ILLUMINATING AURAS and PINPRICKS of LIGHT: WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE

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This week, The Daily Post at WordPress challenged readers to post photographs on the subject of illumination. Here are  illuminations of scenes that brightened my day: subtle auras surrounding hothouse orchids, a crescent moon rising over New York harbor and twinkling lights screening a landmark building in the making.

The first two pictures were taken at Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle. It’s warm, humid conditions contrasted sharply with dry, frosty January air, and it felt good being surrounded by orchids and tropical plants, basking in radiant sunlight that’s in scarce supply during the Northwest winter. Our winter color palette plays the deep greens of Douglas firs and sword ferns off soft grays and browns, but inside the greenhouse, hot colors soaked up the sunlight, casting tropical candy auras around the voluptuous flowers.

At Battery Park in Lower Manhattan, a November sunset created an unusually quiet moment at the edge of the city that never sleeps.  The street lamps, reproductions of posts dating back about a hundred years, seem to tilt because of the wide angle lens, leaning in towards the distant Statue of Liberty. Smudgy gray clouds almost conceal a crescent moon and a plane heading up the Hudson River.

On a cool fall evening in Lower Manhattan, tiny lights threaded through the trees of Zuccotti Park cast pinpricks of light against the still incomplete One World Trade Center.  Over ten years ago this park and surrounding blocks were severely damaged by the 9/11 attacks. New York politics has prevented timely completion of the Twin Towers replacement – you can see a construction crew elevator ascending the corner of the building –  but it is almost finished.  Zuccotti Park also was the site of the recent Occupy Wall Street Movement; on this night, the delicate filigree of honey locust tree leaves against a soft blue sky belied the unrest of the past.

Illumination, along with those light bulbs constantly popping with ideas behind my eyes, allows me to create photographs that I can share with you. Thanks for visiting!

The challenge:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/lights/

Travel Theme: Foliage

Ailsa, at Where’smybackpack, has given bloggers a new challenge:  Travel Theme – Foliage. Anyone who knows me, knows I love all things botanical. I must have close to a thousand images of foliage of one kind or another, so I’m going to restrict my offerings to foliage seen while traveling – but you’ll see that restriction still permits quite a bit of latitude.

A yucca plant in Colt’s Neck, NJ, a township in rural Monmouth County.  Love those curls!

Sensitive fern on the Buffalo River in the Ozarks, in northern Arkansas. The Buffalo River “flows freely for 135 miles and is one of the few remaining un-dammed rivers in the lower 48 states.”  The National Park Service warns visitors not to rely on GPS in this remote area, but to use Arkansas road maps. Remember road maps? Flooding caused some of these leaves to be covered in mud; later, new leaves grew among the old.

On the edge of a parking lot in Fort Myers, Florida, tropical foliage is torn and caught on a bamboo stalk.

This old home on Whidbey Island, off the coast of Washington, is almost invisable under layers of moss, bushes, weeds and trees.

More rampant foliage takes over another overgrown roadside attraction – an old tobacco barn in rural Duplin County, North Carolina.

Foliage of a completely different sort – a Tillandsia – an “air plant” that grows by anchoring its roots in tree branches for support while its leaves absorb nutrients and water from the air.  When I placed it on a map of the area where I found it, its leaves seemed to echo the roadway lines.

Undersea foliage: kelp and a bull whip plant lie on a beach on Whidbey Island, Washington.

Western Hemlocks, their foliage drained of color in the gloom of the forest, tower over Lodge Lake Trail in the  Snoqualmie National Forest, in northern Washington state.

You can find more bloggers’ foliage photos at:

http://wheresmybackpack.com/2012/09/28/travel-theme-foliage/