0407: An Odd Mix

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This time last week I was hurrying to get the blog posted. It was 72 degrees out with a bright sun – easily the best day of this early Spring. The rest of the day was spent at my favorite quarry where I eventually filled the trunk of my car with fossil laden rocks.

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Fresh material to explore and photograph. Material enough, I was sure, to fill several of these posts. Most particularly today’s.

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But two days later, my plans changed when a Spring surprise arrived in the form of six inches of snow. And that pile of rocks sits waiting for me.

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So, in search of a  new topic for today, I decided to browse one of my photo libraries from a few years ago. Often, I can find many images that I had originally passed over (for whatever reason). And, with fresh eyes and a different perspective, they all becomes new material to explore.

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What you see today is this rather odd mix of images that seemed to beckon to me – no criteria other than that.

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This next set of images is from the Florence Museum of Natural History – this time the subject is bones.

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And, finally, a nice piece of news – The image above, which I had shared with you a few weeks ago, has been selected for “Far & Wide”, the 8th Annual Woodstock Regional Exhibition. Entitled “Natural History – Mushrooms,” it was taken at the Botanical Division of the aforementioned museum. Opening and reception is set for May 7 from 4-6 pm.

Thanks for the visit.

0331: Natural History

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Today I have more from the Florence Museum of Natural History – mammals, entomology and paleontology in particular.

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Last Fall a friend gave me a couple of hornets’ nests. They had been hanging in her barn for years. She thought I might find them interesting (which I did) and passed them along to me to explore (which I am). These are my first attempts. (Thanks Dorian).

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This last image is a mixed media piece of mine entitled “Primordia.” I have been working on a drawing project for the past nine months or so and this will be the first time one will be displayed. It hangs at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum in the active members show opening this Saturday 4-6 pm.

Thanks as always for the visit.

0324: A Spring Break

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Another walk starts off this week’s post. It was an overcast early Spring afternoon that got me up and away from the computer – a break from all the Florence images that have had me tied up lately. A need for nature not pixels! The lichen was a good start.

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The garden showed me some things new…

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…and some things old.

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Some shapes reminded me of other shapes.

Some images reminded me of other images.

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And that brought me back to the computer – which led to this mix.

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Crustacean 1, La Specola

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Crustacean 2, La Specola

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Stairwell, Bardini Gardens

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Tools of Mosaic Artist

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Jupiter and Saturn, Orrery, Galileo Museum

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Gastropod, Florence Museum of Natural History

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Santa Maria della Spina, Pisa

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San Miniato al Monte, Florence

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Virgin with Child and Bicycles, Florence

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Vasari’s Vision of Hell, Duomo, Florence

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Thanks for the visit.

0317: Walking around Florence

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The visual delights of Florence are legendary – the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, etc. The artwork, both inside the many museums and outside in the many piazzas, are certainly an eyeful. But so too is almost every small side street. Graffiti and street art is often clever and thoughtful (There is also, unfortunately, plenty of awful spray paint graffiti).IMG_9372_01_LR_12

Turning a corner might yield the sight of a Renaissance mural juxtaposed against modern life. Peeking in a window near the Duomo shows a workshop where artisans keep up centuries old traditions.

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A stroll through a graveyard (San Miniato al Monte) showed unique headstones…

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…and a most interesting crypt.

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And then there is a very clever artist (or artists) at work who turns simple traffic signs into amusing and sometimes provocative statements…

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…little visual asides that you catch out of the corner of your eye…

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…but linger in your head…

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…along with a smile lingering on your face!

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I had to include some fossils today, so I thought this little selection would work nicely.

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These are gastropods from the fossil collection of the Paleontology section of the Florence Museum of Natural History.

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They relate to an upcoming exhibition that will open at the museum in May. More on that as the date approaches.

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I did manage to take a break from working all of my Florence files to come up with something new at the studio. Ironically, new shooting began with my Moroccan trilobite (above) which I found in a Florence flea market! And, below, something I brought back from a walk in the woods yesterday.

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Thanks for the visit.

