Sequestered

Thanks to my cousin, Deborah, for describing these times as “sequestered,” so I could use it for this title.

Anna’s Hummingbird, male, and yes, nature called in the last photo.

Abert’s Towhee

This is the stalk from an agave that my neighbors gave me as I wanted it for a photo perch. So…this is the only bird I have seen use it briefly! Still hoping for a little more action.

Verdin, immature

The above photo is of a Gray Hairstreak, not a particularly good shot, but you can see how the markings on the hindwing mimic antennae and eyes so that a potential predator may attack there rather than the head.

I had one more socially distanced visit with my friend, Maggie, in a park the other day. It has now become so hot in Phoenix that it is doubtful we can do that for a couple more months. Saw a couple birds:

Black Phoebe
Northern Mockingbird
American Kestrel
Almost full moon on July 2

Here is something else I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on lately. It’s something of a “Vision Board” or “Dream Board,” hoping that it will manifest if I wish it so. It’s a composite photo with several layers of symbolic/representative elements added:

This was the original photo that I used, taken on the Apache Trail:

Some of the elements added were taken from the internet (most of them) and a couple were from photos I’ve taken, including the tiny hummingbird in the upper left.

I’ve also spent many hours collecting some 19th century photos and writing fact-based, fictional stories about the subjects and further hoping to include them in my road trip. In fact, on the road trip photo above, the box of photos is pictured on the lower right hand side. So I want to do a Road Show within a Road Trip. Yes, I know I sound nutty: sequestering can do that to you.

if you would like to see the vintage photos and read their stories, I have linked it here on my blog as a PDF. You can download it or just read it here: Fanciful Facts.

Look into My Crystal Ball

I got a new toy, a crystal ball for photography effects. So far, I haven’t really been to a location that is especially conducive to this little gadget but I’ve experimented with it a little. The above photo was taken at the Desert Botanical Garden. After I realized I wasn’t going to get anything I was pleased with, I walked around in the late afternoon sun and got some regular photos.

Currently the Garden has an exhibit by Jun Kaneko scattered around various areas. Some people love it, some not so much. I’m probably in the latter category but I do know that they need to bring exhibits in so that more people will come to the garden so they can support their mission of research, education, and conservation. The sculptures are mostly glazed ceramic forms although the one, below, is a bronzed form.

Below are the stars of the show, the Tanukis, based on Kaneko’s interpretation of the Japanese raccoon-dog which is a real animal and also a popular theme in Japanese art. See more on Tanukis here.

Visitors are encouraged to hug the Tanukis and everyone wants their photo taken with their favorite one. I was volunteering one night at a busy event and countless people handed me their phones and asked me to take their pictures.

A few days later, I went over to Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden to try my luck with the crystal ball again:

Still not thrilled with the results, I snapped a few other shots:

Red-naped Sapsucker

Gila Woodpecker

I have a glass stand and a wooden stand for the ball but the photos I’ve seen that I like the best are those where the stand doesn’t show, either by cropping it or by not using it. However, if you don’t use the stand, you have to be careful that the ball doesn’t get scratched by whatever you have it on and that it won’t roll away and break. Here’s a practice photo I took with the glass stand…not thrilled with seeing it.

Do you want one? This is the one I have.

Do you want to see some beautiful photos taken with them? Check here.

Want some tips?

CAUTION: It’s true that the ball can refract the sun’s rays and cause a fire. I set mine on a white table outside for about 3 minutes. When I touched the refraction on the table, it was burning hot!

P.S. It’s my 9 year blogiversary on 2/13!

 

Back in Circulation

red-eared-terrapinRed-eared Terrapin

towhee-11-5-16

towhee-2-11-5-16Abert’s Towhee

thrasher-granadaCurve-billed Thrasher

mock-closeup

mock-on-wireNorthern Mockingbird

goose-in-woodsDomestic Goose

wigeonAmerican Wigeon

eucd-11-5-16Eurasian Collared-Dove

hum-11-5-16Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Back in February, 2015, I got a new lens for birding, the Sigma 150-500mm. It was on sale. Shortly thereafter, they released 2 versions of a Sigma 150-600mm (hence the sale). I was very happy with my lens and could handhold it whereas the birding friends I knew who got the 150-600mm could not handhold theirs. Those things are huge…but do deliver a very crisp photo. If I was in great light and all, my photos were crisp, too, but as time wore on, I felt it focused sort of slowly and could be sharper so I started thinking about the Nikkor 200-500mm. It was quite a bit heavier and bigger than my lens, though, so I kept stalling because I was afraid I would have to use a tripod or monopod.

Then another acquaintance in my birding group, who is an excellent photographer, and who is able to “test drive” lenses (I don’t really know how he pulls that off) said the new Tamron 150-600mm, 2nd generation, just released in September, was faster and crisper than the Nikkor. I looked at the specs and it was only 4 ounces heavier than my Sigma and just slightly longer so I felt it could still be handheld. It was the same price as the Nikkor so I traded in my Sigma and now have the Tamron.

I really haven’t tried it out much yet. I went out to a park one day and got a few photos but, other than that, have mostly used it in my yard. Our yard is pretty dark so I don’t think I’ve experimented enough yet to gauge the sharpness. The extra few ounces are actually noticeable as far as handholding but I think I’ll get used to that. The extra reach from 500 to 600 is very noticeable. I usually have buyer’s remorse but I’m trying to get over it. I guess I have to say that I just haven’t used it enough, under the right conditions, to know if it is markedly sharper and faster to focus but it has excellent reviews so I’m hopeful.

And here are a couple photos taken with my 18-300mm. These 2 Macaws live at Dig It Urban Gardens and Nursery, where I went the other day.

harleyHarley

blueBlue

skipper-aboveFiery Skipper

 

Fisheye Fun in Phoenix

az-fall-fisheye-1

This is the Water Room at Arizona Falls which I’ve blogged about before (1, 2). I thought I would take a little break from taking/posting bird and butterfly photos and play around with my fisheye lens for a couple days.

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Arizona Falls is a public art project as well as a working hydroelectric plant providing power to 150 households. It’s a great place for photography and has a lot of interesting angles and features itself so using a fisheye only enhances that.

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az-falls-fisheye-3

Not too far away is Papago Park which I have also written about numerous times.

papago-pond-fisheye

hole-in-the-rock

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With a fisheye, where you center the image vertically and horizontally affects how “bulged out” the image will be. If it’s centered horizontally, it will not be as distorted and will just provide a wide angle of view.

hole-in-the-rock-3

downtown-phx

If you enlarge the above photo (a lot), you can see our downtown area with tall buildings, not quite skyscrapers. And here are a few more shots in a business district close to my house.

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palms-fisheye

amc-fisheye

esplanade-fisheye

20-highland-fisheye

No birds! But you can actually see a couple ducks and a turtle in the office complex pond above.

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Rainy Day Pastimes

Hummer Spilled Ink_edited-1Oops

Thanks to El Niño, we had 5 days of solid gloom and rain. Instead of using the time to do all the things I need to do, I played around with some photos…and the minutes turned into hours and the hours into days. They each can tell a little story, I think.

window lake cupShattered

Nikon Camera HawkShootin’ Film

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Window Cat_edited-1Looking Out/Looking In

Hawk Easel Feather BlueArt Imitates Life

I had seen this 5 minute award-winning animated film short the night before and that’s what “inspired” me to make these…not the message of the film (which is kind of sappy although true) but the visual beauty of it. I love all the layers upon layers in it…not that I can do anything very complex but it was fun trying.