When I think about waterlilies, I think about perfection on the water. Delicate blossoms radiate over thick floating leaves. No more words needed.
We recently returned from a long road trip through several western states and spotted hundreds of pronghorn along the way. I’m a big fan of this antelope of the west and love taking pictures of them.
Pronghorn, Antilocapra americana, also known as antelope or pronghorn antelope, are quirky animals in many ways. Their scientific name means “American goat-antelope.”
In September of 1804, upon first seeing pronghorn, Lewis and Clark expedition members assumed they were goats. Captain Lewis noted the “superior fleetness of this anamal which was to me really astonishing.” Upon examining them more closely, Lewis referred to them as antelope, based on their resemblance to African antelopes.
In reality, pronghorn are the only surviving members of the North American Antilocapridae family. Goats and true antelopes are in the Bovidae family.
In this post, I’ll share more about their natural history.
Pronghorn range from the southern prairie provinces of Canada, southward into the western states of America and into northern Mexico.
I saw this grove of lovely maidenhair fern near South Falls, at Silver Falls State Park, Oregon. The 7.2-mile Trail of Ten Falls wanders through forested lands where you get great views of the waterfalls. You’ll also see many types of fern.
The genus name of maidenhairs is Adiantum. It comes from the Greek word for “unwetted” since this plant sheds water without getting wet.
Here’s a picture I took of some growing near Upper North Falls in the park. On this image, I increased the contrast, giving it an almost black background.
This fern, with its delicate, arching fronds growing in fanlike arrangements, is one of my favorites. I experimented with developing pictures of it in black and white when I first became interested in photography. Here’s a picture from my archives.
Simple scenes I’ve seen in Oregon
Ripples of sand forming near a single log
A foggy mist surrounding a lighthouse
A golden sunset shining within a blurred landscape
I saw this little bit of everything garden on the High Desert Garden Tour in Bend, Oregon in July 2022. The long, narrow yard at this house included fruits, vegetables, and lots of flowers. The homeowners have been working on it for 22 years.
The owners created large, elevated raised beds from wood and tin roofing. You can see sweet alyssum blooming near the front edge. Hummingbird feeders hang near them. They’re growing pear, cherry, and apples on espaliers behind the raised beds.
This raised bed was at ground level. It included red lantana, yellow petunias, orange ganzia, purple salvia, and dark pink snapdragons.
This tiered bed surrounded a tree. It included common sunflowers, orange marigolds, and golden celosia.
After waking up one morning, I stumbled into my darkened kitchen to make coffee. I almost stepped on this Jerusalem cricket in the middle of the room.
The Jerusalem cricket, Stenopelmatus fuscus, also known as the potato bug, is a slow-moving desert creature that has an almost prehistoric look. Though they look harmless, they’re capable of delivering a painful bite with their strong jaw. They feed on plant roots, decaying matter, potatoes, and other insects – including their mates!
I carefully scooped up my unexpected visitor with a piece of cardboard and took it outside so it could hide under a rock, and not under my bare feet. 😉
To learn more about this strange insects’ mating ritual, watch this video.
The Hollinshead Park gardens in Bend, Oregon include a community garden and a water-wise garden.
Hollinshead Park Gardens – Community Garden
The community garden at Hollinshead Park is managed by a cooperative agreement between Oregon State University Extension Service, Central Oregon Master Gardener Association, and Bend Park and Recreation District.
Local gardeners grow fruit, vegetables, and flowers on 90 reserved plots.
Gardeners plant in concise or freeform patterns. Some use various supports or covers.
It’s a great place to take pictures throughout the year.
This limb held an interesting collection of lichens & moss. It had a great variety of colors and textures. Golden grasses nicely framed the scene.
I saw this gorgeous pink chrysanthemum on the High Desert Garden Tour last year. Though native to China and northeastern Europe, these plants do well in many parts of the world. The long-lasting flowers are available in a variety of colors. These include pink, purple, orange, yellow, white, and red. Unlike many of the plants that grow in High Desert gardens, this one is not appetizing to deer. A big plus around here!
Today I have the honor of serving as guest host for the Lens-Artist Photo Challenge. The prompt this week is glowing moments.
