Tag Archives: Flowers

Blooming Cacti

Strawberry Pitaya Bloom

Strawberry Pitaya Cactus Bloom

One of the reasons I traveled so far to visit Big Bend National Park, Texas, in late April, was to view and photograph the blooming cacti.  I don’t know what it is about being so excited to see these lovely flowers as opposed to any other spring wildflower.  Perhaps it’s because I am always so amazed to see something so prickly and painful produce something so colorful and delicate.

Engelmanns Prickly Pear Bloom

Englemanns (?) Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom

Eagle Claw Cactus Blooms

Eagle Claw Cactus Blooms

Bee and Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom

Pollen-Laden Bee and Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom

Claret Cup

Claret Cup Bloom

Strawberry Pitaya Cactus

Strawberry Pitaya Cactus

Cholla Bloom

Tree Cholla Bloom

Bee and Cholla Bloom

Bee and Cholla Bloom

Two Bees In A Prickly Pear Bloom

Two Bees in a Prickly Pear Bloom

Prickly Pear Bloom

Prickly Pear Bloom

Nest In The Cholla View 3

Bird’s Nest in a Blooming Cholla

I used several different methods for achieving these blooming cacti shots – all without the use of a dedicated macro lens:

  • Canon 70-200 or Canon 100-400 telephoto lens zoomed in at their longest focal length
  • Canon 40mm “pancake” lens with a close-up filter attached
  • Pentax WG-3 point & shoot using its macro mode
  • Canon 24-70mm at the 70mm focal length with the image ultimately cropped

Prickly Pear and Chihuahuan Desert

Blooming Prickly Pear and Chihuahuan Desert Scenery in Big Bend National Park

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Filed under Big Bend, cactus, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, Spring, Texas, Travel, Travel and Photography

Bouquet and Wedding Rings

Bride's Bouquet and Wedding Rings

One of the things the Groom’s mother most wanted was a photograph of the bride’s wedding and engagement rings. The Groom’s mom was soooo excited to know that someone good (that’s *moi*) was taking lots of photos; she recounted to me how she only ended up with 8 decent photos of her own wedding and she wanted more for her son and new daughter-in-law. I was happy to oblige.

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Filed under flowers, Photography, wedding

Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

Although I have a full plate of things to do around the home during the 2012 three-day Memorial Day weekend, I still tend to get a little stir crazy if I can’t go out and photograph something during my time off.

While I may bitch about living in southeast Texas (being a gal from the mountains, I’ll always be doing that), I readily admit that it’s rather nice to have two very interesting photographic ops right at my back door:  Brazos Bend State Park, and the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.

Right after visiting with my mother on Saturday morning, I grabbed my cameras, loaded them, tripod, and myself into the car, and drove the 20 miles south-southeast to check out the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.

Map

I’ve been there before, but that was back in 2007 (if I remember correctly).  At that time, the road to the refuge center was only paved for maybe 2 miles, and the remainder was all gravel.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find that now, in 2012, the entire road to the refuge center is paved.

For the photos you see here, I used my Canon 5D Mark II cameras and my 16-35mm and 70-200mm lenses.  I carried everything in my new Lowepro Fastpack 350, which, btw, is AWESOME!  I am going to Mesa Verde NP and Arches NP later this year, and wanted something that would carry a camera and long lens, as well as water, snacks, etc.  Ok, sorry, I went off on a tangent.  The 16-35 lens was attached to the tripod for landscape shots, and I hand held the 70-200 lens (with IS turned “on”) for the wildlife and more close-in images. I find I hand hold this lens more often as not, eschewing the tripod ring.  I was pleasantly surprised upon post processing that I really only had to do a very little editing for light/brightness and a teeny bit for sharpness details on some (but not all) of the photos.  The light was just right that day – very sunny but with some interesting clouds.  So I kept the ISO at 200 and the aperture around 7.1.  Oh, and I gotta tell ya, a long lens is a must-have for this area.  Unlike Brazos Bend State Park, there are not many places to comfortably get up close and personal to the birdlife, and there is slim-to-no parking alongside the one-lane gravel road past the refuge center.   My 70-200mm was ok, but what I really needed was a lens 400mm or more.  But….one makes do with what one has.

