Day 90—Limoncello Day 46

After steeping the zest of 30 Meyer lemons in 2 bottles of 151 proof grain alcohol for 46 days, today I added a little over two quarts of simple syrup to the golden liquid that I had strained through coffee filters and then squeezed out every last drop. The clear golden liquid turned an opaque lemony yellow when the two liquids combined and it was limoncello! Then I poured this precious elixir into seven 500ml bottles, snapped on the flip caps and set them in a cool, dark place while the limoncello mellows; they say it should set for a year. I don’t know if I can wait that long!

Lens at 56mm
ISO 640
f/5.6
1/50
SOOC

Day 89—When You Smile

This guy, a bodyless fake-rock head nestled in among the azaleas in my entry way, always makes me smile when I open the door. He faces the doorway so I can enjoy him and he smiles pleasantly to my guests as they leave. As I look at him, he kind of reminds me of my Dad. Hmmm. Until this very moment, I never saw the connection. It must be the nose!

35mm lens
ISO 200
f/1.8
1/250
SOOC

Day 88—Confessions of a Lousy Housekeeper

Spring Cleaning is an imminent threat, and the long overdue sunshine is pointing out every pile of dust and cobweb hidden for months by the overcast skies. It isn’t prudent, I suppose, to document my shortcomings as a housekeeper. However, my intense interest in photography trumps any embarrassment I might have about the webs and dust in my home, especially if those webs and dust offer an opportunity for a photo of the day. Today’s case in point: the window over the front door has always been a challenge to keep free of cobwebs because it is so high up. The bottom of the window is at least 13 feet from the floor and since I am not one to climb ladders (even 2-step step stools cause my knees to quaver) the cobwebs that collect in and around this window tend to stay there and collect their own dust.

The Sunny f/16 rule seemed to work in this situation.

Lens at 300mm
ISO 200
f/16
1/200
SOOC

Day 87 — A Magpie Mind

“I have a magpie mind. I like anything that glitters.” — Lord Thomson of Fleet

The sun was out today, more than it was behind clouds. I decided it was a good day to go up to the park where I haven’t been to check on the magpies in 5 years, ever since they decided to build the high school behind the park and remove many of the magpies’ nesting trees, majestic valley oak trees that were in the way of “progress.” In 2006, I was a Magpie Monitor for a study UC Davis was conducting on the effects of West Nile Virus on the Yellow Billed Magpie, a bird that lives in the Central Valley of California and no other place on Earth. That spring I followed seven nests and counted 23 surviving chicks.

Today, I was happy to find there were a few pairs of magpies still able to nest in the park, although there are now fewer oaks and those that remain are succumbing to age, weather, and “progress.” I heard the magpies first, and followed the chatter. I watched a group of three (prior year nestlings often hang around for a year or more) as they flew from oak to oak. I never identified their nest site but saw that the oaks held several of the huge stick nests that the magpies refurbish every year.

I liked this photo because the one magpie had just spread his wings to take flight. The next bird down was moving up to the top to follow the first, so he’s a bit out of focus. The colors are fairly accurate because the oaks are just starting to leaf out and they look more yellow than green.

Lens at 200mm
ISO 200
f/8
1/160
SOOC

Day 86—It Came in Like a Lion

Is March going out like a lamb? There was actually a break in the cloud cover off and on today and I came across a small flock of sheep when I took a back route to the store this afternoon. I pulled over and ran across the road to take some photos. This guy and a white one galloped over to greet me and stayed with me as I walked back and forth along the fence line to get some shots.

Lens at 24mm
ISO 200
f/14
1/80
SOOC

Day 85—Disguised, too!

I spent a fabulous day getting reacquainted with my Goddaughter, Caitlin, whom I hadn’t seen in more than 30 years and of course, meeting her two adorable children. Miles enjoyed posing in his newly acquired Groucho disguise. Today was mostly about having fun and getting reacquainted so photography was not my primary focus. But I did learn that even when I am using the camera more as a “point-and-shoot” than as a serious camera, composition and camera adjustments are still critical. I just need to remember to make the appropriate adjustments so I can get decent photos. I think this picture of Miles preparing to become Groucho is priceless.

Lens at 200mm
ISO 3200
f/5.6
1/50
SOOC

Day 84 — Sitting Duck

After failing at several much more interesting photo opportunities this morning (Mady the visiting Golden Retriever, the waning gibbous moon actually visible this morning, even the over-exposed Bobo waxing ecstatic over my brother’s attention) I decided to try playing with light coming through a small stained glass duck. What I had in mind was not what I got but I thought the end result was interesting in that the shallow depth of field made the virtually flat object almost appear three dimensional.

35mm Lens
ISO 1600
f/1.8
1/1600
SOOC

Day 83—Out of a Sow’s Ear?

I’ve never made a silk purse but when I used to sew, I used lots of silk thread. I still have piles of old wooden spools of silk thread and I thought they’d make an interesting composition, especially on this dreary rainy day. Here are a few of those spools. Some are marked 15 cents. I wonder what they would cost now?

35mm lens
ISO 640
f/1.8
1/125
SOOC

Day 82— The Ghost and Mrs. Smith

Today is my Mom’s 94th birthday and I was planning to drive over to Santa Rosa for a family birthday party, but the weather intervened so I stayed home. My decision to stay home was due to three factors: the weather, my step daughter’s concern about my driving in bad weather, and my husband’s ghost. I know that sounds pretty whacky and I guess it is, but let me explain. My husband was a worrier and driving in bad weather was something that always concerned him. His daughter has assumed the role of “worrying about Carol driving” and called me at 6:30 this morning to tell me of her concerns. There are high wind warnings; flood advisories abound; heavy rain is predicted this morning when I would be driving to Santa Rosa; and thunderstorms and hail are predicted for this afternoon when I would be driving home. But, what actually made the decision for me was the appearance of my husband’s ghost. I know that sounds ridiculous but on more than one occasion this phenomenon has occurred and when it has, related events have caused me to associate it with my late husband. So, I now assume that whenever it happens, it is the presence of Ron’s ghost.

This phenomenon is the mysterious illumination of the light on my piano. This light turns on and off by touching the metal. I’ve had the light for years but the mysterious illumination has only occurred a few times and only since my husband’s death. This morning when I came downstairs at 6 AM, the light was on. I was still half asleep and it didn’t register at first. But when I opened the front door to get the newspaper, a blast of wind, rain drops, and oak leaves blew inside. I knew then that the light meant Ron was concerned about my driving in this weather. Then Beckee called with her concerns. So, my picture of the day is my husband’s ghost in the form of the light over my piano.

Lens at 62mm
ISO 400
f/5.6
1/200
SOOC

Day 81 — Specular Highlights

Last night I learned that “bokeh” is photographers’ lingo for Specular Highlights. Bryan Peterson refers to specular highlights as the out of focus points of light in a photograph; he also says the shape is determined by the size of the aperture. The only perfectly round “bokeh” occur when the lens is wide open; any other aperture produces an octagonal reflection. When the sun came out today, I tried to capture this phenomenon, a challenge because the sun drifted in and out behind massive cloud formations.

I don’t know whether the wide open lens is perfectly round. It doesn’t look round to me. In fact, they both look slightly octagonal. The first photo was taken with the largest aperture (f/5.6). I’ll have to experiment with other lenses to see if the bokeh look rounder. I think my 35mm prime lens results in perfectly round bokeh. If the sun comes out again, I may add another post using that lens.

Lens at 200mm
ISO 100
f/5.6
1/160
SOOC

Lens at 200mm
ISO 100
f/11
1/40
SOOC