One of my earliest memories is of me sitting cross-legged in a darkened closet, awestruck by the glow cast from a jarful of lightning bugs. Though I don’t have pictures of that magical moment, I have captured many glowing moments since then.
A High Desert sunset glows with fiery colors.
While the rising moon shines in subdued tones.
Purple lupine flowers shine on a cool spring morning.
A lazy lizard in the sun near Bend, Oregon
Here’s a photograph of Euphorbia, up close, growing in the fall. In spring, this type has bright yellow flowers. These plants, also known as ‘spurge’, are drought tolerant and easy to grow. There are more than 2,000 types of Euphorbia.
Here’s a picture of lungwort up close, taken near the North Santiam River in Oregon.
Also known as Lung lichen, this lichen has been used in dyes, teas, and for treatment of lung ailments. Deer and moose browse on lungwort and other animals use it for nest material.
Lungwort is sensitive to air pollution and doesn’t grow well in polluted locations. In fact, the National Forest Service keeps a database on this and other lichens “to detect, map, evaluate trends, and assess the ecological impacts of air pollutants.”
Angles of the Earth sculpted by pounding waves.
Rising on the edge of a caldera in olivine and crimson shades.
Fracturing leaden lava flows, brushed with a glow of lichens.Continue reading
The touch of nature can be sharp and cold or
Ridged and dry
The touch of nature can be smooth and wet or
I’m showing lighter and darker nature pictures to go with the lens-artists photo challenge of “exposure” this week. Sometimes I frame a shot with lighter and darker settings; other times I make changes during the photo editing process.
The first two pictures are of maidenhair fern growing along the trail in Silver Falls State Park. In this case I like both versions. Maybe it’s because I like all shades of green. 🙂
The next two pictures show a mountain peak near Mitchell, Oregon. The first shows the structure of the rimrock at the peak and the second brings out the clouds. I prefer the darker, more evil-looking, version.
Here’s a picture of the new “Greetings from Bend, Oregon” mural. This mural is near the flag bridge in the Old Mill district in Bend. It’s on the Mill A Loop trail, where I walk regularly.
This colorful mural is by artist Karen Eland. I’m a big fan of her artwork and have previously featured her work in Bend. She collaborated with five other artists on this work in the Foxtail Bakery in the Box Factory district.
Foxtail closed in January 2022. The restaurant currently at that location, Papi Chulo’s Taqueria, has new murals adorning their walls. More murals for me to seek out and share!
Karen features local flora and fauna in this Greetings from Bend, Oregon mural. This mural includes columbine, lupine, and paintbrush flowers. A Western Tanager perches on “From” and a Rufous Hummingbird hovers over “Oregon.” Tiger swallowtail butterflies flit about the edges and a honeybee perches on a flower in a corner. Cascade volcanoes float in the background and the iconic smokestacks of the Old Mill stand tall in the foreground.
You can see another example of Karen’s work in this mural in Sisters, Oregon. She collaborated on that piece with fellow artist Katie Daisy .
Gentle reminder sign at Yaquina Head in Oregon.
In your travels near and far, you may find weird and wonderful sights.
Sometimes you find a weird sight when you’re driving down the highway and look it up later. This is the Smith Mansion, located in Wapiti, Wyoming, halfway between Cody and Yellowstone.
Lee Smith, a former builder and engineer, began constructing this structure from locally harvested logs. However, he became obsessed with adding on to the building, which led to his divorce. For 22 years he continued construction so that eventually it was 5-stories tall. One day, unfortunately, he slipped while working and fell to his death. His daughter owned the house for many years until it was sold to a neighbor in 2020.
For a better look at this amazing structure inside and out, watch this video by Scott Richard.
At other times you’ll go a little off the beaten path in search of a good meal. This delicious barbecue dinner is from the Apple Valley BBQ in Parkdale, Oregon. Parkdale, at the base of Mt Hood, is a small town with a population of about 650. Fruit orchards fill the valleys in this part of Oregon and the restaurant incorporates fruit into their meals. The coleslaw pictured contains slices of fresh pears. They use local cherry wood to smoke their meat. Yum, definitely one of my favorites!
emerge from sandy shorelines
embrace life, vanish
Note: These sand “mountains” near Waldport, Oregon are about 1/2 inch tall.
Trying to choose only three of my favorite photos for this challenge was very difficult. I decided to focus on memorable moments from home.
