A Pair of Bald Eagles

On walkies near the Carson River, the Girl and I found a pair of bald eagles sitting in a cottonwood tree. It made our day, or at least mine.
I posted this image a few days ago on my Instagram account. I mentioned before that I am disenfranchised with IG of late because of FB’s decision to change to timeline from a chronological order to some algorithmically-driven monstrosity that does not permit me to track my follows. Urgh… OK, I need to end that rant…

The last couple of months were viciously busy with deadline-driven project work. It started before Christmas and has not let up yet. I have a couple more projects in front of me and then I may get a respite. This is not a complaint; I am deeply appreciative of the work. It is an explanation for why this part of my life is quiet — there is simply not enough energy to do the work and to keep up with my personal projects (that are important to me and that provide satisfaction). So my writing and my photography are operating at a low level for now until I finish the paying work.

That does not mean that my daily outings with the Girl stopped or that my carry of a camera has not gone on. In fact, the Girl and I walk at least once each day and on many days we take a second, shorter walk at a nearby doggie-park. I usually carry a camera along with me, either the tiny Olympus OMD E-M10 or now a Sony A7R if I am in a full-frame mood.

I remain a photographic experimentalist, preferring to use vintage or odd lenses on my cameras. I have some solid, modern glass for my Fuji and my Nikons, but those systems are generally reserved for when I need that type of image or am on some kind of project. But, I digress… it is not the equipment that I really care about. The equipment is just a set of tools I use to capture what I see.

On Friday I delayed walkies, partly because Young Son and I went to breakfast and partly because I was working on project work. But we finally drove over to Riverview Park about 1100 hours. I know I can get about a 3.5-mile walk there and it is near the Carson River. Although the river area is much prettier during the warm months, winter still offers the sound of flowing water and an opportunity to see wildlife.

It is this area where I saw my first Kestrel, my first Harrier, and my first Rough-Legged Hawk. I often see flickers, jays, and woodpeckers as well. So I love watching for birds, bunnies, and the occasionally coyote. There are reasons why I prefer walking the Carson River Corridor and not in-town.

As the Girl and I made our way along the path, we were greeted by many other walkers, both two- and four-legged. The Girl loves human interaction and tolerates most canines. She is a different dog than when she came to live with me.

We broke off from the main circuit around Riverview Park and headed north towards Empire Golf Course. As we turned the corner, I noticed a large raptor in a cottonwood tree. It was a bald eagle! Then I saw the second a few feet from the first. It was a pair!

I saw another pair in the area a year or two ago, about this time of year. They were perched in a small tree in the ephemeral wetland in Riverview Park. So I knew that bald eagles are seen in the area. But I was still surprised and delighted to find two of them on my morning walk. It made my day.

Fortunately, I had the Sony A7R with me and an old Vivitar 70-210mm manual-focus zoom lens. I spent a few minutes making captures of the eagles and talking to them while the Girl did doggie things. The eagles just watched us, more interested in the Girl than in me.

We walked on, me marveling at the encounter and the Girl continuing her doggie-things.

I expected them to be gone when we returned. But the pair was still there, still watching. So I made a few more captures, interacted with another walker (who did not see the birds), and we made our way home.

It was a good day. It was a good walk. I am blessed and the visitation of the bald eagles reinforced that for me once again.

Roses, Panasonic G3 and Fujian 50mm f/1.4

Roses with the Panasonic G3 and a Fujian 50mm f/1.4 video camera lens.

The Girl and I love morning walkies. It is partly a ritual, partly exercise, and mostly fun. We have a few favorite routes — some are here in town and others require a short drive. All of them present opportunities to be outdoors, places to walk off-lead, and stimulation from a variety of sources.

Once off-lead, the Girl loves to roam out a bit, sniffing and hunting ground squirrels. She never ranges far from me, although she is not the brightest bulb in the box. She can become focused and lose track of me. Instead of using her “doggie-sense,” she looks for me. That’s not smart…

But, it doesn’t happen all that often and rarely on our in-town routes. When walking in more rural areas, I’m careful to keep track of her even if I’m looking for something to shoot (with the camera).

One of our in-town routes takes us past the old Carson City lumberyard flume. It’s not a linear park, where doggies are welcome, and a wetland. Cattails grow in the drainage ditch (disguised as a wetland) and there is water there most of the year. Blackbirds often frequent the place and I love their calls.

A hedge of rosebushes delineates the boundary between the park and the adjacent open lot. The green is pretty and the small, red and white flowers are visually interesting. There are few squirrel burrows in the hedge, which provides distraction for the Girl.

One morning last fall, I carried the Panasonic G3 with a cheap Fujian 50mm f/1.4 video lens attached. The lens is not very sharp wide open, but has a nice bokeh and is sharp enough when stopped down to f/2.8 or f/4. The color and background attracted my eye this morning, so I made a few captures while the Girl sniffed about.

We then continued walkies, where I found a few bees on the volunteer sunflowers downstream from this site.

It was a good day. Life is good.

Social Media

We pulled into the Red Hut parking lot Saturday morning to get some breakfast. In the pickup next to us this puppy watched use carefully through its tongue-licked window. It was worth a pause for the shot.
The dopamine hit we get from interacting with social media is addictive. FB knows this (hence Facebook and Instagram). Google knows this (YouTube anyone?). I suspect many other companies know it and use it.

