2021—And What a View!

Until yesterday, it has been my experience that any place that uses the word “view” in its name is usually stretching the truth a bit. I can no longer say that. The View Hotel in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park lives up to its name…and then some. The rooms here all face some of the most spectacular and iconic views in this park, made familiar to us without even visiting in person because so many movies have been filmed here over the years. This view, taken as the sun was sinking behind us, is just off the parking lot of the hotel. The views from our third floor rooms are every bit as spectacular. This image shows West and East Mitten, the two buttes in the middle, so named because they look like mittens.

2021—Why I love Hummers

What’s not to love? Last month in Madera Canyon, my friend Richard took an iPhone video of me holding a tiny hummingbird feeder while a male Broad-billed Hummingbird drank from it, buzzing around, and even checking out my eyes. It was such an incredible experience. It’s no wonder I love hummingbirds.

2021—Floating on Air

In the heat of the day yesterday, I was outside planting several new additions to my patio garden including some Cone Flowers. Earlier yesterday morning, when I went out to refill bird feeders, I realized that some of my drip system tubing had disconnected. Because of the heat, I lost several plants including some of my hummingbirds’ favorites. This is not the first time that has happened and I am paying for the Rube Goldberg drip system I installed but, it’s what I have. The good news is that I discovered 1/4 inch pressure clamps that attach to the tubing to prevent them from blowing off. I replaced a Cigar Plant and a Hummingbird Mint, both of which the hummers love and both of which had shriveled away. I bought the cone flowers on a whim. I don’t think the hummers will be interested but the bees and the butterflies should enjoy them. I decided to try focus shift shooting with the flowers on the plant, and using only the ambient light. The overcast skies coupled with the smoky haze in the air made the afternoon light soft. I took 50 images to create this final stacked image. What I found interesting is that the camera didn’t attempt to focus in on the leaves and stems beneath these blossoms. They appear to be floating on air.

2021—A Twist

The summer I turned thirteen, my mother taught me how to sew.  One of my upcoming eighth grade classes was Sewing and she wanted to make sure I knew the basics before anyone else taught me so that I didn’t develop bad habits.  Mom was an incredibly talented seamstress and one of the things she taught me was to finish putting in a zipper by hand using silk buttonhole twist.  It gave a couturier finish to a dress, a skirt, or a pair of slacks and I was always proud when my finished garments looked like hers.  I gave up sewing for myself years ago.  The time spent perfecting a garment just wasn’t worth the effort anymore, good fabric stores had become hard to find, and, perhaps most significantly, I discovered the clearance racks at Macy’s. 

My continuing quest to find macro subjects drew me to my sewing cabinet. I still have a bowl filled with wooden spools of silk thread and silk buttonhole twist I used on garments I made years ago.  Ironically to me, the reverse side of the wooden spool pictured above is stamped Belding Corticelli, a silk thread manufacturer that at one time produced its threads in the building in Petaluma that my father’s fishing line business took over in the 1940’s. I am pleased to report that I was able to thread the needle without use of a needle threader but my arms were just barely long enough to see the eye. I shot this image using Nikon’s Focus Shift feature, taking 150 images stacked into a single image so that the entire image is in focus.

2021—Hummer of Summer

The perch I put in a pot of California Fuchsias near one of the hummingbird feeders has turned out to be a welcome resting place for the hummingbirds that visit my garden in summer and it’s very close to the flowers and the feeder. I didn’t recognize this bird and when I saw it resting on the perfectly placed perch early the other evening, so I grabbed my Nikon D6 with the Nikkor 500mmPF lens already attached for just this scenario and opened the patio door. It didn’t move so I stepped into the opening and the little hummer stayed put. I was about ten feet away when I took the first few shots shots. Then, because I had an extension tube on the lens, I knew I could get a couple of feet closer so I stepped outside and she sat still but looked straight into my lens. She’s a female Black-chinned Hummingbird. Identifying a female Black-chinned always stumps me. (Thank you, Moose 😊). I knew I had some because a few weeks ago I thought I saw a male at one of the feeders but the male Anna’s Hummingbird is very effective at keeping other hummers away from “his” feeders so I haven’t seen the male Black-chinned since.

2021—After the Eclipse

On June 10, 2021, an annular eclipse was visible in parts of the world, but not in the US. We were in Badlands National Park in South Dakota and we watched with a few other photographers as the sun lifted above the horizon well after the eclipse was visible elsewhere in the world. The hazy skies and a -2 exposure compensation created a sort of trigonometric view of this Badlands sunrise.

2021—She Sells SeaShells…

By scrounging around in boxes and drawers for macro subjects, I have rediscovered lots of treasures long forgotten. This, for example, was one of my exciting discoveries on the beach at Port Aransas, Texas many years ago. It is a Sundial Shell. My dear friend Susan and I walked the beach every morning and searched for shells which were few and far between on the Port A beach. Serious shell hunters had already scoured the beach before we arrived and gleaned any good shells. We lucked out every once in a while. Each year, the types and numbers of shells were different. One year I collected only black scallop shells. Sometimes the beach was covered with tiny, colorful butterfly shells, none of which ever made it home intact. Sand dollars were always an exciting discovery but finding an undamaged one was close to impossible. And finding the coveted Lightning Whelk was reason for celebration. I found quite a few sundial shells and I love how they look almost like a spiral staircase. Most of the shells I returned with were filled with sand, usually imperfect, and unfortunately, occasionally still housing their original owners something that became quite apparent a few days after my return. Once again, I used my Nikkor Z MC 105mm lens but only two SB 5000 speed lights and took 150 images, stacking them into one using HeliconFocus software.