Sunday, December 27, 2009

Marsh sparrow

This little guy was eating seeds from a thistle covered in hoarfrost at the refuge today!  They do not normally sit still long enough for a picture, but he was more interested in food than in the big truck that pulled up next to him!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2009!  Attended the 7:30pm service last night where Diana was celebrant and preacher.  Sang the old Christmas songs and listened to a wonderful solo of "O Holy Night" by a very talented young singer.  I remember singing that song when I was about 11 or 12, in a church performance, and my voice cracked on the high note!  His didn't crack!

Cold here in Slick City - 14 right now and looks like it will be cold for the next few days.  Not so bad if we can get some sunshine, but the smog and haze will build also.

Diana has a green thumb with orchids and I am constantly trying to capture the beauty of them.  Here's a shot from yesterday with the sun backlighting the beautiful flowers.  Still not completely satisfied that it expresses all the beauty but it is very nice.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monochromatic day!

With the inversion creating fog, yesterday was a monochromatic day.  Murph, Mom and I went out to the refuge with bagels and coffee and saw a couple of harriers and a kestrel hunting.  On the way out we saw a redtail peering at us from the top of a telephone pole.

Lots of hoarfrost - it is very beautiful.  Murph ran around in it and wound up a speckled black and white dog.  Here's some pics from the day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What do I do now?

Murph and I were out at Farmington Bay refuge Sunday, and he met this little guy.  The mouse ran back and forth and then finally into the grasses on the side of the parking lot.  Murph jumped around a lot and tried to smell him, but seemed to be a bit unsure of how to react!  Here's a couple of pics from the fun.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Murph and I came back from visiting a friend and walked into the backyard to see this guy!  I had sent my earlier picture to my contacts at Hawkwatch and asked which one it was - Coopers or Sharpie.  Without seeing the tail, they couldn't tell.
So here's one with the tail, and we'll see what they say!  I understand that the Coopers tail is the same length as the body or longer and the Sharpie's is smaller.  Based on that I think I would vote for this being a Sharpie. Update 12-14 - Identified as a Juvenile Sharpshin!

Cemetery Deer

There is a beautiful, large cemetery by the University of Utah that is filled with trees and landscaped very beautifully.  There is also a herd of black-tailed deer that live there!
The deer roam around the cemetery without anything to fear.  I've seen them wait until the person left, then meander over to the gravesite and eat the fresh flowers!  Plenty of food for them.

Driving through one day, I caught these two regal bucks surveying their domain!

Then there were these two goofy looking youngsters - great shot of the Ute's Rice-Eccles stadium!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hawkwatching and the Goshutes

Last year I spent a couple of days on top of the Goshute mountains with Hawkwatch folks who were counting migrating raptors. Other than the pain that came from climbing up and down the two-mile trail twice (I should have stayed overnight on top of the mountain), it was a wonderful trip. Hawkwatch website
You learn pretty quickly that you really don't know much about identifying birds, especially as they do not wait till you have seen all you want to see, but everyone there was incredibly helpful and by the end of the time there I was doing OK.  The scenery is out of the world, and here's a few pictures to demonstrate that.

This is Lookout #1, and the birds come soaring across the mountain in the distance right towards this point (north to south).  A fake owl on a post occasionally helps to draw the raptors a bit closer to assist in identifying them.
The air is clean and fresh!  Sunrises and sunsets are very exciting!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Early Bird!

The early bird came by this morning, despite a temp of 16.  He sat on the fence post about 7:45am, looking for breakfast.  Seemed a bit early for the little birds to be out, but there he was.  We didn't see him score today, but I know he'll be back.

On a technical note, I was using my 80-400mm lens and ran the ISO up to 1000 to get a decent shutter speed, I thought.  But I only ever got to 1/60 sec which is way too slow for handholding this lens, despite VR.  I got so excited at seeing the hawk that I didn't double-check :-(

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Keeping the camera ready!

When you have a bird feeder in your back yard, keeping your camera ready is a necessity, at least for those of us that are kinda wierd!
This guy/lady showed up in the back yard very quietly as usual.  She sat on this perch for several minutes, really only a few feet away from the 'birdbush' which was filled with sparrows sitting pretty darn quietly!  Then in just a heartbeat, she flew into the bush (a very hard right and backwards) and then came back to sit on the fence with a bird in her claws!  A very quick and unexpected move.  After a couple of moves to settle the food into the correct position, she flew off for her dinner!

