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Running behind, playing catch-up, and finally a Friday Face:Rae

I’m running behind again this week…still trying to catch up from my week of VBS (Vacation Bible School). There are some weeks when nothing much gets done except the foremost task of the week, and the week of July 12-17 was one of those. The day after VBS ended, I managed to post a blog about our community arts festival, but, after that, the little energy I had left evaporated. Pffsstt, and it was gone! That’s why i”m playing catch-up this week. On everything: my photowalks, blog posts, and even leaving comments on all your blogs. So playing catch-up is the mode of the week.

Unfortunately, starting tomorrow, my schedule turns demanding, frenzied even, again. What’s this all about anyway? I’m retired! My time should be my own. Shouldn’t it? Umm…? “No, you say!” What do you mean, it just doesn’t work that way? I always assumed when I retired I would be a lady of leisure, free to come and go as I please. Sleeping late, Long hours immersed in books by my favorite writers. No need to set the alarm clock. No need to wear a watch. No need to worry about my schedule! Okay, I admit there are some things I have committed to that need to be done on schedule, and this week I’m even behind on most of those. Like my Friday Face blog post for example. It should have been posted four days ago, and I’m just now getting around to it. Mea culpa, blogmates. It’s late, but here it is…on Tuesday evening.

The Friday Face for this week is Rae, a creative, energetic, and very personable vendor I met at the Arts Festival in Willoughby on Saturday morning. Two things attracted me to Rae: Her colorful hat was one. She designed it because that’s what she does in her basement workshop. She takes all sorts of items she has collected, gets a vision for one-of-a-kind-original creations, and turns them into amazing hats.  Then she sells them. The second thing that attracted me to Rae was her friendly smile. It spoke so loudly, Rae didn’t need to use words to get my attention, but she was good with words too, and I enjoyed meeting her and learning about her creativity. Thank you,Rae. You create much more than hats. You create fun, serendipitous experiences for people who are fortunate enough to meet you, and this time I was one of the lucky ones!

Rae is the latest addition to my Friday Faces gallery, which you can see here.

Carolyn aka Skip  

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Photo of the week: Bee and blossom

On Friday, July 10th, I wandered through the Arboretum, trying out my new monopod for the first time. That’s when I took this photo. I’m hoping the monopod will steady my camera and help me get sharper images. What do you think? Did it do the job?

Feedback is appreciated at any and all times.

Thank you!
Carolyn aka Skip

Here is a link to Clare and Dean’s photo of the week, a little “joey” straight to you from Australia, and here is a link to the “how to” for participating in the photo of the week feature.

chipmunk

Birding (and more) from the backyard bench

My camera, a Nikon D7100, gives me the option to choose between two image areas”

  • DX crop (24×16) uses the full 24mm x 16mm image area, uncropped.
  • 1.3X (18x12mm) crops each image using an 18mm x 12mm image area.

Do I understand the math of these options?
I recommend David Busch’s Nikon D7100 Guide to Digital SLR Photography.Truthfully no, but I have a fantastic handbook on the D7100 by David Busch that says one argument for the 1.5X crop factor is that it “transforms any telephoto lens you have into a longer lens, which can be useful for sports, wildlife photography, and other endeavors that benefit from more reach.” of course, there’s more to it than that, and not everyone agrees, but, being a bird (and other wildlife) photographer, I decided it would be worth investigating.

This morning, instead of hitting the trail in search of photo opps, I walked out to our back patio, sat down on the bench and spent a half hour playing around with the settings. The greatest test of the added reach the 1.5X crop factor afforded me was these two hummingbirds. For some reason, the hummers have stopped coming to our sugar water feeders; however, they still fly through the back yard and love to rest (as hummingbirds do) on the tip-top branches of our neighbor’s apple tree where they have a good view of the feeders and any back yard action. That’s where this little one was sitting when I took his picture:

It’s certainly not a closeup or even a good picture, but as a capture of a tiny bird about 18 feet (or so) from my lens, it’s better than anything I got with out using the crop factor. In my half hour of bench time, I captured the following images using the added reach afforded by the crop factor:

A note about the chipmunk: Chipmunks cant’s fly, but they can climb!!As we all know, chipmunks can’t fly, but they can climb. This summer my husband transformed an old step ladder into a bird feeding station. The birds like it, as do the squirrels and chipmunks. This little chippy jumped onto the bottom step and dashed upward to reach the big blocks of seeds (designed for the woodpeckers). As you can see, he was enjoying his meal.

