Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bizarre Holidays in December - ATCs!

December has its fair share of bizarre holidays! December 10th is the Festival for the Souls of Dead Whales - this has to be one of the more unique ones. Why whales? Well, I did a bit of research, and one of the stories behind the holiday is that it is an Inuit holiday (Alaskan native). They relied on whales for food, and it supposedly was their way of honoring the whales. Sounds good, right? Well, again supposedly, the Inuits never heard of this holiday. So, now the thought it this was made up by a calendar company, looking for ways to encourage the purchase of ceramic mugs.....of whales, I suppose!

December 30th is not only Bicarbonate of Soda Day, but also Festival of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute Day. I focused on the Bicarbonate of Soda Day, but I think the background also sort of reminds one of a lot of changes all happening at the same time, which makes it all seem like the last minute! So, I'm kind of honoring both, don't you think?? (tee, hee!)

And, last but not least, is December 3rd, or National Roof Over Your Head Day! This holiday is to be a day to appreciate all that we have, not the least of which is (hopefully) a roof over our heads. No one knows exactly who first founded this day, but I like this sentiment, and hopefully this gentleman appreciates the roof that's over his head.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Snow Geese and a Golden Eagle at Bosque Del Apache

Bosque Del Apache is a National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, New Mexico. Every winter, thousands of sand hill cranes and snow geese spend the winter here. The majority of them are here from late October/early November until February/March. The above image is of hundreds of snow geese who were spending the afternoon enjoying the autumn sun in one of the marshes in the Bosque. They did leave this spot shortly after I took this shot, but returned overnight for a magnificent sunrise show the next morning!

Here are a couple that I think of as the Royal Pair. Don't they look regal? I love the reflection of them in the still waters of the marsh, too. Sort of an idyllic moment. Very calming and peaceful.

We were at the observation deck set up on the side of the marsh, waiting for sunset (and the sand hill cranes), when I happened to notice what bird experts around me said was a golden eagle perched on the top of the dead tree in the marsh. No wind meant great reflections in the water, and I couldn't resist capturing this lovely late autumn scene. A reward for patiently waiting.....


Sand Hill Cranes at Sunset

Every evening at the Bosque, the sand hill cranes will come back to roost in one of several marshes. The one we were at was the largest, and many cranes spent their nights here. The visitors' center stated there were about 1500 cranes here at the time we were here, and, altho we saw many, I doubt that we came close to seeing all 1500! The cranes tended to arrive in small groups, sometimes only a couple at a time. The image above is of a couple of the first that arrived. I was lucky enough to capture them performing synchronized eating, as I like to think of it! Mirror images of each other, and mirror images of each of them in the water. Very cool. Most of the cranes don't arrive until after the sun has set, so these were two of the early birds, so to speak.

Here's a bit of a close-up of a couple of other early birds. I was amazed at how perfectly graceful they are when they fly - look at how their feet are just perfectly pointed and together - figure skaters should try to imitate cranes when they work on keeping their toes pointed while skating! These two flew very close by the observation deck we were on.

As the sun got closer to setting, more cranes began arriving. This image appealed to me because I think of the cranes landing as doing a bit of a dance, and the entire scene made me think of them putting on a dancing performance. I also loved how still the evening was, so that all of their movements were captured in the reflection of the water.

This shot was one of the last that I was able to capture, and I really love this one. The cranes are silhouetted against the sunset sky, just as the last rays of the sun lit the sky. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect pose of the cranes, except, of course, they weren't posing. They were just coming home for the night, in the most graceful way possible.


Sunrise at the Bosque Del Apache

It was a very chilly (read cold!) morning, but if we wanted to see the birds, we needed to get up with them.....or actually before them, so we could be there when they woke up! The above image is one of several that I took of literally hundreds and hundreds of snow geese taking off at the beginning their day. The Bosque's count of snow geese when we were there was about 31,000 !! Yikes! The funny thing about this shot was just a few seconds before this (literally!), we heard a bird squawk, and I jokingly said to Jeff that it sounded like a call to arms - I guess it was, in a way, because within 2-3 seconds after I said that, this occurred! The most amazing thing about this moment cannot, unfortunately, be captured in this image. That was the incredible sound of all of those wings as these wonderful creatures took flight - it was beyond amazing.

