Day 365—Flight

With this post, I have successfully completed my 365 project, to which I committed myself one year ago. I have taken, and posted to this blog, at least one photo every day for the past 365 days. As I look back, it has been a labor of love and I am now more committed than ever to make myself a better photographer. During this past year I stretched my comfort zone far beyond what I ever imagined I could and I have not only learned more about photography, I have learned more about myself. Most importantly, I have more confidence in myself and my abilities and I am thrilled to be learning a new and challenging skill. This past year, at the request of others, I have taken photos of babies and young children, produced head shots for aspiring actors, shot publicity photos for a blues band, and produced documentation of rescued raptors. I am now feeling comfortable in the role of photographer as I work to improve my expertise.

About 10 percent of the photos I posted this past year were of birds. I posted only two of Bobo. I thought she might be featured in my blog more often, but I found raptors and hummingbirds more compelling. My favorite photo that I took this past year was posted on June 19, 2011, Day 170 Fly Like An Eagle which I took in Friday Harbor, Washington. This photo did not have the best exposure or the best composition (I had to crop it) but it was my first bald eagle photo and I was thrilled to get that capture. I owe its existence to my friend Barbara, with whom I was traveling and who alerted me to the eagle landing in a nearby tree. It is fitting, then, that my photos today are all birds in flight: a great egret, a long-billed curlew, a red-tailed hawk, a snowy egret, and a pair of mallards, sort of representative of my taking wing.

Focal Length 300mm
ISO 100
f/5.6
1/200
Cropped

Day 364—Truthiness

It is Day 364 of my 2011 odyssey to improve my photography skills. I have improved, I think. I have also repeated mistakes over and over. Obviously, I still have much to learn, and I am now more obsessed with photography than when I started. The day after tomorrow will mark the beginning of year two of my impossible quest for even photographic mediocrity, but I am certainly enjoying the journey.

Today’s ODC challenge, “stretching the truth,” has been a difficult one for me. Friends offered a number of suggestions, at least one of which was an X-rated subject so, although I took the photos (of statues) I decided not to use them. 😉 In the end, I decided that I’d stretch the truth with editing. Since my goal for this blog has always been to post photos SOOC (straight out of camera) as much as possible, significant editing of any photo is, for me, stretching the truth, or to use Steven Colbert’s term, “truthiness.” He defines truthiness as “the truth that we want to exist.” When I edit a photo, I try to make it be what I had hoped or expected it to be in the first place, but didn’t quite get my camera settings right for the conditions, so “truthiness” seems to fit.

Here is today’s “truthiness” photo. It is of a small creek by a park in Auburn. I wanted to make the rushing water silky by using a slow shutter speed and I liked the resulting photo but it was just a bit drab so I enhanced the photo to make it pop, using my HDR software.

Focal Length 200mm
ISO 320
f/5.6
1/50
Photomatix HDR

Day 363—Ouch!

Out shopping with a friend this afternoon, we stopped at a nursery so she could buy some long, leather pruning gloves to prevent the painful scratches she got yesterday when she pruned the roses in her garden. While she shopped inside, I wandered among the plants outside in search of a photo that might represent today’s challenge topic, “many.” I came across a large cactus with MANY sharp, pointy (is that redundant?) thorns, perfect for today’s challenge. And if I ever get one of these babies, I’ll be sure to buy some long rose pruning gloves to handle them!

Focal Length 200mm
ISO 100
f/5.6
1/50
SOOC

Day 362—Money Can’t Buy Freedom

Today’s challenge topic is “Money can’t buy . . .” fill in the blank. I thought I would take a spectacular landscape photo for this challenge, perhaps of majestic Mount Shasta or another Sacramento River view, with the title “Money Can’t Buy This View” but after days of beautiful weather, it was overcast this morning with nary a mountain or river in sight. As we left to go on our morning walk, I took a closeup photograph of the flag that graces my brother’s front porch and decided that what money can’t buy is the freedom we all take too much for granted.

