Swans on Lake Eola

While attending the 2017 and 2018 Women’s rallies in Orlando, I admired the swans and the swan boats on Lake Eola. The events inspired me to form a women’s action network in our senior community. The swans inspired me to name the group, SWANS (Solivita Women’s Action Network).

Then at the 2018 March for Our Lives rally for gun safety, I took these photos. A bus was hired by a school safety/anti-assault rifle group that one of our SWANS started. That made it possible for 56 people from Solivita to attend the rally and march.

Lake Eola and the rainbow amphitheater (photo by Virginia Allain)
Lake Eola. Note the rainbow amphitheater that was painted after the Pulse Nightclub shootings. (photo by Virginia Allain)

It was a sunny day in Orlando and as you see above, people were enjoying the park, taking photos, and soaking up the sunshine. At the same time, thousands of people gathered at the other end of the park to hear speakers talk about school safety and placing controls on assault rifles. It was just a short time after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 13, 2018.

swans at lake eola, Orlando photo by Virginia Allain
Swans and fountain at Lake Eola, Orlando (photo by Virginia Allain)
Swans at Lake Eola, Orlando (photo by Virginia Allain))
Swans at Lake Eola, Orlando with the city skyline in the background. (photo by Virginia Allain)

The swans were lovely, there were palm trees, and the sun was shining. For contrast, I hope the next picture shocks you. I hope this earnest student and her creative sign make you think about what steps are needed to provide more gun safety and prevent future mass shootings, not just in Florida schools, but all across our country in public places like concerts and nightclubs and other places that people gather.

You can read more about that day and see my rally photos here.

march for our lives gun safety
A sign that cries out for change. Orlando rally 2018 – March for Our Lives. (photo by Virginia Allain)
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Taking Spider Web Photos

Orange spider blends in with the dry grasses.
Orange spider blends in with the dry grasses. (Photo by Virginia Allain)

Nature buffs and camera enthusiasts find spiders and their intricate webs fascinating. Photographing them is challenging. Here are some tips to improve your digital photos of spider webs.

 Things You’ll Need:
  • digital camera with close-up mode
  • outdoor area to find spiders
Spider webs with dew on them are more visible in photographs than a plain web. This means getting out early with the digital camera before the sun dries everything out.
spider web
Spider web after a light rain shower. (photo by Virginia Allain)

 

Use the macro setting (close-up) on your digital camera. Often this setting is represented by a flower icon.

 

canon camera powershot
Canon SX 20 IS Powershot that I use
Keep your hands very steady or use a tripod for macros. Avoid windy days when slight movements of the web will blur your picture.
spiderweb
Be cautious if the spider is on the web.
Look for plain, uncluttered background to show off the web better. Dirt, mulch, or sky work well as a background. The close-up setting on the digital camera helps by putting the background out of focus.
IMG_1285_edited
Take multiple shots from different angles. Try getting the whole web, a section of the web, different sides of the web. Then see what turned out the best.
IMG_7517
This photo could benefit from cropping. The grass background is not the best.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fog or a sprinkler or a light shower sometimes creates ideal conditions for photographing webs and can mimic morning dew.
  • Black construction paper held behind a web might work when the background is too cluttered.
  • Avoid disturbing the web when taking your photo.

(Previously published on eHow in 2008 by Virginia Allain)

 

My Top Seller on Zazzle

I’ve placed many of my photos on Zazzle products over the last three years. The results are mixed. Actually I have better luck promoting other folks’ designs than I do selling my own.

Lately I’ve been surprised by repeat sales of a wrapping paper I designed. It consists of a pattern of American flags running in stripes across the gift wrap.

Here's my popular gift wrap and some of the competition.
Here’s my popular gift wrap and some of the competition.

When I searched the site for my keywords, “patriotic gift wrap,” mine came up first in the site’s most popular list. Hurrah!

Here’s a better view of it:

I took the photo a few years ago in a Walmart where I noticed a cluster of small flags for sale. It’s a great design for wrapping gifts for someone in the military or for a special occasion gift on the 4th of July, Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day.

Source of Photos of Vintage Items or Crafts

I wanted some photos of vintage feedsack material and of dresses made from that fabric. Although I had the one below that I took at a quilt show, I wanted more examples of feedsack dresses and quilts and fabric.

