2014—A Day In The Life

My friend, and fellow photoblogger, Melinda and I got together yesterday in, of all places, Chico, Melinda’s home town. She and her husband drove up from Arizona on short notice for a business trip and I drove up to Chico to spend the day with her. As we strolled downtown, Melinda was excited to show me a potential photo op she had discovered the night before: none other than a life size tromp l’oeil mural of our old teen idols, The Beatles, strolling on Main Street, not Abbey Road. Of course we had to join in the procession to the great amusement of many passersby. One gentleman even took a photo of both of us together, although with Melinda’s camera so I don’t have those photos yet. Here is Melinda, clearly enjoying the parade!

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2014—Owl Eyes

Bob is a tiny 18 year old screech owl, well past his prime. But, as a retired education bird for the California Foundation for Birds of Prey, he is living the life of luxury in the comfort of his own personal enclosure with Andy and Vickie McBride, the co-founders of CFBP. Bob came out of retirement Sunday to visit the open house at the Bird and Pet Clinic of Roseville. Bob looks to be in a perpetual state of surprise, except in the last shot where he is doing his best imitation of “Garfield, the Cat.”

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2014—Eagle Eyes

Tesla is a golden eagle, ironically named Tesla because about twenty-five years ago, she, beyond all odds, survived electrocution, losing the talons and toes of her left foot. Since then she has been in the care of Andy McBride, a falconer and co-founder of the California Foundation for Birds of Prey. She cannot fly because the accident damaged her shoulders. At some point, Tesla contracted West Nile Virus and again survived, but her vision is compromised and the infection altered the color of her eyes. One eye is gold and the other is brown. I’ve known Tesla for about 5 years and have taken her photograph many times but I have never noticed the difference in the color of her eyes until Andy pointed it out to me Sunday at an open house for the Bird and Pet Clinic of Roseville.

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2014—Negative Space

I’ve been thinking about negative space since its importance was discussed the other day in a class I attended on macro photography. I like negative space in a photo and I use it often. When I took this shot of a sprig of lavender late Saturday afternoon, I purposely isolated the one stem and blurred out the background but somehow the shot that resulted was not too exciting—just a bit of purple lavender against a streaky obscured green background. The only think I liked about the shot was the sun shining on one side of the stem. I started fiddling with the photo in Lightroom, first turning it black and white, then adding a split tone and a white vignette. This, I like. And there is lots of negative space so the lavender pops.

This is not a macro shot. I used my 70-200mm lens zoomed to 200mm and set to ISO 100, f/6.3 and 1/100 shutter speed.

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It’s raining again. I checked my Flickr daily challenge group listing and saw that one of the topics a couple of days ago was “umbrella.” At first I thought it was an odd choice for a topic at this time of year but then remembered that the administrators of this Flickr group are “down under” so it’s fall in Australia and the start of the rainy season there, I presume. And, today it is raining here, as well. I won’t complain as it’s one of the very few days of rain we’ve had all year.

I retrieved my leopard print umbrella from the car and opened it outside on the patio, clipping it to a garden chair. That allowed me and my camera to stay dry under the overhang and still get close to the drops on the top of the umbrella.

This topic gave me a chance to chance to photograph raindrops with my macro lens. After my macro class at Action Camera Thursday evening, I’ve been anxious to put into practice a few of the tips I learned in class. Of course I already forgot one of the most important for me: using a crop frame camera to get in as close as possible. I actually discovered that bit of intelligence as soon as I got my 105mm macro lens and use my D7100 with the macro most of the time. For some reason, when I went to the class, I attached the 105mm to my D800, a full frame camera…probably the guilt I was feeling for having bought the D7100 at Costco instead of Action Camera. But I did remember a few things I learned about focusing and that it’s best to use the mirror lock up setting to avoid camera shake. I also learned that I was using too small an aperture. Deeper depths of field, resulting from higher f/stops over f/22, bend the light coming into the camera too much, degrading the image. Ah, so much to learn.

I took all three images at ISO 200, f/16, and either 1/15 or 1/25 shutter speed.

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2014—Fiendish Thingy

“It’s a thingy! A fiendish thingy!” — George Harrison

This bug isn’t exactly what George was referring to when he spotted the “fiendish thingy” in Help but to me, anything with buggy eyes and long legs that could jump at me at any moment is a fiendish thingy. I continue to amaze myself that I am able to actually get up close and personal with such creepy things now that I have my macro lens between me and it. I was following a bee around the flowers of my miniature rose tree (Winsome) and the bee made a sudden about face when this fiendish thingy waved a clawed leg at it, convincing the bee to find another rosebud in which to seek nectar. I must admit that as tiny as it is, I was not too worried about it jumping on me but after seeing it through the macro lens, I wouldn’t have been anywhere near it had it been the two or more inches it looks to be in this shot.

