Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

January 19, 2013

A New Toy

Thanks to a couple of B&H Photo gift certificates I’d received as Christmas gifts, I recently purchased a new lens for my Rebel. It is a Sigma 70-300mm zoom with a macro switch. It is heavier than I am used to using – my longest lens up til now was my 55-250mm – and there is no image stabilization, so it will take a little getting used to, but so far I’m pleased.

I stood in the sunshine coming through the sliding glass door to my deck this afternoon and waited in the warmth for birds attracted to the suet cake I hung on one of my planter hooks for the winter. These shots were taken from about 15 feet away with my new lens (SOOC, no cropping or editing):
chickadee and cardinal

male cardinal

approach to suet
I was quite surprised to find this shot of the little downy woodpecker approaching the suet feeder; I hadn’t realized I was shooting at that time.

downy woodpecker 1

downy woodpecker 2

I’ll be looking forward to spending some more time getting to know my new lens!

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December 31, 2012

My Favorite Photos of 2012

Since I started blogging in 2010, I’ve done a wrap-up of my favorite photos of the year.  They aren’t always my more “technically” good photos, but photos I’ve come to enjoy for one reason or another.  I believe these photos have all appeared on the blog already this year, but that is because I am always anxious to share my favorites with you!  The photos that follow are in chronological order approximately one for each month of the year, but in one case I didn’t find anything I liked all that much in a month (February) and for April and July I couldn’t make up my mind between two shots, so you get them both for a baker’s dozen total.

In January, I was finally able to get a close-up shot of a Mr. Cardinal that made me happy:
mrcardinal3

In March, I felt lucky to grab this shot of a soaring hawk, with feathers strongly defined:
hawk1

In April, I went on and on about one of my favorite vacations of all time, the cruise we took. Meghan and Sarah, first day on the ship and taken with my Blackberry, remains a favorite:
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There were so many beautiful sights from the cruise, but I wanted to share a shot that I love for its simplicity:
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The warm, turquoise Carribbean water brings me back to those precious days when there was little to worry about and happy memories were being made.

May brought me a picture of one of my favorite types of flowers, a bearded iris, that I was very pleased with how it came out. It was the header picture here on the blog until very recently:
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Ah, June! The end of the school year, the start of my favorite season. Yummy raspberries are a nice representation of the many good parts of summer.
fresh raspberries

July is the month when my butterfly bushes start going wild and bring many winged visitors. This monarch was one of my best butterfly shots this year:
King of butterflies

I just love this photo of Sarah from her birthday party. Her braces had been removed and her smile was big and genuine:
Sarah1

As part of a photo hunt that everyone really seemed to enjoy, the “Ends of the Earth”, I took this photo in August from our little mountain here in town:
mountain2

In September, my summer dreams faded away with the weather. This dahlia reminds me of the warmth of the afternoons that I continued to enjoy as long as I could:
Dahlias #2

October brought a blog-along walk over at Robin’s Life in the Bogs. I found myself doing some quiet contemplation while watching birds appear before my lens. I loved this sweet little chickadee:
chickadee

I was happily surprised to have the opportunity to photograph an eastern bluebird for the first time in November. It isn’t a wonderful photo, but I was thrilled with the chance to get this picture:
Eastern bluebird

How ironic that I spent December wishing for a gentle blanket of snow to take pretty pictures in and then ended up sharing this adventure with you just yesterday! (If you haven’t read it yet, go ahead, have a peek!) I still really like this picture of my new snowman ornaments, even if I could now do without the sentiment:
"Let it Snow" 2

Happy New Year everyone. I hope that 2013 brings you good health, and paraphrasing the words of a fellow blogger, enough of what you need most.

February 19, 2012

Moments

Filed under: For the Birds — Karma @ 2:49 pm
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Thanks to the Great Backyard Bird Count, I had some really lovely moments this weekend while I was out counting birds.  Our incredibly mild winter weather continued, and both mornings this weekend I stepped outside and looked into beautiful blue skies.
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It was about 40°F each morning, and I stayed warm enough just wearing sweats and my bathrobe.  I stepped out on my deck and took it all in.  Birds sang like it was spring time.  I quietly watched the fluttering around me, that I’m sure I’m not always aware of because I don’t take the time to notice.  The dogs had followed me outside and had a playful morning romp, but eventually even they seemed to take in the specialness of the moment.
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Daphne and Teddy became quiet too, almost like they were taking it in too.  Breathing deep, listening, watching, appreciating.

I was rewarded with the sight of a beautiful red-tailed hawk with its gorgeous red feathers against that clear blue sky.  At first I regretted not having camera in hand, but then I was okay with it.  It was enough to experience the moment.

