Inspiration – the Key Ingredient!

In my last post, I talked about luck (right place, right time, right settings) and the importance of being prepared.  In the last month, I’ve discovered another ingredient that I feel is key to the creative photography process – inspiration!

Inspiration comes in many forms and governs everything.  For example, I have to be inspired to go out with a camera, inspired to stop and make an image, inspired to spend time processing an image, and then be inspired to share the image.  In the last month, my inspiration (and sometimes lack of inspiration) has been all over the map.  I’ve been excited to fire up the PHOTORANGER and go looking for subjects.  I’ve just stayed home because I just wasn’t ‘feeling it’ that day.  I’ve pulled over for something I liked, and often driven on and sometimes missed a shot.  When I’m back home and downloading images from the day, I’ve said ‘yuck’ to everything (you don’t see those!) and resolved to correct technical errors or find better subjects, and resolved to get out there again.  And then a whole month passes between posts (I really need to work on that).  You know how the inspiration roller coaster works.

In the last week, the inspiration peaks and valleys have become less extreme – returning to almost normal, in fact.  Subjects have been plentiful and my settings have been good, improving my images and increasing my inspiration.  Here’s some images from the last few weeks.  I hope you enjoy and are inspired by them!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

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Every winter, the eagles visit the Carson Valley for calving season. I found this Bald Eagle along US 395 a couple days ago.  Eagles & Agriculture is only 3 weeks away!

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This Bald Eagle was hunting along Foothill Road, on the west side of the Carson Valley. Not sure he knew about his ‘shadow.’

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This juvenile Bald Eagle was in the southwest part of the Carson Valley.

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I’m not sure what these two were discussing, but they sat for pictures for quite a while.

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I found the Carson River Road turkeys in the trees a few weeks ago.

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Remember that ‘right place right time’ discussion.

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These two are part of another turkey flock, generally found just over the California line.

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I’ve seen this nest many times, but didn’t see an occupant until the last couple days. I’ll watch and see what develops.

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This little fella’ flew from fence post to sign to sign while I followed and took pictures. I’m not sure if he’s sending a message here…

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Remember that ‘right place right time’ discussion? I forgot the ‘right settings’ piece, as I was zoomed in too close when this Hawk took flight…

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…but I got this Red-Tailed Hawk just fine.

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This Blue Heron was focused on his next meal and didn’t worry about me as I got closer and closer…

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While he looks unconcerned, he never took his eyes off me.

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I don’t normally take pictures of geese, but I was inspired when their flight path brought them close to me.   Jake’s Wetlands, Minden NV.

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This is KC. His mares are known as the Sunshine Band.

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One of the Sunshine Band. I like this composition.

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Peeking through the trees…

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Next to an eagle shot, new foals are great inspiration. This little one is about a week old, but has not been named as the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates are waiting for confirmation of the sex. That’s Mom on the left.

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New foal staying close to Mom, Suzie Q!

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And Suzie Q making sure I wasn’t too close.

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This family portrait shows Shorty, the sire, keeping a close eye on me while the foal nuzzles Mom. This picture has gone viral on Facebook! Thanks everyone!

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It’s hard to top the ‘family portrait,’ but I wanted to share this panorama of Jobs Peak (second peak in from right). It’s a little different view of the Sierras.

Right Place! Right Time!! Right Settings!!!

I have long recognized that much of my success as a nature photographer is due to being ‘at the right place at the right time,’ better known as luck!  In a recent article in Outdoor Photographer magazine, Andy Long tells us that luck “… is when preparedness meets opportunity.”

I have tremendous opportunity, by virtue of where I live.  The Carson Valley is teeming with beautiful scenery, a wide variety and abundance of wildlife, and, most importantly, great friends who share their knowledge of photography and where the wildlife are hanging out at any given time.  In fact, one of my photo buddies, Jackie Gorton, recently added a third leg to my thoughts on luck – right settings! How wise she is, for one can be at the right place and time but if one misses the correct camera settings, one misses the shot!  Of course, this is where the preparedness piece comes into play.

I started this blog to share my photographic journey – learning photography and developing my skill set, experiments in photo processes, successes, failures, and as a showcase for my work.  Apparently I’m doing something right, because many of you have shared that my pictures are getting better (thank you for the feedback!).  Of course, the more I learn – the more I realize how little I know, so there is lots of room for improvement!

