Mother Fox

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I woke up early this morning about 6:00 am and couldn’t fall back to sleep. When opening the blinds for breakfast, I noticed a mother fox standing on our deck railing and it looked over at me at the window. So I grabbed my iPhone and went into my bedroom for a photo more directly opposite the fox several feet away. When I very slowly and quietly peeked through the side of the window blinds to take the picture, she immediately noticed and turned her head to look straight at me.

Then I noticed a little baby fox (about a foot long) scampering around the grass below. So she must have been standing guard for their morning playtime, and she was going to make sure nobody threatened them. I wasn’t able to capture its photo since I didn’t have a good angle, and it kept going in and out the opening on the side of the deck near that corner which they have been using as their “entrance”. The other morning we had seen the mother trotting across our deck with something like a mouse, rat, or vole in its mouth and it disappeared down under the deck. Maybe that might have been breakfast for the family that day. I imagine we will see more activity until they get old enough to leave.

Recently, we’ve noticed there was a fox living under our deck, but didn’t know there were babies. During the night sometimes, we have heard fox “noises” from under the deck next to the wall in our bedroom, and knew something was going on there. We have had a fox den there in the past, including a small family of with 3-4 little ones. Apparently, the babies must have been born while away during our recent Rhine cruise and Germany trip since the little foxes are not out and about, at least close to their den.

Photography 101: Pop of Color

Photography 101: Pop of Color

The theme for our Day 11 assignment in Photography 101 was “A Pop of Color”. I focused on several images which emphasize various shades of yellow which stand out from their backgrounds, including sunsets, blue agave, glass sculpture, paraglider, and hot-air balloon.

Seattle Sunset

This first one is a photo of a Seattle sunset taken by the mother of the groom at a wedding reception I attended for my niece on the 76th floor of the Columbia Tower Club. I also took quite a few photos, but none turned out like hers, so I decided to include hers since it’s so amazing. This is actually what it looked like, but I just missed the perfect timing she had.

Notice the yellow from the sun and the awesome red glow on Puget Sound. The ferris wheel down on the pier in the lower-left is nicely lit up, so are the Seattle streets and some of the skyscrapers, and of course there’s the Space Needle in the distance (upper-right) that looks so tiny from up where we were.

Seattle Sunset

Seattle Sunset

Lago Vista Sunset

This is another sunset photo that I took from my deck in Lago Vista, which shows the setting sun over Lake Travis west of Austin, Texas. Its golden ball stands out and lights up the sky and clouds.

Lago Vista Sunset

Lago Vista Sunset

Blue Agave at Sunset

This was another photo that I took which shows a Blue Agave which sprouted in my neighbor’s back yard.  We watched it grow daily from what looked like a giant asparagus stalk until it fully evolved with its spiral arms and and all their flowers. I couldn’t help taking lots photos of it since it was rising so fast and quite an amazing sight.

This one was taken at sunset with the blue agave in the foreground with the sun exploding through the clouds behind it with all the rays of light that are scattered in all directions. My guess that it must have been over 30 feet tall, and you can see how tall it is here. By the way, this is the plant that grows in Mexico which they use to make tequila.

Blue Agave at Sunset

Blue Agave at Sunset

Glass Sculpture

I thought this was a fantastic splash of yellow at the Chihuly Garden and Glass, where they have an exhibition, glasshouse, and garden that highlight Dale Chihuly’s colorful glass sculptures next to the Space Needle at Seattle Center. It really pops out at you, especially against the blue sky, green trees, and even the smaller purple sculpture.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Paraglider

Here’s a photo that I took of a yellow/green paraglider at Torrey Pines Gliderport on the scenic cliffs above Black’s Beach in the La Jolla area of north San Diego, which is a very popular place for hang gliders, paragliders, and sailplanes. The colorful wing really stands out from the blue somewhat overcast sky which blends into the Pacific Ocean.  Notice the pilot in the little pod hanging from the paraglider. I guess they must be able to guide it somewhat, but I think the winds might contribute more to where they actually land.