But, if you’ve learned anything at all about me since I started this blog, you must know I eventually did grab the camera.  The hawk returned and landed in the neighbor’s yard, a few houses up the street.
hawk1

I enjoyed the simple site of a sparrow singing in morning sunshine.
sparrow1

I chuckled at the sight of Mr. Cardinal finding himself a drinking fountain, in the form of the return fitting on the side of my pool.

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(had a little disagreement with Mr. Autofocus there – wish this shot was clearer, but I’m not letting it ruin the moment)

And I was granted a new photo session with our friend the robin who, I’ve learned since my last post about him, really isn’t so strange to see at this time of year.

robin1

So thank you GBBC, and thank you backyard birds, for providing me with these moments.

January 29, 2012

More Proof!

Filed under: For the Birds — Karma @ 2:31 pm
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I mentioned yesterday that it seemed like I had missed February due to the recent weather.  This morning I gained even more evidence that something seems to be wrong with the calendar.  I saw a freakin’ robin!
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I almost used that for my post title today since I was so shocked.  I never see robins here until March.
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I apologize for the not-great quality of these.  I had a better picture, I’m sure of it, but I messed up; I blame my pre-coffee morning brain.  Let me back up a little bit.  When I wandered out of bed this morning and opened the door to let the dogs out, I noticed this out on my deck:
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It hadn’t snowed during the night, but I thought it might just be an interesting frost pattern.  Hmm, I thought to myself, maybe a chance to get the elusive frost pictures so many of us were missing from last month’s photo hunt and an opportunity to use my really neglected  extension tubes.

Bundled in my bathrobe and slippers, I went outside.  I heard birds chirping that I really thought I wouldn’t normally hear in January.  I had that thought yesterday during my walk too.  I looked around and, lo and behold, if there wasn’t a robin in my  sycamore tree.  I took the extension tubes off and clicked away at the robin.  Put the tubes back on and only then did I notice the display on my camera saying “no card”….grrrrr!  I’d left in the computer again.   Sigh!  What were the chances the robin would still be there by the time I retrieved the card?

Tromp back inside, fetch the card, take tubes off again, robin is still in tree!  Yay!  Not posed as nicely this time around, but I still have proof for my blog readers!  Now what about that frost?  Croutch down low, find focus point and… “change battery pack”  says display this time! Argh!  Couldn’t you have told me that, Andre, when I went inside to fetch the memory card?

Since I was too lazy to try to figure out how to stabilize the camera at that level (I was still pre-coffee at this point), this is the best I was able to get hand-holding with the three tubes attached:
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All that before breakfast and coffee!  If that isn’t proof that I love you, dear blog readers, I’m not sure what is!  😉

By the way, this has nothing to do with the calendar being wrong, but Mr. and Mrs. C stopped by again this morning.  I waited patiently for the two of them to be close enough together to have them both in one shot, but it didn’t happen.  I did get a couple pictures that I thought were cute though.  He:
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and she:
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January 22, 2012

Sunny Sunday Morning

Filed under: For the Birds — Karma @ 2:44 pm
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My snowy Saturday morning has turned into a sunny Sunday morning.  It is still plenty cold outside, but the gray snow clouds have departed, and left us with sparkly snow
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and shiny, sunlit branches
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This morning was also good for the neighborhood birds; I replaced my broken feeder.  I bought a set of two glass and copper feeders:
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I figure I will lose some seed to the squirrels inevitably, but they shouldn’t be able to destroy these.  My favorite winter birds wasted no time in locating this new food supply this morning.  I had a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal and they seemed more than willing to hang around for a few photos this morning (although I still haven’t managed a shot with the two of them together yet):
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mscardinal

This is clearest shot of the Mrs. I got today; she seemed rather coy – but I thought this over-the-shoulder look was cute. (Do birds have shoulders???)  Mr. happily posed for a few more:

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First day out with the new feeders and I’m lucky enough for pretty cardinal shots! Money well spent, I say! 🙂

November 11, 2011

Best of, Part 1

Filed under: For the Birds,Photo assignments — Karma @ 6:08 pm
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Scott’s assignment for this month is to show off your “best” photos of the last year (from Nov.1, 2010 to Oct. 31, 2011).  Like Kathy of Lake Superior Spirit, I think I’m going to have to be a bit of a rule-breaker this time around.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time going through my archives from the last twelve months, trying my best to narrow down.  Scott said he was looking for a minimum of 3 photos, but that we could share as many as we wished.  So maybe I’m not really rule-breaking all that much, but like Kathy, I’ve decided to do a few posts on the subject.  To keep it interesting, I’ve categorized my favorites and will do a post for each category.  I believe I’ve shared the majority of these with you already, but maybe some will be new to some of you, and at the very least forgotten about by some of you regular readers.

