Welcome Winter

Hello Winter. Today is the winter solstice. While December 21 marks the shortest amount of daylight of the year in North America, the coldest temps are yet to come.

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Crest Baptist Church after a weekend sleet/snow event and sub-zero temps

MSN.com had this explanation for the lag in the shortness of daylight and colder temperatures.

The solstice marks the astronomical beginning of winter, while meteorologists view winter (the three coldest months) as starting Dec. 1. The day of the solstice, however, isn’t typically the coldest day of the year. There is a weeks-long lag between the solstice and the coldest average temperature for most spots in the USA.

This lag in temperature occurs because even though the amount of daylight continues to increase, the Earth’s surface continues to lose more heat than it receives from the sun. In most locations across the country, the coldest weather occurs around two or three weeks later, in early to mid-January.

Photography in the winter elements can be challenging, but also tremendously rewarding. From the crisp blue skies to the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, it is definitely worth getting outside for some shots.

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Sunrise pano with iPhone on 12.20.16

However, for the faint of heart great captures can be taken from the warmth of car.

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Sunset over Summit (frozen) Lake with iPhone on 12.20.16

I hope to add some fun winter shots in the next three months and look forward to seeing yours, too.

*Today also marks the changing of my header, a rural road in Union County, Iowa, that I change with each season. It seemed appropriate to turn on the WordPress snow machine, too, but it will stop on January 4.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirror

As Jen H issued this week’s challenge, she said, “This week’s challenge is all about reflections.” Reflections, mirror images, are fun to capture. Whether it is a shiny paint job or placid lake, the reflection seems to double the beauty.

The first was taken a year ago. My mother was a day away from graduating to her heavenly home and was a patient at the area hospice home. A church member’s grandmother was also a patient there and the granddaughter and her husband rode their new Harley Davidson Screaming Eagle Glide (CVO) to the home. As a diversion, I took a few minutes admire their new ride and to get a few shots of the beautiful bike. What made this picture special to me was the reflection of the hospice home in which my mother spent the last two months of her life.

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The second image was just taken today. While it was not the most spectacular sunset, the local state park lake was relatively placid, offering a nice mirror image of the opposing bank and the sky.

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For more examples of “mirror” click HERE.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Landscape

 

Following Cheri’s suggestion to check out the “Finding the Best Shot” post, I chose to show both landscape and portrait orientations of the same sunset.  Which do you prefer?

While the landscape orientation is a rural Iowa shot, it almost has an African savanna feel to it.

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Before the sun went totally behind the horizon I took this portrait orientation, allowing me to zoom in on the trees and catch the “fire” in the trees.

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For more examples of the week’s landscape theme, click HERE.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Half and Half

These “half and half” pictures were taken on our annual trip to Florida last October. Returning from a day excursion to see my sister on the Alabama Gulf coast, I passed this cotton field with cottony clouds overhead.

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Back on the Florida beach the next day, we found that the coastal dune lake, Alligator Lake, had breached the dune and was emptying into the Gulf. Its brackish water provided a real contrast with the clear Gulf water.

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That evening, our last vacation sunset provided a beautiful contrast between sky and sea.

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For more examples of “half and half” click HERE.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth

An evolving forecast proved accurate with 8-10 inch snow accumulations, canceling the church I pastor and many others in southern Iowa. With blowing snow, I had drifts of three feet to clear from my drive. A late afternoon glimpse of the sun was a welcome sight.

imageYou may be able to see a disc golf basket in front of the small tree on the left. The bottom of the basket should be 22″ from the ground. It appears that about 10″ is exposed, giving some idea of the depth of snow in this open field.

See more examples of depth HERE.

Shot with Moto X and edited with Photoshop Express. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

Sunsets at the beach are always a family viewing event. Last October, I caught this “last of the day” beach stroll of my sister and her husband, who celebrated fifty years of marriage that year. I love seeing them still go through life hand-in-hand,

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Silhouettes at Sunset

Click HERE for more examples of “silhouette.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

Our family time in Florida is always spent combing the beach for treasures. My sister and her granddaughter’s reflected features were captured in this shot with the late day’s sun reflection in the water.

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Her search was successful, finding this small sand dollar!

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Ben at WordPress asks: This week, in a post created specifically for this challenge, show us an image that says REFLECTION. Click HERE for more examples of “reflections.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

A sunset without clouds is “blah.” So, I always hope for a non-obscured drop of the sun below the sea’s horizon, but to have clouds in the sky to reflect layers of the sun’s final hues. This was the last sunset of our vacation in Florida and God painted a masterpiece with textured layers of color!

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For more examples of “layers” go to Word Press Photo Challenge: Layers.

Here is an additional video of that sunset:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

As one of my daughters said, “We live from October to October.” This month is when our family meets in Florida for our annual vacation. Since most of our activities are centered around the beach, the horizon is sort of constant companion. Whether scanning for passing dolphins and taking in the last rays of the day, the line between sea and sky is always there.

The “genesis” of our horizons:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:1-5 NASB)

To find out about this week’s challenge and link to more entries, click HERE

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Sea

For more than 25 years, our family has made an almost annual pilgrimage to the Florida Emerald Coast with its wonderful white beaches and emerald-green waters. It is a time of reuniting with family members from all over the country and a chance to welcome those who have joined the family, either by birth or marriage.

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Santa Rosa Beach with Panama City Beach in the distance.

The walks on the beach, kayaking among the dolphins, cornhole competitions, and  family gatherings each evening for the sunset, give a much-needed break from the routines of life. In the background of all of these activities, the constant, rhythmic pounding of the sea’s waves on the beach supplies the soothing sounds that bring additional refreshment.

Gulls and Sanderlings Sun in the Surf

Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.
The seas have lifted up, Lord,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the Lord on high is mighty 
– Psalm 93:2-4 (NIV)

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