Friday, August 31, 2012

Isaac Update

Greetings from battered Baton Rouge! Really though, we did not get hit as hard as they were predicting. Isaac was pretty wimpy as far as hurricanes go. I've been through much worse. Not to minimize other areas that were hit hard, but for our area, we came through it fairly unscathed. Here is a video I took several hours before Isaac passed through.

I'm happy to report that Pierre survived! Here he is feeding right before the strong winds hit. Our house is shaped like a U with the carport on one side and the master bedroom on the other, so this feeder was protected from most of the wind. I've seen him several times since, so I know he made it.

My other little bird friends had more sense than I thought. They all gathered together under the carport for shelter. I left a bowl of seeds for them under the carport which they quickly found and devoured.

Yesterday we went to scope out the area. These photos are anywhere from 5 to 10 miles from our house. Some are still without power, but we never lost it, although we did lose cable and internet for half a day. 

I will not be around much for the next 4 days because my son and his beautiful girlfriend are coming for a visit. In fact, they are driving in as I prepare this post. Beyond excited doesn't describe what I'm feeling right now. And relieved, because I didn't know if they'd get to come because of Isaac. So now I get to go and clean up the mess in the yard that Isaac left behind. So rude. 

My heart and prayers go out to those that suffered much worse. Thanks so much to you for all the prayers and concern, comments and emails sent our way! I appreciate you all much more than you can know! I am blessed with the BEST blogging friends!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pierre and Isaac

Yesterday I hadn't seen our resident hummers all day, but Double D saw a huge swallowtail caressing the satsumas and called me outside. With my camera and tripod all set, I watched as the butterfly kissed his last satsuma, then flew off for something better. Drats! Then something fluttered out of the corner of my eye and I looked up to see my hummer friend resting in the crepe myrtle tree. He seems to be getting used to me as I noted only mild concern on his face as Mabel snapped away. I named him Pierre; a fine Cajun name.

I think he likes the crepe myrtle because the branches are the perfect size for his tiny feet. Standing about 20 feet away he appears to be the size of a large cicada. You really have to know what you're looking for to spot him.

Today I had to remove all the bird feeders, garden ornaments and patio furniture in preparation for Hurricane Isaac. I left the smallest hummingbird feeder on the palm tree and scattered seeds in the grass. I was hoping the birds would sense the drop in barometric pressure and hightail it out of there, but they're still hanging around the yard as though nothing is amiss, probably wondering where the free restaurants went. Bad winds and rain are supposed to hit us later tonight. I'm kicking myself for not buying a generator earlier in the summer. At this point, I can't even find a D battery on any store shelf for my flashlight, so I was forced to order yesterday from Amazon and have it shipped overnight. They just arrived while I was typing this post, so my flashlights are all ready to go! Hope and pray everyone is safe from the storm. Will post an update as soon as I can. I know it sounds stupid, but I'm really worried about Pierre and how the other birds will fare. :(

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dragonflies and an Itty Bitty surprise!

I love my sweet little garden friends. One of them didn't even mind when I attached the macro lens and got about 1/2" from his face. What a good sport!

This is the pink dragonfly I spoke about on my last post; a Roseate Skimmer. I hope to return to Hilltop Arboretum and get some better shots. 

My brother-in-law and his wife visited us this weekend. I'll describe our time together I may or may not post about it another time. But I will confess to having a video on my phone that is dying to see the light of day. This is Itty Bitty, their beloved cat, which might give you an idea of just how strange the weekend was. Oh, my!

Linking up with Your Sunday Best

Update 8/27/12: Looks like Isaac is headed our way, so I may be without power for a while after tomorrow night. Thanks for those that have emailed me or posted in their blogs that they're praying. It is truly appreciated!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A hummer-free day!

In an effort to break my hummingbird habit, I threw my camera gear in the car and took off to Hilltop Arboretum. Traffic was a nightmare due to a collision involving three 18-wheelers, an overturned car, and a chemical spill on I-10. The interstate will remain closed throughout the evening and into the morning. Several times I almost turned around and went back home. But I persevered. How glad I am that I stuck it out.

