April 2007

Is it Chip or Dale?

Chip or Dale

It has been a little while since I posted something cute and cuddly in the photo section, so I thought I would go back to my archives again. This little critter was taken on our vacation in the Rocky Mountain National Forest in Colorado. While on vacation I would spend all the time I could with my family, and when they were either sleeping in or taking breaks from our activities, I would steal away and snap photos of wildlife. Fortunately we were well placed that I even had elk wandering around the rental we were staying at. Chip here, (or is it Dale?) was foraging around the river that ran directly behind us as well.

Sometimes you don’t have to go all that far to find interesting things to photograph; you just need to be observant of your surroundings and make the time.  Here is a link to a wallpaper sized version.

Redneck Wheelbarrow

There is some construction happening on our office complex, so we have plenty of machinery (and dust) moving around our area. No biggie, new construction is a part of economic growth. I often take a look out the window to see how things are moving along. Today it was quiet for a bit, and since I knew they have multiple machines working on some excavating, it piqued my curiosity.

Here is the scene I saw:

Redneck Wheelbarrow

For a closer look:

Redneck Wheelbarrow closeup

The worker was digging something out and throwing the dirt into the bucket of his big rig. Pretty expensive cost on that choice dirt mover I’d say. It may go a little faster, say, if you used the power of that machine to actually do the digging. Just a white collar schmo making a guess though, so maybe I just don’t know.

Ok, in fairness he was likely having to do some detail work that the big bucket couldn’t navigate, but I still found it pretty funny.

The Power of Photography

I was reading Thomas Hawk’s blog today, which is part of my daily RSS feed reading, and read his post about the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. After viewing the link to the photo feature, I felt compelled to share it as well. I dont’ know if I can say it better than Mr. Hawk did:

It’s a troubling, moving and emotional series of photographs that show in the most poignent way how powerful photography can be.

I don’t know if I was especially moved because I have a disabled son that is at times in a wheelchair, or perhaps because my father died in a similar fashion; but, for whatever reason this really struck me emotionally. It brought me to tears.

I have at times been asked why I take photos at times when many others may consider it rude or not fitting to the situation. This is a perfect example of why I do this. Recording historic, emotional, or otherwise memorable events in photography is one of the greatest forms of artistic expression I know.

If you do nothing else today worthwhile on the ‘net, take a moment to view this series of photos, and then share it with a friend. Whether it is because of your appreciation for the art or your desire to help others realize the fragility or sacredness of life, it is worth sharing.

Link to view the photo series

“Man’s” Best Friend

Man’s Best Friend

You may notice the little girl in this photo; she is the same that I have featured in the header graphic of this site. This is one of my little princesses. I am a big believer in always having a camera at the ready. In today’s world of digital photography, you have no reason not too. When you are always at the ready, you are more likely to capture the wonderful moments in your life.

This is one of my favorite photos I have ever taken, bar none. The expression on both little “animals” feature here are priceless. Both are completely enjoying themselves as my little girl is dressing up the dog, Max, with a blanket and Max is getting the attention he loves.

Max was a “free spirit” as we like to say. We obtained him from someone that rescued him from a pound. He was in the pound because he had been found wandering and in need of food. We had him for a couple of years, but when we moved to our new home he kept wandering away to inspect his new surroundings. Eventually he didn’t come back. We did the signs and called the pound for months. Because he was never reported hit by a car or turned up at the pound, we like to believe someone else loved him so much they adopted him. We enjoyed his free spirit for a time, and then he moved on.

Our kids still talk about Max and miss him. My daughter asks me to pull up this photo sometimes to remember him, and she loves to look at it perhaps almost as much as I do. I am so glad I was ready and captured this moment to cherish.

Link to this photo in wallpaper size.

Sunsets Beg for a Camera

Another Day is Done

Sunsets are beautiful, yet often hard to photograph in a way that captures as much beauty as you see in person. This is not one of my best, but again one of my first good captures of a sunset. So, of course, there is once again a story associated with it.

