Day 274—Lookin’ Gnarly

Today’s challenge theme is “gnarly” so when I went out to photograph my live oak’s gnarly bark, I wasn’t expecting the tree to be looking back at me. I kept finding more and more gnarly eyes so here is just a sampling of what was watching me as I photographed. I found a barn owl’s eye; an elephant’s eye; a bison eye with nose; a pair of eyes that reminded me of one of Picasso’s disjointed faces so I enhanced the eyes a bit and now it looks like a creature from the underworld; and finally, and my favorite, a Cyclops. I guess that’s why they call it a live oak!!!!!

Day 273—Bees Do It

The bees are swarming all over my xylosma shrubs which in early fall are covered with tiny greenish flowers. It’s nice to see so many bees here as they seemed to have almost disappeared in recent years. I tried two different lenses on the bees today with comparable settings. I took the first shot with my 28-300mm lens wide open (f/5.6), ISO 200, and with a fast shutter set at 1/1250. I used my 24-70mm lens wide open (f/2.8) also at 1/1250 and ISO 200. Both shots are cropped. I really like the first shot but sadly, it has an impaling merger that detracts while in the second shot the bee’s posture is not as interesting but the overall composition is better. I kept upping the shutter speed hoping to stop one in flight but I didn’t succeed and by the time I was at 1/5000, the bees all stayed in the shade so an inflight shot was impossible to capture with so little light. I did capture a nice shadow, though, on an in focus, although overexposed, leaf.

[Editor’s Note: I learned something about my lenses after reviewing (and posting) these shots. When I reviewed both of the original, unedited photos side by side I discovered that the bee image in both of the shots is almost identical in size even though the first was taken with a 300mm lens and the second with a 70mm lens. The 70mm lens allows me to focus more closely to my subject so I guess that is why but I was somehow surprised at this. I have so much to learn about photography.]

Original shot:

Original shot:

And, of course, the shadow shot:

Dat 272—Empty Chair

I took lots of photos today; I took photographs of items that we won’t be using at Famous Mo’s and that we plan to liquidate. I hadn’t planned to post any of those photos that I took today to my blog but I kept being drawn back to this shot. It is just an ordinary chair but it looks rather forlorn, sad, and very empty against Mo’s currently funky floor and wall. To emphasize that forlorn look and the funkiness of the background, I changed the shot to black and white and added some grain. It’s too bad the chair wasn’t ratty; it would have added to the funky old feeling of the shot.

Day 271—Twisted With A Twist

Today’s challenge theme is “twist.” Earlier today while I was on the phone at Famous Mo’s, I absent-mindedly twisted a discarded piece of copper wire I picked up from the construction chaos surrounding me and I suddenly realized a photo of this little piece of wire could meet the challenge. Although I had my Nikon D800 with me, as I always do, I decided to take the photo with my iPhone. So, this twisted wire represents not only a “twist” for the challenge, but a twist for my blog because it is the first ever iPhone photo I have posted to this blog. I tried to crop the subject in camera but didn’t succeed because some of the text from a piece of paper the wire was on shows in the corner. For the most part, however, I like the composition and the shadow created by the window across the room. I made no edits to this shot, mainly because I was too tired take the time to figure out how to export the photo into Lightroom.

Another reason I was uninspired to take any photos today is that I received a phone call from the California Foundation for Birds of Prey, telling me that the juvenile Cooper’s hawk I rescued a couple of nights ago (I thought it might have been a Sharp shinned hawk) and blogged about in a post I titled Pair Of Gloves To The Rescue had to be euthanized due to the severity of its injuries. It had a compound fracture of one wing and a hole in its chest, the result of a gun shot. I was devastated to hear this information and I have still not recovered from the news. I have brought in close to 20 hawks in the past year and a half and sadly most have had injuries too severe to survive, but getting confirmation that this hawk had been shot saddened, angered, and devastated me.

