Sunday, June 25, 2017

Night Moves

The alarm beeped and I reached over to turn it off. Dang thing.

What did it go off for? Who set that alarm for 1:30 am? Oh. I did.
I was going to get up and see where the Milky Way was and I'd set up my camera to try a shot of the night sky.

I had pre-focused my Nikon D5200 just before sunset and had it locked on infinity in hopes that using the 35mm prime lens would give me enough sky to capture some stars.

I shot this at a 20 second exposure with an f stop on the lens of 1.8 and an ISO of 100.
What I saw on my screen afterwards was nearly totally black.

I took another shot on the other side of the house looking north.

I could see a bit more of the stars on my screen. But I wasn't happy with it.
So I changed up the settings and did some light painting.

I used a LED flashlight for about one second on this shot, just clicked on and off quickly.
I could see this on the monitor.

So I tried another experiment. I wanted to take a shot of the porch.
Note to self. Once I took the camera off from the infinity setting and used the Auto focus to take a shot of the skull, the camera would not focus for me. I even tried manual focus.

Frustrated, I set the exposure to 10 seconds and then flipped the little flashlight I had across the porch...

Early this morning the alarm went off at 1:30 again. I sighed and shut it off. I shut my eyes and soon I was wide awake. I glanced up through the window and the stars were bright. The weather folks were wrong!

I grabbed the camera. I thought I'd set it up properly.

I hadn't. The focus was off and I didn't know that until I opened the photos later this morning.
However, I do know where the Milky Way is around 2am now.
And have an idea of where to get shots of it from the yard.

So I will set things up again for another try tonight.

Settings for these shots were 20 seconds, f 1.8 [35mm lens], 640 ISO and 800 ISO.

Tonight I will set up the 35mm lens again and set up the 18-55mm lens to see if I can't get a wider angle.

My husband thinks I am certifiably crazy.

I say, I need to keep experimenting and challenging myself.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Long Day

It started with a trip to the ridge to enjoy the morning purples and the emergence of the summer sun through the fog. I checked out black bottom creek and it was so dense with fog that there were no opportunities there at all.

I moved Annie and Valerie to a holding paddock. They are being sold soon.

This lot looks barren because the mules had used this spot for mud bathing and standing.
However the Dexter cattle love to strip burdock so it is a good thing! They have cleaned up the ox eye daises in their other summer pasture and will devour nettles if I knock them down first.

These cows are the forest gleaners and do an excellent job.

I finally got tired of looking at the mess of the west yard. It still needs to be landscaped and is a mess of lumps bumps and weeds with some areas that are washed out. Rich keeps saying that he will get to it.

I attacked it with the weed wacker. I'm getting better at it. I even trimmed around the garden before I nearly ran out of gas. That is my stop point. If I keep going and going the tendons in my forearms will be extremely painful.
My intentions were then to mow around the back of the red shed with the mower.

I chose instead to have a late lunch with my sweet guy and after a glance at my garden, I decided that a short siesta was in order.
I guess that is one good thing about being home all of the time. I can afford a short rest before heading out again.

I walked past the mower and it begged me to push it and make it roar. However I decided to do something enjoyable.
I caught up Fred and cleaned him up. He got his summer haircut.

Sundance pushed Siera and Sunshine out of the way when I put Fred back. I worked on her tail and ended up cutting it shorter. She was not receptive to the clippers but she also ended up with a summer haircut.

Rich helped me. I decided that was enough for the day and spent some time grooming Sundance before putting her away.

I then went to get 15. Her paddock had gotten muddy and she needed a grooming plus a drier place to be.
With her done, it was time for chores and other things.
I walked by the lawn mower again and assured it, its day would come soon again...and again...and again.

I called the neighbors and asked if they'd like to celebrate the Summer Solstice by lighting a couple of Chinese Lanterns.
And we did.

And the day ended full of joy with children's laughter and cattle complaining about being moved.

Such was the Long Day.

Monday, June 19, 2017


Well the big day arrived. Daryl and I left the house at 6:30 AM and grabbed some KwikTrip breakfast. We knew we were in for a long day.
We'd discussed strategies for shooting the wedding.

We'd gone over the list of 'must have shots' by the bride the night before. We both had our lists.
We went over indoor strategy and out door bright sunlight was going to be a challenge for sure. A wedding photographer's nightmare can be bright sunlight and deep shadows on faces.