I’m closing out 2015 with a tribute to luck!  Please find below a series of pictures that are the result of ‘being in the right place at the right time with the right settings!’

I’m also expanding my outreach!  I share my blog on Facebook, and will try to include my friends on LinkedIn.  If this reaches you, then I was successful – and Welcome!  If you wish to get an email notice when I make a post, then consider following my blog.

I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, so I won’t make one here.  I will continue this marvelous journey and share with you, hopefully making better images for your enjoyment.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!  PHOTOROGR

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Ultimate luck! My lovely bride and I were running errands and saw this Bald Eagle on a utility pole beside the road heading into town. He had just caught a rabbit and was enjoying his meal.  In some of my pictures, you can see fur in the air and meat in his mouth.

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A little less gruesome shot of our friend.

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I saw this Red-Tailed Hawk in a snowy field, but didn’t realize I had interrupted his meal until he took off.

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Sometimes I find one Great Horned Owl in this pole barn, but this day I got lucky and found two!

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I was at Jake’s Wetlands in Minden looking for the Wood Ducks that some of my very lucky friends had seen there. Of course, the Wood Ducks were hiding from me, but these Mallard Ducks put on a parade in the snow!

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Contrary to what you might think, this female Mallard Duck is not conducting an orchestra – she was preparing to dive. This image made a very nice note card!

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As stated, no Wood Ducks for me. This Bufflehead posed nicely for me, though.

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I was cruising Foothill Road just south of Genoa last week, and this Hawk tried to hide from me.

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Yes, it was as cold as he looks. He watched me, but didn’t move away.

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This Hawk was just stretching his wings.

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I don’t know why, but I really like the shots where the bird is looking straight at me.

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I have no idea what these two were up to, but they had a great time for several minutes while I clicked away, safe in my warm truck.

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Not a very timely update, but this is Mystery just before Christmas. He was closer to where the Pine Nut bands wander. I haven’t been out to check on him in a while.

 

Honored and humbled and excited and intimidated…all at the same time!

A year ago, my good friend and photography mentor, Craig Moore, introduced me to Shooting the West, a photography symposium in Winnemucca, Nevada.  I ventured to Winnemucca last March and had a great time, made new friends and improved my photo skills.  Any of you who attend events such as this know that the promoters solicit feedback from the attendees.  In my evaluation, I noted that the program did not include a nature photographer and I suggested they include nature photography in future programs.  One should always be careful for what one wishes because last August I got a call asking if I would be interested in making a presentation on nature photography at the 2016 Shooting the West symposium (honored and humbled).  I thought about it for about 3 seconds and quickly assembled a brief outline with a few examples of pictures (excited), and submitted my proposal for a nature photography tour of the Carson Valley.  A couple weeks later, I got an email advising that they accepted my proposal and I would be on the program (more excited).

As the initial excitement subsided, reality set in – I would be showing my pictures to a room full of photographers from around the country (intimidated).  Thinking back to last year’s program, I realized that, in addition to the amateur and hobby photographers in attendance, there would be people who have been shooting for decades, travel the world and get published in National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, and other international publications, and write books and teach classes about photography and photo editing.  Oh my God!!!  (More intimidated!!!!!)  And I just said yes to showcasing my work on a really big screen for all to see (even more intimidated).  I’m not afraid of public speaking – as many of you know all too well – but I’ve only been shooting seriously for a short time.  Then I said to myself, “Self – get it together, put your best foot forward, and see what happens.”  Finally, the voice of reason (but I’m still intimidated).

Shooting the West XXVIII will be held April 26 – May 1, 2016.  Registration opens January 18.  For more information, go to shootingthewest.org, call 877-623-3501, or email info@shootingthewest.org.  I’m back to being excited, by the way (and still honored and humbled)!

It’s winter – prime raptor season – I’m out almost every day trying to get new and good images for my STW presentation and to market at Eagles and Agriculture (February 18-20, 2016, go to http://www.carsonvalleynv.org/pages/EAGLESAG1/ for information).  Don’t worry, I’m not limiting my presentation to raptors only.  I hope to include a good representation of game animals, non-raptor birds, and the Valley’s predators – at least the ones of which I have pictures.

Here’s a few images from the last couple weeks.  I think you’ll like them.