Yellow Paraglider

Yellow Paraglider

Hot-Air Balloon

Finally, we have a yellow hot-air balloon against a clear blue sky above Prosser Lake north of Truckee, California, where ballooning is a fairly popular activity. This really pops out at you also from the blue background.

Yellow Balloon

Yellow Balloon

I’ve enjoyed sharing these colorful photos with you.

Photography 101: Weekend Two (Play with Light) – Balcones Hike

Photography 101: Weekend Two (Play with Light) – Balcones Hike

Over the weekend, it was suggested that we go out and practice our photography and include them in a post to share with the community.  Since it was a nice day on Sunday for a hike, I thought it might be a good opportunity to practice my photography with my iPhone 5 camera, and see if I learned anything yet.  So we went to the Cactus Rocks Trail at Warbler Vista in the Balcones Canyonlands just west of Lago Vista where we live.

This national wildlife refuge protects several endangered songbirds  which only nest there – the golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo  It’s a nice 1.75 mile hike which took just over an hour, and I took about 69 shots.  However, I selected just a few to highlight here with some comments about the photos or what I was trying to accomplish.

There were several different things I wanted to experiment with. I tried to utilize a grid for composition with the rule of thirds. I was trying to be aware of light and shadows and how that might affect my shots.  Also, I used both vertical and horizontal versions of the same shot.  And I wanted to capture interesting things that I encountered.

Sun & Shadow

Toward the end of the hike, the sun was getting lower in the sky and started to shine through the trees and cast interesting light and shadow so I tried to capture that. First, I noticed the sun peeking through the trees so I thought that might make an interesting shot.  I managed to get the sun, but it didn’t turn out that special.


Then I saw some interesting light being scattered through the trees and that seemed like it could be a good shot.  What I didn’t realize was that it also captured my shadow taking the picture in the shot, but  that actually made it a bit more interesting.

Light on Trail & Cairn

As we walked along the trail, I kept looking for things that might be good photos and I took these photos. This shows the light across the trail through the trees, which did not turn out quite like it looked when I took it but perhaps my settings were not right for that situation.


I noticed cairn markers, or man-made stacks of rocks, along the trail that I think the Boy Scouts might have made when they helped clear the trail.  These offer markers to signal hikers that they are actually following the right path, and these appear periodically along the trail as guides.

Large Cactus & Cactus Rock

There are lots of cacti in this area so they are all over the place.  I thought I should try capturing a few of them as we walked. This shows a fairly large cactus growth on the trail, and there were lots more like it. It seemed like it might photograph well, but the light wasn’t quite right.


This one was interesting because the cactus was actually growing right out of the rock.  There were several like this.  I guess that’s why they called it “Cactus Rocks Trail”.

Lake + Road + Sun

I thought this might be an interesting shot of Lake Travis and the winding hilly road along the north shore with the sun starting to go lower in the sky. First, I tried to take a vertical shot to see how that looked. This seemed to make the lake appear too distant but instead emphasized all the trees in the foreground (which aren’t as interesting).


I think this horizontal shot looks better because you get a better sense of the area that focuses on both the lake and road. Also, I liked how the camera captured the light flare from the sun in the phot.

Lake closeup

I thought it might be worthwhile to try a zoom shot of the lake.  So first I tried this one as a vertical photo, which again seems to put the lake more in the distance.

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For this horizontal one, I think it looks better because it focuses on the lake more. It’s more than 40 feet below normal because of the extreme drought this area has been under for over 5 years.  So it looks more like the winding Colorago River that formed Lake Travis (and six other lake) when their dams were established for the Highland Lakes chain.

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Road from trail & deck

It was interesting to see the road below from the trail.  This first shot was taken from a ridge along the trail that overlooks the road from the hillside.

 

This second photo was take higher up from a Sunset Deck platform which has a nice view of the lake and surrounding area including the road below.  I like this one better because it emphasizes how the road winds among the trees in the area.

