Image of the Year – Monarch Butterfly

Monarch

I’ve just completed a scrapbook documenting my year in photography and photo artistry so over the past month I have looked at almost all of the nearly 12,000 images in my files for 2017. This one stood out for me to be the image of the year. I love the subject, I love the colors, and I love remembering how excited I was when this beautiful creature came along to pose for me. Next project is to go through the files again and weed out the clunkers.

And for my poetry fans, I just cleared all the poetry books out of my office and in honor of my upcoming trip to Japan I have made a new year’s resolution to do a haiku every day in 2018. So this one is a warm up:

Monarch Butterfly

Threatened by our careless ways

I am steeped in awe.

-Jeanne Hoadley

Day 35 – Coyote

Coyote

Sweet Coyote

Don’t ask, don’t tell,
Sweet coyote, desert owl.
Cactus eyes, sand-dune skin
The warmth throughout, the heat within.

-Sarah Spang

I decided that I had invested enough time at the wildlife refuge yesterday to skate a little today. And there were so many good pictures that I hated to not share them. This coyote is marred by the bit of out of focus weed in front of his/her face but given that I had only a split second to get the shot before coyote moved I think it turned out pretty well. I was convinced that I had not held the camera steady enough but the eyes are sharp and that’s what counts.

Day 34 – Snow Geese

SnowGeese

Snow Geese

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last! 
What a task
to ask 
of anything, or anyone, 
yet it is ours, 
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours. 
One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was 
a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see, 
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun 
so they were, in part at least, golden. I 
held my breath
as we do
sometimes
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us 
as with a match, 
which is lit, and bright, 
but does not hurt
in the common way, 
but delightfully, 
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt. 
The geese
flew on, 
I have never seen them again. 
Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won’t.
It doesn’t matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them, 
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

-Mary Oliver

I’ ve been trying for months to find the time and right weather conditions for a trip over the mountain to the Klamath Basin Wildlife Refuges. My calendar and the weather forecast finally aligned today so I said “I don’t care what else I have on my to do list. I’m going.” And I’m glad I did. I came home with over 300 images though I suppose most of them will have to go to the recycle bin. Those critters just refuse to sit still. But I was pleased to see some snow geese at Tule Lake and though I did see a few bald eagles and even got their portraits this image spoke to me most about the joy seeing the birds lift off in a flock as one. I thought about using Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese, which is my all time favorite but I thought “No, everyone has heard that one.” So when my google search turned up another Mary Oliver poem about snow geese, I was delighted, as I am delighted to share it with you.

Avocet

Avocet1

I went to California looking for wildflowers, which I found, but it was so windy it was hard to get any closeups and it was cloudy so the landscapes were dull. I finally retreated to the wildlife refuge where I found birds aplenty including a pair of American Avocets. Sadly I did not realize until I got home that my depth of field was too shallow to get them both in focus at the same time. So I settled on this individual portrait.

Deer in Snow

DeerinSnowW

Not much time for photography this week but this image I shot in New Mexico some years back on the east side of the Sangre de Cristo Range. It had just started to snow. Unfortunately it turned into a full blown blizzard and I was on the wrong side of the mountains!

I did a watercolor treatment on a texture to get the effect. I think this one might look good printed on wood.

Wood Duck Composite

Wood_Duck_Composite

The weather hasn’t really been conducive to outdoor photography and I’ve been busy working on my album of photos from 2016. I’ve also been thinking alot about photo composites and digital art so I decided to play around with some ideas I had about using my wood duck pictures in a composite. For the background I used a closeup of a colorful glass plate from a macro workshop a few years ago. Then I added some clipping masks from Anna Aspnes designs. And then I started bringing in the photos.  Overall I would say its OK but I’m not 100% happy with it. I would like to see the images blend into the background a little more. I think I like the ones that didn’t quite fit the clipping mask and I added color around the edges the best so that may be something to think about for future. Would I hang it on my wall. Probably. I see it as a metal print.

Mallard

Mallard

I’ve been working on a book of my favorite images from 2016 (of which only one will be printed). I already have 16 pages and I’m only on February. Yikes! Anyway, I came across this one this morning and went Wow. I guess I had passed over it previously because I was intent on capturing Wood Ducks but this Mallard turned out beautifully. I love the soft colors of the reflections in the pond and the perfect mirror image of the duck. I also love the drops of water on the duck and the detail in his feathers. Just Wow.

In post processing I gave it come clarity and vibrance and just a touch of saturation. Also a little sharpening and I boosted the exposure a little.

Red Tailed Hawk

Hawk

Rarely do I get this close to a Hawk without it flying away. This one seemed more curious than scared. I could wish it had been sitting on a fence post or tree but you take what you can get. At first glance I thought this was not a Red tail but after looking more closely I could see that though its chest is not as light as some it does have the distinctive darker vest and a look at my bird books confirmed that this has to be a Red tail.

I did some heavy cropping and converted from horizontal to vertical. I may have gone a little too close on the turn wheel and its shadow.  I tried shooting vertical from the car blind but it just didn’t work too well and with wildlife you don’t have the luxury to mess around. I can’t tell you how many “Gone birds” I have photographed in my life.  Anyway, just a little vibrance and saturation and some sharpening for the final image.