Saturday, April 30, 2011

400mm Heaven!

Yesterday I received the 100-400mm f/5.6 lens. It was a gift from my mother--an early birthday present. I think it's the most generous thing she's ever given me. I'm turning the big FIVE-OH next month and she said she wanted me to have something special that I would really love. I could never, ever buy something so extravagant for myself, and I do feel a little guilty for having it, but this is definitely not the norm. I can't thank you enough, Mama!

Before I could get my hands on the lens, the UPS guy and my sneaky office mate crafted a little joke behind my back.

I had tracked the package and saw it was "out for delivery", so when the brown truck pulled up to the building I was beyond excited; however, when the UPS man walked into my office to have me sign for the delivery, he only presented me with one puny, little package.

I said, "Joe! Where's the rest?"

"What rest? This is all I have for you today."

My heart began palpitating wildly. I said, "What?! You're kidding me, right? Say you're kidding, Joe!"

"I'm sorry, but that's all I have." Dead pen delivery, no smile in his eyes. My heart sunk.

I was just about to perform an illegal search and seizure on his truck when Jeff, my office mate, came sauntering down the hallway carrying a very large package, laughing all the way. Joe was rather pleased with himself for playing his part to perfection. After I gave them each a stern lecture, I tore into the package like a crazed animal.

My goodness! The size of this lens is quite intimidating. I'm pretty sure it weighs more than Sparky. Undeterred I quickly mounted it on my waiting camera and took it outside. The only thing worth shooting was a bloom off a newly planted magnolia tree. But the wind is back, so the shots were only so-so. I did notice, however, that the lens was very fast for f 5.6. The auto focus was smooth and silent. Love that!

Couldn't wait for my work day to end so I could go out to the nature preserve.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
I was only looking for the Great Blue or Little Blue Heron, but God was so gracious and gave me the Yellow-crowned Night Heron! I didn't know at the time that I was shooting that--I simply knew these looked a little different with the broad white stripe across the face and the variation in the wing feathers. I figured it might be a juvenile or something. It wasn't until I got home and Googled "heron" that I figured it out. Wish I had more time to spend out there, but I'll be back!

Noticed these house finches when I returned home. The male was acting especially strange, bobbing his head up and down while also singing. When I downloaded the pictures, I noticed he had a tiny green seed on his beak. He was probably trying to impress the female with it.
Watch me balance this tiny seed on my nose.
See what I can do for you, my fair lady? Impressed yet?
The female never quite caught on to what the male was doing, or she wasn't interested, so he turned around and fluffed out his feathers. 
House Finches are monogamous. Males engage in courtship display known as “butterfly flight” wherein they ascend 20 to 30 meters high and slowly glide to a perch while singing loudly. Other courtship displays such as courtship feeding and mate guarding occur. Females prefer to mate with brightly colored males because the latter can find enough food to feed the young.

I finally got a decent shot of the Brown-headed Cowbird:

Isn't it amazing the difference between the female and male Red-winged Blackbird?
Red-winged Blackbird, female
Red-winged Blackbird, male
 As you can see I am thoroughly enjoying the new lens! I'm leaving right now to go shoot some more at another nature area. Hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Texture Tuesday and Photo Feature Friday

I don't know if I can keep up with all the different days of the week for photo submissions, but I'm going to give these two a try. Thank you to Betty of Artistic Expressions Photography and Charlotte of Charlotte Wilson Photography for the inspiration! You two girls keep me on my toes! :)

This is a two-for-one deal, as I'm submitting this for Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday and A Rosy Note's Photo Feature Friday. The redbud photo was taken on 3/4 just as the blooms first started to announce spring. I used Kim Klassen's Serendipity texture and Shadowhouse Creation's Square 182 texture. You can find these wonderful artists' buttons on my sidebar and below this post.

Now, go give Kim, Tricia, and Jerry's lovely blogs a visit! Have a great weekend everyone! I'm getting my new 100-400mm lens today, so you know what I'll be doing! This morning I spied a hummingbird feeding at my flowers and the weather is absolutely gorgeous!



Friday, April 22, 2011

It is well...

It is well with me only when I have a chisel in my hand. ~Michelangelo

This is how I feel when I have a camera in my hands--not that my abilities are anywhere close to the artistry of Michelangelo--but I know what he means. It's thrilling to uncover details or hidden gems in things that would appear ordinary to most, or to see beauty in a decaying structure. Photography has opened my eyes to really SEE our world and what a beautiful place it is. It's caused me to take a deeper look at the mundane, find meaning in the insignificant, beauty in the banal, to...connect.

Carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop. ~Michelangelo
Many believe - and I believe - that I have been designated for this work by God. In spite of my old age, I do not want to give it up; I work out of love for God and I put all my hope in Him. ~ Michelangelo
Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. ~Michelangelo

Discover your gift and share it with others. 

Blessings to everyone this Easter. Our weekend will be pretty low-key except for mass. What are you doing for Easter?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve

Saturday morning we awoke to a gorgeous day! I got up and began refilling all the bird feeders, noticing that the bag of nuts left on the patio the night before had been clawed into on the side. I hoped and prayed it was a squirrel and not a rat.

I went inside to wash my hands then grabbed a cup of coffee that hubby had waiting for me. As I looked out the kitchen window my little nut thief made himself known. I quickly put my camera up to the window and took this shot.

I knew then and there it was going to be a good day for photography. :)
Who me?
I had planned a trip to Ennis over a month ago with a new friend from church. She has a DSLR she's been wanting to learn how to use. I thought it would be a great way to get to know her and she thought it would be a good way to learn some tips from me. As plans slowly evolved to include people I didn't know, I politely bowed out. I guess I have some sort of social anxiety problem that causes me to miss out on a lot of fun things, but only with people I don't know; if I know you, different story. Anyway, I tried to make myself go, but in the end, chickened out. 

