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.

Day 266—I Do It Every Day

Today’s challenge theme is “the everyday.” I presume that means the mundane things that one does day after day. Well, every day I zin! When I saw this metal sign in a little wine shop we visited in Cambria last week, I knew I had to get it for Mo’s. Until Mo’s is ready, it resides in my house atop my eagle photo. I photographed it today, however, on white paper hoping to get interesting shadows. My lights weren’t intense enough so I tried my off-camera flash but I couldn’t remember how to get it to flash in remote mode and didn’t want to take the time to review. And, that is precisely why I don’t remember—I don’t take the time to figure out how to do it so I will remember. I chose the shot with the best shadows then fiddled in Lightroom, adding the “yesteryear” preset, a vignette, and grain even though when I took the shot, I made sure the focus was tack sharp and that I captured every nuance of the ragged, rusty metal. I could have used my old Kodak 126 for the grainy result I got.

Day 265—Endeavour

This morning I joined a throng of excited Californians as the Space Shuttle Endeavour made its majestic final flight over California’s Capitol atop a modified Boeing 747 on its way to permanent display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The crowd around me grew anxious as Endeavour was about 15 minutes late. Then, suddenly and without fanfare at 9:48AM Endeavour lumbered into view. It was huge, loud, and flew low over Capitol Mall then as quickly as it arrived, it disappeared behind a tree. I was standing in the median near the State Library and Courts building, facing west when the crowd grew silent then cheered as Endeavour came into view and just a quickly disappeared behind the canopy of trees. Thanks to one of the TV cameramen, we knew which way to face to capture the shot, then knew to wait a few minutes as Endeavour made a loop over Roseville and Fair Oaks, then reappeared at 9:55 and flew behind the Capitol. It was escorted by an F16 fighter jet that I didn’t see on the first fly by, and actually didn’t see on the second fly by until I downloaded the shots. It was an exciting event to be a part of but I hadn’t planned to go and I drove downtown on a whim after reading an article about it in this morning’s Bee. And, as fate would have it, today’s challenge theme is “whimsical” and while this is not a whimsical shot nor is the subject whimsical, I was there on a whim and I really lucked out because I found a parking place nearby, I confidently strode to the median where another photographer had set up a tripod, and I acted like I knew what I was doing.

I made no adjustments to the first two shots other than to remove the spots in the blue sky that indicate my sensor is in dire need of cleaning. The shot of the shuttle behind the capital required a little additional tweaking as I faced into the morning sun as the lens flare indicates.

Day 264—Breakfast Of Champions

Well, not really. Bobo isn’t exactly a champion and this isn’t exactly Wheaties. But it is a healthy breakfast treat for Bobo. Bobo’s Parrot Pot Pies are a mixture of ground almonds, whole wheat flour, red and white quinoa, corn meal, red palm oil, carrots, zucchini, eggs with their shells, pumpkin puree, and any other healthy grain or vegetable I happen to have on hand when I bake them for her. They contain lots of vitamin A and other essential nutrients that a she needs to maintain health and to ensure that she doesn’t lose the bone-crushing power in that can-opener beak! Today’s challenge theme is “breakfast.”

Focal Length 66mm
ISO 1000

Day 263—It’s All In How You Look At It

Today’s challenge theme is “glass” and I knew right away that I’d photograph a water glass, either half full or half empty, depending on how you look at it. I see the glass as half full because I am by nature positive and I always try to find the best part of any situation. But it’s okay if you view it as half empty. There’s the same amount of water in it no matter how you see it. This afternoon, I had the luxury of a little time to think about my photo and to try for something other than a “grab” shot or a “snapshot” as most of my photos have been this past month. I remembered that I tried this type of photograph in February when I photographed some empty bottles with Hard Water Spots. I reread the post because I had forgotten how I achieved that look. The lighting is very different in late winter than it is in late summer so the effect is not quite the same but I like the shot. And this time, I placed the glass on a piece of glass to get a reflection.

Focal Length 70mm
ISO 100
3 seconds
Auto WB

Day 262—White On Black

I think I set a record today. Got home from a doctor’s appointment at 6 PM; as I pulled into the driveway, I noticed that one of my Betty Boop roses looked interesting, it is mostly white, today’s challenge theme is “white” and I hadn’t yet taken a single photo today. I walked into the house, dropped off the mail, removed my camera from camera tote, opened Bobo’s cage and turned off the parrot sitter video, reset my camera to the settings I wanted to achieve the look I sought (ISO 100, f/22, 1/125), took seven shots of two different roses, went back into the house, downloaded photos, cropped and changed photo number 7, the last shot, to black and white. As I write it is 6:07 PM. And now I have to choke something down and drive up to Auburn for my camera club meeting.

Day 261—The Industrial Look

Famous Mo’s is emerging from the rubble. There is still much work to be done but the background structure is coming to life. The ceiling sports an industrial look that seems to be so popular these days. We have a concrete ceiling with concrete joists because the building was built as a bank. The black-painted joists are visible parallel to the bright red diagonal duct. We decided to feature the duct work in the red color from our logo. It looks brighter than it really is because it’s still wet and there is a bright light shining on it. In the second shot, Rich, in the foreground, paints the ducts with a long roller while Jesse, in the background, spray paints the fans and light fixtures he just wired and hung.

