Thursday, March 30, 2017

In the Light

by Linda

The last time we got together for a visit, we were talking about taking pictures at night, in the dark, remember? It's a little ironic that on the very day that post was published, 2 weeks ago today, I was taking pictures in the light. Not just any light, full high noon sunny skies light and throw in a very reflective surface and you have a recipe for disaster.

Bryan Peterson says that you should never take pictures between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. Those hours should be spent poolside with a drink that has an umbrella in it or by taking a nap. The sun is too harsh, wait for golden hour.


Sometimes you have to be a rebel and break those rules. Sorry Bryan. But you see, I had no choice. I was forced into the situation because...

Sand sledding! Yeah, that's a real thing. Apparently it is quite popular. You can tell by the length of the line to rent a saucer (the same ones you use on snow, you can bring your own) and the floor to ceiling stack of the saucers. I only heard about it last summer and knew it was something we were going to do. Hey, anything that gets people, especially kids, out to a National Monument is a good thing, right?

The sand sledding happened at White Sands New Mexico. You know, the place where they detonated the first nuclear bomb? The Trinity Site? The place where the sand is white, compared to the rest of the sand in the entire state, which is brown? (it's gypsum) You can see the white sand from miles away as you near the park. It is located in southern New Mexico, accessible through Alamogordo. It's pretty spectacular.

So, high noon it was because when you have to get 8 people ready to go it takes a while. Even though the best time to photograph at White Sands is when the sun is either rising or setting, I went at noon because this park is about 700 miles from my home and I don't think I could just hop in the car and get there whenever the mood struck me.  (they have tours you can sign up for and go at sunrise or sunset with a group to the best spots, this is now on my must photograph list!)

Oh, and it was hot. I'm no stranger to hot because I live in an oven but this was not the hot I'm used to. It was bright and hot. The temperature was about 80 degrees but it was hot. Bring lots of water and sunscreen. Because it's the desert and it's hot.

Taking all the known factors of this photography excursion in consideration before getting there, I decided to use my 24-70mm lens because I knew I wanted a wide angle sometimes and a close up sometimes, because of things like this...

Good thing too because this fella was kinda skittish.  I couldn't get too close without him scurrying away. I don't remember the name of this little lizard, it was on a board at the visitor center, but I do know it evolved into a white lizard from a brown lizard for obvious reasons. Pretty cool.

Also, because of the bright sun and reflective surface, I used the lens hood for my lens. ISO was 200, (could have gone to 100) f8, (could have gone to 11 or 14) white balance set to "daylight" , metering set to "evaluative metering", picture style set to "landscape". I was ready.

Seriously, it was SO BRIGHT that I was unable to see the picture in the back of the camera after I took it. I had to have faith the settings were doing a good job, kinda like the old days of film! No preview!

I was pleased with the results when I loaded the pictures into Lightroom. The most editing I did was to straighten some of the shots. I swear, I cannot hold the camera straight! Maybe I should use that level thingy in my camera!

It was a good trip, a good photography learning session. A place I want to return to.

Maybe not at noon.

Did I mention it was hot?


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Flutter By Butterfly....

by Deanna

As some of you may know via instagram and facebook, I recently visited Arizona, the home of good friends who graciously invite me each year to enjoy the warmth of the sun and the amazing life in the desert. And you also probably know that I spent time with both Terri (my FOL sister and BFF from Phoenix) and the amazing Barbara Carroll. Lunch together on my birthday was pretty darn special. Terri and I joined up again a couple of other times and just enjoyed being together, snapping our cameras at the glorious sights of our surroundings. It was absolutely glorious to see color and sunshine again. Here at home we are still struggling with the arrival of Spring, cloudy days, cool temps, but there are glimpses that Spring will arrive. 

I have so many (approximately 3,000 give or take) pictures that I took while there. Up to this point 2017's inventory of pictures taken was only about 1300 from January until the 1st part of March. Pretty pitiful for someone who historically snapped several each day. As I said before, there are only so many bare trees and branches one can get excited about.. Visiting the butterfly exhibit at the Desert Botanical Garden and another visit to Butterfly Wonderful brought that excitement back in full force. So, because my inventory is over-flowing with butterfly images I am dedicating this post to the magic and wonder of butterflies.

Please do not ask me to name any of these. I could spend hours trying to google and search for each of these, but I'm not, so just enjoy their uniqueness, their beauty, and their exquisite colors. 

Not sure if these two were copulating or just happen to land on the same leaf at the same time.... 

And, by the way, I bought myself the new Tamron 90mm Macro lens, which really performed nicely for butterflies, flowers, bees. I would recommend the lens. All of these images were taken hand-held, which proves that for a 74 year old woman the vibration compensation really works. 

I've spent very little time on my computer lately processing pictures, so preparing for this post was almost as delightful as being there. Isn't it marvelous that we can re-visit those special places through our photographs. 

 I combined this lovely with the bluebonnets from Texas that I enjoyed last year. 

"Love is like a butterfly
It goes where it pleases
And it pleases wherever it goes."
(author unknown)

Now if you happen to wonder what I might produce with these lovelies....I make calendars each year and sell them, with my profits (after expenses) then donated to the Alzheimer's Association. 

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on.
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
- Irish Blessing 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


by Leigh

There are a lot of things about spring that I love, but one of my absolute favorites is when new foliage begins to emerge.  Just when you think that everything is dead here comes spring.  

"Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist, but the ability to start over." ~F. Scott Fitzgerald 

In spring we are starting fresh...starting over.  Bulbs planted in the dead of winter break through the bare ground giving us bursts of color.  Leaves open very delicately and deliberately.  Fern fronds and Hostas seem to unravel right before our eyes.

It seems a bit redundant, but there is such a delicate nature to nature. Spring is the time of renewal.  A time for cleaning out, clearing out and making way for fresh possibilities.  It's our time also to begin again.  Not only is nature something for us to enjoy, but it can also be our teacher in the rhythm of our life.

Earth teach me stillness
as the grasses are stilled with light.
Earth teach me suffering
as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility
as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring
as the mother who secures her young.
Earth teach me courage
as the tree which stands all alone.
Earth teach me limitation
as the ant which crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom
as the eagle which soars in the sky.
Earth teach me resignation
as the leaves which die in the fall.
Earth teach me regeneration
as the seed which rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness
as dry fields weep with rain.
— Ute prayer


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