With the same Sony F717 I owned several years ago I made my way to a local river end with the idea that I would practice my speed at capturing a photo by trying to catch jumping fish. I had been in this area previously on a zoology field trip in college, so I know there were bugs galore and fish hunkering to get their fill on them. I was not disappointed in the abundance of jumping fish as dusk approached, but I quickly found I was unable to get my shutter clicking and the camera focusing fast enough to catch one mid-air.

As the light grew dimmer, I remained focus on my targets trying to quickly swing my camera when I would see the ripple begin. I was disappointed time and again, and came to the conclusion I didn’t have the right equipment for that kind of photography. Point and shoot cameras, even the nicer ones, are just not known for their ability to quickly take a shot.

Dwelling on my failure to capture even one good image, I looked up from the river to which I was so focused and finally took note of the beauty happening right in front of me. I had been so focused on my task at hand that I had neglected to take in the big picture in my scene. There is some sort of life lesson in there I am sure, but in short by taking a moment to step back and take in my surroundings, I was rewarded with this photo.

Available as a wallpaper at GoGetPhotos.com.

Patience is Rewarded

Worker Bee

Today is another oldie but a goodie out of my photo archives. This was one of the first photos (that I kept anyway) of an insect. I remember reading a bit about macro photography, and after taking various flower shots I thought I would try and capture a shot of a bee. The bees were in abundance, so I figured it would be an easy shot to get. I was wrong.

I was shooting with a Sony F717, which though it is a nice camera that I thoroughly enjoyed, it is not exactly designed for macro photography. To get a close up shot, you have to actually be close up. With any inanimate object that is generally not a problem. With a bee that doesn’t like to be bothered while doing its duties, not so good. The more I tried to move in on a bee once it had landing, the more I realized it was an exercise in futility.

Being the analytical guy I am, I stepped back and took a few minutes to watch the patterns of bees visiting the flowers. After while I noticed that certain flowers were more visited than others, perhaps out of position or access they afforded the bees. Out of that group I narrowed down the flowers that were easier for me to access with my camera, finally choosing a couple I would try.

I nestled up close to where I wanted to be, positioned my camera, and then waited. For awhile, no bee would land near me. Though the bees would circle in and even make a touch and go on my chosen flower, none would stick around. I continued to wait. Finally, after the bees acclimated to my being there, one landed right in my field of view. I snapped a few different shots as he moved around the flower, but this was my favorite.

In short, that is the secret of macro photography with insects; and, actually the same is true of most any wildlife photography. Patience. Great photos are often found by being perceptive and happening to be in the right place at the right time. More often, though, they are the result of a careful eye, some research, and a lot of patience. There are better photos than the one I show above, but for me this was both a great photo, and an even better learning experience.

As normal, this photo can be found on my photo site as a free desktop wallpaper.

Screech With the Eagles

Tired out

Tired Out

My son had his first sleepover this weekend. It had to happen someday, there was no way I could put it off forever. Our agreement with him was that he could have a friend over once he turned 8, which happened last month so we had to live up to our end of the bargain. He was very excited, and this weekend it finally happened.

I remember having friends stay over, for no particular reason other than to have fun and do a bunch of crazy kid things. Usually it involves a movie to get us tired which of course really never works. We stay up laughing, talking, playing games, etc. So why was I surprised when my son did the same thing on his first friend overnight event?

We call it a sleepover for a reason, but that reason was obviously lost on my son. We watched a movie with the necessary popcorn and such, and everyone had a great time. We sent them all to bed and headed that way ourselves. About an hour later and a few trips down the hall to shush the festivities, we didn’t hear anything so we assumed they finally succumbed to the need for sleep. Oh were we so wrong.

4:45 am rolls around and I wake up to a loud thump. As I slowly regain consciousness I listen for any more sounds. I hear more thumps and some distant chatter, so I know something is up. I make my way to the end of the hall and see that the light shining through under the door. Yep, the boys are up. I swing open the door to see toys strewn from wall to wall and two boys playing Monopoly on the top bunk, jumping off between turns. They fess up excitedly, and somewhat proudly, to the fact that they have been up all night!

I couldn’t help but laugh a little before getting them to put away the game and finally hit the sack. Come morning they stumbled into the family room only to sack out again on the couch (pictured above). I should have seen it coming, but then that is what makes live interesting, right? They were pretty grouchy most of the day due to lack of sleep, but they had a great time and I am sure will remember this for a long time to come.