Daryl likes shooting landscapes and water. Well we both love 'water' shots and macros of anything we can find to 'shoot'. Bugs and spiders or fungi and flowers. It is a fascinating world of little things out there.

But this day was going to be his first time at a wedding.  During our ride we sort of talked about things and tried to envision obstacles we'd run into. It was nice to have someone to bounce ideas off from.

I have a love/hate relationship with wedding photography. I love it while I am doing it and obsess about the photos I'm taking and worry about it so much that I really sort of hate it.

Because if you have ever been involved in a wedding you know that nothing really goes as planned. And if you try to follow a rigid list you will end up tied in knots.

Fun things do happen. We had come early so that Daryl could meet the family and they could get comfortable around him.
I've known the father of the bride for 9 years. We worked together until about 5 weeks ago.

We started with all of the shots we could of the Venue and the bride getting ready.  We had some fun with the children that were going to be in the wedding party.

Daryl was so patient and good with the kids. 
There was the moment when the bride got upset over something and I followed her outside. 
We talked and I reminded her that this day was hers, that she and her husband to be were the main focal point of the day.
That no one would recall what someone else in the wedding party may or may not do.

In the end, those who came to the wedding ceremony would only recall one thing. How beautiful she looked walking down the isle to meet the groom.

I knew that once the wedding ceremony started that the best laid plans would fly out the window and it was going to be a 'shoot' hard, shoot fast, shoot like crazy. Run around in the heat and dodge people to get that shot.

Duck and weave. 
Wedding photographers have the hardest jobs. They dodge well wishers and cell phone photographers as well as anyone else with a camera.

I once did a wedding where I turned the camera on the audience.
There were about 7 people milling through the audience with long lenses and various types of DSLR's. 

A word about having a second photographer. This is a godsend. I choose Daryl because he is from a different generation [nice way of saying that he is young enough to be one of my own kids..and that I am an old codger...] and he has a different perspective on things than I do.

He comes up with unique ideas that I would not have thought of.

Daryl stacked two long folding tables together and then took all the table clothes we could find and we made a make shift 'studio' for the shots of the dresses and the rings.
The following is a merged shot of the veil and the rings...both of these shots also done by my partner.

I should have moved the tables when I took a shot of the bride and used the table clothes for an appropriate back round...however. Best laid plans and all of that...

The room was busy and everyone was rushing around. I grabbed some more shots.

She was pleased with the edited version.

I had told Daryl that he would most likely get done with the wedding and decide he would never ever do another one. And then after he had forgotten the pressures of the day and how tired we were at the end of it all, well he may think about doing it again.

And of course we couldn't help ourselves but include something fun.

Did everything go perfect? Oh gosh I don't know. I do know that I enjoyed every second of the hours we put in. I had a great partner. That made all of the difference in the world.

Would we do it again? Oh yes, I think so.

Friday, June 16, 2017

15 Must be a Princess in Disguise.

Rich noted that 15's halter had gotten muddy. I brushed the mud off and went to get one of our string halters.

He shook his head. He wanted her to wear the bright pink halter.

"She is used to it," he said.
I shrugged. She had never pulled back or has she ever acted up in any manner in all of the time we've had her.

The day was going to be brutally hot and muggy. Her paddock is in the sun during the hottest part of the day.

I offered to put her inside during the hottest part of the day. Rich thought that was a good thing to do, but felt it might be too much work.
I shrugged.
"The more she is handled and led about, the better she will be," I said.

He still wants to finish her training. However he isn't quite up to that yet. She does ride, but not in the manner we'd like to see.

I led her out of the paddock and into the large shed. I put her in the pen and pulled her bright pink halter off.

I turned on the exhaust fan and went to leave.
Rich went rummaging around.
15 nickered at me and I tossed her a flake of hay.

Pretty soon Rich came back with an old box fan. He mounted it on a metal stand and strapped it into place.
I looked at him curiously.

He motioned towards 15 and then at the air surrounding us. "It will get..." he stopped and tried to find the words. He motioned as if he were fanning himself.

"Hot?" I asked.
" in here," he concluded. "Air for 15!" He flipped the switch on and 15 walked into the breeze of the fan and stood.

I had the vision of her posing to let her black mane flow in the fan's air. She then turned and looked at us as if to say. "I deserve this."