That’s it for my first experiment with the 1.5X crop factor. Did it give my camera more reach? Yes. Is it “magical?” Maybe not, but I did get closer pictures with it than I have without it, so I guess I will keep on using it. It does lower the resolution of my images from 24mm to about 15-16, but since I usually don’t print my picture, that’s not a great concern, just something to keep in mind when I might want to print them for a contest or a gift or something.

So there you have it. If you have any thoughts to share about this topic, please add them to the comment section.

Thanks for visiting.
Carolyn aka Skip

 

Lily Pond

If you took a photowalk with me today…

…you could have given me a break by carrying my monopod part of the time. Just kidding really, but I wouldn’t have turned you down if you had offered because carrying it is a new discipline for me…  and discipline is possibly the best way to describe it because I’m not yet accustomed to carrying (or using) this new piece of equipment. Put simply, it doesn’t feel natural yet. I will have to discipline myself to use it regularly.

Would I fall in love with this new addition to my photography kit?I bought this latest addition to my camera kit a couple of months (or so) ago, but then had to order a special plate to screw into the base of the camera to mount (wrong word maybe) both my camera strap and my monopod at the same time. It took 6-8 weeks, but the plate ($21 from Dodd Camera store) finally arrived. So off I went, out the door of Dodd Camera and directly to Holden Arboretum to give it a tryout. Was I going to fall in love with it? Umm, I had my doubts because it is a bit awkward to handle. However, after walking through the butterfly garden, down the trail to Blueberry Pond and returning by way of Lotus Pond, I could see at least three advantages:

  1. It steadied my camera (and me too, and that was a primary reason for investing in it.
  2. It helped me frame my pictures. I don’t know how, but it just felt better.
  3. It made me feel like a “real” photographer, not professional of course, but it made me consider each picture more seriously, if you know what I mean.

Conclusion: For the first time out, the “stick” and I were on pretty good terms. Although I’m not feeling the love yet, I’m planning to keep it! Now take a look at some of the sights you would have seen in the Arboretum today. What do you think…did the monopod do a good job?

Thanks for walking the trail with me today (even if you didn’t carry the monopod).

Carolyn aka Skip

The blue dasher dragonflies were dashing around everywhere!

Dragonflies, damselflies, and birds, oh my!

Today I took a new trail, well, actually not new to me, but new to some of you. North Chagrin Reservation in Cuyahoga County is a Cleveland Metropark that borders our community. Lots of trails, good hiking, picnic grounds, and much more make it a popular park. Today, a weekday, there were many people walking, a few running, some with children, and still others, like me, carrying cameras and looking for birds, dragonflies, and such. I was hoping to come home with a picture of a great blue heron and maybe even a green heron. Seeing the GBH wasn’t inconceivable. There is at least one that fishes regularly in the marsh. Unfortunately, today he just did a flyover, landed briefly in the top of a very tall tree, beyond the reach of my lens, and then flew out of sight.

A dragonfly can spend up to several years underwater until it is strong enough to surface, shed its skin and evolve into this beautiful creature. Then it flies free among us but only for a very brief period of up to two months before it dies (Author ~Ruth O’Neill).So no herons today, blue or green. And no barn swallows. They used to be abundant and very easy to photograph, but they must have moved to a new neighborhood. Sad, that’s what I think it is because they were such fun to photograph.

