Butterflies and dragonflies in flight can be mesmerizing.  However, their erratic flight styles can drive you crazy when trying to capture them in pixels, whether panning with a real viewfinder or even worse, trying to pan using a digital viewfinder and its fraction-of-a-second lag (and no drive or burst function).

Well, a little spray and pray with the shutter yielded my favorite shot of the morning as this red-spotted purple moved through the canopy of the valley forest.

butterfly flying.
TAKING FLIGHT – Red-spotted purple flits among trees in the valley forest.

Weekly photo challenge: Serenity

Finding serenity any time is a challenge, and this week it IS the challenge.  For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to capture the latest comet Lovejoy in pixels. Tonight’s effort was flustered by clouds, but one shot — a test shot setting up — seemed to hit all the right notes.  The soft light in the cloud,  the familiar pinpoints of starlight and the warm glow coming from the house next door all seemed to be a little bit of serenity.

1-19 NightSkyTrees

Other bits of serenity from this week’s challenge:

On ice

Winter is a slow time here on the mountain. Not much is moving and wildlife is elusive. However, Nature does provide a little interest in the variety of strokes in which she uses her frosty paintbrush. There are leaves carefully rimmed with ice crystals. On the cliff sides,  bladelike crystals  arise from the earth, separating roots from soil and rocks from their beds. And  there are those those tiny, rimming crystals — flakes that stand on end in seeming defiance of gravity.

Frost-rimmed oak leaf amid frosted chickweed and dormant Bermuda grass blades.
Frost-rimmed oak leaf amid frosted chickweed and dormant Bermuda grass blades.
Ice blades
Tiny blades of ice, about one-eighth of an inch wide, span an inch-and-a-half gap in the cliffside.
Ice crystal flakes.
Ice flakes like raised hackles on the edge of this leaf.

Phun with Photoshop philters

I’m not big on using Photoshop to “rescue” a bad photo, but sometimes it’s just fun to see what the program can do. Our office has been trying out the cloud version for a couple of months now. It’s a bit of a step up from CS3 on my desktop and Elements 5 on my barely-hanging-on-PC laptop. A couple of photos whose elements I thought translated nicely into the flat “cutout” filter — making them almost like prints, or even stained glass.