Tag Archives: photos

Return of the Ice Age

When I went to bed last night it was spring. Where did this come from???

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The Blue Jays are Getting Braver!

The blue jays have been coming to my window feeder for years, but in spite of the fact that these birds are often contentious and some times even downright hostile, they have also proven to be quite shy. The slightest move from someone on the inside will send them soaring out of range. For some reason this winter’s birds don’t seem to object to having their picture taken.

bluejay2 bluejay3 bluejay4 bluejay1

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Mother Nature and the Downside of Winter

bird in a snowy bushMother Nature is a talented artist. With vibrant colors and peaceful landscapes she lures us to the window to admire her artistry, but the pictures she paints are often camouflage for the savagery of her world. She holds no regard for strength, youth, age, or beauty. She gives life to whomever she chooses, and she takes life without prejudice. As my father, an avid birdwatcher, often says, “It’s a war zone out there.”

With the Arctic winds sweeping around the world with the help of the polar vortex, the Northeastern United States has again become a major battle ground between life and death for local wildlife, and amongst the latest casualties in this war, is a creature I have often heard yet never seen.

She lives in the misty realms between reality and irrational fear. Her spine chilling screams bring back memories of October nights, jack-o-lanterns, and Ichabod Crane. When she raises her voice in the night, we imagine the rush of feathered wings, talons descending in the darkness, and death. We think of her as frightening, powerful, ghostly, and wise, but seldom do we think of the eastern screech owl as being extremely vulnerable.

eastern screech owl

Beautiful even in death

Measuring in at less than a foot, the eastern screech owl is a surprisingly small bird when compared to the volume of sound her tiny lungs can produce. Her meager wingspan stretches 18 to 24 inches from wingtip to  lacy wingtip. Those beautiful wing feathers are so uniquely constructed that she can drop silently upon her prey of insects and small mammals. So acute is her hearing that she can locate a mouse beneath dense foliage or snow, but the plunging temperatures have been keeping the creatures of the night safely tucked in their dens, making food scarce and survival difficult for our late night aerial predators. This exquisite screech owl was found by the bird feeder. Overtaken by hypothermia and starvation this beautiful predator joined the multitude of nature’s victims. Somedays, my love affair with Mother Nature leaves me overwhelmed with awe and admiration, and yet others, I despise her for her unbiased cruelty. Today, I hate her, but tomorrow starts another day.

Sue

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Kitsten in No Cats Land

Kitsten No Cats Land 1Ever notice how a cat gives you that “Ask me if I care?” look when you catch it someplace it’s not allowed to be? I found this troublesome, little furball sitting with my antique books. I told her to get down. She told me to get lost. Oh, the joys of owning a cat … Correction: Oh, the joys of being owned by a cat!Kitsten No Cats Land 2

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Two Cats and a Squirrel

two cats and a squirrelMeet Shorty. No, he’s not one of my cats. He’s the little guy whose butt is sticking up in the center of my photo. Shorty is a two-year old American gray squirrel.

Baby Squirrel

First Trip to the Feeder

Bold as a cougar, and almost as mean, this little guy has been frequenting my bird feeder since his Mama Squirrel first brought him to the windowsill as a tiny ball of fluff.

Just stopping by to say hello!

Just stopping by to say hello!

I’ve watched him grow from a frightened baby on his first excursion from the nest, to a clumsy teenager, to an active adult, and now I am watching him grow old. Dubbed “Shorty” because he lost a substantial portion of his once long tail, presumably in one of his many brawls, this battle-scarred, old squirrel rules the feeder now that his mama is gone. The other squirrels stay away until Shorty is finished eating if they know what is good for them. Even the quickest of birds keep their distance rather than dart in behind him, as is their habit with the other squirrels. My old cats sleep on the windowsill. Shorty doesn’t care. The young cat lunges forward in attack and slams her face against the glass (I never said she was smart.) Shorty doesn’t even drop his sunflower seed, and this photographer can call his name, knock on the window, and stamp on the floor, and Shorty will not turn around! This shot probably would have ended up framed and on my wall had I actually managed to get something other than a squirrel’s butt nestled in between my cats. Maybe next time.

SueHe finally turned around, but the cats had gone.

He finally turned around, but the cats had gone.

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Taking Clear Fireworks Photos With the Kodak CD1013

fireworks10Of all of the cameras I have owned in my lifetime, the Kodak CD1013 is my favorite. My little Kodak has seen so much use that not only has the color worn off the corners, but the icons are completely missing from the dial, and the word Kodak on the upper left hand corner reads only as “ak”. It has seen years of abuse from being tossed into purses and suitcases and being stuffed into the pockets of jeans and sweaty T-shirts. It’s gone with me on vacation and nature hikes, endured the tortures of children, and been slept on by cats. It’s been under the hoods of my cars and inside the walls of my house to get photos of places that the human eye cannot see. If I ever drop my purse in the river, my first thought will probably be: “Oh no, my camera was in there.”  My Kodak CD1013 goes with me everywhere. The clarity of its photos and the camera’s sheer endurance have taught me that the quality of a camera cannot always be judged by the price.

But learning to use the CD1013 to the fullest of its potential has been a challenge, and in spite of the time my camera and I have spent together, I am still learning.

Today, I thought I would pass on some simple lessons I have learned about using the CD 1013 in fireworks mode.

I was so excited to take my camera to its first fireworks display. Since I am heavily into PowerPoint, I had big dreams of implementing fabulous photos of exploding light in my presentations. After a couple of hours of sharing a patch of grass with a few adventuresome spiders and ten or twelve hungry mosquitos, my camera and I managed to produce a couple hundred photos that looked like this:fireworks 5

or this:fireworks 3

What a disappointment. (For me, not for the spiders and mosquitos. They had a blast.)

Hours wasted, but lessons learned.

Lesson number 1: Do your homework. Find out where they will be shooting off the fireworks. Not just “at the mall”, but where are the people setting them off going to be. Once you know that, scout out the surrounding area ahead of time, taking into consideration distance and possible obstructions. Choose your spot and get there early. If you wait until the last-minute, you might find that everyone in town thought that was a good spot.

Lesson number 2: Don’t deceive yourself into believing that you can hold the camera still enough. In Fireworks mode, the lens will be held open for several seconds, so you will need to find a way to  stabilize the camera. I have found that the hood of a pickup works in a pinch (as long as the kids aren’t in the back.), but a tripod works the best.  Once you press the button keep your fingers off of the camera until it has finished processing the shot. The CD1013 will pick up movements that we find undetectable and ruin your photograph.

Lesson number 3: Press the button the second you hear them set off the fireworks. If you see the shot, by the time you press the  button, you will have missed the shot.

Lesson number 4: Take as many photos as you can. The more photos you take the more chances you have of capturing a masterpiece.fireworks1More about using the Kodak CD1013 at (Deceiving the Auto Focus on the Kodak CD1013)

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Happy Halloween From The Squirrel’s Eye

Halloween Cat

 

Wishing you a scary and safe Halloween,

From Sue, P. Booher, and the Kitties

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