Lantana Bonanza!

Earlier this spring, I added some Chapel Hill Yellow Lantana to a large pot in the center of my courtyard garden. It didn’t grow much at first, but as the daily rains we were getting in Georgia subsided, the plants started getting more sun and the blooms are now popping. My garden is mostly a shade garden with lots of ferns and hostas — in the ground and in pots — but I’ve learned over the years how to take advantage of those areas where the sun does get through for a few hours each day. I’ve experimented quite a bit with flowering plants like lantana, some sun-loving vines (and even a couple of grapevines) that may not flower but grow well anyway, hydrangeas placed to catch early morning or late day sun, and a mix of sun annuals that make it through the summer pretty well.

The Chapel Hill Yellow Lantana, I learned, is a cross between Miss Huff and New Gold lantana varieties, all popular in southern gardens for their hardiness and persistent flowering throughout late summer and even into autumn. The floral symmetry of lantana flowers fascinates me; I learned that this type of flower shape is called an umbel — evocative of umbrella given that it’s overall shape is supported from a single point by “umbrella like” ribs. As the flowers first emerge, they look to me like tiny pillows arranged in concentric circles, changing from pale to brighter yellow as they grow, then developing into a rich yellow with a dark orange center. Using a macro lens and some cropping, I’ve tried to show that transition in the images below, as there were suddenly plenty of flowers at different stages of growth to show the early buds, mixtures of buds and emerging flowers, and some clusters that were fully in bloom.

Select any of the pictures below to see larger sizes in a slideshow … and thanks for reading and taking a look!

Ausable Chasm: “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks”

From the History of Clinton and Franklin Counties, New York by Duane Hamilton Hurd, published in 1880, here is an elaborate, beautifully worded description of Ausable Chasm in Ausable, New York:

The town [of Ausable] boasts some of the finest natural scenery to be found in the world – one of the most sublime natural curiosities, the Ausable Chasm, the favorite resort of numerous tourists, being situated in its southeastern section. The Great Ausable River, in its impetuous course to [Lake Champlain], here breaks a passage through the solid Potsdam sandstone, towering many feet above its bed, and follows a rugged and irregular channel for a distance of nearly two miles. At several places the river is compressed to a width of less than 30 feet. The river plunges into the chasm in a succession of beautiful falls of from 60 to 80 feet in height, and struggles through the tortuous channel, foaming and tearing and whirling over its rocky bed as though bent on freeing itself from the thraldom of the gigantic cliffs which overhang it. By means of artificial stairways, galleries, and bridges, erected and owned by a party of Philadelphia gentlemen, and by boats, this stupendous work of nature may be traversed its entire length.

This freak of nature is but one of a system of rents in the earth’s surface that extend over the northern portion of the State…. The walls, that are now from 10 to 15 feet apart, were undoubtedly some time united and solid; projections on the one hand are often faced by corresponding depressions on the other; layers of rock on one side are duplicated on the other. Professor Emmons, State geologist, found here petrified specimens of the lowest or first orders of animal life, and ripple-marks made when the rock was in its plastic state; above these, in successive layers, towers 70 feet of solid rock.

Popular with photographers (see Ausable Chasm on Flickr and Ausable Chasm on SmugMug), the Chasm is also often featured in landscape painting, including the work of Adirondack artist Emmett Pine (see Emmett Pine: The Keeseville Ausable Chasm and Lake Champlain Railroad), and Hudson River School painter Benjamin Champney (see Benjamin Champney: Ausable Chasm).

I took these photos from the bridge over the Ausable River and from the surrounding property. Select any of the images below to begin a slideshow.

Thanks for reading! More soon!

Before and After: Red Brick with Ivy

I took this photo of the side of a building near Fishkill, New York. Click on the picture for a larger version, then come back and read more….

Below you can see the original photo and the photo above side by side. There were dozens of white spots in the original, and I removed them one at a time using Adobe Lightroom. That took a while, as you can probably imagine, but I think it helped give the photo some character it didn’t have before, emphasizing the green and yellow leaves without the distraction of white chips in the red paint. The ivy leaves were also out of focus in the original; sharpening adjustments helped the ivy pop out from the red background. I overdid some of the sharpness adjustments, possibly; but I wanted to see how much I could improve the appearance of the leaves and keep the brick background as red and smooth as possible. Besides spot removal, sharpness, and noise reduction, I reduced the saturation of aqua, blue, and purple colors in the photo — which were not that apparent to the eye but eliminated some inconsistencies in the appearance of the red paint on the bricks.

Click either of the pictures to compare a larger before-and-after view.

I added a “Lightroom” category to this blog, so you can see other posts where I’ve written about using Lightroom by clicking this link.

Thanks for reading!