How I spent my summer vacation! Volume 1…

Now that my lovely bride has joined me in retirement, we repeatedly ask ourselves a couple questions. First, do we really need an alarm tomorrow? (The answer is generally a resounding no!) Second, if one is not taking time away from a job or other commitment, does one get to call it a ‘vacation’? (So far, we haven’t resolved this question.)

Since we haven’t resolved the second question, I decided to go ahead and call the coming series ‘How I spent my summer vacation!’ to help you all relate. In early July, my lovely bride and I venture north to see our grandson and celebrate his birthday (he turned 5 this year). We have been incorporating vacation-like activities into this annual trip, making it lots more fun. As part of our trip this year, we ventured into the Palouse Region in southeast Washington – a haven for photographers. Early July is not the best time to visit the Palouse for pictures, so we did the best we could and are planning to return during a more scenic time. (For more information on the Palouse Region and the photo opportunities there, visit the Pullman Chamber of Commerce website, http://www.pullmanchamber.com, or  facebook.com/PicturePerfectPalouse.)

We enjoyed our brief visit and only saw a small part of the region, but came away with a few fun pictures.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Located in the southwest corner of the Palouse Region, along the Snake River in Palouse Falls State Park, Palouse Falls offer a beautiful view.

This windmill was just over a ridge and has obviously seen better days.

The panoramic views are simply fantastic. The dust on the left of this image is actually a tractor preparing the land for the next crop.

Rolling along one of the many dirt roads in the area and marveling at the spring Wheat almost ready for harvest, we saw a couple dark spots. As we got closer, we recognized those ears. This doe was very accommodating as I parked and got out the camera.

Not one of the iconic barns in the region, but this one has character.

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The PS Challenge is Underway!

My apologies for the long break between posts. I’ve been busy shooting, but I took a little break when my friend and photo buddy, Richard Hawkins, lost his battle with cancer. Many of you are familiar with one of Rich’s best pictures.

Richard and I were out with the wild horses a couple years ago. I had just made a few images and turned around when he grabbed this shot of me. Shooting with him was always fun – he had a great eye for images and helped me look at things a little differently. Rich bought a 1964 Olds 442 just before he received his cancer diagnosis. He dated his wife in a car just like it many years ago. At his first car show, he won the ‘under construction’ category. He also asked me to take his picture in the same pose he was in when he had his original 442. I was very happy to do so. God Bless You, Rich – my cameras and I miss you.

On to the images from this month. I picked up a point and shoot camera, a Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II, to enhance my camera bag. I’m learning the capabilities and limitations of this tiny little camera (it’s only 3.75″ wide, 2.5″ tall, and a narrow 1.25″ thick), but it makes marvelous images. I’m getting very nice landscape images, as you can see, and there’s potential for close up and macro photography, once I learn the camera a lot better. The PS challenge can be either ‘point n shoot’ or PowerShot, depending on my feeling that day.

I made this image just south of Woodfords CA. That’s CA 89 on the left. I made this image with the PowerShot.

I’ve driven by this section of the East Fork of the Carson River several times, and finally stopped to make the image. Great sky and great light!

The beauty of the PowerShot is the ability to stop and jump out for the quick shot. This image was made from the side of CA 89 (the Carson River is just behind and downhill from these trees) in an area where a wildfire burned a couple years ago. The tree on the left was completely burned but the other two were only burned on the bottom half. I hope they survive.

The last PowerShot image for this post – the West Fork of the Carson River in the middle of the Carson Valley. The Town of Genoa is visible at the base of the mountains, and Duane Bliss Peak is reflected in the river.

As much as I love my PowerShot, it will never replace the big camera for many things. The PowerShot will bracket exposures and focal length, but the big camera does it much better.

This is an HDR combined from an exposure bracket of the West Fork of the Carson River, in the mountains. There’s lots of ice in the stream still, as this section of the river gets very little direct sunlight in the winter months.

Another HDR of a usually dry wash feeding the East Fork of the Carson River.

