Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gone Playing

So I've been out and about. Mostly doing photography. The weather has not been good for riding, but it has been fine for those brave souls hearty enough to battle the bugs.

I've hiked and driven around my area to find interesting 'things' to 'shoot'.
These rocks always stop me in my tracks.
3 exposures for this one along with Tone Mapping:

Brave Morris.
He always has 'great' poses and gives me many opportunities to take his portrait.
Everyone should have a dog that loves to walk with them and play.
He is a constant source of fun.

At dusk on the bridge over Tainter Hollow Creek. 15 seconds exposure, perhaps too long, but I love the way it turned out. I will have to go back and try it again.

Hot doggie went for a walk,
Hot doggie got thirsty and tired,
Hot doggie gives slobbery kisses to...
the camera lens...

Love Hot doggie!Me...in PeeWee's Valley, in the creek bottom taking a self photo...

We had a terrific storm last night. The rain gauge reads 3.5" of rain!
Looks like Morris and I will have to go out and check out the creek and perhaps visit Tainter Hollow again.

Monday, August 30, 2010

When Flowers Speak

When Flowers Speak
...we should listen.

All summer I waited and waited to 'shoot' a Nasturtium. The light wasn't right, the wind was too hard, it was raining...You GET the point!

Yesterday I pulled up and parked.
I noticed that everything had fallen into place and the Nasturtium said...

*NOW, take my picture!*

and, so, I did.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Best Buddies

When we ride, it is an adventure.
Crackers, Mule Cookies, Water, camera [point and shoot], tripod [sometimes~little fold up one for P&S cameras].

We look at the sky and leave my watch behind.

Here Morris has decided that Badger and I should give him a lift...Badger ever patient, lets me toss him into the saddle and then climb back on board.
He's been doing this for years.
We ride the first valley again looking for interesting things and interesting lighting. Yesterday was a 'scout' day, today we will pause and take photos.

Morris will meander in the creek, while Badger stands watch...
Sometimes, I think HE is in charge of the camera and tripod [shot the day before he got his mane roached]...

We stopped under the 'Tree of Fingers' and had treats. Mule Cookie for Badger. Dog Cookie for Morris, crackers and cheese for me.
Both mule and dog like crackers too.
Then I set up and do some shots of the creek bed and the beautiful light on the rocks.
This place never seems to let me down. Always something gorgeous.

...as daylight begins to fade in the woods, we head home.
Happy to be our trio of Me, Morris, and Badger.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Originally uploaded by Mulewings~
I'll probably write more...but this pretty much sums up my GREAT afternoon with Badger and Morris...

Here is a short video if you care to see it...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Big Woods Adventure

Badger said *Let's GO!*
Morris ran in circles between his legs and around Val...

Val carefully checked her saddle and made sure she had water, cameras, and a small camp saw.

They were going on an adventure in The Big Woods [aka PeeWee's Woods].
Morris jumped at Badger's front legs. Badger looked down and then dropped his head. Morris was Badger's favorite little dog. He was always silly and full of smiles. Not wired up like Val's last little dog that was always naughty.
But that was years ago.
Yes, Badger liked Morris. So much so that he'd let Morris ride in the saddle, and once he'd let Morris sit on his bare back.

He liked Val enough too, well like wasn't the word really. Adored was more like it. Even on his days that he felt yucky he would brighten and bray when he saw her at the gate. She was the 'apple' of his eye in human terms.

Val swung up into the saddle and Badger knew exactly where she intended to go. At one point Morris was having trouble negotiating the undergrowth, so Val stopped and placed Morris in the saddle.
Badger liked that, it made him feel helpful.

At the creek Morris jumped off and to everyone's surprise, someone had gone through the valley with a 4-wheeler making a nice trail to follow.
Morris panted, Badger watched his little buddy out of the corner of his eye. When Val stopped to photograph something, Morris stood under Badger for shade.
As he thought, Val was heading towards the *Back Valley* aka known as *The Lost Valley*...he simply thought of it as the place where the creek ran.

Val stopped and looked down, she jumped from the saddle and grabbed a tiny camera.
Badger took the time to nibble on leaves. Morris took time to 'water' some plants.
He liked this. The demands on the ride were easy. Val and Morris were nice to get along with. No hurries.
The road to the Back Valley had been cleared by someone with chainsaws and 4-wheelers. That was okay with Badger. Less work going around all the dead fall trees.