A little while later, at a different marsh in the Bosque, we saw some sand hill cranes beginning their day. What amazes me about these birds is that, while on the ground, they look a bit gangly and awkward......but then, they take off, and it's all flowing grace. Beautiful.

These are the snow geese again - I had several opportunities to get some great images - after all, it takes a while for hundreds of them to truly take wing! And, we were lucky enough to be here for a magnificent sunrise. This image really captures my sentiments about this morning. The beauty, power and grace of Nature.


San Lorenzo Canyon

We did a bit of exploring while down at Bosque Del Apache, too! One of the places we explored was the San Lorenzo Canyon. It's a small canyon just a wee bit north of Socorro, New Mexico. It's really cool because you can drive down the canyon (assuming you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, or a front wheel drive vehicle and it was dry like it was this day), stopping to explore the "branches" of the canyon on foot. I loved the above shot of Miki, our German Shepherd. We came to the end of one of the canyon "branches" and found Miki sitting in a shallow sort of bowl carved into the ground. It's a dry waterfall. I guess, during some really heavy monsoon rains, this little "branch" is a bit of a waterfall and river!

Here's Jeff exploring another of the "branches". Yes, he climbed up the rocks that are in the photo between me and him. And, yes, I managed to climb them, too, after I took this shot. I have to admit, I wasn't as sure-footed as him, tho! I'm not sure why, but I just don't feel like I have a very good center of gravity while climbing up rocks - maybe because I'm worried about banging my camera??? In any event, the "path" we were following went on a little way from here, beyond the little patch of green behind Jeff (which was actually a small shrub).

I had to include this shot just because I love the sort of flow the image has. I was hoping to capture the feeling of the lines created by years of weathering the canyon has withstood, and hopefully, I've accomplished that. I also feel the little green grasses help to lead you into the image. On a more practical side, if I had more mountain goat in me, I think we might have been able to climb thru here, but I didn't suggest it, and Jeff didn't argue with me!


Quedaras Backcountry Byway

While down at the Bosque Del Apache, we explored a backcountry road called the Quedaras Backcountry Byway. It was a 24 mile dirt road that passed thru some scenic country, just a short little bit from I-25, a main highway that runs north and south in New Mexico. I really like the above shot as it's reflecting still a bit of green left even during later fall, and, of course, wonderful mountains in the background.

We just had to stop when we passed this arroyo that actually looks a bit more like a mini-canyon. From the land surrounding it, my guess is this rock was carved by the monsoon rains runoff that probably occurs most summers. Amazing how powerful water can be, isn't it?

Altho technically not part of the formal byway, I had to include this shot in this entry. We had left the byway and were just making our way back to the campground when we saw this. The sky was a typical grey day in late fall kind of sky (altho not usually in New Mexico kind of sky), and altho I really loved the clouds in this shot, it just didn't look as wonderful in color as it does in black & white.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Winter Potluck ATC Swap

This was a fun swap to create for! The theme was just winter - anything what so ever goes, as long as it's a winter theme! So, what's more wintry than a snowman! This is actually a napkin that I just put on the ATC, added some text, and some glitter to create the effect of sparkly snow. Just a fun card!

And, of course, what's more winter than Christmas? I again used a Christmas napkin as the background, and then added a vintage Santa and a torn definition of the word Christmas. This one has a nice vintage feel to it.

For this last card, I used a photograph of mine as the background. I then cut out what looks kind of like a window from a template that I had, added a cup of cappuccino or cocoa, text, and there you have it! I thought it created the feel of a winter day, when you're nice and warm inside!!


Friday, November 4, 2011

Sunset at City of Rocks

Sunsets at City of Rocks are quite lovely, too. The above image is of the branches of a shrub (sorry, don't know the name) against the sunset sky. I just liked the way the sunset set off the branches and thought I'd capture it.

Isn't this a lovely sunset landscape? I really like the pink/purple/blue of the sky and the nicely lit clouds. And, yes, the peaky mountain off in the distance is the same one I captured in the sunrise image!

Isn't this cool? It sort of captures the essence of City of Rocks - the monoliths, beautiful sunset sky and the crescent moon above it all. Life at its best!


