A little R and R…

It’s a nice Friday morning here in the Carson Valley, but the weatherman says a change is coming.  We may get some much needed moisture and will definitely get some cooler temperatures in the next couple days.  I’m listening to one of my favorite soundtracks, The Last of the Dogmen.  If you haven’t seen the movie, you should (you should also listen to the soundtrack).  The story is excellent, the scenery is phenomenal, and I like Tom Berenger and Barbara Hershey, who play the main characters.  With a successful Eagles & Agriculture in the rear view mirror, I’ve slowed my picture taking this week and continued preparations for next week’s Shooting the West photography experience in Winnemucca, NV.  I also caught up my checkbook (aggghhh) and made sure the bills were paid, renewed my driver’s license, and made time for a few pictures.

In military parlance, the term ‘R & R’ refers to rest and recovery, or rest and rehabilitation, or rest and…well, pick your favorite ‘R’ word.  The key to R & R is ‘rest.’  As you will see, I tried to rest, but there’s just no rest for the wicked, or when you’re wicked, or if you’re wicked.  Let’s face it, I’m no singer (I won’t try to type her name, but Travolta butchered it – she sang in Wicked on Broadway, get it?) and I’m having a little too much fun (just ask my lovely bride), and I’ve been called worse than wicked – but I digress.  You’re interested in my pictures, not my meandering thoughts!

Here’s what I did this week.  And don’t forget to watch The Last of the Dogmen!  You’ll love it.

Enjoy – Photorogr

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My photo challenge last week was ‘black and white.’ With my busy schedule, I used some images I made in Bodie State Park, http://www.parks.ca.gov/bodie/, last summer. This image was my submittal. After desaturating (removing all color), I adjusted the image to maintain the reflection of the mountains and clouds in the window while trying to enhance the details of the products that have been on these shelves for more than 70 years.

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This beautiful old stove is in one of the few buildings that the public is allowed to enter. I also experimented with a sepia tone on this image. For those of you unfamiliar with Bodie, it was a mining ‘boom town’ in the late 1800’s. When the mining stopped, the town was finished. People literally locked the doors and walked away. There are similar stories all over the western United States – thanks to those who work to preserve these historic places!

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Some of the old mining equipment. I tried to bring out the shadows in this equipment, but I overexposed the original image which made those adjustments impossible. I guess I’ll have to go back and shoot Bodie all over again – darn it!

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I was on my way home from the store with a car full of fresh fruits and ice cream bars, when I spy a Golden Eagle floating on the wind currents. He disappeared behind a house, so I went looking for him. I found him in a pine tree. He made the obligatory adjustment before taking off…

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…so I followed him skyward. There I see several more Golden Eagles enjoying the wind currents – like a convention up there. And then they were gone and the sky was empty. That allowed me to get home in time to save the ice cream bars. It was the best of both worlds – great pictures AND ice cream bars!

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I went out yesterday with some friends. The birds were skittish and wouldn’t let us get close. I did the best I could. Love this Bald Eagle in the air…

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…and this Marsh Hawk taking off – away from us, of course. Fun day with good friends!

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I took a quick trip down Mottsville Lane this morning while Edsel was at the groomer. I went to the groomer, too, but Edsel came home much cuter than I. I was on the hunt for pictures for this week’s photo challenge – Abandoned. I found this Hawk on a fence post along the road, and I’m a sucker for a chance to get a Hawk up close. I found some good shots for the challenge, but I’m still working on them. Stay tuned!

 

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IT’S FINALLY HERE!!!!!

I’m starting to feel a little relief because it’s finally here – Eagles and Agriculture kicks off tomorrow!  Yesterday, we set up the opening reception/art show display at the Holiday Inn Express in Minden (of course, some of us had to go back today to finish – no names, but you know who I am).  Here’s a quick shot of my display.  I hope to see many of you at the reception tomorrow evening.

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The Record-Courier said there are still a few tickets available, so if you’re in the area and want to play, go to http://www.carsonvalleynv.org, see what’s available and come on down!

