Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What I learned at the Range

No that is not me now...that was me when I was about 3 or 4 yrs old!

But I thought it would be a fun photo to share while talking about what I learned yesterday at Range Practice.
First let me say that for my part time job, I am an armed security officer.  That is all you need to know.
I do like the job a lot.
Each year we need to qualify with our weapons and we need to put practice time in at the range with a shotgun and a glock.

I learned that all of my practice at 'taking' up the slack has really improved my shooting.  As long as I remember to do that with a proper grip.
I have to increase my shoulder and arm strength along with practicing racking with dummy shells for our heavy shotguns.

I learned that my 'inner' calm is good when I start out.  But the fatigue that set in with using the shotgun and the problems that caused effected how I was able to shoot the Glock later on.

Combine that with some frustrations at myself ... caused my shooting to become poorer in quality.
I also learned that the instructor I had [while his voice and manner do work me up inside] good.  He stood next to me and helped me with things when my brain became frazzled and fried.

What I also learned, is that I want to get better with these weapons so I can score higher.  I didn't walk away disgusted as I have in the past.  I left with thoughts of 
HOW can I improve?
HOW can I overcome my muscle fatigue?
How can I make parts of what I am doing become muscle memory so I don't have to think about doing ... but just do it.

So I now I have given myself a challenge.  Now I'll set up a plan and work on it.
After all, I've had some pretty tough challenges in the past.

In 2006 I had 6 weeks to recover from surgery and condition my mule for a 26 mile Endurance ride.  I faced that huge mountain and climbed it.

This shall be no different.

Thinking positive can only have positive results.  I've walked away before disgusted and defeated...not wanting anything more to do with what I'd experienced at the range.
Not so this time!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Little Things

Now that cold weather has come and we are at that awkward stage of Fall...
where everything is rather dull looking and the cold winds blow...

I thought I'd go out looking for anything interesting that I could find.

What I did find is fungi.
Lots of it in the likely places.
And some not so very obvious.

The tiny puff balls where lined up like a little family on a rotting log.

These little fungi, were hiding in the fallen leaves.  They literally covered the forest floor in an 8 X 10 foot area.

Behind our garage was perhaps the most surprising place, bright orange fungi had these small little ones flourishing amongst them.

I found these ugly ones near the base of a tree.

And these on another log in the forest.

Funny how many different kinds of fungi there are.
And funny how easy they are to find once you begin to look.  [Providing there is enough moisture for them].

It is these little things that we often overlook and forget to see them as they are...part of nature's beauty.

When the fall winds turn cold and the forest looks drab and ugly, it is time to go out and look for the 'little things'.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

First impressions of Dolica TX570 Ultra Compact Tripod with Professional Ball Head

...with Professional Ball Head.

I'm not a professional reviewer or professional photographer, but I am a hobbyist who enjoys good equipment and getting the job done.

First off, I never thought I'd really have a use for a good tripod.  After all I try like heck to avoid lugging my plastic long tripod through the woods.  I bought a small sturdy one from another company...I think it would withstand a hurricane.
I also have a very cheap telescoping one meant for pocket cameras, of which I have cheated with and used my light weight Olympus E-420 with.

When visiting my brother in Virginia, I borrowed his tripod.  It was not only heavy duty, but it worked so smoothly with my camera while photographing Crabtree Falls, that I decided at that moment to start the research for a good tripod.

I wanted one that I could carry in a backpack.  I wanted one that I could travel with.  I wanted one that would hold my camera with a long lens in any position I wish to put it.  My cheapo tripod did no such thing and it was difficult to get into position.  Sticky and cumbersome.

I chose the Dolica because it was so versatile and the reviews on it were quite good.  Well, as many as I could find at Amazon and B&H Photo, along with Adorama.  

One of the nicer features that it has it even if you loosen the quick release...even by accident, the camera still has to be released.  Meaning, it won't fall off the tripod unless you really try to make it do so.

It is fast and easy to set up.  At first you may fumble around a bit getting used to the twist release legs ...and figuring out how to lock them and unlock them.  But it took me only about 3 minutes of play before I had it working well for me.