As I wandered around to see what was available for a photo opp, I ran into Roz. I mentioned her in a post two weeks ago when she was kind enough to pose for my Friday photo and again last week when she told me where I could find bobolinks. Today Roz was looking for dragons and damsels. Now I know next to nothing about dragonflies and less about damsels, so I tagged along with Roz for awhile, thinking I might learn something, and that’s how I happen to have more dragonflies than birds to share with you today. Don’t expect me to tell you what the different ones are, however, because I’m not on a first name basis with any of them. They are all just dragonflies to me. Getting sharp pictures is a challenge because they are tiny and fast moving, but I had fun trying.

Thanks for joining me along the trail today.
See you soon.
Carolyn aka Skip

PS: Thanks to my friend Roz for helping to ID most of the dragons and damsels.
PS 2: Click on any picture below to scroll through the gallery and make or read comments on individual pictures. Thanks for taking the time to look!

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Bobolinks, Savannah sparrows, Friday Faces, and more!

Last week, two friends, one a bird watcher and the other a photographer, suggested that I should visit a park in a neighboring county where there is an over-abundance of bobolinks (if such a thing is possible). Because bobolinks are scarce non-existent in my local park, and I trust both of these women to give good advice, I took off yesterday in search of the bobolinks. I found them without any trouble. All I did was park the car, climb out,  head up the grassy hillside pictured above, and there they were. My faith in the advice of my friends had not been misplaced. Take a look at the gallery:


The grass at the bottom of the hill has been mowed, but farther up the hillside, the grass on both sides of the path I was following was knee high and taller. And that’s where the birds were. Some were nesting down in the grass and flew out as I passed by. Others circled and swooped overhead, landing on the tall stalks of grass. I mentally coaxed the bobolinks to land on the stalks of grass that were right in front of me, closer to the trail. Unfortunately, the stalks they chose were usually beyond the reach of my lens, so I found myself mentally coaxing them to land on stalks a bit closer to the path. “How about that stalk there, the one right in front of me?” Hoping they would “hear” me and heed my request, I stood still and silently stared at the stalk of grass. Of course they never heard and certainly didn’t heed, so most of my pictures are heavily cropped. Although I came home with pictures that I deem “good enough,” I also came home with a few additions to my camera kit “wish list,” most notably a longer, faster, sharper lens!

Nevertheless, it was a great experience. Maybe I’ll rent a bigger lens and return someday. That might be a lot of fun. As I followed a winding path downhill to my car, I was thankful for friends who are willing to share information about the best places for birding. In case you’re wondering why I mentioned Friday Faces in the title of this post, it’s because I wasn’t the only photographer on the hillside yesterday. Craig was there also with his camera (that incidentally had a longer lens than mine). Because it was Friday, and I always try to add a photo of a stranger to my Friday Faces gallery, I asked if he would mind posing for a photo opp. However I’ve been a little wordy tonight, and this post is already long enough. I’m going to stop now and make a separate post for Friday Faces here where you can see Craig and read about his photo opp.

Thanks for joining me on this new trail today. It’s good to share my discovery with you.

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Friday Faces: Craig

Yesterday I walked a new trail in search of bobolinks, a bird rarely, if ever, seen in my neighborhood park. I found them, but I also found much more, including a new “Face” for my Friday Faces feature that I wrote about here.  I have been collecting Friday Faces, off and on, since December 2013, and it has been an enriching experience. I have met some interesting people, and now I can count Craig as one of them.

As I stood on the grassy hillside, hoping a bobolink would land nearby, I saw a man with a camera climbing up the hill. When he reached me, I asked if he came to this park often, and he replied, “No, it’s my first time here,” and went on to explain that he had spent the morning photographing at another location. Lunch time was approaching, and he decided some ice cream would taste pretty good, so he packed up his camera and headed for the ice cream store in Chagrin Falls. Our most migratory blackbird, the Bobolink makes a round-trip voyage of up to 9000 miles between northern North America and its wintering grounds in the pampas regions of Argentina and Brazil (Birds of Ohio). As he was driving past this little village park, a bobolink flew in front of his car and, momentarily at least, took his mind off ice cream. Swinging his car around, he pulled into the parking lot, and headed up the hill where he encountered me and my request for a “Friday Face” photo opp.