This is the Bower’s Mansion, an historic structure on the west side of Washoe Lake, just south of Reno.

The Eagles are long gone, except for the nesting pairs, and the other Raptors are slowly leaving the area as spring approaches. Smaller birds are returning, so we have subjects to shoot and new challenges in shooting. Small birds are more likely to move as you approach, so a long lens and quick reaction to spotting them is critical.

I found this Western Meadowlark on a fence post in the wildlife viewing area on the south end of Washoe Lake. Chilly morning, so it was trying to fluff up and stay warm.

This Western Meadowlark landed on a branch near me, and posed nicely.

These Black Tail Deer are part of the Town of Genoa herds, although these 4 can be found a couple miles north of town on Foothill Road.

I’m not sure they were more worried about me or something to the right, but they held still long enough for me to make this image.

I had the opportunity to try a new technique I saw in Outdoor Photographer magazine – the wildlife panorama. I usually try to get my wildlife images as close and detailed as possible, but I love the concept of combining wildlife and landscape photography. Watch for more images like this.

I found these 4 another day, but they moved into a grove of trees as I approached. New challenge to get a good shot through the trees. This one moved in and stopped, not exposing more head for me. Changing my position wouldn’t have helped, as other trees blocked the view.

Spring is here – evidenced by the blossoms on some of our fruit trees. These are from the Flowering Plum in the corner of the backyard.

First close up of the year – almost a macro. Each blossom is only 3/4″ in diameter. As more flowers bloom, I’ll shoot more macros. Hopefully, the wet winter will cause the desert to bloom, and not delay too much the mountain meadows blooming.

Welcome Spring and the changes it brings. Thanks for reading this blog!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Order and Chaos!

As an old crusty engineer and military officer, I enjoy order in my life.  I like having ‘a place for everything and everything in its place.’  Those of you who know me well also know that I also have a somewhat chaotic side, and my ‘everything in its place’ side isn’t always dominant.  When it comes to certain aspects of photography, I am very ‘orderly.’  For example, I have developed a filing system for my images that works well for me.  I have file folders for certain subjects and geographic areas with subfolders for subjects, all arranged by date (year – month – day).  I maintain shooting logs that show when and where I’ve been, and sometimes contain notes for future shoots.

My workflow for downloading images to the computer (within the proper subject/geographical area folder and date subfolder) is well established.  Recently, I watched a great tutorial about Adobe Bridge, a photo management software linked to Photoshop and Lightroom, and learned how to use Bridge more effectively to download my images and identify those worthy of additional processing.  Let’s face it, that little bitty screen on the back of your camera body can only tell you so much (good exposure and maybe if you’re in focus).  You have to get the image on the big screen to see if it’s really good.  After the tutorial, I made changes to my workflow that I hope will make my filing system better for subsequent retrieval.  Time will tell.

Another of my very orderly processes is backing up my images.  I used to use a triple redundancy system using the SD card from the camera, the computer’s internal hard drive, and an external hard drive.  When I changed my shooting routine to RAW format (see my post ‘All RAW – All the Time’ on June 8, 2015), I began to fill up SD cards like mad, with the resulting problem of devising a means of labeling and storing them.  Have you ever tried to put a label on an SD card?  They are less than an inch wide, just over an inch long, and usually have a dark label!  More importantly, even though they are coming down in price, they are still expensive!  I changed my storage system to the computer’s internal hard drive and two separate external hard drives.  I still have triple redundancy, and a more effective means of storing my larger images, such as panoramas stitched together from multiple images – they are downright huge!  I will admit that eventually the long term storage goes to double redundancy as I haven’t installed additional hard drive capacity on my computer and I’ve almost filled the hard drive with this year’s images.  I am removing older images from my computer to conserve space.  I back up everything on a monthly basis.