I split my available time this week between last minute preparation for E&A and a little bit of shooting.  I was able to locate a juvenile Bald Eagle this week – exciting for me as I’ve been having an eagle drought lately.  This raptor is about 4 years old, just on the cusp of full adult colors.  You might have seen similar images on Facebook.  We have a little group that shares locations of Eagles and other subjects.  I let my friends know, and a couple of them came by.  When the bird doesn’t leave the fence post, the images all start to look the same.

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My favorite of the images I made. Classic Eagle pose, interesting color, but his chest feathers are a little rumpled. He reminds me of a pre-teen child who wants to be seen as an adult, but is still enjoying the fun of his youth.

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I couldn’t resist playing with the editing a bit here. I ‘desaturated,’ or removed the color from, this image. I have a lot more that I want to play with on this image, but black and white works here. B&W also happens to be this week’s assignment in my weekly photo challenge – how lucky for me!

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I like this image, too. I was trying to bring in the agriculture aspect by including the cow in the background, but it’s not as strong an image as I’d like it to be.

I also found a few Hawks and an American Kestrel.

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I like this image for a couple reasons – he just finished eating and still has a little something on his beak, and he looks like he just got out of the shower. The colors came out well and I got good detail in his eye.

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And with a nod to last week’s theme of launching birds, I had to include this Red-Tailed Hawk in flight!

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Every now and then I find something really interesting and unusual. This Hawk was preening and his tail feathers rotated as his head reached to the left. In my years of watching the Hawks in the area, I’ve never seen this.

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Who doesn’t love an American Kestrel. Some day I’m going to find a male in a tree or a bush, anywhere but a wire. Some day!

I’ve been looking forward to this year’s Eagles & Agriculture show for quite some time.   The next few days are going to be busy, without much opportunity to go shoot.  I hope to see many of you there.  Behave as best you can!  And I hope you enjoyed this week’s images!

PHOTOROGR

Flying high!!

For many years, the Air Force used the catch phrase ‘Aim High’ to recruit airmen.  I think I still have my Aim High hat, although it doesn’t get worn very often.  After highlighting my efforts to get better at photo editing the last couple posts, this week I decided to share images of birds in flight.  Most are Hawks, because the Eagles are keeping an extremely low profile this year.  We’re not sure if it’s due to the drought or the ranchers keeping the new calves away from the public roads.  Regardless, Eagle pictures have been a premium this year.

For those of you near the Carson Valley, next weekend is the annual Eagles and Agriculture celebration (visit the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce website, http://www.carsonvalleynv.org, for tickets and more information).  The festivities open on Thursday, February 19, with an art show at the Holiday Inn Express, 1659 State Route 88 in Minden.  Doors open at 5:30 p.m.  Tickets are $10 and they have munchies.  I will have several pictures on display, so come on down.  I will also have pictures on display and for sale at the Carson Valley Inn, 1627 Highway 395 in Minden, on February 20 and 21.  If you haven’t been on one of the E&A tours, you should go.  It’s a lot of fun!

Okay, that’s enough unpaid advertising.  Let’s get to this week’s images.

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I saw this Blue Heron along Mottsville Lane. He took flight when I stopped the Expedition, but didn’t go far. I got a couple nice images of him in flight.

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Also on Mottsville Lane, this Hawk had just launched from the fence post on the left, and he crossed the road in front of me.

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When I first spied this Hawk, he was sitting on a cowpie, keeping an eye on his surroundings. He lifted off, flying fairly close…

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…and promptly landed on another cowpie. Sometimes, you gotta’ wonder what they are thinking.

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This Hawk was sitting at the very top of this tree. He allowed many pictures and then…off he went. This image is not cropped.

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I drove by this Hawk once, but stopped on my way back. I was just putting glass on him and he launched. I didn’t get an image of him sitting on the fence. Shot south of Minden on SR 88.

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I saw this Cooper’s Hawk on a utility pole on Jacks Valley Road. He posed nicely and then got a little fidgety (I’m starting to recognize the signs), so I changed focal length and began shooting just as he lifted off. These images of birds just taking flight are becoming my favorites.

