Thursday, February 28, 2013

Farrier Visit and other Stuff.

Today was a farm chore day.  The farrier came and all 5 mules that were trimmed behaved.  

My mule Siera was first and of course she was a perfect lady.  
My husband was sitting on a stool in the shed holding her before the farrier arrived.  She saw me and knickered.  
I felt quite special.
I walked over to stand and look out the door and she side passed to get closer to me.  
Made me feel even more special-er.
Opal was pretty good.  
She trembled and quivered for the farrier but he confused her by doing her feet out of order.  
Big smiles. 
Then he sort of criticized her for not being trustworthy with her back feet.  
I got my back up and said that I could handle them no matter what and she didn't mind.
He then pointed out that if I had an accident and someone else had to handle her she would be un-cooperative.  
He did have a point.
But at 30 yrs old ... I told him not much was going to change with her.  She'd be that way until she died.  [Which I hope is far off!]
Being clever I made up a spread sheet to keep track of all trimming, worming, and vaccinations.  Wow, I'm organized right?
Then I started messing around with Graphics and Fractals.

The day outside was crappy and I needed something to keep me occupied.  I'd already vaccumed, put away laundry, cleaned the bathroom, and dusted a bit...hmmm, better check my temperature right?

Next big job is to get hubby to clean off the table!
I mean on his side of the table, there are parts of things and paperwork, old Shopping News papers, scraps, and all his medications.
I swear, I'm not sure how he can eat with all that 'stuff' crowding his plate!

Well, off to work now, an overnighter.
At least I got a good long nap in this afternoon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Great Weekend

It was a busy weekend.
Saturday we were up and headed to visit the 'kids'.  We were getting together to celebrate Dennis's birthday.
Amazing, he is 7 now.
How time flies.

I had such  a great time with the grands outdoors.
They went sledding and then I hopped on for a couple of rounds.
Next we tracked a 'possum in their back yard where the two of them did some 'poses' so I could try out my 50mm lens.
I had to edit this shot because it was overexposed, but I like the look between the two siblings.

 Sledding was a challenge.
There was crashing.

We went to the park and the kids showed me around.
I saw these cool shadows on the side of the playground equipment.

I took more shots of the kids of course, but this was in the middle of a bit of a rumble they had when running across the baseball diamond.
Snow piling!

 No children were injured in the 'shooting' of these photos...just a bit of snow in the face and lots of giggling, yelling, and laughing.

Parents may hate the snow.
But I think if you allow yourself time to play in it, you will enjoy it!

Anyway it was off to work early the next morning and I couldn't resist stopping to see my favorite place for a winter sunrise.
 All in all it was a great weekend.
I have to get going and find something exciting to do this week.

Our Dexter boys T-Bone and Chuck Steak went to get 'processed' this morning.
We've had to delay taking them in for weeks because of the constant ice storms we've had.

Have a great week.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A little Doggone Fun

Okay so this morning since all was quiet, I removed the baby gate and decided to see what would happen.

Morris is getting better about being with Dixie in the same room.  
He used to growl and be 'owly' with her when I would carry him into the kitchen to let him out the back door.  

We use a cord that is attached to the house so the dogs don't wander down to the mules paddock and get in trouble.

See Dixie won't cross the threshold?

Morris doesn't at first, but then decides to come to Dixie on his own.
She reacts by laying on my lap [I was sitting on the floor] and acting submissive to Morris.

After I shot this, I went to download it on the computer.  Dixie quietly and cautiously walked into the living room.  
I watched her out of the corner of my eye.  
Morris was completely unconcerned and just watched her.

Dixie reached over and carefully picked up one of Morris's squeaky toys and trotted into the kitchen and went behind the kitchen table.
Morris just watched.

Dixie dropped the toy in a corner and came over to me, wagging her whole body as if she'd just finished a covert operation.

Dogs do know how to bring joy to your life!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fun with Fractals

I just came across a new Fractal program recently called JWildfire.

