One of my ongoing projects is to make panoramas of Wichita area Catholic churches. Here are three recent ones of churches built in the 1950s and 1960s. None of them look like traditional churches, but they serve their purpose, and any of them would be preferable to the Taj Mahoney.
The St. Jude (completed in 1967) website claims that its architecture was ahead of its time. Well, maybe, but to me it looks like your basic shoebox.
St. Margaret Mary (dedicated 1955; the “dropped” ceiling dates to 1992), with its ceiling cutout spanning the length of the church, is a variation on the shoebox.
The circular Christ the King (dedicated 1968) is definitely not a shoebox. It looks to me like something you would find on another planet built by friendly aliens. The parishioners I’ve spoken to are proud of it, and you can certainly do worse.
I returned to the botanical garden for the first time since I hurt my leg. While there, I spotted the bricks above in the butterfly garden1 walkway.
All the lego sculptures have been emplaced. To me, they just look dumb and waste space better devoted to interesting plants.2 The phony Victoria, above, takes as much room as a dozen real water lilies and looks ridiculous. It’s pointless, too, since the garden usually has the real thing in a different part of the pond later in the summer. Perhaps the silly things are attracting more visitors, but even so I look forward to their removal in the fall.
Although I missed the peak of spring, there were still plenty of real plants to see.
The Little Arkansas River, which runs north, west and south of me, is as high as I’ve ever seen it. The next round of storms should be here in about an hour.
The magenta flowers in the foreground are Callirhoe involucrata.
Update: Although my area has been continually under a flood warning for about three weeks now, neither the waters nor the recent tornadoes have affected my neighborhood.
One place that got soaked much worse is Winfield, about 40 miles southeast of Wichita. Here’s a video of areas affected by the overflowing Walnut River last week. The fairgrounds are where the Walnut Valley Festival is held every September. The spot where I pitched my tent back in my camping days is under more than ten feet of water here.
Botanica, the botanical garden in Wichita, has installed a number of sculptures in the gardens. Most range from “meh” to kitschy. I rarely bother to include them in my photographs. Currently the people who run the institution are installing a bunch of figures made of Legos in awkward spots through the grounds, such as the pansy above. I hope they’re temporary. They have novelty value and might attract a few additional visitors to the gardens, but there are much more interesting things you can do with Legos.
Unfortunately not temporary are the panels at the south entrance of the not-particularly-Shakespearean garden. They’ve been there as long as I’ve visited Botanica, and they look a little worse every year. (Right-click and open in a new window to see at maximum ugliness.)
The semi-Japanese Okamé cherry1 was by far the most colorful item at the botanical garden yesterday, along with the usual daffodils. The deciduous magnolias were getting started but were not fully open.
There was a bit more color here and there, but the garden is off to a slow start this year due to the lingering winter.
A few years ago, it looked like I would be soon locked out of Flickr, which was where I posted most of my photographs. I was unable to log into my account except on one particular computer, and only with Safari. To log in anywhere else, I would have needed to respond to emails sent to a couple of long-defunct addresses. It made no sense to me, but logic is irrelevant to the yahoos at Yahoo. I therefore started a second weblog just for pictures.
Flicker is now owned by a different, smaller company, and has fixed the login snafu. I can now log in anywhere with any browser. Consequently, I am resuming posting the bulk of my photos at Flickr. I’ll leave the photo weblog up in case things at Flickr get screwy again, but to see more from yesterday’s trip, go here.
Winter hung on like the respiratory crud that was going around earlier this year, but it looks like it’s finally gone. It won’t officially be spring until the first tornado watch, but I did find a little color on my visit to the botanical garden this past weekend. There are more pictures here, plus orchids here.
There’s a springtime jigsaw puzzle below the fold.
I spent most of the week before Christmas in California visiting family and seeing Disneyland. It was an excessively memorable experience, thanks to the blunders of United Airlines,1 the astonishing traffic in Los Angeles,2 Tracfone’s buggy website, and the 10,000 oblivious people wandering around Disneyland. It was worth it to see my sister and her family, but I’m not eager to repeat the experience.
If I had been ten years old, Disneyland would have been terrific. However, I’m several times older than that now, and roller coasters are less exciting, particularly when you have to make an appointment to ride or wait an hour and a half in line. I was more interested in the plants there, some of which are greenhouse exotics in Kansas but ordinary bedding plants in the subtropical climate of the southern California coast. These are mostly what I took pictures of.
I found a little Christmas present in my indoor garden. The Prosthechea cochleata which I got last July opened its first flower on December 25. I would characterize it as “interesting” rather than “pretty,” but interesting it is. Despite its eccentric appearance, it’s in the same branch of the orchid family as Cattleya, the classic corsage orchid.
The Epidendrum that I picked up back at the beginning of November is still blooming and looks like it will continue indefinitely. It’s also a member of the Cattleya alliance.
I took too many pictures at the weekend’s orchid show, as usual. I’m about halfway done editing the photos. You can see the first few batches here. I should get the rest done within a day or two or three. (Update: they’re done.)
Right-click and open this panorama in a new window for an overview of the show.
I found a pleasant surprise this morning. A Stapelia flavopurpurea that I started from seed about 18 months ago is blooming. The photo above is much larger than life-size; the actual size of the flower is about an inch across. Click to see it even larger. Technical note: the picture was composed from a stack of 51 separate images assembled in Helicon Focus.
S. flavopurpurea is an atypical stapeliad in that the flowers don’t smell like something’s dead. It’s said to have a scent like beeswax, but I haven’t been able to detect any fragrance at all. Although Stapelias and their kin often look like cacti, they are not related. They are currently part of the Apocynaceae, which includes oleanders and vinca and the milkweeds.1 Stapeliad flowers are as complicated as they look; you have to go to the Orchidaceae to find more complex flowers.
I get tired of lugging a heavy tripod around when I want to take close-up pictures, but it’s a necessity with a heavy macro lens and long exposures. Yesterday I tried a different system on my trip to the botanical garden. Instead of the 100mm macro, I used a small, light and sharp 18-55mm zoom that is capable of near-macro work, and I added a diffuser to a hotshoe flash. It worked pretty well, as the above picture demonstrates. There are more pictures using the system here. I think it should be adequate for most pictures at the orchid show at Botanica November 3-4.
Flash plus diffuser works also with a true macro, as illustrated below. However, the lens I have is heavy, and it’s hard to hold the camera steady enough to keep the focus where I want it. A monopod would help, but that starts to get cumbersome.
For stacked focus (which is how I would ordinarily take pictures of small, intricate things) and extreme close-ups a tripod is indispensible, of course, but such stunt photography is generally not feasible outside of a studio.