Fun memories are what makes life fun. Next time your kid does something so obviously wrong yet really not all that bad, give them a little slack and let them learn the consequences along the way. They will learn more than you warning and making sure they can’t suffer a little. It may lead to a day of bad attitude, but it’s worth it in the long run.

Edit: I forgot to explain my title for this post “Screech with the eagles.” My dad used to always torment me with his favorite saying every time I would stay out late on a Friday night. “If you’re going to hoot with the owls, you have to be ready to screech with the eagles.” It must have been something from his generation, because I have never heard it anywhere else. It’s those kind of things I remember fondly now, even though it was always a thorn in my side as he would drag me out of bed for Saturday chores after a late night out with friends.

The Story Behind a Photo

Indian Paintbrush

Today I’m sharing a photo that I took a number of years ago, actually with my very first digital camera. It was an old Fuji 2.3 megapixel camera which I was thrilled to have. By today’s standards the resolution is poor and the quality isn’t that much better, but it is this camera that started me down the road to what is my passion and favorite hobby these days.

What makes this photo so interesting to me and the reason I posted on the site versus a more recent higher quality photo is that this photo represents a story, history and emotions that I have surrounding a number of events in my life. Now I’m not to get all sappy on you and start crying virtual tears as I share a little background on this photo, but I do think it has a point to be made.
The funny thing about photos is that when we get a good one we always like to share them. Of course there are those that share every photo they’ve ever taken, particularly after a vacation or trip of some kind in the age-old fashion of the travel slide show. This is not what I’m talking about. The great photographers or at least those that seem to take great pictures time and again typically share the ability to “see” license situation as potential photos. It is the composition of a photograph, along with so many other variables of course, but primarily the composition that makes one photo better than the rest. The photo is well composed not only does the subject matter look good, but the photo itself often can tell a story. Again, this photo I show you is nothing special, so there’s not the photo itself it tells the story.

In the case of this photo it is simply a shot of an Indian paintbrush flower. In fact the original photo has the flower taken dead center, which was not all that interesting. With a little Photoshop work to improve the colors due to the limitations of the old camera I was using and some creative cropping to put the flour off center, the photo came a little more to life. But again, it is not the photo itself that I’m highlighting today. What I am choosing to highlight today is that this photo represents so much to me because simply does a photo of an Indian paintbrush taken in the backcountry of the Bob Marshall wilderness in Montana.

My father’s side of the family as an old hunting cabin they built years ago that is one of only a handful of cabins that were the allowed in that area of a national wilderness. The area is beyond beautiful and a place that we used to visit as a family every other year growing up. I went on to 50 and 100 mile trips as a Boy Scout with my dad leading the pack along with the many family outings to this simple but amazing place to visit. I have hiked more miles than I would like to count through the various trails and mountains in this area, especially the one named Crown Mountain just behind where the cabins located. It is on this mountain that my dad’s and my grandfather’s ashes were spread to the wind and where simple rock memorials have been constructed to their memory.

It is on the first of trips to this area that I remember my dad teaching me about some of the different plans, including an Indian Paintbrush just like this one. This particular photo was taken years later on a trip with my own family to the same area. So, though this picture is nothing special to look at, when I have it on my desktop wallpaper or I am viewing it along with some of my other photos, it brings back all of these memories. So the next time you are taking a photo, try not only to take a beautiful one, but one that is going to bring back memories of your great times.

As always, you can grab a copy of this photo in wallpaper size over here in my sharing gallery at GoGetPhotos.com.

Spring is Springing

It isn’t quite warm enough where I am at to say Spring has sprung, but it is in the process of springing at least. Some bulbs are starting to show their beauty that has been hidden through the winter.

I enjoy photographing flowers, though admittedly I feel fairly out of practice. I think through this spring I will try and practice this a bit and share some of what I do here. I have posted this and another flower photo from today at GoGetPhotos.com where you can grab desktop wallpaper sized versions for free. I’ll look back in my archives sometime soon for others to add here as well.

As always, I welcome feedback and comments.