Slow November…

November is slow for the nature and wildlife photographer here in the Carson Valley.  The bears are heading for their winter beds.  The leaves are gone from the trees.  The raptors are slowly returning to the Valley.  The wild horses are winning at hide and seek.  We’ve had some early snow, which has provided some good photo opportunities, mostly of the mountains.  I’ve been working with Photoshop a lot, trying some new editing techniques.  I’ve done a couple images in Lightroom, too, but I think I like Photoshop a little better.

Here’s a few images from the last couple weeks.

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This Red Tailed Hawk wasn’t mad at me – he was squawking at a crow flying behind me.

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Driving on Genoa Lane one day, and this Hawk was doing litter control watch. Not sure I’d throw anything out the window of the car with him around.

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…and somebody must have done something, ‘cuz he was off in a shot. A good friend advocates that movement in images should always be left to right. I thought about it here, but left it alone.

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I love the Kestrels, but they are difficult to get. This one was shy and refused to turn around for me.

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This guy was more cooperative. I asked him to sit on this branch and look left. I love this picture!

I got my first Eagle of the season.  Driving up Mottsville Lane last week, and there he was on a utility pole.  He sat for a minute or so, and then took off.

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I can’t get enough of the Bald Eagles and look forward to the coming Eagle season. I think this is one of our resident birds – it’s a little too early for the transients to arrive.

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I love the detail I was able to capture. I’m making big plans for this image.

Last Sunday, Edsel woke me up early to show me the amazing sunrise.  I tried to resist and stay in my warm bed, but ultimately got up and made these images.

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I made this image just before the sun popped over the horizon.

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I turned around to see the Sierras just before sunlight struck.

And here’s a couple more panoramas, just for fun.

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I worked this image in Lightroom. I need much more practice in LR.

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This is the full width of the Sierras in Douglas County. This concept has potential for the future.

One last shot – I was out on a snowy morning and tried to make an image of the ‘welcome to Gardnerville’ sign in Sunset Park, at the border between Minden and Gardnerville.  A 24″ x 36″ print of this picture is on display in the Gardnerville town office.  I need to get a nice spring, summer and fall shot so they can display a different picture with each season.

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Welcome to Gardnerville!

Until next time – enjoy!!  PHOTOROGR

I just get distracted too easily…

I’ll admit it.  Three weeks between posts is abhorrent and shows a lack of discipline on my part.  I just get distracted too easily.  Between taking pictures, exploring new techniques in shooting and editing, friends visiting, printer issues, some business stuff, and ensuring I spend time with my lovely bride and the family, the blog suffers – sometimes for a couple weeks.  When you see the pictures, however, I think you’ll appreciate what I’ve been doing.

I fixed the printer problem by purchasing a large format printer.  I can now print up to 13″ x 19,” and shouldn’t be distracted by printer dysfunction anymore.  By the way, the prints are great!

I spent some time working with the PhotoMerge function in Photoshop and Lightroom.  I successfully merged a series of images of the Sierras that I made in 2008.  I was on my way to work when I saw the mountains with a band of snow, a band of light, a band of dark, and some low clouds.  I was in awe and stopped to grab a few pictures.  My plans to merge them were always set aside (see, distracted too easily), until now.  Here’s the result – not a great image, but it proves that I can do it.  More to follow!

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Susan’s dad asked for a Walker Burger a couple weeks ago.  (It’s a great distraction!)  If you haven’t been to Walker Burger, it’s worth the drive from anywhere.  Thankfully, it’s only a 40 minute drive from the Carson Valley on US 395.   Go soon, because they close for the winter on October 15.  Not only are the burgers the best on the planet, but the ‘Garden Dining’ experience is wonderful.  The Blue Jays were great and the small birds enjoyed the bird feeders.  You can buy a bird house there, or just enjoy the bird houses in the dining area.

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We’ve had some phenomenal sunsets due to the smoke from the California fires.  Most exciting for me, however, was the morning that the sun was screened by the smoke and I got great pictures.  See what I mean!  (Check the Landscapes and Scenery page for more sunset images.)

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Yes, this is the sun screened by the smoke. The color is great, but I was very excited to catch a couple sun spots.

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If I put a stem at the top, it could be an orange or a peach, but it’s the sun. Not the sharpest focus, but the colors are beautiful!

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One of my favorite sunset images. The smoke can be seen low on the horizon making a wonderful golden glow, but the light on the contrails makes the picture for me.

Last weekend, a good friend came to visit.  Brian and I served together in the Air Force almost 30 years ago.  We drove a bunch of miles, but the horses weren’t cooperating, the leaves are already gone in the Sierras (dadburned drought), and the Glen Alpine Falls were a mere trickle.  We had a great couple days, catching up on family and life.  I’d say ‘just another distraction,’ but it could have been a different story if I’d gotten some pictures.

I caught up with some of the horses this week.  Most were uncooperative, but Blue let me walk around his band and make images.  In spite of his gruff demeanor, he’s just a big Blue puffcake at heart.  Don’t tell the other studs, though – they will NOT believe you!  Check out the Wild Horses page for more images.

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Blue! Nothing more need be said.

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I don’t get ‘artsy’ with the horses very often, but I loved the line of heads as they walked by.

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Socks – chillin’ under a tree while his ladies were enjoying a dirt bath. Seriously…

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Blue with a couple ladies and one of the kids!

For the business stuff – I’ve been working on new note card designs and filling an order for Christmas cards.  I have two images in the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates Foals of 2015 calendar, and got  notified that I have an image in the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce 2016 landscape calendar.  It’s very exciting for me!

So, I hope I’m forgiven for the long wait and I hope you enjoyed these pictures.  Many more to follow – please stay tuned!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

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!

 

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