Saturday, October 31, 2020

Always learning/close to home

Regarding Covid-19. Our trauma center is asking people to stay at home as much as possible. The doctors have asked that family indoor gatherings be avoided. 

Our own county is trying to recommend that also.

I don't mind so much because I am one of the lucky ones that can stay home and I have acres and acres of woodland surrounding us to explore. However, I miss my trips to places for hiking and photography. 

I thought I'd go back through my archives and look at what has changed for me in photography.

Here is a photo I shot in August 2016 at Eau Claire Dells. At that time I was into using the longest exposure I could when photographing fast moving water. The one below is a 15 second exposure. And although pretty neat, it is also pretty dull.

Most of the time I take several shots of the same scene with different exposures and at the time I really liked the smooth look of the water.

Now? Meh. I liked some more 'action' to be seen. I found the following shot exposed at just less than a second.

This shot has a lot more umph to it. The water has a sense of flowing and reflects the colors of the trees on the opposite bank. It isn't dull looking.

What changed? My taste for different exposures and sitting and learning editing techniques. 
There is a huge argument by some against edits. And as an old user of film, I was against edits for a long time. Do it right the first time was my motto.

So I decided to work with the old 15 second photo and see if I'd learned anything. I know when I sat on the rocks in the middle of the river, I had a 'vision' of roaring water, bright leaves, and an awe of Mother Nature all bouncing around in my mind.

I was seeing this in my head:

A warm August afternoon. 
And yes, I can still hear the roaring in my mind!

There will always be that argument regarding editing. But in truth, I feel I've had the debate myself and have decided that if it is my vision, the edit works. Photography becomes more of an art form than a recording of events.

Though there sure is a reason to record events!
Think street photography, or like one of my photography classmates photography. 

Or like this... the deer that wandered into the yard last night and the moon later on...

An interesting technique that I haven't tried yet is one where you blend different exposures together.
Uffdah. That requires some heavy lifting from a software program like Adobe Creative Suite or Adobe Creative Cloud. I can't afford to pay monthly fees so I stay away from the program.

There are so many programs out there! Wow!

Anyway. Last shot and then I am taking my little pocket camera and going hiking. The morning light is fantastic.

From yesterday's morning walk with Charlie.

Have a safe weekend. 

The rest of this week is going to be work, work, work. Clearing dead and living Buckthorn Trees from one section of the pasture. 
Lots of fun!

That time of year again...

I get motivated to get out some decorations and take photos of them to look creepy. Some folks don't like Halloween. I'm pretty ambivalent now that we live in the middle of nowhere. As a kid I loved to dress up and go trick or treating. I'm aging myself when I say I did it in the 60's and 70's. 

I had fun doing makeup for my boys when they loved it too. 


Meh. It is just another day of life on the farm. However I do grab the creepy dolls and the skeleton decorations and gather them up for some fun.

Creepy Dolly

Creepiness in the Woods...

Stranger things...

A sense of Bizarre...

and the skull that wears a 

Be safe and well.

Happy Halloween if that is your thing.

Friday, October 30, 2020

The Death of my Old Faithful Camera


I started to get these every once
in a while...see below...
so I knew it's time was 
coming to 
an end.

The Oak Tree was the last shot ever for my Old Olympus. I have no idea how many shots or 'clicks' were on it. 
Apparently there is something called a Shutter Count. Being a mirrorless camera, the count may last longer? The mirror doesn't have to flip up and down each time you use it.

Truthfully, I just read about that on some site regarding shutter life expectancy. 

The camera was having issues for quite a long time. However, being raised by a mom who believed that you had to get the 'goody' out of anything ever owned, I kept using it. It only worked in Program Mode or in Manual Mode for the past two years. 
That was fine. I don't think all the 'modes' are really necessary any way. Program Mode allows the camera to act a bit like Auto and pick a general setting that should work for the scene. Manual allows so much more control.

Anyway, I digress. 

Since I got the Old Oly, I have almost used it daily. I took it with me all of the time. It bashed around in my backpack. I'd purchased a nice sling pack for it which had a zipper failure so when I slung the pack over my shoulder the camera tumbled out. That was after I'd owned it for only two months. 

