Too cold for a ride?

avalon-6290You would think on a Sunday just 2 weeks before Christmas that there would be kids standing in line to ride the train, but no.  The weather in Atlanta this past weekend was too much like winter for the thin-blooded southerners!  Anybody who lives in an area where it gets really cold would laugh.  The high temp on Sunday was actually 50° but the day started off below freezing and it was probably in the low 40’s when we were here.

We were out at Avalon to watch the ice skating and walked around a bit.  Just around the corner was this kids train ride with the conductor standing on the sidewalk waiting for passengers.  The train was empty and there were few people walking about.  I remarked to the conductor that it must be too cold for the kids.  He said: “It’s too cold for me!”

It’s a strange mix here in the south.  Too cold for kids to ride the train yet at the same time, I saw a family walking back to their car with all the kids wearing short and t-shirts.  Go figure!

Avalon
2200 Avalon Boulevard
Alpharetta, Georgia

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
100mm @ f/5.6 –  1/80sec – ISO 400

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Aztec Dance

December 12th is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Catholic Church.  This feast is one of the most celebrated religious days in Latin American culture as it remembers the appearance of the Virgin Mary in Mexico.  The celebration begins on the night of the 11th and continues through the night and all day long on the 12th.  At our church, the feast is marked with re-enactments of the apparition, displays of Aztec dance, serenades and homages to the Virgin Mary and of course, mass in Spanish and English.guadalupe-6222

The story of the Virgin of Guadalupe is unique in that is the only apparition where Our
Lady left a miraculous image of herself unmade by human hands.  Second, it is the only universally venerated Madonna and Child image where Our Lady appears pregnant instead of holding the Infant Jesus.

Reproductions of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe are on display for the feast in many Catholic Churches including the one I attend.

The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe
In the winter of 1531, a poor, 57-year-old Aztec Indian living five miles outside of Mexico City encountered a miraculous happening on his way to morning Mass. First he heard strange music coming from Tepeyac Hill, and then he heard a woman’s voice calling his name. Juan Diego climbed the hill and encountered a young woman, appearing to be of his own people in physical appearance and dress. The woman identified herself as the Virgin Mary, and told Juan Diego to ask the bishop of Mexico City to build a church on the hill to assist in the conversion of the nation and be a source of consolation to the people.

Juan Diego obeyed the request, but the bishop was skeptical regarding the message, even though he perceived that Juan was a humble, and well-meaning Catholic. Juan reported the bishop’s doubt to Our Lady at Tepeyac Hill, and she asked him to return to the bishop once again, bearing the same message. The bishop once again heard the story, and told Juan Diego to ask Our Lady for a sign that it was indeed herself that wished for the church to be built.

When he returned to the hill, Mary gave Juan Diego such a sign. Miraculously, roses appeared on the hill in the middle of winter, and Juan gathered them in his tilma, or cloak. Our Lady arranged the roses in his tilma with her own hands, and Juan returned to the bishop’s presence. When Juan released the tilma, allowing the flowers to fall to the floor, it was revealed that a miraculous image of Our Lady had imprinted itself on his tilma.

The bishop immediately fell to his knees, and came to believe in Juan Diego’s message. A church was built on the spot of the apparition, as Mary had requested, and 8 million people converted to Catholicism in a short period of time upon hearing of or viewing the miraculous image of Our Lady.

The tilma of Juan Diego has been the subject of much modern research. The tilma, woven out of coarse cactus fiber, should have disintegrated after 20 years, but although over 500 years have passed the tilma is still in perfect condition. The pupils of Mary in the picture reflect the Indians and clergy present at the time of the first revelation of the image. No paint was used, and chemical analysis has not been able to identify the color imprint. Additionally, studies have revealed that the stars on Mary’s mantle match exactly what a Mexican would have seen in the sky in December of 1531.

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church
Alpharetta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
100mm @ f/5.6 –  1/500 sec – ISO 800

Grass detail

I am always quite fascinated by the delicate tufts put out by grasses.  I found this one at Gibbs Gardens in the Japanese Garden section.  This image is captured with a yellow ground cover behind it to get lots of contrast.  I’m not sure if the grass itself would have stood out more on a solid background or not but, I like the colors in this composition.

Gibbs Gardens
Ball Ground, Georgia

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
300mm @ f/11 –  1/80 sec – ISO 100

Go nuts

Another shot from Gibbs Gardens at the end of the season.  With all the trees in the gardens there are lots of nuts and seeds around.  This one happened to have lots of nuts scattered about with some in the shell and others out.  I liked the detail and texture and the contrast of the crushed gravel path that they were laying on.

Gibbs Gardens
Ball Ground, Georgia

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
300mm @ f/13 –  1/80 sec – ISO 100

End of the Season

The Japanese Garden is lovely even when nothing is in bloom and the temps are near freezing.

We made one last trip to Gibbs Garden this morning.  It was COLD and there is almost nothing left with a flower on it but the gardens are still beautiful.  They will be closing for the season in a couple of days so we needed to go take  a look.  It was worth a stop but it is definitely winter out there now.

See you again in the spring!

Gibbs Gardens
Ballground, Georgia

Immaculate Mary

Advent Wreath at the vigil mass for Feast of the Immaculate Conception

The Christmas Challenge theme for today is wreath so, when we went to mass last night and the Advent wreath was right there, I had my shot.  We were at mass on a Wednesday night because of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  (Note to all my Catholic friends – it’s a Holy Day of Obligation!)

For those who don’t know or are unsure about what this feast is, this is the day that we celebrate the Virgin Mary’s conception without original sin.  Many people assume that the Immaculate Conception refers to Jesus but that is not correct.  This feast is about Mary and focuses on the teaching that she was brought into the world sinless so that she could be the mother of Jesus.  Even priests get this wrong at times (as was mentioned in the homily at mass last night) so, now you know.

I didn’t haul my camera with me to church last night so, this is a cell-phone shot.  Not too bad considering that!

Feast of the Immaculate Conception
St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church
Alpharetta, Georgia

Samsung Galaxy S5
31mm @f/2.2 – 1/30 sec – ISO 250

Natures Golden lace

The ornament shown includes a fairly large leaf with very fine vein patterns and a little acorn at the top.  The leaf reminded me of some of the scenes that I saw while wandering about this fall.  Some plants have this occur where the body of the leaf crumbles away, leaving a lacy pattern of the vein structure.

I thought this would be a simple shot to capture the golden colors of this ornament for the Christmas Challenge but, no such luck!  The issue here was trying to light this so that the detail of the veins in the leaf are visible without over exposing the shiny acorn.  I had to do a little combination of exposures in Photoshop to get the full effect that I wanted but I like the final product.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF Micro-Nikkor
105mm @ f/22 –  8 sec – ISO 100