Next to the refuge center is a boardwalk across Big Slough (pronounced “slew”), leading to  a plowed path called Big Slough Trail.  I didn’t go very far down the path because:

1)  The mosquitoes were horrible (they must have been as large as egrets!) and I forgot to wear bug repellent (I was in too much of a hurry to leave the apartment and that is one of the things I forgot, although I did remember to apply sunscreen and grab a hat).

2) As  far as I can tell from my walk and the map, this trail doesn’t  lead down to the water’s edge, which is where you really want to be to get those bird shots.

So I did some landscape and flower photography along the boardwalk before heading out along the gravel-road auto tour.

Note:  the Texas wildflower book I own is total crap and didn’t list half of the flowers I photographed.  I ran some searches online and couldn’t come up with much either, so many of these flowers won’t have captions to them.  If you think you know what the un-captioned flowers are, do let me know.

Sea Oxeye

6983_Sea Oxeye

Tropical Sage

6992_Tropical Sage

Unknown seed pods.

6996_Seed Pods

Unknown yellow flower.  There were a number of “look-alikes” in my useless wildflower book, but none of them really fit this image.  So I don’t know what these flowers are called.

7067_Unknown Yellow Flower

Unknown little white flowers.

7099_Unknown White Flower

Unknown red flowers.

7115_Texas Flowers

7122_Unknown Red Flower

Basketflower (at least my wildflower book has something).

7151_Basketflower ORIG

7182_Basketflower Hiding

7204-2_Basketflower

Unknown white flowers.

7165_Unknown White Flower

Unknown little purple flower.

7191_Unknown Purple Flower

Big Slough views from the boardwalk.

7632-2_Big Slough View3

7635_Big Slough View2

7638_Big Slough View REV

Big Slew inhabitant

7000-2_Dragonfly CROP

7034-2_Dragonfly On Branch

7107_Dragonfly and Blue Ripples

Nope, I didn’t see any American alligators.  It was hot already and I’m pretty sure they wanted to stay in the water to remain cool, rather than sun themselves in the growing heat.

After my visit to the refuge center boardwalk area, I climbed back into the car (followed by hoards of mosquitoes) and started along the gravel road auto tour.  It’s basically one-way, although they don’t have arrows – instead they have signs with numbered stops (which means there is probably a tour guide within the center  that I should have gone in get).  It’s practically impossible for one car to pull over to allow a car from the opposite way to pass you….as I can attest….

7220_Path To My Car

7662_The Trail

Texas coastal marshland and wetlands as far as the eye can see.

7654_TX Coastal Marshland

7667_Reflections

7675_TX Wetland

Gull-billed tern taking flight.

7358_Gull Billed Tern in flight

Ibis in the water.

7419_Ibis In The Water

Red-wing blackbird.  You can’t  see its red markings in these photos but I did when it spread its wings out.

7421_Red WingBlackbird ORIG

7421-2_Red Wing Blackbird

Ahhhh…..Progress (??)

7352-2_Progress

If any of you are interested, I just published to my Blurb Bookstore a 150-page journal titled Texas Coastal Images.  Half of the journal is filled with totally awesome photos taken in such places as Brazos Bend State Park, Port Aransas, Padre Island, and the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge and the other half is nothing but blank lined pages for writing/artwork.  It would make a great gift for yourself or someone who is a fan of coastal Texas landscapes, flowers, and wildlife (mainly birdlife).  Click on the book link on the left side of this blog and it will take you directly to that particular book in my bookstore.  You can preview the pages of this journal and see for yourself the Masterpiece that I have created.

