Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Gift to the Birds

I have a bird feeder that looks like an old kerosene lantern, available at Lowes, that has a solar light so that a bulb is lit at night.  This part of the feeder is junk as most of the solar lights are.  Works good but there are holes around the top like the real thing.  Problem is rain can get in here and with no means of drying out the seed gets and stays wet thus plugging the feed holes.  Works fine in the summer so I will keep using it at that time of the year.

This feeder is something that I threw together for the birds.  It's open for drying and it has drain hole along two sides, you can see them on the right side.  There are four 3/4" holes in the bottom with replaceable screen material as well.  Only issue will be wind.  If this becomes an issue I will raise the sides a bit as with all drainage available this shouldn't be a problem.

So.....Merry Christmas to the birds.

No Snow

It's Christmas Eve and 53 degrees.  No snow this year.  The big guy in the red suit will be attaching his Goodyears on the sleigh runners.  I wonder if he uses Brembo brakes?  Last year we had snow on Thanksgiving and it didn't leave until late March.  Oh well, when the first ribbon comes of the first package the kids won't remember that there wasn't any snow.

Friday, November 28, 2014

In The Kitchen

Our daughter in the kitchen yesterday preparing the meal.  The tail wager at her feet is her sous-chef.  He's the cleanup guy.   All I can say is Yum!  Fantastic turkey, Brussels sprouts fixed with walnut oil and wall nuts, mashed potatoes, spinach salad, corn casserole and a casserole that was yams and turnips cubed with apples and cranberries,  cranberry relish and last but not least her mothers infamous cornbread dressing.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Starry Starry Night

I'm still learning my new Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 lens so last night I decided to try to see what I could get from's just too cold to go out at midnight and take some shots of the sky.  December 13th may find me outside as that is the peak for the Geminid meteor shower.

View larger. | Geminid meteor 2012 as captured by Henry Shaw of SummersMagic Photography.  Click here to learn from Henry how to take photos of meteors.
This was captured by Henry Shaw of SummersMagic Photography

Again, so far, I am very impressed with this lens.  It's a very fast lens and has less distortion than I thought it would have.  Clarity is great as well.  Manual mode is becoming my favorite with this lens as I can get in real close and still not get too much distortion.  I haven't weighed it but it seems to be about as heavy as my 18-270mm and nearly as long when the later lens is in the 18mm position.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bird Frenzy

Maybe there is something the fact that animals have that seventh sense when there is impending conditions out of the ordinary.  On Sunday these Starlings were in a feeding frenzy.  There were hundreds of them.  They would land in the street and leave is a swarm, darkening the sky wherever they fly.  They used the pond to take their morning baths, I say morning because they show up around 9 AM everyday along with 5 crows the Cardinals, a couple of Blue Jays and some other smaller varieties as well.



A Mood Set In Color

     It's November 17th and we have had our first measurable snowfall for the season.  Trouble with this is that it is November 17th.  Not only do we have snow but the pond froze over for the last two nights, giving way to the warmth of the sun during the day but only slightly.  In this area we should not see the freezing of water until after January 1st and then it is only safe to get on to skate etc. if it is solid with no melting for 3 weeks.  Last night it got down to 13 deg. but on a better note next Monday it is to be 57 deg. or above normal.  Welcome to the Miami Valley.

These photos are meant to set a mood about the 5" of snow we got and the bone chilling temperatures that are upon us and yet I think there is beauty in winter scenes.  April seems so far away right now.

Ready For Next Year

The growing season is over and the plants have made plans for next year.  Some haven't given up on this year as seen in the photo.  The Maple in the foreground has its buds all set and the Flowering Cherry as well.  You can even see the large bud where a flower will emerge in its pink and white blossom.  Now, to get through this years winter months.  I took these shots just days ago...we are in a polar vortex...already!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Which One?

I posted the top photo on a photography site for feed back.  I have received 4 replies and they pretty much all said the same thing.  The last one was the most feedback where the respondent questioned the spot of light on the wall, too much contrast and overly dark.

