2013—Day 301—Welcome to Arizona!

I’m in Prescott, AZ visiting my dear friend and fellow photography enthusiast, Melinda, her husband Lonnie, and their son, Matt. They welcomed me to Arizona today. I’m staying at Lonnie and Melinda’s new home in Prescott for the next week. We are going to spend the week catching up, playing with our cameras, visiting some of the spectacular places in the area like Sedona and Jerome, and even visiting with our old friends (and former college roommate) Susan and Chris who are visiting the Grand Canyon and environs from Neenah, Wisconsin. Melinda’s new home is lovely and she had a bouquet of welcoming sunflowers on the table. Late this afternoon, the light shining through the sunflower petals caught my attention. I took lots of shots but this composition was my favorite. I took it with my D7100 and the 70-200mm lens at a focal length of 200mm, on the tripod using its new lens collar, and Aperture Priority (f/7.1, 1/8, ISO 100).


2013—Day 300—The Key To. . .

. . .?

Playing with my D7100 and my 50mm lens this afternoon while sitting at the kitchen table, resulted in my taking photos of absolutely nothing of import but I did find my keys kind of intriguing. When I switched from Lightroom to Perfect B&W, the magic happened. This is an effect called “Over a Baril” and I loved the result. I looked up “Baril” and think this refers to a photographer named Tom Baril who uses interesting effects in his photography. So, thanks, Tom.

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2013—Day 298—Mystery

I have one camellia left in my garden and it came with the house when we moved here in 1991. When I took over its care, it still had its nursery tag attached; it is called “High Hat,” a pale pink peony form camellia. It was a pathetic, scraggly shrub with just a few yellowing leaves and I was determined to save it. I nurtured it and it became a lovely specimen that was covered with gorgeous pale pink blossoms every year from October through March, providing much needed fall and winter color in my garden. The mystery began several years ago when one of the flowers that emerged was red with white spots. I discoverd that “High Hat” is a sport of “Daikagura,” another peony form camellia but with red and white spotted petals and I presume that one or more branches reverted to the original form. I featured one of these flowers in my blog almost three years ago. Then, for several years after that, the shrub was covered with two kinds of flowers: some pale pink and some red and white. Last year, however, due to my complete neglect of the garden, not a single flower emerged. So, when I noticed lots of buds on the plant a couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled. A couple of days ago, I noticed one had opened and it was a Daikagura flower. Today, however, I noticed another flower had opened and the mystery deepens. The new blossom is solid pink, but a deep rose pink, not as red as the Daikagura and much darker and more intense than the delicate pale pink of the High Hat bloom. It looks as if I will have three different flowers this year; already starting to open are a couple of delicate pale pink blossoms and a couple of Daikaguras. This is the only deep solid rose flower. Time will tell if there are more hiding among the branches. If more open, I’ll have to feature a trio of blossoms in a future blog entry.

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2013—Day 297—Autumn Leaves

Mady and I walked three miles this afternoon along the Miner’s Ravine Trail in Roseville. I hadn’t intended to walk that far because I’d already done 2 miles earlier today on the treadmill at the gym. But, the weather was delightful and despite our leaving after 3 for our walk, the temperature was mild. It was only when I realized we had gone over 1.5 miles (that’s when I decided to turn us around) that I began to sweat. I took my camera and the only thing I found photo-worthy along the trail today were some fallen oak leaves…and they looked pretty blah until I added a vignette to make them pop.

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2013—Day 296—Rock Solid

Lately, it’s either hummers or Mady who star in my blog. This afternoon, UPS delivered the new collar for my 70-200mm f/4 lens which, while considerably lighter than Nikon’s 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, still causes some unstableness in the camera due to the length of the lens. While I was in the Grand Tetons, Moose Peterson strongly suggested I get a collar for the lens that allows me to attach the lens to the tripod. He told me my camera would be better off without the strain of the lens. I had noticed that even when it is on the tripod, without a collar, my shots weren’t as crisp as I had hoped, so many of my Grand Teton shots are only marginally in focus. Now I’ll have to return to the Tetons again, first because the park is open again so I can visit my old stomping ground, Jackson Lake Lodge where I worked in the mid 1960’s, and so I can capture tack sharp images with my 70-200mm lens.