In addition to this Tiger Swallowtail, I got a Green Heron and a PINK dragonfly! I have never seen a pink one before; red yes, pink no. Those will have to wait because I really want to post the butterfly first. I love when the sun is bright and I can lower my ISO to get the most out of the big guy. The 100-400mm lens really needs good light to perform at its best.

Even colorful underneath

There's that darn bumble bee!

Mr. Butterfly bid adieu. The bee finally won. :/

Linking to Rural Thursday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

So Immature

I had good intentions. Really, I did. The other day I took photos of cardinals, blue jays, and sparrows at my feeders and noticed their heads were bowed in almost every photo. Okay, so maybe the rain pelting down on their heads had something to do with it. Anyway, I had this whole post in my head of the cardinal leading them all in prayer. Then today happened. This little male juvenile ruby-throated hummer appeared. He has not even had his first winter yet. Junior was brave enough to take a big drink from the newly placed feeder on my palm tree. Thank goodness for high speed continuous mode because after 4 shots he was outta there. I was very pleased to get 2 good photos of him by the palm tree.

Resting on the crepe myrtle branch

Not the best shot, but the little red patches on his gorget allowed me to see that he is a juvenile male

Getting sleepy, listening to the phantom hummers playing on my iphone

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I'm so very sorry...

for another HUMMINGBIRD post! I'd like to promise this will be the last one, but if I capture a hummer eating an insect and it's a good'd be a must-post situation. You'd do the same, right?

Apparently, we have a pair of these ruby-throats living primarily in the large crepe myrtle tree in the backyard. Once I figured out where they were coming from, I hatched a scheme that to some may be a little devious: playing hummingbird sounds from All About Birds' web site on my iPhone. It's kind of like the neighbor kid knocking on your door, then running away. Mr. Ruby comes out, scours the area, then flies back into the safety of the branches. So maybe it's a little unfair on my part, but my brain is bigger than theirs allowing me to get the upper hand. Besides, it caused no harm. (If there is harm in it, please tell me because I wouldn't want to hurt these precious little birds.)

Round III:
Finally! Decent light and he came to the feeder closest to me, about 10' away.
(see enlarged for best viewing)

I think he likes the homemade sugar water.
(see enlarged for best viewing)

Unfortunately, for these next shots I used AIServo instead of Spot Focus. I was trying everything to get the best shot. Obviously, this wasn't the way to go. Especially since he was being so still for me as I played the bird sounds.

The male is trying his darndest to figure out where those phantom hummingbirds are!

Linking to Rural Thursday

P.S. A HUGE thank you to all who offered encouragement and suggestions on my real estate post. Y'all rock!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fear and Wide

No, the title is not a typo. I might've gotten myself into a bit of a pickle. My friend from high school, a local realtor, saw some of my photos recently. She got so excited about my photography that she has asked me to shoot a condo that she is about to list. If the photos pass muster with her, then she is going to give my name to the top realtors in the area.

Just like junior high I got caught up in her enthusiasm. Knowing how much I love photography and how much I hate returning to work in a corporate setting, I thought this might be an answer to prayer...a way to earn some money doing something I actually enjoy.

After googling what sort of lens I'd need, I settled on a Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 lens because I didn't want to shell out $1500 for Canon's version. Oh. My. Gosh. The width on this thing is unbelievable. Amazingly, I can stand in a corner of a room and get the all the contents in the frame. The problem is, at its widest, it almost reminds me of a fisheye lens.

These are practice shots of my house. I can't say I'm too impressed with this lens, but it might be operator error. If anyone has any tips on real estate photography, or how to use a wide angle lens, I am ALL EARS. I'm feeling like this may not be a good fit for me, but perhaps it's because I'm so used to filling my frame with the subject. I'm so afraid I'm going to fail my friend and she's going to wonder why she even bothered asking me in the first place. I've really gotten my drawers in a bunch over this. :/

At 24mm
At 10mm

I didn't think this lens was that sharp, but I took it outside and got close to this skipper. At f/8 it is pretty sharp, but I can't shoot f/8 indoors.

This may be the shortest career in photography ever.