you, from experience, that they are sharper than the big thorns, and they shed off the plant and into your skin as easily as porcupine quills. Through jeans, even. Ouch.
I am not exactly sure what this cactus plant thing is, but it looks a lot more ominous and spiky in macro than it did in real life.
A clump of "ball moss" growing on an oak tree--a common sight in Texas. Up until recently, I thought the moss was actually a creative way of tree reproduction: doesn't it look like a clump of roots? They often drop to the ground, so I figured the tree was propagating through already sprouting root-balls. Nope. Just moss.
Me in the wild wood. I recall the sound track for this picture went something like this:
Jay: Look at me!
Me: I don't really want to be in a picture.
Jay: Smile! ...aw, c'mon, look at me!
Me: Can't you go take pictures of a rock or something?
Jay: No. Smile!
I actually kinda like it--the sun makes my hair look red.
Stay tuned for Part II: The Wildlife Shots...