I haven't put the other two pictures up.  I just finished the second one but I put one like it up and the comment then was that the open book was a distraction.  Maybe so.

The third picture is just a beginning in the series of photos I took of these books hasn't been posted anywhere and doubt that I will either.

Question.....what do you think.  Click 'em to make them bigger.

Friday, November 7, 2014

dPs challenge

DPS....Digital Photography School is a online newsletter with offerings of tutorials both free and fee based.  The fee based are usually from professionals with eBooks involved.  So far I've been a cheap skate and yet I have gotten a ton of training.  I have never taken the challenge of sending a photo until now.  I'm not sure what to expect but I hope to get some criticism or feedback.  It's nice to hear "good shot" or "great picture" but it's also nice to get the negatives, even if, don't like what you hear or read or, two....the critic does get what you are trying to put across.  My brother is a good critic....he tells me what he sees.  My wife does the same thing....tells it like it is and she is tough as nails.  My daughter, a graphic designer, and my niece, becoming a self employed photographer, are gentle soles.  Their kind, boosting the spirit or the retired guy.  And my sister-in-law, well she just loves everything and can find no fault.  You have to love her comments.

Anyway, I sent this in to DPS as my monthly photo challenge for the subject matter of ..... Brown.

Enjoy ;-)

Monday, November 3, 2014

400mm USM or L Lens

Just as large as this lens is the word Super fits it just fine.  Personally I think this is a great lens for not only birding or any other kind of wildlife at a distance but also for artistic touches.

I took this photo Saturday night.  This tree is approximately 20' from my back door.  The color in the background is a street that is lit by sodium vapor lamps.

The next morning my brother took these two shots of the frost on the deck rails.  Again, this is as well as all photos in this post are with the 400mm lens.  Shot was taken at about a 14' distance.

It's all about the color in the fall and this lens lets you capture it with no problem.  I lightened it just a bit but otherwise I really like the way it pulled the red, magenta, yellow and gold out.

Almost done, sitting on tripod and changing the focus from the maple tree in the foreground to the pine tree in the background.  The maple was 35' or so out and the pine tree is 50 yards or better on the other side of a road that runs behind our house.

Lastly, on Saturday night I was able to catch all the bats and witches flying out after a wicked Halloween night in the area.  They heard that there season was over and the kids were still bouncing off the walls from all the candy they had collected.  No worry, they will be back next year for another round of ghosts and goblins.
Truthfully, this is a street light and the maple tree from the first shot but at a different angle.  Again I must point out the artistic capabilities of the lens.  It just takes your imagination.

Trying Out A Different Lens

I worked with a Canon 14mm USM ll lens over the weekend.  I think it is awesome.  It has great color as well as bokeh (natural) and crystal clear.  As you can see here I focused on the OK button in the top photo and the Guide button in the 2nd photo.  Above and below these focus points the images are blurred.  I was maybe 6" from the controller.

In the third picture I was only going for the clarity of the scene, both near the lens and in the distance.  As I still learn something all the time I would use this for a street lens, a macro for non moving items and as it is, a wide angle lens.  It brings out the detail at all ranges.

If you want to see them more or more of them, click on the pics.  I know, I need to clean my controller.  Also, I did not make any adjustments for distortion as I thought I might have to.

Friday, October 31, 2014

And Some More

Same books, different compositions.  Trying to be artistic, maybe.  Trying to move out of a comfort zone,  sure.  Just a couple more of the same books but laid out differently.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Good reading if not some great pictures in these books.  I worked for GM for 22 yrs.  Proud of what I did but not so proud of what they have become.  I've been gone for 12 years and it seems to have gotten worse.  I will admit that they do still make innovative products and have led the way in many items but the book on the bottom and the next two up are are about an even more inventive car.  The you have "Go like HELL" where Ford beats Ferrari with the GT-40 is a great history read.  Out on the side is "the unfair advantage" which is about Mark Donahue (deceased) and how he made every machine, no matter who made it win.  Roger Penske was a big part of his winnings but it was Mark's determination and dedication that got him into the winners circle.  The scariest race car ever built was the Porsche 917.  Many drivers couldn't handle the raw speed of this machine.  Mark won time after time in it.  This was before they started limiting horse power and other factors to control the speeds being driven.  Unfortunately Mark died in a practice run.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


This is what started it all when I got the airliner flying into my shots.  The question is where was he headed....Atlanta, Miami?  He was definitely going south. 