I was on the patio drinking a glass of old vine Zinfandel when I remembered that the package would be delivered this afternoon and, indeed, it was on my doorstep. After fiddling with knobs and allen wrenches, I attached the foot and the collar to the lens. Since it was starting to get dark and my patio is already in deep shade by this time of the afternoon, I set up the tripod and waited for the hummers who did not return so there was Mady, patiently waiting for me to take her for a walk. Ahhhh. What a rock solid, crisply focused shot. I took this shot with my remote shutter release, another thing that I reclaimed from my brother after I realized that it worked on the D7100 as well as the Nikon D90. I am happy to give him my old camera and some lenses, but if he is to become a serious photographer, he needs to buy a few of these goodies for himself!

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Yesterday, I took Mady for a late afternoon walk at Mahaney Park near my gym. We strolled through the dry grass and headed for the pond overlook. I saw this great white egret fishing and stopped to take several shots. I had my D7100 and the 18-200mm lens set to shutter priority to see if I can overcome the camera shake. I took the first at 1/500 then switched to 1/320 for the next two. I think the camera did a decent job on these shots but I have to admit, I am spoiled by the super high resolution of my D800. I couldn’t crop these shots nearly as much as I can with the D800. I don’t know if it’s apparent but the egret is stalking something; I missed the actual snatch and I can’t tell what’s in its beak; the first and the third shots are barely 2 seconds apart.

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2013—No More Power Lines

I have been looking at my photos from the Grand Tetons and decided to try removing power lines, something Moose suggested was so easy to do in Photoshop. Easy, I guess, if I remembered all that he actually said. What I remembered him saying was, “Just drop a line from end of the powerline to the other and click, the power lines are gone.” When I couldn’t remember which tool he used to “drop the line” and what else I had to do finish the process, I viewed an Adobe TV video. I realized it is quite easy. But, my power lines drooped, they weren’t a straight line. Adobe TV told me how to fix them. The content aware feature in Photoshop, which makes it possible to remove power lines and other unwanted things in a photo, is nothing short of incredible. I discovered it a couple of years ago when I got the CS5 suite but haven’t taken advantage of its magic very often. Here are two shots from which I removed power lines, power poles, snow markers, and a few other odds and ends. I also processed these shots using Adobe Camera Raw instead of Lightroom.

The first shows the cloud shrouded Tetons in the background. The second, the Gros Ventre range.



2013—Day 290—Mady’s Here

Mady came yesterday to spend a week with me. Bobo is jealous and I’m not sure what she’ll take out her aggression on next. When Mady and I went upstairs for less than 30 minutes, Bobo climbed onto the table and shredded the cable that connects the portable hard drive to the laptop. I have no idea what is in those cables but very fine silvery wires were everywhere on the table along with shards of the plastic covering and whatever else is in them. I guess not much current flows through them or they are low voltage because she didn’t seem to have been affected by it. At least she didn’t try chewing the power cable to my Mac but it is apparent that I cannot leave the laptop on the table any more. I don’t know how she would fare against the Mac itself but I have the feeling Bobo would win, not the Mac. Her beaks has incredible crushing power. I think it will be an interesting week.

I went outside with Mady to take a few shots of her as she roamed around the yard. I used shutter priority again because I wanted to see if I could get clearer shots of her with a higher shutter speed, using the D7100 and the 70-200mm lens which was still attached to the camera from yesterday. I found a couple of shots that I liked. I upped the ISO a bit to 320 but still had to increase the exposure by 2/3 of a stop in Lightroom because the backyard was in deep shade late this afternoon. The golden part of the golden hour doesn’t reach my backyard much. I really like both of these shots but I am still working on getting a nose shot. I guess I’ll need to change lenses.



2013—Day 289—Wings

I drove to Williams to meet Sue and pick up Mady for her week long visit. I expected today’s blog would feature Mady and I did get a couple of shots of her nose (I love dog noses) but as I sat on the patio trying to capture Mady’s nose, I heard the hummers and decided to switch cameras and lenses.

My D7100 and my 70-200mm lens set at shutter priority (1/250 shutter speed…if it had been brighter outside, I would have set a higher shutter speed) and ISO 200 did a pretty decent job of capturing this Anna’s Hummingbird and its various wing patterns. I took several in quick succession and quite a few were in pretty clear focus. I am always fascinated by hummingbird wings, which rotate in a figure 8 pattern so I thought I’d share how the wings look, some clearly visible, others very ghostlike.

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2013—Grand Tetons Day 5—Snow, Fall Color, and Critters

Another fabulous adventure with Moose and Kevin is over but what an adventure! Sunday morning began with snow and fog shrouded mountains. We didn’t see the mountains for a sunrise shot at the Snake River overlook. The morning was gray and snowy. We had to stop shooting when the snow came down so heavily we were worried about our equipment so we broke down our tripods and scrambled into the van. Moose had instructed us to bring towels to blot off our wet equipment.

