One new photograph, almost every day of the year


2018—Still Mr. Wonderful

Last year when I visited Madera Canyon, seeing and photographing the Magnificent Hummingbird was one of the highlights of my visit there.  We called him Mr. Wonderful because he was so different from the other hummingbirds in size, coloring, and decibel level—the hum of his wings was unmistakable and incredibly loud.   This species is a year-round resident of Mexico and Southern Arizona is its Northernmost breeding ground. This year, I got only a few shots of Mr. Wonderful as he proved very elusive to me.  We also learned that the name of the Magnificent Hummingbird species was changed to Rivoli’s Hummingbird in 2017.  The bird was known as the Magnificent Hummingbird from the 1980’s to 2017.  I can’t find what it was called prior to the 1980s  but according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Rivoli’s Hummingbird was named in honor of the Duke of Rivoli, an early 19th Century amateur ornithologist. Anna’s Hummingbird was named after his wife, Anna, the Duchess of Rivoli.  And, to me, he’s still Mr. Wonderful.

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2018—A Winsome Day

The morning light on my Winsome rose caught my attention this morning.  I think today will be a winsome day.

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2018—Far From Home?

I encountered this female House Finch recently at Mahany Park.  There wasn’t a house in view.

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2018—A Brief Visit

A single monarch butterfly flitted briefly around my butterfly bush Wednesday afternoon.   My D5 and 300mm with 2.0 Teleconverter was conveniently sitting nearby when I noticed.  I hoped to get a shot of the wings spread but couldn’t manage to get a good angle of view without obstructions.



2018—Photo ID

Photo IDs are nothing new.  During World War I, stevedores on the docks in San Francisco had them.  100 years ago, on February 1, 1918, the US  Customs Service issued my grandfather this photo ID.  The paper is yellowed, creased, and worn but the type remains clear and, remarkably, the small, glossy sepia photograph remains firmly glued and affixed with a metal brad.

My paternal grandfather was a foreman stevedore for the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. in San Francisco.  I love that the permit is still so legible and that the  photograph remains so clear despite the document’s age and its frequent folding and unfolding during the time he used it in WWI.   He was 41 in this photograph.  The photograph makes it obvious to me where my father got his nose!


2018—Red Junglefowl

In Kauai’i, chickens are everywhere.  Except that they’re not called chickens.  They’re called Red Junglefowl.  This rooster wandered by while we were at the Kalalau Lookout at an elevation of 4000 feet above the Na Pali coastline this past June.  I had my 600mm lens on my camera and he strutted too close for me to get his entire body in the frame.

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2018—Inherited Traits

My revived interest in genealogy has me rummaging through old boxes of family photographs. I came across today’s photograph in the middle of a sheaf of family documents. I’d never seen it before. It made me wonder, as I occasionally do, whether I take more after my mother or my father.  There are, of course, those horrifying moments when I look in the mirror and my mother is staring back at me.  But, I know most who knew her would agree that my mother was incredibly talented.  She could do anything she put her mind to, and do it well.  I am grateful that it is from her example that I am not afraid to try new things.  It never occurs to me that I won’t succeed at what I try.

My mother was our family photographer although my father sometimes manned the camera with less than optimal results.  He was famous for cutting off the tops or bottoms of things.  Our visit some 50+ years ago to Yellowstone National Park is commemorated by two shots of Old Faithful that Dad took with a Polaroid.  Fortunately for Dad, the spewing geyser lasted long enough for him to get a second shot of the bottom of the geyser when the first Polaroid shot he developed showed only the top half.  Twenty or so years before the Old Faithful incident, Dad took this photograph of my mother holding the Kodak Brownie that I remember from my childhood.  In this shot, he managed to cut off the top of her head and all of her feet.  My guess is that in photography at least, I take after my mother.

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2018—I’m Swedish Again!

Actually, I’m only half Swedish;  well, I’m really only 45% Swedish, a quarter Irish and the rest English and Norwegian.  That is, as of yesterday.  Prior to that, it appeared I wasn’t Swedish at all and only a tiny fraction of me was even Scandinavian.  This, after a lifetime of believing I was half Swedish.