After a brief photo shoot, we both continued to wander the hillside, looking for bobolinks. I hope that Craig was successful and went home with the pictures he wanted on his memory card. I know I did. Thanks, Craig. You pointed out a Savannah sparrow, the first I have ever photographed in my 15 years walking the trails, believe it or not, and you were a good sport about the photo shoot. I’m glad that I met you on the hillside yesterday.

Notes:

  1. You can read more about the search for bobolinks here.
  2. Look on my SmugMug site if you want to see all of my Friday Faces.

Thanks for joining me “on the trail” today.
Carolyn aka Skip

Purple flower and a weathered bench

On a sunny Thursday morning…

…I went for a photowalk in the Holden Arboretum, one of my favorite places to spend time with (or without) my camera. My chosen destination was the butterfly garden, but once there, I saw very few  butterflies. There was a hummingbird flitting around in the colorful flowers, but he wouldn’t sit for a photo opp, if you can imagine that! However, there were plenty of wonderful things to see and photograph, so despite the scarcity of butterflies, I still came home with some special images to present the beauty of the Arboretum (Remember to click on a picture to scroll through the gallery).

I’m glad you joined me for my sunny walk in the Arboretum today. It makes me feel good to be able to share the beauty with you.

Carolyn aka Skip

Power towers in the meadow

Weekly photo feature

Hello friends. Today’s post is the inaugural post of “Skips’s Weekly Photo Gallery.” With just a few words to summarize the week, I am posting my favorite images. If you enjoy the pictures and like the idea of a weekly summary/gallery, I hope you will let me know, and if you can think of a catchy title for the weekly photo feature, please leave it in the comments at the end of the post.

ABOUT THE WEEK of JUNE 21-28, 2015…

It was cool and rainy…really rainy, resulting in soggy everything. There was one significant thunderstorm, but mostly just rain and more rain. >:( I’ve included some pictures of the high water that will show those who live in dry climates what “soggy everything” looks like. The upside of it is the really green grass that makes my park even more beautiful.  The highlight of my week photographically was my first opportunity to see and post pictures of a red-eyed vireo. I have just updated that post with a few better pictures of the red-eyed wonder. Take a look if you would like to see her again. Near the vireo’s nest is a skinny dead tree where a house wren has nested in recent years. Since the arrival of the-spring-that-never-was, I have been keeping my eye on that tree, and the wren finally showed up! She posed for pictures, so s/he is featured in this week’s gallery. (Yay!).  That’s enough talking; it’s time for the pictures. I hope you enjoy them (Don’t forget to click on the first one to scroll through the gallery).

That’s it for this week. I’m going to stop now. If you’ve stayed with me through all these pictures, you’re likely thinking, “It’s about time!” Thanks for putting on your virtual walking shoes and joining me for this trek along the trail in Chagrin River Park.

Carolyn aka Skip

Friday Faces: A weekly photo feature

Friday Faces: Roz

Friday Faces: Roz

Friday Faces is a weekly photo feature that I started in 2013. Because of the extremely cold and icy weather this past winter and early spring, I temporarily retired the feature, which I had been posting on my other blog. This summer seems like a good time to bring it out of retirement, so today I went for a photowalk in the park, and “captured” a Friday Face for this week. Today’s Friday Face is Roz, a fellow photographer I occasionally (although not regularly) encounter in the park. Roz has the same camera I have, a Nikon D7100, although with a better (longer) lens than mine. She is dedicated to producing excellent bird photographs, and spends many hours on the trail in one park or another in search of her quarry.