On the trail above the Back Valley, Val spotted a small skull. With another leap, she was on the ground next to Badger taking photos. He put his head down and nudged her so she would sit down in the dirt.
Mule Humor, he thought. She didn't even get mad. She was a good person.

Past the cave they rode and back up onto the meadow. Fresh air and a nice breeze came to Badger's nostrils.
He stood and caught his breath after the long climb out of the valley.
The view was pretty...
Badger decided that he couldn't wait for the next Big Woods Adventure.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Comparing Artizen, Photomatix, and Dynamic Photo-HDR

Below are three samples from three trial programs I used for HDR and tonemapping.
What is tone mapping?
Google it and you'll find many definitions.
What is interesting is that some call it a method of 'dodge' and 'burn'.
Some articles say that Ansel Adams was the 'father' of Tone Mapping.

Digital photographers have the option of buying a program which can do High Dynamic Range from several exposures as seen below, or Tone Map a single .jpeg as seen in the two samples above.
DynamicPhoto HDR is a fun program to use. I like its simple interface and quick response time.
I really like the fact that I can create a 'fake' or *psuedo* HDR image from a single exposure.
While not a true HDR image, it can increase the 'wow' factor of your photo.
I don't even have to leave my Adobe Elements program or Photoshop 7.0 to use the HDR filter for .jpegs~~ sweet!
Screen shot:
Price: $55.00.

Photomatix is considered by many to be the industry standard. It is a good program and gives the user a lot of room to edit and tone map an image. However you can not use one image and make a *psuedo* HDR.
The price is $99.00 and it does limit the work-flow to more than one image that is bracketed. That means to get this effect at all, you have to be willing to take your shots with a tripod.
For me, that is something that won't work all the time.

Artizen is a great deal whether you buy it or not.
*The new trial version of Artizen HDR has no demo restrictions when working with 8bit files such as jpg's, making the new trial version of Artizen a completely free 8bit image editor. Even though users will be able to tryout all the features regardless of image bit depth (8,16 or 32), Artizen trial version will only have a watermark when working with Digital Camera RAW (16bit) photos and High Dynamic Range (32bit) Images.*

Artizen price:
$45.95 Canadian

All three programs work with RAW files. I mostly shoot in Fine .JPEG. I know there are many arguments for shooting only RAW, but I don't want to be stuck editing each and every photo I take.
Also, all the photos I used for this blog entry were taken with Point and Shoot cameras!

...and remember, these are just tools to add to your digital dark room...or as I call it *my digital playroom*.

Catch UP!

This past week has been hectic.

Work was part of that hectic schedule. Odd hours bounced my life around, night turned to day, and of course the weather was exciting.

There were storms that unleashed torrential downpours and caused flash flooding...

I made Crab Apple Jelly, worked in the garden and froze green beans for this winter...
Morris and I hiked the 'forest' trail and had to take along a camp saw to open up areas of the trail that had been blocked by berry briers and downed trees...reroute our trail around washouts and other cool obstacles...

...and as always...
I took my camera and found interesting things to photograph....
now with a few days off, I can catch up on sleep and try to get things back to normal for a while!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Night Experiment

A storm was brewing to the north of us last night ... I noticed it as I stopped at the mailbox and got ready to descend into our little valley.

I drove in and parked.
It was 1AM.
I was tired.

But the storm kept nagging at me.
I wonder
could I
would I
should I?

Well, hell yes ... no time like the present.
I put my camera on a tripod and left with a plan.

I parked on the edge of a hay field and watched the storm brighten the sky.
How to focus?
Dang, I had no clue.
So I did what anyone would do.
I winged it.
I used Landscape mode.
I used Manual mode.
I used an 8 second exposure, a few 15 second exposures, and a couple of 30 second exposure.
Tap, tap, tap...I like instant feedback and couldn't really see what I was doing...

I put the exposure on 'bulb' and held it down while I watched the flashes.

I looked at the time. 2AM!
Today I put it together in Photoshop and 'stacked' the layers.
Dang, I should Experiment more often!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Night Photography~Unseen Beauty

Did you have any idea what beauty lies in the darkness?

