PS Challenge – July 21, 2017

This PS Challenge image comes from Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria Harbour. The image was made using bracketed exposures merged in Adobe Camera Raw, then processed in PhotoShop using several layers and masks. This was my most complex image processing to date, and challenged all my PhotoShop skills.

The boat in the background is the MV Coho, the ferry between Port Angeles WA and Victoria.

I like the result, and hope you do, too. I’m thinking print on metal! Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

I’m just about to burst…

I’m so excited about my photography right now that I’m just about to burst!  I know, it’s been 3 weeks since my last post and I’m sure you’re all asking, ‘if he’s so excited, why so long since his last post?”  The answer is simple – I’m having too much fun to make a post!  The problem with that, however, is the backlog of images to share.  I still have two posts worth of images from my trip home last month – stay tuned for them!

We’ll get to current pictures in a minute because there are fun things I want to share.  First, I’m waiting for my new lens, the Generation 2 Tamron 150-600, to arrive.  I’ve been shooting with the first generation 150-600 since it came out almost 3 years ago and have always loved the results.  The new lens has better optics, faster autofocus, and a shorter minimum focusing distance (by almost a foot!).  I found a nice home for my old lens (the new owner has already made some great images, and has nicknamed the lens ‘Godzilla’), so I’m without a super telezoom for the short term.  My withdrawal is almost as bad as when my camera body fried a circuit board last June and I was without my 7D for a time.  I’ll get through it – I promise.  With the raptors returning to the Carson Valley, I’m excited to try out the new lens!

Second, I’m launching my exploration into Shutter Priority (Tv) mode.  For the last couple years, I have shot primarily in Aperture Priority (Av) mode, which controls light using the aperture opening.  Aperture size impacts depth of field, or how much the image is in focus from the foreground to the background (large openings = shallow depth of field, small openings = deeper depth of field).  For wildlife shots, especially birds, I shoot wide open.  Large aperture openings also allow fast shutter speeds, capturing detail and freezing motion.  I don’t worry about the background being in focus because I want to highlight the bird or animal in the image.  For landscapes, I use smaller aperture openings to have more of the scene in focus.  I shoot my landscapes from a tripod, so shutter speed is not really a concern.  I use Manual mode for my landscapes, allowing me to control exposure with either shutter or aperture priority, looking for the best settings for the particular subject and conditions.

What prompted me to explore Tv mode?  Sports photography!  One of my son’s friends has two little boys who play flag football.  I took pictures at a game last Saturday (they won – it was very exciting), and asked a friend/mentor to critique my work.  His comments were very helpful, pushing me to explore the wild world of Shutter Priority.  Here’s a couple pictures from Saturday.

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He had just intercepted a pass and was running into the end zone for a touchdown!

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These little guys take the game seriously – look at the intensity (or maybe fear of getting hit) on their faces!

As you can see, the focus is just a little soft.  I shot these in Av mode, so a shift to Tv mode will give me a faster shutter speed to freeze the action better.  I’m excited to give it a try!

A couple weeks ago, I went to Mormon Station State Park in Genoa to take pictures of Treffen Lake Tahoe, the Porsche Club of America’s cruise around the Lake Tahoe area.  The tour made a lunch stop in Genoa.  Go to my Treffen Lake Tahoe page (https://photorogr.com/treffen-lake-tahoe-2016/) to see my pictures from the day.

My retired guy ATV group made the ride up Mt. Patterson the other day.  Here’s a few images from the trip!

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I took this on the drive up, with my mobile phone. Note the smoke low on the horizon.

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This is the view looking west from the top of Mt. Patterson. It was mid-day when we arrived and I wasn’t happy with the light. I made the image anyway and am pleased with the result.

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The view to the north. Lots of smoke low on the horizon. The signage going up the hill described Mt. Patterson as ‘Mars with vegetation.’ I love the colors in this mountain.

