2016—December Bathing Bushies

When I noticed the bushtits gathering on top of the fountain for an icy bath, I walked outside and slowly approached them and they all flew into the shrubs.  I could tell they weren’t finished with their bath because they clung to the surrounding foliage and watched me instead of flying off.  I sat down on a chair close to the fountain and one by one, they returned.  I leaned forward and tried to get the camera on an even plane with the fountain but managed to cant the camera so I ended up with photographs that required leveling in post processing.  I think I enjoy the antics of the bushtits as much as the antics of the hummingbirds.  The males always look so adorable with their black eyes and innocent looks.  The females, with the yellow eyes have a perpetual angry bird look.  But to see them pile together onto the fountain and bathe with such enthusiasm is a real joy for me to see.  It is something I never tire of watching.

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2016—Melodic Meadowlark

The lilting song of a Western Meadowlark is lovely.   While out looking for burrowing owls, the sound of meadowlarks was everywhere, but as I crept slowly toward them in my vehicle, they would fly off before I got close enough to photograph them.  When I first successfully photographed meadowlarks from a vehicle in South Dakota last May, it seemed like they would stay put on the fence posts or barbed wire, long enough for each of us in the vehicle to get numerous chances at a good shot.  Not so here.  They were skittish and wary of even a stopped vehicle. I finally stopped far away and slowly exited the vehicle, inching as close as I dared on foot.  I managed to get a half dozen shots before it flew off.


2016—Red Tail

I was free as a bird on Christmas Day so I decided to go shooting in the Lincoln area where Jim White took me a few weeks ago.   I first headed to the area where I saw and photographed my first burrowing owl.  The area is an “open space and wetland preserve” but there were no owls in evidence.  I stopped there and spent time just watching.  There were  lots of birds in the area but most were too far away or too skittish to photograph.  Flocks of starlings looked like clouds of black as they swirled then alighted; a belted kingfisher perched on a wire waiting for prey; western meadowlarks sang their melodic songs from atop fence posts; white crowned sparrows and song sparrows watched from tautly strung barbed wire perches; turkey vultures  soared overhead;  a ferruginous hawk made lazy circles in the sky (thank you Rodgers and Hammerstein).   When I decided to drive home, I passed a red-tailed hawk perched on a wire and stopped.  He got a bit nervous as I took photographs through the open driver’s side window.  Because I was being a smart-ass and had the camera set to high speed crop, when he took to wing, I cut off his wing tips.




2016—I’m (Still) Dreaming Of A White Christmas

I had planned to wear my  black “Bah Humbug”  hat while my brother and I drank wine and prepared our homemade pasta in what has become a family Christmas eve tradition. Sadly,  a last minute phone call alerting me to a contagious illness at my brother’s home prevented me from traveling to Oregon for my first white Christmas.  I wore the hat and drank the wine anyway.

Merry Christmas, everyone!!!


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2016—Christmas Eve Hummer

I got an early Christmas present yesterday morning when the male Anna’s hummingbird cooperated by staying more than a few seconds while he sipped nectar from the sage blossoms.  I managed to track him successfully as he moved among the blossoms.  Although the red of the hummer’s gorget wasn’t reflected in the rainy morning light, the photo still has a Christmassy feel with the red and green of the sage so I decided to use it for my Christmas Eve post.   Hand held;  Nikon D5 with 300mm lens and 1.7x teleconverter; camera set to high speed crop.




2016—Fiery Backdrop

As the sun rose on our last morning in Bosque del Apache, the freezing temperatures and clear skies combined to cast a gorgeous red tint on the fields behind the pond; they glowed as if on fire.  The cranes looked clumsy and comical as they skittered across the frozen pond trying  to gain control of their long legs to launch but once in the air, their flight was elegant, graceful, and mesmerizing to watch.


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2016—’Tis The Season For Yellow?