Overall, it was a nice hike with wonderful weather, and I had a chance to practice photography some more.  Obviously, there’s still more I need to learn and work on, but it’s a start and I enjoyed it. However, in general, I became more aware of my surroundings, observing what might make a good photo to capture, and had fun doing it.

Photography 101: Bliss

Photography 101: Bliss

For my Photography 101 Day 4 assignment, these photos represent “Bliss” for me.

We love playing golf on the Lago Vista and Highland Lakes golf courses on Lake Travis where we live.  It’s very relaxing, especially when it’s mid-70’s with a light breeze, playing golf while we enjoy the scenic views and try to avoid hitting the white-tailed deer.  Of course, the weather is not always perfect, and we’re fortunate that the courses are never very busy so we often have it all to ourselves.  It’s always fun and a great way to spend about four hours topped off with a nice cold beer.

Lago Vista Golf Course

Lago Vista Golf Course on Lake Travis

We also enjoy sitting on our deck in the evening watching the sun go down, especially with all the beautiful sunsets over Lake Travis.  Unfortunately there’s not as much water in the lake now since we’ve been in an extended drought, but it’s still a very relaxing view at the end of the day, especially with a nice glass of wine.

Lake Travis at Sunset

Lake Travis at Sunset

We are very happy living here with the wonderful golf, lake views, and sunsets.  This is “bliss” for us. I look forward to share more photos with you.

Photography 101: Home

I think of “Home” as where I live in Lago Vista, Texas. Most importantly, I have been happily married now for 47 years with 2 sons and 3 wonderful grandchildren. I have included a few photos that capture some images that we share every day.

We have a nice house on the north shore of Lake Travis west of Austin in the Texas hill country. It’s not fancy but just right for us and very comfortable as our retirement home. We have two lovely golf courses and tennis courts nearby which we love to play.  Also there’s quite a bit of wildlife in our backyard to watch such as white-tailed deer, road-runners, hares, red fox, hummingbirds, squirrels, birds, butterflies, etc.

House Front

We are fortunate to have a lake view from our deck, although the lake is currently over 40 feet below average for this time of year since we have been in an extreme drought for over 5 years now. This photo was taken in 2007 around the time we moved here, when there was more water in the lake.

Lake View

Also, we are blessed with fantastic sunsets most every day which are great to enjoy. I have periodically captured some photos of them, and they have been included in the “Sunsets” post in my blog. They appear as a randomized custom header image above which changes every time you access my web site.

Sunset View

In fact, last year we had a blue agave sprouting in our neighbor’s back yard, which we watched grow every day until it was about 30 feet tall. This was an early photo after growing somewhat but its branches had not fully spread out in their spiral pattern and hadn’t really started flowering yet. This was an interesting photo I captured of the agave at sunset.

Blue Agave at Sunset

Currently, I use an iPhone 5 for my photos, although some earlier ones were taken with a Canon PowerShot S400 which I don’t have any more. I should probably consider getting another point-and-shoot (or maybe a DSLR) camera sometime, but for now my iPhone should work fine and I need to learn about photography first.

I look forward to share more photos with you.

Sunsets

Sunsets

These are some sunsets I have taken with my iPhone from our deck.  We are so fortunate to live in Lago Vista on the north shore of Lake Travis in the Texas Hill Country west of Austin.  It’s wonderful to watch each day end with a glorious sunset which constantly changes.

I thought these would be appropriate to use as my randomized custom header for my web site so it’s different every time you visit.  Also I recently captured a panoramic photo of a Morning Rainbow when we woke up just after a nice rain.

Morning Rainbow

We had a lovely rain when waking up this morning. We need it badly since we’ve been in an extended drought for over five years now and the lake is probably still over 40 feet below its normal average levels. When I looked outside, it was starting to clear somewhat, although it was still raining lightly. I noticed there was a nice rainbow outside the window, so I went out to see it better. It was a full rainbow that I captured as a panoramic image with my iPhone.

Morning Rainbow

Also, see the photos of Sunsets that I have take with my iPhone.  They were previously used as randomized custom header images for my web site.