Friday, May 31, 2013

Day in the desert ...

These photos taken at the Desert Botanical Garden show the varied flora you'll find in the Arizona desert.  I find this an extremely peaceful atmosphere, even though the summer heat can be oppressive.  I intend to enjoy early summer while it lasts!

You'll see at least three varieties of cacti in this one photo.

Light seems to gravitate to some plants more than others ... and the dancing begins.

The dried pods are such a contrast to the greenery around them.

I love the way the mesquite branches frame this old saguaro!

Locals call this ... Gorilla Rock. ☺

Lonely saguaro ...

Cacti create their own shapes ... and this is a great example.

I have no idea what these plants are, but the light just makes them shimmer ... and the jet vapor trail joins right in!

The bottom line: a beautiful day in a beautiful setting!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Color in the Desert - Part 2

When many people think "desert" their vision is comprised of sand and cactus, nothing more.  Not so! Here are a few more desert flowers I saw at the Desert Botanical Garden ... more Color in the Desert.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

All creatures small and speedy ...

I'm going to have to work on my critter photography - especially the little, fast-moving guys!  These photos were taken at the Desert Botanical Garden and the fact that I even got the shots at all was a matter of luck!

I nearly missed this young jackrabbit because he blends right into the background.  Right after I snapped the shutter, he was GONE - speedy little guy!

Mama Quail is out and about ... very aware and watching for something. So ... I wondered what was going on!

Ah ... here it is!  Mama is taking her babies out for a stroll ... and they are so little!

This covey of quail amounted to two adults and about nine babies ... but those babies were movin' and groovin' the whole time and I couldn't get all of them!

Another fast mover ... this gorgeous butterfly!  The butterflies weren't very plentiful the day I visited so I was really excited to see a few.

Now this is a bird's eye view ... high atop a giant old majestic saguaro.

We all know hummers are fast, but now I know how fast! I got dizzy trying to keep one in the viewfinder!  I never dreamed I'd get a shot of this cutie - and the rest of my hummer shots were total blurs.

Here's another pair I almost missed.  These lizards were way back under the shrubs - actually too far for the lens I had to capture them well.  Right after I took the shot, they got into a fight and ran off in different directions!

Isn't it amazing what you can find in the desert?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Obedient dogs

Today my Boxer, Olly, joined a new obedience class. This class has all levels of competition obedience: some are working at the lower levels and some are more advanced. I asked my classmates if they would allow me to photograph their dogs during the long down.  When training for the down stay, some dogs have problems during the early stages of training, so it's always better to ask rather than disrupt what the handlers are trying to achieve.

This was my first venture into processing in Lightroom and shooting in RAW format.  Right off the bat, I lost my photos!  I still have no idea where they originally ended up - and can't find them.  And then processing one photo led to the entire batch being changed.  This is very frustrating!  Thankfully, I have a Lightroom workshop coming up in mid-June! 

In any case, here are a few of Olly's new friends.  I hope in short order, I can photograph these same dogs and see great improvement. ☺

Dante ...

Martin ...

Sammy ...

Luke ...

Brodie ...

Fiona ...

Isn't it funny ... I didn't get Olly's photo!  But, then, he is camera shy. ☺

Monday, May 27, 2013

Stone & Rock & Metal ...

Everything fits the desert landscape at the Desert Botanical Garden.  Everything.  In addition to plants, wildflowers, little critters, and cacti, your eyes will be drawn to sculptures and other structures that just fit.  Here are a few examples.

A penny fountain of metal with the water falling gently to beautiful desert rocks.  And, yes ... I added a penny.

This may be a sun clock - I'm not sure.  But the shadow certainly fits the time I was there.  

An extraordinary stone sculpture surrounded by desert trees and cacti - beautiful!

And now, a closeup.  Isn't it amazing how this piece - of stone - can depict such tenderness.

This metal "shade" drew my eyes upward - the lines and curves are certainly a contrast, but they compliment each other, don't you think?

Here's another study in contrast ... rebar and metal poles surrounded by the softness of beautiful desert flowers.

You could easily spend a day at the Desert Botanical Garden and not see it all - if you take a stroll rather than a run.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sharp - don't touch!

The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix is filled with desert plants ... including, of course, cacti.  I got lost trying to count the different varieties!  Some are tall and stately; some are short and round; some are purple and some are green.  While I don't know all the individual names, I know they have spines (some people call them needles) and those spines are sharp! 

I watched as one man tested the needles;  he didn't believe his wife when she said, "Harry, you're going to bleed if you do that."  Well ... Harry did bleed and his wife couldn't stop laughing.

Here are a few photos of the "we're ready for you, Harry" cacti in case you want to try it on your own. ☺

Don't let this little guy fool you ... the spines are tough!

Pretty in pink ...

I love the way the light dances on this cactus!

This is the one that nabbed Harry.

This small arm might be a baby, but it's not fun to touch.

The desert cactus can certainly be beautiful but be sure to watch your children, your pets, and yourself.  You don't want to end up like Harry!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Color in the Desert

Sometimes I amaze myself.  I moved back to the Valley of the Sun thirty years ago but have never visited the Desert Botanical Garden!  Today, I did ... with camera in hand.  And you can bet I will be visiting again.

Sometimes it's easy to overlook the beauty of the desert, especially when the temperature is a scorching 112 degrees and everything fades into a brown, drab scene.  Today, though, the landscape was like a Rubens painting.  Here is a very small collection of what I call "Color in the Desert."

I so enjoyed my visit today, wandering the trails and stopping to actually pay attention to my surroundings.  You really should stop and smell the roses.  ☺

Friday, May 24, 2013

Old Tree Challenge

The author of one of my photography books challenged readers to go out in the backyard and find one thing to photograph - just one thing.  The rest of the challenge was to find several different viewpoints.  Being the dutiful student I am, I grabbed Clyde (my camera) and the Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens; I headed outside at 6:30am ... to what I consider a very boring backyard.

I don't like my eucalyptus tree because it's a very dirty tree and parts of it are really ugly.  But today, I looked for something different and found it! 

While shooting, I wanted to fill the frame so no post-shoot cropping was necessary. Feel free to comment!  I'm learning ... and experimenting ... and I can use all the help I can get!

Early morning light on one side of the tree shows the rich earth tones of the trunk.

The gnarled base of the trunk shows the age of this tree. There are lots of different textures here - and the colors are so different.
In the midst of all the dead, shedding parts of the trunk, some life! 

Standing below, my tree looks like it reaches the clouds ... and it just might.

There's some history in this ancient tree.  One huge branch had to be removed because it was interfering with power lines.  But that sawed-off branch left a message:  "I was here."

Today, I saw that nasty old tree in a different light.  Now I think I kinda like it!  ☺

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The beginning ...

One of my goals is to improve my photography ... actually capture with my camera what I see through my eyes.  I'm learning about my camera and lenses, while experimenting with light and composition.  On this new blog, I'll be sharing the results of my experimentation.

My favorite subjects:  dogs.  They are fun, athletic, and very expressive.  Here are some recent shots of my two Boxers, Olly and Paris-Ivy.  Occasionally I have the opportunity to be with my grand-dogs, Dempsey and Josie.

I focused on faces ... Boxer faces.

This is Dempsey.  He always claims his spot on the couch!

Josie is a tiny girl, but make no mistake about it:  she is tough!

 Olly is the Head Dog and he's a thinker.

Paris-Ivy is a feisty little girl who can run the other dogs ragged ... yet she is a real cuddler, too.

My dogs bring me great joy and photographing them is so much fun!