Quilt pieces from vintage feedsacks.
Quilt pieces from vintage feedsacks.

It hadn’t occurred to me before, but as I browsed around on Etsy, I saw the perfect photos to illustrate my articles. Of course, one can’t just rip-off the photos and use them on your own articles.

I approached three Etsy sellers and politely asked if I could feature their item on my article. All three of them responded in the affirmative, giving me permission to use their photo with a link to their page.

To see how this turned out, you can see the Etsy photos on my pages called Feedsack Dresses and Tea Cup Flower Arrangements. I think they really brighten the pages up. In the past, I had permission from several eBay sellers to use photos of their auction item which happened to fit some of my pages about collectibles.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Ask nicely and if turned down, accept that graciously
  • Keep the email granting permission (in case of future issues)
  • Place the photo on your web page with a credit telling who the photo belongs to. Link the photo to their product on Etsy.
  • Both parties benefit from this. I get a great photo to use and they get some free publicity and backlinks.
  • In the case of photos on Hubpages, you can only use 2 links to the same place. Where I used more than 2 photos from Etsy, I put them in a series with one link for the batch.

I’m a Solivita Celebrity Blogger

Just what does that mean? The Central Florida retirement community that I live in had a contest to select three bloggers to represent the community. We had to submit a writing sample and go for an interview. Part of the interview was videotaped and appears on the blog. I was excited to be one of the three chosen for the seven weeks of blogging about Solivita.

I’m hoping that all the people who follow this blog will drop over to see what my new blog is all about. I’m interviewing interesting people in the community to create profiles to post on the blog. I’m also creating posts about my wildlife photos and observations. Solivita has quite a few nature preserves, so we see many animals. Since I now have a camera with lots of zoom, I’m thrilled with the wildlife I’m capturing with my camera.

The bloggers are competing against each other for the most visits and comments. The winner gets a BBQ for 40 of their friends. This is a great incentive to promote our blogs and try to bring in viewers. Come give it a read! Just click on any of the links on this page to get to it. Please pass it along to your friends who might be interested in Florida or retirement communities or wildlife.

Those Cute Chipmunks

Rodents aren’t supposed to be so darn cute. After a mild winter this year, the chipmunks in New Hampshire are having a population explosion. It has given me an opportunity to try out the zoom on my Canon SX20is. Capturing digital images of the little critters has been fun.

What isn’t fun is the interest they’re taking in my strawberry patch. I have a photo series of the brazen culprit turning the large red strawberry around in his paws while nibbling daintily on different parts of the ripe fruit. Then we found they were even abscounding with the smaller green strawberries. As my husband waved his arms and stomped into the garden, a chipmunk took time to stuff a not-yet-ripe strawberry into each cheek before running away to safety.

Chipmunks are great tree climbers.
Chipmunks are great tree climbers.

I have several webpages about the chipmunks. The one about Ten Humane Ways to Get Rid of Chipmunks is proving quite popular. Apparently, I’m not the only one suffering from an over-abundance of these rodents with racing stripes. The second one is Fun Facts about Chipmunks and the target audience is children, but I’m finding that it appeals to adults too. It includes some of my chipmunk photos and observations that I’ve made of their behavior.

Update (July 2011): Since people wanted ways to more permanently get rid of chipmunks, I’ve created a new web page called Get Rid of Chipmunks – The Final Solution. Of course, new chipmunks will try to move into the territory left vacant by any that you have relocated or killed. Be prepared to continue your efforts every summer.

Eastern Chipmunk in New Hampshire
Eastern chipmunk (photo by Virginia Allain)

Sorting My Photos of Insects

My inner-librarian took over today and I categorized some of my thousands of photos that are clogging up my computer. The original idea was to weed some of them out, but then I got caught up sorting them into categories. I had one section of insects under my animal photo category. That didn’t suit me with all the insects mixed in together.

I sorted them out into these sub-categories:

  • bees/wasps (41 pictures)
  • butterflies/moths (48)
  • caterpillars (22)
  • dragonflies/damselflies (6)
  • grasshoppers (8)
  • odd insects (45)
  • spiders/webs (82)

I used my caterpillar photos to create a webpage called Name the Caterpillars. Hopefully someone will give me the names to go with the photos.

This one fell into the odd insects category. Does anyone know what it is?