2013—Day 59—Not A Pretty Picture

This adult Golden Eagle was brought into the clinic run by the California Foundation for Birds of Prey suffering from lead poisoning. The eagle, paralyzed from the effects of ingesting lead, was found in Colusa County and is undergoing treatment at the clinic. It is unknown whether it will survive. Bobo’s vet, Vickie Joseph, called me today to tell me about the eagle and wanted me to take photographs for the CFBP newsletter. The treatment is expensive and long-term. If the eagle survives, it could take a year to recover from the effects of the lead, possibly ingested from eating dabbling ducks that scoop up lead pellets from the bottoms of ponds, or carrion with lead in its system from gunshots or other causes. The eagle cannot stand so it cannot fly. Because it is unable to use its talons, which are clasped tightly, it cannot eat. At the clinic, it is fed small pieces of quail so it doesn’t need to use its feet to eat. Because of the paralysis, the eagle must rest its legs on whatever surface it is on, and wounds can quickly develop, akin, I assume, to bedsores. If wounds develop, it is likely the eagle will have to be put down. As part of the treatment, the eagle’s legs are protected to prevent, to the extent possible, pressure wounds. Dr. Joseph wraps and cushions the legs to prevent this. The last photo is of a red tail hawk with an eye injury, whose wing is restrained (blue tape) to prevent it from flying out of the dog run in which is is housed during its rehabilitation at the clinic. These are not pretty pictures.

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2013—Day 57—Black and White

I’m trying to catch up on my blog and I haven’t been too successful. I crammed six days of breathtaking photos from the Grand Canyon into one post because I was, and still am, a little overwhelmed by my trip. I do plan to post many more of my Grand Canyon shots as I review and edit them. I will still take daily photos but I’m not so sure that I will be posting every day anymore. Since my return, I have seen nothing that I wanted to photograph although I have taken some shots. I am not a landscape photographer but I think I could get the bug to be one. The grand scale of the Grand Canyon has really spoiled me and I hesitate to take and post a throw-away shot as I am sometimes wont to do. Six days away from my blog and from the Internet, which is why I didn’t post to my blog from the Grand Canyon, has made me realize that I really don’t have to do it. I’ll try, but I’m not promising anything. I took this shot on Tuesday morning after my return. I am posting this Wednesday evening. It is clearly not a landscape shot but is the best shot I took yesterday.

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2013—The Grand Canyon With Moose— Days 51—56

From Wednesday of last week through Monday of this week, I was a participant in a photography workshop with Moose Peterson and Kevin Dobler of K and M Adventures and seven other photographers in the Grand Canyon. It was a once in a lifetime experience for many reasons, not the least of which is that I had never previously visited the natural wonder that is the Grand Canyon. In addition, it was a thrill and a privilege to shoot along side Moose Peterson who is a renowned wildlife and landscape photographer and, as a designated Nikon Legend, he is frequently the eye behind the lens to test and feature many of Nikon’s new cameras and lenses, including Nikon’s newest, the D7100.

I was in awe of both the Grand Canyon and Moose from the time we arrived until Monday morning’s last stroll along the rim which was only fifty feet from the Bright Angel Lodge inside the Park where we stayed for five nights. We were up and on the road by 6:15 each morning following the light (drive west for sunrise; drive east for sunset except when we did just the opposite; it’s all about the light). Most mornings were a brisk and invigorating 0 degrees; daytime temperatures reached the high 20’s and low 30’s although I think one afternoon might have been a balmy 40 degrees. The skies and the light changed so quickly that the views of the canyon looked different moment by moment. Morning sunrises featured clear skies or snow flurries or dark clouds or mists or fog. The one midday shoot on Thursday featured no views of the canyon; the snow and mists shrouded it in pure white. Late afternoon sunsets were like mornings: clear skies or snow flurries or dark clouds or mists or fog.

As a result of one of Moose’s comments to me, which comment was, “what is the subject?” when he looked over my shoulder at a shot I took the first morning and I was unable to quickly tell him what it was, I was more selective about what I chose to capture. As a result, I took far fewer photographs that I expected I would take. Despite taking fewer shots, I still have not had the time to review and edit most of the photographs I took. It will take some time to digest all that I learned and to assess the photographs I took.

