Monday, November 29, 2010

Snow Beauty

With and additional 10+ inches of snow overnight, there are a lot of snow scenes today. The snow is light and fluffy and fun to walk in. Unfortunately for Murphy, it now comes up to his belly and he does not like walking in it - running through it is another deal and he loves that, dipping his nose into the snow as he runs.
Here's one shot this morning that I really like - shot with auto white balance shows the blue in the snow.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunshine in the snow storm

We've received 10 to 12 inches of snow at our house so far today, a grey day where it never snowed heavily, just constantly. First real shoveling effort of the season - 'course for a Minnesota boy that feels good!
I wanted to bring a bit of sunshine into the day, even if only on the blog, so here they are. The church is the Catholic Cathedral of the Madeleine, that sits on the north side of South Temple street and always calls me to raise my camera!

This is a sunny day in the early October, looking back up the Wasatch from the entry of a canyon. There had been a bit of rain, therefore all the green, along with some coolness accounting for the change of color of the oak trees.  Once again, the clouds and the light are fascinating to me.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Inside shots

Cold here in SLC - comparatively speaking. Middle and lower teens these last few nights, and the cats have hung out close to home. Which is good and bad - nice to see them, but they get bored very quickly and then cause trouble - especially Fuzzy!  Leo had to escape from him several times yesterday.

Diana's morning tea makes a wonderful picture, backlit by the sun.  The slight counterpoint in the top left was done while cloning out a bright spot (in Lightroom). I set the size of the clone circle very large and it moved over and picked up the top of the cup and a little steam.  Looks like a reflection and nicely breaks up the large black area without distracting.

Diana spotted this mouse running across the front bench outside (thank goodness). He's the size that I regularly find in the cat's food dish in the morning - partly eaten.
Leo wants to stay in but not be hassled by Fuzzy; here's one of his places to hang out.  He is a very regal being.

Friday, November 26, 2010


We did a traditional Thanksgiving this year, hosted by our god-children's parents. Good company, excellent food and a good time together.  Plus rum punch, courtesy of our dear, departed friend Stuart Smith!
Here's a couple of photos that represent yesterday's event for me.

As far as some of us are concerned, there is no substitute for the traditional cranberries - out of the can, jellied and with the marks of the can still on the side!  YUMM!

Laurie had prepared the table beautifully, with a stone heart on each plate! With the afternoon sun, it was very inviting!

And finally, (for this post anyway), Thanksgiving is about being with the ones you love. Here (goddaughter) Jane and her Mom snuggle together before Jane had to go off and work.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On the Deck

I've recently seen a couple of books and several articles/blog posts about shooting close to home. As most of you know, much of what I shoot is in my backyard - or on my deck. The beauty that surrounds us is often missed in our daily rush and our focus on doing or accomplishing something.  But we really are human Be-ings, and just being there often opens our eyes to those moments of beauty that are present, even if fleeting.
Here's a couple of moments that struck me; Fuzzy the day we brought him home and he is laying in my hand, so trustingly, snoozing away: and then the sun on a potted plant on the deck. I hope you enjoy them also.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Roses in Snow

We received 6 to 8 inches of snow (that remained) last night, our first real snowstorm of the season.  Many tree branches broke and the rest appeared as a winter wonderland, albeit with a bowed back!
I find much beauty in the juxtaposition of life versus snow - as in the picture of Carey's Rose, below. It's colors remained true and it shone despite the greyness of the day!


I rented a 300mm f2.8 lens along with a 2X extender, which gives me a 600mm capability.  Murph and I went out to the refuge and experimented; although the day was so windy, there was not much flying.
I've been reading Art Morris' blog, Birds as Art, where he swears by the extender.  And after a while you have to try, right?
Here's three pictures to give you a sense of what it does.  The first picture is the standard 300mm; the second is the 300mm with the 2x on it; and the third picture is at 400mm with my 80-400 lens. The difference in the landscape pictures is quite noticeable; and with birds/animals it is often just phenomenal.  I hope to catch a few birds in the backyard today - in between snowflakes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Before the storm

Yesterday afternoon, the wind was blowing preparatory to a storm that was predicted to come in.  Twice during the afternoon, there were predators hunting in the backyard - an American Kestrel and a Sharpshinned Hawk.
My theory is that they were prepping for the storm with readily accessible food - although I did not see either catch any prey.  Another interesting thing was that the magpies were hassling the kestrel, and they fled when I fired my trusty BB gun at them.  But the kestrel did not move.  He stayed around through two shooting episodes and quietly disappeared on his own terms.
The sharpie watched Fuzzy walk around in the yard just below him.  I wondered briefly about the wisdom of the cat, but the hawk did not seem interested in him at all.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Do you think he is so cute now???

For all of you that think Fuzzy/Frankie is so darned cute - what would you do if he showed up at your back door like this, wanting to come in?  This is with the mouse that I woke him up to catch in the living room and take outside!!