I recently saw some shots at Flickr that had Light Painting and Night Photography.

Intrigued, I decide to do some research and reading on the subject.
Night Photography is absolutely fun and creative.

So of course I decided to try some of my own.
I went out at dusk. The light was poor...
My first shot was hand held with my point and shoot and of course not timed...it turned out poorly, but editing did help.
Experimentation in mind ~~ I drove down to the valley and parked alongside a small bridge over what we locals call Black Bottom Creek.
I set up my tripod and camera while in the car with the dome light on...too dark outside for this...and I'd forgotten a flash light!
Exposure on manual...
15 seconds.
F stop at 5.6.
Push the button, swat madly at the mosquitoes...
and you get some lovely shots!
See the headlights from the traffic on the highway [top of photo]?
These photos were taken after sunset...in the dark. I think 8:50 was the time I took this one.

My Nikon battery was on low, so I headed towards home, but stopped at another bridge over Black Bottom and decided to see how long of an exposure I could pull out of my Point and Shoot camera.

This is 4 seconds [fireworks mode]....on a tripod...
Not the worst, but I could see that a 10 second exposure would have worked very well.
At the top of the ridge, I decide to give the little pocket camera one last try...
I was not disappointed.
A tripod is really quite necessary for these kinds of shots. This last one, I simply put the camera on the top of the car and used a 2 second delay to get this.

Night photography is really a beautiful bold world...
Charge up those batteries!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dealing with Equine COPD

Dealing with Badger's COPD is a constant. The signs came on slowly and seemingly enough fairly innocuously.

There seems to be very little literature on WHAT to do for an Equine [in my case a mule] while they have it.
Badger is not a classic case in the sense that he was never stabled. But he did get into some poor hay last spring. Of course that was our own fault, but until he showed a huge reaction to it, we had no idea.

Now days with heavy humidity, high pollen [think ragweed right now~it is abundant], and the molds from the long wet summer...he has shown many days of stress.

Long term meds are not the answer.

However, I do deal with it by insuring that on hot humid days with heat warnings such as we are having today, that I move him into an area with plenty of shade and open air.
He is not surrounded by noxious weeds in this small but grassy area.
A shower with the water hose does seem to help with his comfort.

I know his vital signs. I am also familiar with his new 'normal'.
I am keeping him off hay and out of weedy areas. This seems to really help him.

There is no cure. Just maintenance at this point. He won't ever do tough trails or another endurance ride.
But on good days, he can be ridden. In fact, he enjoys it. He loves to be ridden and it is a wonderful job for him. It helps maintain his musculature and keep his lungs healthier.

However, this disease has only one outcome for equine in the end. Each day is a blessing and I try to keep a positive outlook.
Badger has not lost 'condition'. He looks wonderful and some days you really have to look hard at him to realize he has COPD.

A good article to read is called Respiratory Conditions in Horses. It has a detailed explanation of this disease and is helpful as it has charts and drawings explaining the disease.
If your horse/mule has this disease, it is worth bookmarking and referring to.

For now, I enjoy our time together.
He is a good mule and a good friend.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Emergency Euthanasia ~ Equine

Pulse: weak and rapid ~ 120 per minute
Respiration: harsh, labored ~ 68 per minute
Capillary refill: slow
Gums: pale

He was on his side in the pasture, sweating and groaning. Fluids and mucus rolled out of his flared nostrils.
He couldn't get up.
Mouth open, eyes half closed, he lay there with front legs stiffened. His back legs had given out on him.
His gut noises were non existent.

Blow flies gathered heavily on his legs. I had to brush them away as I tried to recount his vitals.
Rich pulled on his tail and tapped him with a lunge whip.
We tried to get him on his feet to no avail.
Chaps was in pain, he was dying.

Our neighbor had called us for help. She had called around for a veterinarian. The vet she got in contact with couldn't come out for another 24 hours.
Could we come and help with Chaps?

Chaps was 30+ years old gelding with numerous tumors. They'd been letting him live out his last days retired and wandering a nice grassy pasture. Apparently Chaps had gone down a few times during the past 24 hours.
But this morning he'd gone down and they were only able to get him up once then his back legs had collapsed.

I put my hand on Chaps' curled and long coat, he was hot. The heat indices for the past few days had been 100 to 105 degrees.
The horse groaned again.