On the way to Mt. Patterson, we passed the turnoff to CA 120, the Sonora Pass Road, and I just had to go back and drive Sonora Pass.  The leaves are starting to turn, and the PHOTORANGER loved the drive.

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The PHOTORANGER at the summit of Sonora Pass.

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Fall colors, on the east side of the Pass.

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Hopefully a sign of a good fall color year.  I found a great book on fall color in the Sierras, with excellent information on where to go.  Fall color exploration, here I come!

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I was amazed at the amount of water still flowing.

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The mountains had a fresh dusting of snow.

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This panorama was stitched from 8 images, then processed using a couple Nik Color Efex Pro filters. Some of my mentors/friends think it’s a little overdone. I like it!

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The scenery was stunning, everywhere I looked.

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I made several images of this mountain. I like this one for the trees in the foreground.

I didn’t forget to make images of the yard.  Here are a few.

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Remember the discussion of Aperture Priority above? This flower was shot with a wide open aperture and close up filters. The foliage in the background becomes a pleasing blur, while preserving the detail in the petals, stamens, and pistils. When I master focus stacking, the petal at the top will also be in focus.

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I finally found a Daisy bloom that hadn’t been molested by the rabbits.

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I love these Roses, but they are proving very challenging for me. I am constantly fighting the monochrome of the petals and work to introduce meaningful shadows to separate the petals. I was drawn to this composition by the dead bloom at the bottom of the image, in contrast with the vibrant blooms above.

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The last image of this post. I took a quick trip into the Pine Nut Mountains, just a couple miles east of our house, one evening last week. The sun was going down and was shining through some clouds. I’ve never made an image like this, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m not totally happy with the result, so I’ll be working to improve my image capture processes in these lighting conditions.

That’s a lot of fun for me.  I promise that I’ll get the images from my trip done and posted.  They’re worth the wait – I promise.

Thanks for reading my blog.  Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Panos and Monos and a Whole Lotta’ Fun!!!

In my last post (only 11 days ago for those of you who are counting), I introduced my exploration into panoramic images.  To me, a panorama (or pano) is an image that is much wider than it is longer.  Panos show the world in a little different way.  They can be made from any image – it’s just a matter of cropping to create the pano.  I prefer to make a number of overlapping images, and then use the magic of Photoshop to merge them together to create a pano.  A quick note on panos – they are best suited to stationary subjects!  I don’t think I can make a pano of a band of wild horses walking to the water tanks.  With that said, let’s see some new panos!

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This pano was made by combining 8 images together. The subject is a stretch of U.S. Highway 50 from Echo Summit (on the left) to Meyers CA (to the right), and was shot from a turnout on CA Highway 89. I love driving this piece of road towards Meyers because the view of Lake Tahoe is superb. My lovely bride, however, doesn’t like this road because of the dropoff. The text was an experiment, as my photo challenge last week was text overlay. After making the pano, I tried a new editing workflow to make the colors ‘pop’ more. I like the new workflow, and am adjusting it to my processing.

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This is the same stretch of highway, but I used 10 images to create this one. This pano has more content on the left side, and is the image I submitted for my challenge. I used the word ‘Journey’ in this image. Remember that I am on a ‘Journey in Creative Photography.’ It seemed appropriate.

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This view of Jobs Peak (on the left) and the Sierra Nevada Mountains was made from 10 images, and was shot from the Dangberg Home Ranch. The clouds and the sky cooperated – I can hardly wait for snow on the mountains!

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Our sunsets have been amazing this past week, so I got out the tripod and camera to see what I could do. I like the results! All the sunsets were made from my backyard, but I may have to see what other views of the mountains and sunsets I can find!

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Makes you want to live here – or at least come to visit!

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I made this pano to see how it would look in black and white (or monochrome – mono), but I kept it in color.

And so, we come to the ‘mono’ portion of the post.  After reading several articles on black and white images in one of the photo magazines recently, I thought I’d give it a try.