I wanted to try it out.  In fact I kept going back to look at it and investigate it more before deciding to download the program.  Yes, free.

Donations accepted.

It is much like Apophysis 7X in a way but...not better, but different.  If you have used Apophisis in any form you can probably get along with JWildfire.

Thank you tAndreas Mascheke for creating this program.
I'm a novice at this new program, but I like trying new things and new graphic 'art' programs.  There is quite the debate as to whether or not computer generated graphics are 'Art'.  

But to me ... yes they are.
If I can control how the colors appear and edit them in 3rd party programs such as CS2 then I have an 'artistic' control over the fractal flames.

How would you define the following creation?

The characters-- dragons were created in Daz 3D.  The backround was created in Mandelbulb 3D.  Everything else was edited in CS2.  Some folks would simply call this fantasy and say there was no artistic talent involved in it.

Yes, I 'generated' it ... I did not draw it. 

It was fun seeing what I could do with different graphic programs.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Windswept Afternoon

I thought that Sunday would be the perfect day to go back to the 'ice' cave and see what formations had come about from the recent melts and freezes.

I wore my slightly longer and newer snow shoes and was very happy that I did.  
The fact that they are slightly longer helped me stay ON TOP of the snow!
The snow has an ice crust on top of it.  Unfortunately, the icy crust and the snow shoes made quite a bit of noise so I didn't see any deer or other wildlife.

I also did not take Morris.  The coyotes are 'in season' which means they are very aggressive to domestic dogs if they get in coyote territory.  Morris can blend in with the scenery this time of year and I would rather not take any chances.  
Morris was not happy with that decision.

The ice cave wasn't very spectacular and the lighting wasn't very good for a photo.  I didn't have a long lens and in order to do the cave justice I would have had to do some pretty tricky climbing.
I decided against it and followed the steep trail to the creek in the 'back' valley instead.

The slightly red arrow points to my shadow waving!  
I ended up stashing my snow shoes and climbing down into the creek bottom itself.

There was no wind down there and the sun was nice and warm.
In the shade however it was quite cold, but the ice formations were pretty cool.
I looked further upstream and really wished that I had time to walk the entire valley.  It was very tempting.
Instead I sat down and had some snacks, took some more shots and then packed up and headed up the long hill towards the open corn field.
After spending so much time in the valley and the woods I enjoyed the walk across the ridge top and the cold breeze in my face.  
The corn stubble created a bit of an issue with my snow shoes.  I had a malfunction at one point. 
But no one was there to see me trip up and so everything went just fine.

I however was more careful and chose a 'trail' that the animals had been using.
I did use my Garmin to measure the distance and the altitude change.  I hiked 2.1 miles by the time I arrived close to home.  I'd been gone a bit over 2 hours with a lot of 'stop' time of course.

The altitude changes really surprised me when I looked at them in a graph form.  

I spent most of my time looking at tracks on the ridge in the windswept snow.
I could see where coyotes had been walking.
Rabbits trails, deer trails, tracks of mice, raccoon, turkey, and 'possum.
There were places that the hard crusted snow had been dug up to get at either corn or grass.

Winter is a great time to be in the woods.  The landscape is not hidden by foliage and everything seems bare boned.  Perfect in some aspects for photography in black and white.
It was a nearly perfect day.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happy Hiking

The above altitude map shows the GPS hike of yesterday.
We hiked approximately 1.8 miles...well, my husband did a bit further as he walked down the valley further while I had stopped to set up some shots with water and ice.

The footing was not bad.  Although the walking was very difficult.
Most of the time Thelma could run on top of the crust.

Not us though.  Each step was an effort.  I told my husband how much easier snow shoes would have been.
He doesn't have a pair though.

The plan was we'd part ways mid valley and I'd head to the ice cave.  Instead of going back home, he decided to walk further down the valley so I decided to accompany him.