Normal Vital Signs of an Equine are:
Pulse: 28 to 40 beats per minute
Respiration: 10-20 per minute
Capillary refill: with in 2-3 seconds
Gums: Pale pink

What was the humane thing to do?
Have the horse lay in the pasture and suffer for another day?
Chaps would not make it through the night, he was suffocating and in pain.

The owner asked if we would put him down.

Chaps is no longer in pain.

Being able to provide a swift and humane death to prevent more suffering is important for us to be able to recognize and do.
Death with dignity.
I knelt next to Chaps afterward and stroked his old long neck. My heart was heavy.

I'll miss his whinnying in the pasture when I ride by with a mule.

...and I know the day will come when I'll have to utter those same words to a vet or be prepared to 'put down' one of my own in an emergency situation.

Here is an interesting link to an article by the UC Davis School of Veteran Medicine, California on Emergency Euthanasia of Horses.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Little Red Mule

My neighbor stopped her large diesel truck on the road and I rode Sunshine up to her. She'd commented on Siera earlier this week and 'just had to stop and gaze at the pretty little red mule'.

I guess that means that Sunshine can make an impression even with her small stature. With Badger's health being compromised, I've been 'forced' to get my riding fixes with other mules.

Sunshine is Badger's half sister and only about 54" or 13 1/2 hands.
I always thought I looked silly on a little mule.
But I am re-evaluating that thought. I started Sunshine at 18 months, then didn't mess with her until she was 4 years old.
She wasn't always my first choice when we went riding, but hubby loves riding her. She'll also ride double with a grandchild.

So why hadn't I been riding her more regularly? Because she was a plain jane 'red' mule? Because she isn't fancy?

So imagine my surprise at my neighbor's reaction to 'the pretty little red mule'. As the diesel truck drove off and another car came barreling down the road...I thought to myself:

Here I am riding a mule that is so easy to get on,
get off,
and doesn't mind going off alone...
Why have I not chosen her more before?

Because of Badger.
How ironic that it took Badger's illness to make me realize that I had a shining little star in my pasture that I took for granted.

We rode through the darkness towards home. Me, swelled with pride on the little red mule.
...and the little red mule stepping out with purpose and willingness.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Killer Soy Beans

Siera knew something that Owner did not...
Soy Beans can be very dangerous.

They just lie there and look green and innocent...

When under those faultless green leaves was a dark pitless underworld where 'nasties' lurked to attack young molly mules and drag them under [with said owner of course]. So, Siera stood diligent, not moving a hoof or muscle while Owner urged her quietly forward.

She was NOT to be swayed. She knew things that her owner did not. The 'nasties' of the Mule Underworld lurked beneath all that green~ness.
Her concern became even greater when her owner dismounted and tried to lead her into the Soy Bean field.
She know that Owner had good intentions, and just wanted her to put one hoof into the murky blackness under those leaves...
yet, her good common Mule Sense knew better.

Siera gently pulled Owner back out of the Soy Beans, fearing that Owner would get sucked down into nothing-ness.

Corn Fields were much much different.
She proved that to Owner by marching right into a row of corn and standing still.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Of This and That

This morning I picked two 1 gallon buckets of green beans from our little garden. I was pleased.
All green beans have been processed and are sitting snugly in the freezer waiting to be a delicious addition to a winter meal.

I used to HATE picking green beans. I still dislike it. But the difference is...the beans are mine.
I grew them, it is my choice to pick them.
They are not a chore to be done, they are a labor of love.

Enough of beans.

Last night I decided to take out my camera and a flash light to try something I'd read about called Light Painting. I used a tripod, manual settings, and a flashlight with a red filter and a blue filter to diffuse the light.
20 some shots later, I thought I'd see what I had created [I had to put it together in photoshop to see what I had!].

Yes, the tractor was a fun creation. It took time and patience.

Morris was very patient with me. I think he and my husband were ready to send me to the looney bin.

Tonight I'm cooking up fresh beets from the garden also.

Goals for this evening.
Put food on the table quickly.
Since it is cool and pleasant out...grab a mule and find an adventure.

Tomorrow is another day.
I'll be at a Horse Show and visiting with family.

There will be many great photo ops I'm sure!