2021—Peaceful Diorama

The little Pine Siskins at The Ranch in Montana were constantly on the move either pecking at the seeds in the feeders, jostling for space on the edges of the pond, or disappearing en masse as they all took flight at the slightest possibility that a predator was in the area. This is one of the rare moments that one took the time to sit still in peaceful repose for what was probably just an instant but it is frozen in time now. It somehow reminds me of a diorama in a natural history museum, its namesake pine muted in the background.

2021—Back to the Backyard

This female Anna’s Hummingbird was chilling out on one of the perches that I placed strategically in a pot near one of the feeders a couple of months ago. She was so relaxed that in about half of the shots I took of her, her eyes were closed and she looked like she was starting to fall asleep. The female Anna’s seem to be more tolerant of me and my camera and will sit in the open while I’m standing there. The male Anna’s are territorial and object to me being outside at all. In fact, I can always tell where they are because when I go outside, they start their squeaky sounding call. I don’t always see them right away because they are usually tucked away in the shadows unlike the females who are content to perch in the open but by following their voice, I can usually locate their hiding place.

2021—Happy New Year!!

Today marks the start of the eleventh year of my blog, In Focus Daily. And as I have done almost every year from the start, I am featuring an Anna’s Hummingbird from my backyard as the first post of the new year. I took this yesterday on the last day of a year I’m sure everyone wants to forget. To me hummingbirds are a sign of joy and freedom, some things that were hard to find in 2020. So here’s to a healthier, happier, and cage free 2021!

2020—Back to the Bog

Sax-Zim Bog near Lake Superior in Minnesota is a truly unique place. In the winter it’s cold and snowy and filled with birds. While owls seem to be the biggest attraction there, you can’t overlook the tiny birds like this Black-capped Chickadee fluffed up against the biting chill that was somewhere about negative 16 or lower.

2020—Valley Fog

In past years, the Central Valley in California has been infamous for its dense winter fog, sometimes called tule fog, that hugs the ground and limits visibility to just a few feet. Driving in tule fog is incredibly dangerous and multi-car freeway pileups especially during commute hours are not uncommon. Dense tule fogs have been mostly absent the past few years possibly due to the drought and overly dry conditions that have kept this fog from forming. We do still get the occasional foggy day and this past week, on a couple of days for a few hours during my morning walk, the fog returned. It’s a dense fog but it’s not nearly the dense tule fog that can so dangerous. Visibility was limited but it’s still possible to see three Valley Oaks in a row.

2020—Ghost Trees

The foggy morning mist makes these large Valley Oaks appear like ghost trees, kind of eerie and foreboding. I’ve been taking my tiny Nikon Z50 with me on morning walks and when it’s foggy like this, I can get some interesting shots in Antelope Park. The equally tiny Nikkor 18-50mm lens, the crop sensor equivalent of a full-frame 24-70mm lens, makes it easy to have this combination camera and lens with me all the time.

2020—All Aglow

My Christmas bouquet of all white spider mums turned out to be an experiment in light painting for me. I really enjoy light painting and the unique effects that I can create but maybe I should say “backlight painting” because although I started light painting this flower from the front and side, I realized as I viewed the images that those with backlit petals were more interesting and unique. So I decided to create an image where most of the petals were backlit. Since the light source for this technique is a hand held flashlight, no two images will be the same. Slight nuances can make a huge difference in an image. It’s absolutely necessary to view what you’ve done as you’re working because you will see subtle changes depending on where the light is directed. Some work; some don’t. What I’ve learned is that once I open the shutter, I start to develop a rhythm and a pattern so it becomes easier to duplicate a look and build on that. Each image is a long exposure so you can take as much time as needed to light paint an image so long as you’re in a very dark environment. For this image in my dark garage, I set my Nikon Z7 with the 105mm Micro lens to f/16, ISO 64, and the shutter to “Bulb” so I could hold the shutter open as long as I needed. This image took 20 seconds to create. This was a relatively short light painting because the subject was only about 6 inches in diameter and it took just a few movements to direct light through the translucent petals without overexposing them.