Earlier in the week I received a sweet call from my youngest son. "Mom! I saw a huge field of bluebonnets right by my house and I thought of you! Wanna come take pictures this weekend?" Never one to miss an opportunity to spend time with my children, we quickly set up a time.

I ask you, how great is it that I came to my child's mind via a field of flowers? I can now die in peace knowing that I will be thought of in this way.

There was a good reason after all to miss the trip to Ennis! Knowing how disappointed I was to miss the trip, hubby suggested a stop at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve before meeting my son. 

What a blessing the whole day was! Look!! There were bluebonnets and so much more.

Clouded Sulphur
The hiking/biking trail is amazing! It was so cool inside under the trees it was like walking into an air conditioned room. We ended up getting lost in the maze of trails.
The primroses were in abundance!
Carpenter bee with "pollen feet"

Skipper with proboscis inserted inside a bluebonnet
Skipper on Indian Blanket Flower
I don't know who these children are, but there were several photographers with different families taking photos. I couldn't resist a few for myself. 

Jessica & Michael
Michael's dog, Leo, with his new haircut
What did you do this weekend? Anything fun, interesting, amazing? Inquiring minds want to know!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Last Saturday, hubby and I decided to have an early dinner at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants located in the old downtown square of our city. We've gotten to be like senior citizens lately, eating early so we can beat the crowd. It's one of those subtle life changes that brand one elderly, but we don't care, we do what we feel like doing which is part of the beauty of being older and wiser. At least that's how I justify it. I still remember Jerry Seinfeld's line when he was visiting his parents in Florida and they wanted to eat at 4:30 so they could get the early bird special. Jerry said, "I'm not force-feeding myself a steak at four-thirty to save a coupla bucks, I'll tell you that!"

It was a few minutes till 5 when we pulled up to Agave Azul. I quickly spotted an antique store right across the street. Ever since I bought the Kodak Brownie off e-bay last year I have been thinking about collecting antique cameras. Double D said we had plenty of time, that he'd like to go in and browse also. How great is it that my husband likes to shop for antiques? Love him!

As soon as I walked into the store, I asked the sweet little lady behind the counter if they had any old cameras. She cheerfully led me to the only antique camera in the store, the No. 2C Autographic Kodak, Jr. produced in 1913. It even came with the tripod!

I also collect fleur-de-lis objects and angels. What about you? Do you collect anything? I'd be interested in hearing what other people enjoy collecting.

Processed with a frame collage from

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Write With Pictures

I am so honored to be featured over at lovely Kelly's blog, Write With Pictures!

If you're into creative writing, or just love reading something new and interesting, I'd love for you to go over and pay her blog a visit!

Kelly also has another blog called My Voice, My View where she features some of her poetry and writes about her hectic family life in a humorous way. Kelly is a gifted writer and all around amazing person.

Thank you, Kelly! Loving the submissions so far. :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sunday, 4/10/11

Sunday morning I got up, showered, dressed for church, then realized that my bladder infection would not be denied any longer. The symptoms were getting worse by the minute, so hubby and I drove to Care Now instead of St. Matthias. By noon, I was armed with antibiotics, and shortly after lunch, started feeling much better. 

Our next stop was cheering on the Tornadoes. I'm pretty sure they lost, but Seth doesn't know it. They're so cute at this age. He has so many funny expressions and I love capturing them with my camera.

When we arrived at the soccer field Hannah greeted us with her newly acquired ladybug. She was so proud of her new friend, showing it off to friends and strangers alike. She is an adorable child.

Next stop was Liam's 1st birthday party. When we walked in we were warned that he hadn't had a nap all day--it was 5:00PM when we got there--so they thought he might get cranky. Pffttt! He really showed them with that sweet, happy disposition he has. His mom tried to make him wear a hat to shield him from the harsh sun, but he was having none of that. He also loved playing with the garden hose and the angel fountain by the pool. He was a muddy mess when it was all over, but that's how a little boy's first birthday should be. Right?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Saturday, 4/9/11

Usually our weekends are pretty laid back and uneventful. Not this one. I'll have to break it down into two posts because the pictorial I want to share would take too long--both for me to post and for you to read.

When I was invited to attend the John F. Burke Nature Preserve Dedication Ceremony I had hoped for nice weather and great light for photos. Fortunately, God was gracious but I forgot to ask Him to tame the winds. My hair was blown to bits and it was hard to focus with my camera, but I think things turned out okay.
Trinity River
Any idea what this plant is?
Variable Dancer damselfly 

Common Whitetail Skimmer dragonfly
If anyone can help ID this tree, I'd be grateful!

Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly, male
After I had my fill of dragonflies, damselflies, trees, running into an old friend, and brambles that lacerated my leg, I was ready to move on. You'd think at my age I'd know how to dress for a hiking trail. Hubby wore his durable jeans and came out unscathed, but he was rather warm. I was nice and cool in my capris, but bleeding. Not sure who won that battle. I guess hubby did since he didn't draw blood.

We next went to Gussie Field Watterworth Park to see if the roses were in bloom. Oh, man, were they ever!
The scent of roses was intoxicating.
Keenan Cemetery is right next door. You know I can't pass up a fleur-de-lis fence even if I've already photographed it. Many times.

Different angle, different lighting. I rather liked it.

Next I will post my adventures on Sunday! Hope everyone has a great week!