0310: A Curious Cabinet

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I discovered months ago that many of my regular viewers have a thing for mushrooms (you know who you are!). Today’s post is one you might find particularly interesting. The opening image, above, is a cabinet that runs from desktop to ceiling, one of many that line the walls of a small room in the Botany Section of the Florence Museum of Natural History. And, yes, it is filled with mushrooms – or rather – a beautiful collection of mushroom sculptures from the 1800s.

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Every door that was opened to me in the museum last month gave way to fascinating objects of all sorts. This one, though, caught me completely by surprise.

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I was visiting with Dr. Chiara Nepi, Section Head of the Botany Department. Dr. Nepi had allowed me to photograph in her areas on my last visit. She was most kind and generous to me at that time and so a visit this trip to say hello was very much in order. As the visit was wrapping up I mentioned about my experience with my neighbor’s mushroom farm. “Have you seen our collection of mushrooms?” she asked. No, I was not aware but more than happy to take a look.

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Within moments, the door to this room opens. And, once again, I’m dumbfounded by what I see!

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Turns out the Museum has this collection of amazing models (more than 200, I believe) made in the 1800s by the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Barla, a curious and interesting scholar, naturalist, and botanist. His models became appreciated by both researchers and enthusiasts and were in such high demand that he began manufacturing them in the 1850s.

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These are just a few of the pieces in the collection, which was donated to the museum over a period of years.

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So, I thank Dr. Nepi once again for the opportunity to play with these little gems!

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I also managed to have a few moments with another interesting, small collection – this time belonging to the Ornithology Department. Birds’ nests and birds’ eggs.

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Prepping these images for today’s post seems particularly appropriate on a day like today. Back home now after traveling. Early Spring. The sky is filled with long, long “V”s of honkers heading north – like trains lined up one behind the other, waiting for their turn to head home.

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Birds are everywhere – probably checking out the best location for a new nest!

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Thanks for the visit.

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0303: Museum Mix

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With the bags just unpacked and the many, many image files uploaded, I have put together a sampler, of sorts, from the wide variety of objects  I photographed at the Florence Museum of Natural History this past month. It was an honor and privilege to be allowed in and one for which I am most grateful.

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Storage rooms in any museum tend to have real visual allure, places where odd juxtapositions often exist behind every door. This museum’s wealth and breadth allowed me to access, for instance, the Mammal collection one day…

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…and Reptiles the next, or Ornithology, or Botany, etc.

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Wonderful things to see : the texture and patterns of the chameleons and the ancient gastropods.

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From the very small, in this case, a mantis (I believe)…

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… to the very large – skull and bones of a whale.

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Echinoderms:

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Ornithology:

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From the Botany Section: models of mushrooms, made of paper mache and resins, from a collection from the 1800s.

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And , last for today, from the Entomology collection, one of their many stunning butterflies.

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More to come.

Thanks for the visit.

0218: Notes From Florence – Nature’s Designs

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Amazing design is everywhere in this fine city, from buildings to manhole covers. Thanks to the folks at the Museum of Natural History, though, I have been able to explore design of a different kind – that of the natural world.

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Back home I explore the natural world in the rocks and fossils around me, the mushrooms (lately), plants, etc. But here I’ve had the most fortunate experience of exploring some of the museum’s aged and treasured collections.

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Of course, I begin with fossils.This one below is an interior section of a sea urchin dating back to the Miocene Epoch some fifteen million years.

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And next, a contemporary sea urchin in close-up.

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From the same collection (echinoderms) come the following two Heliasters, more commonly known as sea stars.

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Next, from the Reptile collection is a detail of a chameleon.

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And from the Entomology collection come the following three images, starting with a mantis

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…followed by a beetle

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…and ending with butterflies.

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I could go on and on with wonders from the museum but I must continue with some of the sights in the streets.

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Seems like turning every corner in Florence brings you to interesting and unusual street art. I hope you like some of these examples.

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And, finally, after walking and walking and walking (this city is all about walking) a relaxing break in a local park provided me with this view. Gray, moody skies dominate Florence this time of year (always so much more interesting for shooting, I think).

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Thanks for the visit.