Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The beautiful grays of winter…

I normally go for color, and lots of it, but when the skies drain gray for days, weeks, and sometimes months on end, my pallete shifts and I see the calming beauty of winter grays...

Two Northern Shovelers add a pop of color with their bright orange legs and beautiful green heads while an icy gray fog hangs behind them.

…winters in Cincy can get downright bland midwinter. Endless gray days descend with cloud covers so thick you sometimes can't tell the difference between morning, noon and early evening. Add in icy cold fogs--gray and creeping, stealing color wherever they roam, and you really start to long for the greens of spring. But Mother Nature never really abandons us during the gray and leaves subtle loveliness for us to find…

...a dark gray background highlights the creamy beiges and whites in these ripe seeds.


A weathered fence seems to hold back a flurry of faded stalks, beautiful in the silence of a gray winter's day.


...a lone American Coot skims the ice, casting a soft gray shadow, quiet as he fades across the surface of the lake.


American Coots splash and dive in icy water…gray on gray.


Alley-oop! A coot completes that spectacular hop and plunge into the water, diving deep under the surface to nab the green water plants below. He resurfaces with beads of water dripping from his head, neck and back…not sparkling in the sun, but glowing white like tiny polished quartz crystals. (Does his little tail remind you a bit of a much fiercer creature's dorsal fin?)


If the sky were shining blue and sparkling fairydust covered the lake, would I have noticed the tiny seeds and folded beauty in this dead flower head?

Monday was the murkiest of gray days, and it was cold and damp too. A gray fog lingered everywhere, but it carried it's own beauty as well. The kids were off school to celebrate Martin Luther King day, and Matty had a hockey game early in the morning at the Indian Hill Winter Club (which borders the old, abandoned Camp Dennison gravel pits). This made me very happy, because during the hour before the game and during part of the first period, I was able to us my new spotting scope to study the American Coots and Northern Shovelers that always hang out at the open area of ice down the hill from the parking lot.

Yeah!

...seeing those coots up close, close, close diving and resurfacing in the icy water was renewing. (I hate to admit it, but I had grown sort of blase toward the plump little dark gray birds, but not anymore.) I loved studying that hop and plunge that they do, and when they would resurface with a bill full of green water plants, shaking their heads back and forth to swallow their meal down, I was mesmerized. I didn't realize how many tiny details I was missing by not using a spotting scope. Now to learn how to take photographs through it....and videos....

43 comments:

HBFG said...

Kelly, those are wonderful shots. They really transport the feeling of your posts title.
I especially love the weathered fence shot, wirklich wunderschön und stimmungsvoll!
:)

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
Nice post! Wow it looks like really grey in your are much more than here!! The days are getting longer here and with some more light but it is not as grey as it is around you... Well done on the shoveler, this is still a species I have to get pictures off... Good luck with the disgiscoping, I've heard that this is another world!!

hip chick said...

Oh that first shot is really great.

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

I never got to use a spotting scope. I read somewhere about a device that enables you to hook one up to any DSLR and also to binoculars. I really liked that fence. I just wrote a story about fence rows for a magazine.

Jayne said...

I think it's lovely that you find the beauty in the grays and browns Kelly. No, it's not the lush greens of spring and summer, but if it were that way all the time, would we appreciate it? Love the fence line photo. :c)

Chris Petrak said...

The beautiful gray of winter - I like that - and the variety of earth tones. You captured many of those varieties. But after a bit I begin to crave color and welcome its splash whenever it appears, like the shovelers - a hint of the wild palette to come

Hilke Breder said...

Kelly, I love your writing and your photos, particularly of the old fence, just like those we have here in VT, and the dried plants, so lyrical. It sets my mood for this morning, as I look out on the frosted trees and our snow-covered hills. Longing for spring though!

Busy Bee Suz said...

Kelly, these are some of the most beautiful moments that you have captured!!!!
You make winter even prettier!

Wanda said...

Hi Kelly...we locals must think alike, before reading your captions...I thought the split rail fence looked to be holding back the weeds of summer and then... where did the shark come from? We don't have sharks! :)

It certainly has been foggy and gray lately! Your photos are beautiful.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Lovely post and photos. It's wonderful to be able to see the beauty in the muted grays and browns of winter, and the little details of a familiar bird.

Robin Robinson said...

The new banner is great! Did you paint that? The Shovelers in flight is a nice image. I also really like the Queen Anne's Lace pod and the fence line. Great images. We've had about 1 1/2 feet of snow in 24hrs here. Digging, digging - the only color around is the roses in my cheeks.

Paula said...

Beautiful photography! I love the weathered fence shot!

