2013—Day 149—The Thing About Sunsets

The thing about sunsets in the Grand Canyon, when you are viewing the canyon from the South Rim as we were in February because the North Rim is closed in the winter, is that the sun is mostly behind you. Until my visit to the Grand Canyon, whenever I thought of photographing a sunset, I pictured the intense orangey red of the sun dipping behind a mountain or the sea as the sky changed color. At the Grand Canyon, the one time a few of us faced away from the Canyon to photograph the sun as it dipped in the west, Moose smirked at us and looked back over his shoulder as the setting sun splashed its light and bathed the layers of this geological marvel with unimaginable color. We all turned back to where the real photograph was, humbled by that lesson.

I brought only one camera and lens with me on this particular day. Everyone in the group was taking time lapse sequences and I was reticent to relinquish my only camera to a tripod letting the camera’s intervalometer take control. Almost on a whim, and without really assessing the scene or my lens, I decided to try a time lapse so I set up on the rim and took my chances. The sequence started at 4:52PM and ended at 6:33PM. I focused mostly on the canyon rocks instead of the sky because there were no clouds to speak of which was fortunate because the drama was on the rocks, not in the sky. The lens I used was the 70-200mm f/4 set at 70mm. While at the Grand Canyon, I discovered that wide angle lenses produced the most spectacular shots. I can only imagine what this would have looked like with my 24-70mm lens set at 24mm, or at 14mm lens which was the lens of choice of many of my fellow workshop particpants.

After about an hour, Moose realized I was camera-less and allowed me to use his Nikon D800 and Bob, one of my fellow students, loaned me his 24-70 lens. I was happy not to be wandering aimlessly, peeking at my camera and watching it click every 30 seconds. Today, as I processed these shots, I noticed that the metadata from the camera indicates that the “creator” of this photograph is B. Moose Peterson! Ha! Does this mean that I have an original Moose Peterson photograph? This is a Grand Canyon sunset, Moose Peterson style and from Moose’s camera, taken by Carol Smith. I took this shot about 5 minutes before the end of the time lapse.

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And this is my first attempt at time lapse photography. It is not quite as dramatic as the other time lapse I posted a couple of days ago because the movement in it is very subtle, the clouds are almost nonexistent, but the dramatic color changes are striking.

2013—Day 148—Right Brain

I spent Memorial Day working on the books. Mo’s books. I hate numbers; I was never good at math; I am a creative person but creating the books for Mo’s has almost finished me off. Late yesterday afternoon, after immersing myself (somewhat successfully) into Quickbooks for 6 straight hours, I decided I had to take a break. I poured myself a glass of wine (Hot To Trot, a lovely red blend from 14 Hands Winery in Washington state),scooped some goat cheese onto a few rosemary raisin pecan Raincoast Crisp crackers, and settled myself onto a patio chair, my fountain gurgling soothingly just a few feet from me. Despite the time of year, it was cloudy and the air was crisp. My D800 was nestled in my lap. I was ready for some right brain activities. When I heard the hummer’s squeaky sounds, I was prepared. I snapped just a few but these three were in pretty acceptable focus with the 70-200 lens. I haven’t seen the hummers at the feeders for a long time. It was nice to take a little time to enjoy them.

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2013—Day 147—By The Dawn’s Early Light . . .And Too Much Coffee

Memorial Day. Up early. Raise the Flag. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Read Melinda’s blog. Gotta do this orb thing again. I tried it a couple of years ago when I took an on-line Photoshop class but forgot about it until Melinda started posting orb pix. Cannot resist. In honor of today, I’m posting one of the shots I took after I raised the Flag. And photo of a Flag I took at the Grand Canyon in February. . . orb-itized!!

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2013—Grand Canyon Time Lapse

Hurray! Huzzah! At last!! I finally have a time lapse video.