Day 270—Climb Safely

Late this afternoon, as the workday at Famous Mo’s was winding down, I volunteered to help identify an electrical circuit so long as it didn’t require brute force or climbing. Well, it involved climbing so I was quickly dismissed as a potential candidate for this job and Tim took over. I laughed as I realized his tee shirt contained the phrase “Climb Safely” as he was perched atop a 14 foot ladder. I took a few shots doing something potentially as dangerous for me, laying on the ground, pointing the camera up. I’m lucky I managed to get back onto my feet without incident. And I’m happy to report there were no mishaps resulting from the ladder climb, either.

Day 269—Pair Of Gloves To The Rescue

Early this evening, seconds before I opened a bottle of Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin (for I hadn’t yet zinned today), the California Foundation for Birds of Prey called to see if I was available to rescue an injured hawk 30 miles away in south Sacramento in the middle of rush hour traffic. Since my driving ability was not yet impaired, I accepted the assignment. It was an injured hawk in someone’s backyard; it had been there all day and couldn’t fly; they speculated that the bird had been shot in the wing. I was about four miles into the trip when the women called and told me they couldn’t find the bird. She’d sent her husband out to help me by corralling it, ready for my arrival because it was starting to get dark. I advised her to keep an eye out for the hawk and that I would come anyway. A few minutes before I was scheduled to arrive, she called excitedly to tell me that they had found the hawk in the yard. Of course when I arrived, they had once again lost sight of it. The husband carried a large fishing net and I asked him not to use it unless we had to because I didn’t want to deal with extricating the hawk’s talons from the net. After about ten minutes, we located the hawk and I approached the frightened creature prepared to cover it with a towel but despite its injuries and inability to fly, it moved like lightening and scurried past me in a flash—into the man’s fishing net! What a feisty sharp shinned hawk this is. I was able to easily remove it from the net and place it into my picnic basket, placing the basket on the floor of the front seat of my car and holding the top down with my pilates mat. The little guy jumped and struggled during the 40 minute ride to the clinic and while I waited for a veterinarian to take the bird from me, he managed to move the lid of the basket quite forcefully several times. I hope that means he will survive but I do not yet know the extent of his injuries.

When I returned to my car and placed the carrier and towels into the trunk, the pair of leather gloves I use in my hawk rescues were still laying where I tossed them in the trunk. I realized that I hadn’t yet taken a photo today, and I remembered that today’s daily challenge was “pair,” so I took a few shots. This pair of gloves did indeed come to the rescue today. . . along with a fishing net.

Focal Length 50mm
ISO 1000

Day 268—Monday Morning Garden Whimsy

I’m taking some time away from the gym to let my knee heal; I have no clue what’s wrong. The doctor says it’s arthritis but I think I pulled something; I’m waiting for the x-ray results. So, this morning when I would normally be at the gym, I wandered into the yard to see what I could see. A number of things caught my fancy: a reflection of some leaves in the bowl of a small garden ornament; a glistening amber colored drop of something that is probably killing my crape myrtle; rose hips on Winsome; a knot in one of the posts of my redwood pergola.

Day 267—Part 2—Just Because I Can’t Resist a Moon Shot

It’s not a full moon but the half moon was so crisp and bright and clear this evening that I had to shoot it. My shot isn’t as crisp and clear as I would like but a few Lightroom tweaks made it better. I still haven’t figured out how to keep the camera completely still when it’s on the tripod wtih the long lens. It still jiggles a bit, even using timed release. Another problem to figure out.

Day 267—Spider

One of my favorite kitchen tools is my spider. I use it for straining pasta, skimming broth, or retrieving hammocks (ed. note: only when I’m cooking outside ;-)! yikes, that auto speller sure has a mind of its own! I typed ham hocks) and veggies when I make soup. I love soup. I haven’t been doing any cooking lately. I was away for ten days and since my return, I have spent most of my time worrying about Famous Mo’s, not cooking. But yesterday was the autumnal equinox and fall means soup! So, I plan to start cooking steaming pots of soup and then my spider will get a workout. Today’s challenge theme is “in the kitchen” and I think the shape of the spider makes an interesting subject. And, using a large aperture, I got lots of bokeh.