Friday, January 30, 2015

Birds Before Sunset

I was able to get to Shelley Lake today about an hour and twenty minutes before sunset.  The light was pretty good, and I hoped to practice shooting common birds in flight.  Unfortunately, even the gulls and Canada geese were pretty scarce, and almost none were in the sky.  The larger birds which often perch on piers were taking off when I arrived.  I did manage, with my very first shot of the day, to catch one in an interesting position.

This colorful duck got close enough that I could get a tight headshot (with 600 mm on the camera).

From a particular angle, the water strongly reflects the color of the foliage behind it, which turns it into an incredible golden hue.

Three geese approached from the west, flying in formation, and circled over the east side of the lake and toward the north.

The trio flew by the impressive waxing gibbous moon, but they were "lower" in the sky.

Exposing for the very bright moon made the sky appear darker than it actually was, but enabled me to show all of the detail that is actually more apparent when the moon is at an intermediate phase than when it is full.  This is because the sunlight is striking it "from the side".  The effect is much like a side-lit landscape, where textures are emphasized.  The craters are almost three dimensional.

Here are the same three birds coming in for a landing:

 With a lull - or more like a total cessation - of flight activity, I did a little playing with an abstraction of shapes in a stairway.

After awhile, I moved to another area, where I saw some more possibilities beginning to develop.

Three runners, to go with the three geese, entered my field, so I used them in my composition.

My main interest at this point was in the amazing tiers of color that developed in shallow channels of the lake.  I got a few shots of ducks playing in the area, then called it a day.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Please Follow Me!

"Please feed me a treat!" says Ziva, but I will use her image to say "please follow my blog!"  Because you can, and why not!

[Exif: 35 mm, f/2, 1/200 sec., ISO 16,000 < YES!, Canon 5D Mk III]


Wednesday, January 28, 2015


This was just a very quick, spur of the moment "project", not like shooting perfectly formed flowers at their peak.  Rather, I was intrigued by the shapes and contrasting textures of these ferns (and in the case of the second photo, the color contrast provided by an interloper of sorts).  I'm a sucker for backlighting!  These were shot at 400 mm (with a Canon 100-400 L IS II, wide open at f/5.6).


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cheese Ring - How To Make One

Have you ever wanted to create a properly shaped cheese ring?  First, to introduce our instructor to any new readers of this blog, here is Ziva, happily sharing dreamland with her snowman.

If you thought the series of "got milk?" mustaches were impressive, look at the almost perfectly arced, delicately drawn muzzle ring of cottage cheese that Ziva displays (no touch-up, no enhancement).  Nasal accent optional.

And here is how it is done.  One picture, worth at least a few dozen words of explanation (which I have already squandered), yes?


Monday, January 26, 2015


You can infer the story from these two photos, I'm confident.  Or invent whatever you like.  Note the mud-stained nose.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Can Cute Be Terminal?

Can a creature be so constantly cute as to be boring?

No...I don't think so...


Doggie Hypnotism

Look into my will

Wait, who is supposed to obey whom?


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Interspecies Play

Play is a very important activity for human childhood development, as well as often for what we might call adult emotional maintenance.  Other animals also engage in play, some to a very great extent.  I have no profound observations to offer, but I sometimes enjoy playing with dogs about as much as I do with people, and I find it interesting that play can become as subtle a method of interspecies communication as anything we've found so far.  In science fiction, a human mind can be merged with that of another being, including another species, and experience things through the senses of the other organism (sometimes even with something of the quality of existence that the other being experiences). If this is even possible, I suspect it would have to be a very long way off in our future, but it would be a direct way to address the issue people raise when they wonder what it is "like" to be some other animal.  What is it like to be a dog?  What is the nature of its reasoning, emotion, etc., and what does it feel like just to exist?  Regarding the last part of that series of questions, we might acknowledge that we can't even know for sure what another person's subjective experience of life is.  However, I think it's very reasonable to assume lots of commonality from one of us to another, and I also am convinced that there is much in the rich emotional life of a dog that parallels my own.  I don't know if your experience of colors is the same as mine, but I know that my dog Ziva experiences joy very much the same way that I do.  The same would of course be true of suffering, which is why I would go to very great lengths to protect her from that.

Yes, in the following pictures, you see a portion of a cow bone.  I recognize the inconsistency of protecting one animal while participating in the use of another one that may have been raised for slaughter.  The world is filled with carnivores, predators in every available niche.  The constant struggle for survival is how the incredible variety of microorganisms, plants, and animals (including people) came to be.  However, we can, and should, at least ensure humane treatment of any animals that we humans use for our own purposes.  We can be sure those purposes are good and necessary, and we can certainly avoid frivolous or cruel mistreatment of any creatures, including our fellow humans.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Z is for Ziva

Perhaps novelist Sue Grafton should consider using Ziva as the eponymous inspiration for the final installment of her ongoing "alphabet" murder mysteries.  I suspect Kinsey Millhone would approve, though I can't think of any connection the lovely and charming Ziva Dog Diva could have to nefarious activities.

Last night I was reading a different author's work (I've long since caught up with Grafton's output, and eagerly await "X is for..."), and parked on a sofa for comfort.  Ziva parked by my feet, only slightly overlapping one slipper (she often puts herself squarely on whatever part of me is available). So as I absorbed The Racketeer, by John Grisham, Ziva emitted z's...zzzzzzz.

One quick glance to be sure she had my permission:

She didn't budge when I reached one arm to the side to get this perspective (a camera phone is much more practical than a DSLR for this sort of shooting):

Today, when I got home from rehearsal, after we went for a hike, Ziva made it clear that she wanted to play with a "snowman" that she was recently given by a neighborhood friend.  Our dear friend has an older dog named Alexa, who was best friends with our late, beloved Photon.  Alexa had grown tired of some of her things, gets along well with Ziva, and Ziva seems really excited about getting to play with them herself.  She wanted an audience, too, so I obliged with a camera.

After the exercise (there was a lot of running and fetching), Ziva calmed down, looked around and sniffed...what dogs do to explore their surroundings, after I caught some tight portraits.

"Why don't you put down that Grisham novel and get back to The Calculus Diaries (Jennifer Ouellette)?"  Okay Ziva, you don't have to monitor my reading habits, even though I do monitor your eating habits.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Y in the sky

Contrails can be interesting.  I spotted this while walking toward a Greenway entrance this morning.  The broader trail had spread quite a lot, but it might not have taken very long.  I saw the narrow one being formed by a jet that must have been on a lower flight path than the other.  Its trail broadened noticeably in just a few seconds.  Why look up, Y...

Although the sewer line work on the Crabtree Creek Trail is far from completed, the workmen waved me through today, so I felt I had official permission to hike and explore.  So, we headed for Crabtree Valley.

Not so long ago, this area was covered with ice.

Into the woods...

No entry this way:

Ziva, the junkyard dog?  No, but how did she get in there?

She fits where most adult humans can't (and she was on her leash the whole time).

The return trip under Edwards Mill Road was impressive, thanks to reflection of a blue sky that rendered even deeper blue water.

Some of the pumping and dredging equipment is very colorful.

This might give some young kids nightmares.

It's a cyborg zombie, ready to suck the brains of the unwary.

But that oddly gruesome thought only occurred to me now, as I write.  Our trip this morning was very pleasant, and put me in a good mood for the start of the day.