Goldfinch- stopping for a drink in the late afternoon light
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
Kim Klassen, my very first photography mentor and whose video tutorials taught me Photoshop nine years ago, has brought back her Texture Tuesday linkup! When I saw the announcement last night, I leapt at the opportunity to download her free textures and participate! I have gotten away from still life and have ventured into other areas of photography, but am so, so grateful to come back to Kim’s special world, especially NOW! Thank, you Kim!
Good Morning, Sunshine!
What a joy it was to be back walking on the beach with my new knee! It still doesn’t feel “normal”- but I can walk without pain and without poles. And watching the waves and the birds is the best therapy!
At Newport Beach
I thought I could see swans from the road last week, so we went over to Willow Lake late Saturday afternoon to see what we could see. No swans were in the area where we had seen them before, but a heron was slowly wading through the shallows stalking his prey. We watched for a half hour or so- but never saw him catch anything. As the light was fading, we walked back to the car, leaving him still searching for dinner.
the swans! It was such a treat to see them in the wild- hope to go back before they fly off somewhere.
Friday night, we learned from Facebook that there were swans out at Willow Lake! We are accustomed to seeing ducks, geese, eagles, hawks, herons, egrets etc.- but this is the first we’ve heard of swans. So on Saturday morning we headed over to see what we could see. This would be my first walk in nature since my knee surgery, so I was pretty excited- so excited, in fact, that when we spotted the swans, I realized I had left my zoom lens on the kitchen counter! And what was on my camera, you ask? My macro lens! So I watched the swans as a hawk perched above them in a tree and a heron stood intently searching the water for his breakfast and tried to content myself with occasional macro shots.
After my genealogy meeting in the afternoon, we drove over again. The swans were starting to tuck their heads under their wings, but eventually all four swam around where we could see them in the late afternoon light. I haven’t gone through all the photos yet, but here is a shot of three of them.
There is nothing more peaceful than watching herons at a lake. . .
Whenever we visit a beach, I always enjoy watching and photographing shorebirds, which are so comfortable amidst the crowds of people. I managed to get this shot as the crowds momentarily seemed to dissipate by the Huntington Beach Pier.
I have been home a lot for the last couple weeks and have enjoyed getting out in the yard to watch the hummingbirds. We’ve had more than usual, but the prettier ones (I won’t even attempt to name the species)tend to leave the yard when I go outside. The feeder at the kitchen window attracts several hummers who sometimes (but not often) will feed at the same time. Our larger feeder out on the patio has been dominated by one hummingbird who sits on TOP of the feeder for over an hour at a time, preferring to guard it rather than feed. I have known children with that same personality trait!
Newport Beach scene in black and white.
Yes indeed! Another bit of the beach scene from our last trip to Newport-
Yes, another bird- and another artsy fartsy bird at that! This is a ptarmigan, perhaps a female or a juvenile (can’t remember), and it is the state bird of Alaska. This info is courtesy of my Park Service son-in-law, so I am breaking with my policy of not identifying birds, because I’m always wrong- or at least I believe everyone who identifies a bird incorrectly for me. Crossing my fingers here. . .
It was our youngest grandson, Henry who spotted it as we were walking a trail at the Nature Center. It was motionless in the grasses and probably scared out of its mind. I said, “Oh, look a grouse!” We all gathered on the trail watching it, as I snapped 4 or 5 shots. Then Justin gave the command to Penny, the golden retriever, who promptly flushed it out and away flew the grouse/ptarmigan/chicken(?) into the woods.
I gave it the clipping mask and stroke treatment, because it’s fun and I just can’t stop doing it. . .
Some of the leaves are actually starting to turn, even though it still seems like summer here. I’ve got my Halloween decorations out and am drinking a pumpkin spice latte as I write this- so, according to the calendar and Starbucks, it IS fall! In the spirit of autumn, I took this photo of a goldfinch against the backdrop of fall leaves.
The morning we left, we took a quick walk on the beach, and I must have taken at least 20 photos of a man and his mother as they came walking toward me. I think he thought I was stalking them, but what I really liked was the composition of the S-curve in the sand (and gull) with the dog walker in the background. A peaceful scene!
Just walking at the top of the hill. . .
Our roadrunner guest made himself right at home in our yard. He is a predator after all; I try not to think of what he might have eaten besides lizards. I haven’t seen any of the young quail for awhile, alas. These shots are before and after he helped himself to some water in the fountain.
By the way, this is the same roadrunner I featured in yesterday’s blog post. His crest is sometimes up, and sometimes down. Supposedly the crest goes up when the roadrunner is communicating with other roadrunners, but this one has been a loner.
Last week, we spotted a roadrunner coming into our back yard several times each day. One day, Carol and I were out there for over an hour with our cameras, and the roadrunner was everywhere! We even watched him kill a large lizard by- sorry!- whacking him repeatedly against the rocks (don’t worry- no photos). At one point, he came down to the lower level and drank from the fountain- leisurely and unafraid.
Here he is in all his glory:
I’ve taken many, many hummingbird photos over the years. And now I am trying to take better ones. The hard thing is to take them in flight, in focus, and in a good spot in the frame (good composition and background). So far, I have many, many shots of their tails as they take off- or just sitting at the feeders. At least in this shot, the wings are outstretched and moving.
Here is another shot of Mr. Quail. I love being able to get closeups with my long lens.
Thanks to the expert tutelage of my friend, Carol, I am finally able to use my long zoom lens with the gimbal head I got for my birthday. I am working on assembling and disassembling the lens and tripod combo, as well as focusing and panning techniques for bird photography. I am far from competent, but am thrilled with my results so far!
Meet Mr. and Mrs. Quail, regular visitors to our backyard:
At the beginning of our visit with our grandboys, we went to Butterfly World and the new OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale. I fell in love with this toucan (I had never been so close to one) and spent a lot of time watching him watching us. He was in a fairly unreal environment, which I enhanced in post-processing.
This eagle owl may be wise, but he is also pretty stern looking!
There was a windmill in the background while we took photos of the two hawks last Saturday. I kept composing my images with that in mind- and then ended up cloning it out in the sepia portrait I posted Tuesday of Emily, the Swainson’s hawk. This is the Harris’s hawk with the windmill in the background- with a little texture editing.
Being more of a windmill photographer than a bird photographer, I also took several photos of the windmill, including a multiple exposure shot. I will be posting those next week.