After two more zipper failures, I tossed the sling pack and opted for modifying a regular backpack for carrying the camera. 

Even the Little Soldiers couldn't fix it. The pronounced it a goner.

Of course the electronics just shut down. The cost of repair would be nearly two to three hundred dollars. 

I think I will wait to send in the camera I will replace it with, ---- my other older Olympus until after the election. I think the post office will be overwhelmed for a bit right now handling ballots.

I leave you with a couple of my recent favorites from this camera just before it gave up the ghost.

There is not a lot of opportunities for Infrared during the winter. However I think black and white IR light would still be stunning in a black and white type of landscape.

So why is it that I am having such a hard time parting with my old camera?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The First Snow & Charlie


There is always some childlike excitement over the very first snowfall of the season. I can't wait to get out in it and explore.

Rich generally gets pretty grumpy about it.

Last year it was October 16th. The snow came down in beautiful big chunks!

There was still a lot of color left on the trees and in the woods. Here a sumac shows off its brilliant reds.
I gathered my gear and got ready to head out.
Charlie crept closer to the little camera bag and gave me huge soulful eyes.

I reached for his electric collar [he wears a collar I can buzz to call him off from chasing squirrels, chipmunks, and deer. He stands only 7" high and is too easy to lose in the woods. I did that because I did lose him once and it took me a long time to find the little bugger who was tracking goodness knows what!] The Daschund in him makes him a voracious hunter. The Pekingese side of him makes him a lazy couch King.

We headed out and Charlie's reaction was one of pure joy.

He was into instant mouse tracking mode. Or anything he could smell mode.

If you didn't know how tiny he was, you'd think he was a huge dog. He is watching and listening for something to chase.

At the creek he tried chasing a small trout that was flitting about in the water. I don't think he could figure out what was making the splashes. Eventually he went under the log to dig a bit.
I sometimes wonder what goes on inside a dog's head. His/her thoughts must be only in the moment. 

Maybe that is a good thing right now.

Charlie doesn't keep an eye on me like predecessor dogs have. Dixie the big hound dog would run off 20 or so yards and then bound back to be at my side and slobbering into my hand.
Morris would find a perch and watch over me. He'd glance back if he were leading on a trail to make sure I was coming.

He is his own dog.

My job is to keep an eye on the little wanderer. Though he has gotten so much better with recall. The buzzer helps distract him. 
And if I holler out the magic word: Cookie???

He comes on the run.

I let him run around and have his smell-fest in the creek for a while and then started back towards home. It was late and the light was fading. 

Charlie trotted through the open pasture nosing lumps of grass and weeds. I imagine he was looking for mice. Once he finds them, he will simply just sit and stare.

I had to take a photo of how much different the meadow looked from the day before.

By the time we arrived home, it was time to get on with the chores.

I had some elderly mules calling my name.

Fred and Mica, they eat separately from the others and get Senior Feed.
Fred is somewhere around 34 ish, he is the little bay. Mica is in her late 20's and has always been a hard keeper.

The red headed sisters.
Funny how they group themselves.

And the bays. One is a horse, the other is Siera.
For whatever reason, these two hang out together also.

Charlie ran to the door. I let him in where he greeted Rich and promptly laid down in front of the heater.

I shut the door behind me as I heard Rich asking Charlie, "So how was the snow? Did you have fun?"

I smiled.
I don't ever recall Rich conversing with one of our pets over the years. He likes dogs, but he never was a fan of a house dog.

Yes, Charlie was worth it. The funny little dog that wormed his way into Rich's heart.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Poo oh Poo!

No one wants to talk about it. 

Let's just say, my husband takes meds that need another med to control his ummm, bathroom activities. Most of the time things go rather smoothly. We have low flow 1.6 gallon flush toilet. New 4 yrs ago. But now things have changed.

I'm pretty sure it isn't the toilet's issue. Hubby has some dementia so he doesn't recall what happens when ... ahem, there is a huge voiding due to meds. He just hits the flush and BAM.

The first time it happened in August, it was a weekend. The old fashioned plunger didn't do squat. It isn't built for the newer toilets. I read and watched alternative ways for unplugging 'material' with dishsoap and hot water. Or Baking Soda and Vinegar. I solved the first plug in about 6 hrs. I became a quick study of the YouTube Videos. 
Of course we didn't have a 'snake' and the shops were closed. No neighbors had a snake that time either.