Sunsets from the Shoreline Preserve

I was out at The Nature Conservancy Shoreline Preserve, getting trained to be a preserve monitor, last evening.  After our discussion of the details, we walked out on the boardwalk to a tower and I had the chance to capture a couple of sunset shots over Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake.  Since I wanted to be able to see the grasses in front, I took 5 exposure bracketed shots, and worked with them in Nik EFX HDR tool (still on free trial!).
They look much more like I remember them, by using this technique.  It also takes a lot less fussing around to get the foreground details with the background highlights intact.

The Conservancy has this structure on the land, and I am constantly fascinated with it's lines and the play of sun and shadows on it.  Here's one take with the setting sun.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wonder how they make it??

Are you familar with coots? The American coot is a waterbird, not to be mistaken for a duck! According to one source, they are obnoxious, noisy and aggressive. They are also some of the goofiest birds around, and can be fun to watch.  Here's photos of them leaving in a hurry - or trying to!! I often wonder how they make it; but they do well!

Sometimes out at the refuge ( and the other wide open places in the West), there is only the skyline to be seen.  And that is enough!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Seattle visit

Visited Seattle these last two days to attend my brother-in-law's memorial service.  After the service we got to visit with relatives and friends, and then play with my two nephews - Ben (2 1/2 yrs old) and Ty (7 months old).   Got a couple of nice shots of each - shot at 3200 ISO for the boys as we were inside moving quickly and no flash.  Two very different personalities - will be very intriguing to see how they develop.
Fuchsia's in the back yard and a crow on a walk today make up the other two shots to share with you - look at the back on the crow, the pattern and beauty in the feathers!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Two posts today!

Murph and I spent several hours this afternoon at the Farmington Bay Refuge and really enjoyed ourselves.  Murph is upstairs sleeping right now - he wore himself out running all over the place!

I enjoyed three pictures so much that I wanted to post again.  First, another attempt at capturing the god rays, a little better this time.  Secondly, a bald eagle eating his catch with two ravens close by waiting for him to make a mistake.  And thirdly, grass leaves and water; easily missed when walking but very beautiful and captivating. 

Fall Leaves and doggie supervision!

The leaves on Kensington Ave have finally begun to change and drop.  I created a leaf pile one day and the next afternoon the kids played in it for hours - then it snowed and rained so today I cleaned it up.  Murphy supervised me quite well - lots of support and no criticism!

Earlier I took a set of bracketed photos looking down the street (yes, that is Murph down there) to see how an HDR approach would work.  Out of the many options in Nik EFX HDR, I chose this one - seems reminiscent of another time and place in my memory.  What do you think?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

God Rays

How many times have you seen those wonderful rays of sunlight piercing the clouds, smog, fog, atmosphere?? And how many times have you wished you had captured them on film or digitally? 
I've tried a number of times, and thank goodness, they will come back because I don't have it right yet!

Sunday morning Murph and I were tooling down the freeway and here they were, in a tremendous amount of glory. So I pulled over to the side of the freeway and took a series of bracketed pictures (in between the semi's going by). Then I used the HDR (high dynamic range) feature of Photoshop CS5 for one shot and HDR EFX Pro from Nik software for another, just to compare as well as experience what the versatility of each tool is.  I'm by no means an expert at this!

The first picture is what it looks like if I just used Lightroom to attempt to pull out the rays. The second one is EFX and the third is CS5.  The EFX has the u-point technology that allows you to select a point (or points) within the photo and make a whole range of changes as desired to it without affecting the rest of the photo.  I liked that for lightening the flag and building as it seemed to be easier to do than in CS5 or LR3.

None of these really represent what I feel I saw and experienced that day, so I guess I'll just keep on working - ain't life great?!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fall, fall, fall

Here in Salt Lake we've been favored with a week of beautiful weather (not counting the smog), and the leaves are finally turning and falling, so I now have a leaf pile in the front yard for the kids to jump in.
Last weekend, on our way back from the refuge, I captured a couple of fall shots, fairly classic. For me, it is difficult to recreate the scene as seen through my eyes, in the camera or on the computer. With our eyes and other senses we bring so much more to the scene than a camera can capture, but the challenge is much fun.
Here's a couple of takes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cat in a hat!

Now that Fuzzy found the sink was cool to curl up in, he is curling up in everything he can find - AND chewing on various things as he feels they need it! Here he is in a traveling picnic basket that had paper in it that got a bit chewed!

We've done some remodeling in the back yard to reduce the amount of grass and provide more flower and shrub planting area (we must be nuts!!!).  Here's an early morning picture of it out the kitchen window - I think it is going to look great in the spring!

Monday, November 1, 2010

City and Country

For all of you that love Fuzzy, here's his latest - hanging out in the sink.  Hard enough to brush your teeth when you have to compete with him for the running water; now he takes over the entire sink.  Wonder what is next!

The country part includes photos from the refuge yesterday afternoon.  A gorgeous day and Murphy and I walked the dikes quite a bit. Lots of beauty there, birds, grasses, shapes and forms.  I love the grebes, so here's a pied-bill and a Clark's - young ones, both of them.

Horses and shapes are always worth capturing: