Reliving Past Photos

I have been re-discovering lots of forgotten gems as I continue with my re-organization project. Here are three more.

The first picture was taken in 2010 along the Farm to Market Road near Bow, WA. I love looking for shorebirds in the flooded winter fields in the Skagit Valley. This picture of Dunlin in non-breeding plumage was taken with a 500 mm lens with a 1.4 tele-extender. Settings were ISO 800, Aperture f/20 and Shutter 1/250. Diagonal lines are one of my favorite composition elements and this image uses diagonals to the max. It was a windy day and I probably should have opened the aperture up and used a faster shutter speed. Fortunately, the image is reasonably sharp.

Skagit Dunlin

The second two images are from a Palouse trip with the Olympia Camera Club in 2013. This was the first time I had been to the Palouse and I was just blown away by the colors, textures and patterns of the grain fields. The farmhouse picture was taken not too long after dawn. Once again, there are strong diagonal elements. This was taken with a Canon 1D Mark II and a 28-135 mm lens. I do not think I used a polarizer. The settings were ISO 100, Aperture f/5.6 and Shutter 1/125.

Palouse Farmhouse

This last image is my first experience at night shooting and light painting. Night shooting has become a favorite of mine. It is of a grain elevator in the Palouse. There was a lot to learn. The Canon 1D Mark II is not the best camera for night shooting as I discovered that night. It was just too old. Any ISO above 800 was extremely noisy and the tiny LCD on the back was not large enough to see the image so I could adjust the focus. I was extremely lucky to get anything in focus. I fell in love with night shooting and decided on the spot that I needed to upgrade my camera. It took two years, but eventually I purchased a Canon 7D Mark II which was better suited for night photography. I used the 28-135 mm lens. I tried using my 18 – 35 mm lens, but I could not get it to focus properly. I remember all these details because of the notes that I took that night. I keep a notebook with details of most of my photo trips. The settings were ISO 3200, Aperture f/3/5 and Shutter 15 s.

Palouse Grain Elevator at Night
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A Sunny Day

I am sitting in my family room on this beautiful day aching to be out in the park capturing the beauty of spring with my camera. It is hard to stay home and practice social distancing when the sun is shining and it is warm outside. So, instead of taking new spring pictures, I am revisiting ones taken in years past.

Here is one taken in 2015. It is a peony taken at the Lord Mansion near the Washington State Capitol Campus. The Lord Mansion is site of the old Washington State Museum and has beautiful gardens full of roses and peonies.


I notice that I tend to do my spring flower pictures in mostly the same locations each year. I tend to go to Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve, Scattercreek Wildlife Area, Washington State Capitol Campus, McLane Creek Nature Trail and Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. This means that over the years I have taken many similar pictures. Each year I choose an aspect of spring photography to concentrate on. Some years it is flowers, other years it is birds or even landscapes. Mima Mounds and Scattercreek are prairie lands in southern Thurston County. Wildflowers, birds and insects are abundant. I go here when I want to concentrate on unique prairie flowers and on meadow birds. McLane Creek is riparian habitat; I find different birds and flowers there. The cherry trees are the draw to the Capitol Campus. I am still working on my “perfect” shot of the trees with the capitol in the background. I won’t get it this year. Mt. St. Helens has flowers, hummingbirds and the Milky Way.

Each spring I strive to improve my macro flower photography. This means working on focus, flower selection, positioning, lighting and trying out different equipment such as extension tubes, flash, flash modifiers and macro lenses. This year I have a new ring flash and was looking forward to trying it out. I guess I will have to do my experimenting this spring with cut flowers and action figures.

I am longing for the great outdoors, but I have found plenty to do indoors. I started off by reorganizing my file structure for storing images. I organized my images by date and was constantly frustrated by the amount of time it took me to find images. I almost remember where I took a picture; I seldom remember a date unless it is of great significance. I always remember that I went to Antarctica in February 2000. So I decided to organize my images by location and then by year. It’s taken awhile, but I am almost finished reorganizing. The jury is still out.

I also have been busy re-editing photos that I previously edited in Lightroom/Photoshop, in On1. I am enjoying refining my skills. One thing that I do find easier to do in On1 than in LR is masking. The refine tool does a great job separating trees from sky. Below is a sunset taken at Rowena Crest near Moise, Oregon that I redid using On1. Comments?

Rowena Crest
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Arrow Balsamroot

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Stacked Flower

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New Year’s Day 2018

New Year’s Day 2018 dawned cold and foggy. My annual NYD walk at Nisqually Wildlife Refuge was quiet and mysterious in the fog.  Not many birds were out; most of them were hunkered down like this Northern Saw-whet Owl. The Saw-whet Owl is tiny and hard to see among the conifer branches that it favors. This one appears to be hanging out near the visitor center entrance and I will try for a better image later in the week.