So, we move on to the chaotic side.  My computer desk is a mess, with magazines and notes and – well – accumulated crap.  I will clean my desk on a cold day this winter – or not!  Probably not (ha ha).  But there’s also the chaos that results from exploring my creative side.  As you’ve seen in previous posts, I’ve been exploring panoramas and monochrome images.  I think I’m getting better – the phone calls to my wonderful Photoshop mentors are fewer and I’m not repeating my questions to them as often.  I think they’re thankful for that.  And I’m becoming more daring in my editing.  I try new things more and more frequently, and am becoming more comfortable with the ‘undo’ button when I do something badly or that I don’t like.

Maybe chaos isn’t the right word after all, but to a regimented and very process-oriented engineer type, this new creative side is very chaotic.  I just hope the results are worth it!  Let’s look at this week’s images.

I have been very lucky to find Kestrels, and the ones I’ve found are very cooperative.

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I was in the Pine Nuts looking for the wild horses and caught this little fella’ sitting on this tree. I like it!

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I was cruising Foothill Road last week and saw this Kestrel having a bite of lunch.

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When he noticed me, he took off to eat in peace somewhere else.

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I took this image last January, but used my newly developed Photoshop skills to make this image.

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Another from January. Must have been a cold day!

A few weeks ago, I got my first Bald Eagle of the season.  Just yesterday, I got my first Golden Eagle.  Actually, I drove by a pair of them sitting on a utility pole, but one flew off as I parked and got out of the car.

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Goldens are majestic, too.

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This one gave me a couple images and then took off. I’m still working on getting focus on birds in flight.

I was checking out Carson River Road last week, and this doe casually walked by.

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Check her belly – still wet from crossing the adjacent river.

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This image is not cropped. She was so close I couldn’t make my lens short enough and get more background.

The Hawks are returning to the Carson Valley.  I was getting out of the car to shoot a fence with several Hawks in line.  As I got ready to shoot, a Hawk flew in and forced the one sitting to take off.  I was lucky to get this shot!

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What a scene. No fighting over roosting spots kids!

This week, you get several panoramas.

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The Sierras across the Carson Valley. That’s Jobs Peak on the left and Genoa Peak about a quarter in from the right edge. I shot this in monochrome and then made my adjustments.

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The Sierras on a different day. I love the cloud formation in the upper left corner of the image.

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The Pine Nut Range. The wild horses roam an area to the left of these mountains. This is part of my monochrome exploration.

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The Pine Nuts in color. Yes, it’s hard to live here with all this natural beauty. (I can’t believe I typed that with a straight face!)

Well, that’s all for this post.  As always, enjoy!  And stay warm!!

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…

 

Lemonade!

Yes, I know.  It’s November and we should be drinking hot chocolate or apple cider.  The temperatures outside make warmer drinks more desirable.  The Sierras got a little snow this week.  We got rain at the house – in the desert, we generally don’t complain about getting moisture in any form.

I didn’t find the eagles this week, hence the lemonade.  When I don’t find the subjects I’m looking for (bears, eagles, etc.), I take the subjects I am given.  This week, I found 4 Coyotes and numerous Hawks on the hunt.  Here’s an image of one of the Coyotes about to strike!

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I got close to several Hawks and made wonderful images.  Here’s a sample, with a few more on the birds page.

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This Hawk sat on this fence post long enough for me to make multiple images. Then he took off and moved to another post, allowing me to make a few more sitting and flying.

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I saw two hawks in a field. As I got out of the Expedition, one flew away. If you look at the ground in front of this Hawk, you can see feathers. Go to the Birds page to see what happens next.

I was driving through Carson City yesterday.  Traffic stopped on Carson Street, right in front of the State Capitol Building, for a special tour group crossing the street and entering the Capitol grounds.  What a sight!

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All things considered, it was a great week of shooting.  For those of you in the area, the Carson Valley Art Association is having their Annual Scholarship Benefit Art Show at the CVIC Hall in Minden this weekend (November 7-9, 2014).  I am entering three photos.  Stop in and support the Art Association!

Enjoy!  Photorogr