Day 260—Just A Little Dotty

Today I had planned to catch up on things but the Digital Goddesses had something else in mind for me. I spent 3 hours at the Apple store this afternoon, trying to sort out why my Time Capsule backup no longer had any of my backups and why my September photos (except for those I thankfully had on my laptop from the Thelma and Louise adventure) had completely disappeared and could not be found by me, Lightroom, or the Apple Genius. I was distraught because I had lost hundreds of shots I took at the request of the California Foundation for Birds of Prey and that I had planned to use for the upcoming CFBP newsletter. I lost faith in my two year old 2 terabyte backup even though the Apple guy got it to start backing up again. Now have a new 3T Time Machine backup drive with plans to purchase another 4T to 6T backup for my photos. I was feeling a bit dotty as I left the Apple store at about 6 PM and I saw a display of gum balls and candy in round dispensers. I remembered that today’s daily challenge theme is “dots” and these seemed to fit in perfectly.

I couldn’t decide which I liked the best so I’m posting 3. I cropped each one and made a few other minor adjustments. Once again, I had my current lens of choice, my 24-70mm.

Day 259—Overgrown

After ten days of scenic overload, I’m home. I have spent the day taking care of long neglected bills and birds (I had to pick up Bobo at the Clinic where I board her when I’m gone); doing laundry; checking in on Famous Mo’s tenant improvement progress (much progress but nothing photo-worthy yet) and reviewing menu ideas, many of which I found on my Thelma and Louise trip; and reviewing personal and business mail. Late this afternoon, as I returned from the mailbox with my four pounds of mostly junk mail that arrived in my absence, I realized I hadn’t taken a photograph yet today. So, I visited my Flickr Daily Challenge group to get an idea. Today’s theme is “grow.” While I was gone things in my garden either grew (my thai basil is exploding); languished from lack of attention (my three tomato plants are starting to look sad and are producing only a few tomatoes now); or died form lack of water (my kumquat bit the dust). The most promising for the “grow” challenge seemed to be the thai basil which has outgrown its tiny pocket in the strawberry jar, flowered and gone to seed, so that’s what I photographed.

I used my 24-70mm lens which I am loving. I used it for the majority of the shots I took on the Thelma and Louise trip.

ISO 100

I made white balance adjustments, increased exposure by 1/3 stop, increased contrast, and blacks.

Day 258—Thelma And Louise 2012: Day 10- End Of The Road

The adventures of Thelma and Louise 2012 have come to an end. We left Treebones this morning and drove for about 5 hours up Highway 1 to San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge and on to Santa Rosa. I dropped Honora off and left for home about 3:30, expecting to arrive about 5:30. I don’t know what I was thinking. Friday afternoon traffic plus a number of accidents on I-80 kept me on the road another three and a half hours. I pulled into my driveway at 7PM. We had a memorable trip down and then back up Coast Highway 1. Every day was an adventure and there was never a dull moment. We reconnected with old teachers and friends, made some new friends, explored places we’d never been, experienced things we’d never done, were surrounded by glorious scenery, enjoyed indescribably delicious food, and had a wonderful time. We talked and laughed and drove and had the kind of journey we hoped we have. But on day 10, we were ready to go home. It was Honora’s turn to drive; I took only a few shots today, and I took most of them through dirty car windows. As we left Treebones about 9 this morning, the fog was thick. It hugged the highway much of the way through Big Sur. There were brief moments when the fog lifted but only briefly. But, by the time we reached San Francisco, the sun was out.

These are my favorite shots from today. I straightened a couple of the shots slightly but made no other adjustments. I just didn’t have it in me to fiddle with the photos. I took the first shot while we were stopped near Limekiln waiting for the pilot car to lead us through the bridge construction site where they are straightening a kink in the road by building a bridge. We surmised it was partly to eliminate the zig in the road but also to avoid one of the rock slide areas. I wonder how they attach the wire mesh used to retain the rocks and prevent them from landing on the roadway? The second and third shots show a bit of the fog that hugged the ground and lifted slightly. The last is the Golden Gate Bridge in the side mirror of the car. It symbolizes that our wonderful 2012 road trip is behind us.

Day 257 Part 2—Thelma And Louise 2012 Day 9: Big Sur

I managed to get my wits about me today and I drove from Treebones north to the top of Big Sur and then down again, despite my fear of heights and cliffs. We drove most of the day and I didn’t drive us off a cliff. We drove in an out of thick fog banks and rarely saw the water today. We had lunch at Nepenthe, thanks to a friend who recommended it; the carrot ginger soup was delicious and the views from the restaurant are stunning. We stopped at a few other places along the way and pulled over often to enjoy the views and take photos. Here are a few of my favorite shots from Big Sur today.

The view from Nepenthe and the whimsical scenic viewing area:

And, one of the bridges that spans one of the gorges we crossed.