I am glad I did.
I found the prettiest little waterfalls with ice formations.
I set up and more than once Thelma decided to jump on me and help.

Hubby called her off.

So I got a few more shots in.

At another part of the creek, we watched small brown trout flit back and forth.  Because of the water reflection I couldn't catch them with the camera.
But I was able to 'catch' the ripples in the water they made.

 Then there was the long walk home and up the steep trail to our place.

Along the way, hubby tried to point out racoon tracks to Thelma who was more interested in getting a pat on the head.

I could only wish we'd have more days like this!

Friday, February 15, 2013

To the Cave Today?

Most of these are from our big hike on the 13th.

I'm hoping today to put on the Bear Claw snowshoes and head back to the 'cave'.

With all the melting and freezing, the cave ought to have a wonderful cascade of ice formations.
And, I try to make it there any time there is a possibility of ice formations.

Here are the boulders that Dixie and I climbed the other day.  This is also a great place to shoot gully washers and flash floods as they pound through the dry run and over the boulders.

 Just a fun shot of Dixie in the creek while she was searching for brown trout.

 She has come a long way from being the pup who was terrified of water to a dog that seeks it out.

During our short hike I found some more of those very cool rocks called 'iron concretions'.

I collect them of course.  It seems as if they like to 'find' me.

On our way home I had noticed that the dead oak leaves are beginning to fall and litter the forest floor.  Are the trees budding now?  Or was the wind so fierce?  I stopped and watch one drift slowly to the floor.
Perhaps this is a sign of an early spring?
The chickadees called in the woods.

 Today may be a good day to go wander about and see if any deer sheds jump up at me also.

This morning's beautiful sky promises a nice cool day.
Outside the sparrows are making morning song ...

After chores, I need to pack a backpack and head out.  My husband had thought that 'this' hike that I do all the time...was 'awful' far.  By foot it can be.  Easier by mule.
But there is too much ice under the snow.

Well off to chore land!

The creatures await!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dixie's Solo Walk With Me

Dixie has graduated to hiking solo.
She has learned, 'Come' and she runs hard when I call.
She has learned 'NO!' and stops whatever she is doing immediately.

Yesterday I decided that I'd take her by herself on a walk so that I could see if she has developed some independence...and 
just chasing Morris for fun.

And, well, I had to do some more experimenting with the 50mm lens, of course.

I took the short cut across the meadow and went down the steep hillside into the valley with the creek.
Across the meadow and down the steep hill, Dixie followed me at 'heel' position, every once in a while she reached up and nudged my hand as if to assure herself that I was fine.

When I started taking shots of interesting ice formations, she hovered close.  She did not bowl me over.
I shooed her away a few times.
Gradually she realized that I was not doing something that was very interesting to her hound dog nose.
And she began to explore a bit.

She discovered that she enjoyed walking in the creek.
I don't know if she saw some brown trout or not, but suddenly she wouldn't get out and kept wandering back into the water as if to search.

[this shot not taken with the 50mm, taken with the Fuji Camera]

This was good because a month ago she avoided water like the plague and was tentative about it.

We followed the creek towards my fence line and I looked for photos, Dixie checked out the deep pools of water, I'm thinking of the trout I've seen flit around there...
we began to ignore each other, both of us busy, yet both of us checking in on each other.

Soon enough we came to the huge dry run that is filled with mossy boulders.  I'd been there a couple of weeks ago when the temps had reached 49 degrees and it had rained hard.  I'd taken photos of the mini water falls.

The boulders were covered mostly in snow, but there were ice formations.

What a good dog Dixie was to go first and find out that the snow would slide out from under neath her!

She was good and only hovered at my shoulder [of course to make sure I was okay!] as I tried to get a shot of where the water falls had been.

It made scooting around the boulders a bit more interesting.

So I decided to walk a bit further up the creek bottom.  In one spot the creek was running clear.  So clear in fact that I was able to catch bubbles from one of the springs coming up through the rocks.