My first category I’m sharing is Birds.  Through the various feeders in my yard, and birding opportunities in the woods and on vacation, I’ve gotten very interested in trying to get decent photos of these fast-moving creatures.  I actually took one of my favorites just a few days ago, but that doesn’t count for Scott’s assignment!

I was absolutely thrilled to get my first pictures of a hummingbird this year.  I had a pair that seemed to make their home very close to my yard this past summer and I was lucky enough to get some unique photos of which I’m proud.
My first hummingbird picture!

hummingbird edit

humbird1

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The photo-elusive male cardinal finally stayed around long enough for me to get some nice pictures this year.  Suet cakes turned out to be the key to getting Mr. C to hang around!

Male cardinal

On a visit to Cape Cod a pair of mallard ducks were quietly swimming in a small creek near my mother’s house, and I just couldn’t take my eyes off of them in the pretty afternoon light.
Mrs. Duck

Mr. Duck

A return visit to the Cape in July provided me with my first photo of an osprey.
osprey

Seeing this bird of prey and getting this photo gave me a thrill.

I believe the above to be my best avian photos of 2011.  Out of all photos I plan to share over the next few days, these shots gave me my strongest sense of accomplishment due to the challenging nature of the subjects, and the way they forced me to learn more about using my camera.

By the way, I just realized that this assignment will reflect a year of growth in learning to use my Rebel; I bought the Canon in July of 2010, and the time period for the assignment begins four months later.  Kinda cool, huh?

You still have plenty of time to participate in Scott’s assignment – it isn’t due until November 16th!  I hope many of you will jump in and show off your best!

ETA: I forgot to mention that I had some bird photo goals for this year that went unfulfilled.  I had been hoping to also photograph an oriole, a clear shot of a red-winged blackbird (the only one I got this year can be seen here) and Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal together in one shot.  Bob or Tracy, any advice for fulfilling those goals?

January 30, 2011

Picture Winter Day 30.. and then some

“Glimmers of Hope”

I’m not going to say it, but those of you who’ve been following this month’s photo prompt series can probably guess what I was thinking when I read this morning’s prompt: “On the days when you’re feeling like there’s no end in sight, what signs help remind you that change is on its way; that something new is right around the bend? Today, use your lens to seek out the kind of hope that you can hold onto until spring’s splendor comes knocking.”

Luckily, the neighborhood birds provided me with some great photo-taking opportunities this morning.  I mentioned yesterday that I changed my feeder to a more bird-friendly format, and the birds took little time making the discovery.  From my front window with the 55-250 lens, I happily clicked away.  The shot that made me happiest, which I submitted to the gallery today, was this one of a male house finch:

male house finch

Isn’t he cheerful with his red head and chest, happily posed on my near-by lilac bush – which happens to be one of my first shrubs with buds come spring time.  Definitely a little glimmer of hope, I thought.

In addition to today’s house finch and the downy woodpeckers and tufted titmouse that showed up yesterday, I was treated to a nice variety of bird visitors.  I think I’ve identified most of them, but I’d love for anyone in the know to either correct me if I am wrong, or give me more specific names of these birds:
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yellow finch

yellow finch

I think all of the above are yellow finches in their winter “clothes.”

sparrow

Some kind of sparrow?

chicadee

Chicadee-dee-dee!

blue jay

Bully blue jay.  All the smaller birds scattered when this one came to feed.

mourning doves

Even the mourning doves came cooing along

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I have lots of these little mystery birds.  Anyone know what they are?

Even as I was treated to this lovely avian display, I couldn’t help thinking it how nice it would have been if the local cardinal pair showed up.  The day’s chores must go on however, and I headed out to grocery shop.  Coming back in the door, lugging the purchases, Meghan was bubbling at me, “Guess who showed up while you were gone!  The cardinals!  I tried to take pictures for you but I couldn’t figure out how to make it zoom in.”

Alas, I had left the 50mm on the camera after attempting to take some pictures of Cedric fascinated and chattering his “killer” instinct at the birds.  Meghan took several shots like this one:

cardinal

Imagine how nice it would have been with the zoom lens attached!

The seed supply we sprinkled on the ground is about wiped out now, although the bell and suet still have plenty.  I’ll be sure to spread more seed soon (MORE SNOW forecast for us Tuesday into Wednesday) and hope that Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal make a return visit!

July 14, 2010

Here Come the Critters

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 3:51 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I still have some photos that I took with my old camera that I’ve been wanting to share; one of those blog posts that had been stacking up in my head over the last few weeks.  Before the fervor of the new camera took over, I’d been wanting to share some shots of a few “wild friends” that I’d taken recently.