Hey, it’s all about marketing! Winking smile

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Filed under birds, flowers, nature, Photography, Texas

Tulip Town

5080_Yellow

The last time I visited the Skagit Valley tulip fields was back in 2005.  And I left in a huff after capturing some really cool photos because I (and a number of other people, photographers and non-), were yelled at by what I assume was the foreman of the tulip pickers.  We’d parked before they opened and our bodies were in the way of the pickers (they weren’t, I’m here to tell you).  We all understood the deal and that obnoxious cretin didn’t have to yell – all he had to do was simply ask us to please move our cars because the parking area was not yet open.  That would have done it and none of us (read: me) would have been bent out of shape. I vowed never to return and I wrote a letter of complaint to the organizers of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  There was no sign, no nuthin’ telling us the area was not open.  And apparently none of the tulip field owners or the tulip festival organizers were photographers, else they would have known that sunrise and sunset shots of the fields are the best, so there should be at least one field allowing people (who might buy their bulbs or their  cut tulip bouquets) to come and set up their tripods.

Fast forward to 2012.  I decided – now that I understood most parking areas were not going to be open at sunrise-thirty AM – this year would be a good time to break my promise never to return, and actually go back to the tulip fields.

Although I try to have no expectations, I guess for the tulip fields, I had way too many.  I do admit to being tired on the day of my arrival, having driven a little over 3 hours from Mt. Rainier National Park up to the Mt. Vernon area (about 60-70 miles north of Seattle).  I did capture some really nice images (I think).  But….well….it just wasn’t what I thought it would be.  When I lived in Seattle some 17 years ago, I remember there being more than just 3 fields, which is the number of tulip fields I found that day of my arrival  (Ok, I didn’t look too hard, I’m sure there must have been more).  Only one of those fields was open and available to the public:  Tulip Town.

Quite the little enterprise, is Tulip Town.  For $5, you can park your car, enter and walk through a huge tent full of cut tulip bouquets, a couple of food stalls, a couple of art gallery-type stalls, a few tables and chairs, and then find yourself out among a couple of small tulip fields.  Although walking between the rows was prohibited, people were allowed to get as close as possible to the flowers.  They even had a tractor trailer to ferry people around  (for a fee, I believe).

It’s been a very cool spring up there (ironic, since it’s been an exceedingly warm spring here in SE Texas), so the majority of the tulips were not in bloom or only just beginning to open up.

5169_TulipField

The red and yellow tulips were in full bloom, so  I have a lot of red and yellow tulip photos.

94C3501_One Lone Red CROP

5120_Red Row

5104_Red Row

5163_Red

5150 Red Tulips CROP

94C3508_RedRow

94C3498_Yellow Rows

5088_White Tulips

The day was sort of ho-hum, but I could discern a little bit of detail in the uniformly-spread cloud cover, so with my Lightroom 4 gradient tool, I managed to get that slight detail/drama to show through in some shots.

_MG_6329

For these images, I used a 70-200mm lens and my trusty 24-105mm lens (for the close ups).  I don’t have a macro (next on my “to buy” list) at this point in time, so no really close close ups.

I left satisfied with my image captures.  No dramatic sunrise or sunset with the mountains and foothills in the background.  No barns surrounded by tulips.  That was ok, though.  I got photos of my favorite flowers and I was content.

5174_Fuscia

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Filed under flowers, Photography, Travel, tulips, Vacation, Washington State

What I Did On My President’s Day Vacation

I just finished reading the latest post to Rob Slaven Photography on what he did over the President’s Day holiday.  He was out taking photos.

I too had the Monday off.  I spent it before my laptop, working on photos already taken; I uploaded all sorts of photos to my Google+ site, my Facebook Page, and my Flickr site.  I also wrote and published a couple of blog posts, as well.  I always feel prolific during my days off because my weekdays are so hectic and stressful.  All I want to do when I get home in the evening is eat dinner, watch the nightly national news, then go to bed and zonk out by 8PM (hey, I get up at 4AM each morning, so to pack in enough hours of sleep, I go to bed pretty early – it has to be something really special to keep me up past 8PM).  That doesn’t leave much room for working on photos or posting them to any site or blog.

Here’s a sampling of photos I uploaded to my various sites.