What an incredible experience I just had though. I was privileged to photograph one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders along side one of today’s most talented wildlife and landscape photographers. I was not ready for the experience to end. The good news is that I will be featuring more of my Grand Canyon photographs in this blog as I have the time to review and edit them. In the mean time, here are just a few of the photographs I took there.

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Grand Canyon Sunday AM Moose

2013—Day 50—We Need The Rain

It’s been raining all day, a long overdue storm that is bringing snow to the foothills. Tomorrow I will be flying into a snow storm in Arizona that will test my new snow gear; but I should be testing it here today; it seems that cold out. We do need the rain, though, and while I was at the Rocklin city offices this afternoon, I noticed these rain drops hanging from a twig. I changed the shot to black and white, then to split tone to eliminate the distracting color of the cars driving by in the background.
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Focal Length 70mm
ISO 100

2013—Day 49—Wild Goose Chase

I took a literal interpretation of today’s Flickr challenge, “Wild Goose Chase.” I heard the flock of Canada Geese that resides across the street from Famous Mo’s on the land that used to be the Big Gun Quarry in Rocklin, so I grabbed my camera and headed over, in pursuit of my photo of the day. The geese tolerated me for about five minutes while I stalked them, until finally, one couldn’t stand it any longer and took flight. I felt a little like Euell Gibbons whose books from the ’60’s and ’70’s all contained some form of stalking something wild. Next I’ll have to go in search of wild hickory nuts, the flavor he attributed to Grape-Nuts when he was their spokesman. But, I digress.

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2013—Day 48, Part 2—Avian Meerkats?

I just had to post this shot I took a few minutes ago. Those adorable little bushtits that flit from tree to tree peeping constantly came through my yard late this afternoon and decided to bathe. I grabbed my camera and ran out, sitting a few feet from the fountain. Of course they all left when I appeared but one by one they came back down; when I clicked the shutter release, they again disappeared into the azalea behind the fountain but then, one by one, they reappeared, finally acclimating to the sound of my shutter release. They bathed for about five minutes, then someone revving an obscenely loud engine, pulled up to the signal on the other side of my wall and the bushtits were gone—but not before I got a couple of good shots. I had to increase the ISO to 500 because it was getting dark out and decrease the shutter speed but I think my new lens and Nikon’s newest VR lives up to its hype because I handheld this shot at 1/30 of a second.

This shot reminded me of the meerkats in “Meerkat Manor” they way they’re all standing rigid and on the alert. How cute are they?

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2013—Day 48—The New Green

I probably should save this for St. Paddy’s Day but since I took this shot this morning, I’m using it today. I was outside briefly in pursuit, yes once again, of my lovely hummers. But this morning, they were cavorting while the fountain was in bright sun so I was anxious to get them in natural light, not as I have been doing recently, with flash. But I had to switch lenses, changing to my new 70-200mm lens, and by the time I got out there, the hummers had decided they were clean enough. While I waited futilely for their return, I took a few shots of the rosemary and I liked the view of the single stalk emerging from the dark background. It was only after I had taken several that I realized I had my WB set to Tungsten, left over from my indoor ice cream shot last evening. But for some reason I couldn’t recapture the interest of those first few shots after changing the WB to fine weather. When I downloaded them and changed the WB in Lightroom, I decided I preferred the deep, bluish green created with the tungsten WB instead of the yellower green produced using the fine weather setting. The other interesting thing to me is that the shot has its own vignette so I didn’t need to add one to set off the sprig of rosemary.

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Focal Length 200mm
ISO 100
WB Tungsten

2013—Day 47—Karamel Sutra

A year has gone by since I last featured ice cream and this multi-colored martini glass/ice cream sundae dish. If you click here you can see the point of view I used on February 18, 2012, when my Flickr group’s challenge was “full-framed.” Today’s challenge is “multicolor” and I reached for these colorful Mexican goblets to fill with my Ben and Jerry’s Karamel Sutra ice cream that I purchased tonight on my way home from a frustrating incident at The Apple Store. Adding to my frustrations was the discovery that the ice cream I lusted after, a Häagen-Dazs flavor with caramel, chocolate chunks, and sea salt and that is as orgasmic as Ben and Jerry’s name pretends to be, was no longer available so I made do. The dribble of ice cream down the side of the glass didn’t look as good as I thought it would but it turned out to outline the edge for a better defined subject. When I took shots of the glass with an ordinary background, it looked uninteresting so I placed it on a black broiler pan and then placed a black back drop behind. I guess you don’t normally see ice cream photographed on black but I kind of like the results.

