Sunday, February 28, 2016

Duward's Glen and Natural Bridge

This is the second year that I've gotten together with some 'younger' good friends of mine that I've known ... well for a long time.

Last year we explored the Devil's Lake area and they introduced me to Parfrey's Glen.  We explored Pewitt's Nest.  I only live an hour and a half from these places but it seems even with best intentions, I don't get back during the summer.

Saturday we started our hiking tour out with Duward's Glen. The Glen is retreat and conference center. If you are looking for a spiritual getaway, this would be the place.
This is a 3 exposure shot of the gorge rock wall.

We followed the creek that runs through it and explored.  It was very peaceful and the sound of running water was beautiful.
In spots winter was still trying to hang on despite the warm temperatures.

We even found a frog.  I don't ever recall finding or seeing one in February.  But there he was.

I don't know why but I found one of the moss covered walls simply interesting.  I tried a long exposure with it to see if I could get 'streaks' of water.  Water was coming down the rock and dripping off the moss.
It just looked like the moss was leaking water.

Maybe I just loved all of that green!

This area of Wisconsin is very unique.  Here is a child in the photo with the 'canyon' wall behind her.

We piled in the vehicles and headed over to the Natural Bridge State Park.  
I live in the driftless area of Wisconsin and enjoy some very wonderful rock formations in our area.  I had yet to see this rock bridge that was formed by Mother Nature.

The hike to the bridge was not very far, but I can see that the forest and the surrounding rock formations will be more interesting to me in the early spring when the hepatica, blood root, and spring beauties will blossom.

I found it disturbing that despite the sign that explicitly asks people NOT to climb on this rock formation, kids and young adults were doing just that.
Or my other pet peeve.  Letting your pet run loose when you are supposed to keep it on a leash.

We spent time looking at the lichen on the rocks ...I was trying to see if I could do a decent macro shot with my 40-150mm lens for the Oly camera.

A tripod would have helped and I carry one, but tend to skip it unless I am shooting a longer exposure of water.  

Moss sending up new shoots into the sunlight.

And the cedar trees that grew in these rock formations just fascinated me with their shapes.

I did a hand held exposure bracketing with the Oly.  I really like this tree.  I think I took several shots of it.

The two girls helped me set up Doe, Bo, Wild Troll, Stinky, and Dino for some photos before we left the Natural Bridge State Park.

Bo and Stinky try to have an important conversation with Doe and Dino.  Dino insists that he is a nice guy and only wants to date Doe.  "See," he says, "I can be a veggan!"

Wild Troll looks on and thinks about weeds. He is a happy Troll.

The family I went with consist of the mom who was one of my Horseless Horse students in 4H many years ago.  She and her husband and I have been friends ever since.
Now I get to enjoy hiking with them and their children.

More on our last stop for the day in another blog.  I'm not giving this place's location away.  The hike in and out is challenging to say the least.  But as we found out, it was extremely worth it.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I can't believe she did that ~by Morris

She asked if I wanted to go for a walk.  What a dumb question.  It would be like I asked her if she wanted to breathe.

I pounced around and put on my most adorable face.  She leaned down and stroked my head and told me how cute I was and how grey in the face I was getting.

I sat and looked at her.  She was no spring chicken herself, but I didn't tell her that.  I didn't even mention that she had lots of grey hairs now on her head too.  Only she wears a stocking cap in the winter to cover it up.  
At least I wear my age proudly!

Off we went.  We ran into coyote tracks right as we got into the Dexter's Summer Pasture.  They crisscrossed the leftover snow.  I got busy and tried to smell them all.  They hadn't been around since last night, their scents were old.

She went out ahead of me and we followed a deer trail to the creek. She explained that she was looking for antler sheds.  I think she just makes up excuses to get out and hike.
That's okay, as long as she takes me.

We spent quite a while at the Big Ice Wall.  I love to climb it because she can't.  I am nimble and fast.  I can scramble right up the ice and go on the deer trail above the rocks.

She was fascinated by the fact that she found some hollow ice. The run off from the other day ran over the top of the ice strip and there was just a small amount of water still running underneath it.

Um.  Okay, but I didn't think it was much of a big deal.  
I certainly was not impressed.  It had no good smells in it and no coyote tracks which made me very happy.

We went pretty far down the valley.  She followed the creek looking at places that had tracks in the mud and in the snow.

We came to a place that has some big rock formations above the creek.  I came and stood on her feet.  Coyotes. Raccoon. 
I could smell them, they were bigger and wilder animals than me and they lived somewhere close.

She studied the ground for a while and then looked up into the rocky area.  There was a tell tail [or tale] trail of muddy footprints. And they sure were not mine. 
I stood and quivered, then put a paw on her leg.

Uffdah.  She can be dense sometimes.  Finally she got the hint and we moved on.  I kept a wary nose out and didn't get very far from her.
I'm not stupid.  There were coyote tracks all over the place and they were fresher than the ones in the pasture at home.
Coyotes see me as a meager snack.  I don't find that very amusing at all.

