Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

August 5, 2014

A Focus on Flying Things

Today (day 47 of summer) was a stay-at-home day after our visit to Boston yesterday. I started my morning as I normally do, with a cup of coffee and visiting you out there in the blogosphere. While I did so, I heard some raucous bird-calling out in the back yard. I took my camera with me to try to investigate what might be going on. I followed the sound to the trees in the back near my shed and peered up. The sound seemed to be coming from birds like this one:
flicker or woodpecker
That bird was close to the top of the tree so that is a tightly cropped shot – not as clear as I would have liked, but enough to identify as one of two kind of similar birds. I think this is either a northern flicker or a red bellied woodpecker. This scruffy looking thing seemed to be following closely, so I am going to assume it to be a fledgling of whatever type of bird this is.
fledgeling

My day continued in a low key manner. I vacuumed the pool (not very satisfactorily by the way! Any pool owners have some good tips for vacuuming up the super fine silt-like material that gathers at the bottom of the pool and “poofs” up into the water when you approach it with the vacuum?), had lunch, finished reading one of the oddest, but interesting, books I’ve ever read (The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope, if you are interested) and enjoyed some time floating around the pool on my air mattress.

Other critters with wings that I enjoy photographing teased me and my lens this afternoon after I got out of the pool. Hummingbirds buzzed and chased at my feeder but never stayed long enough for me to focus a shot. The hummingbird moths and dragonflies, however, were a little more cooperative.

This hummingbird moth still gave me a bit of a time focusing – each time I had it in frame ready to go, it seemed to think another blossom on the butterfly bush looked better, but eventually I got this shot.
hummingbird moth

I found this friendly dragonfly face on a tomato cage in my garden.
dragonfly face
I was really impressed with what I was able to do with Lightroom to improve this shot. I was able to bring out detail that I never saw in my original photo. Normally I don’t like to show you the “less pretty” photos, but I think the difference is really something here.
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July 29, 2013

State of My Year

WordPress’s Daily Prompt today says to “Write up a mid-year “State of My Year” post.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us NOW.”

I’ve been receiving the Daily Prompt in my email for quite a long time now and often thought the idea presented sounded interesting to blog about, but I’ve rarely participated for no good reason other than being busy with other things or just being distracted by daily life. I was thinking I’d like to write a blog post today but wasn’t sure how to collect my thoughts. The prompt arrived in my email and seemed like an interesting “take stock” idea. The prompt calls it “mid-year” – it is the end of July, that’s really a bit past mid-year, isn’t it? It is also just a little past the mid-point of summer vacation from school too, so here’s where things are at for me.

Anticipation for Meghan’s move to campus has begun. We’ve been out shopping for dorm supplies.
dorm supplies
Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Christmas Tree Shops have all provided us with some great deals and bargains to get her set up in the place she will live for 9 months starting on August 22nd. It is exciting and scary and happy and sad all at once. My stomach does flip-flops whenever I think about it.

My garden seems to be doing nicely. I’m pretty much keeping up with the weeding this year.
garden mid-summer
Those piles to the right of center are weeds I’ve pulled and hoed and raked, but I just haven’t removed from the garden yet. I’ve harvested some of nearly everything I’ve planted this year, including tomatoes.
garden harvest
I’m not used to having tomatoes until mid-August, so those early girls were a nice treat.

The butterfly bushes are in full bloom and the swallowtails and hummingbird moths have returned to drink their fill of nectar.
tiger swallowtail

hummingbird moth

Other plants surrounding my deck, I’m ashamed to admit, have not fared so well. During the intense heat wave most of the country endured a little over a week ago, I spent little time outside and forgot about my poor little potted plants needing water!
oops forgot to water them
Oops! I’ve never been so neglectful. I killed every one of my potted annuals, except for this mini-rose the girls gave me for Mother’s Day.
mini-rose
It was lucky enough to be planted in a “self-watering” container with a little reservoir in the bottom of the pot, so it survived. Maybe I should look for a few more of those containers, huh?

looks ok
Ah, the pool. It has been both a blessing and a thorn in my side this summer. I told you in this post about the liner tearing and needing replacing. Then, I explained here what happened when we did replace it. Since then, hoses have sprung leaks and needed replacing and parts have come loose, unbeknownst to me at the time, and drained a couple hundred gallons of water from the pool. Then last night, as I was cleaning up from dinner, I noticed the lights in the house were flickering. I looked around trying to figure out if there was a brown-out going on, when smoke billowing up from my backyard caught my eye! At that moment, a small burst of flame appeared in the area of the pool’s filter. I ran outside, unplugged the filter and turned on the hose. The flame was gone, but this was discovered:
yikes
I have no idea why but the power cord to the filter shorted out and fried. Goody, yet another pool part that needs replacing this year. I do feel lucky, however, that the flame didn’t go anywhere and cause any other damage.

Before the smoking adventure with my pool, we had just returned home from our annual camping trip. This is a tradition 20+ years in the making which you can read about here if you are interested. I didn’t take any pictures this year on our trip to Tolland State Forest in Otis, Ma, except for this pretty great one of our whole group of campers, couples and families who have been friends since we were teenagers/young adults:
da gang
We were all pretty happy we made it through the weekend without a drop of rain. That isn’t usually the case for our camping trips! In fact, this past weekend had to be one of the nicest we’ve ever experienced while camping: sunny skies, pleasant temperatures and no humidity.

I am looking forward to the rest of what summer holds. My younger daughter turns 16 this week! Party and learner’s permit coming soon. Our annual vacation to Maine is less than two weeks away.