I wanted to laugh.
Rich nodded and was content.

I thought. "This little bay horse has him wrapped around her hoof."

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


I finally got out this morning and parked at my sunrise spot.

I have hesitated and not gone most mornings because ... well, Rich had his stroke early morning. Had I been gone at work or had I gone for an extended outing of sunrise photos, well...
the story would be different now.

I was happy I went as it seems today will be rainy. Well, that is what the weather folks say.

The gnats were horrid though.

I tried a long exposure combination and you should have seen my arms swatting at the gnats trying to get into my ears and into my brain...ewww...

I'm sure if anyone could have seen me they would have thought that I lost my itty bitty mind.

And maybe I have and maybe I haven't.

I rushed through what is normally about an hour of watching the sun come up and enjoying the views.

But I still had a beautiful quiet time.

And everything was fine when I got home.

Monday, June 12, 2017

What about Bob?

I had some very favorite animals here on our place.
All of them were quite loved.

But here is Bob.
Quiet and gentle Bob. Bob is 14 years old and the father of Sundance.


As with any stud one should always be careful.
Bob stays because Bob is just...


I can handle him and take care of him. He has perfect manners.
I thought about gelding him, but the vet said it would be risky. So Bob doesn't leave. That is quite the commitment. Bob could be around for another 20 years easily.

I was asked recently why would we keep any of these animals? Fred is aged 30-something. He has been with my husband since he was 2 years old. Fred, that is...
Plus the grand kids have all learned to ride on Fred.

Siera. She is a fine gentle 12 yr old mule. She has a gentleness around children that makes me sigh. And my grand kids can ride her. Ariel rode Siera last year and they got along quite well.

Sunshine. Sunshine was born literally in my lap 17 years ago. My mare Cheyanne was having trouble and I went out to help her. She has matured gracefully and has become one of my best rides ever.

Mica. Mica is ride-able aged mule, but has some health issues. She will stay here until her health takes her away.

But Bob. Why on earth would you keep Bob? A Donkey Jack?

And I say. Why not?
Besides, Bob thinks I'm a good person.
He even gave me a cockeyed grin yesterday after his bath and grooming session.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

15, The Wonder Horse.

Well. The pressure is off. The equine are sorted out and a huge hay bill no longer looms on our horizon.

However that is not the point of this blog.

 I called the mule gang out for a brushing session.

 After brushing, they wander off...except...

Siera who decided to heel me and ask for more attention. 

Lil' Richard cleans up the rough spots

Rich felt pretty down when the others were loaded up and left. I felt a pretty huge sense of loss and change. However, it was necessary.
Pedro went with a team penning gent who fell in love with his color and attitude. Pedro, Willy, and LeRoy are headed off to school. They will have jobs to do also.

I went to the paddock where I am keeping 15 right now for easy access. She goes inside when it the sun is hot in her paddock and comes out for most of the day.

After supper was cleaned up I told Rich that I was going to brush 'his' horse and apply some bug spray to her legs. I would also like to pick out her feet and practice with her a bit more. 
With all the changes in the past three days, I thought a distraction would be nice.

Rich came with the spray. He'd been complaining that it was too hot or too buggy, or too...something and had been ready to go in for the evening. Afternoons are very hard on him. He says that his brain tends to 'misfire' late in the day. And it does. Late afternoons and evenings are tough.

Once he got into the paddock with 15, she perked up and her eyes and ears followed him. He talked to her and told her with mixed up words what he was going to do.
She listened to his voice and relaxed as he sprayed her with fly spray. And she didn't move a muscle.
I took the halter and lead rope off from her and handed them to Rich. 
I turned to leave her pen.

Rich didn't leave. 

He began to run his hands all over her and talk to her. I think she loves his tone of voice. She doesn't mind it if his words are mixed up, she doesn't care if he forgets part of a sentence or stops mid sentence because the words won't come. 

She stood like a statue while he walked around her and talked quietly. He then put his arm around her and leaned into her. She didn't move.

Then he put most of his body weight into her side. She simply sighed and licked her lips.

This from a man who has never had a particular fondness for horses. 
He has always liked them, and treated them well. But mules were his 'thing'. 

15 makes him smile. I think she makes him feel whole.
Who knows?

And does it really matter? 
All that matters is that she is the little Wonder Horse.