Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Gutsy Petunia

We have a concrete patio in our yard, and this summer, we haven't exactly put a lot of effort into "beautifying" it. But there, growing from a small crack, is this gutsy little petunia that decided to take matters into its own hands:

This first shot was taken with my beloved Nikon 105 mm lens at iso 400; f/10; 160 ss.

And this second shot, just to compare, and with identical processing from RAW, was taken with my brand new Nikon 20 mm 2.8 at f.2; iso 100; 1000 ss.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Puppy Takes the Platypus

OK, I know it's silly, but here's a video of Ruby gutting a platypus, with Doug, in his special "video-voice narration" talking you through the 6 minutes. It's long, so feel free to speed through it, unless you are enthralled.

This little toy is an "egg baby." It has an opening, and you can stuff "eggs" in it; little, soft, squeaky toys that are like puppy-crack.

Yep, kids, this is what "old people" do when you leave the nest.

Brace yourselves!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

One of These Photos is Not Like All the Others

HINT* All the rest are from Valladolid, Mexico in Quintana Roo.

We had the most extraordinary excursion, one day (the spring equinox) in Mexico, visiting a cenote, then stopping in this little city for lunch, and then moving on to Chichen Itza.

Chichen Itza was the "climax", but I wanted to weep for joy in this little city. I could not press my shutter fast enough to capture the color and visual delight all around me!

This was my idea of a perfect day: five of my loved ones and pure photographic bliss!

People seemed to delighted in this little town to let me photograph them. I showed them the LCD screen, and they smiled, called their friends over to look, and seemed pleased to indulge me.

I used my Nikon 16-85mm lens for most of the photos in town.

I like how in one of the filter sections of Bridge, you can see how many photos you shot at each length. By the end of the day, 129 of the 465 photos I took were at the 16mm end of the lens.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

She's Such a Good Dog!

She's learned a lot of things in her obedience training classes and approaches all the lessons with great gusto. She shoots through the training tunnel like a rocket, and when we're asked to lure her on this rocker platform and see if we can desensitize her to the motion, she leaps on it, and will spin and twist in circles clockwise and counter-clockwise for a lick of Gerber Chicken Baby Puree. She's such a good dog!

Except when we go to obedience classes and she wants to EAT the trainers, the other dogs, and their owners. And as we approach, the other owners rush their young-uns away lest Ruby corrupt them with her wild-germs. Whole crowds of doggy gatherings disperse when we approach with our little pariah. . .

But she's such a good dog! Except when she refuses to walk when we've gotten about 6 blocks out, planting her feet in front of her, deciding it would be more fun to watch the cars go by for awhile. And the only thing that we'll convince her otherwise is to pull out an old sock from my pocket, with a squeaker ball in it, and let her carry it home in her mouth. . . .

And she's just learned this cool trick where we have her "touch" a lid with her nose, and then we give her a treat. It should come in handy if we ever want her to learn to answer our smart phones, or start the ignition on our car. . . .

Today she was a really good dog when we took her to the local farmers' market, and good to LOOK at people, but not touch them. And she SO wanted to take home so children, but we wouldn't let her. She just had to settle for playing tricks with us, in the middle of market, so that we could learn the occasional stray child to us who was brave enough to play "Sit" and "Down" and "Leave it" and "Take it" with her.

She even nicely spit out the cigarette butt she snatched (A man walking by sai!d "Now THAT's a smokin' dog!"

And she even resisted jumping into a fountain, which she desperately wanted to do (mainly because she couldn't fit through the bars all around it. Thanks,City Planners!)

If you look closely at this photo you'll see that it's also a self-portrait of sorts.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mystery in Valladolid!

Really! What is going on here? What is this?

This looks like a simple case of standing on a street corner in a foreign country and photographing workers driving by:

But look more closely at the driver. Who or what is the driver?

Is Valladolid populated by aliens? And why isn't his or its passenger screaming and fleeing?

Or is that some kind of protective headgear. . . in which case shouldn't we ALL be wearing it?

And you thought photography was dull!

The Shops outside the Cenote

Once you travel someplace, do you ever really come back to where you started from?

Shops outside the cenote in Mexico, on the way to Chitzen Itza.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Over The (Adobe) Bridge and back to Mexico

I'm reading a fascinating book right now, "Buddha's Brain," by Rick Hanson. The book is written by a psychologist who talks about how our brain benefits from contemplative practices, like mindfulness, or meditation, or brushing the dog. . . anything that activates our parasympathetic nervous system brings tremendous rewards in reducing stress and inducing a sense of happiness.

