Contemporary sunflowers trace their ancestry to plants found at archaeological sites dating from 3,000 BC. While they grew abundantly on the Great Plains, sunflowers were first purposely cultivated by Native Americans in the Southwest or Mississippi River valley area as a source of medicine, fiber, seeds, and oil.
When the European settlers arrived, they immediately recognized the value of sunflowers and sent seeds back to Europe. There they found a place in English cottage gardens and even Van Gogh’s paintings. However, it was in Russia that the sunflower became a major agricultural crop. They provided a source of oil that could be eaten without breaking church dietary laws. Early in the 20th Century, Russian growers spearheaded the breeding and selection for disease resistance and high oil content. In the 1960s, the U.S. began sustained commercial production of oil seed cultivars to produce vegetable oil.
Long beloved as part of the rural landscape, sunflowers have been embraced by gardeners as an ornamental plant relatively recently. Responding to this interest, breeders in Germany, Japan and the U.S. have developed types particularly suitable for home gardens. -from Burpee.com
Not far from where I grew up in southwest Iowa, stands a 100 foot tall cottonwood tree. You might be asking yourself, what is so special about a 100 foot tall tree? Well read on and I shall explain. The story goes, that a surveyor, marking the line between Audubon and Cass counties in Iowa, had only a cottonwood sprout on hand to mark the location that the lines intersected. Keep in mind the year was 1850, so apparently official marking sticks were in short supply. The sprout subsequently took root and grew into what is now a very large cottonwood tree. Now what is unique about this story is not that a cottonwood tree grew from a sprout pushed into the soil 164 years ago. It is that the location that these two lines made is now the intersection of two roads, and you guessed it, that big cottonwood tree stands smack dab in the middle of the intersection. The infamous tree in the middle of the road!
This tree was the thing of legends and mysteries to us young and impressionable kids back in the good old days. It is quite an eerie site to see the top of this massive tree emerge above the road ahead of you, especially at night. To top the hill and see a tree where one should not or has never seen one before is a bit disconcerting at midnight out in the country on a dark dirt road. I’m sure many a spooky tale has been told going to or from this spot. It might have been a source of great trepidation for us, had it not on those occasions, been for our liquid courage. I suppose over the years since then, we have not been the only teenagers to make the journey out to see this imposing landmark. If you ever find yourself traveling on I-80 in Southwest Iowa, it is worth your time to pay a visit to the tree in the middle of the road. I think you will be glad you did.
I made this shot just a few minutes before sunrise recently.
I made these back-lit images not long ago in the early morning as the sun was rising low in the sky, when the grass and other vegetation was covered in dew. Using a shallow DOF, many of the tiny droplets of dew are out of focus resulting in a nice “Bokeh”. The golden sunlight adds warmth to the shot. Love me some back-lighting. Hope you enjoy!
I rarely get the chance to see 1 fawn, let alone 3, so I was fortunate to come along this family of deer as they were dining in a bean field one evening. As usual they didn’t stick around to long once they saw me, heading farther into the field. It was quite a treat!
I made this photo from 3 exposures (-1 EV, 0 EV, +1 EV- Handheld) taken on a recent trip to Galena, IL. and subsequently combined them in Photomatix Pro. I then made a few slight adjustments in Lightroom giving it that kinda far out, unreal look which I think looks cool on old vehicles. If you are new to HDR imaging as I am, you will find this great tutorial very helpful. If you enjoyed my photo please share with others and/or leave me a comment.
Just when I thought there was nothing left of the sunrise to photograph the other morning….after the colors had all but faded away, and I was back in the car and down the road a way, the sun popped up right behind a row of tall thin trees. I made this abstract image from one of the several shots I took out the car window with my 300 mm telephoto with a 2x teleconverter on it. I hope you like it!
Another beautiful sunrise this morning. I never considered myself an early riser but as I get older I’m finding it’s the best part of the day. As I was out driving this morning waiting for the light and the great colors that come with it, I found this old rather unique looking old corn-crib not too far from my house. Hope you like it. Leave me a comment and tell me what you think. Click to view larger.