Sunday, 30 September 2012

Well That was Fast.

Too cheap to consider the Bounce-Wall, even before they announced the price? (UPDATE: They have since announced the price.)

A mere four days later, there is already a page up on how to roll your own version? Read more �


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Become an Independent Photographer in 2012

As 2011 comes to an end, it?s time to start planning for the year ahead. For professionals, that means looking at the most successful marketing channels of the last twelve months, understanding which demographics were most likely to hire them and increasing efforts to bring in more work and at higher prices in the coming [...]


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Making Money with Instagram

Photography: Anthony Danielle Instagram made Anthony Danielle a professional photographer. The 25-year-old New Yorker and entrepreneur went pro within eighteen months of opening an Instagram account. He now has more than 180,000 followers on the mobile photography platform and wins commissions from corporations as large as airlines to shoot events and put images of their [...]


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2012 Williams Fire & Previous Fire Perimeters

Williams Fire MODIS fire detections as of 09/04/12 1745 MDT

Here's an interactive Google Earth browser view of the most recently available Williams Fire MODIS fire detections and perimeter, and perimeters for the Curve (2002), Williams (2002) and Morris (2009) fires. This is a 3D view that can be zoomed and tilted. Fire detection overlay may take a few moments to load. Placemark locations are approximate. Requires Google Earth plugin.


Williams Fire MODIS fire detections as of 09/07/12 0800 MDT.

Williams Fire MODIS fire detections as of 09/06/12 0800 MDT.

Williams Fire MODIS fire detections as of 09/05/12 1615 MDT.

Williams Fire MODIS fire detections as of 09/05/12 0900 MDT.

Williams Fire MODIS fire detections as of 09/04/12 1745 MDT.

Williams Fire MODIS fire detections as of 09/04/12 0815 MDT.

Williams Fire MODIS fire detections as of 09/03/12 1600 MDT.

MODIS Google Earth fire data is from the USDA Forest Service Remote Sensing Applications Center Active Fire Mapping Program web site. The 2002 Curve and 2002 Williams perimeters are from the CDF/FRAP web site, and the 2012 Williams and 2009 Morris fire perimeters are from the GEOMAC web site. Copyright 2006-2012 Gary Valle. All Rights Reserved.


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Photographers Get Creative with Moo Cards

Image courtesy: Moo. Moo cards have become easy but creative ways for photographers to grow their businesses. For photographers, winning bookings depends on referrals and connections, on personality and on reliability. But mostly it depends on the pictures. Produce great images and you won?t have to do much more than show them to prospects to [...]


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Nikon D600: Think Twice Before You Jump

UPDATE 9/25/12: Upon testing, the D600 appears to have a pretty sweet sensor -- if the issues noted below are not a concern for you.

Nikon has just officially announced their long-awaited entry-level full-frame body. Full spec reports are everywhere, as Nikon seeds lots of sites with advance info and embargoes them until the hour of release. So I won't duplicate that content here.

But for lighting photographers, the camera has two issues that are of concern. One is minor and (sadly at this point) expected.

But the other is major and quite unexpected. Read more �


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Michigan landscapes

It seems like it's been a lifetime since I was up in Michigan to attend the Nettie Bay School of Birding. Much has happened since then, and it turns out that Life has taken precedence over my blog. It lingers in the back of my mind, and I often think to myself "Maybe tonight I'll get a blog post done," only to realize that before I know it, bed time is upon me with nothing to show for my mental nod toward blog-land. I admire those who can keep a steady blog regardless of the bumps and curve balls that life might throw at them.

But I digress. I'll take you back to late May, when spring migration was just falling off its peak, and I was falling in love with Michigan landscapes all over again. Dramatic sunsets, birch bark, pristine lakeside beaches... all nostalgic memories of that great state up north. Enjoy.


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Abstracts in frost

Wordless, abstract Sunday...


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Saturday, 29 September 2012

Build a DIY Portable North Light Photo Studio

Six years ago, I wrote on Strobist about how to build a $10 macro studio. Since then over a million photographers have seen how they could easily take control of light?any light?to easily produce professional quality product photos.

Four years later while brainstorming with my friend Mohamed Somji about how to light an upcoming photo project, I started thinking about how to reproduce this type of studio on a human-sized scale.

Turns out, it's not so hard. Read more �


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Hey you ? get off my mound!

One of the things that we love about game reserves is the interaction between the various animals and birds.� There is always an animal or bird that is intent on eating another one, or encroaching on the others territory.� Animals guard their territories very fiercely and we saw this quite plainly in an interaction between [...]


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Editorial Photography Goes Amateur

Photography: WarmSleepy David Hobby spent twenty years as a newspaper photographer. He studied photojournalism at the University of Florida, shot for the Leesburg Commercial, the Orlando Sentinel, UPI, and freelanced for many others. He was a staff photographer at Patuxent Publishing for eleven years and spent another nine years at The Baltimore Sun. When he [...]


