Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Baby Robins Have Arrived - - - Day 1

It's been exactly ten days since I posted...gonna have babies soon. I'm not positive they were born today, there is a slight chance they came yesterday, but I was not home to notice. However, today there are four new happy and hungry baby Robins in my tree. It is interesting to watch as the mom and dad take turns feeding them. The mom is the only one that will sit on them, but the dad comes with some tasty looking treats that is for sure. This series of posts will be fun. I am going to attempt to post a new pictures each day until they leave the nest. And for as many pictures as I took today, I've narrowed them down to just enjoy...they are too cute in a strange bird way!

Meet our dad...Mr. Robin

He brings such green yummy worms for us...

Look at this ones eyes...they are popping right out of its head

Meet our Mom...Mrs. Robin

Mom brings the juicy worms

If you look carefully in this one you will see the four beaks

Mom shoves them way down deep in their throat

Look at the peach fuzz illuminated by the light....

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Playing with Infrared in Photoshop

I've been wanting to take a picture of this barn since I've moved here, but seemed every time I went by it the sky and sun were not quite right. Today after the clouds broke up, as it had been raining all day yesterday and then all morning long; I noticed the sun peaking through the trees. I looked out the windows and noticed all the white puffy clouds. I knew it would be a good time to go take this picture.

This was originally taken in color, I actually did the HDR technique on it, where I took three images of the same scene on a tripod. You set your bracketing up to take one over, one under and one normally exposed image. I use a program called Photomatrix which allows you to import all three images and then it sandwiches them together and then the end result is better details in shadows and highlights. Most of the time I tend to get carried away in the tone mapping section and make it look almost surreal like with over saturation. Which was the cases this time, so I decided it was too saturated and decided to see what it would like like in Black and White. It didn't pop until I played with the infrared setting and moved all the sliders back and fourth, then I ended up with this.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The SCARLET TANAGER is here.....

We spotted him two nights ago, but only saw him for a split second. I didn't know what type of bird it was at first as I only saw the incredible red of his plumage. However this morning, I saw him out the front window in a tree. Even though he was a ways away, of course I had to grab my camera and start shooting away. I mean what if he never came back, having a bad picture of him is better than having no picture at all, right? Well all the sudden he flew off the tree brach...and I was still shooting away as he flew toward me. Then Bam, the bird flew right into the window right in front of my face. OMG, I looked down and I screamed Oh My God he's dead! His wings were spawled out to either side and he was just laying there. I'm yelling at Clayton He's Dead, He's Dead and then all the sudden I saw his head move. So I said, 'no wait, he moved his head', but he was still just laying there not moving hardly at all. A woodpecker had just done the same thing just minutes before, slamped into the sliding glass door to the right of the window where this guy hit. Then as I looked down again to where the bird was laying I saw him bring in his wings...but he was still just laying there. Clayton yells to me, 'lunch is ready' I say to myself, ok I'll go eat lunch and he better be gone by the time I'm done eating. I get to the table where lunch was served (yummy hotdogs they were) and looked at my camera and wouldn't you know, I have NO CARD! I'm bummed because now I think he's going to die and I'll never get a shot of him again...but I calmed down and ate my lunch then ran back to the window with my camera and my card and there he is just sitting up and as I got ready to take his picture he flew back up into the tree where he was the first time. I was so relieved that he was not dead! I did manage to take a few pictures with the card in, but they didn't turn out very I will wait till I post his image till I get a better shot. Later in the afternoon, another bird flew into yet another window. Man those birds I swear do this daily. There is a reflection coating on the windows and it mirrors outdoors so I'm sure they think they are flying into the woods. Poor little birds....

So after all this I ended up taking some more pictures of the hummingbirds. Below are just a few shots of the female. I swear that she is so tame, I was pulling the tag off the hanger when she came to drink out of the feeder, I was not more than a foot away from her.....that was before I had my camera though I just stood very still and enjoyed the moment.

Ok, I cheated, that purple flower was not really there, it was the ugly yellow flower of the feeder and I just didn't like it, so i cut out this flower from another image and blurred it slightly to cover up the yellow and make it look like the focus is directly on the bird.

Oh this is funny, I also bought an Oriole Feeder, and it has these little cups where you can put jam, jelly or orange soda...yeah orange soda, they Oriole came and ate the grape jelly and guess what came to it and drank the orange soda...Yup you guessed it the hummingbirds! Too funny.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

We went fishing again at Lake Emily

We didn't catch one, not even a bite....But I did happen to catch a great shot of this Red Winged Blackbird. He was singing his song that distict call they make, which is really kind of cool. I will have to go back to this lake with only my camera, as on our way out I saw several other bird species I would have like to stay and photograph. To listen to his call, click on the picture below and it will take you to the bird call website I like to go where you can click on an audio link to hear his song.

Playing with the Light ...

This landscape image I have altered in Photoshop quite a bit. The field of wishes was taken during late afternoon with high clouds diffusing the light. The sun was also in front of me. With the lighting not as good as I had hoped for the result was a very flat image right out of the camera. But with the use of Photoshop and its artistic filters I think I created something rather majestic. I have the urge to superimpose fairies in this scene....


Before straight from the camera

This landscape image was taken a few weeks ago, and I pretty much did the same techniques on this one as above.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gonna have babies soon...

This little Robin has been building this nest for a few weeks now and finally she is sitting regularly on it. I can't see the eggs, but I know they are there. It it going to be so fun to take pictures of her feeding the little ones. She couldn't have found a more perfect spot to build her nest for me to photograph it. I can literally open my living room window and shoot right down on it. Well with my zoom lens that is, which is actually really good because then I don't scare her away. I'm looking forward to the feedings....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Calf That Stole My Heart!

We were invited to our neighbors Sunday evening for an evening filled with photographing the baby Calves, their Mom's and even their Dad. It was so much fun to be so close to them, the babies were all born in April so they are a few weeks old, two of the Mom's still have not given birth, so soon there will be two more running around. And how cute is that to see the little ones running and playing together. After we spent some time in the Cattle grazing area, we headed off on a hike in their woods and I took several nice images of the woods, wildflowers and meadows.

I've posted a slide show of them all here: Backyard Beauties

But here are just a few of them to entice you to click the link above to see the rest! Who knew cows and calves would make such great photo subjects!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Gone Sunset Lake

Clayton decided it was time to get some fishing we went shopping yesterday and bought our fishing poles, some minimal tackle and bait, then headed out this morning to Sunset Lake to test our fishing skills. I have been really looking forward to it since last night. We woke up early, brewed up a pot of coffee and brought a themas and set our chairs up and casted away. Why is it that coffee out doors tastes so much better than in the house? It was the best darn coffee I'd had in a long time.

Ok, you have to know that Clayton has not gone fishing for over 25 years, and well I told him I wouldn't embarrass him, but all I can say is, I was cracking up like no tomorrow until he figured out how to cast was a hoot! But hey, he's the one who caught the who am I to criticize a man casting like a little boy :-)

So we'd been out there for over an hour and nothing, not even a bite and we said it was about time to pack up and head on home. But of course I had to take a few more pictures of the lake and then we saw a fish jump and it was close to my bobber, then Clayton saw another one jump close to where he was casting. We stayed just a little while longer and all the sudden Clayton Caught his First Fish in Wisconsin.

And then he let him go and off he swam....

Friday, May 15, 2009

Last Bird Picture....yeah right........

Ok, so I know I've been posting nothing but birds lately, but this weekend I promise that I will not post a single bird shot. I have plans of a few new subjects in mind and we'll see how it turns out, but will post something besides birds...I promise at least for the weekend.....

So I really sort of like this's a good idea not to delete all your bad photographs because what you can do with them in photoshop makes them so much more art like. This particular shot that I altered now feels like an impressionistic piece of art rather than a bad photograph, but also think it's funny to see what the feet look like. They look like prehistoric dinosaur feet on a Blue Jay.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

California Oranges in Wisconsin….

First of all, I have to start this story off with this: we have been buying oranges for the last two weeks and they say they are from California and I have to say they are the best darn oranges I’ve ever had. They are so sweet and juicy nothing like the ones I’ve gotten before in California. So I’m pretty happy about that.

Last Friday while I was out on the deck I saw another new bird in the trees. It was the brightest Orange color I’d even seen; and as usual I got completely over-excited and ran in to get my camera only to become a little (ok) very disappointed when I couldn’t get a good picture of it. But I thought well he’ll be coming around again and I’ll get him next time.

Well the weekend went by and I only saw him once and from a distance at that. When I had put up the new bird feeder I thought for sure I’d see him there, but as it turned out I only saw the female and she didn’t stay long nor did she ever come back.

So I browsed the internet to make sure the bird I was seeing was indeed the Baltimore Oriole and while doing so I saw a picture of it standing on top of an orange half. So I thought to myself, that these birds haven’t come around too much because maybe they are not too keen on seeds, and searched again on the eating habits and saw they love fruits and insects.

So I decided it was worth sharing one of my yummy and most delicious California Oranges and slicing it up and see what happened. I decided also that it was time to put my hummingbird food out as well. Not that I had seen any hummingbirds, but thought why not as the Oriole’s like nectar too; might help attract them.

Not even an hour went by and I was going nuts! Complete nuts! Not just one bird, but two were all over my orange slice and not just on the orange slice but drinking out of the hummingbird feeder too. I went crazy with excitement (it is almost scary how excited I got) but then went and grabbed my camera and got a few fantastic shots. Now the most interesting thing is later on that afternoon, I also saw my First Hummingbird!!! What an incredible day that turned out to be.

Interestingly enough, that little tiny hummingbird came over to the window just this morning and hovered…almost as if it was looking in and saying ‘thank you for putting some food out for me’.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

...a little action going on...

Well along with the flowers and plants we bought over the weekend, I decided I wanted to attract even more I bought another bird feeder. I had to decide if I wanted to put it out in the front yard, or keep it in the back --- near, but not next to the others. I decided to keep it in the back. That way I won't find myself out front looking and wondering what I was missing in the back at the same time. This way I can see both and not miss a beat...or rather the flap of the wings flutter.

So on Sunday I spent some time watching as they all found the new food and, well it brought out the aggressive side of a few of the birds as you will see below. Also made for some good entertainment as well.

.....And not a feather out of place....err ummm; ok, well accept for one....

Oh and this is the Female Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Since it's Mothers Day....

Thought I'd post a picture of a flower instead of another bird shot. However, I have many more bird shots to post from the weekend, but I think I can hold off for another day or so. This weekend we decided to buy some flowers for several pots we had that were empty and sitting on the deck. We bought $58 dollars worth of flowers and now I can't wait for the all the plants to fill in. This is a close up of one of the plants. I threw away the name I can't even say what type of flower this will be and to be honest I am not even sure what it will look like when it opens fully. So you'll have to wait till it opens and I'll post another shot...or better yet, maybe I'll go out daily and do a progression of it opening. And Mom, even though I couldn't be with you today, I thought of you all day long. I love you and hope you had a wonderful dinner over at Kay's.

Spring has sprung, the tree's are just starting to get their leaves and today was the first day I mowed the lawn. We have a ridiculous amount of dandelions coming in too, so Clayton got out the weed and feed and his twirly bird and hopefully that will green up the grass and take care of the nasty little dandelions. We will eventually get a few nice ferns growing around the rock as well, they are just starting to pop up along with a few other wild flowers. That rock in the middle of the lawn is actually the entrance to our well. Ssshhhhh it's a fake rock.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Feelin a little Artsy

This morning was a huge surprise and full of color. Unfortunately the weather is cloudy and gray and I was not able to get a good exposure without having to up the ISO to 1600 which always makes my pictures grainy and not too sharp. So I decided to use Photoshop and artisfy them into renderings that look more like paintings. And walla these are the result...

Indigo Bunting - First time ever seeing one of these beauties - what a thrill

Blue Jay - California Blue Jays do not look like this, do they?


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Prairies on Fire!

Friday, May 1st was an incredible and exciting experience for me. Our neighbors down the road have 45 acres of prairie fields sectioned off into several fields. They had about 20 volunteers, they had their DNR permit; the weather looked favorable despite the bit of rain that started just as the first flame was set and they had a safe and successful burn. One of the men I spoke to mentioned the Arboretum in Madison, so I looked up their website and they have an article on why burning is necessary, part of article I read said, “Fire is a necessary disturbance in prairies and other fire-dependent communities because it removes plant litter, changes the soil chemistry, helps control woody plants in prairies, and favors native species over invasive exotic plants. “

What I found most interesting in watching the burn is that the fire knows exactly what to do. Ok, well I’m sure it had something to do with the talent of the fire starters who have been doing this for years. It seems that the wind was going one direction and the fire was going the other; that other being towards the middle.

The fire was set at the edges of each field and the flames just automatically moved towards the middle. Once they got to the other side they would come back in from the middle and when the flames met each other the fire would just burn out.

Fire breaks were surrounding each of the fields, they were green and had been mowed down, the fire didn’t even think about going in that direction. There were also several guys out there spraying water around the edges just at the borders as a precaution.

There were two fields I photographed and while the first field was exciting the second field had much more intense fire and flames. They said that field ‘had more fuel’. It is an adrenaline rush in a way to see and hear the burning grass. Not to mention the smoke! And Yes I got in the way of the smoke a few times, which really doesn’t feel too good in the eyes.

Now I can hardly wait to go back over there when the flowers and native plants start to come back to life and bloom in full glory. I’m sure I will be just as amazed to see all the wildflowers and native plant species growing in masses.

I have created a slide show for each field I took pictures of; the first field you can watch the slide show by clicking here.

The Second slideshow is not up yet, but will be coming soon....

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rose-breasted Grosbeak Vs Downy Woodpecker

So not long after I shot the first bird I saw this morning, I went back out to see yet another one. This Rose-breasted Grosbeak is definitely a different bird than the first one I shot below. Notice no black and white spots on the belly and the head is much darker...and on this guy you can just barely see a little red peaking underneath the wing....I really never thought I'd become such an avid birder...I swear this is like an addiction....well guess who won "this bird seed is mine match"?

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak has Landed

I do not know what type of bird this is yet! (I do now though). I will try to look him up and then will post again with its true name, he is another beautiful bird. This bird also has red under the tops of each wing as well. I noticed this bird on the deck Saturday morning, then this morning I saw he came back. So this is my first capture of him. The goal with him is to get a picture of him with his wing or both wings open some to show off all his beauty....I found him on this website:

He is the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Pheucticus ludovicianu, is a member of the Family Cardinalidae (Grosbeaks & Buntings). The male is distinguished by a rosy-red, triangular breast patch, black head and upper parts, white under parts, white wing patches and rosy-red wing linings, and a black tail with white spots. The female has black and white crown strips, white under parts with extensive streaking, dark gray upper parts, and yellow to yellow-orange wing linings.The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a neotropical migrant that breeds in woodland habitat. It is a mid-story or canopy nester with a diet consisting mostly of insects, and lesser quantities of fruit, seeds, and flowers.

Now to find the female! OR is this the female and the bird posted above duking it out with the Woodpecker the male. There is a black and white crown stripe, but her wing lining is not yellow to's red hummmmm

Friday, May 1, 2009

Female Cardinal ... Artsy Version

Well it took a while for me to sneak up on this little lady...seems the cardinals, females espeically are not so comfortable around people. So I had to sneak up to the sliding glass door and quickly take a photo before she sensed me and flew. I got two pictures before she disappeared. Since it wasn't super sharp taken through the window I artsifed it by using some filters in Photoshop. I actually am happy with the way it turned out as now it looks so much more like a painting on canvas that a photograph.

This morning we saw a Blue Jay out the window, while sipping our coffee. It was the first one I've seen here, and boy is that one going to be fun to photograph...hopefully he comes back so I have time to capture him on film too.