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Obviously, this is not a bird in flight. This was my submission to last week’s photography challenge – the theme was one shape. My shape is the circle of the wheel on the irrigation system.

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This is also not a bird in flight. This is an image I made today of Job’s Peak – the premiere scenic element of the Carson Valley. I drove by this location many times and never saw this image, until today. The pond had water from the recent rains and it was reasonably still for the reflection. I’m not done editing this image – I may remove the fence post in the bottom right corner and make some other edits – but I am excited to have made the image and wanted to share it with you!

It’s been a good photography week, and pretty good away from the lens as well.  I made contact with several people with whom I was on active duty.  I haven’t heard from them in 25 years, so it’s great to connect.  I’m looking forward to Eagles and Agriculture next week, and to seeing many of my friends there.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

…in control for now…or am I???

For most of my life, no one has successfully accused me of being in control.  The whole concept of ‘in control’ is akin to other concepts, like growing up or being nice.  Yes, avoiding these labels is a source of great pride for me.  Thanks to all those out there who are vigorously nodding in the affirmative, and who would testify in support if needed.  Now that I’ve taken my bow, it’s time to get serious.

I brought the fire hose under control, but it’s still flowing fast.  I’m still in overdrive, but I’m learning to apply the brakes and control the skids more effectively.  I’m watching more tutorials for Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Bridge.  These are great software packages for managing and editing pictures.  My fear of the Camera Raw format is decreasing, and my memory cards will likely take a big hit as a result.  (I’ve already gone from filling up an 8GB SD card in 4-5 months to consuming a 16GB SD card in 2 months and, in January, I filled one-third of a 32GB SD card.  Now, before you get all impressed, please understand that it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.  At this point in my development as a photographer, however, I need to experiment and learn the things that work and those that don’t.  As my knowledge improves, so will my memory management efficiency.  Note – my memory will not improve, but I will use the memory cards in my cameras more efficiently.  I had to say that to preclude the rude comments from many of my friends.)

Back to being serious.  As I explore these software packages, I’m trying new and fun editing techniques.  I have to be careful, though.  The teacher/moderator of my 52 Week Photography Challenge keeps reminding us that “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to.”  Having the ability to make an adjustment is vastly different that making that adjustment well.  Like photography techniques, editing requires a measure of experimentation as well.  And control.  As uncomfortable as I am being in control, I have to do it.  A little.

So, here’s a couple fun things I did this week.  The eagles have been hiding from everyone.  I found a few hawks and some wild horses.  New images, however, are not numerous, so I’ve had lots of time at the computer.  In addition to trying new editing techniques, I’ve also continued my experimentation with replacing backgrounds, specifically skies.

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I made this image on a cloudy day last September. His belly is horribly underexposed and the sky can’t get any more blah.

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So, I turned it into this. I improved the color and detail in the bird and put him into a pretty sky. Yes, it’s a Nevada sky. I also used a ‘healing’ tool to clean up a spot in the bird’s wing. Photoshop is so cool!

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I found this eagle a year ago, on a really cold and snowy day. He posed for me for quite a while. In fact, I was taking Susan to work and we blocked traffic for a short time.

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I did a little editing and inserted a pretty Nevada sky. In my mind, this image asks if I went too far with my editing? I’d love to hear your opinion.

And one last set of before and after pictures.  I tried some new camera settings when I was out in the Pinenut Mountains with the horses.  As you can see, the new settings did not work (insert Thomas Edison wisdom here).  Using new editing techniques, I was able to rescue the image.  I’ll be really happy when I can remember what I did and rescue the image again.

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This is the original image. When I rolled up, I saw these two. The rest of the band was screened from view by the tree on the left.

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I edited and cropped. I was happy with everything but the color of the horses. Hmmmm…what to do???

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Those tutorials paid off. I tried a new color editing technique and voila, a really nice image from a very bad original. I was very happy with myself.

Well, that’s what I’ve been doing with my week.  You decide if I’m in control or not.  Let’s leave the growing up and being nice questions alone.  Thanks for reading and following my blog!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR