One White Ring – One White Bar

To sum up this month in one word I’d have to go with BUSY.  Day long meetings at work, project Aaauuunnnnoold moved into a new phase (getting close) and then there’s that little thingy called a half looming just over a week away.  A wave of relief came over me when the monthly post count came up to 5.  Whew, only one more to close out this month and the pictures for two posts were already completed and in the hopper.    The best way I can think of to end this month is to feature a Bird!

Not just your ordinary Bird post though, this one is a Mystery Bird post … translated, one that needs some assistance from my loyal readers.  To set the stage, this particular bird was taken at Red Rock Canyon on our trip to Las Vegas back in Nov 2012 (better late than never).  Unfortunately, I was unable to get a full on shot of this bird.  It preferred to stay semi-hidden among the rocks.  They had “Area under restoration” signs up so respected their wishes – cost me a good angle on a new bird.. but if photographer’s can’t respect nature… we are doomed as a society.

To be honest, I need your help in identifying this bird – hit the jump to see which direction I’m leaning towards!

Continue reading One White Ring – One White Bar

A Vegas Photo Walk

Vegas is such a target rich environment when it comes to photography that a single post just will not do – Nope! I already covered the “Eyes in the Sky” with my previous post (link here). Today’s post focuses more on the sights at “Eye Level” . Wait a minute, just looked at the set of pictures — hold that statement for a tad and enjoy a couple more shots at “Sky Level”.

The Bellagio Casino is a must target for any cameras on clear night on the strip. The architects should be commended for a building with a perfect combination of lighting and shadows. We have a number of shots of this casino for a number of different angles and every one of them has a majestic feel about them – also gives you a wide range of cropping options

Here’s the other shot of Vegas after dark. This one posed a bit of a struggle in the digital darkroom. I wanted the lights to be vibrant and sharp in the shot, but that cost me some detail in the body of the balloon – detail, by the way, that I wasn’t really aware of before from my many trips past it. Depending on how your screen is set, you might or might not be able to see the various symbols – probably could have pulled out some HDR to pop those a little more – will make a note for next time we are out there.

Hit the jump to see some more sights from our Vegas photo-walk!

Continue reading A Vegas Photo Walk

Me Thinks It’s a Grackle

UPDATED: 10/22/2016 – Sorry for the correction, but I realized while writing another post on this bird that this is not a Long-Tailed Grackle, but a Great-Tailed Grackle – no idea where I got that other name other than the fact it has a …. wait for it … wait for it … a long tail. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Thanks to the last set of soft bird pictures, I figured it was a perfect time to bring out another set of pictures definitely on the soft side – if I keep this up it will transform from a mistake to a STYLE!  I actually need a little help in the confirmation of this particular evil looking bird.

I snapped this bird while walking on the Treasure Island Casino boardwalk in Vegas back n Nov 2012 (hey, I warned you the backlog was epic).   A large dark shape caught my eye as it flew in behind us to scavenge in the cracks of the boards.  Per my Golden Rules, brought the camera inline and took a few shots thinking at the time it was just a Brown-Headed Cowbird.  It wasn’t until reviewing the shots in the digital darkroom that it occurred to me that the shape of this bird did not match my reference model for those birds.

For one, Cowbirds have a much shorter beak.  The one on this specimen is more like a dagger.  Add to this the fact Cowbirds typically have brown only on the head (thus the clever name eh?) with the rest predominantly black.  This Vegas bird carried the brown through the body and only shades to black at the wings and legs.  And then there’s the whole overall size issue with this one having a much larger stature than the Cowbirds seen in my neck of the woods.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots and learn what I think this bird is!

Continue reading Me Thinks It’s a Grackle

A Juniper Surprise

So, based on the hate mail that has been showing up in my mailbox lately, the teeming millions want their bird posts and they want it now. Fred B. from Michigan wrote “If I don’t get a bird post in the next 48 hours I’m going to stab this little voodoo doll I just made of you.” Harry R. from Nevada just called me a bunch of names and likened me to a terrorist – honestly I’m just assuming it was due to lack of birds but he may just be delusional and simply suffering from a bad case of the bumbles. Oh, and Rick P. from Texas simply asked me if I’d consider featuring a jailbird in the upcoming months. Although I don’t like to give into peer pressure, it is obvious that the people are getting restless – next thing you’ll know Homeland Security will put out a report stating there is a serious trend of the commoners not trusting their government. I’d hate to contribute to such unhealthy thoughts so to remedy that I’ll shall pull out a BIRD POST (trumpets, cheers, clowns losing their heads). Today I bring you a new bird on the list taken at our favorite home away from home – Vegas! To be specific it was actually taken at Red Rocks Canyon while we were out there in Nov 2012 – I know I know, beat me, whip me, make be write bad checks.
Oh, and did I mention it was kind of a surprise find?

Before we go any further, I need to state for the record, that these shots are for the most part pretty crappy.  They were taken in very bad lighting and it took everything I had in the digital darkroom just to make them somewhat presentable.  At first viewing I was disappointed and had my finger moving to the delete key when something made me take a second look.  When I was taking this shot I took the profile to be just a common Tufted Titmouse.  We have them all over the place where I live and that species alone probably consumes about a quarter of my bird food.  I’ve learned to at least snap a few shots in the field even if first impressions are less than exciting – even in bad lighting since these first two had to be pulled out of underbrush darkness.  Guessing that green thing is some form of trash and the twig in the first one is UBER annoying.  Regardless, something made me hesitate to toss them.