I even reversed the legs and used the center column for shooting a macro.

I tried it out the first night I had it for a 20 second exposure after the sun went down.  [Shot facing east 45 minutes after the sun had gone down.]

I brought it inside and quickly sized it so grab a shot of Morris on the couch in the fading light.

It is taking me a bit to get used to using the ball head, but I think I'll quickly adjust.

I looked at the MeFoto and the Manfrotto brands and decided to invest in nearly $90 versus nearly $200 for banging around in the woods.
For me the price was right.
Now let's see how it holds up to snowshoeing, backpacking, and all the other stuff I can throw at it.

I'll update my thoughts as I go!

Productive Day!

Recieved my Dolica TX570 Ultra Compact Tripod with Professional Ball Head the day before.  So yesterday morning I took of with the tripod to try it out at Jersey Valley.

The results were more than satisfactory.

It was cold and frosty, but still quite stunning even with the overcast skies.  While at Jersey Valley, it flurried!

Morris went on a hike with me to hunt up little fungi.

We found more than one variety.  I got full of burrs while getting way down on my knees and ...even further  'down' to get the 'shots'.

Morris decided at noon that he was rather done in with all the fresh air.  He promptly took up a spot on the couch and decided it was nap time.

After dark we rounded up Axe and Dixie to take them hunting.  Dixie has never gone before so she was more or less 'job shadowing' Axe.

Axe did a great job.  It was fun to walk quietly through the fields and woods and listen to a hound dog bay.

One of the things I've never done before is try to take photos of a hound 'treeing'.  This didn't turn out so badly for shooting in the dark. 

We traveled about 2 miles by foot and there were a lot of elevation changes according to my Garmin.

Lastly, we rested by the creek before heading home.

Talk about a full day!
It was near midnight when we got home.

I can say the fresh air and hiking really gave both of us [and the hounds] a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Should I? Or Shouldn't I? I should!

It has been more than a year since my last 'photo book' project.  I enjoyed doing 'The Sleeping Forest' quite a bit.
Now I am looking forward to a new project.

I'm not sure what the subject should be or have a clear idea of what I'd like to do...
but I am slowly getting some ideas.

Today I will recieve a new tripod.  I've been searching and searching ever since I used my brother's nice tripod in Virginia this past month.
I decided to get one that can be very versital and can be packed around easily. 
Good for macros,
Good for landscapes,
Good for traveling in a back pack or in carry on luggage.

I came up with this from a company called Dolica.
The column can be reversed and  the legs will lay flat so I could take photos like this one... of a fungi no larger than a dime...

Or I can shoot in really low light with my Fuji P&S with a super macro and not worry about blurred shots...

I'll be able to 'shoot' waterfalls in our creek and get that wonderful blurred motion...

So part of my new project will be to scout out a spot ... probably along the creek and mark it.  I would like to take shots from the same exact position in different times of the year, or season and see how things change.

I think I may do my next project on 'The Creek' as it plays such a huge role in the lifeblood of the surrounding forest.

No doubt Morris will also be a big part of this project, after all he is my camera assistant.

He has been for years!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday ~ Mules ~ Donkeys

 Opal looking like the grand old lady.

Thor, holding up a foot.

Fred taking a mud bath.

That's it for today!
Enjoy, hope to get some time for a hike later this week.
Working a 6 day stretch of 12 and 10 hr shifts since I got back from Virginia.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Home is a nice place....

Well, the trip is done and I am home.

Morris had a fantastic trip, he'll probably tell you all about his exciting adventures with his other human family later on this week.  All I know is that when he left John and Nancy's he was not only sad about it, but also very tired and happy.

One could never ask for better people to take care of my dog while I was on vacation.
They asked when they could have him again!

It seems that fall is upon us in full force!  Most of the trees and undergrowth have changed their colors and leaves have fallen.  There are some stragglers of color which makes it still worth going out for a drive...let me rephrase that...the colors are still interesting enough for my drive to work and back this week.