As a friend once said, in the outdoors, you are either eating or being eaten!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Desert Beauty

The desert has a beauty about it that seems to be always present, just presented in different ways and at different times.  Here's a shot from yesterday, when the haze-smog was still pretty bad and the wind was blowing the dust along at a good rate!  We were sitting at Fish Springs National Wildlife refuge eating lunch and watching the scenes unfold in front of us.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

West Desert

A long day today, spent mostly out in the western Utah desert making a big circle of ~350 miles.  Wide open country, with only a few things to break the spell!

We started with a golden eagle (no pic tho), then antelope, caught a coyote staring at us and watched Canadien geese fly into a tremendous headwind out at the Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge.  The openness soothes and quiets the soul.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Well, I'm sure many of us had a lot of anticipation before the Thanksgiving dinner.  Here's another view of anticipation - Leo looking at the birdfeeder.  One can just feel it!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New way of looking

Today, the day before Thanksgiving, I left work a bit early and took a drive around the edge of the Great Salt Lake, the portion from the sailboat marina to the airport.  It's a narrow two-lane road with the freeway, I-80, on one side and the mud and marshes of the Great Salt Lake on the other.  The Audobon society has a preserve out there and there is a radio station and winter grazing areas for farmers.  Nearer the airport there is a herd of antelope - I counted 30+ today.  I've seen bald eagles sitting on fence posts and coyotes going about their day, all very close to the city.

Usually there are a couple of hawks out there, also, hanging out in the dead trees.  Rough-legged and redtails, along with the occasional kestrel.  Today there were two rough-legged.  One spooked as I drove up so really got no good pictures of him/her.  The other flew right up to the vacated perch and landed there for me to watch and snap a few pics of.
Here's one that struck me - the fence posts, the smoggy sky (color slightly distorted), wire forms in the background from discarded cement, and the hawk, in it's spare beauty, coming in for the landing.

Later tonight, I was sitting out on the back deck with Murphy and a glass of wine.  I set the glass up above us on the handrail and later, looked up.  Had to take it's picture!
What's not obvious is that the small lights in the glass are from the moon - half a crescent.  A great day, all in all.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I'm not quite sure why I think prayer when I see this picture, but it comes up every time I look.  The incredible beauty of color, texture, form, etc.  stops me cold.  I can sit and just stare at this flower, seeing something different each time.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Favorite Subject!

My favorite subject is.......Murphy!  I have taken over a thousand photo's of him, pretty much everywhere I've taken him.  Plus when Carmensita comes over, he's in many of the pictures with her.

One of the greatest 'looks' he has is out of the back center window of the truck when he's watching us come or go!  Tonight we stopped at REI and he was facing west into the evening sun.  I watched him as we left him and decided to take a picture when we came out.  Sure enough, he was (as he always is) obliging and cute as can be!!

Yes, those are his teeth and yes, he is getting white hairs in his choppers!  Only about 5 years old as best we can tell.


One of the things I like to do is volunteer for a local arts group that compiles a monthly list of what's happening in Utah arts and includes interviews and photos of selected happenings.  One of the things occuring this month is a re-opening of a gallery in our neighborhood.  It turns out that the owner knows a real dear friend of ours and is a (sometime) Episcopalian so the photo shoot turned into a bit of reminiscing.  Here's a shot from the outside at night - the remodeling has opened up the building space and - with it painted white (walls, floor and ceiling) the impression is one of openness.

 And here's examples of the whiteness.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I'm in an all week training class, so not much time for pictures.  I was reviewing my sea-skyscapes for possible submission to a call for entries on water, but found that my focus in each was the sky rather than the water.  Works well for the picture but not the competition.

Here's one that just makes me feel good.  This was a sunset from Day 5 of our cruise.  It was a day at sea as we traveled onto our next destination.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Snowy Rose

The better I get at taking pictures the more I realize how much there is to learn. Take this picture. A simple picture of a rose with snow on it. Yet, looking at it in the garden, there's more to it and sometimes I can't find the words to define what the 'more' is.
So I 'mess around' in postproduction. I use Lightroom and often move the sliders and dials just to see what results they will produce. Sometimes I do well in visualizing the end results and sometimes not.
In this photo, although not overexposed initially, I used the recovery (recover highlights) slider to the max and then the fill light to the max to get the background to appear as it does. A bit of black added to the end result and decreasing the saturation but maxing out the vibrance brought the color to what you see.

Several comments about the entire process - 1) there is no 'right way'; 2) experiment; 3) computer algorythms often work differently than what the mind thinks they should!

Apricot and snow?

Snowing today, and a little bit is sticking here at about 4500 ft above sea level. 

We attended a friend's funeral today, a difficult time for both of us.  The beauty that surrounds us helps as we move on - snow on Carey's rose.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th

This Friday the 13th is looking like a good one.