The first shows a glorious fall sunset behind my juniper tree muse. I like the combination of color, lightness and darkness, and texture in this photo. The branches of the western juniper tree seem to be directing a symphony of clouds.
The second is a close up view of a different juniper tree’s bark. Though some see western junipers as an unwelcome invader in sagebrush habitats, I’m impressed by their beauty. Their rough bark varies in color, as does their wood. Wrinkles add to their character as they age. The birds in my yard are grateful for the shelter and food these trees provide.
The third picture is of my “pet” Cooper’s Hawk. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of her. On this day, she took an extended bath and spent a long time preening her feathers. Her fluffed up feathers, piercing gaze, and stance are not the typical view you get of these raptors. It was one of those memorable moments!
Changing seasons bring double views
Shining cactus blossoms returning
Mothers guarding their curious young
Dramatic storms hovering over landscapes
High Desert voices can be heard throughout Central Oregon if you just pause and listen.
Bold shouts of the many
Quiet whispers of the few
Raucous calls of the many
When I’m out walking among the aspen eyes early in the morning, I always feel like somebody’s watching me. While Michael Jackson was referring to his fans or the paparazzi with those lyrics, I’m referring to the eyes of nature. These aspen trees watch over me, always making sure I’m safe. My many-eyed guardians are beginning to leaf out with their distinctive fluttering leaves.
When taking pictures, you might want to think about composing your photo in thirds. What?
According to the Digital Photography School, the rule of thirds “is a compositional guideline that breaks an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so you have nine pieces and four gridlines. According to the rule, by positioning key elements along the gridlines, you’ll end up with better compositions.”
While browsing my photos, I realized horizontal layers are more important to me in composition. Do my pictures always follow the rule of thirds guidelines? No, it’s okay to bend the rules.
SLR Lounge notes, “Of all the “rules” in photography, the rule of thirds is one of the easiest to successfully break.”
My photo in thirds examples (with layers)
This sandhill crane is in the upper third corner, but the differing textures and colors of the plants catch your attention. This photo has four layers.
This pronghorn is near the lower third of the picture. I could have cropped it more, but I didn’t want to cut out the misty mountains in the background. This photo has five layers.
Focus on what is important and blur the distractions.
Magnify the delicacy of Nature’s architecture.
Find subjects that stand out from the herd and capture their strength.
Focus on the palette of colors used to create distant masterpieces.
propelled by whispers of wind
settles on snow drifts
There have been some big changes at the amphitheater in Bend, Oregon. I featured the art in and around this venue in a post in June 2020. At that time, it was called the Les Schwab Amphitheater. It was named after a local entrepreneur who developed a thriving national tire business. Now the site is the Hayden Homes Amphitheater, named after a local home builder.
This site, the largest outdoor music venue in Bend, hosts concerts as well as events like Brewfest. Live Nation, the world’s leading live entertainment company, will partner with Hayden Homes in managing events. This page lists events scheduled for 2022.
Before and after views of the big changes
Today I’ll turn my lenses toward some of the changes at this site.
The stage before was small with whimsical art on the front and back. Here’s the artwork that was on the back of the stage. I loved the raven in this mural.
The new industrial-style stage is much larger and has a big open “window” space to take in the view.
I saw this “it’s a boy” pine tree along the trail to Big Tree, the largest ponderosa pine of its kind, in LaPine State Park, Oregon. I may have walked right past this odd tree, but I noticed two teenage boys laughing loudly and pointing at it. They took multiple pictures to share with their friends. Their reaction to it was almost as funny as the tree itself! 😀
It’s time to share special photos from the past year. Please enjoy this selection of nature, history, and art photos from Bend Branches.
Best Nature Pictures
The first photo shows a scene at the Portland Japanese Garden. We visited in October, when fall colors were at their peak.
This picture shows a pronghorn buck at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. My following pronghorn post includes several pictures of these icons of the West.
We get spectacular sunsets and sunrises in our High Desert yard in Bend, Oregon. I wrote a two-line essence poem to go along with this image.
This old bench at Sahalie Falls, Oregon stands in stark contrast to the new fences bordering the trail. It’s nice they preserved a piece of the past here.
It’s a short walk from the parking area to view the falls. Aren’t they spectacular?