photography and digital scrapbooking


Fall Nature Walk and Border Collie Puppy Photos

Sometimes it is fun to take my point and shoot on a casual walk and not worry about settings. I snapped a few photos this week and chose easy editing with quick Instagram-like Photoshop actions. I hope you enjoy the photos!

The Encore azalea photo shows about one third of our display. It has been lovely this year and really brightens up the view in our back yard. The hanging baskets are hanging in there, but slowly losing flowers and gaining fallen leaves in and around the stems. We have a few tomatoes trying to ripen at this late stage of the season. I miss having a ready supply of tomatoes and my thoughts often drift to planting seeds in about four months.

The bridge on our nature trail got a new coat of paint this fall. It is a nice place to pause and look over the edge for fish and animal tracks in the mud. With a typical daytime temperature of 80 degrees, we still have a lot of green leaves on the trees, but slowly the golds and reds are showing up. We see deer often now when we walk the trail! Some neighbors have set up feeding stations and the deer gather in late afternoon for snacks.

My friend, Cheryl, has a Border Collie puppy! Little Ally comes to visit us occasionally and we enjoy her so much! She is growing fast and quickly picking up on Cheryl’s training program. Cheryl is following Cesar Milan’s book for training puppies. Training for good manners is not easy. A Border Collie puppy is so full of energy and strongly driven by instinct to jump and try herding activity. But Ally is doing great at age 6 months. Cheryl will gradually introduce Ally to the opportunity to herd and practice agility courses. We are certainly having fun as “Aunt” and “Uncle” to Ally!



Autumn Winged Things

Changes are in the air and the winged things are even more delightful to watch. Hummingbirds are frantically active; chattering and fighting over the feeders we provide for them. They are molting at this time of year. We sometimes see tiny feathers fall as they hover near the feeders. I found one and saved it.

Carpenter bees are desperate to find the last grains of pollen. They especially like the sedum and basil flowers. This female worker was aware of my presence and constantly adjusted her position to face me and stay a comfortable distance. Persistence on my part paid off when she let down her guard for a moment.

Yellow leaves have already begun floating into the yard. We will have a lot to rake or blow into piles and bag. But I don’t mind. I like the exercise and being outside in the cool autumn air.

Numerous butterflies were a constant and welcome sight this summer. They are still visiting the butterfly bush from early morning until almost dark.

Summer went by quickly. But autumn is my favorite season, so I am welcoming it and getting ready to make some changes myself. Enjoy your week and remember to peek at the little winged things if you have them nearby!


Spring Flower Photography

Flower photography is a joy this spring. The weather has been excellent for weeks, providing lots of warm sunshine and cool breezes. Many flowers are in full bloom, but none have captured my interest more than the Foxglove plants. I started them from seed last year. They do not bloom the first year, so it has been a long wait! The twelve plants are blooming in shades of purple, pink and white. The Snapdragons were also started from seed last year. They over-wintered in our raised-bed garden, spreading and growing to a height of three feet. Photographing the tall Foxglove spires and Snapdragons was a challenge, because they sway constantly in the wind. Fortunately, I had plenty of light which allowed me to freeze motion with a fast shutter speed.

Which flowers are currently blooming in your gardens? Are you enjoying wildflowers too? I would love to hear from you and see your spring flower photos!


Poetry of the Earth

Poetry of the Earth digital layout

Journaling: Hints of autumn are renewing my energy for nature photography! Cool nights and warm days are also renewing my flowering plants. I am thankful for the butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds who visit my flowers; coming together as poetry of the Earth.

CVW_QuickStarts_1, font: AMC_ChalkTalk.

All photos: Canon 60D, RAW format, handheld (except hummingbird photo).

Click on photos and layout to enlarge.

Grandmother's Pincushion blossom

ISO 500, 100mm, f/7.1, 1/160.

Dark pink blossom from my Grandmother’s Pincushion plant.

Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

ISO 1000, 100mm, f/4.0, 1/1250.

Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail visiting the Butterfly Bush.

Female Ruby-throated hummingbird

ISO 400, 100mm, f/3.5, 1/250.

Ruby-throated hummingbird surveying the territory before drinking at the window feeder.


ISO 400, 100mm, f/2.8, 1/200.

