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!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Orchid and sunlight

I read about picture taking people that get stumped about where to find a good picture to shoot.  My challenge is much different - there is so much beauty around me that if I took pictures all day long I would never capture all of it.
Key is being ready when the 'Aha' moments show up.  Here's one of an orchid sitting in the kitchen sink with the sun highlighting it.  I came into the kitchen, it struck me, and I went and grabbed my camera and came back and took several shots from different angles and compositions. With flowers and sunlight it is hard to go wrong!

Links on this blog

Please check out the links on this blog under My Blog List on the left of the page.  Starting at the top, David DuChemin is a vocal advocate of vision over gear, something that I think is sorely needed in today's world.  Next is John Paul Caponigro, a visionary himself and an incredibly talented person.
Next is a link to a new blog of mine, created to focus on the Farmington Bay Wildlife refuge and include others in the blog.  Joe McNally is a real treat to many of us - a plain-spoken, New Yorker with photographic accomplishments way too numerous to list!
Howard Schroeder is a very talented artist using wood to express his artistry.  Finally, TED is a place of ideas of all sorts, worth listening to anytime, but perhaps especially when you are wondering about the state of the world.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Fall is wonderfully here!  The sun sets behind the Oquirrh mountains instead of over the lake (Stansbury Island in mid-summer).  The angle of light even during mid-day is alive and quickens the pulse!
Murph and I went to the refuge this morning with Mom, then to the mountains and back to town.  Here's some mountain and Murphy color that we found today.

Murph is intriguing to watch as we hike.  If it is a place we have been before, he is usually wide open, running and sniffing everywhere.  But, if there is coyote scat around (even in a place he has been before), his tail goes down (he's not an alpha dog) and he stays pretty close to me and checks in with me a lot.  When we've been to Fish Springs Wildlife Refuge, where coyote scat is everywhere on the dikes, he is incredibly watchful - and having had coyotes jump out not far in front of us, I do not blame him!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Awesome Saturday!

Murphy and I took a long walk through the refuge this morning before and during sunrise.  What an incredible time of day.  See the pictures at, a new blog that I have started to document and record our visits to the Farming Bay Wildlife refuge.  My memory is not that great so I wanted to capture sightings and dates to refer to them later.
On our way back to town, there was a very interesting view of Salt Lake City.  The picture here is a composite of 5 exposures in an attempt to capture the dynamics of the scene.  I'm not completely satisfied with it - I'd rather have mostly the city and the clouds rather than include the houses in the forefront.  But cropping the picture in various ways did nothing to further the vision I had so here it is as I captured it.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Here on the deck in the cool months (fall and spring) we have a chimenea that we all sit around and get warmth from.  Plus the fire is so mesmerizing and wonderful smelling - we burn the redwood and cedar from the old fences and deck that were replaced.

So, being curious, I took some pictures of the fire last night.  My camera shoots at 6 frames per second (with normal light, etc.) so all of the pics show the same hour:minute:second time stamp.  Yet look at the differences!!  Fire photography could be a fascinating pastime!

All of these were shot at 200mm (18-200mm), f/5.6 and either 1/125 or 1/160 sec.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Watching the cat!

Yesterday, in between playing with Carmen, Murphy was relaxing when Leo, our cat, came out of the garden.  Murph just laid there with his eyes glued to Leo, every move Leo made was evaluated!  They are friends, but Murph will chase him in a second!

I like the black and white but with the color recovered in certain spots.

Visit from Carmensita!

Carmen - the cutest little girl in Salt Lake city - stopped by for a visit yesterday afternoon.  She loves our backyard and Murphy - (she calls him "VooVoo"). 

I got a bit carried away and took some 700 pictures, including some sequences that we'll try to automate with Animoto and see how it works. 
Getting down to the same level as a youngster has a real beneficial affect for me - I let loose of a lot of 'adult' structures.
Here's a few pictures of Carmen being herself.

The kids came!

Build it and they will come! - Especially with kids.  The neighborhood boys showed up this afternoon and had a great time.  So much fun that they knocked on our door and asked if I would pay them for raking up the leaves (that they scattered!!).  I told them I would if they would pay me for playing in the leaves - just kidding with them.

Anyway here they are - whirlwinds of activity.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where are the kids??

I've raked up a decent pile of leaves and am waiting for the kids to come and jump in them!  With two families and their kids leaving the neighborhood, I may wait for awhile - or I may go jump in them myself!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Musings

When I began taking photography a bit more seriously about 3 years ago, I was asked why I was taking pictures.  After some introspection, I responded " I want to capture the moments of beauty in our lives that we walk by".  Further, my belief is that as people become exposed to the 'common' beauty around each of us, we slowly become attuned to the natural world and (ideally) more willing to preserve what brings that beauty forth. 

Over the last 3+ years this desire has intensified within me and I continue to seek ways to capture and present these moments.  As I have been reviewing pictures from our cruise I've also seen many of my prior pictures and am renewed in my search for ways to present these.  And, when you look around, others are taking so many beautiful pictures also, and contributing to the collection of beautiful moments around the world.
Here are a couple of moment's of beauty that I found, one from our cruise, one from the backyard yesterday and one from the trip to the refuge today.  I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday in the wastelands

The land west of the airport is seen generally as a wasteland, empty, muddy and full of flies.  Yet spending time walking through the rushes and saltgrass, you can find and see a wide variety of things.  Today, Murph and I found a dead coyote, the skull of another small animal - wide and flat.  There were Greater Yellowlegs and Whimbrels eating in the streams, and a couple of Northern Harrier Hawks came by to take a look at us.  Plus the scenery, which is wide open, desolate and richly full at the same time.  Here's a few snaps from today.  Murphy is a joy to be with - he plays hard all the time and occasionally does some goofy stuff!
This landscape was intriguing to me.  I tried several different views, cropping out much of the foreground and then less; but never could find any compromise that looked better than the original picture.  So sticking with it.