The other thing about this shot is that I finally used the CF card slot in my D800 and this shot was taken using that card. The D800 has an SD and a CF slot and I decided to get one for my Grand Canyon trip next week because it is supposedly a faster card. Not that I need to worry about the Grand Canyon running away from me but I decided I needed to take full advantage of my camera’s features.

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Focal Length 36mm
ISO 100
WB Tungsten


Today was a momentous day at Famous Mo’s Coffeehouse & Theater. We poured concrete into the cavernous trenches that have been the bane of our existence for the past several months. Digging the trenches was one of the first things we did in anticipation of getting our building permit and first inspection; at the time, we had no idea the process would be drawn out for so many months. I have been worried that someone would fall into one and be seriously injured. Several of us have stumbled into them on more than one occasion and a few visitors have come dangerously close to backing into one but we have been lucky and no one has suffered an injury as a result of one of the holes in the floor. I heaved a sigh of relief to see our concrete finisher, Felipe, who has been plying this trade for more than twenty five years, screed and smooth the surface of the wet concrete to a beautiful, smooth finish.

I set my camera on a box on the floor and took this shot facing into what will be our kitchen at Famous Mo’s. Today’s topic on my Flickr group is ‘leading lines’ and I think the light reflected on the wet concrete swath at the middle and the line at the edge of the concrete on the left, both lead the eye into and through the shot.

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2013—Day 45—Anatomy of a Sandwich

Since I will soon be opening a restaurant that features sandwiches, today’s post features one of the sandwiches we will serve: Mo’s Big Gunn Meat Combo, named after the quarry that once flourished across the street from where Famous Mo’s will open and where Famous Mo himself once tarried in the quarry pits. Yesterday a representative of Hormel foods gave us samples of many of the meats we want to feature, including two pound packages of turkey, roast beef, ham, and pastrami. Truckee Sourdough Bread Company will be providing most of our fresh bread and will deliver it to us daily from Truckee. On Monday, they brought some bread for us to try. I divvied up the meats and distributed them to the crew to take home and took some home to make sandwiches for them today. This is a long loaf made from the same dough that their Ciabatta bread is made from and since it was Thursday, and the bread was no longer super fresh, I decided to see if it would make a decent sandwich. Mo’s Big Gunn Meat Combo includes sliced turkey, ham, roast beef, cheddar cheese, sliced onion, tomato, Romaine lettuce, mayonnaise, and whole grain Dijon mustard on a French roll. This version substituted the slightly stale Ciabatta bread and added some fresh avocado. It was actually quite tasty; everyone liked it but decided it needed more meat.

After reviewing the shots, which I took hurriedly in hopes of using them for the website, I realize that once again I place the lens too close to the subject so they are not in tack sharp focus and I used too shallow a depth of field for a food shot. I think if one wants to display food at its best, it is probably better to have more of the food in focus than appears in these shots. Live and learn. My favorite shot is the second shot, probably because it has the best focus of all three and it is brighter than the others. I did some post processing of these shots but after reviewing them, I think I needed to do more. But, I don’t have time at the moment so they’re going to have to suffice.

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2013—Day 44—Lights, Camera, Action

After Bobo alerted me to the danger this morning, I chased the neighbor’s cat away from the fountain as it crouched waiting to pounce on the hummers who were trying to bathe. They squeaked at me and seemed to appreciate that their bath was now safe for the time being so I put my new lens on the camera, attached the speed light, set it on the tripod, TURNED VR OFF (!) and sat further away than I can with my other lenses and captured a few shots. I got only one keeper using the tripod but when I took the camera off the tripod, and TURNED THE VR BACK ON, I got my favorite shot of the morning.