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I was out checking an area for a Golden Eagle aerie, and I found this stud wandering in the Pine Nuts all alone. He let me make lots of images. I’m trying to decide which one to submit to the Pine Nut Wild Horse Association for their 2017 calendar featuring studs.

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He and I watched each other closely while I shot. He’s not from the area, that we know of anyway. We’ll see if he makes it all the way down to the other bands. We named him Mystery.  Oh yeah, I haven’t found that aerie yet.

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I’ve seen lots of Kestrels in the last few weeks. I’m not sure if they are more plentiful, or if I am better at seeing them.

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This one looks like he’s giving me ‘the bird’ as he flies away.

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My lovely bride commented that I get a lot of ‘butt pictures’ when I’m shooting birds, but I love seeing the frozen motion of their wings and feet as they take flight.

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I saw this Blue Heron on a very windy day…must have stopped blowing for a second or two while I made the image.

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I found this immature White-crowned Sparrow near the Nevada-California state line. This is my favorite composition for birds – tack sharp with a blurry background…

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It was a snowy day outside this pole barn, but this Great Horned Owl didn’t seem to mind.

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I saw this Golden Eagle probably 600 feet away.

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This was the scene outside the pole barn…this guy was trying hard to stay warm and paid me no attention.

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Same bird – different angle and background…maybe next year’s Christmas card???

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Did you see that? Yeah, but I don’t believe what I saw…

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Coming in for a landing…er, going up for a landing…

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I drove by this Red-tailed Hawk, and went back for the picture. At first, he tried to sell me a watch…

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…and then he took a spin around me…

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I think this is my favorite. I was checking a location for Owls and saw this guy. Again – my favorite composition – tack sharp subject with a blurred background.

That’s all for this post.  Between the raptors returning to the Valley and the wonderful weather, I’ve had a great couple weeks of shooting.  I look forward to more fun, finding that aerie, and a visit from Santa!  Have a very Merry Christmas!  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

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

All RAW — All the Time!

It’s a quiet Saturday morning and I’m not heading out for an hour or so.  My friend, Rich, and I are going to Reno to see the Restomods in Reno Car Show.  Assuming they come out, you’ll see pictures in my next post.  I’m astounded that it’s been almost 3 weeks since my last post.  Time really flies when you’re having so much fun!

I’ve made a couple changes in my shooting and editing process since my last post.  First, I’m shooting in RAW format exclusively (All RAW – All the Time).  I resisted going to RAW for a very long time because I wasn’t comfortable editing in RAW, it consumes massive amounts of memory, and the images can not be used right out of the camera – they must be edited.  In the last few months, I made learning to edit in RAW a priority and have gained enough comfort factor to shoot in that format exclusively.  Of course, my editing time has increased and I fill up SD cards quickly.  The tradeoff is worth it, however, as I was becoming increasingly less happy with the JPEG images coming out of the camera.  The second change is my ‘backup’ process.  Like many photographers, I have triple redundancy for storing my images.  Until recently, I used the SD card from the camera, my computer, and an external hard drive.  Since I’m filling up memory cards so quickly these days (a 32 GB card every 3-4 weeks – yikes!), my lovely bride convinced me that buying more and more SD cards was not the most cost effective method for storage.  Plus, SD cards can fail and they are not recommended for long term storage anyway.  So I purchased another external hard drive and spent some time backing up all my images on it.  Fortunately, memory (data storage, not my feeble mind, darn it) is getting better and cheaper all the time.

I’m refining my workflow for editing in RAW, but it’s getting easier and I’m getting more proficient.  A REALLY BIG THANKS to all my PHOTOSHOP mentors who cheerfully (at least when I call) answer my sometimes silly questions.  We’re usually on the phone, so I don’t see their eyes rolling and their voices don’t betray them.  Occasionally, my questions trigger a learning moment for them, too, so I think it’s beneficial all around.

Enough about that part of my creative journey, though.  Now I have to remember what I’ve been shooting for the last couple weeks.  Because my feeble memory doesn’t feel like it’s getting any better as time goes by, I keep a shooting log to help me remember where I’ve been, when I was there, and what I was shooting – that’s a big help.

A day or so after my last post, a friend texted that a local rancher was moving some cows and it would be a great photo opportunity.  I grabbed the camera and ran out the door – well, I did say bye to my lovely bride.  As usual, the appointed time was ‘flexible,’ so I looked for interesting shots while I was waiting.