That’s the “now” of my life at this little-more-than-mid-point of the year. How is your “now”?

July 22, 2012

Things with Wings

When Scott Thomas recently commented on my “Camping Critters” post about how my ruffled grouse appeared to be moving quickly, I was inspired about what to shoot for his assignment this month about motion photography.

The hummingbird moths have reappeared at the butterfly bushes and their tiny wings are always in rapid motion:
hummingbird moth

hummingbird moth

The monarch butterflies are always in frenetic motion around the yard and bushes.  I tried to capture a crazy escapade of a monarch around my yard, but the photos didn’t portray motion all that well to me.  Here it is when it finally came to rest on a bloom, but with wings still ready to go:

monarch1

While I was watching the butterfly bushes yesterday, so full of frantic motion of moths and bees and butterflies, I heard that tell-tale call of a raptor up above.  It is a different view of motion:

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Remember my “conducting duck” from the Camping Critters post? I realized that another shot that I took of him or her had another view of motion:
duck3

This is my submission to Scott’s motion assignment.  There is still time to get involved in this assignment if you would like – posts aren’t due until Wednesday, the 25th at midnight your time.

July 24, 2011

Portrait of a Summer Evening

I don’t have to tell you it is hot.  Seems most of the country has been experiencing a heat wave over the last few days.  Thankfully, at least around here, it seems to be breaking today.  Highs should only be in the upper 80’s and we have a chance for showers throughout the day.  Due to the heat of the day, evening has been the more pleasant time to head outside, and it is a nice time for taking pictures.

The girls came outside for a swim and hand-stand practice:

swim1

The day lillies glow in the evening:

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One of my dahlias showed a deep red that I have difficulty capturing in the daytime:
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The sky was painted with swirly clouds:

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And some of my favorite summer creatures came around for a photo session:

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Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

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Hummingbird moth

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and my hummingbird took his evening post.

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Daphne says, “I don’t care what you think, Mom, it is still too hot!”

September 8, 2010

As Summer Fades Away

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 10:59 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I haven’t put up a new post in a few days, and I’m thinking that will likely be the case for me now that school has begun.  The girls went back last week, and I went back to work, and dance starts up next week – all of which makes for more running around, and less picture-taking time. I’m still planning to shoot as much as I can, but the posts may not come as often.  We’ll see, I guess.  I found a few pictures today with subjects I’ve used already this summer, but something about them seemed to have that “summer is fading away” feeling, which is the way that I am feeling today.

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Zinnia in late afternoon sun

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The dragonfly, stopping by.. I liked the way this one was lit and the leaf “bokeh” in the background.

hummoth1

I loved the curl of the tongue in this revisit of the hummingbird moth.  I remembered to push up the shutter speed this time (1/1000) to get some stop action.  It was bright afternoon light, so I was able to keep a small aperture (5.6) to go with my now “famous” aperture mantra.

dahlia1

The color of this little dahlia struck me one afternoon.  Many of my purchased annuals surprised me this summer with colors I didn’t expect.  I assumed it was going to be yellow when I saw the bud, but then I noticed the tinge of pink around the edges, almost like it had a late summer sunburn, to remind it of a lovely day in the sun.

That’s my short, late-night post for today.  I had another planned for you but Flickr or my internet connection was acting up earlier this evening, so it wasn’t to be.

July 23, 2010

Visitors

The butterfly bushes in my yard have gotten quite large this year and they have become the spot for meeting visitors to my yard, including the elusive hummingbird, who has been taunting me on a fairly regular basis now.  Lucky for me, butterflies seem to be happier to hang around and pose for a few pictures!  While I’m still waiting for a traditional monarch shot, I’ve gotten a few other interesting pictures, starting with the Great Spangled Frillitary a few weeks ago.

After the GSF, my next visitor to stay for a portrait was a Tiger Swallowtail:
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It stayed around long enough for me to take a bunch of shots.  These were my three favorites.  I don’t remember how much I was thinking about the white balance and exposure compensation and ISO this day;  I just remember excitedly clicking away.  Is it just me, or is there something about dSLR’s that makes you just want to shoot again and again and again?  Maybe its because I’m new to them. 

 On this same day, another critter that I discovered for the first time only two years ago, appeared for a sip at the butterfly bush.  Its called a hummingbird moth.  Have you ever seen one of these before?

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They are the size of a moth, sip from flowers like butterflies, and have wings that move as fast as, and allow them to hover like hummingbirds.

I danced around the butterfly bushes and the deck taking photo after photo of this fast-moving Pipevine Swallowtail.  It would land, I would focus, it would move.  I went up and down the deck stairs, to the tops and the bottoms of the butterfly bush chasing this butterfly around hoping for a nice shot.  Its movement was quite erratic and the wings rarely stopped moving so I found it challenging, but ended up with a few shots to share:
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After I chased it around for a while, and realized it seemed happy to feed at my bushes for a while, it dawned on me, uh, Karen, why not try a fast shutter speed?  Oh yeah, I can do that easily now…
blackbutterfly

Stop-action on those crazy fast wings!  Yahoo! 

While this last one isn’t perfectly focused, I thought it had a bit of a moody, “artsy” feel to it with the edges of the wings in focus, the body blurred and the blue sky background:
IMG_0331

I’m still hoping that my camera-shy hummingbird will make an appearance one of these days while I am outside with the camera at the ready, but for now I’m happy that at least the butterflies gave me the time of day!