I handheld this shot with VR on, f/4, 1/60, Speedlight

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I took this shot using the tripod, VR off, f/4, 1/50, Speedlight

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2013—Day 43—Fill the Frame with Fruit

Fill the Frame with Fruit when you have no other subject at hand. I had bananas, D’Anjou pears, and Fuji apples, my go-to eating-out-of hand fruits that I keep all the time. Instant photo subject. I piled them in a bowl, put the camera on the tripod, went to turn off the VR function which you’re supposed to turn off when your camera is on the tripod, as my photo buddy, Melinda, reminded me and I was surprised to see that my 24-70mm lens has no VR switches at all. I guess I’m going to have to examine my lenses more closely if I want to continue to call myself a photographer. I should know my equipment better than I seem to know it. I took shots at various apertures and decided that the f/16 shot was the most effective. When the lens was wide open at f/2.8, the pear was out of focus as were parts of the banana and the apple and I didn’t think it was effective on this shot so I went with the deeper depth of field.

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Focal Length 70mm
ISO 100
2 seconds
WB Tungsten

2013—Day 42—Sparky

I had to experiment with exposure settings to get these shots of the sparks flying as Jesse cut rebar at Famous Mo’s this morning. I wanted a dark exposure to show the sparks but I discovered it’s not easy figuring out where to focus the lens to capture the sparks at their sharpest and brightest. In the end, I had to adjust the settings in Lightroom, increasing contrast, clarity, and highlights to give the effect I wanted. I had the lens wide open and a very high shutter speed for the first shot; I stopped the lens down to f/16, shutter speed 1/160 for the other two.

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Focal Length 70mm
ISO 100

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Focal Length 70mm
ISO 100

In Focus Daily (1 of 2)

Focal Length 70mm
ISO 100

2013—Day 41—Bald

I splurged on a new lens to take on my trip to the Grand Canyon on February 20. I picked it up yesterday at Action Camera and went out today in search of subjects to try out the lens. What I learned today was not a new thing but rather a reminder: Be sure to read, and understand, the manual before, not after you return home from, the photo shoot.

My new lens is an AF-S Nikkor 70-200 f/4G ED VR lens. It is one of Nikon’s newest lenses and I opted for it, instead of the 70-200 f/2.8 lens, for a number of reasons: 1) price ($1000 less); 2) weight (3o oz. vs. 54.3 oz.); and 3) 3rd generation Vibration Reduction. All the reviews I’ve read praised its clarity, speed, and VR. I use a Nikon D800, which I love, and I am obsessed about focus. The latest VR is supposed to be far better than previous generations. I know it is but I was so anxious to see how my new lens performed that I failed to spend a few minutes reading the manual (the pages in English number only 10 for Pete’s sake) or examining the actual lens and its switches thoroughly. As a result, my settings weren’t where they were supposed to be so I was disappointed with the results. If only I’d taken the time to examine both the lens and the manual, I might have had a bit more success and the shot of the bald eagle I encountered just a couple of miles from my home, would have been great instead of just so-so. It was only after I returned home that I realized I should have changed the VR switch from normal to active because I was moving as were my subjects. This switch is on a couple of my other lenses but I never think to change it. I hope today’s experience gets me to pay more attention to all the settings on the lens, not just the exposure triangle settings on the camera.

Despite my disappointment in my performance today, the good news is that I even FOUND a bald eagle so near. I drove to the rice fields in Sutter County, just a couple of miles from my house. I often see hawks in the area and today was no exception. I saw kestrels, a white tailed kite, a ferruginous hawk, lots of harriers, I think I even saw a prairie falcon and I took photos of several of these raptors and some egrets and a flock of greater white-fronted geese. As I drove home thinking I had some great shots of the geese as they lifted off from the pond I stopped by, I noticed a large white-headed bird flying low over another pond. Luckily for me, there was a pullout. I grabbed my camera and crossed the road and watched in amazement as a juvenile (according to Sibley’s probably a 3rd year juvenile) bald eagle flying around a large pond, being harrassed by lots of other birds. He stayed long enough for me to get quite a few shots. I hope I can find him again now that I know what to do to improve my chances of getting a more in focus shot. I cropped the first three shots; the last shows the setting.