I'm able to enjoy glimpses of color through the windshield as it gets a bit lighter out on my way to work.  

It is pretty much going to be a crazy few days.  I'm working 6 days in a row from pre dawn to after dark.
So much for my plans for working with Siera and taking fall photos!

I won't mind the extra pay as it will allow me to set aside some money for some things I'd like to add to my photography arsenal.  One major thing being a very good tripod.  
I got to use one in Virginia that belonged to my brother and it spoiled me.

My brother and his wife were absolutely wonderful guests and hosts, I enjoyed my visit with them so much.  I think I won't have to worry about eating for at least a week or so!

However simply is nice to be back home again.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Connection is WHERE???

Flying from Virginia.
Mom leans over and says "Haven't you got enough photos of clouds?"
I laugh and say "Never!  I need them for artwork."

She passes me the Kindle for my turn on Scrabble.  She is whupping my butt but I don't mind.  She is happy and content.

The Steward starts to say something about flights and connections, but neither of us can understand his heavy accent.  We liked 'Tom the Cabin Guy' that was on both flights to Charlottesville.  He told us exactly what was going on.

Carlos got a thumbs down in our book.

We landed in good time.  I was confident that we'd have no trouble making our way to the next flight.
Mom and I stood and waited patiently for our Valet Luggage.  We'd flown a puddle jumper to Chicago and all carry ons had to be put in the belly of the plane.

I grabbed out bags and headed up the ramp with mom in tow.
I looked at the Departure Board.
Our flight would appear and then disappear in the next second or two.  There was a blank one moment and the next it said 'Gate L2A'.

We were in the G's.  Um.
I checked with a group of American Airlines gate people.  Yup, Gate L2A.
They might has well said 'MARS'!

I explained to mom that we had a long hard walk ahead of us and told her to 'keep up'.  And that I might get ahead of her, but I would not lose her.

She was a bit upset that the connection wasn't right there like last time and kept asking why it wasn't so.  I just said, 'Follow me!'  And trucked on.  After all, my sweatshirt was BLAZE orange she shouldn't lose sight of me
We power walked.
I kept looking over my shoulder.  A few times mom looked as if she were completely overwhelmed or ... out of breath. 
I assured her again that I would not lose her.

She is 79 yrs old and will be 80 in April.  This airport thing was not her cup of tea and she made that very clear.  
We got to the gate with 5 minutes to spare before boarding started.

It was close.  I found mom a chair in which she promptly sat and proclaimed that she'd never even think about flying without me again.

I smiled, sort of.  That was a compliment, I'm sure.
I apologized for the hustle getting her to the gate and knelt before her chair and held her hand.  I told her she was a super champ for making this race to the gate with me.  That she was the coolest bestest ever 79'er.

Our pilot for the Chicago to Milwaukee flight was a good one.  Captain Amanda was pleasant and did a great take off and landing.  Her 'Cabin Guy' Mark was also extremely nice and helpful.

Airline travel.
Be prepared for anything.

Tomorrow I drive across the state to get home.
I cannot wait to get home...really, I can't!

I miss hubby AND Morris!


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Busy in Virginia

Normally I am pretty good at keeping up to date...
Whoops, shouldn't fib should I?

Okay, normally I try to keep up to date and lately I have!

I'm visiting my brother in Charlottesville and have been enjoying the beautiful fall weather here.

Odd how today I checked and the weather here will be cooler than it will be in the Midwest where I live.
In fact it will be sunny and pleasant the rest of the week while here in Virginia it will be cold and rainy.
Now that is a switch!

I've been taking morning walks and watching the sunset each day from my brother's front porch.
I should probably just say...
I love his porch!

We have been constantly busy.  I have been on as many walks as I possibly can take.  The scenery is quite beautiful. 
I haven't been to the mountains yet this time and hope to see some of it today before the rain sets in.

However this is 'mom's' trip so we've tried to gear things to what she likes to do.

I'll be putting a "Mom's Big Adventure" book together for her at some point after this trip.

