2014 – A Year of Change!

2014 is coming to a rapid close – there’s only a few hours left in this amazing year.  For me, 2014 brought many changes to my life.  This blog is the greatest evidence of the changes.

The changes actually began in early December 2013, when my doctor gave me a not so gentle lecture about the evils of making bad choice in my diet and the virtues of changing my lifestyle.  As a result, I lost 43 pounds in 6 months.  I’ve managed to keep them off, too, in spite of so many wonderful treats this holiday season.

At the end of January, the company that I worked for lost their contract and laid everyone off.  I found work as a Project Manager – the drive was a mere 67 miles one way.  After a few months of the long drive and figuring out what the company was about, I walked away and began looking for a job again.

In April, my son and daughter-in-law met my brother-in-law and a few thousand Mustang enthusiasts in Las Vegas to celebrate the 50th Birthday of the Ford Mustang.  I drove my ’66 hardtop and my son (very happily, I will say) drove my 2008 Bullitt Mustang to the show.  What a wonderful time we had.

Over the course of the Spring, I made contact with friends from elementary, junior high, and high school – many of whom I hadn’t heard from for over 43 years.  I was happy to see many of them at the 40 year reunion in July.  The best part is that we have maintained contact since, and I look forward to continued sharing with all my new ‘old’ friends.  On my way home from the reunion, I drove through parts of Wyoming I hadn’t seen in a while.  I truly enjoyed being in Wyoming with friends and family.

The job market hadn’t improved much over the Summer, so I made another major change in my life and started my photography business.  The PHOTOROGR Project was born!  I have enjoyed building the business these past 5 months, and truly appreciate the love and support from my family and friends as I did so.  Your encouragement is wonderful and helps me to stay motivated.  That so many of you have purchased my pictures is very nice, too.

Of course, one cannot begin a journey like this without support from one’s best friend, and I am so fortunate to be married to my best friend.  Throughout this year of change, she has helped me maintain my sanity and stay focused (pun maybe intended).  And then there’s my Mother, my very first customer, who loves following my adventures.  A really BIG thanks to my photo buddies who tell me where the eagles are and share photo tips, and to the professionals at my favorite photo store, Gordon’s Photo Service, who never tire of my stupid questions and who make my images look even better.  Thanks to Craig, Katie, Gordon, Lisa, and Jim – you guys are awesome!

2015 will bring many changes as well – mostly as I continue my journey and strive to make better images.  I am upgrading camera and lenses, pursuing various learning opportunities, and will be trying to learn new editing software.  And I thought this photography business was just jumping in the Expedition and finding subjects for pictures.

With this post, I am starting a new tradition.  I have selected 5 of my  images from this year to represent this part of my journey, and I will share 5 images every year.  These images may not be my best from the year, but they are important to me in some way.  5 is an arbitrary number, and it’s extremely difficult to live within my self-imposed limitation.  This process, however, is another part of the journey.

With the stage set, here are the 5 images that I’ve selected to represent The PHOTOROGR Project for 2014!

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This is my 1966 Mustang at the Big Mamas Car show, last May. I parked with My friend Rich, whose 1964 Olds 442 can be seen on the right side of the image. Rich took the picture that I use for my profile! This image is significant for a couple of reasons – first, the Mustang’s 50th Birthday and second, trying to take better pictures of cars was a major factor in my interest in photography!

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I made this image in February, on a cold winter morning. While taking Susan to work, I came on several Bald Eagles with a Golden Eagle hunting from a utility pole, just south of our home. This is one of the many images I made that day – one of the first really good Eagle pictures I ever made.

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We are fortunate to have several bands of Wild Horses so close to our home. One evening last June, my lovely bride asked me to take her to see the horses and then out to dinner. We found three bands near the water tanks. While taking pictures, one of the bands came down the hill and straight toward me. These four horses were part of that band. The little guy on the right is the main focus of one of my best selling pictures, taken after this image was made.

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I was sneaking up on a Hawk one day in early December when I scared a bunch of Finches. This little guy landed on a branch not too far away and posed for me. Some days, I’m more lucky than good (where have I heard that before?)!

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Rich and I made a trip to Bodie CA last summer. We were enjoying the scenery and I was trying a few new techniques, with limited success, when Rich pointed out the reflections in the glass and commented that they would make good pictures. This picture helps me remember to keep my eyes open for those pictures that I’m not necessarily looking for.

Happy New Year – thanks for being a part of mine!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

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Bonus day! “I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille”

When I am composing a shot in the view finder and subsequently processing the image on the computer at home, I work hard to make the best image possible.  I try to add something to the image – a little context – especially with the raptors.  Sometimes I am successful, when I have a nice fence line in the shot, and sometimes there is nothing to be done, like the Eagles and Hawks on a utility pole or in flight.  That said, I don’t make many images of Hawks on utility poles.  Eagles – absolutely!  Flying – oh yeah (at least I’ll try for the image)!  But not many Hawks on utility wires or poles.

As I was out trolling for pictures yesterday, with seemingly minimal success, I passed by a Hawk on a wire.  I was heading for the River Fork Ranch east of Genoa, hoping to find an Eagle near the road, and the Hawk shot just didn’t appeal to me.  Alas, the Eagles weren’t near the road.  With an itchy shutter release finger (I hadn’t consumed many pixels at that time), I reconsidered the ‘Hawk on a wire’ shot.

