Bunches of Blue

Another of the backyard flowers that has burst into bloom is this wonderful Hydrangea.  I was looking at the multitude of flowers and noticing how there is quite a bit of variety in those big mop heads.  Besides the nice pastel blue that you see from a distance, there are also white and yellow hues mixed in and when you get closer you see how many different stages of blooming are here.

In this bundle, you can see flowers that are completely open, buds that are tightly closed and some interesting little star-burst stems which I assume will soon be covered with flowers also.  This is one more instance of how little we really see when viewing things from a distance and how much we miss if we don’t get in close.

Mophead Hydrangea
Roswell, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF Micro-Nikkor
105mm @ f/5 – 1/400 sec – ISO 200

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My Daylilies are blooming

It’s the perfect conditions for flowers, warm weather and plenty of rain.  This has really brought out the Day Lilies in my yard and the previous night’s rain also left lots of water drops this morning.

I haven’t quite figured out the best aperture to use on these shots.  This image is actually a combination of two exposures.  The flower is at f-11 and the background is f-6.3.  I took a series of exposures and couldn’t really find a sweet spot where the whole flower was sharp and the background was blurred out.  I guess I will need to keep trying on this.

Mike Moats told us at his Boot Camp about printing out blurred images and putting them on a backing to put behind subjects and block out distracting backgrounds.  In this case, I don’t mind the background itself but it was competing way too much with the shot that got all the flower detail.  So, this time I went to Photoshop to get a combination of the two.  Maybe that was the only choice for this shot.  I’m not sure.

Summer Day Lily
Roswell, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF Micro-Nikkor
105mm @ f/11 – 1/50 sec – ISO 200

Things are looking up

Here’s a lesson to remind us to always look around when deciding where to find your next image.

The story in this case is as follows: I was enjoying a beautiful morning at the Helen Balloon Festival with the North Georgia Photography Club when one of our group struck up a conversation with some of the people running the tethered balloon ride.  It turns out that they were major sponsors of the event and wanted some photos to use for publicity.  We, of course, were happy to help and so, they offered to send a few members of our group up in the balloon to get the view from above.

Helen Balloon Festival-5092

I got a series of shots from the ground and some nice views of the surrounding area but then I turned around when the burner came on.  I noticed what a great view it was to look up through the balloon from inside the basket.  To make it even better, this balloon had a smiley at the center!

Helen Balloon Festival-5081

It was never my intention to take this shot but by paying attention and being open to the unexpected, I got something unusual and interesting.  Gotta be one of the most important lessons I have learned about photography.  It’s always good to do your research, plan, and show up at the right time but sometimes it’s the things you didn’t plan on that turn out to be the best images.

Always look around and work the scene.  Life is what happens while we’re making plans.  Don’t let your plans cause you to miss the opportunities that surround you!

44th Annual Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race & Festival
Helen, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
10mm @ f/9 – 1/1250 sec – ISO 400

Here’s how it’s done, son

One of the neat things about bird-watching this time of year is that there are so many baby birds around.  I was watching this pair of Downy woodpeckers and followed how one of them seemed to be feeding the other.

Birds-4715

At first, I didn’t know if it was just friendly sharing of food but on closer inspection, you can see that one (the one with a bright red stripe on the back of his head) is an adult and the other is a juvenile.  You can see the pale red patch on the top of the one to the right of this shot.  That’s the baby and it seems that he was hungry because they kept doing a dance on the side of the tree until Dad forked over some food.

Once again, I learn a little about nature while trying to get some good images.  What a great way to spend an afternoon.

Downy Woodpecker – Adult Male and Juvenile
(Picoides pubescens)
Alpharetta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
400mm @ f/8 – 1/40 sec – ISO 200

Gotcha!

So, I just pounded my head on the side of a tree to get some bugs to peek out of their hiding place then, Zap! I snag one with my tongue and there’s a mid-day snack.  The life of a woodpecker is so glamorous.

I don’t think I ever gave any thought to how a bird would snag a moving insect.  Kind of thought it would be like the Karate Kid catching a fly with chopsticks.  It’s more like an anteater burrowing into a termite mound but actually, the woodpecker’s tongue is like a spear with barbs on it.  They impale their prey with the tongue and the barbs pull the insects out of their holes and into the bird’s mouth.

The wonders of nature are all around us.  I love learning about this as part of my photographic journey.

Red-bellied Woodpecker
(Melanerpes carolinus )
Alpharetta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/8 – 1/15 sec – ISO 200

Hot Air Balloon Launch

It is always a beautiful sight to see hot-air balloons launch in a rainbow of colors into the sky.  Saturday morning in Helen, Georgia, this was definitely the case.  We watched the crews lay the balloons out then use a big fan to blow air in and then the burners to heat the air and make it float.  They don’t all lift off at the same time but drift up one or two at a time for a great scene.

This is also a sport that is very dependent on the weather.  Each time there is a balloon launch, there is a distinct possibility that it won’t happen.  As a member of one of the crews told me, it’s kind of a Goldilocks type thing.  Not too hot or too cold, not too windy or too calm or it is a No Go.  On this morning, things were pretty good but the wind was on the very light side.  If they had been launching for the race, it probably would not have gone off.

The race that is the center of this annual balloon festival is a unique event.  The balloons launch from the city of Helen in the North Georgia mountains, bound for the Atlantic Coast.  There is no pre-determined end location but the finish line is Interstate Highway 95 (I-95) that runs all along the east coast of the US.  The shortest possible distance is 225 miles away but, technically, the finish line could be crossed anywhere from Maine to Florida.

44th Annual Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race & Festival
Helen, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
16mm @ f/10 – 1/60 sec – ISO 200

Helen Balloon Festival

Joyce and I went out at 0-dark thirty yesterday to see the Balloon Festival in Helen, GA.  The event was scheduled to start at 6:30am and it took about an hour and a half to drive there so, that tells you when we had to leave.

We had  a great time meeting up with the North Georgia Photography Club and watching as the crews laid the balloons out, filled them with hot air and launched.  It was beautifully colorful and lots of fun to see.

I only got part way through my post-processing since I ran out of steam before it got to be late.  Should have taken a nap in the afternoon but, that didn’t happen.  More pics to come soon.

44th Annual Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race & Festival
Helen, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
16mm @ f/10 – 1/60 sec – ISO 200