Sometimes when seeing beauty, it is in an unassuming place.  This spot of light was sequestered beneath grasses at the refuge, with just the face of the two blades highlighted.  To me, there is a richness, a deepness here beyond the beauty of the grass blades themselves, into the darker surroundings of twigs and leaves and grasses.

I toyed with the name "Grass Light" for this, and immediately two questions popped into my head - 'Can I see by it' and 'Could I read by it'.  Beauty needs not have such functionality, it just is.  Those questions are the human needs.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Carey's Rose Update

Diana told me that Carey's rose was an apricot color, but only believing what I see, I had to wait to confirm this for myself.  Well, here it is.  Weather has been in the 60's but a winter storm is in line for the next few days, with the high dropping to mid-30's by Saturday.  Roses are pretty resilient so will continue to track this one!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kids of Kensington

Cole is one of the kids of Kensington Ave, and is always a whirlwind of activity. He never goes slow - much to the chagrin of his mom when he took a jump on his bike this summer and had a very marked up face to show for it!
Here he is this morning, headed over to a friend's place for some reason or another.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Shoes sitting by themselves have always seemed symbolic of waiting to me - waiting expectantly for the owner to return and fill them again.  Here's a pair in the afternoon sunlight.

Yes, they belong to the leaf sprite!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Leaf Sprite!

Diana has been pressing to remove the leaf pile out front 'cause the kids haven't been around to play in it (and the grass is dying under the pile).  But today we had a real leaf sprite stop by and she played in the leaves for a long time!  She brought her dog Luke over with her and Murph and Luke ran around and around the leaf pile being goofy dogs!

Here's the leaf sprite (Skye is her name) at home in the leaf pile!

Carey's Rose

Our dear friend, Carey, had a flower arrangement sent to Diana on Diana's birthday last January. Included in the arrangement was a rose that could be planted. So we did, and the rose (just like Carey) has bloomed beautifully all summer and into the fall. When it opens full, it is an apricot color, but the buds show a bit redder color.

Yesterday afternoon, the fall light was so wonderful that I was able to get this picture - what beauty surrounds us!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

In and Out!

The name of a rather well-known drive up burger place, this phrase applies to pets as any pet owner knows!  Murphy is pretty well adjusted and can come in on his own when we leave the door slightly loose.

But Leo is another story.  He has his own pet door in the basement door but when we are in the kitchen/dining area he wants us to let him in and out!  He hasn't learned to open the door himself when it is ajar (as Sam did) and he is too light to push the door inward to come in when he is outside!  So here we are catering to his desires and sometimes we just have to say NO!

But he is a cute one, isn't he?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bird day at the refuge

Mom and I had a great visit to the Farmington Bay wildlife refuge - see my post at Postings from the Refuge.  Mom seemed to be doing quite well and did not seem to tire out as quickly as she often does.  We take each day together as a special blessing!
Diana and I are going to have my old downstairs office room redone and took a trip to Ikea to look at what might be available for work areas and storage.  After 2 hours there, I needed a quiet spot and a drink! - WOW.  But lots of great ideas that we think we might be able to use.

Welcome to November!

We traditionally don't do a lot of decorating for Halloween.  Putting up the lighted spider web outside with some amount of pumpkins, carved or not, plus the biggest hit of the evening - Scary music!  That's about all we do.

We got a good number of small kids - they are the best 'cause they are most excited about all of the costumes and celebrations and candy!  Kids came until about 8:30, then everything quieted down.  It was a nice evening, in the 50's, and some of the kids took advantage of the leaf pile in our front yard!
Diana decided that she should carve a pumpkin - first carving in several years.  While looking a bit goofy in the daylight, it came out very fierce in the candlelight! 

Friday, October 30, 2009

Water and us!

Last night, Diana and I attended a lecture by Alexandra Cousteau (Jacque's granddaughter) sponsored by the Nature Conservancy local chapter in celebration of 25 years.  Alexandra was inspiring - for me, primarily by redefining our relationship with water.  What she pointed out was that we humans have interrupted the water cycle that we learn as 5th graders, and interrupted it so significantly that the consequences are just now being perceived.  Also, from her travels around the world, she noted that people outside America have a better perception of and knowledge of the climate change that is occurring, mostly because many of them live a lot closer to nature than we do.  As Americans we have isolated ourselves more and more from Nature and do not see the small changes that are occurring.  Her father and grandfather told her she had to go see for herself, and that is not something most Americans do - rather they let TV see for them.
Enough ranting -if you have interest take a look at

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


First real snow of the year in the valley yesterday, with more to come today.  Here's what it looked like to me this morning!