Sea Blue Lens


20 Comments

So Long, Chickadee

There will be lilacs!

There will be lilacs!

It’s official, spring has sprung. But my walk this week has me thinking back to last fall.

DSC_0027

Scout

In my bird book, I noted my first sighting of a Mountain Chickadee on September 19, 2012. At first there was just one, but soon we had small flocks in residence, hanging out with the house finches and white crowned sparrows.

DSC_0142

Mind If I Join You?

Then I began hearing an odd little tapping noise. What on earth? Oh, I see! A chickadee would pluck a hard, round seed pod (they are actually tiny cones) off the big arborvita at the corner of the house, carry it to a crape myrtle or pine branch, and hold it between his feet while pecking it open with his beak, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap.  Over the next few weeks, they stripped every seed off that tree. Only then did they join the other birds at the feeders.

One day I caught a glimpse of a bird I couldn’t identify. It looked a lot like a chickadee, but its beak was twice as long. A day or so later, I spotted another one, got a better look at it, and had to laugh–it wasn’t another species, it was just one of my little chickadees with a sunflower seed in his beak. Unlike the house finches, who crack and eat the seeds right at the feeder, the chickadees carry away one seed at a time, again finding a branch on which to peck it open.

They’re rather gregarious little birds, often chattering and scolding from a nearby branch as I sat on my patio or cleaned and refilled the bird bath. But my picture-taking efforts were frustrating. I couldn’t get very close with the camera, and they move quicker than I can aim and focus. I’ve taken dozens of images and deleted most of them.

DSC_0054

Please, stop wiggling!

A few days ago, I was walking around the yard with my camera, taking photos of the spring buds and blossoms that are beginning to appear, when a chickadee alighted on a branch right next to me. He watched me turn and raise the camera, and sat quietly while I took eight precious, perfect shots.

DSC_0315

DSC_0318

DSC_0321

Then — gone.

DSC_0323

Two days later, they were ALL gone. Every. Single. One.

God speed and fare thee well, my little friends. Thank you for your gracious parting gift. I hope to see you again come fall!

I’m linking with Lissa for Walk and Click Wednesday. This was a short walk–I didn’t even get out of my own front yard. I haven’t forgotten that I promised to take you the rest of the way home from the mail box . . . the long way . . . so we’ll do that next week.
laf Custom Designs


10 Comments

Blurred Vision

Coming and Going

Coming and Going

Hi — I’m back! I didn’t deliberately set out to take a month-long blogging break, but that’s pretty much what happened. Don’t know why, but I guess I must have needed it.

I can’t say I’ve got any deep thoughts or dramatic breakthroughs to report upon my return. But since my Word for 2013 is Explore, I thought I’d jump in with Kat Sloma’s Exploring With a Camera. Each month, Kat offers up a lesson on an aspect of photography, with clear explanations, how-to’s, and plenty of examples. This month’s exploration was “artistic blur.”

I spend a great deal of effort in trying to get my photos to be as sharp as possible. The concept of trying to blur a photo by moving the camera around during exposure, for example, or by deliberately not focusing before capturing an image is difficult for me to grasp. I tried some experiments for this lesson but, sad to say, they were not successful. However, in looking through my archives I found that I do use other types of blur to create the effect I want in a photo.

Desert Willow

Desert Willow

In this photo, I used a shallow depth of field to hint at the setting of this desert willow, but the blossom is clearly the subject.

Eventide

Eventide

In this case, even though it’s the grass that’s in focus, it leads my eye to the cottage in the background. For me, the cottage in the soft, warm evening light, with its sense of peace and quiet solitude, is the real subject of the photo.

Summer Storm

Summer Storm

I took this photograph because of the blur caused by a brief but intense summer rain pouring down the window.

Window Waves

Ripples in Time

While this image was taken on another rainy day, the blurred distortion of the clapboards is caused not by rain but by the wavy antique glass of the window that I was shooting through.

Ripples In Time

Water World

These are ripples of a different sort. The water in this cove seemed very calm, but the blurred reflection tells another story. This is one of my favorite reflection photos.

Downtown

Downtown

In this image of the Los Angeles skyline taken from the Angeles Crest Highway, the mountains and distant city are blurred by mist and rain.