This started out as a "hey, this is a good opportunity to play with the White Balance Shift/Bracket in the menu of my camera".  Drive a little more red, magenta or blue.  I will admit there is some post processing to this one, needed to lighten up the foreground.  I actually lost the color of the sun, it was brilliant red, so bright you couldn't really look at it.  That's it peaking just below the clouds and the tree line where the tallest tree is.  Was there for only a few seconds.  The coloring is almost just as you see here.

Behind The Clouds.....Then Out of The Clouds

     Caught this when taking photos of the light beams coming from behind the clouds in the morning as the sun was rising. 


     I wasn't sure where this plane was going to come out or if it would be too small to get.  This doesn't sound like much time but he stayed hidden for a good two maybe three minutes before popping out the other side.  In that time I would assume he had traveled several hundred miles at least.

     Little did I know that when I started taking this series of photos that I had the beginning of this jet coming onto my frame.  It's just a speck but I highlighted it a bit in the lower left 3rd.  I hadn't really looked at what I had after every shot, I just figured I would do the usual, take the shot and delete later.  There isn't much time for anything else when dealing with sun rises or sun sets.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Almost Too Early?

Too early for good light and yet light enough to be interesting.  The haze is what I think makes it interesting as well as just being able to see some color start to show.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Looking Bad But Turning Out Great

The day started out looking ominous but it turned out to be a great day.  The clouds were just left over from the evening before.  We are getting the warm days and cool nights that always brings the ground fog in low lying areas.  This morning was one of those days with some northern school districts being put on a 2 hour delay and one closing all day.

The branches are becoming barren and the color is being lost.  Around here you just never know what is going to happen.  I've seen it snow on the first of November and I've see it so warm out on Thanksgiving that we had to open the doors and windows.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

In the Spot Light

The spot light is on the table.  Simple but perfect.  She, the wife, has the right touch for decorating but she won't take any credit.

All the right colors for the season, no wonder it is one of the favorite times.

Something to Reflect Upon

Reflections can turn one is all directions.  You can reflect on your day that has just past or what you have seen.  Here, I capture the reflection of the trees for this falls season if not for their color this year but to remember them in the future.  This day was pretty much cloudy all day but as late afternoon arrived so did the sun.  Long shadows started showing on the bank of the pond and the siding of the house in the distance.

Just something to reflect upon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Night Shots.....Point and Shoot...Nope

Yesterday it was windy and warm for 54 degrees or so.  Cloudy all day with the sun peaking out late in the day.  Then last night it really got quiet until the thunder and lightning started.  Wind blew up every now and then but generally remained calm.  Somewhere around 11:00 PM or so I looked out and it was dead still.  Water on the pond was smooth as glass and there was a low fog hanging in the air.  Looking up you could see broken clouds and some stars.  That's not all that bad considering we live close to several cities so I would suspect reflections of their lighting.

I decided to set the camera to monochrome as I would really like to get better at black and white photography.  At any rate I set it up to these numbers for this image. 

Definitely not a point and shoot. 

Exposure - 0.4 sec @ f5.0
Focal Length - 18mm
ISO - 6400 (hence the graininess)
Program - manual
Metering - spot
Flash - no
Cropped to - 4064 x 2396 ppi (before reducing for .jpeg)
Lens - Tamron 18-270mm VC Di II
Preset - monochrome

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sauder Historic Village, Interesting

We took a trip recently up to Archbold, OH.  This is the home of the Sauder Furniture business that Erie Sauder founded many years ago.  Today it is know as the furniture you buy and assemble yourself and with the younger generation all I have to say is Ikia.  There is a place in Archbold that is called Archbold Historic Village were over the years they have grown a business around historic buildings and equipment of the time.  Erie Sauder's original work shops are on the grounds as well as a general store, doctors office, one room school, broom, herb and sewing (quilt) shops.  There are farm buildings with livestock and just about anything else from that era.  It is very similar to the Greenfield Village near the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, MI.