There is one common element in our local Titmouses .. maybe that is Titmice now that I think about it… and that is a sometimes faint but always present orange coloring on the sides.  The lack of that on this particular  bird was likely the reason for the hesitation. The crest was a perfect match but in all the shots, the orange element was missing.  It was off to the reference bookshelf to see if this was indeed a new entry on the bird list.  To my pleasant surprise there was an all grey Titmouse – in fact, there were two, the Juniper Titmouse and  the other being the Oak Titmouse.  The Juniper range fit the location I was at perfectly and the Oak was isolated along the Western side of California.  If only Sparrows could be this easy!

Hit the jump to see a few more crappy shots of this new bird to the list and read a few interesting related facts.

Continue reading A Juniper Surprise

Eyes in the Sky

I think the old saying “I’m not paranoid, I know they are watching me” comes into play with today’s post.  As mentioned before, there’s a bit of catching up to do and this clearly qualifies since it comes from our Vegas trip back in .. wait for it…  November 2012.  Turns out that Vegas is a great hub for getting to awesome photography sites such as Zion and Red Rock Canyon.  The latter of which will be featured in some upcoming posts.  At least once a year we like to pack up all the camera equipment and head to Sin City.  While out there on November, we decided to take a walk around the strip and opted to bring the mini-Beast (the 70-200) out with us – definitely more manageable than the Beast in the crowds and doesn’t get in the way of gambling (hehehe).   Admittedly, we have been to Vegas A LOT and always looking for something different to explore.  Fortunately, Vegas is a target rich environment when it comes to photography – when you have exhausted the view at street level, you can always look up and see a whole new perspective.

This is when the zoom comes in handy because when I refer to looking up I mean looking waaaaay up.  Those Vegas architects like things big and tall.  It also appears they like to embellish their products with all kinds of interesting sculptures and decorations.  Take for instance the statue above of a soldier standing on a hmmmm … a dogreptafish.  Yeah, I’m not really sure what it is either but interesting none the less.  It has been awhile now, but think this was taken outside of Caesars or possibly the Venetian based on the arches in the background.

Moving from the strange to the downright horrifying, here is the top of Harrah’s Casino.

In case you are having problems making the association, in my book all jesters are clowns in tights – the horror, the horror.  This is one of those things I’d rather remain oblivious to – I’ll take the blue pill please.  For now on every time I walk past that casino I’m going to get the chills.  Don’t be fooled, those are not horns, but rather blow guns to shoot darts into unsuspecting visitors, swoop in and take them back to their lair where they proceed to skin them alive for the pure enjoyment of it all (you think I’m kidding!?!)

Speaking of dart guns – here’s another one I captured.

Clearly not as creepy as those clowns were.  I can’t tell if the saucer shape was part of the sculpture or not – possibly a halo but then again it might be a certified UFO monitoring us from above – let’s hope it isn’t aliens making assumptions about humans by watching people in VEGAS .. eesh.

Hit the jump to view a few more shots of the Vegas high life

Continue reading Eyes in the Sky

That’s No Bat

Today was a momentous occasion of sorts.  On the morning schedule was a long run as I’m in the final month of training for the upcoming IVS Half Marathon.  There was a little bit of apprehension  due to the planned distance – 11 miles.  Normally that wouldn’t be too daunting, but this distance holds new meaning for me now – this is the distance covered the day I received a cold trip to the emergency room (link here).  Since that day, the most I’ve subjected myself to was 9 miles.  Based on the weeks left before raceday, it was now time to pass that hurdle.  As you can tell by the creation of this post, that distance is once again MINE.  Truth be told it was pretty cool at the start (but it definitely warmed up at the end) and the last two miles were a bit of a struggle, but none the less, it’s 11 miles in the book.  Only two more miles to go to the required distance and barring any unforeseen issues that should not be a problem!  To celebrate, thought I’d crank out a quick post.  The good news is I’ve now completed processing all the shoots up to January ’13 so there is plenty of fodder for the blog – the bad news is I’ve now ONLY completed all the shoots up to January ’13.  You just might be getting some bonus entries in the coming months and thinking at the moment I’ll be jumping ahead to some recent shoots because I really want to show you some of those as soon as possible.  Until then I give you this!

This was actually a print submitted for the UB competition (link here) and ended up taking a blue ribbon in the insect category.  Surprisingly, I didn’t find any Butterflies in a quick search of this blog. I could have sworn I’ve featured these beautiful creatures before, especially since these are my third go-to subjects when out in the field – first birds, then dragonflies and then off to find some flowers in hopes of capturing some colorful prints to hang on the wall.  I may have to go back and search again – still can’t believe there hasn’t been in previous postings .. sigh.

These particular shots were taken at Jubilee Park while testing out a borrowed 70-200 2.8 VR glass.  We were trying to decide if we wanted to upgrade from our older model workhorse.  Based on the results from this set we ended up doing just that!

Hit the jump to find out what kind of Butterfly this is (maybe) and see some additional shots

Continue reading That’s No Bat