I am glad she carries a pistol to protect me.

When she started to take photos of the little creek, I stuck very close and I can't believe she took one shot that shows my butt! Oh my!

See how my tail is down and I am hunched?  I am watching for those evil coyotes.  Especially the one with the super huge feet that She calls Big Foot.

After all, that Monster could have been anywhere.  And here she is taking pictures of the water.

We finally turned around and headed home.  I was never so happy about that.  There were several places I had to stop and nibble on smart pellets.  I just love to hear her get after me for that.

When we got near home, she picked me up and carried me so I wouldn't get all full of mud.  I even tolerated her toweling me off when we got in the house.

I heard the couch calling my name, so I jumped up on it and made a nest with my blanket.
All was good.  

If my memory serves me right, after the snow is gone, she'll want to look for more sheds and start looking for signs that spring will come.
Those coyotes ought to be out of their mating season so it will be safer for me to go into the woods.

For now, I'm going to snuggle into my blanket and dream about smart pellets and walking in the creek.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Playing Around, Still Life

I'm working on week six now for the Still Life class.  This week's lesson is more on lighting, natural lighting, and props.

I realized that while putting my knickknacks away last spring in prep for the remodeling, that I put some of my favorite 'props' away also.

I wonder if I should dig them out and just use them and then stick them back in what ever big tub I stored them in? Or go find something else?

I have some ideas that are not all coffee cups, textures, and flowers.  I do like using these items, but I don't want to do the same thing over and over.

I want to try some other things.  
Toys, crayons, old curtains, a doily, and a little bird ... I don't know.  This is one I like better only because it is cheerful and reminds me of children.

I have a shot I really need to do over again.  Props are my old glasses, pages of my grandmother's journal, and a horse blanket.

Here was the "idea" but I just really did not like how it turned out.

And another idea...

Well, this one will be a do-over also.
I just haven't figured out how to get the elements I want in this shot.

Perhaps just a bit, spurs, and the carousel horse?

I'd really love to go riding Siera instead but we are in the terrible slippery mud season. 
Perhaps I need to clear my head and take Morris on a mud run.

Then I can come back and toss around some more ideas.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Little Rascals!

I like the fact that I keep getting neighbors with kids!  It is like getting a free pass to play and be silly.

Big puddles are amazing to kids.

Mud is even more intriguing.

I went over to visit my ex-neighbors in their new house about 20 some miles away.
Mom locked the door of the house and then realized she didn't have the key.
So we went hiking as planned.

I was introduced to the huge quarry that was on their land.

And of course, tree climbing.

We made a fort in a nice sunny spot while we were waiting for someone to show up with a key to get in the house.

All the spare gloves I had in my trunk ended up wet and muddy.

The views from the ridge where they live were astounding.  Blue skies, fluffy clouds, sun shine, melting snow...and lots of fresh air.

I had two days of hiking with children.  It is amazing how fun it is to see the world through their eyes.

And of course, I had to bring a camera!

I love having little rascals around!

Especially when we can find exciting treasures!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Big Melt!

I took my Olmpus OMD M5 to take shots out yesterday.

I was again impressed.

I did some experimenting to see how well the Olympus would do with IR photography and long exposures.
I was not disappointed here either.

60 second exposure:

This is a line fence of my neighbors.  Morris and I finally got chilled enough to get off the wind blown ridge and down into the valley and creek area.

The sun came back out and warmed us up.

Morris is forever the patient assistant.  He will sit near me after we've been hiking a while and wait patiently until I pick things up and am ready to move on.

We were headed back home along the trail when I thought I heard the faint noise of water.
Naw, it couldn't be!

I called to my 'assistant' and he came running.  We were off to the rocky dry run.

And indeed we were in for a treat.  I set my camera bag with the Nikon in it on a log on the home side of the creek bank and then proceeded to climb rocks towards the sound of water with my Oly in my sling pack.

I was able to hear the sound of water coming off the ridge above.
So I thought I'd experiment.

I decided to try and use the video option on the camera.

This is the first time I've actually gotten a few good clips of the water run off.

I grabbed a few shots and then decided that I'd best head home.  My feet were cold and the creek was filling full of water.

Morris waiting for me:

I saw that look.  He was giving me the stink eye and wondering why I hadn't crossed yet.

Just one more shot Morris!

A longer exposure of the brown water swirling with the snow....
and then a shot of the creek bottom that had been empty just a half hour before hand...

This had been my second hike of the day.
I think I was pretty worn out, as was Morris by the time we got back home to do chores and make supper.

It was a great day.
I think I will be sad to say goodbye to winter.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Lighting and Still Life.

I explored some side lighting this week for week four of my Still Life studies. The above shot was a test shot with my Olympus OMD M5 to see if I could make it work in a still life situation.

The answer is yes.

I shot these on a plastic tub with a white sheet thrown on top of it.  The tub is full of things that we are temporarily storing due to the upcoming remodel of our house.  I layered a photo of cracked paint over it and the lettering.