Thankfully, he was still there.  I parked, grabbed the camera with the big lens from the passenger seat, and got out of the Expedition.  I grabbed a couple quick shots, crossed the road (a couple more quick shots)…

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and began working my way closer to the Hawk (click click).

Suddenly, the Hawk looked at me…

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…and took off…

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I thought I was done.  Hawks usually fly away faster than the girls I tried to talk to in high school (big sigh)!  But I digress.

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Like a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie (The Birds, for those who don’t know their Hitchcock), this Hawk flew along the utility line and landed on the wire right across the road from me.  He had actually come CLOSER!  Holy cow!

He then proceeded to look right…

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…then left…

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…and then he looked at me as if to say, ‘There, are you happy now? Will you leave me alone now?’

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Or, maybe I just got lucky!  (As a side note, I did not crop the last three images.  They are exactly the image as seen by the camera sensor.)

Enjoy – Photorogr

Better Lucky Than Good…

One of the ways I try to improve my photography is learning from others, and I subscribe to a couple great photography magazines that give helpful information.  These magazines offer opportunities for photographers to submit work, generally showing a specific subject or technique.  The other day, I saw the winning photograph in the ‘Better Lucky Than Good’ category.  Wow – I could enter a picture in that category!  I feel like that’s my modus operandi (m.o., for short).

I get in my Expedition and go trolling for pictures.  When I head out, I go to places looking for subjects  -wild horses, eagles and other raptors, bears, etc. – but I rarely go looking for a specific image.  Thankfully, I live in an area that provides the subjects I like to shoot.  Or, maybe I like these subjects because of where I live.  That concept is just too deep and profound for me (at least today), so I won’t spend time on it.

Let’s just go with this – for now, I’ll go looking for subjects and make the best image I can.  I’ll be flexible so I don’t miss that great Coyote shot while looking for Eagles or waterfowl.  Maybe someday I will plan my shots, rather than taking what is given to me as I drive around.  I’m good with that!

Here’s a few of my ‘accidental’ images from this week.

Enjoy – Photorogr

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Deer are a common sight in Genoa, Carson City, and around the Carson Valley. I found this group grazing on the lawn of Genoa State Park, with Snowshoe Thompson’s statue.

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Just like the Hawks, I can’t seem to sneak up on anything.

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I was visiting an area where I’d seen a juvenile Bald Eagle (see below). This Hawk sat for me for several minutes – long enough to try different settings and different compositions. This is one of my favorites.

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He could have been closer to the building, but Hawks just don’t move where you ask them to. Generally, when you ask, they just leave!

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This juvenile Bald Eagle is between 3 and 4 years old. I found him (her) just south of Minden NV, over the CA line.

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There are lots of wild Turkeys in the area. This is the first time they’ve been close enough to the road for me to get a good picture.

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And this Golden Eagle was a couple miles south of our house. I’m going to learn to remove the utility wire and improve the picture. Someday…

 

Winter is here!

December is here, and winter is finally making an appearance in the Carson Valley.  For me, this means a shift in my subject matter, settings for my camera, and the weather.  I’m definitely dressing a little warmer.  Susan knitted me some fingerless gloves to wear while I’m working, and they are wonderful!

Photographing snow brings new challenges – it’s white and very bright.  I read an article in Outdoor Photographer magazine last year that gave methods for shooting in the snow.  I guess I better dust it off.

The shorter days and cooler weather makes the predators hunt at different times of the day, making them more visible – I’ve seen more Coyotes this year than ever before.  My lovely bride saw one walking up our street and then through our backyard a couple weeks ago.  These Coyotes are fat, too.

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I had my eye on a Hawk, and saw this Coyote out of the corner of my eye along an irrigation ditch. As I made a few images of him walking along the ditch, he turned and crossed the ditch.

 

Challenges also include the wind, rain, and generally skittish wildlife.  The Hawks and Coyotes leave when they see a camera pointed their way.  I found these three Hawks last Saturday.  The wind was fast and they were hanging on to the posts for dear life.  When the wind is calm, Hawks sit nearly upright as they hunt for their next meal.  Check the Birds page for more images.

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But the opportunities far outweigh these challenges.  I made this image of Jobs Peak as a storm was coming over the Sierras and into the valley.  I’ve driven down this road numerous times, but this scene jumped out as I drove by.  One does not find this kind of image in thew warmer months.

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The wagon and buildings are at David Walley’s Hot Springs – a popular spa and resort in the Carson Valley.

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I love the colors in the foreground and background.

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And I love the way the shallow depth of field works here.

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This Hawk was hunting from a sprinkler system. The snow was just starting to fly.

I made this image of the female Bald Eagle on a cool morning last week.  As always, she was very accommodating and sat still for the hour I was there.  The bare branches don’t have the same impact as brilliant yellow leaves.  See the Birds page to see that image.

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And the cooler weather brought new visitors to my backyard, as well.  These Finches (Goldfinch and Lesser Finches) visited on Thanksgiving Day.  They’re very fast and don’t sit still for very long.  My big lens and a quick eye are critical to making these images.

Enjoy – Photorogr

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Goldfinch munching on Black-Eyed Susans.

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This male Lesser Finch is eating the berries on our Perfect Purple Plum tree. See the berry residue on his beak?

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This female Lesser Finch is eating a seed egg. Thanks to our kids for giving us this bird feeder. We watch these birds from our breakfast nook window.

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Another Goldfinch. They love these flowers.