This morning I'm off for new adventures in photography.  
There is a place near here that I want to take some photographs of, I will have to get back to everyone about the history of this unusual spot!

Until then!

Have a Happy HumpDay!


Sunday, October 06, 2013


Virginia.  Oregon.  Washington.
Texas...and the list goes on and on...

Everyone should visit each of our magnificent states.  They are all on my 'bucket' list.

So where did the term 'bucket list' come from anyway?

From the Urban Dictionary Site:
A list of things you want to do before you die. I believe the term comes from a Rob Reiner movie called "The Bucket List" in which 2 terminally ill men (played by Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson) go on a road trip to do the things they wanted to do before they died (kicked the bucket)...or it could be that the term pre-dated the movie (?) and that was the reason they called the movie what they did.

Mom wants to see horse racing so we'll be making a rip to West Virginia to check out racing.

I'm taking hikes and walks enjoying the countryside.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane!

But I do know when we get back again.

I got to my mom's place right on schedule!  She was as pleased as punch to have me show up.

She told me not to 'mind' the smell in her house.  She is making saurkraut the OLD fashioned way.  Letting it ferment in a huge crock. 
We immediately jumped in her car and took off.  She wanted a new pair of jeans since all of her were so faded.

Can you imagine the fun I had getting her to try on neon purple 'skinny' jeans?  They fit, but she felt it was a bit bold for a 79 yr old woman.  We finally found some pants that felt and looked good.  The lady at the changing room couldn't believe mom was 79 and told her..."honey, if you got it, flaunt it!"

Seriously, my mom is not a made up beauty queen nor is she a primma donna.  She is a weather worn woman who is as down to earth as you can get.

She can't hear worth a damn any more so our conversations are a hoot.
"Mom, what time did you want to go to Sara's to drop off the dog?"
Her:  "I really liked that pizza we had tonight."
Me:  "Mom what time should we go with the dog?"
Mom:  "I think that was a good choice don't you?  We'll have fruit in the morning!"

Grinning like an idiot.  "Okay, fruit sounds great!"
Her:  "We'll take the dog to Sara's around noon tomorrow."

Seniors are cool, gotta give them that right?

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Professional Photographer?

I've been asked now to do 3 weddings.  And I have done them as they were for people I really knew well and I was able to do 'things my way'.
Doing portraits of people have not been my 'thing' so to speak.
I don't have all the proper equipment [think speed lights, back drops, a studio].

I have done a photo - shoot for my neighbor when she wanted photos last year for Christmas cards and presents to all the grandparents.

But to go professional, I've been advised by a pro...  that you need to give up your free time, be available at the drop of a hat.
You must be willing to work all hours and put photography FIRST in your life and everything else second.

I comment on this today because I've seen 2 people that have 'gone pro' just recently.  I've looked for their portfolios and don't see any previous work.
It is like one day they are a housewife and the next day they get a camera...and go Pro.

I do like taking photos of my family and of the grandkids.  But that is on my time and with what I have.
My husband pushes at me to 'become a Pro' "You are good enough"  "You need to sell your work and promote it!"
That is not me.
I'm not a promoter.  
I'll do weddings in the future as a favor or work with another photographer and be their second.  
But I'm not going to dive into Pro-dom as I see so many people that pick up a DSLR do.

I do my nature and landscape photography for myself, because I enjoy it immensely.

Oh and if you do want to check out my artwork and other things, I do have a portfolio that can be browsed at Mulewings PhotoArt~ ... my Zenfolio account.
I have a few different types of photos there.  My Nature Gallery is the first thing you would see and then there is a Wedding Album, a Graphic Art Album, an Artsy Creations Album, and a Baby Album.

The money to be made in photography is not in nature photography but 'people' photography.

It just makes me scratch my head sometimes when people just buy a DSLR and suddenly decide that they are now professionals.

Granted, I have taken some absolutely award winning shots with my Ugly Pink Plastic Sanyo camera.
So you don't need the absolute best equipment to do great.
You need a good eye and lots of practice along with knowledge.

Me Pro?  No.  
But I'll continue to do things for fun and enjoy my photography.