Frost Flowers, the Winter Woods' Not-Exactly Flowers February 16 2019

Have you ever seen frost flowers in the woods?

When the air is very cold but the ground is not, water gets drawn upward in a plant, splitting the stem as the water expands. Then, like a Play-Doh Fun Factory (remember those?), the freezing water gets extruded into a ridiculously elegant, delicate little sculpture.

These specimens were only 1 or 2 inches across, resting on the floor of the Shawnee National Forest.

Snowy Dog on the Mend February 16 2019

Tectonic plates shifted under my feet on Christmas Day, when my sweet-funny-weirdo dog suffered a fibrocartilaginous embolism (huh??) while I was almost 1000 miles from home.

Suddenly unable to walk for no apparent reason, he was whisked to the doggie ER by the wonderful people caring for him, and I got an emergency flight home Christmas night. After being stabilized from the shock overnight, he spent another two nights with excellent neurologists in a neighboring state.

With a month of strict crate rest, lots of TLC, and physical therapy (including hydrotherapy with an underwater treadmill), he's doing so much better! This photo is from a snowy day several years ago, but he's frolicking around again almost-but-not-quite as good as new, with great puppy abandon. 

P.S. Please, PLEASE crate-train your dog. Having had the crate as an everyday open bed and an existing happy-happy-fun-safe place made the month of crate rest infinitely easier.

    Snowy Dog, Norfolk Terrier in Snow, Ann R. Fischer, www.ARF-photography.com

Happy Holidays from Queen Anne's Lace December 21 2018

Wait for it . . . (at least watch the first 25 seconds, pleez) . . . HAPPY HOLIDAYS from ARF Photography! 


One's Trash Is Another's Treasure: Squiggles Come Alive November 09 2018

It looked so beautiful, just sitting there . . . the delicate, narrow shaving from the piece of acid-free matboard I had just trimmed for a framing project. 

Before chucking the little scrap into the paper recycling* bin, I set it down on a piece of paper to admire its shape. There in the late-afternoon sun, it cast a long, spiral-y shadow with luscious curves.  


Obviously, I had to rotate the sliver a bit to see how the shadows would change.


Then I had to rotate it a little more.

And a little more. 

I blinked.

And then . . . this: 


That's one saucy squiggle.



* Financial disclosure: No one is giving me money for this pro-recycling public service announcement. What is up with that?  

Nature's Handiwork in Black and White April 04 2018

If I could have made this by hand, I would have, but Nature did it for us already.

Send guesses (micro-hint: it's small), proposed titles, and stories to arf.photo.12@gmail.com!



Cicada Mandala August 24 2017

Where I live, a special brood of cicadas recently emerged after living 13 years underground. Thirteen! 

Given this hero's journey, it's no wonder that cicadas are symbols of hope, resilience, and new beginnings. You see now why I had to make this wing mandala1.

No cicadas were harmed in the making of this mandala. After meeting their fates at the paws of nature, they leave behind only these wings2 to admire.    

1  Mandala: A kind of meditative art based around the form of a circle, found throughout the world in ancient and modern cultures, most notably in Buddhist art and architecture.
2 Beyond their lacy beauty, cicada wings are incredibly rugged, with sturdy cross beams and high-tech ballistic glass between them.  

Brutal Beauty (Abstract Black and White) May 24 2017

I loved that wavy line and used some phancy photo phootwork to bring out the contours. But what *is* it? (Let's just call this thing "nature related" for now. But for adventurous souls, contact me to guess or find out what it is.)


P.S. I caved and created a "making of" slideshow, which is probably not for everyone. But if you are *both* curious about this photo *and* generally circle-of-life-ish, it might be for you.

Being Independent Together December 12 2015

Just in time for the holidays, a photographic paraphrase of Hermey's invitation to Rudolph:  

Downtown Philadelphia, September 2015.

Rocks, Braques, and Time Travel November 18 2015

RIGHT:  A few short years ago, I saw this little oak leaf skittering across flat, wet rock at the top of a nearby waterfall.

LEFT:  A century before that, painter Georges Braque completed his cubist masterpiece, Violin and Candlestick

MIDDLE:  Like you, I had been a Doubter of Time Travel. But how else could a painter in 1910 have seen this photo from the future to copy it?

CONCLUSION: Time travel . . . There!  Is!  No!  Other!  Way! 


A Little Blue, a Little Wobbly October 26 2015

"Quiet but content" is how I saw this sturdy little tree in the topside world.

There it was, mid-week, minding its own business as it rose from the lake shore around sunset. Its dentist appointment wasn't until next Tuesday.

Seconds later, I turned and caught its reflection in the water: A little blue, a little wobbly, a little off-center. 

Who hasn't been there?


Building a Better Blossom? Stage Directions & Blueprints May 08 2015

If someone tried to hire me to design a new flower, here's what I would do:

With a mysterious smile, I'd slide their money right back across the table. Then I'd slowly reach under the table and pull out the old blueprints for this ancient columbine* blossom.

It wouldn't be an outright lecture about the folly of trying to improve on Nature, but they'd get the point. It's all pretty cinematic.   


* Aquilegia canadensis: This specific blossom above is from a friend's garden, but these wild columbines grow all around the Shawnee National Forest (and elsewhere) in late spring.

What Will Become of Me? April 28 2015 2 Comments

Looking to the sky, searching his soul, this shaggy dog pauses for spiritual reflection:

        "What will become of me during The Rapture?"

        "Have I not been devoted?"

        "Will there be peanut butter?"


The Dignity of Experience March 24 2015

It is the season for fresh, ephemeral spring wildflowers to pop up all along the forest floor. They're glorious.