This creek has many springs.
Then I turned around and saw the iced creek bottom.  It was wall to wall ice, like a glacier and it was evident where the run off had cut through it.

No adventure is complete without a shot of Dixie and her flapping ears as she runs to me.

Dixie is learning independence.
She is venturing out away from me and investigating.
She is even leading the way.

On our way home up the 'ridge' road .. she ran ahead of me and would wait.  If I didn't come fast enough, she'd come back and investigate.

Soon my training with her will be done.  Oh I'll still work on her leash behavior and her manners.

Last shot.

Where's Dixie?
Can You see her??

All of these shots were taken with the 50mm lens.  There is no zooming in and out with this lens, you have to work at composing your shots.
All the more reason to practice.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens

It came on Monday late in the afternoon ... after the town truck dribbled sand on the 'brown' ice. 

So I gleefully attached it to my Nikon D3100 and decided to take some test shots inside the house with Morris as my model.

What I've learned from this, is that I need to move around for the best shots.  I can't just zoom in and forget it.

This shot was taken with a flash [dark in the house].  But it clearly gives me a fairly crisp shot of Morris's face and gives me a nice 'bokeh' for the rest of the photo.
In the above shot, I wanted more items in focus.  I simply moved back and focused on the dog.  I read the f stop ~~ f5, which gave me a slightly larger field of focus.
The first shot was done at f1.8, so you can see the change in the depth of focus.

Next test was outside.  How would it do?  Since it is labeled by some as a great portrait lens, I wanted to try it out and see what it would do...

So I set the f stop to 5.6 and got this of the road:
 The image looks nice and crisp to me.

Next Morris and Dixie started to play and run along side the road.
I put the camera in program mode and pointed and shot quickly hoping to get something I could use.

The camera chose f 6.3 and I got this photo.

These shots were done in RAW format, edited in CorelAfterShot Pro [30 day trail] and I used Topaz Adjust 5 to enhance the shot of the dogs for just a bit of exaggerated detail.

I'm pretty sure this lens is going to serve me well.  I need to practice of course to see what its limitations are.
But I'm thinking that this lens could prove to be a handy one to have when photographing wildflowers in the woods and fungi.

It is a fast lens.

Monday, February 11, 2013

So I don't like ice.

This is what I was greeted with yesterday afternoon after the temperatures rose and the sleet turned into heavy rain.

It poured for hours.
Normally this doesn't bother me.
Unless I am scheduled to work, then it does.
I'm sorry but nothing short of having chains on the tires will get you safely out to the black top which is 2 miles away in any direction from the curve in the road.

The back road includes 2 tricky 90 degree turns that involve up and down...hills with banks.
And that is the 'good' way out.

When temps climb and it rains on very cold gravel roads, the road becomes instant ice.  Glossy, glassy, beautiful brown ice.
Dangerously beautiful.

I could not walk across the road I had to slide one foot, then pull the other over until I was able to get into the snow in the ditch and only then could I walk safely.
Under the snow, the melted snow and water was ankle deep.

Well I can say that life in the countryside is never really boring.
What I can also say is that the township has yet to come out and dump any gravel on the road.

I will probably take the less desirable way off the ridge tomorrow because I've got reports from a neighbor that one culvert flooded and the water is about a foot deep over the road.
Tonight that should become ice.

I guess I'll avoid that stretch.

Gotta love February!
Hate ice on the roads!

Friday, February 08, 2013

I do love winter, am I nuts?

Look at how the forest is laid bare, the landscape is nearly bare-boned and very simple.

There is no foliage to 'get in the way'.  Rocks reflect their snow crested mounds onto the creek.

Black and white become a natural choice for colors, stark...beautiful and simple are those shots a person can get with winter and snow.

Mundane things can become works of art.

Even dead and brown flowers are beautiful in their own way.