After the clearing, the event was forgotten. I warned hubby that he needed to check with me before flushing a huge void. He forgot. I didn't pay attention to him behind closed doors until I suddenly heard a bit of cursing and him calling my name. He kept flushing desperately. 

Do you ever get that sinking feeling? Like OH Sh*t. Literally. I hollered at him, "Stop Flushing!" I burst in and was thankful that the toilet was clean but the water wasn't going down. But it also had not overflowed! 

He grabbed the old plunger and went at it with gusto until it was obvious that the old style plunger didn't work and ... he was out of breath from the effort. I gently repeated the discussion regarding old plungers and modern toilets. He said we had an old toilet. You can't really argue these things, so I just indicated that perhaps this plunger no longer worked, it was cracked and coming apart.

I grabbed my dishsoap and bailed the clean water. I poured in the soap, then slowly I poured in hot water. The water slowly seeped down taking the soap with it. I kept it up for a few hours, then swapped to the baking soda and vinegar method.

I gave up and went to bed.
Perhaps in the morning?

Old photo of our outhouse ...our back up facility. 
Well right now, a cold option, yet ...

A call to the plumber was considered in the morning. But now it was Sunday.
He suggested I run to town and find a snake. 
I did a bit more research and a bit more of pushing soap and baking soda/vinegar down with hot water.

Most biological material will break down eventually. The soap, the baking soda, and vinegar all assist in breaking down the material. Eventually the clog would break down. 
I ordered a new fangled plunger to pick up tomorrow one specific to low flow toilets.

In the meantime, let's just say we developed another method which conjures up  childhood memories of staying with my Aunts in very rural homes. The pot under the bed system.

I'm hoping that this incident sticks in someone's mind. It probably won't.

26 degrees out. The outhouse? Still a choice. 

I'm laughing today over this. 
We have a speedy internet, and all sorts of modern conveniences. 
Yet ...

I hope I get a very quick solution to this issue...before...

Welcome to my world. Where some days nothing make sense.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

The cheap kit lens...and the twins

Sometimes I pine away for a nice pricey prime zoom. You know, the one that causes lens envy?
The kind you see pros walking around with? Those monstrous long lenses that weigh so much and are so big that they need a monopod or a handle on them? I'd need a pack mule just to carry one. Yet, in the back of my mind I keep thinking...

wouldn't that be fun???

And then I think about how I hike through the woods and my goal is to carry much less than much more.

I brushed the 'dust' off a lens I hadn't used in quite a while. I got it with my old Olympus camera, the one that is dying a slow but sure death. I purchased the lens over 7 years ago. It's the cheap $99 zoom kit lens. It works 40-150mm which translates to 80-300mm on a 3/4 mirrorless Olympus.

I had at one time in my life visions of becoming a famous wildlife photographer.
Okay, not visions really, just a passing moment.
I don't have the patience to sit for hours to photograph a trophy buck, awesome turkeys, or even regular wildlife. Sure, they interest me, but I'm not one to sit still for too long.

I walked out with some hot coffee in my little travel cup and started towards the blind I'd set up just after sunrise. I'd fed the mules, the dog, and set things up for hubby. As I came over the rise I could see a doe and her fawn far off in the meadow. Too far off to photograph. See?

I needed the pack Llama and that super big lens! Nah....

I got in the blind and got comfy. I sat on an overturned bucket that I'd placed one of those miraculous warming seats. You know the kind you sit on and it warms up? I guess they work as my rear end got toasty warm.

What can I say about that morning sunlight? Just.

What could be more perfect than to have a couple of beautiful deer walk into the scene? So this was the cheap kit lens. 

Okay, not too bad right?
Then a cardinal did the most awesome thing. It landed on one of my favorite trees as I was sipping some hot coffee.
I shot through the blind window, tipping the open coffee onto my knee. 

I got a bird! I got it! I was so tickled that I didn't curse at my now wet coveralls with coffee seeping into my clothes under my old coveralls.