But have you seen a more dignified seed pod at the end of winter . . . holding its head high, standing tall in the midst of treachery: spider webs, sleet, snow, hail, and kangaroos*  trying to bring it down?

* Kangaroo swarms: A grave and under-appreciated winter risk in Illinois.


Orange Is the New Contrail March 19 2015

You know those intense streaks in the sky often left by airplanes . . . "contrails"?

One night last week, conditions were just right* for these two to burn as bright, deep orange through the trees, as the sun had almost bid us adieu until morning.

* Note: Sunset-ish science here! You know you love science.


Cyanotyp-ish: From Ann to Anna March 16 2015

I know you're ready to party like it's 1799, because on this day, in that year, Anna Atkins came into the world. 

A mad pioneer, she combined her expertise in botany with a (literal and metaphoric) vision for how a new "making pictures with light" technology could help advance science. Welcome the cyanotype. Atkins was one of the first to publish a book of cyanotypic photograms, creating images of what any reasonable person would start with: British algae, of course.

I'm not a cyanotypist or a cyanotypographer . . . or really even a cyanotypophiliac.

Still, I wanted to honor Atkins today, so the image on the right is a simulated cyanotype effect of a shy little flower standing next to an oak tree in the woods today.


(On the left is just an inversion, because I'm kind of -- you know -- artsy that way.)

Map of the World March 12 2015

Last week, a storm swept through with artful ice to create a Hokusai-themed window. A few days later, in the wake of snow plowing, some nearby ice on a gravel road began to melt -- in a most uneven and untidy way.

This is exactly the kind of mess I can get behind.

Below are micro-remnants of that mess: A thin, lacy top1 layer of ice, with muddy gravel underneath. The cutout shapes were so, well . . . continental that I had to turn this into a real map2, with a quick switch-out of color.

1  Does that sound a little risqué?
2  Each blue continent is less than an inch (inch!) across. 

Things Whose Colors Are Like Other Things March 04 2015

You know how sometimes you're taking pictures of ice accumulating on a window and then all you can see is color? And a famous Japanese woodblock print from the 1830s? It happens. 

Here is my iced-over window with its Hokusai-like colors in 2015, and here is The Great Wave at Kanagawa from around 1831-ish. Both are reproductions.

Next week: More icy shapes in Map of the World.

            Hokusai Great Wave in Ice

Everyday Minimalism February 25 2015

For No-Frills Wednesday (is that a thing?) . . . Simple drinking straws, straight-on, resting on top of a water glass. 


Late-breaking news! This image was awarded First Place out of 212 entries in the 2018 Shrode Photography Competition. 


Prescription: Tostitos February 18 2015

Gazing wistfully into the sunset, he remembers . . . .

Minutes later, he heads into town, aiming to dull the pain with Milk Duds and Hint-of-Lime flavored Tostitos.


Bless This Archway January 29 2015

Joyous Though Egocentric Outburst: If I were a certified Blesser of Things, I would bless this archway.* 

On Second Thought: No need. I'm pretty sure its serenity has blessed me instead.

Third Thought / Policy Clarification: Joyous outbursts always welcome!   


    * Tilt your head 90 degrees to the left to see that the archway is formed by the combination of a tree branch and its reflection, as the branch submerges into a partially frozen lake. On the left (top when head tilted) is the melting ice and on the right (bottom when head tilted) is the unfrozen part of the lake. 

    Rainy Day Brain Hijacking and a Club That Will Never Have Me December 30 2014

    Out on a rainy day walk in the familiar woods last week, I heard myself thinking, "There's nothing new to see here today."  

    What? What?! Who hijacked my brain and spouted this lament of The Perenially Bored (a club that would never approve my membership application)? 

    Two minutes later, along came this "nothing new" -- the edge of a forest reflected in the rain-covered hood of a black car. The horizontal lines on the right are trees in a different plane of reflection, as the car hood sloped downward. 


    Reflective readers can find more reflections here

    Minty Cool, Ruggedly Handsome Winter Palette December 21 2014

    Now comes winter, and the dogwoods are tired. It's the time when the Color Dial gets turned down low but the Sparse-and-Angular Dial is cranked high, all the way up to 11. I love the world-wise, been-around-the-block kind of beauty** in these stems and dried berries. 

    I picked them up to bring home, along with this minty-green autumn leaf already in my hand.  


    ** Wabi-sabi

    The Many Faces of a Lakeshore December 18 2014

    Wardrobe Background:  Getting my shoes muddy a few weeks ago for this shot made my day. I get that this sounds sarcastic, but it's true. My dog is the only one who really objected to the mess. (That last part about my dog is not true. Why, why do I lie? Shock value, I guess, because mud-averse dogs are basically unicorns.) 

    Guided Tour of this Photo:  As I stood on the shore of a little inlet a few weeks ago, these half-underwater fallen leaves at the bottom of the frame caught my attention. Then on the lake's surface, I noticed the reflection of a single tree growing behind me, which you see in the middle of the shot. Still farther out, at the top of the frame, were reflections of the tree tops from the other side of the inlet.  

    Metaphor Out of Nowhere:  And the circle was complete.


    More stories about trees and leaves here.

    Personal Virtue, Plus Holiday Tip for Justifying Champagne December 10 2014

    Self-Centered Intro: My love of peony blossoms, ants, and their relationship is not the absolute best thing about me, but it's definitely in the top 5.

    Key Question: Would this peony blossom have been possible in April without the ant in the middle? With vigor and passion, some gardeners say no, that ants are required, helping peony buds to open fully.

    Conclusion of Convenience: That may be only a garden legend, but I like the story and the celebration of teamwork . . . so I say let's roll out the tiny ant-sized red carpet and champagne!


    P.S. Interested in this photo? Look here and here.