Here is a shot with my Nikon D5200.

I like the harsh shadows created in this shot and the coffee cup handle.  I'm pretty sure that I won't do a white sheet again as this one has nice wrinkles in it but the lines show up in a disturbing way.
So I decided to try some layering.

Icky!  This layer just makes the sheet look dirty and cast a yellowish shadow over everything.

So onward.  

Better but the sheet still takes away from this shot.
One more edit to take the eyes away from that?

Better, but I should have changed things up for this shot.  I say "DO over!"

While studying light and side lighting, we were to try diffused lighting also. So I set my little .10 cent birdy up on the dresser near the window and dropped a gauzy shower curtain over the window.

I went for the black backround and bottom.  I used a black poster board and curved it so the subject sat with total black around it.

I took a few shots [Nikon D5200].  And I really like this.  It doesn't follow the rule of thirds nor is there a limited depth of focus, but I wanted everything to be in focus this week.  
Bucking the lesson, so to speak.

Yes!  I like this!

I saw no reason to change a thing.  I like the diffused light, I like the white on black, I like the subtle shades of pink, the reflection in the glass dish, and the starkness of the image.

For me? Perfect!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mirrorless Olympus OMD M 5 first impressions

I started looking at other cameras after lugging my most beloved and excellent Nikon D5200 around earlier this year in a sweet little sling pack.  
I love hiking and I took the time to hike Wildcat Mountain's Old Settler's Trail and Hemlock Trail.

There are some reviews of these trails that call the somewhat difficult.  Other reviews come them quite difficult.

Since I am now a 'native' of the area after living here 20 years, I am used to our hills and steep valleys.  It makes going to a place that is flat and well groomed rather boring.

However I missed the days when I had only a pocket camera and hiked.  Lugging the extra gear for those awesome shots took some of the joy away from the hike itself.

I have a fairly lightweight Olympus E 420.  They don't make them any more, but after over 10K clicks, I am wondering when it will give up the ghost.
I started by just browsing around and looking at mirrorless cameras.

Fuji makes an excellent one and I was lusting after the Sony a6000.  I even looked at Nikon.  Then I looked at the Olympus OMD M 5.  It is fashioned a bit like a retro film camera and looks very similar to the Olympus OM1 made in 1972. 

I had a Minolta XD similar to this one as one of my very first cameras.
I was able to take some excellent photos with this camera and enjoyed the fact that I had to figure out exposures.
This one is of my youngest son on the first day of school in 1990.

I did enjoy photography 'back then' and was pretty careful about figuring out exposures, settings, film speed, aperatures and the best lighting.

My sons playing with our pygmy cross goats.

Well imagine the nostalgia of finding this camera as a digital mirrorless camera.
Oh how I lusted after the OMD M1 when it first was introduced in 2013.  A weather proof camera?  Light?

I recall turning to my husband and saying. "I want that!"

The first OMD M 5 ran about $1,499.  Ouch, too rich for me.  But one can still hope right?
I found that this model was being 'discontinued' and replaced by a new model.
The price had dropped!  And I ordered it from B&H Photo. I will plug them ... I've never had an issue with B&H and they make sure their packages are signed for.
I've always had great quality items from lens caps to filters to lenses and cameras.

Off I went with snowshoes along the Old Settler's Trail.

You are here
This is was fairly demanding even on a groomed trail.  In places it was slippery.  But the lightweighted backpack made it much more of a pleasure.

Foot bridge

This is the foot bridge over a steep gully.  The OMD has a touch screen for focus and shooting.  The screen in back can tilt so you can get as low as you want without trying to break your neck.

It also has an electric view finder, which I didn't like at first and by the end of the day and the hike I turned it off and used the back screen only.

I found I was able to set up photos quickly with the menus once I figured them out.
Lines and angles

The bright snow and the deep shadows produced some difficulty in getting a correctly exposed shot.  I was able to change the metering and adjust for this after some experimenting.

The white balance was more accurate in RAW or .ORF format and slightly blue tinted in .jpeg.  Overall though it was comparable to my other cameras.

I decided on the way home to stop at Winchell Valley Bridge over the Kickapoo River and see if I could get some slightly longer exposures and how easy would the manual selection work?

 ISO 200, f22, 1/6 second

4X ND filter

Both of these shots were taken at the same exposure.  I set the camera on the rail of the bridge and flipped up the back screen and simply touched where I wanted the main focus to be.

Easy peasy.  I felt like I was cheating.

It only took 3 hours for me to decide that I absolutely love this camera and will be taking it on most of my hikes.
I do have yet to try a few more things.
How will it preform with a macro image?  The lens is a 12mm-50mm lens.  I went with this lens because it also is rubber sealed and weatherproof.

I may end up adding a prime at some point.

My other test will be a few shots with an Infrared filter.
And a long exposure...long long exposure.  This camera allows you to watch your shot expose on bulb shots.
You can set it to update the image to your specifications.

That sounds totally cool.

Happy shooting!