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I found this breeding adult American White Pelican in an irrigation ditch.

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This is a great shot of Jobs Peak, the Carson Valley’s most recognizable mountain peak.

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Oh yeah, I was there for the cattle drive. George Strait sang ‘How ’bout them Cowgirls?’ I always thought the song was for the Wyoming Cowgirl basketball team – turns out it wasn’t. This was an all female crew and they did a great job!

A couple days later, I made a trip to the Pine Nut Mountains and found Blue’s band.  The sly devil moved them from open ground and into high brush, but I still managed a few nice images.

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I’m not a big fan of horse butt pictures, although I have quite a few. I liked how this little one was just visible above the brush.

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Several of the mares and babies. Our bands look very healthy.

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Little Jo – my favorite!

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And this is Blue. He’s the stud!

In the last couple weeks, I’ve made several trips to Mottsville Lane here in Douglas County.  With the rivers flowing well (for now anyway), there’s lots of water for the migrating waterfowl.

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My bird book has been getting quite a workout. This is a Wilson’s Phalarope.

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In the same pond, a Cinnamon Teal.

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This Great Egret posed and pranced for me, then ‘floofed’ itself and flew away. As my followers know, I love it when a bird does something a little unusual for the camera.

The mountains called a couple times, so I made trips up Monitor Pass in California and took a hike at Lake Tahoe with my son.

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I took a drive up Monitor Pass for some scenic shots. After driving by it many times in the past, I finally noticed this tree. I have several images to edit, as I photographed the tree from all angles. I liked this shot and edited it first.

 

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This is Lake Tahoe from Castle Rock, just off the Tahoe Rim Trail near Daggett Pass.

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This is a California Snow Flower – some call it a California Snow Plant. They are starting to grow in the Sierras and we saw several on our hike.

Sometimes, one finds interesting shots on the side of the road and in the backyard!

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Driving in from the Pine Nut Mountains the other day, I saw these Hawks in a tree next to the road. A baby was visible, when I pulled up, but dropped out of sight when I started shooting.

 

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Okay, this wasn’t on a public road, but I shot this from a vehicle. A friend took me on a tour of a highway construction project and this well-fed little guy, along with several friends, make the project home. I’ve never made images of a Marmot (aka Rock Chuck) like this before.

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This Robin sat on a rock in my backyard long enough for me to see him, get my camera, sneak out a door on the far side of the house, and make several images.

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Another patient little fella’. This Goldfinch sat in one of my Austrian Pine trees long enough for me to see him, go get my camera, and make several images. Although he sat on the branch for a while, he did not sit still. I have several shots of him in motion.

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Many of you have seen my night shots of my neighbor’s trees and the moon (one of those is my cover photo on Facebook). The moon was in position the other night, so I made a few more of those shots. While I was out there, I also made some images of the pergola in our backyard. My lovely bride designed the trees and lights very well. While I was shooting the pergola, a playful spirit found his way into the shot! Silly playful spirit.

 

I’m finishing this on Sunday night, after a busy day yesterday at the car show and a trip to Reno today for a friend’s retirement ceremony.  My apologies for the further delay.  The car show images are worth the wait until the next post – I promise.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Hi Ho Silver, Away!!!

For those of you who are counting, this is my 25th post (hence the ‘Silver’ reference)!  I’m very excited about my journey, as you saw in last week’s blog.  This week was especially fun, as I converted our breakfast table into a studio for several days and, for the first time, built a composition for my weekly photo challenge.  Before I get into that, however, I had a very exciting day yesterday.  For the first time in several days, I went out looking for nature pictures.  The raptors are scarce right now, with most of the birds who live in the Carson Valley sitting on their nests and only a few transients flying through.  So I drove into the Pine Nut Mountains to see if the wild horses were available for a few images and to see if I could get glass on the new filly in Blue’s band, Hope.