On a whim a few years ago, I sent a DNA sample to  I did this to determine the heritage of my paternal grandmother who was adopted as a young girl by a family with a German name but we suspected she was English.  I already knew for a fact that my paternal Great Grandparents emigrated from Ireland in the mid 19th century (I have the original naturalization papers) and my maternal grandparents came from Sweden through Ellis Island in the early 1900’s (I have ship manifests).  My DNA results confirmed the Irish part of me and the suspected English part of me but I was shocked to see that there were few Scandinavian markers and no Swedish markers.  Growing up in a family with two grandparents who spoke with strong Swedish accents, a grandmother who read a Swedish language newspaper, and a mother who spoke Swedish as a child before she spoke English, it was a deep puzzlement.  The DNA markers said that along with my Irish and English heritage, I was Finnish and Russian and Western European, and even a tiny bit Asian but the Scandinavian markers were an iffy 3%.

This fact has nagged at me for the past four years.  It’s very odd to suddenly find that you’re not what you thought you were.  I thought about my long-deceased grandparents and wish I’d asked them about their lives in Sweden.  I  remembered the Smörgåsbords my mother served on special occasions where I turned my nose up at pickled herring but devoured the Swedish meatballs.   I  tried to figure out how my grandparents’ families got to southern Sweden where they toiled as farmers and herdswomen.  How did their bloodline stay so un-Swedish?  It was a fact that both grandparents had dark brown hair, not the light blond that is the stereotype of Swedes.   Maybe my ancestors did come from elsewhere.  But, on my grandmother’s side, we discovered that for centuries the women in her family were herdswomen who tended cattle in the mountains in the Dalarna Region far from their homes during the summers.  They made butter and cheese and used wooden utensils passed down for generations to do this.  In fact, one of my most prized family possessions is a wooden bowl that my grandmother brought with her when she immigrated from Sweden through Ellis Island.  It is carved from the burl of some kind of tree and as long as I can remember, it has always been called The Bowl.  It has been in the family for centuries, the dates 1733 and 1734 carved in its bottom along with letters and symbols.  This was common among the herdswomen to identify their property.  It is passed down through the female side of the family.  You can read more about this in a post  I wrote about it 7 years ago.

My four year dilemma came to an abrupt end Friday afternoon.  My dear friend, fellow photo blogger, former college roommate, and genealogy enthusiast Melinda sent me an urgent text telling me that had updated its DNA test results to reflect tens of thousands more markers.  For some, that could mean a change in the original DNA test results.  And, in my case, a huge change.  I’m half Swedish again!

To commemorate the return to my Scandinavian heritage, I photographed The Bowl using my 8-15 fisheye lens at 8mm.  That seemed to me to be the perfect way to photograph a round object.

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2018—Bee Best

This bee was being its best collecting pollen from  one of the chive flowers that has begun to develop seed pods.  His proboscis is plunged deeply into one of the remaining flowers and his cache of pollen is visible on his rear leg.

I took this image with my Nikon D5 and Nikkor 300mm f/4 PF lens with the 1.7X teleconverter attached.  I’m trying get a better understanding of focus limitations using my 1.7 and 2.0 teleconverters in anticipation of getting my new Nikon 500mm f/5.6mm PF lens that is rumored to be released any day now.  I’m considering using  these teleconverters with the new lens because I’ll be giving up 100mm by not using my 600mm lens.  However, the lens is much smaller and lighter than my 600mm lens, and not much bigger than my 300mm f/4 PF.  Plus, I’ll be able to use a lighter tripod with it making the entire rig, which I use primarily for wildlife photography, considerably lighter and easier to carry.  While the 1.4X teleconverter that I use all the time with both my 300mm and 600mm lenses allows the use of all of the camera’s autofocus options, the 1.7 and 2.0 teleconverters have limitations.  Today, I was able to use Dynamic Area AF fairly effectively while Group, and horizontal and vertical line group modes didn’t readily grab focus.

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2018—Another Broad-billed Hummer

Another Broad-billed hummer from Madera Canyon, AZ, his beak covered with pollen.

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