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First, I like to think that the adult rabbits I see hanging around the yard eating the dandelions might be one of our baby bunnies from the spring.  This rabbit and I did a little “dance” around the yard as I tried to quietly approach and get a shot of the face, but I always ended up with a shot in profile.

Next up, Tracy and I were having a conversation about whether this was a red squirrel or not.  She thought maybe it was a juvenile gray.  I watched for it for several days, and eventually became convinced it was a red, but wasn’t able to get a picture.  Finally, one morning I got this one:
redsquirrelcrop

and this one:
redsquirrelcrop2

The sun was behind the squirrel, and I was pleased with the way it lit up the tail.

I told the story in this post about the pictures of a male cardinal that I have been missing.  I still haven’t gotten a nice close-up, but not for lack of trying and missed opportunities.  On the morning that I took this cropped shot…
cardinal

… the cardinal had been sitting on my shepard’s hook that holds several hanging baskets of flowers in my backyard.  I had my camera with me outside, but by the time I had it on it flew up to this near-by tree, singing sweetly the whole time.

Another recent visitor to the yard was this one:
chip

I think this chipmunk popped up to the deck perhaps in search of some of the peanut butter crackers I’d been leaving out there in hopes of luring the red squirrel back for a closer shot.  Not wanting to squeak open the sliding glass door and scare it away, I took this through dog-nose smeared glass.  I should really think about getting the Windex out!

This last shot I am sharing because it is an unusual scene for the middle of suburbia.  It was taken during a walk with Teddy and Daphne, so I didn’t really have the chance to nicely compose, but it came out okay for having 130 pounds worth of dog waiting on the leash.
goats

Goats.  Yep, goats.  I remember the first time my girls told me there were goats living at a house on the street around the corner, I didn’t quite believe them.  Why would you have goats?  Maybe they like goats’ milk cheese, I really don’t know.  But here they are.  Teddy and Daphne were pretty sure they were some sort of unusual dog breed.

I think I still have a few pictures from the Olympus waiting for their chance to be featured.  Most likely they are flower shots, perhaps of some blooms that have gone by, so they will get their chance before the Rebel completely takes over the show.

June 27, 2010

Persistence

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 9:34 pm
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Remember how I told you yesterday about those raspberry vines that persist in growing up through my deck despite being cut back?  I took those pictures yesterday, yet somehow I missed the picture I’m showing you now.  Actual berries now growing on the deck!  Missing the picture, however, seems to be my theme-of-the-day.  Today I missed taking pictures of subjects I’ve been coveting:

  1. a near-by male cardinal, singing in my butterfly bush
  2. the red squirrel, scampering along my fence
  3. a ruby throated hummingbird at my fuchsia plant
  4. a bat circling my pool hunting tasty mosquitoes ( I wasn’t coveting this one, but I missed it none-the-less)

I’d like to blame missing these shots on my camera, but I can’t, it was me.

This morning as I leisurely drank my coffee and read all of you folks’ latest blog entries, I sat in my kitchen with the sliding glass door to the deck open enjoying the sounds of morning.  I suddenly realized the song of a cardinal was awfully close by sounding.  I got up just in time to see the lovely red bird flitting away from my deck-side  butterfly bush where he’d been happily trilling away.

This afternoon I was leisurely reading a book in the reclining chair I received for my birthday when I dozed off for a little bit.  I awoke to the sound of Teddy happily running along the stockade fence, chasing the red squirrel as it scampered away along the top of the fence.   I quickly ran inside for peanut butter crackers, which I placed on top of two posts of the fence, in an attempt to entice him back, and brought my camera with me, but he was gone.  I sat for a while waiting, but finally decided to go inside and make dinner.  Sometime after dinner, the crackers were gone.  I don’t know if Red got them or one of the many gray squirrels that hang around here did, but someone got themselves a little snack tonight.

This evening, as I was leisurely (Its been a leisurely kind of day!) watering my hanging plants, I was surprised and thrilled when a ruby-throated humming bird approached my fuchsia plant.  My soft cry of surprise was enough to send him darting away.  Once again, I went back inside for my camera.  I sat quiet and still outside in the hopes that the hummingbird really wanted that fuchsia nectar.  Alas, he did not return. 

While leisurely waiting for the hummingbird to return, I spotted the bat, first in my neighbor’s yard, then in mine as it swooped around my swimming pool.  I had my camera at the ready, but this time I simply could not follow the wild path of the flying, diving rodent.  The light was fading quickly and my chance disappeared into the woods.

I stayed outside tonight until about 8:45  pm hoping to have an exciting picture to share with you.  I came up empty handed today, but I will persist.