The day was overcast and the light was a challenge – gotta’ love a lighting challenge.  As I came into the Pine Nuts, I found a couple bachelor studs grazing (you can see one of them getting up from his siesta in the wild horses page).  They allowed a few pictures and I went on, finding Shorty’s band on a hillside.  They were close to the road and weren’t too worried about me, so I took my pictures from the Expedition.  As I topped a low rise, I saw two bands on the hillside in front of me.  Hmmmm — could I be that lucky?  I made my way towards them, parked at the bottom of the hill, and got ready to engage shank’s mare (taking a walk, for those of you not familiar with the term).  I made a few images, moved up the hill a bit, stopped and made a few more.  Then I realized that I was that lucky – one of the bands was Blue, and I could make out Hope.  I pressed on.  In his normal nonchalant fashion, Blue began moving his band farther up the hill, using Socks’ band as cover for their escape.  I stopped and made a few images of Socks’ band, but my sights were on Blue and I didn’t want them to get away.

I continued up the hill – Blue’s band disappeared over the ridge.  Fearful that I would miss my opportunity, I moved more quickly.  As I neared the top of the ridge, Blue and his band were to my left and close by.  I quickly set up the tripod and hit the shutter release.  I located Hope – click click.  I looked around and there’s another little one – smaller than Hope and a beautiful brown color, and not getting too far from Mama.  I adjusted position and made a few images.  My heart was racing – who was this new baby?  I wondered about the name, so I sent a quick email to those responsible for keeping track of the Pine Nut Horses, the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates.  (I love technology most of the time – this time it worked for me, so I loved it!)   The response was quick and extremely exciting for me!  They didn’t know that Blue had a second baby born this year, and I was the first to report in.  Because of that, I had the honor of naming her.  Oh yeah, she’s a filly!  When I wasn’t sure of the gender, I decided to use Joe for a boy and Jo for a girl.  She is officially ‘Little Jo’ until she outgrows her name, and she will become Jo.

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Little Jo and her Mama.

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Hope and some elder members of Blue’s band.

My weekly photo challenge was Board Game (Harmony/Unity).  The challenge uses a board game to illustrate the design concepts of harmony and unity by grouping, overlapping, and/or repetition.  I got into our game cabinet to see what we had and generate ideas.  For those of you who have known me for a while, you recognize that this level of creativity can often yield very questionable results.  I assure you, no one was hurt and nothing was destroyed in completing this challenge.

I decided to use two board games, Risk and Hunt for Red October.  When I pulled them out, I realized that we never actually got around to playing Hunt for Red October, but we had put the playing pieces together.  Both games have a worldwide conflict theme, so I thought they could work together.  My initial concept was to overlap the two game boards, then use a combination of playing pieces to create a grouping and repetition.

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First try. Okay – kind of fun. I used selective focus (in focus in the middle and blurry front and back). I didn’t like the background and the boards weren’t prominent in the image. On to concept two =>

In the second concept, I put the camera higher to see more of the boards, and raised one end of the HFRO board to create better background.  I also used a little off camera flash to inject drama by controlling the shadows.

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Flash from the camera angle: not bad, but not enough drama for me.

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Flash from the right: I liked the general effect of the shadows, but wasn’t pleased with the way many of the vertical playing pieces were shaded by other pieces; also, the boards were still not as prominent as I wanted them to be.

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Flash on the left: I really liked this image – the shadows made the drama for which I was looking and the boards were good, but I wasn’t happy with the almost reflective light from the vertical pieces.

I played with this concept a little more, trying to overcome the things I didn’t like.  I was limited by the type of flash and quickly became frustrated by my inability to control the light better.  Challenges to be met down the road!  So I created a more simple concept.

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Using only the Risk game, I created a series of concentric rings around the compass at the top of the game board. I used indirect natural sunlight for primary lighting, a hand held/fired flash for shadows, and a longer exposure to help with focus. I liked the overall effect and called the challenge complete.

The challenge for this week is Shutter Zoom – I can hardly wait to get started on that!  And I can’t make a post without a couple of Raptor images:

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One of the few Hawks I’ve seen on a fence post lately. He looks pretty serious.

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And this Hawk is working on its nest. The eggs must be in, because all we see is a head on the nest now. More to follow.

Well, that’s it for my 25th post.  I’m still excited to share my photographic journey with you, and I hope you are enjoying the ride!

PHOTOROGR

Shooting the West…and a little reflection…

I had the most wonderful experience this week – I attended ‘Shooting the West: The Nevada Photography Experience’ (www.shootingthewest.org).  Mere words can not adequately describe this event, and I don’t have the photographic skill to do it justice, either.  I attended a couple classes, met several people that I ‘knew’ through Facebook, made many new friends, and saw some amazing pictures.

