2014—No Jive

When the last Smothers Brothers’ Comedy Hour was televised in late 1988, Tommy Smothers was Yo-Yo Man. I was captivated by his feats of Yo and I bought cheap plastic yo-yos and tried to learn how to walk the dog and a few other amateur yo-yo tricks. A dear friend, hearing me talk incessantly about Tommy Smothers and the yo-yo, one day presented me with an official Tom Kuhn No-Jive 3 in 1 Yo-Yo, the same model that Tommy Smothers used on his show. I was thrilled. The Yo-Yo is in perfect condition with its original box, string, a spool of extra string, and a couple of yo-yo how-to booklets. I don’ know if Tommy Smothers is still into “YO” but I know that Tom Kuhn still makes yo-yos in San Francisco because I follow him on Facebook. I don’t exactly know why I follow him because I haven’t Yo’d myself in 25 years but when I saw that a recent Flickr challenge was “string” I couldn’t think of any better string to photograph than the one attached to my Yo-Yo.

I set my No Jive 3 in 1 Yo-Yo on on a mirror in front of a window with a diffuser behind it. The problem I had was that from the angle I took the shot, the yo-yo looked as if it were tipping forward so I rotated it 90°. Obviously, the reflection is on the left.

D800, Focal Length 70mm, ISO 100, f/13, 1/2 sec. shutter speed

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2014—Skewbald Beaked Ferruginous Ferrum Corvus

I took the opportunity to work on increasing my comfort level using higher ISO settings for bird and wildlife photography. I have the perfect bird species on which to practice these settings nesting in my own backyard: the rare Skewbald Beaked Ferruginous Ferrum Corvus. I upped the ISO to 800 because they were in deep shade. They are rather inept at feeding their young as this photograph shows but I’m very happy with the exposure and the resulting photograph and if there is noise in this shot, it doesn’t bother me. I have to completely rethink my approach to photography. The only modification I made to this shot was to increase the vibrance a bit. I’m anxious to try increased ISO settings on the very real and not so rare bird species that also nests somewhere in my yard, Trochilidae Calypte Anna (Anna’s hummingbird).

D800; 155mm focal length (70-200mm lens); ISO 800; f/5.6; 1/125

Day 177-22-2

2014—I Picked a Pair of Packham Pears

I picked a pair of Packham pears at Whole Foods the other day. I’ve never had a Packham pear and this photograph looks nothing like a Packham pear because I added a crackle texture in Perfect Photo Suite 8. Of course my pair of Packham pears was inspired by my Flickr challenge group; Monday’s challenge was “A Pair.” After taking a very high key shot with each pear supported by an overturned wine glass against a white diffuser in front of my north facing window seat window, I thought the shot needed a little more interest, hence the crackle. I liked the effect and added a bit of a vignette to tone down the white.

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2014—Red Tail

It was a gorgeous day at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area Tuesday. The Point Bonita Lighthouse, our original destination, was closed so we wandered among the concrete bunkers that once housed gigantic guns defending the San Francisco Bay. As we stood atop one of the bunkers, we noticed a banded, red tail hawk, kiting above us in the stiff wind. The hawk was virtually still and only about 20 feet above us for almost 2 minutes. Of course I didn’t stop to consider my exposure and immediately started triggering the shutter. The bird was backlit at midday and every shot was underexposed. Thankfully, Lightroom allowed me to recover a few of the shots. I had my 70-200mm lens on the D7100.

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2014—International Stack

My friends at Vaneli’s Handcrafted Coffee gave me some burlap coffee bags to use as backdrops when I took some photos for them for their blog. When Sunday’s Flickr challenge was “stack” I knew I had to use the bags for this challenge. These bags contained green coffee beans from Tanzania, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Colombia, and Brazil. A few of the beans clung to the inside of the bags so I scattered a few to bring a little more interest to the photo.

Day 173-1-4

2014—Seeing Stars

I tossed a handful of small star shaped brads onto the black granite window seat and took some macro shots. In post processing, I completely desaturated the greens and yellows which were reflected in the black granite and I thought detracted from the stars. I’m not sure what was reflecting on the one star that looks orangey red. The only thing it could have been is the cabinets which are stained a reddish “golden oak.” Once again, the gods of Serendip have graced me with their presence. As a result, along with the blue stars reflecting the sky outside, the few that are their natural silvery white color, and the lone, reddish one, I ended up with red, white, and blue stars. My subject was inspired by my daily Flickr challenge group.

Day 173-1-2

2014—Breakfast Treat

While I was eating breakfast Saturday morning, I was treated to the antics of a flock of tiny bushtits treating themselves to a breakfast of whiteflies on my crape myrtles. One of the little guys appears to be missing a leg. I got catch lights in all the eyes but the birds were too busy scarfing down white flies to look at me.

Focal Length 400mm (effectively 640mm on D7100)- ISO 320 – f/5.6 – 1/320

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I stepped outside with my 80-400mm lens to photograph a male lesser goldfinch bathing in the fountain Friday evening. In order to get a decent exposure with the fountain in deep shade at that time of the evening, I set the ISO to 1000 which is way outside my comfort zone…ten times outside my comfort zone, in fact since I almost always use ISO 100. I had a discussion with Ed Rotberg, an outstanding bird and wildlife photographer who was the judge at my camera club meeting the other evening. He suggested I use the higher ISO settings that would allow me to get a better exposure, especially in shaded or dark areas. He also suggested that the most successful wildlife photographs featured the subject’s eyes that not only have catch lights but that look at you from within the photo. I was pleased that this little goldfinch, who is not much bigger than the Anna’s hummingbirds that also visit the fountain, kept his eye on me most of the time I photographed him. I realized that the photos without that eye contact were not nearly as interesting despite their having catch lights.

Focal Length 400mm – ISO 1000 – f/5.6 – 1/320

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I picked up a lovely bouquet of Star Gazer lilies the other day at Costco. Only a couple of flowers were starting to open when I bought them and they now fill my house with their lovely, intoxicating aroma. As the buds began to open, I realized that the lilies have been modified a bit; at least those buds that were open when I brought the bouquet home. Their stamens were removed to keep the orangey-yellow pollen from staining everything around them. Some of the pollen rubbed off on the petals when the stamens were removed. A recent Flickr challenge was “modified” and I think this qualifies.

I took this shot in early evening light in a north facing window. The light changed so rapidly this is the only shot I managed to get with decent lighting. I also used the Expodisc again to set my white balance and it is perfect for the scene but those few extra seconds setting the custom white balance kept me from getting more than the one shot. It’s a trade-off, I guess.

Day 170-1-2


“But Officer, I Can’t Read.” These would have to be the words out of the mouth of anyone nabbed by the Citrus Heights police for car theft in the vicinity of this sign so prominently announcing a local sting operation on Auburn Blvd. on Wednesday afternoon. I did a double take and drove around the block to get the shot. I guess there must be some candidates for “American’s Dumbest Criminals” in my area!