0052-2_Bleeding Hearts

2668_Salmon and Water

2718_Salmon Run

2923_Glowing

2820_TeaRose

3581_WindTurbines

8930_Falls Creek

7027_Sun & Clouds on Mourne Mountains_tonemapped

8653_Dunluce Castle 5-29-11_tonemappedREV

7242_Dunluce Castle_REV_8-17-11_tonemapped

Enough fun for the time being.  Time to log in to my office computer for a little bit of work.  After that, I need to figure out what outfit to wear tomorrow, get my breakfast and lunch ready, and in general get back to the workaday world mindset.  Sigh.

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Filed under Photography

Just Testing

I’m testing various and sundry methods of setting up multiple photos within my posts that allow for  clicks on my photos to take the clicker to my photography website, gallery, and (ahem) storefront.  One of the blogs I follow: Travel Photography by Dmitrii Lezine, commented that he uses Windows Live Writer, which links to his WordPress blog, and he can upload multiple photos rather than one per post.  So I thought I would give it a whirl.

PurpleFlowersWet

PinkTulips

Ok, let’s see how this works…..By golly, it works!

What you do, once you set up Windows Live Writer, is link it to your blogsite, so that any post you type on Live Writer gets sent to your WordPress site, with all your regular WordPress theme, widgets, etc.  To insert the photos, you click on Live Writer’s picture icon.  There are several ways to insert a photo.  I tried to insert it via web/Smugmug directly, and I couldn’t get that to work (dunno why).  So, I went into SmugMug and clicked on the photo I wanted to insert, and copied that photo’s URL.  I then went back to Live Writer and inserted that same photo from my computer, right clicked, and hyperlinked the photo to my SmugMug gallery using the URL I previously copied from the photo in SmugMug.  After publishing this post, I clicked on each photo and voila!  Each time I was taken to my photo website (via SmugMug) where the XLarge size of that particular photo was displayed.  I could close out of that photo and I could see all the other photos in that particular gallery.

Thanks, Dmitrii!

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Filed under Blogging, flowers, Photography

Point-and-Shoot Beauty

This post is for all of you out there who own or have ever owned a digital camera that everybody calls a “point-and-shoot”.  It’s digital, but not an SLR nor is it a “prosumer” camera (well, not really).  It’s a camera that we carry in our purses (I do), use on vacations, take various and sundry “snapshots” (as opposed to “serious photography” – hah) and own when we maybe can’t afford a SLR (although those things are coming down in price).  It’s the kind of camera people own when they don’t think they are very serious about photography and don’t want to involve themselves in the post-processing of their photos.  It’s the kind of camera that alot of (sometimes snooty) photographers pooh-pooh over.

OK, granted, SLRs definitely have better resolution, more lens choices, and alot more bells and whistles for a photographer to play around with, but I am here to tell you that you can get beautiful images from your point-and-shoot.  That fact was made crystal-clear to me when I attended a half-day seminar in Houston hosted by Nikon about 5-6 years ago.  The speaker (a well-known photographer whose name I absolutely cannot remember right now) had a 16 x 24 enlargement of a turtle taken with a 3mp camera he once owned.  I don’t know what kind of post-processing magic he used to get the size and resolution he got with that enlargement, but the fact that the image was captured using a point-and-shoot was what got all of the attendees’ attention.

I owned a sucession of point-and-shoot cameras long before I ever could afford to purchase my first digital SLR.  My very first digital camera was an HP-brand 2mp point-and-shoot and was my first foray into digital.  After that, the only time I ever used film for any further length of time was when I went into my medium-format phase.  After my HP camera, I bought a couple of Minolta Dimage point-and-shoot cameras between 2002 – 2004.  The images below are from those two cameras.  Of course, a little freshening up with some post-processing was applied, which doesn’t hurt a point-and-shoot image, by any means.  Oh, and (the 2004 images, anyway) look quite nice as 8×10 framed photos, btw.

If you like these images I shot using those early digital cameras with resolutions between 3 & 5mp, just think of the kind of images you can capture with today’s point-and-shoot models!

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Filed under Photography, Point and Shoot