It turns out that mental activity has a greater direct influence over the autonomic nervous system (of which the parasympathetic nervous system is part), than any other system. When you stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which you can do through mental activity, you can have "calming, soothing, healing ripples spread through your body, brain and mind."

And guess what! Most of the brain's mental activity is spent on nonverbal activities, such as processing mental pictures. All this is a fancy way of saying that imagery can be a powerful anchor for well-being. So if you're feeling stressed at work, imagining a peaceful scene. . . like in Mexico. . .can bring you all kinds of physical and emotional benefits!

So, fire up your Bridge program in Photoshop and head back to someplace wonderful, and bask in those neurotransmitters!

And what better way for me to do that than through a photo like this:

In March, while we were in Mexico, we went down into a cool cenote, and is was unbelievably peaceful and tranquil, even with bats flying overhead. And look at these two lovelies, Dianna and her soon-to-be sister-in-law, sweet, wonderful, Elizabeth:

I wasn't as brave as they were to climb down the rock to the water, but watching them splash and the play of light on the water was mesmerizing. . .

Photography in a cenote is a bit challenging. Flash would bounce against the water too much, but thanks to a greatly boosted ISO (6400), and noise reduction in Adobe Camera Raw, a rock to use as a tripod, I could still use an f/5.6 setting, and 1/30 shutter speed.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mosquito Zombies of North Dakota

They are evil, and they are quick. They are North Dakota mosquitoes, rivaling our state buffalo! And they are prolific.

And they love me.

Apparently, they are no match for:

1.) 2 teaspoons daily of cider vinegar (I'll try anything!)

2.) lavender oil dabbed here and there

3.) Avon Skin so Soft bug guard (the last bastion of my hopes and dreams of not being devoured by these heartless blood-suckers)

I foolishly ventured outside and tried to do a 5 minute raid on the garden weeds, but after 17 bites, I stopped counting.

But I'm not giving up! I only applied a light spray of the Avon Skin so Soft, and started glugging Apple Cider vinegar (God Save Me!) this morning, so there's still hope!

I have read that the real defense against mosquitoes is straight DEET, plentiful and unsparingly, but I hate the smell and it scares me that Ruby, who likes to slather me in doggy kisses, would probably start glowing in the night if I use Off as much as I want, so I'm trying other approaches.

Doug, my ever sympathetic Beloved Spouse, said, "At least you don't have tuberculosis."

What makes husband say such things????????????????

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ruby's Growing Up!

Have I mentioned lately how totally cute little Ruby is? Here are some late June photos of her. . . .

She's learned a new trick! It's called "Open the front door and greet people before Angela and Doug can find my leash!" Fortunately, the Schwan's man comes prepared with dog bisquits in his pocket for potential escapees. Smart man.----smart little dog, too.

She loves this turtle toy. It's legs, tail and head are all attached by elastic, with squeakers embedded in each section, so she can stretch it viciously and boss it around. Sadly, I'm going to have to sew parts of it back together already!

If you ever come meet Ruby, prepare to be her New Best Friend, because you will be at risk of being licked to death!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

More Disney World

One of the best parts about Disney World without kids was wandering where we wanted to wander, whenever we wanted, and taking as long as we wanted to get photos.

And since I have very little interest in rides, the lines were minimal!

It really helped that Doug has now started experimenting with the D5000 while I tote around my D300s. You wouldn't believe how long he wanted to hang out in the bird areas of Animal Kingdom! (I think I've created a monster!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

30 Years of Marriage

In May, Doug and I celebrated 30 years of marriage!

And we decided to spend it at Disney World's Animal Kingdom, sans progeny. We had a great time. . . . and I have SO many photos to edit now!!!!!!!!!!!!

And finally, as of yesterday, I seem to have gotten my new computer configured the way I want it (almost).

I couldn't figure out why my photos were all posting to my blog in an overly-red sort of way. I dragged out the mammoth Color Management for CS3 book (although I have CS5), and I don't know why, but first assigning a photo to sRGB, rather than trusting the action I created to convert it to sRGB seems to be doing the trick!

But, you have to ask, does it really make sense to pick a photo that has brilliant reds to demonstrate this? (But he's too cute to resist, so I had to post him!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The 4th of Texas

There are some people, with whom, it's impossible to NOT have fun!

Robert and Barb are doing a wonderful job of making Texas, even at 100 degrees, seem so very appealing!

Of course, it helped that Robert dashed around holding umbrellas above our heads, and plugging in electric fans outside aimed at us!

(You might think I'm kidding, but I'm really not!)