On the Grand Canyon photo shoot in February, Moose Peterson encouraged us to shoot time lapse sequences. My Nikon D800 has a built-in intervalometer which allows the user to set the camera on a tripod and shoot a series of photographs at specified intervals for a specified period of time. We were all excited to see the results of our time lapse sequences but sadly, I was the only participant who failed to get the time lapse sequence to work properly after post processing. I tried it again a couple of days later. Again, with no results. I inquired of Moose about it but didn’t have him review my attempts. I tried several times upon my return to get the time lapse up and running, but again, no luck. Moose sent out a post workshop e-mail with specific instructions for me to create the time lapse. Again, nothing. I stopped trying after a couple of weeks due to a combination of frustration and annoyance. In addition, Famous Mo’s was about to open so I set the project aside until yesterday when I had some time. I took a few minutes to review Moose’s instructions. I did everything correctly, but, my unfamiliarity with Photoshop was actually my undoing. Only yesterday did I see the attempted results in the Layers view, where I should have been all along but wasn’t. If I had been, I would have discovered while I was still in the Grand Canyon, that my version of Photoshop, CS5.1, does not support video; only CS 5.1 Extended (and later versions) does. A tiny dialog box popped up to tell me I couldn’t do it even though it allowed every other step that made it seem as if I were going to produce an actual video.

There had to be another way to create time lapse video and it occurred to me that using the Slide Show feature in Lightroom could be the answer, and it was. After a few false starts, I found a Lightroom preset that allowed me to show 15 frames per second in a slide show. I saved it as a high resolution file and am thrilled that I finally have one of two time lapse sequences that I took in the canyon. Now I can’t wait to process the other sequence.

I took this time lapse starting late in the afternoon of February 24. The camera took the first shot at 4:19PM and the last shot at 6:26PM. This sequence was a long time coming. And because I saved it as a high resolution file, it took almost as much time to save the file as it did to take the photographs. The next project is to set this to music. . .Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite perhaps? It’s too bad I didn’t photograph any donkeys ambling down into the canyon which would have fit perfectly with the Donkey Serenade movement of the Suite. On the snowiest and wettest day of our workshop, we did see a miserable looking group of tourists, all dressed in yellow slickers and perched atop jerking donkeys as they headed down into the canyon abyss, hanging on for dear life and probably praying that those donkeys were sure-footed enough to keep them safe. No one from our group took a photograph of them.

2013—Day 143—Moon-o-pod

I started thinking about the moon the other night at my camera club meeting when guest judge Jeff Burkholder told us that moonlight is white not blue as was often depicted by Hollywood films in the early days of color film. Blue gels were added to the lighting to simulate moonlight which is not blue at all but rather a reflection of sunlight. So, last night, as I sat in the cell phone lot at the Sacramento International Airport, waiting to pick up friends returning from Hawaii, I decided to take some photos of the almost full moon. I used the Sunny 16 rule to set my camera (Jeff taught me about the Sunny 16 rule when I took a class from him a few years back) but I wasn’t happy with the focus–too much camera shake so I used my monopod, part of my Cullman tripod, for the first time. I’ve had the tripod for more than two years. Sometimes it takes a while for me to get around to using something!

This is a color shot of the moon. I changed the setting from f/16, shutter speed 1/100 to f11, 1/320 to help with camera shake and I think the tripod would have been a better choice than the monopod for a moon shot because I have had much more sharply focused moon shots using the tripod. But you need to try things to find out what works. Also, this is a bit underexposed. I should have slowed the shutter speed just a tad.

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2013—Day 142—Canyon View

It’s Day 142 (I think) and I’m probably not going to be able to take a blog-worthy photo today. So I am posting a photo from my February Grand Canyon adventure. Sunday, I went into the archives of my Grand Canyon with Moose shoot and found a photo I hadn’t yet processed and since my monthly Placer Camera Club image evaluation was coming up, I tweaked it a bit and submitted it for judging. I was nervous about this month’s image evaluation because the slated judge was Jeff Burkholder, a professional photographer from whom I took a class through Sierra College in 2010. I really liked his teaching style and his expertise and I still refer to my notes from that class from time to time. And, since I respect him and his work, and since he was going to be judging my work, I wanted to be very selective about the shots I submitted so I knew a Grand Canyon shot had to be one choice, as well as some bird shots.