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Wild Mammals around Periyar Lake


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Fairy Circles ? footprints of the Gods!

High on our bucket list of things to see in Namibia has always been the mystical fairy circles that are found in Kaokoland.� Our dream was realized on our latest trip when we were driving through the remote Giribes Plains and the Marienfluss area, and there was great excitement in the car when we first [...]


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Mother Nature airs her dirty laundry

I've never been one for pulling pranks on April Fool's Day, and I'm not about to start now. However, after looking at some wildflower photos I took today, I couldn't resist sharing a few images that are joke-worthy all on their own.

One flower that is prolifically in bloom right now is Dutchman's Breeches. Unfortunately, these pendulous pairs of pantaloons can be tricky to photograph. Being white flowers, any imperfections show up very easily, so getting a nice "clean" set of of breeches is somewhat of a challenge. Some fun can be had with the bad shots, though. Due to the way the flowers dangle on the stalk, it's easy to infer the notion of laundry hanging out on the line.

For example, the dingy pair hanging off to the right looks like it was soaked in tea or coffee for a while, and just wouldn't quite come clean. Those stubborn stains!

I call this the "poopy diaper" shot. Shouldn't take too much of a stretch of the imagination to figure out why.

I didn't come away with too many shots of this flower that I particularly liked, but here's one shot where someone got the bleach right and all the pants are clean:

Happy April! Get out there and smell the dirty diapers wildflowers!


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Periyar Tiger Reserve


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Periyar Tiger Reserve


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Friday, 28 September 2012

Hide and Seek - Cape May NJ


My plan to hide a bit and have hawks or falcons land near my at the beach in Cape May worked.

I managed to get a handful of shots of this kestrel eating a dragonfly.

Kestrel Eating

Quite Skittish - American Kestrel Eating Dragonfly

And this Video: / Jon


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A certain stillness

Last weekend was the Great Backyard Bird Count, which normally has me planning to go to different locations to count birds. That was indeed my original plan, but life had other ideas. Last Saturday morning I awoke to a sick dog, and unfortunately he did not get better as the day progressed. A time that we had been anticipating and dreading had finally come. It's hard to believe that it's been a week since we had our poor, sweet Emmett put to sleep.

Our house is now feeling a bit empty. Emmett was the last of a host of pets that Dave and I have had the pleasure of knowing over the last 11 years. At 15-1/2, he was the oldest of them all. His sister, Jupiter, passed away a little over 2 years ago, just shy of her 13th birthday.

Amid all the bird songs that I hear daily now that are a sure promise of spring, a certain stillness hangs in the air. It's hard to adjust to not having a wagging tail and happy puppy to greet us when we get home from work. But instead of focusing on the things that are difficult, let me share some happier memories with you, memories of both Emmett and Jupiter.

I didn't know them as puppies, unfortunately - they were already full-grown by the time Dave and I started dating. I met them both the first time I came to Dave's place, and they were both very accepting of me, which was something that I felt was important if Dave and I were going to be a couple. I was especially grateful that Jupiter, the "other" girl in his life, took a liking to me.

They were both very cute adults, but as puppies... well, it was just ridiculous.

Emmett was quite a little ball of fluff. It took him a little while to grow into his face and his ears, though.

Emmett in his "adolescence."

And Jupiter in hers.

They loved to chase each other and play. I can't tell who's chasing who here, but I can hear them going "nyyeeeaaawwwwwrrr," round and round in circles!

They also liked to bite on each other, especially Jupiter on Emmett. This is when they were wee pups...

... and as adults. It's a move Jupiter would repeat over...

... and over. Eventually, many years into adulthood, Emmett finally developed a strategy to shake her off when she chomped on him like this, and it was a move that I called the "butt block." Actually, it was more of a hip block, where he'd ram his hip into her to get her off of him, but "butt block" sounds way more fun.

This isn't to say that he didn't get his own chomps in on her, though!

Their exact lineage is unknown, but "husky mix" was the breed reference we always gave. Having husky blood meant they liked to roam, often quite far from home. They always came back, but Dave and Jupiter one day learned the hard way that some folks don't take kindly to having strange dogs on their property. Jupiter got shot in her rear left leg, and fragments of the bullet stayed with her until the end. Living on 8 acres in the country made containing the dogs a challenge, to say the least. A radio fence was employed after the shooting incident, but both Emmett and Jupiter were masters at finding ways to get through the field of the fence, and they were always testing it, waiting for those times when a rodent chew or a deer run-through caused a break in the line, leaving the whole system down.

The day Dave asked me to marry him, the dogs "broke out" and came over into the field where we were (across the road from the house) to congratulate us. They didn't want to be left out! This was one time that we didn't mind that they were naughty dogs who disobeyed the rules.

