Happy 4th of July!

Can you believe that it’s July?  The calendar year is half over, but the business year is not.  Next month will be one year since I decided to become a full-time photographer.  Am I making lots of money?  No, but I’m having a lot of fun and my knowledge of photography and photo editing is growing by leaps and bounds.  You’ll see some of that growth in this post.  For the business year – It’s time for me to report my business assets to the County Assessor for tax purposes.  I think I can get everything together and look forward to the tax bill.

But first, an update on the wild horses.  Until last week, I have been photographing four bands in the area.  The studs are Blue, Blondie, Socks, and Shorty.  Please also recall that we have a group of bachelor studs, the ‘Boys’ Club,’ waiting for their turns to establish a band – Sampson, Jack, Little Socks, and Skip.  In a major power move, Shorty stole all of Socks’ mares so Socks is now a bachelor.  When I see him, he appears very lonely and forlorn.

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A very lonely Socks!

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He won’t even look at the camera.

I have a theory that Socks cut a deal with Shorty to look after the family while he took a little break.  I’m told that’s not a viable theory.

Here’s an image of Shorty’s band taken yesterday, with all of Socks’ mares and foals in the group.  Please don’t ask me which mares formerly belonged to Socks.

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They were enjoying a lazy day, just relaxing and not too concerned as I approached on foot.

And my buddy Blondie – remember the butt shot from my last post?  Well – late last week I found his band, parked, and approached on foot.  Blondie didn’t like that in the least!  For the first time, he ‘challenged’ my approach, actually running towards me.  He stopped when he could see me and I was never in any danger, but it made me a little more wary than usual of where he was while I made my images.

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Blondie keeping a very watchful eye on me!

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I only made a couple images due to Blondie’s obvious ‘discomfort’ with me being there. I like this one – I think it’s Little Scarlett and Mama.

Yesterday, Blondie’s band was across a small valley from Shorty’s band.  As I approached in the PHOTORANGER, Blondie gathered everyone up and off they went.  I’m not sure what I did to make him mad.

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Blondie’s band moving off. Horse butt pictures aren’t really exciting, but I like the pattern created by the numerous rears as they walked away.

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And Blondie, walking away – keeping himself between me and the band.

And what about the Boys’ Club?  Some of my friends have pictures of Socks with the Boys, but I don’t have any as yet.  I found the Boys close to some of the houses, just being boys.

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Our temperatures have been high the last couple weeks, with intermittent rain and thunderstorms.  We have a fire south of us that has burned 18 square miles.  Thankfully, the wind has blown the smoke away (and my power bill likes that!).  Since I melt at about 85 degrees (figuratively, not literally), my shooting time is short, leaving me lots of time to stay indoors and work on my editing skills.  A really BIG SHOUT OUT to my Photoshop mentors (you know who you are!!), who helped me over a giant hump in learning a couple techniques.  Here are a couple of images I edited this week – see if you can identify the changes I made!  Hint – they’re very subtle.

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This is Little Jo with Mom, Dad, and several other members of the band. The exposure is way off and there is the horse at the bottom of the shot who just doesn’t belong.

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Through the magic of Photoshop, I removed the horse at the bottom of the picture and rescued my poor shooting. The result is very pleasing, I think. Oh yeah, Blue is facing the camera behind the black horse. That’s not him on the left.

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During the winter months, the Raptors migrate through the Carson Valley. Photo opportunities are everywhere. I caught this juvenile Red Tailed Hawk last February at one of the local ranches. Exposure has been one of my greatest challenges, and lately I’m getting a better handle on it.

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I think the image works better with him facing right instead of left, and I fixed my poor exposure and got a little closer.

The night skies have also called to me.  The sunsets have been gorgeous and I’ve worked on my ‘low light’ shooting while I’m out there.  Temperatures are much better when the sun goes down, so why not?

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I made this image from my backyard while we still had a hint of smoke from the wildfire.

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Another from my backyard, through the trees. The smoke is gone, but the storm clouds made gorgeous light!

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Same evening – different vantage point.

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…and a little to the right…

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A look at the Pergola in our backyard. This is looking northeast, so the evening light is much different.

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One final night shot. This is looking southeast from my front yard. My neighbors very thoughtfully built this beautiful scene in the front corner of their yard. I photograph it often.

And I’ll close this post with a couple images of the PHOTORANGER in action.  This little truck has been a great addition to the stable, and I continue to be impressed with its performance in the field.  I took my father-in-law out to look for the wild horses yesterday.  He was impressed with the truck, but said he preferred the ‘softer’ ride of the other cars.  I understand completely.

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Enjoy – and have a wonderful 4th of July!  God Bless America!  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