I was surprised to get this shot in decent focus because the breezes were shaking the flowers sharply. The sun was so bright I could barely see the LCD screen in Live View on the camera so I was glad I remembered I had the Hoodman Hoodloupe so I could see the screen without it being blown out by the sunlight, allowing me to focus. This rosebud measures about an inch in diameter, the bug’s body, about 3/8 inch. The shot is not cropped; 105mm, ISO 200, f/20, 1/160

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2014—On Gossamer Wing

This delicate looking damselfly posed for me the other day. Every minute or so it flew up and around and returned to the same twig. I sat on the garden bench just a few feet away with my 70-200mm lens trained on it. It was only when I looked at the downloaded photos that I realized that I had captured this tiny creature (only about two inches long and about 1/8 inch in diameter) devouring another even tinier creature. Apparently, the trips off the twig were hunting trips. I wish I’d had my macro lens on for a closer look.

In the first shot, he’s got a mouthful of gnat. In the second shot, he’s finished dinner and is showing off those gossamer wings.

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2014—W.J. Anderson Roofing

While driving on Tyler Foote Road near Nevada City, on the way to Ananda Village with a few of my fellow Placer Camera Club members, we came across a trio of weathered, collapsing buildings on the side of the road, a sight irresistible to a group of photographers. We found this ancient rusted truck parked inside one of the buildings, its roof on the verge of collapse, rather ironic given the name on the side of the truck. W.J. Anderson Roofing is still in business in San Franciso, and they still have the same phone number (I love Google) but they’ve lost the JUno exchange for the less interesting 58 prefix. I know nothing about trucks, let alone old trucks, but, thanks to Google (again) I have determined (only until someone who really knows will identify it for me) that it is possibly a 1936 GMC 1/2 ton pickup truck, GMC’s first half ton pickup. I wonder if I should send them this photograph, in case they’re still looking for their lost truck?

I used Perfect Photo Suite 8’s HDR effect on this shot.

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2014—Swainson’s Hawks

I first heard, then saw, three Swainson’s hawks flying over my house Easter Sunday afternoon. I was lazing on the patio with my crossword puzzle when I heard the cries of hawks. I ran in to get my camera and of course by the time I got outside and focused on them, they were no long directly over me but had moved on. Two of them stayed in my view for a few minutes but were soaring much higher than when I first saw them; then they were gone. I couldn’t at first identify them until I processed my under-exposed shots and cropped them. Two of the photos were in fairly decent focus and when I was able to compare the markings with my Sibley’s Guide to Birds, I could see these were Swainson’s hawks, a raptor I have never knowingly seen before today. These two shots are of the same bird.

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This ancient Sanskrit greeting (I bow to the divine in you) seems to fit what greeted me and a few of my fellow Placer Camera Club photographers at Ananda Village, a 900 acre commune founded in 1969 in the Sierra Nevada Foothills near Nevada City. It is a very spiritual place and the grounds are serene and lovely. Ananda’s annual springtime tulip open house drew us there. It was stunning. We were there at midday, the sun’s zenith, and under normal circumstances the light would be harsh and forbidding. On the contrary, this day, the brilliant tulips glowed. Here are a few of my shots. Once again, I couldn’t decide which to choose. The first two are views of one of the gardens and the others are closeups that struck my fancy.


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I spent Friday morning at Noelle’s new home in rural Loomis photographing her adorable children. Besides the children, one of the reasons I went was to photograph the baby miniature goats that Matt and Faith have as pets. Only a few weeks old, they still require bottle feeding, a chore that keeps Matt and Faith involved in the raising of these cute little creatures. They’re bonding with their new pets and Matt’s shows obvious affection for him. But, I learned I need to get my act together a little more quickly than I managed Friday. By the time I got my camera gear out, which was really only a few minutes, the kids’ (human not caprine) interest in feeding had waned a bit. I did manage to capture a few fun shots, including Matt’s goat giving him a big slurp!