Montanagirl said...

Kelly, beautiful shots as always. And I enjoy reading your commentary that accompanies your photos. Love your blog.

Richard said...

That first picture is absolutely great. Great job on all of them.

Kyna said...

Thanks for the reminder to find the beauty in the wintertime :D

The picture of the flower seed head was my favourite!

Teri C said...

Kelly, your nature photos are just awesome!!!!!

Warren Baker said...

Kelly, Your grey isn't as grey as ours!!! :-)

Roy said...

Particularly like the second photo down Kelly, nice new scope.

holdingmoments said...

Loveley selection Kelly.
Just proves there is always something, if we take the time to look.

Elaine said...

Lovely post! There really is beauty everywhere if you take the time to look for it and sometimes the most beautiful things are very tiny. I especially like the second photo of the seedpods and the one of the fence line. All beautiful photos and enjoyable cmmentary.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

What a neat, new toy you have, Kelly.... You have become what I call a REAL BIRDER.... Wow---you caught some great bird shots. Actually, all of your pictures are great --even in a gray, drab winter. LOVE THEM. Thanks so much for a great post.
Hugs,
Betsy

Felicia said...

Winter colors really are beautiful in their own subtle way--lovely shots!

Jim H said...

Kelly, Again, great photos! But the one of the weathered fenceline is a masterpiece! a true work of art!

The Early Birder said...

I'm glad to see the new toy has come out to play...have fun and enjoy its powers. You captured the essence of the outside so well and those Shovellers are superb. We are feeling a bit dreary and down over here, just like the weather! FAB.

Carol Mattingly said...

Love the fence, love the first shot of the ducks, actually loved them all. Jealous of your new toy too! Carol

Ginnymo said...

You sure got some great photos there Kelly! Quite the camera set up you have too!

Laure Ferlita said...

Lovely grays though I'm sure it does get old.

Love those first seed pods! Gorgeous shots all!

Julie said...

Kelly,
I am so impressed by your positive attitude! Most of us get depressed during a month-long stretch of gray, you turn it into a beautiful study of nature.
Thanks for uplifting us all!
Julie

Heather said...

Kelly, these images are WONDERFUL!! That fence line photo is my favorite! I'm glad you're getting to use that scope.

Dave Lewis said...

Lovely post Kelly!
Especially the "Coot Booty!"

TonyC said...

Oh yes!! the shoveller do it for me - fantastic shot!!

Jain said...

What a great series, Kelly. The Shovelers are marvelous, the fence grabbed me, too, and I love the below-the-surface view of the diving coot. Congrats on your scope!

RuthieJ said...

Lovely photos Kelly! Perhaps the best thing about the dreariness of winter is that we can appreciate and look forward to the other seasons so much more!

Johnny Nutcase said...

Love the pictures, especially the 2nd and 3rd ones, beautiful stuff. I hear you about grey days!

E said...

Beautiful, photos, story, I agree with all.
Hugs dear Kelly.

Kelly said...

...sounds like we all feel the same. There is definitely beauty in the cold gray days, but a little warmth and the green of spring.....
thanks, everyone!

dAwN said...

Lovely photos..lovely grays..

Gaina said...

I love winter, its the most interesting season for animal activity, colours and textures I think.

Yes, I thought the diving Coot was a shark! :D

Jenny said...

Hi Kelly, you put me to shame! We've had similar weather over here and I've not felt inspired to get out there (mind you, it's been raining alot too!) (-:, but your inspiring photos and thoughts have really lifted my spirits! Thanks!

Naomi Sachs, ASLA said...

I love this post. Your photos are gorgeous! Just shared on twitter and Facebook, including the Therapeutic Landscapes Network page (http://www.facebook.com/therapeuticlandscapes). Thank you!

Kathiesbirds said...

A beautiful post, I love those subtle colors also. I envy you your spotting scope!

Naomi Sachs, ASLA said...

Thanks for the inspiration, Kelly! And permission to use two of your beautiful images:) Here's the post, "Connecting with Nature in Winter, Part II: Loving the Subtle Beauty." http://tldb.blogspot.com/

Elva Paulson said...

Hi Kelly,

I found your blog via the 100 Paintings Challenge. We have a lot in common.... both the art and the photography ... and I try to write, but am not ready to try a blog like this. I'm toying with the idea since technically I signed up for a blog in order to become part of the challenge.

I love your old fense photo, and the goldenrod, and, and ..... Nice photos!

I do a lot of my Yellowstone sketching with my scope mounted on a car window ... very inexpensive gismo to mount it with. But I don't know if that will work with an angled scope. It leaves both hands free.