Occasionally there was a blast of sound as the Canadian and Cackling Geese took to the sky, wheeling overhead looking for better forage. After all, the grass is always greener somewhere. Mostly it was a morning for landscapes. I love the ghostly aspect that everything takes on in the fog. I took a fall image of the road to Lower Lewis River Falls and since then have found myself drawn to roads and their surroundings.  This morning was perfect for getting the dike trail. I also tried a picnic table framed by trees.





This year my photo goals are to continue working on birds in flight, do at least two of the Olympia Camera Club’s Word of the Week per month and try to create at least one abstract photograph per quarter. What are your goals?

Posted in Birds, Nature Photograhy, Photography

Spring Adventures

Wow! Summer is here and so I would like to reflect a bit on some of my spring adventures. Last spring I was house bound with a broken ankle, so this spring I made a commitment to myself to take pictures at least one day out of the weekend. I was pretty successful and took lots of walks at Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, the Hawks Prairie Reclamation Ponds and McLane Nature trail here in Olympia. I even managed some day and overnight trips to Degoede Bulb Farm, Rowena Crest, and Big Beef Creek.

I had the most fun finding willow thickets and waiting for warblers. This is my favorite warbler shot. This  common yellowthroat warbler had a nest nearby and was going to and fro with a beak stuffed with goodies. This was taken at McLane Nature Trail.

I also started a love affair with dragon and damsel flies. There is a spot right at the beginning of the boardwalk at Nisqually that is consistently good for these critters. I am still working on my techniques and identification skills. I think it is a four-spot skimmer dragonfly.

You can see more in my Spring Walk Gallery at

Posted in Birds, Dragonflies, Flowers, Nature Photograhy, Photography

Spot a Hummingbird for Luck!

I was showing a photo of a hummingbird to a friend, when she said that she had learned an interesting bird fact the other day. Pacific Northwest Native People often refer to Swainson’s thrush as the Salmonberry bird because they appear around the time that salmonberries start to form. I agreed that it was interesting and started wondering about what names and/or symbolism hummingbirds have in different native cultures.  My good friend Google informed me that some PNW Coastal People believe that hummingbirds bring good luck. Other Native People believe that hummingbirds signify peace, love and happiness. Often hummingbirds are depicted in pairs symbolizing loyalty and steadfastness. You can learn more about this at

For me, the greatest hummingbird experience is when I find one at rest, as I did earlier this week at Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. I was trying to locate a singing Swainson’s thrush when I noticed a female Rufous hummingbird sunning herself on a red alderberry branch. There is something about this bird sitting so still instead of its usual darting around that causes me to feel especially peaceful and appreciative of the world around me.

Posted in Hummingbird, Nature Photograhy, Photography

Central California Coast Bird-Photo Trip

The trip with Jack Lien to the central California trip has yielded an over abundance of images; too many to choose from. As I peruse the images, I am struck with how often we were in the right spot with the right light. The image below of a Whimbrel at Morro Rock Beach State Park is an example of this.

I love to discuss my images with my photo buddy Mary Bowman. She looks at my bird images with a landscape photographer’s eye and often sees things in them that I don’t. She suggested converting several images to BW. I did and am very pleased that I followed through on her suggestions. The results are below.

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Word of the Week – Books

One of the aspects of the Olympia Camera Club that I really enjoy is how club activities encourage us to go beyond our comfort zone. For example, the first word of the week for January was books. My challenge was to come up with a creative way to illustrate books.

For me, books represent the communication of ideas, so I started coming up with a list of ways in which communication has progressed over time. I ended up with image above. The howling wolf on the pillow, hard-bound books, paperback books and last but not least, the kindle.

Books are old friends, to be treasured, read over and over, and shared with human friends. In short, communication.

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Water Drop Experiments


Originally published on 01/16/2016

For the past two weeks I have been experimenting with how to take pictures of water dropping into a bowl. It has been a humbling experience; it is a lot more difficult than it appears. I started using a turkey baster to produce my drops. It was too difficult to get the drops to fall evenly. So, I built an apparatus using a pump siphon and some old chemistry equipment I had hanging around the garage. Unfortunately, using that equipment has justified the collection of junk I maintain. 🙂  I channeled my chemistry/physics teacher inner self by keeping a lab book of my attempts.

Learning how to do new things is an excellent way to review and improve your photography skills. It is a reminder that we all had to start somewhere with lots of trials and tribulations. Even though this does not represent my best work, it does demonstrate the first steps in becoming proficient in a new photography technique. I will post more in the future on how the water drop adventure is progressing.

Here is one image that sort of worked. The water was coming out in a stream. That’s why there are so many bubbles. This was an excellent way to explore using my new camera with an extension tube. I think that I will buy a burette to make the drops drip better for my next round of experimentation.


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