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I’m still thinking about lines after the presentation at my camera club the other evening. This morning, I made an illegal u-turn on the way home from the gym, noticing too late to make the legal turn into Granny May’s strawberry stand which was finally open for the first time this season. I came home with a huge box of luscious ripe strawberries, the kind that are sweet and red all the way through, and three gorgeous red onions with their long green leaves still attached. My first thought was how I would photograph the long green leaves that created a long green line leading to the shiny red bulbs. But when I laid them out on the counter, what caught my eye was the intricate pattern of alternating diagonal lines created at the base of each leaf where it attached to the bulb. Out came the macro lens. After viewing them, I couldn’t decide which shot I preferred so I chose my two favorites. They are both rotated 90°. I love the sort of abstract quality that the lines give these photographs and the tiny hint of magenta on the leaves. It isn’t obvious that these are photographs of onions. The first one looks almost like green striped ribbon candy. The second is even more abstract, just lots of intersecting lines.

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2014—Betty Boop

At my camera club meeting Tuesday night, the judge gave a slideshow presentation about lines in photographs…not just leading lines but all kinds of lines in photographs. It gave me some ideas and I’ve been thinking about lines and looking for lines all day. I got to thinking about radial lines in flowers and my Betty Boop rose, which is in glorious full bloom right now, presented what I thought was an interesting radial line effect, both in its center and with the tinge of pink on the edges of the petals radiating out from the center.

I clipped a lovely bouquet of Betty Boop and used my macro lens to capture my version of radiating lines.

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2014—More Blood Moon

This morning, after a couple hours of sleep (I awoke precisely at 6AM) I discovered this shot of the almost fully eclipsed moon that I took at 11:59 (the moon was fully eclipsed at 12:08) and that I overlooked earlier when I was reviewing the photos in a foggy stupor. Prior to taking this shot, I had exposed for the visible part of the moon and was seeing no color in the shadow of the Earth. After I opened up a couple of stops, the blood began to show but the slower shutter speed blew out the uneclipsed part of the moon. I thought it was a pretty cool looking shot. And, the stars are in better focus in this shot. I think it’s Saturn on the right and the tiny spot might be Mars on the left, or maybe it’s just dust on my computer screen!

I had planned to use my 2x teleconverter attached to the 70-200mm lens for a closer view of the moon, but it was nowhere to be found when I was setting up last night. After panicking and tearing my house apart, packing and unpacking my camera bag at least ten times, it occurred to me that I might have left it in Redding. It was too late to call my brother so I e-mailed him and hoped that’s where it was. And, this morning, he confirmed that, yes, he had it! I was so relieved to find it. I think worrying about it is what woke me up at 6AM. I will have to make a checklist for my camera bag so that I know everything that comes out goes back in!

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2014—Blood Moon

It was appropriate, I guess, that while I spent the late night and early morning hours photographing the Blood Moon, I watched the final two episodes of “Dexter” with all its blood and gore. It set the mood.

And I set a timer for every ten minutes to go out and take another couple of shots until the eclipse was total and the moon was about to be completely bloodied, then I stayed out until I couldn’t really see it much anymore and my photos weren’t turning out. I couldn’t use the camera’s intervelometer to take photographs at timed intervals which was my first thought, because the moon was moving across the sky as the eclipse was developing and had I left the camera unattended, I would have had lots of photos of the blank sky. The moon didn’t look blood red to my naked, myopic eyes, only slightly reddish with lots of shadow. I could see just a tinge of color but I kept having to twiddle with the exposure in camera to get that blood red color; it was late, I was sleepy, and I kept turning the dials the wrong way, giving me less color rather than more. I finally got it almost right, but they still needed a tiny bit of adjustment in post processing. Focus was difficult because the moon was so dim at the height of the eclipse.

The first shot is the moon about a half hour before the eclipse was predicted to start but there is already a shadow starting to shade the moon. The second shot is just a couple of minutes after the eclipse was considered total and the third shot is about 40 minutes into the eclipse. I used my 70-200mm lens and the D7100. These shots are cropped.

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2014—Purple Salsify

Leaving the gym this morning, the purple salsify (also known as goatsbeard) caught my eye, growing tall above the ornamental plants. I first (and last) photographed goatsbeard almost three years ago to the day (April 15, 2011) in exactly the same place.

The breeze was brisk so the flower shimmered as I shot. And, because I had the lens wide open, the depth of field is very shallow. The 1/5000 shutter speed got some of the stamens and petals at the center of the flower in focus despite the movement of the flower.

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2014—Sunday Afternoon In The Garden

After lunch today, I went out in the backyard with my long lens to see what I could see. There were a few bees gathering pollen from the photinia blossom clusters and that was about it. I was unsuccessful in capturing a bee in flight but movement at the top of one of the photinias caught my eye about 20 feet up. A lovely butterfly alit briefly; then flitted away. I didn’t capture it in flight, either. I don’t recall seeing this butterfly before. I googled California butterflies and I believe this is an American Lady, not the West Coast Lady that was another option.

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