Friday, July 19, 2013

Photos of Life's Greatest Blessing

I am often wakeful at night.  For many years it was because I was roused from pleasant slumber by babies or restless tots. Later, I would lie waiting for teenagers to come home safely.  Now it seems all those years of practise have ensured a good night's sleep is out of the question.

These days however, when easy sleep evades me,  I lie in quiet. There are no sounds from others, no late night worries that keep me awake.

Listening to the stillness and quiet one recent evening,  my mind revisited those memories — leftover giggles at lights out, the pattering of tiny feet up the hall to the bathroom.  With four children, life was never quiet, not even at night.

When the nest emptied,  it was interesting at first adapting to a home without children. The silence often overwhelmed me. With no one to run to music lessons, sporting events or social times with friends, I really wasn't sure what to do with my new existence.

Of course, over time I adapted, finding an easy comfort in fewer people to be responsible for. It's nice to come home from a busy day and relax on the deck with a refreshing glass of wine. With no place to run nor kids to feed, supper comes when we get around to it.  Sunday mornings with coffee and the paper are no longer interrupted by the requests and demands of little people. It can be a life as leisurely, or as exciting,  as my husband and I want it to be.

So, yes, I've adapted. It doesn't mean, however, that given the option I wouldn't go back. I miss my reasons to wake up in the middle of the night.  Parenthood was my greatest blessing. 

These photos honour that wonderful bond between parents and children of all ages: Photos of Children and Parents Parents

Acclaim Images Photos of Parents

Celebrity Fix Famous Parents and Children

LIFE Famous Fathers With Their Daughters

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wonderful Illustrations of the Whimsical Dragonfly

Well, I guess it might seem I'm a little buggy these days what with photos of butterflies and illustrations of bees being featured in this blog.  However, when one considers the massive population of mosquitoes finding refuge in my shady lawn during the day and buzzing and bombarding in swarms around me at night, it's entirely possible that's the reason.

I suppose you could factor in too, the nasty earwigs seeking the damp earth of my bedding plants, the lost and frantic moth darting around my bedroom light or disgusting beer bugs ruining al fresco dining, as to the reasons why I might have bugs on the brain.

The ones I have highlighted here, however, offer something — bees, their benefit to agriculture,  and butterflies, their beauty.  Yet, there is one other insect, though it's neither as aesthetically nor as industrially wonderful, that appeals.  Long and awkward of body the dragonfly, not as obviously pretty perhaps as the graceful butterfly, does have a certain je ne sais quoi.  Its smooth flight,  translucent wings sparkling in the sunlight, is an exotic dance with a spiritual essence. Like the butterfly, it is often, for those in mourning, a symbol of hope and peace.

So,  today we enjoy a glimpse of the whimsical dragonfly with these wonderful collections of illustrations: Dragonfly Illustrations

Acclaim Images Dragonfly Illustrations Illustrations of Dragonflies

ClipartGuide Dragonflies

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Importance of Bees

Sometimes it takes a simple approach to remind us of important things.  Take for example the 2007 animated film Bee Movie, where in a cute and colourful way, we are reminded of the value of this industrious insect.  The honeybee is responsible for pollinating crops, fruits, vegetables and flowers.  Their loss would threaten the food we eat and the beauty around us.

Sadly, that loss is happening. The honeybee colonies are dying.  Information released in May by the American Department of Agriculture reported that they don't really know why it's happening, but considering that bees help pollinate crops worth more than $200 billion annually, it's worrying.

Ontario beekeepers, however,  feel it's those very crops that might be the problem.  The culprit, they say, is a relatively new class of pesticides derived from nicotine. Neonicotinoids are applied to the corn seed, then make their way into the leaves and pollen, where bees ingest them.

More than 200 bee farmers in Ontario and Quebec reported an unusually high number of losses according to a Health Canada report last year.  While in 2012,  the U.S. Department of Agriculture ranked pesticides at the bottom of the list of potential causes, saying the problem is complex, Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency that same year found the chemical in 70 per cent of the samples they took from dead Ontario bees.

That a pesticide sprayed on crops is killing bees makes sense to me, but whatever the reason the reality is unsettling. While purchasing some honey at a local farmers market recently,  my husband and I asked the apiarist if he'd experienced any losses.  His answer was about 50%. Much better, he added, than some of the larger apiaries, where, with the cost of a starter hive plus equipment running in the neighbourhood of $500, the loss is devastating.

Indeed, this is a rather serious commentary to introduce collections of illustrations. But when it comes to a problem this concerning, I believe it needs all the attention it can get,  in whatever form it takes. Bee Illustrations

Acclaim Images Bee Clipart Bee Images

ClickArt Online Bee Illustrations

ClipartGuide Bee Images

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Photo Collections of Swimwear

Like many people these days, I'm a big fan of the television series, Mad Men. For those who've lived in a cave the past six years, this is a show about Madison Avenue advertising executives in the 1960s.

Besides being well written with a stellar cast, for me, it's also a cool trip back in time, with loads and loads of nostalgia, familiar cultural references and styles.

Amidst the chain smoking and heavy drinking,  the men and women of Stirling Cooper (with the later additions of Draper Pryce) doggedly pursue companies with advertising campaigns for everything from Clearasil to Mountain Dew. Some they win, some they lose, some they toss away.  One of the latter was a company that made two-piece bathing suits. They were fighting against  'emerging' competition from the bikini. The firm sent them packing as a lost cause when they rejected the demo ad as being too provocative for their family-oriented business.

The ad in question, showed a young woman in a modest bathing suit bottom, with the slogan covering her breasts.  While it suggested she was topless under the band of text, in this day and age it would certainly be a long way from provocative. Barely there bikinis are today's fashion trend for the beach, it's more conservative two-piece cousin pretty much a distant memory.  And even provocative today seldom offends.

Of course, there are people who prefer a little more coverage. Like the folks who wear them, swimsuits come in a variety of shapes and styles all designed to keep cool and play cool in the summer. From the slightly risqué to the demure, you can find them here in these photo collections; Swimsuit Photos Photos of Swimsuits

Acclaim Images Swimsuit Photos

Monday, July 15, 2013

Looking at Still Life Through a Fisheye

One evening last summer we enjoyed spending some time with a group of young musicians visiting from the Czech Republic. Our son had met them while touring Europe the year before and as they were in Canada to perform at a festival, they decided to return the favour.

One of the fellows, a film student, is also an avid and talented photographer.  I admit I was a little envious looking at the camera he had. But what really caught my attention was the lens he was using, an extra-wide device that I'd had little knowledge of prior to this.  It was, he told me, a fisheye lens.

The effect was as fascinating as the lens. The visual distortion gave the photos he took a convex appearance, rather than a straight or flat image.  It was an 'I must have one' moment  for me.

Sadly after a little research, I realized that as a non-professional the price might make this just a bit of an indulgence.  Not out of reach, but one does have to prioritize I suppose.  For now. 

Be assured, I do continue to dream and scheme. This also involves a little research into ways to use a fisheye lens when, and I do mean when, I finally decide the creative fun of owning one would far outweigh the cost.

Here are just some of the cool tips I found:

DPS Five Ways to Get Creative With a Fisheye Lens

How to Use a Fisheye Lens

P/B A Fisheye Lens for Landscape Photography

Improve Photography Getting Creative