The meeting was last night. I am thrilled to report that I got a 12 for my Grand Canyon shot, the high score for this type of judging. I also got a 12 for my shot of Mr. T that I took on Sunday and 11 1/2 (!) for a hummingbird shot. I must hasten to add that Jeff found many of the photos submitted last evening worthy of 11 and 12 ratings so mine were not the only high scores received by club members.

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2013—Day 141—Preening

I caught the hummer preening after his bath this morning. I couldn’t decide which shots I liked best so I posted several. I used my speed light and the 70-200mm lens but I snapped the shots so quickly the speed light didn’t recycle in time. Bummer. But a little tweaking in Lightroom seemed to remedy the situation. I think I am finally over my SOOC fixation! I tried getting the light area behind its head in all the shots but didn’t manage it. The first shot is my favorite because the beak is open a bit and the lighting is very different despite all of these shots getting almost identical processing in LR. I think the flash was at its lowest recycle point.

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2013—More Cute Faces From The CFBP Open House

Ozzie, a screech owl who was found as a nestling with an injured eye a year ago has replaced Bob, the 18 year old CFBP screech owl ambassador who was retired last year. In the first shot, looks startled but his injured eye doesn’t blink normally; and in the second shot, Ozzie reacts to being scratched on the head by his handler, Liz.

A baby red shouldered hawk snuggles in its towel nest, observing the surroundings.

Mr. T, a Tundra Peregrine Falcon, has a deformed beak, the result of an unknown encounter that also damaged his breast bone. Mr. T hitched a ride from Alaska to Hawaii on a cruise ship and was rehabiliated for a period at the Honolulu zoo before being adopted by the CFBP and becoming one of its ambassador birds.

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2013—Day 139—Reflections In A Golden Eye

Beside my two favorite canine Goldens, I realized today that I have a third favorite Golden, an aquiline one. Cleo, the Golden Eagle, has been featured on more than one occasion in this blog. I spent the day taking photos at my hawk rescue group’s annual open house. The California Foundation for Birds of Prey rescues and rehabilitates raptors, releases those that can be released, and makes education birds out of those whose injuries prevent their release.

I captured a few shots of Cleo that I like. Since I am reflected in Cleo’s eye in all of the shots, I consider them all “reflections in a golden eye.” The irony of this is that the 1967 movie, “Reflections In A Golden Eye” starred Elizabeth Taylor who also played Cleopatra in the film of the same name. Cleo the Golden Eagle is named for Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, after surviving West Nile Virus which destroyed her near vision so she cannot see to land or to find food so she cannot be released. I have known Cleo for about three years now and she is a beautiful bird with a distinct personality. Cleo’s handler and caregiver, Mike, loaned me his newly acquired 500mm lens to try. I had trouble getting far enough away to get in focus shots of Cleo. I guess this wasn’t a good test of that lens.

I took the first two shots with my 70-200mm lens; the second is cropped to show my reflection and that of my friend Carly who is an aspiring wildlife biologist so I took her with me today so she could meet the hawk people. I took the third shot with the loaner 500mm lens.

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2013—Day 138—After The Show

Kyle Rowland is a blues harmonica prodigy. He told me that his father placed a harmonica in his crib. He started to make a name for himself by age 8 and now, at the ripe old age of 19, he has a huge following, has released two CDs, and played at Famous Mo’s Saturday to a packed house of enthusiastic fans. After the show, when everyone had gone home and we were cleaning up, Kyle noticed Ron’s acoustic guitar hanging on the wall and asked if he could play it. Of course I gave him permission. He tuned it, strummed a few chords, and then played it in a very personal and emotional concert for me. It was a thrill to hear that guitar again after it has set idle for so many years. Thanks Kyle. You made my evening.

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