Overall, they were good dogs. For as long as I knew them, they were outside dogs 90% of the time (with plenty of shelter available when they needed it, of course), and they seemed very content being that way.
They both loved the snow...

... and they both loved a good leaf pile.

And we loved them both very, very much. Two weeks before Emmett reached his end, I was able to get some nice photos of him. When I look at this photo now, it still tugs at my heart strings, but it also makes me smile. It captures his essence very well.

We miss you, dear friend. Rest in peace.


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When the Grackles descended

A few weekends ago I started to see Common Grackles in large numbers in a few spots in this corner of southeast Ohio. Around this time I also started to see Red-winged Blackbirds reliably. American Woodcocks have been doing their display flights since the beginning of February. With each passing day, the bird song becomes more melodic and beautiful, ushering in spring in such a magnificent way. And every few days, I come across a new sighting for the season - Eastern Phoebes and Wood Ducks are now seemingly everywhere, and I saw my first Field Sparrow of the season yesterday. Spring is on the wing!

Following is an account of one of my grackle encounters, which I posted to the Ohio-Birds listserv (one of several "virtual" online birding communities for Ohio birders). Enjoy!
Greetings, Ohio birders! This weekend has been a bit of a Grackle-fest for
me here in Athens County! It started when I was leaving work on Friday,
when a flock of approximately 50 birds landed in a couple of trees in a
residential neighborhood in Athens. I heard at least one Red-winged
Blackbird singing among the group, so I assume it was a mixed flock. That
was the first large gathering of Grackles that I had seen so far this year.

Turns out that was nothing compared to what I would experience yesterday and
today. A group of several hundred birds caught my attention yesterday
afternoon (Saturday) when I was out filling bird feeders at my home in rural
Athens County (Albany). I could hear a rustling noise off in the distance,
quite a ways across the road actually, and even though it was windy, I knew
there was no way it was leaves blowing in the breeze. After a few squeaky
gate sounds reached my ears, it dawned on me that there was a large pack of
Grackles in the neighborhood. They were too far away for me to get any good
views even with my binoculars, but I could make out movement well enough to
estimate that there were probably 100-200 birds in the flock.

This morning, a similar event happened on the hillside right next to our
property, and I was able to observe the birds much better. Again, it was
several hundred Grackles, probably about 300 of them, with at least a few
Red-winged Blackbirds mixed in, but I was never able to spot one of them - I
could only hear them. I'm guessing they were on the outer edges of the
group? I felt very lucky to have them so close and to be able observe them
so well. They spent a large amount of their time rooting through the leaf
litter, stirring up whatever insects they could find. The noise was quite
amazing: we all know what it sounds like when one person walks through the
woods in fall or spring, kicking up dried leaves as they go - well, imagine
that you and 50 friends are doing that all at the same time, and that's what
these Grackles sounded like. Every once in a while they would all take off
from the ground together, making a fantastic whooshing sound with their
collective wings, and then land mere feet away from where they had just
been, only to begin the whole rooting in the leaf litter process again.

They were, of course, calling and vocalizing to each other during all of
this, but it wasn't until they ascended into the trees that they became
really loud. They were on our property by this time, and as I looked
through the trees with my binoculars, I could see that many of them were
preening. So it seems they had a quick breakfast, and then were off to hit
the showers, so to speak, and making plans for the day. At least I imagine
that was what all the raucous conversation was about.

I uploaded a short video to YouTube that tries to communicate the din
surrounding me. Even though you can't see the birds (my iPod Touch doesn't
take great video), you can at least hear them pretty well.

Good birding!
Heather Aubke
Albany, OH


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Calabasas Peak From Saddle Peak

Calabasas Peak from Saddle Peak

Either Calabasas Peak or Saddle Peak can be done from the parking area on Stunt Road about a mile east of Mulholland, near the start of Calabasas Motorway fire road and Cold Creek.

The out and back route to Calabasas Peak is about 3.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain/loss of about 900'. Except for the last 0.1 mile it follows the fire road (Calabasas Mtwy) that can be seen diagonaling across the peak in the photograph above. Start at the gate across the highway from the parking area.

The out and back to Saddle Peak is a little over 8 miles round trip with an elevation gain/loss of about 1900'. It's nearly all single track trail and the route-finding is not as straightforward as the ascent of Calabasas Peak. The route follows the Stunt High Trail to the Backbone Trail and then a short spur trail/road to the summit(s) of Saddle Peak. Here's an interactive Google Earth browser view of one of my GPS tracks of the route.

Both peaks are fun to do and have good views.

The title photograph is from Friday's SpotTheShuttle trail run.

Some related posts: Saddle Peak from the Phantom Trail, Saddle Peak & Malibu Canyon, Tapia Bound Copyright 2006-2012 Gary Valle. All Rights Reserved.


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