Sunrise from the comfort of bed!!

Ok, so sometimes I'm a lazy photographer! One morning, when I raised the shades in the bedroom of our RV, this is the sight that greeted me. So, I decided to just sit on the bed with both kitties are either side of me, and shoot the sunrise! What a great way to start the day!

This image was actually a few minutes before the one above, just before the sun rose over the horizon. What a glorious start to the day! Oh, and in case some of you are thinking I have such sensitive kitties that enjoy things like sunrises.....well......I hate to burst your bubble, but the kitties were sticking close to me because I'm the source of food in the morning! Really, kitties are nothing, if not practical when it comes to that type of thing!


Plant & Fauna

One morning, we went hiking among the monoliths, and came across some fall fauna! Grasses were turning brown and going to seed. I like the above image because it's sort of abstract-y (is that a word?) and I just like the tones of the image.

Here's a close up of a couple of individual grass stems or leaves or whatever! I liked the way the blurred one in the background seems to echo the one in the foreground. Just a nice soft image.

One of the few things that were still really green (besides the trees) were the yucca. I loved the way the sun sort of reflected off the edges of its leaves - like little pinpricks of light.


City of Rocks State Park

This was our home away from home last weekend! The above image is a sort of overview of the entire state park. In the middle of some prairie-like terrain, some huge rocks just seem to spring up from the ground. They are about 20-30 feet high, so we're talking some fairly decent sized monoliths. According to the information published by the state park, there are only 6 places on the earth where this has occurred - and one of those places is in New Mexico! And, just for the record, we are not one of the white dots clustered together (those are the electric sites). If you look due right from the cluster, you'll see a tiny white dot - that's our campsite!

The above image was taken from our campsite looking up the hill. It may be hard to see in this shot (because I just wanted to capture the big sky!), but right under the tree to the right is a picnic table. That is actually a walk-in site, and the place where I took the photo of Miki from another blog entry.

I love this image, even tho it isn't one of mine. Jeff took this image with his iPhone camera - pretty good quality, don't you think? It's a photo of our actual campsite, and one of the few times you may be able to see me in the shadows with Miki - I generally don't like to have my photo taken (which is why I'm a photographer!). I thought this might give you an idea of how cool it is to camp at this state park, nestled among the monoliths!


Animals & Nature!

This entry is animal themed and from our camping weekend last weekend! The first image, above, is of our wonderful German Shepherd, Miki, as she was sort of surveying her weekend domain. We were sitting in a walk in campsite just up the hill from our own campsite (the tree between the rocks in the center of the photo is our campsite), and Miki seemed to just enjoy sitting and looking out on all the running space available to her!

This next image is of my darling little kitty-girl, Tatoosh, as she sat on the back of the couch/sofa in the RV looking out the window at the great view she had from there. I thought it would make a good silhouette image, and I do like the way it came out. Sort of her contemplating life beyond the safety of the rig!

This last image is of one of the many birds and other creatures that flew around us while we were walking around or just sitting at the campsite. It was so quiet there, I was able to just sit at the campsite and listen to the sound of flying - the slower "whosh, whosh" of the crow/raven flying, the sort of whirring sound of the quail's wings as it took flight, and the sort of clacking sound made by the grasshoppers as they flew about. I never thought grasshoppers really flew, but the ones at this state park certainly did! I don't know if they were a different variety of what, but they definitely flew quite the distance!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Textures & Abstracts in Nature

Went camping this past weekend, and had some fun with textures and abstracts in nature. The above image is a photo of some moss growing on a rock, that I then applied some artistic filters to in PhotoShop!

I really like this image! There was the dead part of what I think was a yucca plant of some sort. Again, I took a close up of the dead yucca "leaves" and then applied a different fun artistic filter to it and got this result!

This one has to be my favorite. One morning when we woke up, I pulled up the shade in the RV bedroom window and just sat there with the 2 kitties on each side of me, watching the sun rise. I took this photo, even tho I knew it was a bit too dark to have the image come out in sharp focus. I thought it might turn out cool out of focus, and I think it did! I didn't play around with this one at all in terms of enhancing it or applying filters. These are the actual colors of the sunrise....and if one is sleepy enough or without glasses/contacts, I guess the hazy focus could be reality, too!