It’s that time again!

Of course, I’m referring to February 29th being Annual Contest Submission Day, and you know me – I wouldn’t miss this one. But I’m having a little trouble deciding, so this time around, I’m soliciting some help in choosing. Since the intertubes is not very supportive of, you know, allowing people to express their opinions, I’m going to be magnanimous in opening this post up for such.

The contest is, “The Nature of Orange,” and the theme is, “Parks, Farms, and Trails of Orange County,” sponsored by the Department of Environment, Agriculture, Parks, and Recreations. This narrowed down my choices considerably, since most of what I consider my strong stuff (you know, like ammonia and forgotten cheese strong,) are either from outside the county, or were taken in my yard – since 2014, this hasn’t even been in Orange County because we moved (granted, the county line is literally within throwing distance even for me, but it still doesn’t contain the yard.) So right now, we have the possibilities below, though I have until the end of May to submit and may get some other options before then.

bluet Houstonia caerulea blossoms against sparkle reflection bokeh
I’m counting this one as a ‘trail,’ since it technically was, but not necessarily an approved or recognized Orange County trail – I’ll have to check. This unintentionally served as the first month-end abstract, several years ago; I noticed that two successive months featured abstract images on the last day, and a feature was born.

Contemplative Carolina anole Anolis carolinensis
Taken in the NC Botanical Gardens, I’ve always liked the anole’s expressive position, the defocus, and the colors.

tree in fog, red channel monochrome
From Mason Farm Biological Reserve, and it’s a ‘shopped version since it’s only the red channel converted to monochrome, but I see nothing restricting that in the rules. And since this is one of the nature areas that they’re encouraging people to visit (like the one above,) perhaps it has an edge in that regard.

bizarre fungus on treetrunk
Fond on the trunk of a tree in Anderson Park, I’ve always liked the textures of this one.

I could submit all four, since they allow up to five, and I’m going to sit on this for a little while to see if I get something stronger in the interim. Granted, I don’t think any of the images that I find the strongest were ones that I set out to do, that I intended to be compelling – they usually just happen that way, even though I may know it as I find it. Serendipity more than planning, is what I’m saying. So going out with the intention of getting something for a contest isn’t likely to work for me.

Here are a couple of initial Orange County selections that missed out due to the parks, farms, and trails criteria.

dewdrop on morning glory petal

dewdrops in spider webs with short focus

cryogenic aconite
And of course, anything not taken within Orange County, which is the bulk of my stock I think.

“Now, Al,” you say in that schoolmarmish way, “I distinctly recall you saying that you didn’t like contests.” Which is true enough; far too often, I’ve seen what’s won and wonder just what they were thinking. But I’m also trying to build more attention, and have seen the past winners and feel that the judges have some taste, and in fact, they’re looking for judges and I may apply to be one – if I decide to enter this year, then I’ll put off the judging option until next.

Anyway, feel free to comment at will, make comments about day jobs, and all that – I’m a big boy. No, wait, how did that go? I’m a big baby. That’s it.