Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving feast for the birds

A tufted titmouse hunting for seeds:

Got one:

A funny perspective:

A quick grab, the source revealed:



On the roof of the feeder:


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Allegretto non troppo

Ziva, our mixed-breed, rescued dog, is about 14 months old, still basically an almost fully grown puppy.  At times, she will dash about, full tilt, for the sheer joy of running.  In musical terms (Italian), that would be "Presto".  When we play fetch, she'll pace herself a bit, knowing that she may run a dozen or so round trips.  She might do an Allegro assai race after an object, then return at Allegro moderato.

Naturally, when I decided to try a few photos of her running with rings or a ball (I had to toss them with my left hand, then quickly be ready with the camera in my right), she dropped into Andante range (that literally means walking), basically trotting rather than galloping.  So much for getting shots of all four feet off the ground, but I did manage to energize her enough to get the gait back into what I'd call Allegretto non troppo territory.  Sometime soon we'll have to get to a larger field in a dog park or something, but for now:


Monday, November 24, 2014

Self-Guided Greenway Tour

Ziva the diva dog led the way on a tour of the streets and the Raleigh Greenway today.  She stopped to sniff some Queen Anne's Lace, and I decided I would keep the iPhone camera handy during this trip.

Along Crabtree Creek, we saw a juxtaposition of bare trees and others still holding some colorful leaves.

At an abandoned bridge over the river, I photographed the patterns made by shadows, fence rails, and leaves, all from safely behind a barrier fence.

When I moved a few feet for a different composition, the sun ducked behind clouds.  With the shadows gone, I felt this image was strengthened by a toned black and white treatment.

Ziva poked her head through the posts of a pedestrian bridge.  I leaned over the top rail to get this perspective.  Kids, don't try this at home.

Is she serenely contemplating the view, reflecting on reflections, or wishing she could get at some squirrels on the other side?

On the way home, I encountered a concept straight out of the sixties...Free Love combined with True Love yields Tree Love:


Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Surprising Blast of Color

I was issued a "throw down" challenge this morning related to my "last leaf" post.  So, I looked around a bit this afternoon for another straggler, or maybe a leaf pressed into the mud from the drizzle once that started.  I didn't have much success, so I'm conceding victory to my challenger, but I did find one spot with lots of leaves remaining and lots of color.  Here is what resulted:

And, continuing the tradition established yesterday, here's today's photo of Ziva resting.  Isn't her tail impressively bushy?  Doesn't she look harmlessly sedate?  Hah!  That can change in a millisecond!


Saturday, November 22, 2014


A normal, sensible man would replace an electric shaver cutter and screen assembly before this level of erosion could take place.  The major gaps were noticed when it took revenge for its neglect by biting the face that feeds it.  Because any little thing can be the subject of a macro photo, I went to the trouble of positioning two off-camera flash units and tried some shots.  That is, after continuing to use the more or less intact side of the shaver for a few more days while waiting for replacement parts to arrive in the mail.

And with no particular connection to anything except her continuing insinuation into life and the heart, here is a pic of Ziva from yesterday.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Last Leaf, Five Views

I was already going to call this series of photos "the last leaf" - because that's exactly what it was for this particular group of trees - when I was informed that there's an O. Henry short story by that name. It is one that I hadn't read, but I have now, and it seems very apropos.  I can only hope that some of the poignancy of the story is mirrored in the photographs.

In typical fashion, I was "captured" by the sight of this hanger-on as soon as I spotted it, but had to explore positions and angles to try to find the effect I was imagining.

I knew right away that I wanted to feature the contrasting blues and yellows in the background.

Generally, when photographing a relatively flat subject (though this leaf was actually quite curled in its dry afterlife) and wishing to separate it from its background, a good strategy is to align the plane of the subject with the camera sensor and open the lens wide for a shallow depth of field.  This can render the subject sharp and the rest of the scene blurred.  However...

...after working the scene for a while, I decided that potentially the most powerful aspect of the subject was the kind of dancing character that appeared when the leaf was viewed from a bit of an angle.  The gradual softening of focus from the nearest part of the leaf to the furthest also adds a sense of motion that I like.  So, my final take: Last Dancing Leaf.

[all photos, Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8 L IS macro]


Daily Dozen - your Ziva fix

Actually, although I titled this post your Ziva fix, I'm the one who is addicted to photos of the little imp.  Addicted to capturing them, when I can manage to not be petting her, playing with her, feeding her, communicating.

Note the transition from cute little puppy dog to fearsome predator, and back to harmless, playful pup, all within a span of ten minutes (which felt like one minute to me).


Dog on a platter

Here are three iPhone shots of Ziva, two sleeping in a comfy place, looking a bit like a dog on a platter.

And here I caught her emerging from an exploration under a chair, where she had been completely hidden, but fortunately not completely inaudible.  As I write  this, Ziva is creating her own musical compositions with a chew toy, a rubber pig that emits lower pitched sounds than most of the "squeaky" toys on the market.  Ziva has figured out how to get a range of pitches, volumes, rhythms and timbres by using her feet, her muzzle, and her teeth.  At some point I'll have to do a video with sound of one of her performances.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Head-Up Display

For about half a century, jet fighter pilots have had head-up displays (projected on the windscreen or mounted in a helmet), so that critical information could be viewed without shifting their vision down toward an instrument panel.  A couple of decades later, similar systems began to appear in some commercial aircraft.  Then a few cars began to offer similar features (possibly as much to make them seem like jet planes as to make them safer to drive).

I don't have that kind of high tech feature in my car, but when I got in it today, this rainy afternoon, I was confronted with an artistic display that almost seemed to be projected on the windshield.  Before cranking the engine and running the wipers, I had to get out my iPhone to do this photo.  I think it would have been a misdemeanor, if not a felony moving violation, to drive off without the shot!