Black River, Jamaica again

Looking through the pictures again, it is much easier to throw away ones now.  I try to see what speaks to me and keep those, good-bye to the rest.  Some that are good documentation I keep just to provide a continuum of the trip.

The Black River landing had several interesting shots - from the sign to the people.  The hats/caps kept showing up around this trip.

This Guiness ad was a bit disturbing for me - I like Guiness but getting greatness from drinking it?  A bit over the top, I think.

Further along, this soul was mending his net.  He gladly permitted pictures, and would occasionally point out what he was doing and why.

The gecko seemed fearless - stared at us until we got way too close, then ran up the tree.
A house for sale caught our interest - with Blue Mountain coffee fields in the distance.  A real fixer-upper that had seen some better days.

As our Zodiac motored back to the ship, this gentleman enthusiastically responded to my wave and I had to try to capture him.  What a smile!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Port Antonio, Jamaica re-visited

Going back through the photo's of Port Antonio brought out some that I wanted to publish but had skipped over earlier. Entering the harbor there were two views that I liked, this one of the lighthouse and then the one of the church building against the hill. 

Goats were everywhere in Jamaica, apparently raised primarily for food - meat and/or milk.  While the little ones were cute as only the young can be, the older ones (like us humans) can be pretty stern and wierd looking!!

As we drove through the town, kids were getting out of school.  Everyone in school there wears a uniform (or you don't go to school). And, as kids everywhere getting out of school, laughter and teasing seemed to be the order of the day!

The landscape continued to provide beauty in all shapes and colors, even the leaves were stunning!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stars of La Romana

Going back through my pictures of the half day spent at Casa de Campo resort, just outside La Romana, DR, I came up with these three stars of the day. 

We spent the morning wandering around the marina, drinking wonderful cappucino's and just settling in that we were now not in America.  We boarded the ship in the afternoon - DR and other countries charge a departure tax that you must pay or you cannot leave!!  $20 per person here, $26 in Costa Rica.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Our flight from Miami to the Dominican republic was the last of three in a row.  Altho we were tired, we did look out the window.  It is amazing what you can see from 7 miles up!  Sitting at home now, waiting on a storm to hit, this picture brings back the warmth and beauty that we experienced in the Caribbean!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Yellow Labs

Mom and I went out to the refuge this morning, and she had a special treat!  The hawk shown below flew within 10 feet of the truck on Mom's side, right at her eye level for a minute or so!  Almost like the hawk was checking out who else was in the truck today!

The real prize of the day was the two yellow labs standing in the back of the ranger's truck as he checked out the duck hunters when they left the refuge.  They were very beautiful and regal, keeping an eye on everything that went on.

Friday, October 9, 2009

More Hawk!

I've been working with a Lightroom plug-in that provides borders, backgrounds, etc.  Here's one of the hawk pictures from yesterday that I like with the plug-in add-ons.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Back at the Refuge

A cool but wonderful day today.  Murph and I went up to see the refuge for the first time in 17 days.  More water now due to the recent rains, and mostly the same birds.  Lots of Kestrels hunting, but saw no Northern Harriers.  Duck hunting season is here and the airboats with hunters are out in the wetlands.

A young red-tailed hawk graciously allowed me to take her picture (it felt like a she) plus the sun and the patterns in the grasses were show-stoppers.


Aaaahhhh - dry air!  After 16 days of 90+% humidity it feels so good to be back in the dry air of Utah!
Friends picked us up at the airport, and Murphy was absolutely ecstatic when we arrived home - lots of kisses and wild running around.  The young lady that stayed at our place and took care of Murph and the house did an excellent job as always - everything was in perfect shape.
Diana had her PG Tips (English tea) which she had missed during the trip, and I'm back on Peet's coffee again.  The ground is still moving on us - just sitting here typing it seems as if we are at anchor with a very gently rolling swell.
Things seem very quiet now - no scheduled activities, just able to sit, drink our beverage, read the paper and watch the birds.  Speaking of birds, the hummingbirds are still here despite 35 to 50 degree temperatures.  We filled their feeder this morning and immediately they were there to drink.
A flower note - heliconias are everywhere in Costa Rica. At the hotel in San Jose, I went out at night and caught these with spotlights on them.  Such beauty everywhere.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Puerto Quepos - our last stop

This is our last post, as tomorrow after breakfast we dis-embark and go our separate ways.  We are staying overnight in San Jose, and catching our flights on the 7th - didn't feel like rushing around so quickly.

Diana and I split up today, I took a 5 hour walk through Manuel Antonio National Park and she took a ride through the mangroves.  So our pictures come from both of us!
Diana saw capuchin monkeys, turtles, herons, tree snakes, and local things as she walked around town.  The capuchin mother and baby are one of the many monkeys she saw.

My walk through the National Park was filled with wildlife; a lot of black iguanas, howler monkeys, snakes, the Jesus Christ lizard (so named because he walks on water!), along with hummingbirds, butterflies and flowers.
We landed in this idyllic cove, beach number two in the park. The lizards greeted us immediately!

This is the Jesus Christ Lizard above!
The howler monkey below left was a beta male, eating leaves by himself.

We also saw quite a number of sloths, both two toed and three toed.  The one below was a three toed sloth.

This green frog is very interesting - I looked at it a long time before I realized it was not part of the plant!!
Finally, no matter where you go in the world, somethings never change!  This sign was in the Pharmacacia in the small town as we came out of the park!