I sat with a warm bum, and hot coffee seeping through my clothes and thought to myself. Perhaps I could do with this ol' lens after all. There are drawbacks to it. But the good thing is, it is a fair lens for the cheap price. It isn't fast in low light. 

I was sitting there just daydreaming a bit and watching the meadow when I heard a 4 wheeler in the distance. The meadow belongs to the absentee landowner. For several years we used the meadow to graze our large herd of donkeys and a few mares. The deal was, we kept the meadow grazed and mowed for the dude that owned the land so he could walk through the meadow come gun deer season. We'd reduced our herd drastically after Rich's cancer and stroke so we no longer maintained the meadow.

Without going into a long explanation, I'll say this. People I don't know now show up on this remote land. Especially during bow season. 

Well my morning of waiting to see deer in the meadow was done. 

The dude on the 4 wheeler would scare off critters. I must admit, he was not like the 4 wheelers that trespassed earlier this year. His machine was fairly quiet.

I was done anyway. I decided to come back about an hour before sunset to see if there was any action. 
I had plenty of things to do in the house.

I came back after doing chores.

The late afternoon light was as beautiful as the early morning light. The red oak really was showing off.  

Those yellow leaves are from birch trees. How they are still on the branches is beyond me, but they sure added color to a dull landscape.


There they were ...! The Twins! I'd seen them off and on all summer in my woods via my Trail Camera. Look at them with no spots! 

I crept into the blind and was able to take my time in grabbing a few shots of them.
Nothing to show off in any magazine or anything, but they were a joy to observe as they ate apples on the other side of the gate.

And after about 20 minutes, they were gone.

I was happy. The lens proved to work just fine. It got me close and personal to the twins.

I'd photographed a bird, I'd taken some nice late season shots of the meadow.
I'd say it was all good.

Sunday? We are supposed to get snow. I may have to take out one of the weather proof lenses and enjoy some more fun.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Spooky stuff or Not

I am forever the experimenter....or is it experimentor? I like the ...or spelling better but spell check doesn't.

I wanted to try something different and new. I ran across a Seasonal Tips offered by Olympus which was fun. After all I couldn't be outside mucking about in the storms we had, so I decided to clean the basement.

You know how this works. I rearranged the tubs of clothing. I sorted the hunting clothing...I needed blaze orange for the 9 day gun season. The insulated coveralls come out of the tub and light jackets go into the tub.
Restack everything and think about getting rid of things.
Put the summer stuff under the steps in the hard to get to places.
It will be months before I get out that stuff again.

Get the winter stuff out. Oops! See the Fall decorations.
Pull them out. 
Pull out the Halloween Stuff that the neighbor kids really loved.
See the decorations for Christmas. 
Put them back. Go have coffee.
Watch the rain.

Rich gets hungry. Feed Rich. 
Storm gets worse.
Rich goes for his afternoon nap.
It is dark outside.
Sort the Halloween stuff and the Fall Stuff.
Time for Tea.

Nope, can't go out to walk.
Get out the decorations and play with the camera.
Sounds good.

Dark and dreary. Some Still Life with plastic skulls and an old jar with marbles and lights.

In the shots below I used an Art Filter to create black and white grainy shots. This is a hanging skeleton/ghosty thing. I held it by the twine string attached to the top and shot it as it slowly turned back and forth.

Just the right amount of spooky-creepy.

And then back to the skull on the table with the lights:

I tried something I'd never done before. A long exposure of 10 seconds with moving the camera slightly during the exposure [twisting it slowly on the tripod].

The result was kind of fun.

Then one with a pumpkin.

Now a lot of folks shy away from spooky creepy stuff. Be assured that is not all that is on my mind. I just like experimenting with different ways of presenting a photo. If it creeps you out, then I did my job as a photographer. I made the viewer feel something.

So if that is not your is some other Still Life photos. I am not all Creep and Scare!

And the last photo. 
To make you laugh!

I was given my Virtual WOD for CrossFit and the coach said since I didn't have a rower, I could run one portion of my workout instead. I do have to be accountable once a week and send a photo of working out to the coach.

Here is my WOD photo of the week titled: I think I need a new rowing maching!

To which the coach replied..."I think it works better IF the water is on the outside of the boat."

Stay safe.

I'll be off to find more things to have fun with. Spooky or Not.