When I ran into Roz today, she was kind enough to show me the nest of a red-eyed vireo that she recently discovered.  If you are a bird photographer, you know how elusive the little critters can be when summer arrives and the trees are in full leaf.  We’re not talking about  eagles here, we’re talking about warblers and other small birds. If you are lucky, you will spot the bird flying into its nest, and that’s what happened with the red-eyed vireo. It’s tiny; it’s sweet; and it can be practically invisible when it sits on the nest. I never would have spotted it on my own, but, thanks to Roz, I got my first red-eyed vireo photo today.

Want to give Friday Faces a try? Here are the rules. If you enjoy photographing people, or perhaps would like to stretch your wings :P, give Friday Faces a try. There are just a few rules for this photo feature, which I will list below, but rules are meant to be broken when it comes to photography. Read the rules, but feel free to break them if that’s what it takes to capture the “face” you want. (I broke rules  #2 and 3 with Roz. She is not a stranger.) So go on, break the rules if you need to. Here they are…

  1. Always carry your camera.
  2. Smile and be friendly when you meet strangers along the trail (or wherever you meet them).
  3. Choose someone who smiles back, stop, say hello and engage them in conversation.
  4. Remember to be a good listener and give them your full attention. (See this recent blog post).
  5. After you’ve talked for a few minutes, explain about Friday Faces and invite them to help you with your project (Most people will agree, but if they don’t, thank them anyway).
  6. After you take the picture, offer to email it to them, or (and this is what I prefer) hand them a business card with your name and the website where they can find the picture.

That’s all there is to it. Let me know if you give it a try, and have fun.

Skip aka Carolyn

PS Look here and here for other posts I have written about Friday Faces.

Was I ever that young?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Snapshot Stories.”

The prompt instructed me to find a photo album and write a post about the first picture of myself that I found in the album. I don’t know if it is cheating or not, but, after looking through some old albums, I amended the prompt to read, “…find the oldest picture of yourself and write a post about it.” This (unretouched) photo,  the oldest picture I could find of myself, sent me wandering down memory lane. Most of my photowalks are recent walks on the trails in my favorite parks, but if, for a change, you want to wander with me off the beaten path, read on.

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The back story:

During my growing-up-years, my father was the family photographer, and this picture, since digitized, was found in one of his albums. I was in high school when this was taken, and at that time, the ukulele was enjoying a lot of popularity in the U.S.  I think it may have been Arthur Godfrey (anyone remember him?) who was responsible for its popularity. Anyway, I was a “ukulele wannabe.” I probably learned three or four chords before I realized I was never going to make it to stardom on The Arthur Godfrey Show, but this photo of me, snapped in the corner of my teenaged bedroom, is proof that I was once that young, actually owned a ukulele, and had aspirations of musical fame and fortune.

Arthur Godfrey is long gone, so are my parents, and I have no idea what happened to the ukulele after I left home, but just looking at this old photo brings back memories of the much younger person I once was and gives me a warm-fuzzy-happy-feeling.  I have a smile on my face as I write this. I am so glad Daddy saved this photo. It must have meant something to him too, and I wish I could share it with him today.

Thanks for looking at this “way-off-the-trail” blog post. Maybe you could find an old picture of yourself and take a photowalk down memory lane.

Carolyn aka Skip

Morning in the park

Meadow and power towers

Meadow and power towers

I took a break from working on my Blogging 101 assignments and headed for the park to give my camera a workout. Recently I’ve been spending way more time on the computer than I would like. Along the trail I walked this morning, I passed by this meadow where there are bluebird boxes. I actually got a picture of one, but it didn’t turn out very well. :( . The towers and smokestacks in the distance are part of the Cleveland Electric Illuminating plant, a coal powered plant that was recently decommissioned (if that’s the right word). Not sure what they are going to do with it, but the falcons that nest at the top of the tower may be out of a home if they tear it down. I hope that doesn’t happen.

If you had come along on this morning’s walk, you probably would have wanted to keep going for a while longer, but I had to cut it short and get back to my Blogging 101 assignments. I’m a little behind. But here are a few more pictures I captured on my memory card. Click on one and you can scroll through the gallery.

I’m glad you joined me on the trail today.
Carolyn aka Skip

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