PS Challenge – June 26, 2017

Today’s PS Challenge image comes from the Virginia Range, north of Stagecoach NV. I made this image a few weeks ago when I was out with my old retired guy ATV group. We encountered several bands of wild horses on the ride. Three of these four were more concerned with the guys in the lead, but one kept his eye on me. Bracketed exposures combined in Adobe Camera Raw, cropped in PhotoShop with a filter from Nik Color Efex Pro.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Just a few more days!

Time is running out!  In just a few days, I’ll be in Winnemucca for Shooting the West (shootingthewest.org) and will be making my presentation Saturday afternoon.  I’ve been working on the presentation for a couple months, going through my pictures from the last couple years to select the best ones to showcase.  Last week, I was feeling good about my selections and was starting to make the cuts necessary to meet my 15 minute time slot.  I asked my lovely bride to go through the slide show with me, as the cuts were becoming more difficult to make.  At the end of the first run through, she says that I haven’t included my best shots!  Holy cow!!

We opened up the hard drives and looked for the shots that she thought I should include.  After adding in another dozen or so, I started the ‘deselection’ process all over again.  I have the presentation down to 78 slides now, which is on the high side of my original target of 70+/-.  I think it will work.  There’s time for more fine tuning.

I made a big addition to my editing toolbox this week – software to calibrate the color on my computer monitor.  ColorMunki from X-Rite is my choice – simple to install and use.  The ‘before and after’ showed small adjustments in the colors, but I move forward with more confidence in my editing.

I managed to get out a bit – I didn’t lock myself in the study, after all!  Here’s a few images from the last couple weeks.

I have a new photographer friend in Carson City who showed me a different group of wild horses.  We were standing in a saddle with multiple bands, probably 100 or more horses.  There was a group of 16-18 bachelor studs showing us their physical prowess.  It was very exciting to see!

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These two started a fight in the middle of the group of horses – a common occurrence during our time there!

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This is my favorite shot from the day. These two had moved away from the group and were serious for several minutes.

I also got a couple shots that were less ‘exciting.’  The scenery shot was featured on a local morning show during the weather report this week.

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This is the view looking south towards the Carson Valley, and was the featured image on the Channel 2 Weather Report last Wednesday!

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This foal is proudly leading the band up a hill. The rocks made a wonderful background!

I had a little fun this week, too.  I went to a local ranch to see if the ‘kids’ were out and about, and they were!  I also spent a little time in the back yard.

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Remember Pickup? Here he is again – climbing a tree and getting into mischief.  You don’t see that every day!

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My exploration into macro photography and creative filters continued with these Lilac flowers from our back yard.

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Some flowers from one of our Crab Apple trees.

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This Quail and its partner were making their way through the plants in the back yard yesterday. By the time I grabbed my camera and headed outside, they had gone up the hillside and were in the rocks.

I needed a break from the computer one day last week, so I made an impromptu visit to a location where I’d heard about an Aerie.  I wasn’t disappointed.  After making several images of this Bald Eagle sitting in the nest, it took flight and gave me quite a show!  Here’s a couple from the day!

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Coming in for a landing. This image was made microseconds after touchdown.

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The in flight image. What a magnificent Raptor!

Sorry that the blog is short, but I have to finish my presentation, pack my bags, and try to fit in a ride with my ATV group before I head for Winnemucca.  I’ll give a report on Shooting the West in my next blog!  I look forward to seeing old friends, making new ones, and meeting face to face with people I’ve ‘friended’ on Facebook.  Until next time – enjoy!

PHOTOROGR

February is a very busy time!

When I started this Journey in Creative Photography, I knew I would be spending lots of time learning how to make images (in camera and on the computer) and that some of my learning curve would be about the business side of photography.  In my post ‘Order and Chaos’ (last December), I discussed the challenges of storing and retrieving images on the computer.  I described how I installed additional memory in my computer and further refined my storage/retrieval system in my last post.  I have been reaping the benefits of those changes in the last couple weeks, as I tackle another big challenge – what do I share, print, and show?

February in the Carson Valley is prime time for nature photographers.  The calves are dropping and the Eagles migrate through to feed on the nutrient rich afterbirth and the occasional carcass.  Long lens mounted, I go hunting for these regal subjects.  Then, after downloading the RAW images on the computer, I review the images and decide which are worthy of processing and possibly sharing or printing.  Believe me, you only see a small fraction of the images I make in camera.  Why is this on my mind?  Read on!

Many years ago, the local Chamber of Commerce (http://www.carsonvalleynv.org) teamed up with area ranchers and conservationists to create a wonderful event called Eagles and Agriculture.  The opening reception and photography exhibit is tomorrow at the Senior Center, and the tours start Friday!  The Eagles & Agriculture Banquet is Friday night, and I will have a table to sell my pictures and note cards.  I’ll also be there Saturday morning – if you’re nearby, stop in, say hi, and buy a picture or note card!  I’ve been printing, matting, and framing new images for a week or so (I love Amazon’s 2 day delivery on ink for my printer!).  The image retrieval system was critical to my printing activities, and the modifications to my process made it soooo much easier.  This will also help as I prepare for my presentation at Shooting the West (http://shootingthewest.org).

I’ve also been making time to get out and make new images.  The Eagles have been a little difficult to capture, so other subjects have endured my intrusion – most notably, the wild horses in the Pine Nut Mountains.  The foals have been coming a little early this year – we now have 3.  I shared pictures of Skye in my post ‘Inspiration – the Key Ingredient’ although we didn’t know that she was a she, and she hadn’t been named when I posted.

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Skye with her Mom, Suzie Q (in back), and Dad, Shorty (facing).

Here are the other foals!

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This is Sassy with her Mom, Bossy Betty. Sassy got her name by exhibiting an ‘independent’ behavior.

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The family portrait (l to r): Sassy, Bossy Betty, Skye, Suzie Q, Shorty (looking right). Shorty is the proud Papa, but he plays it cool.

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This is Hardy with Mom, Lady. Dad is Blue – the undisputed King of the Pine Nut bands. Hardy is named after my father-in-law, who celebrated his 90th birthday last week!

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Hardy running with other members of the band. The horse on the left is Copper and we’re waiting to see her foal. Lady is keeping Hardy in line.

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While shooting Blue’s band the other day, Blue decided we had been there long enough and came over to tell us. When we didn’t leave immediately, he took a couple steps as if to say, ‘Didn’t you get the message?’

I found Mystery again – we started with a game of hide and seek, and then it got interesting!

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Mystery hiding in the trees.

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Mystery posing for me.

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Mystery deciding he wanted to check me out! He walked to within about 25′ of me before I convinced him it wasn’t a good idea.

I saw several horses who were having lots of fun!

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This is Hope. She’s a yearling and Blue’s daughter. Apparently, mud bath was the day’s fun activity.

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Another of Blue’s yearlings played in the mud.

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This little fella’ is The Rogue’s son. I found him in a different area, but he had been playing in the mud, too.

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This is Little Jo, one of Blue’s yearlings. She’s quite a camera tease, and apparently doesn’t play in the mud.

I can’t post without a bird picture…

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This Sharp-Shinned Hawk was in my neighbor’s tree. I got some good pictures…

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…but obviously overstayed my welcome.  It’s a problem I have on occasion (just ask Blue).

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One more shot of Hardy – a guy just has to scratch sometimes, even when he’s only a couple days old.

Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom.  I know I shared a lot of pictures, but you see my dilemma!  Like the convenience store, I just have ‘too much good stuff!’

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

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

 

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