Out in front of the village is an information building with a deli type cafĂ© and a gift shop.  At the main road on the grounds is a restaurant called the Barn which is a barn that is 177 years old.  Near the Barn is a bakery where breads, cup cakes and all kinds of sweets are made and sold and then just beyond that is the Sauder Factory Outlet.

In the back of all this is the Sauder Inn and the camp ground. 

The drive up was really nice, taking I-75 to Lima, OH and then jumping off onto the back roads of Ohio, going through the small towns of "blink" and you missed it to some that some that were a little larger with two or three gas stations, a bank, an antique shop etc.  The interesting thing was there were some that didn't have any fast food establishment.  Mom and pop diners were the order of day.

This is 90% plus farm country so the landscape was really nice and peaceful and some of the homesteads were huge.  Super large farms with lots of silos for drying and storing of their crops.

These pictures are from inside the motorhome on our last morning.  We had clouds and rains up to Archbold and the second day was the same but the day we were to leave we awoke to this and a very pleasant drive home.

Pronunciation; we have always pronounced Sauder and if we were saying louder with an S.  The locals pronounce it as if saying sodder.  Linguistics'....interesting, eh!

They always refer to morning shots as the blue hour and evening or sunsets as the golden hour.  Obviously there is a bit of information that was left out as there is a golden hour in the mornings as well.

Just had to do a b/w of this shot.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Sunset In Northern Ohio

We have made a trip to a place called Sauder Historic Village in Archbold, OH.  It has an inn a separate bakery establishment as well as a restaurant called the Barn and other, spend your money, businesses, all associated with the Village.  This is where Sauder furniture started so there is a place here to see and purchase furniture and nearby is the main factory.  There is the Historic Village, similar to the one in Detroit, MI at the Henry Ford Museum.  Not sure if we are going to make that part of the experience as the weather has changed since this was planned a week ago.  When we picked the motorhome up from storage it was sleeting.  We've had rain off and on since we got here so we will just dodge the possibility of getting caught in a down pour.

This shot is sunrise this morning looking out of the window.  The ground in this area is flat, soybean and corn fields primarily.  It is obvious that the main stay of life in this part of Ohio is farming, many really old farms that appear to be well taken care of for their apparent ages.  In some cases I would say there are some well of farmers as the homes are not only new but quite large.  What is puzzling is how many crops are still in the fields, especially the soybeans.

As I get ready to post this the sun is trying to cut through,

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Beams of Light

Beams of light slicing through the clouds, cutting there way to the earth below.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Another Visitor

This youngish Red Tail Hawk comes to visit about once a month or so.  It started showing up about 3 years ago, landing on a neighbors deck rail.  I was able to get a pretty good shot of it but it didn't stay too long.  Last year it ate 3 young Robins in a nest in our front yard.  It is quite a large bird that does really show here as I must be 50 yards away or more.  Also, last year we had a duck that must have been attacked by a coyote or one of the large barn cats from a farm nearby but was left along the pond edge.  The next day this, or another hawk like it, made a meal out of what was left.  Since they are territorial I'm thinking it was this one.  We have two dead ducks in the pond now, one near where this is perched but it's been dead for about a week, too far out to retrieve.  The other one is near the edge to where I may get it and bury it.  Kind of groose, getting bloated a little.  Was hoping the turtles or the hawks or even the vulture would take care of it.  And yes, there are pictures coming of the vulture that was here yesterday.....dumb bird.  Can't swim and tried to walk across the pond then started running around the edge.  He would have had to have walked 200 feet or better....dumb bird has wings.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Catching A Ride

The other day I was taking a picture of how the scenery has changed or is changing when all of a sudden a  hot air balloon ventured into view.  By the colors of the balloon I will say it is a realty companies balloon.  Remax flies in this area all the time.  I even caught a few birds in the air, my guess is they are the ducks that flew or of the pond near here.