A bumblebee intent on gathering pollen.

white sweet william blossom

ISO 400, 100mm, f/5.6, 1/1000.

Sweet William blossoms. A favorite of butterflies and bees.

cherry tomatoes

ISO 500, 100mm, f/5.0, 1/200.

Sungold cherry tomato plants. The stalks have grown wild; allowing some fruit to rest on the retaining wall.

Pink Sedum

ISO 500, 100mm, f/8.0, 1/500.

Another favorite of bees, Sedum blossoms start out very light pink and darken over a period of weeks.


Portrait of a Hummingbird

He is a trusting young bird, so I am now able to set the camera 12 inches from the feeder. During one of his visits yesterday, he stopped moving for a moment (except for sticking out his tongue), allowing me to take a macro portrait.

I tested a relatively high ISO setting during this shoot to compensate for an overcast sky and shaded feeder. If you are a photographer and use Photoshop, you might be interested in how I edited this photo for noise. I usually reduce noise in Lightroom 3. But for this photo, I tested the ‘reduce noise’ feature in Photoshop CS5 and was happy with the result.

  • I duplicated the photo, then Filter>Noise>Reduce Noise. Basic panel: Strength 8, Preserve Details, 77%, Reduce Color Noise, 90%, Sharpen Details, 10%. In Advanced panel, I set the red and green channels to: Strength 4, Preserve Details: 60%. Blue channel: Strength 7, Preserve Details, 60%.

Canon 60D, ISO 1600, 100mm, f/4.0, 1/80.

Click on the photo to enlarge.
male juvenile hummingbird


The Smallest Bird in the World

I tried a different approach to photographing the smallest bird in the world! After placing my camera on a small, flexible tripod, I placed it on the kitchen countertop about 3 feet from the window. I wanted to get a different perspective and get close enough to use a macro lens. But manual focusing was more difficult, since touching the lens caused the tripod to bounce a little. I noticed the hummingbird tends to hover and feed at about the same place in front of the feeder. So I decided to focus on the bird once, then just shoot during his next visit (hoping he would position himself in the plane of focus for a second or two). It was the easiest shoot so far and produced two photos that I like.

The young male shown here had the feeder almost exclusively to himself yesterday. The adults stayed at the other feeders in the yard. The youngster has learned to accept my presence, even when I move slowly a few feet from him. He usually looks directly at me and always checks out the camera no matter where I  place it in the kitchen.

Although the hummingbird has a tiny body, his brain is 4.2% of his body weight, the largest proportion in the bird kingdom. This particular bird’s curiosity is amazing! Recently, my husband and I were standing side by side at the kitchen window watching goldfinches eat seeds from my basil flowers. We froze when the young male suddenly showed up at the feeder. He drank as usual, but before flying away he paused and looked at us; moving his little head back and forth to get a good look at each of us! The hummingbirds always seem to know when something is different from their previous experience!

Both photos: Canon 60D, ISO 1600, 100mm, f/4.0, 1/200.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

juvenile male ruby-throated hummingbird

The macro photos make the hummingbird look huge! To provide perspective on his size; the flower shape of the feeder measures 1.5 in. (3.8 cm). His body is about 3.3 in (8.5 cm) from the tip of his beak to the tip of his tail.

Hummingbird facts I have discussed on my blog come from World of Hummingbirds. The information on this site is comprehensive and entertaining!

juvenile male ruby-throated hummingbird


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Butterflies are visiting the blossoms on my Grandmother’s Pincushion plants. This female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail fed and floated around the plants for almost an hour.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

both photos: Canon 60D, Canon 100mm macro lens.

top: ISO 100, 100mm, f/5.0, 1/400

bottom: ISO 100, 100mm,  f/4.0, 1/250

female eastern tiger swallowtail

female eastern tiger swallowtail


Purple Tulips

My purple tulips were at their peak of beauty yesterday. The late afternoon sunlight was changing fast, so I wasted no time getting my tripod set up and testing different compositions.

Because I was only focusing on purple, I did not notice the azalea flower buds behind the tulips. When I downloaded my photos, I was surprised to see the reddish spots in the mostly green bokeh. I included two of those photos, since I could not decide which one I liked best!