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This is a composite made from 6 images.  I was going to make a pano, but I would have lost too much texture from the clouds.  It was early for the sunset (the sunsets above were shot a few minutes later) and not much color, but I like the texture of the clouds. A little desaturation and other tweaking, and voila!

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Painted Hills, Central Oregon, last July.

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Same image in black and white. I need to work on my technique, but there’s definitely potential.

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Same location, different view.

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And still a fun technique. Of course, the colors in the Painted Hills just can’t be improved upon.

And if you think trying new shooting and editing techniques isn’t enough fun, you missed a great show at the Dangberg Home Ranch (www.dangberghomeranch.org) last Saturday.  The Nevada Gunfighters put on a great show.  Here’s a couple images – please go to my Nevada Gunfighters page for more pictures.

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As I recall, Miss Emma – she runs an escort service, of sorts…

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Miss Strawberry Tart. Former School Teacher and now escort, of sorts…

There you have it!  Panos and monos and a whole lotta’ fun!  The raptors are slowly coming back to the Carson Valley, and it’s just about bear time at Taylor Creek.  I won’t forget to visit the wild horses, too – I promise!  I hope you had as much fun looking at my pictures as I did making them.  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

Energize and revitalize!

A little over a year ago, I retired and started a journey to become a photographer.  Every time I try to sit back and take stock of my progress, there’s a new subject begging to be photographed.  The best part is that I feel like I actually have a starting point to make the image.  I’m not always right in my decisions, but I feel like I can make the adjustments and have a successful shoot.  I’m still loving my journey and have no regrets about taking that first step.

I have great friends, old and new, and family who have been supportive through it all.  Thanks to everyone for helping me along the path, from encouraging words to buying my images to telling me about photo opportunities.  It’s not much fun without you.  Please stay with me as the journey continues, because there’s lots more to come!

Every now and then, I am unhappy with my images and myself.  Sometimes it’s the subjects or the challenges of light and shadow, and sometimes it’s my lack of knowledge in editing.  When I get down, I give myself a break, clear my head, and then jump back in.  This week, the grind of editing for the Boy Scout car show got to me.  I took some horse pictures, and wasn’t happy with the results.  Last night, I went on a photo walk with a couple of my mentors and a few new friends.  I made images of subjects I don’t normally shoot and cleared my head.  The people were fun and the pictures are coming out great.  I’m doing a little experimenting with the editing, but I’m renewed and re-energized.

In my last post, I promised more car pictures from the Boy Scout car show.  As noted above, it’s become more work than I had originally thought (but it’s providing a great opportunity for learning the business side of photography), and those images aren’t ready yet.  I’ve also been distracted by other subjects in the last couple weeks.  Here are the images from my distractions.

Lake Tahoe ATV ride: we rode a trail on the east side of the lake, with fantastic views.  There are a couple more pictures in the Landscapes and Scenery page.

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And the USAF Thunderbirds came to the Carson Valley.  See the THUNDERBIRDS! page for more images!

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The Thunderbirds were here as part of the Aviation Roundup, with static displays and other flying demonstrations.  This is a Beechcraft Twin Beech 18 doing some acrobatics.

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Which brings us to the Photo Walk and its non-routine subjects.  This is only a sample – there are more to come!

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This stained glass piece is in a local antique shop. It was nicely backlit and easy to shoot.

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I was intrigued by this street light against the west wall of the original Warren Engine Company fire station. I added the vignetting in the corners, but I’m not sure I am completely pleased with the result.

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The sunset was beautiful, and the church steeple made an excellent foreground!

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I’m trying several new techniques with this image. I made multiple images from this location, including several bracketed exposures. I’ll let you know how the experiments come out.

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I caught the moon over the roof of the Nevada Supreme Court Building. I kept hoping the wind would come up and extend the flag, but it was not to be. I like this image, though.

As you can see, sometimes the distractions are very hard to overcome.  They are, however, very necessary to maintain the creative juices.  This crusty old engineer needs all the creative juices he can get, because they are sometimes hard to come by.  Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

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