Month: August 2013 (page 1 of 2)

Ocotillo on a Stormy Evening

The photo below is another experiment with flash photography.  We had gotten some heavy rain perhaps an hour earlier.  I went out with two Sony flash units (HVL-58AM), aimed them at an ocotillo in our backyard, and took a number of shots.  Most of them overexposed the ocotillo.  I got this shot with the flash exposure compensation dialed back to -2.3EV.  The other exposure parameters were f/2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 640.  I increased the saturation of the ocotillo somewhat in post, but the sky was already that saturated to begin with.


Tiger, Very Relaxed

Marie noticed Tiger lying on his back earlier tonight:

2013-08-27-DSC06835-mediumHe was so relaxed that he allowed his belly to be rubbed by both Marie…2013-08-27-DSC06822-medium

…and Joe:


Meanwhile, Tiger’s sister, Freckles, was perched by the fireplace looking inscrutable.


Friday Fitness Hike

Friday’s hike started at the Dixie Mine Trailhead at the end of Golden Eagle Blvd.  We hiked out to the mine where we looked down the mine shaft.  We then hiked up the wash past the petroglyphs, meeting up with the Prospector Trail, and continuing down the road before returning on the Dixie Mine Trail. Total distance was just over six miles.

Ranger Amy stopped by to say “Hi” and to pose for a photo by the crested saguaro at the trailhead.


Amy took this photo of Bill, Bob, Janet, Linda, and me.


An early morning view of the Dixie Mine Trail.


We saw a cyclist riding the trail.


One of the many rock outcroppings along the Dixie Mine Trail:




A view of the mine tailings.  We hiked to the top of that hill where we looked down the mine shaft.2013-08-23-DSC06376-medium

We saw these saguaros on our way up to the top of the tailings.




Bill enjoys the view from the edge of the tailings.


Janet, Bob, and Bill look at the shaft as I get my tripod out.

2013-08-23-From_Linda-001-mediumBill helps me with the tripod as I attempt to get a photo of the mine shaft.  (Thanks to Linda for both this photo and the previous photo!)


I didn’t have the camera angled down quite as much as I had wanted.  This is the photo I got:


Red Mountain (Mount McDowell) can be seen from the top of the tailings.  The road below is part of the road that leads from Grassland Dr. in Fountain Hills to the radio towers at the top of Thompson Peak.

2013-08-23-DSC06416-medium There are a lot of saguaros on the hillside above the mine tailings.  I thought that the notch in the tall saguaro was interesting.  You can tell that I’m pointing the camera upwards because the saguaros at the edges lean in.



Linda, Bill, Janet, and Bob patiently wait for me to take photos…

2013-08-23-DSC06445-medium One more shot from the top of the tailings…


There is a spring near the mine which keeps that area quite lush.  We found the trail to be more overgrown than normal.  In the photo below, Bill holds up a tree branch to let the ladies through.  (Bob and I ducked underneath it.)


When we got near the mine, we found that several branches, or perhaps even trees, had fallen across the trail.  Janet points up at the tree from which one of the branches had fallen.

2013-08-23-DSC06455-medium Janet ducks underneath the fallen branch.


Approaching the large petroglyph panel…2013-08-23-DSC06464-medium

Two more views of the panel of petroglyphs…

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Continuing on past the petroglyphs…


A largish boulder in the wash somewhat past the waterfall area.


Bob climbed a short ways up a slab on the side of the wash.  This could be a useful skill in the event of a flash flood!


A forest of saguaros can be seen from the Prospector Trail.


Janet and Linda hike back along the Dixie Mine Trail.

2013-08-23-DSC06548-medium A nice looking saguaro amid a rock outcropping along the Dixie Mine Trail.


McGonagall Close-Up (aka McGonagall’s Mug Shot)

I was playing around with the Sigma 50-500mm lens last night at 500mm in manual focus mode.  I was unhappy with the focus that I had gotten yesterday on the kitten, so I decided that I had better learn how to focus more accurately.  In the photo of McGonagall, below, I focused on her right eye (the one that’s more open).  Exposure parameters were ISO 1600, f/6.3, 1/20 sec, in aperture priority mode.

It probably would’ve been a more pleasing photo had I not done an in-camera crop of her ears, but I wanted to use the lens all the way out at 500mm since that is what I’ll need to do to get photos of outdoor wildlife.  That said, using a somewhat shorter focal length would have provided a somewhat wider depth of field.  Perhaps it would have been enough for McGonagall’s nose to be in better focus.  Note that her eye is tack sharp though.