I applied a slight curves adjustment to brighten the faded flag colors a bit.

Focal Length 200mm
ISO 200
f/5.6
1/80
WB-Cloudy
Curves

Day 361— Prosecco Inspired

Today’s challenge topic is “Blue.” The photos I took today were uninspiring, even though the views I saw were inspirational. After rejecting all of the photos I took today as unworthy of either this blog or the Flickr challenge, my sister-in-law poured us glasses of Prosecco and suddenly the photos I rejected earlier were not only adequate, but possibly museum quality. So here is the Sacramento River as seen from the Sundial Bridge in Redding, enhanced with my HDR software.

Day 360—The Year of the Eagle

This has been the Year of the Eagle for me. From my Fly Like an Eagle post on Day 170, to my Tesla post on Day 299, to my Bald Eagle post on Day 324, to The Eagle Has Landed post on Day 331 to Hog, I mean Hawk, Heaven on Day 338, to today, I have seen and photographed more eagles, both bald and golden, than I ever expected to see in my lifetime.

So, this afternoon, on another crisp, clear, sunny day in Redding, when four of us ventured out on Lake Shasta (my brother and sister-in-law and her brother and me) in search of bald eagles and fish, I was thrilled when my brother spotted another beautiful eagle, this one a soon-to-be adult (I think it’s called a four year juvenile) with a few remaining dark feathers on his otherwise white head and tail. The fish were not in evidence and an unidentifiable sound, possibly indicating some sort of electrical malfunction, brought us back to the dock long before we wanted to return but not before I photographed this eagle. Here are three of the best, cropped and enhanced because although I tried both manual and automatic settings, they all still required tweaking.

Day 359—Christmas in Afghanistan

Today we all rejoiced when Louis, my grandniece Alexis’s husband, a deployed Marine, called from Afghanistan to wish us all a Merry Christmas. After days of no mail due to sandstorms in Afghanistan, packages from home arrived at Louis’s base this Christmas morning, so Louis and some of his fellow Marines celebrated Christmas today enjoying my brother’s brandy soaked fruit cake and the cigars he sent. Here’s Alexis, thrilled to talk to her husband this morning.

Day 358—Utterly Goofy

This morning as I was bustling around trying to get ready to drive up to Redding, I looked at the basket of remaining lemons where I’d stuck a Happy Face spatula to get it out of the way in the kitchen yesterday. It made me smile and so I wanted to share this utterly goofy sight.

Focal Length 35mm
ISO 100
f/1.8
1/8
SOOC

Day 357—When Life Gives You Lemons . . .

. . .Make Meyer lemon tart! I have dozens of Meyer lemons from my friend Barbara’s tree so this afternoon, I’m making a tart to take up to Redding for dessert Christmas Eve after our Dungeness crab feast. Yum. Today’s Flickr challenge is “what’s making us busy today” so I thought I’d make this an action shot. I couldn’t grate too vigorously, though, because I want only the yellow part of the lemon peel and none of the white pith.

Focal Length 35mm
ISO 100
f/3.2
1/10
SOOC

Day 356—Ah-Choo!

The topic of today’s challenge is “symbol.” I took lots of photos of ubiquitous symbols today at the gym, e.g., women’s room, men’s room, fire extinguisher, handicapped, caution, etc. I even stopped this afternoon and photographed some mistletoe in a tree, although far be it from me to understand why a toxic parasite that kills its host is a holiday symbol that requires anyone under it to be kissed. Late this afternoon, when I was at a loss about what to photograph, I reviewed my photos from this morning at the gym and one suddenly seemed the obvious choice. What better to symbolize the cold and flu season, which is upon us, than a box of Kleenex? I took only one shot of this subject and the depth of field is so shallow that most of the photo is sort of fuzzy but, that’s how you feel when you’ve got a cold or the flu. The photo also shows the “Kleenex” brand which symbolizes, er, well, Kleenex!

Focal Length 35mm
ISO 200
f/1.8
1/50
WB – Automatic…Yay! I remembered to reset it.
SOOC