2015—So Much For Bee Guards

When I went out to refill the hummingbird feeders, I noticed that all of the plastic flowers were clogged with honey bees jostling for position to get the remnants of sugar water deposited on the bright yellow bee guards. So much for bee guards. The hummingbirds actually had to find nectar in a single pineapple sage flower stalk while the bees swarmed around their feeders. A couple of the bees seemed to be grappling and they finally fell off the edge of the flower, still clinging to each other.

Bees -6298

Bees -6300

Bees -6301

2015—Peek-A-Boo

Once again, hummer activity at the fountain drew my attention. I opened the door and stepped outside with Big Bertha. Then, I heard a buzz near one of the feeders closer to me so I turned to focus on this male, beak and neck dappled with pollen, watching me warily from the perch on the feeder. The first is cropped to eliminate lots of blank space, although there is still quite a bit here. I didn’t want to move closer because I knew he’d fly away if I did. I cropped the second shot to a vertical 8X10 image. It’s interesting to me that the gorget in the first shot appears orange and coppery and pink while in the second, it’s more fuchsia colored. I watched the colors change through the viewfinder so it wasn’t the flash that changed the colors.

600 hummers -8061

600 hummers -8066

2015—Golden Orb Weaver

While looking back at some of my photos from Costa Rica, I ran across this one I’d forgotten about and that I’d never processed. We were out shooting birds one afternoon along a rural road. We photographed toucans and macaws and other species that afternoon. I noticed Diane, one of the other photographers in the group, aways down the road, not focusing her camera up into the trees but aiming her lens at something near the ground. I wandered over and found this huge spider, a golden orb weaver (Nephila clavipes). Females make large aerial webs and they usually perch in the center waiting for prey. The tiny male is visible near the center top of the shot. The females range in size from 24 to 40mm. I don’t remember how big this one was, but she was pretty darn big. I was glad my camera and lens were between me and her!

I made a few adjustments in Lightroom and then edited it using a High Pass filter and blended it using Soft Light in Photoshop to make the spider stand out a bit more, not that she needed intensifying. I took this shot with the D800, 80-400 mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter attached. It is not cropped.

Costa Rica 2015-020-421-Edit

2015—Dream Rose

My miniature rose, Winsome, always seems ready to pose when I want to take closeups. A perfectly lovely tiny bud was opening Wednesday when I stepped out to survey the situation. I wanted to try out some new camera toys I just acquired. One of the camera club members was paring down his collection of camera gear acquired over many decades of photography, including many years as a television camera man. Dick Black is in his early 90’s and still takes photographs frequently and, just as frequently, his photographs are top rated when it comes time to judge at the club. I hope that when I am his age, I’ll still be taking photos and submitting them for critiques. He was giving away some filters and other things and selling a lens. What caught my eye were a few 77mm filters which fit a couple of my lenses. One is called a “closeup” filter. It screws on just like a regular filter but its shape is convex and it magnifies things and allows the lens to focus more closely than it otherwise would.

The other new item that I acquired from Dick was a Nikon 24-120mm f/4 lens. I had been looking at one of these lenses to use for travel; it’s a little more versatile than my 24-70mm lens, my current “walk around” lens, because it extends to 120mm. This lens was a steal. Dick sold it to me for a quarter of what I would pay new. It was in perfect condition. I cleaned the lens with my “Moose Juice” and it works perfectly. I decided it would make its debut with the “closeup” filter, so here it is.

What I love about the first image is the dreamy quality around the edges. It reminds me of my friend Melinda’s Lens Baby photos. The second shot, with exposure compensation at -1.3 to make the rose pop and the background recede, was as close as I could focus without the “closeup” filter. I took both shots at 120mm using a tripod positioned to allow the lens the closest possible focus.

With Closeup Filter:

Closeup Filter-8438

Without Closeup Filter:

24-120 lens-8450

2015—Please, Can’t I Have Just One Lick?

When I visited Melinda in Prescott, AZ in late August, I sat behind a man, his dog, and his ice cream cone at an outdoor concert one evening. I was fascinated by the interaction between the dog and the man and the ice cream cone and I took about 40 shots over a ten minute period while I watched through my viewfinder for just the perfect moment. At the time, I was waiting for the dog to lick his chops. I posted one of my favorite “chops-licking” shots then, although I edited the shot rather poorly in retrospect by creating a sepia tone look. I have reviewed those shots many times since my return to California and I regret my choice of editing. I must have had too much wine that evening.

When I reviewed the photos again I decided I liked them so much I wanted to submit one of them to the Placer Camera Club for critique but knew that I had to edit the photo differently. As I looked at the shots, I found a much better shot which I overlooked at the time because I was so focused on getting the dog’s tongue. This shot is much more emotional and tells a better story, I think. I submitted it with minimal edits, adding a vignette and cropping it to eliminate most of the feet at the top of the frame, although they appeared as bokeh due to the large aperture I used.

Tuesday evening was the Placer Camera Club meeting with critiques by judge Byron Hindman who judges fairly, and whose critiques are succinct, to the point, and instructional. I always learn whenever he judges at our club. I was a bit nervous when he started to comment on my photo because he criticized the distracting blobs at the top of the frame (the feet bokeh). I agreed with his comments; I should have cropped it a little tighter. When he announced my score, I was thrilled to hear him give me a 12, the top score in our critiques so the image proved strong enough to withstand the distracting busy-ness at the top of the frame. When I got home, I changed the crop to eliminate the distraction and decided it was worth publishing here.

Arizona Day 1-2163