Later, after the snow storm subsided, the day proceeded into a study of fall colors. As we headed home, we at last sighted a couple of moose that we were able to stop and photograph. They were very far away so got to try out my 2X teleconverter. This is the only decent shot I got and it is cropped and I applied the “camera shake” filter in Photoshop to sharpen it a bit. We encountered the bison shortly after seeing the moose. This herd stopped traffic in both directions as they ambled back and forth across the highway.

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2013—Grand Tetons Day 4—Out And About

The park remains shuttered (although a few states have donated funds to reopen many of our national treasures including the Grand Canyon and Arches, one location I have been to with Moose Peterson earlier this year and one location I am going to with Moose Peterson next year) so we again drove to the Teton Point Turnout on Highway 191, which bisects the park so we have actually been inside the park everyday, to photograph the sunrise. I used my 14-24mm lens on the tripod so I would get a wide angle view which Moose encouraged me to do. I also attached my 70-200mm lens to my D7100 and was able to zoom in close. I preferred the closeups captured by the D7100 and confessed that to Moose who said he noticed I was using that lens and acknowledged that it is I, after all, whom I must please.

The amazing thing about this morning’s shoot is that, as Moose predicted, the sun kissed the Grand Teton peak with color, then spread to the other peaks. I was amazed that the sunrise colored peak looked oddly unnatural but I assure you that is what it looked like. The first shot is a closeup using the 70-200mm lens on the D7100 at a focal length of about 140mm (the lens was set to 70mm).

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After our midday digital darkroom break, we walked into Jackson and explored the town. I remembered the archway in the park created with elk antlers from the Elk Refuge nearby, back in the early 1960’s, shortly before I first visited Jackson Hole. This is a close up, using my 50mm 1.4 lens.


Following our afternoon stroll, we drove out of town again, this time to a Gros Ventre range viewing area for fall color. I found one shot I liked with the snowcapped Gros Ventre peaks in the distance and lots of fall color in the foreground. Then, I announced that I was on a mission to find a good buckrail fence to photograph and Moose called out that he’d had a buckrail sighting. Since buckrails don’t move too quickly, I was able to mosey down and take a few shots.



The thickly fog-shrouded Tetons prevented any sunset shots and as we drove on a side road, we encountered a pair of bison walking parallel to the unfenced roadway. Kevin pulled over and Moose told us we could get out to photograph the bison as long as we stayed by the van. I took several shots as they lumbered by us, both stopping and staring at us before moving on. Only one of the many shots I took had the bison’s eye in focus. He looks rather intense so I didn’t want to tell him that I’d had a bison burger for dinner the night before.


2013—Grand Tetons Day 3 — Wide Angle

This morning as we watched the sun rise and the clouds envelop the Tetons, Moose said to me, “I thought you had an 18-35mm lens.” He said this to me because I was photographing the expanse of the Teton range using my 70-200mm lens, set to crop mode so it became a 300mm lens. When I told him I didn’t have that lens (everyone else on the shoot has one) but that I did have a 14-24mm lens which I’d left in my room back at the lodge, he sighed in exasperation. He said photographing the Tetons using a 200mm lens in the particular setting we were in, would not distinguish the mountains from any other mountains. Why not feature what makes the Tetons so breathtaking? Their distinct profile and the flat, sage brush and pine and aspen tree foreground from which they rise abruptly and majestically, identify them as the Grand Tetons. After taking a number of shots (which shots I actually really liked) I switched to my 24-70mm lens, prompting Moose to declare that he didn’t feel too sorry for me anymore because I DID have a wide angle lens.

At our digital darkroom session midday, I found that my favorite shot from the morning was one I took with the long lens set at 200mm. And what about it appealed to me was that crannied (!) peak emerging from the clouds. It reminded me of Shangri-La which was exactly Moose’s point; without the distinct identifiers that make the Tetons the Tetons, the photo could be a mountain anywhere. But it remains my favorite shot of the morning. I used Perfect B&W to enhance the photo.

Later that afternoon, when we took more photos of the Grand Tetons from a much different viewpoint, I still had my 70-200mm lens attached and Moose this time looked over my shoulder and again wondered why I wasn’t using a wide angle lens. I told him I actually preferred the shots I was getting, showed him my results, and he nodded, smiled, and said I had a valid point. But, I decided to switch to the 14-24mm lens which I took with me for the afternoon session, took a few shots, and told Moose he was absolutely correct. This place needed a wide angle lens to capture the look and feel. He directed me to stand in a specific spot, where the shadow of his head marked the perfect vantage point. From that point on, I started really liking the photos I took. I kept that lens on for the rest of the day and also in the evening sunset shoot, although the sunset shoot was a bit disappointing as the color came and went within a few minutes and the vivid colors we hoped for never materialized.

