Silent stairs with softer water

Silent stairs with soft water – Photograph by Laura Lecce

If only photographs could capture sound (although I guess there is always video). This soft, tranquil and serene looking photo is actually of a thundering dam located in the Ken Lockwood Gorge. Along this gorge there is a lovely hiking trail called the Columbia Trail which is located in New Jersey, and an easy day trip to get away from bustling Manhattan. This damn was a great way for me to practice taking photographs with longer exposure times resulting in soft, cascading water. The stairs provided an interesting surface to catch wisps of water which trickled down them. This was indeed a very fun and interesting photographic experience.

The rock waves of Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon rock formations – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Antelope Canyon is an amazing rock sculpture that has been beautifully designed by Mother Nature herself. These canyons have been formed by many years of flash flooding, which brings fast running water carrying abrasive sand and rocks through the canyon, continually eroding and sculpting the sandstone walls. The narrow, twisting walls of slot canyons create photos with multi-layered depth, different shades of rich color and interesting compositions. Antelope Canyon is located in Arizona, east of Page and has two separate segments called Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon and is well worth a visit.

Great blue heron at sunset

Great blue heron at sunset - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Great blue heron at sunset – Photograph by Laura Lecce

I love the warm golden colors that the setting sun has painted across this landscape. This magnificent great blue heron was photographed in Zion National Park in Utah. I have seen many herons since moving to America, and even though we have herons in Australia I never really noticed them before. I am always amazed that for such a large bird, herons are incredibly shy and skittish. No matter how slow I try to creep up they never let me get very close at all, but I have seen these birds get courageously close to some pretty massive alligators! The photo below is the original before cropping which has a very beautiful arch created by tree branches. A dry looking landscape hiding a trickling stream just behind the tree line, and a dusty red path occasionally dotted with a green firework – sometimes nature creates its very own artworks.

Heron under tree arch - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Heron under tree arch – Photograph by Laura Lecce

A fleeting season

A fleeting season - Art by Laura Lecce
A fleeting season – Art by Laura Lecce

So this past weekend I woke up and realized I had completely missed Autumn. I remember at the start of Autumn (when the weather was still warm) I had this fun idea that I wanted to hire bicycles and ride from Manhattan to Randall’s Island (not that far away from where I live) and have a wonderful picnic on the water under the sun. Randall’s Island is a beautiful little area covered with green grass and flower gardens along the water. Mind you I don’t actually enjoy riding a bike, and absolutely hate doing it on Manhattan streets when taxi drivers are actively trying to kill you, but I thought the picnic worth the ride. So this weekend I decided that my husband and I absolutely must do this before the weather got any colder (8 degrees Celsius, 46 degrees Fahrenheit is by no means warm!). So we hired bikes and rode one block to the bike lane on First Avenue which to my dismay was closed for construction. We rode two more blocks to Riverside Park which has a paved bike path….also closed for construction (typical Manhattan). Even having only rode three blocks my ungloved hands were already frozen and I was in no mood for a picnic, especially not on a cold and unwelcoming island where the trees have been stripped of their leaves, leaving an expanse of colorless concrete (wow, it’s incredible how weather can change your mood so quickly!). So we walked the bikes back to the store, sheepishly returning them after only 15 minutes, and went back to our warm home and I sat down and painted Autumn instead.

Spot the Emu

Spot the Emu - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Spot the Emu – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Can you spot the emu? This photo was taken on a Western Australian highway on a road trip from Exmouth to Monkey Mia, with a stop at Coral Bay. Coral Bay is a beautiful area where the Ningaloo Reef stretches along the coast just a short swim off the beach – a must see location for snorkelers. Monkey Mia is a famous location in WA where dolphins swim into incredibly shallow waters to get fed and interact with humans. On this remote stretch of road you will witness a very dry landscape with expanses of red dirt to either side. You may see small leafless shrubs with adorable tiny goats huddled underneath trying to seek refuge from the hot sun. Closer to the coast the shrubs get larger and slightly greener, and you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some emus running across the land, darting in amongst the shrubs after being spooked by your car. They remind me of the Looney Tunes character the Roadrunner (with Wile E. Coyote), except that real roadrunners run at a speed of 20 mph (32 km/h), whilst emus can run at 31 mph (50 km/h). Below is a close up photo just in case he ran so fast you missed him!

Click here for posts on other Australian wildlife.

In case you missed him
In case you missed him

Autumn Colors

Autumn Colors - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Autumn Colors – Photograph by Laura Lecce

The Autumn season is upon us, and many trees in Manhattan are showing signs of changing color. Have you ever wondered how the trees know what season it is? Many trees and plants are photoperiodic, meaning they can detect the hours of darkness in a 24 hour period. In this way, trees and plants can detect the lengthening of nights into winter or shortening of nights heading into summer. This clever ability is achieved through pigments within the leaves called phytochromes, which can trigger a cascade of specific hormones and growth factors which regulate growth, flowering, and changes in leaf color during autumn. Leaves produce chlorophyll throughout most of the year, a green pigment critical for photosynthesis which allows trees and plants to absorb energy from light. Chlorophyll masks other pigments present within the leaf such as carotenes and xanthophyll, which are responsible for orange and yellow coloring, respectively. As the length of night increases during autumn, it triggers a cork-like membrane to form around the base of the leaf stalk called an abscission. The abscission slowly cuts off the supply of nutrients to the leaf, thus limiting the production of chlorophyll and allowing the orange and yellow colors to be visible. Anthocyanin is also produced in autumn, which gives leaves a red and purple coloring. Eventually nutrients to the leaves are completely halted causing the leaves to fall off. After accumulating a certain amount of time in the cold during winter months, which is referred to as the number of chill hours, trees can then respond to the increasingly warmer temperatures and shorter nights of Spring. During this time there is an upregulation of genes responsible for producing antioxidants and vitamin C to rid the tree of hydrogen peroxide which has built up during the winter dormancy. Trees are now able to produce the hormones and growth factors necessary to begin flowering and making new leaves again. Happy Autumn Everyone!

To see my other post on Autumn in New York, please click here.

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Moraine Lake – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Moraine Lake was one of the destinations on my trip to Canada last year. The purpose of this trip was to see some of Canada’s natural wonders, the beauty of the mountains and the amazing wildlife that call this country home. This lake was one of the many highlights of my trip. There are few places in the world that are as photogenic as this turquoise lake, surrounded by snow-capped mountains which provide a stunning backdrop. Located in the Valley of Ten Peaks, the lake is filled with glacial runoff which gives the water its signature color. As the glaciers thaw, the trickling water collects rock flour (sediment) on the way to the lake, formed by erosion of the rocks as the glaciers grind against them. This is a place in the world where photography cannot live up to actually being there. The crispness of the air, the tranquility of the forest, and the magnitude of the mountains all contribute to the magnificence of Moraine Lake.

Turquoise Water - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Turquoise Water – Photograph by Laura Lecce