Slow Water

Slow Water

This blurred water is caused by using a slow shutter speed, a common technique used by landscape photographers to give moving water that milky effect. To be honest, it’s not something I do often, but I was experimenting with it one day and this was the result. To me, milky water looks very unnatural; I prefer to freeze the motion, leaving the water clear. But I did enjoy trying and comparing the effects of different shutter speeds on this occasion, and I’ll experiment more with it in the future.

Spots and Stripes

Spots and Stripes

This effect was achieved by shooting through a flowering shrub. Focusing on the bird beyond caused the foliage to blur into a translucent wash of color. I’d like to say I did this on purpose, but I was quite surprised by the result when I downloaded the images.

Illumination

Illumination

The blur here is caused simply by hand-holding the camera. The interior of this church was very dark so the shutter speed was slow. It’s sharper than I expected to get, but I like the softness of the glowing candles.

Angry Squirrel

Angry Squirrel

Autumn Gold

Autumn Gold

My apartment in Maine backed up to the edge of a river, and I had wonderful views from my windows. I took a lot of photos through those windows, with more or less success. These are two of my favorites. I was shooting through a double paned window and a screen, which gave these images a soft-focus effect that I like.

The Blues

Singin’ the Blues

Car window + Raindrops + Reflected Sky + Wide Open Lens. Once I’d have just thrown this away, but I like it. So with this little abstract, I’ll close my exploration for now and go link up with Exploring With a Camera: Artistic Blur. I think I’ll make it just under the wire.


7 Comments

Scavenging in a Gray World

It’s foggy and rainy today, perfect for sitting at the computer and going through photos! Today’s Scavenger Hunt Sunday items are: Missing, Numbers, Purple, Music, and Bracelet. Let’s get to it!

Missing:

Blank Slate

Blank Slate

What’s missing? My view! This is what I woke up to this morning. The mountains over which the sun rises apparently got up and walked away overnight.

Numbers:

Feeding My Flock

Feeding My Flock

Filling the feeder with sunflower seed brings in large numbers of house finches, among other songbirds. Hungry birds aren’t much on politely waiting to take turns, so things get pretty exciting around there.

Purple:

Watercolor

Watercolor

I don’t think I will be sitting out on the patio in my pretty purple chair today.

Music:

Halleluia!

Hallelujah!

More years ago than I care to think about, I sang in a large community chorale that performed Handel’s Messiah every year during the Christmas season. I learned it by heart and still remember most of it, but I still have my music. And I’m listening to it on my stereo right now.

Bracelet:

Memories

Connections

I was doing a lot of research into my family tree through Ancestry.com while I was putting together this bracelet.  My father had left home as a teenager and never had contact with his family again. Many of the beads and charms represent family members that I discovered and connected with through my research, as well as other people and places dear to me. Every time I look at it, I remember the thrill and excitement of that amazing ancestral “scavenger hunt.”

And that’s it for this week. Thanks again to the lovely Ashley Sisk for hosting. Click on over to check out everyone’s linkups.


10 Comments

Creatures Great and Small

I have been amazed and delighted by the variety of wildlife (and not-so-wild life) I’m now living in close proximity to. Of domesticated furred and feathered friends in residence, there are 3 dogs, 5 cats, 2 pet birds, 1 pet rabbit, 7 chickens, and 2 horses.

The wild birds and small furry creatures outside my windows are always entertaining when I need a break from unpacking boxes. In fact, I find them a distraction from getting serious work done, and my camera is always close at hand. I have little experience with wildlife photography, and make no claims about the quality of these photos. In fact, most of them were shot through the front window. I’ve been recording them for my own amusement, and in some cases so that I could look them up and identify them later.

The birds and beasties below are just a sampling — there are many others I haven’t gotten on camera yet. And of course there are the ones that “got away” . . . like the roadrunner I surprised in my front yard a couple of evenings ago. I’m not sure which of us was more surprised, actually. I knew there were some in the area, but never expected to see one 20 feet away in my own front yard. Since I had only stepped out to retrieve the jar of sun tea, I didn’t have my camera in my hands. But there’s always the next time!