My experience started Wednesday evening, with a class called ‘Winnemucca @ Night.’  Instructor Craig Moore led our group into the chilly Winnemucca evening and gave us great information and ideas for taking pictures in low light conditions.  Here are a few of my ‘experiments.’

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We started with ‘flash techniques’ for taking pictures of bright lights (such as casino lights) with a person in the foreground. Craig taught us a technique that allows the lights to shine but the person to be seen in the image. I have an image in mind – stay tuned. Then we played with long exposures, capturing lights from cars and nearby signage. I only took a few shots, but I enjoyed the technique. Visit my Shooting the West page and look at the image with the Winners Casino sign and the traffic signal – I got all the lights in the traffic signal.

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We stopped by a local night spot. The patrons were very accommodating and allowed us to take lots of pictures. I saw this great image in the mirror.

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Experimenting with long exposures again, we learned how to make ‘ghost images’ on the court house steps. Can you see the mere shadow of myself? This was very fun.

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The local Catholic Church has this beautiful display outside. I made several images using different settings. This was the best image out of the camera, but still took a little work to bring out the colors on the walls.

It took most of the night to warm up from the ‘chilly’ evening, but my camera and I were ready for the Composition class on Thursday.  M.D. Welch taught us the basic elements of composition, and then cut us loose to practice.  I traveled to Winnemucca often when I worked for the Nevada Department of Transportation, but I looked at the community with different eyes on this trip.  Here are a few of my images from Thursday.

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This is an image that I made for my weekly photo challenge – mirrored images. Winnemucca has these beautiful light poles, but they only have the light, flag, and Chief Winnemucca gusset on one side. I copied and flipped the original image to create this interpretation of their street lights.

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The Martin Hotel is one of the best Basque restaurants in which I’ve had a meal. We were near the end of the class when Michelle, one of my new friends, pointed out this beautiful reflection. Thanks Michelle for sharing. I have to start looking around more…

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I went back to my architectural roots with this building. This beautiful Art Deco style is home to Winnemucca’s Volunteer Fire Department. The blue tint to the picture was quite accidental, as I had the white balance on my camera set for the previous evening’s light. Sometimes those accidents work, but most of the time they don’t – at least for me. Take a look at the ‘not blue’ image on the Shooting the West page to appreciate the building in more natural light. I kind of like this one.

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As with many cities in the western U.S., the rail road is a big part of Winnemucca’s history. Amtrak still stops here, but the train station is more of a covered waiting area than a traditional train station. In my mind, the architect successfully integrated traditional elements of railroad stations into the design. In this image, two diesel engines on a siding are seen from inside the station. On the left, the sign identifies this stop as Winnemucca.

And then came two days of presentations by world class photographers, with subjects that included the California Missions, aerial photography, landscapes, time lapse, and trail camera photography.  Using images submitted by attendees, one presenter showed how to use Photoshop to edit and repair images.  As part of STW, participants can enter a picture in a competition titled ‘Give It Your Best Shot.’  The presenters and participants choose their favorite pictures and the images were breathtaking.  No matter your interest, experience, or skill in photography, Shooting the West is a ‘must do’ for anyone with an interest in photography.  I encourage you to go to http://www.shootingthewest.org to experience this great event for yourself, and consider attending next year, April 25 to May 1, 2016.

Oh yeah, during my R&R time, I bumped into a Hawk on a snowy morning.  I just can’t make a post without including a Raptor picture or two.

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Yes, it was a cold morning and, amazingly, we had snow on the ground and in the trees.

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Same Hawk, different tree. I’m not sure if he was making sure I saw the liftoff or if that was his way of telling me to leave him alone.

 

As you can see, I was blown away by my STW experience.  On the 3 hour drive home, I reflected on the things I’d seen, the information I received, the people I met and talked to.  I found myself thinking about the possibilities and direction I want to take my photography.  I haven’t yet decided what direction I will take as I continue this journey.  I guarantee that you will continue to see images from the Carson Valley and surrounding area – the raptors, wild horses, and beautiful scenery.  But you will also see me try new techniques and new subjects.  I have an image in my mind outside a local casino, and I have a starting point to begin the exploration of that image.

Hang on, because this ride is only going to get more interesting from here.  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