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2013—Day 40—Reflecting

This morning I noticed that one of the alstroemeria flowers in the bouquet with the lilies I featured in my blog yesterday had fallen away from its stem and lay on the windowseat, probably the result of my yanking flowers around last evening so that I could get the best point of view for my pistil and stamen shot. I liked the reflection it had on the windowseat and took several shots without moving it. After announcing that I preferred the black background as more dramatic in yesterday’s post, I discovered that the glossy background of the shellacked wood created an almost white background. I enhanced the white background on this shot by adding a white vignette and further changed the shot by reflecting the photo on its horizontal axis. I think this shot is every bit as dramatic as the shot I posted yesterday and just as lovely.

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2013—Day 39—Emerging

The pistils and stamens of the lilies in a bouquet of flowers on my window seat keep calling to me for some reason. On one of the lilies, the petals curled back away from them and they were exposed and seemed to be emerging and calling attention to themselves. It was dark outside so the window made a perfect background to showcase them. Instead of cropping severely, I used a vignette to emphasize their emergence and de-emphasize the petals. I do seem to prefer black backgrounds to white. They offer more drama.

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Focal Length 70mm
ISO 100
1/5 second
WB Tungsten

Day 38—New Inspiration

My friend Melinda has inspired me to join a new on-line photography group that has weekly challenges for the coming year. It is Kim Klassen’s Beyond Beyond which is a class focused on inspiring creativity and to help participants learn and grow as we continue to try to master photographic challenges. It is not so much a class about technique, although she offers some of that, but rather ways to creatively apply techniques we already know to improve our photography and our finished photographs. I’m looking forward to learning and creating. Kim is well versed in Photoshop and Lightroom and loves to create beautiful and often ethereal images using textures and other techniques. I joined the group as the third week began. This week’s challenge asked us to try using different focus areas on a subject with a shallow depth of field. Then, she showed us how to create a collage in Lightroom to showcase our results.

I was inspired by a lichen covered oak tree branch and used different focal points on the same area of the branch. I love the textures and the light and of course the bokeh that the shallow depth of field creates. These shots were all taken with my 24-70mm lens with a 70mm focal length, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/125 and WB set to fair weather. The late afternoon sun created ideal lighting for my subject. They required minimal processing.

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2013—Day 37—Foggy Morning Drops

Thick tule fog engulfed my neighborhood this morning. The walking path I sometimes take when Mady visits was veiled in damp, dense mist. I walked down it in search of an intriguing shot and found interesting dewy twigs, seed heads, and leaves. I love each of these shots. They were all shot with the lens wide open at f/2.8 for a shallow depth of field, the ISO at 100, and the shutter speed at 1/640 because of the brightness of the light reflecting off the fog. They are all cropped but otherwise required very little processing.

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2013—Day 36—Hope For Spring

My hardenbergia always sneaks into bloom. It is usually one of the first plants to flower. One day I’ll look out the window and it is already resplendent in dazzling purple cascades of tiny sweet pea shaped blossoms. Today, I caught its spring preparations. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed it with just the buds, probably because it happens when the weather is overcast and gloomy. Late this afternoon, with the sky bright and sunny and a slight warmth to the air, I wandered though my yard in search of a subject. When I walked around to the side of my house, the sun caught the purple buds as they nodded in the slight breeze. As I walked around the vine (I think it’s a vine—it has tendrils with which it clings tightly to my fence) and looked into the dipping sun, I knew that this was the view I wanted. I couldn’t decide which of these two shots I liked best so I’m posting both. A Flickr challenge from a few days ago was “hope.” These buds show there is hope for spring, despite the fact that spring is still about six weeks away.

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Focal Length 70mm
ISO 100

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Focal Length 70mm
ISO 100

2013—Day 35—Pink

When I noticed that one of the Flickr challenges from a few days ago was “pink” I knew it would be an easy challenge to complete. My pinking shears are perfect for this challenge and I had some pink felt to emphasize the point. It would have been better if my hand had appeared in the shot I don’t feel like to retaking it since once again I am in a cold drug induced fog. This will have to do.

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