The second shot is the one Moose suggested I take and I really like it for both the colors and the composition. The trees leaning in, the water, even the clouds help lead the eye to the mountains in the background. I love the colors and the composition in third shot as well, a row of aspens across the road from the second shot. The black spot above one of the trees is not a speck of sensor dust which I thought it was at first glance, but rather a black billed magpie approaching the trees. I took the final shot earlier in the day before I switched to the wide angle lens. I liked the backlit leaves and the shallow depth of field with lots of bokeh. Not everything here in Wyoming has to be a landscape.

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2013—The Grand Tetons—Day 2—800

Grand Teton National Park is closed as is every other National Park in this country until further notice. This sign greeted us today. That is the Teton’s Mount Moran in the distance and a warped view of our van reflected in the electronic sign.


Despite the closure, there was much to photograph today, including Moose Peterson with his 800mm lens. Later, Moose allowed me to affix my D800 to his 800mm lens (already attached to a sturdy tripod) and take some shots. This grove of aspen provided interesting patterns which just didn’t present themselves with my much smaller lens. Here are shots of the aspen grove using my 70-200mm lens set to crop mode so it is effectively a 300mm lens, and Moose’s humongous 800mm lens.




Finally, a late day exposure as the clouds billowed angrily around the Tetons. I tweaked this shot just slightly in Perfect Effects, B&W.


2013—The Grand Tetons – Day 1-They Didn’t Have a Clue

Moose and Kevin met me and Fausto at the Jackson Hole airport this afternoon, the last two to arrive. It was about 3PM when we piled into the van and took off on a scouting mission to find what access we might have to places in Grand Teton National Park that Moose and Kevin had planned for photo shoots until the government impasse closed all the national parks (and everything else federal, except the TSA agents at the airport). Road after road was barricaded. The road to Jackson Lake (and any glimpse of Jackson Lake Lodge where I spent the two best summers of my life) was blocked and patrolled. Even turn outs off the highway were blocked. We did find a few places to pull over that were either overlooked or will be blocked soon. We encountered a lovely couple at one of the lookouts and Moose generously volunteered to photograph them with the Tetons in the background. They had no clue who had just snapped their picture.

The four of us spent about an hour driving around looking for places that might be accessible. We found none. Tomorrow, we meet at the van at 6:20AM. Obviously Moose’s Plans B and C are going into effect. We had a great dinner at the Gun Barrel Steak and Game House in Jackson and the group seems like a compatible bunch. None of the participants were from the Grand Canyon trip and only one other person besides me had been on a trip with Moose and Kevin. Once again, I am the only girl.

I took a few shots of the Tetons and the heavy cloud cover so the Grand Teton and Mount Moran are unrecognizable but they are still awe inspiring. The scenery is a breathtakingly beautiful as I remembered it. I can’t wait to get out and see more. What I am having trouble with is processing. I am going to need lots of help from Moose and Kevin on processing my shots.

More tomorrow.





2013—Day 281—Have A Heart

My eye was drawn to this tiny flower cluster, actually a weed of some sort, growing in a brick planter on the patio. The flowers are no more than 1/4 inch in diameter. When I took the photograph, I intended my subject to be the tiny flowers but when I viewed the shots on my computer screen, I realized that the heart-shaped leaf was just as important as the flowers so I cropped the photo and added a vignette to draw the eye to the leaf and to eliminate the brick planter from the shot.


2013—Day 279—Hummers and D7100

I’m trying to get my life back so I can focus (pun intended) almost exclusively on photography again. This morning I am sorting through camera equipment to make sure I have everything I need for my trip with Moose Peterson to the Grand Tetons. I leave Wednesday morning. If the government doesn’t get its act together soon, Moose’s Plan B and Plan C will go into effect; I have no idea what those are but they do not include visits to Grand Teton National Park. As I recall, though, the Grand Tetons are visible from just about everywhere so I’m not worried.

This morning I noticed my favorite little hummers cavorting in the fountain so I tried out my new Nikon D7100 with the 70-200mm lens (which lens on the D7100 is effectively a 300mm lens). That lens is long and a bit unwieldy and I probably should use it with a tripod but the tripod is disassembled to see if it will fit in my suitcase (it does—phew!) so these shots of the hummers are handheld. The last shot is not at all in focus because I didn’t have the shutter speed set fast enough but I think the shadow of the hummer’s head on its wing is fascinating.

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