Tortoiseshell Kitten

Below is one of Minstrel’s kittens, from her most recent litter.  This was shot from inside the house, through the (not very clean) glass of the patio window at 500mm, f/6.3, ISO 3200, 1/640 sec.  I went with a higher ISO to try to get the shutter speed up.  For this particular shot, I could’ve probably dropped it down to ISO 800, but I was shooting a mix of kittens on the patio and some out in the yard or on the wall.  I needed ISO 3200 for the patio shots.


Fountain Lake Waterfowl

I saw this duck and two of its friends close to where I had parked.  Amy tells me that the ducks are all Mallards except for the white ones.  She says that those are barnyard ducks / Mallard hybrids.

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I then walked around the Fountain Lake looking for more birds to photograph, but did not see many until I found this one hanging out by herself.


I continued around the lake, not seeing any birds.  It turned out that many of them were gathered around this guy who was feeding them.


Good catch!

2013-08-18-DSC05795-medium Amy has identified this white bird as a Great Egret.


This one wasn’t really flying – it was just sort of hopping around.  It’s a shame that it wasn’t in better focus.  Amy says it’s a Grackle.


Amy tells me that the large bird is a Canada Goose.  The small one is a Red-winged Blackbird.


More ducks…

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We saw some helicopters while hiking a week ago, Friday.  Bob asked me about how the photos turned out yesterday.  I told him I wasn’t happy with the way they turned out, but that I’d work on one of them and post it…


Friday Fitness Hike

Linda, Janet, Bob, Bill, and I met at the Horse Staging Area (in McDowell Mountain Park) for Friday’s hike.  We hiked a 7.25 mile loop.

The sun had not quite risen yet when I arrived.  Linda took this photo of me taking some predawn photos using my tripod.

2013-08-16-From_Linda-015This is one of the photos I got:

2013-08-16-DSC05005-mediumIt’s amazing how much the sky can change in just a few minutes…

2013-08-16-DSC05083-mediumLinda’s photo of the sky just before sunrise:



A view of Red Mountain, just after sunrise:

2013-08-16-DSC05128-mediumAnother pre-hike photo taken just after sunrise:



I had seen this area from the Technical Loop before, but we found a road that brought us closer.

2013-08-16-DSC05143-mediumI like this photo from Linda…

2013-08-16-From_Linda-020Janet noticed the remains of a dead saguaro with an interesting looking protrusion at the top.  I think this might be from one of the arms when it was alive.

2013-08-16-DSC05163-mediumLinda took a photo of it too…

2013-08-16-From_Linda-021A dead tree in Stoneman Wash:


We noticed some very green and healthy looking trees in Stoneman Wash, but none of us knew what they were.  Below, Bill, Janet, Linda, and Bob pose in front of one of them.


Two more views of Stoneman Wash…

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Senna flowers on the Pemberton Trail:


Meteor Shower

I went out to the top of the Hilltop Trail at McDowell Mountain Park last night to observe the Perseids meteor shower.  I set up two cameras using a 30 second exposure on each one. The cameras were set to do noise reduction (dark frame subtraction) which requires an additional thirty seconds of processing time.  Thus, I was taking roughly one photo per minute with each camera.  The actual rate was slightly slower than this due to occasionally moving a camera, changing a battery, or checking on exposure, etc.

I stayed out for roughly four hours and saw several spectacular meteors, one which arced across half the sky overhead.   Unfortunately, for most of the really good ones, I either had the camera pointed at the wrong place, or the shutter was closed at the time the meteor fell.  I have a number of shots which show meteors, but only one decent one.  This meteor is good, but it not as impressive as some of the others I saw last night.

For this photo, I used a 24mm Zeiss lens (A-mount) on my NEX-7 set at f/2.0, 30 sec, ISO 200.


Sunday Bike Ride Photos

Clayton, Mary, Marilyn, and I went for a bike ride today.  We rode out Pemberton, up Tonto Tank, over on Pemberton (again), and then up Coachwhip to the Windmill Trail.  Mary, Clayton, and I rode out to the actual windmill and then turned around where we met up with Marilyn who had just gotten to the top of the Coachwhip Trail.  I took these photos on the way down the Coachwhip.

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This one, below, is just a crop of the one above.