The December meeting at the Placer Camera Club was a “theme night”  and the theme was “yellow,” an unusual theme for this season and time of year but to me, a very welcome diversion from the ubiquitous  Christmas kitsch.   I found a single  Rio Samba rose remaining on one of the rose trees in front with backlit petals that intrigued me.  I wanted to feature the backlighting and  this rose was kind of on its last legs so I used my macro lens wide open for a shallow depth of field so that just parts of the petals are in focus.  Oh,  and I had a little help from Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 to bring out some of the details.

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2016—Rum Boogie

I was boogieing around my kitchen Monday afternoon after I added a bit of rum to my Paleo friendly walnut-date-coconut balls that I was making to take to the Placer Camera Club Christmas meeting Tuesday night.  I had to taste them a few times to make sure I had just the right amount of rum!  I guess that means they aren’t so Paleo friendly anymore but they’re sure good.

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2016—The Terror Of Getting Close

I haven’t taken many new photographs this past couple of weeks  but I have had time to take a second look at some of the photographs I took on my early November trip to the Texas Gulf.  I was so taken with “Beach Panning” and so mesmerized with the results I achieved that when I got home, I scarcely paid attention to the many other fascinating photographs I took there using more “conventional” methods.  Now, I have discovered many shots that are interesting and these photographs reminded me that the method of capture was not so “conventional” after all—for me, anyway.

It’s critical to get as close as possible to your subject.  And, sometimes, even a long lens  and teleconverter doesn’t do the trick.  But, almost always, your feet can get you closer.   For me, however, my fear of heights often prevents me from venturing close because of uneven, steep terrain or even a mere half foot gap to traverse, especially if water surrounds the area.  One day while on the Gulf of Mexico, we visited a neighborhood with a jetty made of huge pink granite slabs, lumpy uneven pieces of quarry rock surrounded by surging surf.  Of course everyone but me easily stepped onto the jetty from terra firma with their tripods, cameras, and long lenses.  I still wonder how people who aren’t afraid of such things are so sure that where they’re stepping is stable and won’t come loose to let them plunge into the unknown.  It took some coaxing to get me there and I was petrified (pun intended) because I had to carry my tripod on my shoulder and make sure I didn’t step into the abyss and then I had to be careful to make sure  my tripod legs didn’t disappear into a crevice when I set it down.  All this with my knees shaking and my heart in my throat.  This is not a situation to which I gravitate naturally.

Once settled in, though, I had great views and got some good photographs.  The birds disregarded us and went about their business foraging for a bite of food before the sun set. This willet spent lots of time poking into the cracks and crevices for a tasty morsel.  The setting sun is reflected in the water behind it.  The quarry grooves are clearly visible in the granite.  When I see what I have accomplished after pushing myself well outside my comfort zone, I am pleased with the results and I tell myself it was worth the fleeting terror I felt getting there.

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2016 ended with three successive   Super Moons. On December 14, the moon is full and also at perigee for the third and last Supermoon of this year-end trilogy.  Perigee is the moon’s closest distance to Earth.  It’s overcast and raining here so there will be no December moon photographs for me but I did take photographs of the Super Moon in November when the moon was at its closest to Earth so far in this century and the moon won’t be as close again until 2034. That was the super Super Moon.

This is the photograph I took on November 14, 2016, of that super Super Moon.  I set up my 600mm lens with a 1.7X teleconverter and used High Speed Crop to get the moon as large as possible in the frame. I took the shot in my backyard over the neighbor’s rooftop so there is nothing to show relative size of the moon to its surroundings but I didn’t crop this photograph.


2016—With The Wind At His Back

Even though he’s fast approaching the edge of the frame, I couldn’t resist this little sanderling scurrying along the beach with his feathers ruffled and buffeted by the wind at his back.   It’s another “beach panning” shot from North Padre Island, Texas.  I hadn’t yet managed to consistently keep my subject in the best position in the frame while sprawled on the sand with my frisbee-mounted camera gear—not that I ever managed that.  But, the good news is that I kept the subject level, something that I found to be almost as difficult as following it.

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