A favorite IG’er, @NateArizona, posted a chat on IG recently and talked about this. It made me think (or rethink) my use of social media, particularly FB, IG, Twitter, and SnapChat.

I’m not a big user of any of them, with the exception of IG. But I limit my exposure to IG in that I follow only a few posters and they are either family, friends, or a few photographers whose work I admire. I mostly post to IG, but am unsure that results in any additional traffic here, to my weblog.

I do not receive any meaningful feedback from my posts on IG. I am pretty serious about photography and work every year to improve my sight and my skills. I post a few captures on IG because it’s quick and I enjoy it. But I have only a couple hundred followers.

Therefore, I question whether it is worth the effort to continue the IG exercise or to refocus that energy to working here on my personal webspace. Perhaps I should think about my goals for IG and how those goals fit into my goals for this website. If my photographs are print-worthy, then I could generate some income to offset the cost of equipment and travel to make more captures of interesting places, people, and things.

But, I digress in my stream-of-consciousness fashion. I was really thinking about the social media addiction (a dopamine hit addiction) that so many of us suffer. I followed FB pretty closely for awhile, before a writer I admire referred to it as “an exercise in abnormal psychology.” That captured my attention, along with reading about Fear-Of-Missing-Out (AKA FOMO) and I realized that I was really missing very little, with few exceptions. Avoiding FB resulted in an immediate drop in frustration level (and probably blood pressure) from all that mess.

When FB bought IG I was deeply concerned. I loved the way my follows showed up in the feed when I checked in. I could quickly and easily determine what was new and have a look at the work of creatives I enjoy. When FB abandoned the chronological feed for something far more obscure I was deeply disappointed. Now they are becoming more adamant about showing me feeds that I might like and sponsored posts that want me to buy something. It is becoming unbearable.

The last couple of major elections reinforced my thoughts when I saw how nasty people were on FB. It was a moment when I eschewed the platform, for the most part, only visiting now and again after posting something here to see if I had comments that needed response.

(For the record, I also keep track of a few family members and very close friends there.)

So where does this leave my thoughts? Well, I will continue to use the social media platforms on my current list. I might move much of my photographic work here and post less on IG. I will certainly maintain my distance from FB as that problem of psychology I mentioned. Twitter and SnapChat are not big consumers of my time and energy, so there really isn’t much to do there.

And then there is Ello. I have an account there I do not use much. There are many creatives on Ello. But I do not really grok the platform. Perhaps Ello deserves a little more attention as far as posting my images and some supporting text. If one of my goals is to reach a wider audience with my photographs and my words, then that might be an approach. It is clear that neither IG nor FB is a viable solution. They are both crowded spaces and the algorithms are not intended to provide creators with outreach; the algorithms are intended to keep users hooked and increase revenues. That sounds cynical, but it is what I believe.

It seems I have some additional work to do. But perhaps I better get The Girl out and make a capture for today. I am certain I can find something to catch my eye….


On our walk along the Carson River Friday, we came upon these red berries or buds. I’m not sure what they are, but they provided an interesting contrast to the white rocks in the background.

We walked later than usual on Friday. I decided to do the strength workout before walking, so after taking care of some work and feeding us, we left the house about 1100h and headed for Silver Saddle Ranch. I really enjoy walking the Mexican Ditch Trail.

We parked at the usual staging area and humped down the hill through the ranch complex. I noticed an North American Kestrel that I first saw a few days ago, sitting in a tree. He flew off down the lane a hundred yards and perched on a fence post. As we continued walking the lane, he spooked and flew off across the hayfield. That made me smile and I spoke to him as he flew away.

I so enjoy seeing birds along the walk. I carry binoculars in my kit so I can watch them. I have an application on my iPhone that helps me identify them. My logging of my sightings is used by the Cornell Ornithology Unit to track populations, I’m certain.

I also identified a Northern Flicker as we walked the trail. I often hear woodpeckers working as we walk, but they are furtive and do not want to be seen. But Friday I spotted one and was able to observe him long enough to get an identification. His call confirmed my identification. He didn’t stay on his perch long, however. But I also spotted a female at the same location, and she was very spooky. She used her camouflage to hide against the bark of a cottonwood tree she occupied. I was amused and thankful for seeing both birds.

There was a lot of flow in the Carson River that afternoon. I supposed we had enough rain and snow in the mountains to raise the flowrate substantially. We paused at the dam to watch and listen to the water flowing over the weir. I noticed some red buds or berries on some scraggly brush along the Mexican Ditch, so we paused a few minutes for me to make an image.

There we met Linda and Austin. Linda is a tall, slender woman about my age. She’s clearly taken care of herself. Austin is her rambunctious black dog. Austin teased and irritated The Girl until she chased him. They were a hoot to watch. We all shared the path back to the ranch buildings and then parted ways, each on their path.

It was a good day. The walk did me good. The birds provided some intellectual stimulation and joy. The exercise is always good. A tired dog is a happy dog. So is a tired old man.

Washoe Valley Panorama

It’s not my best panoramic shot, but it captures the moment the Girl and I were on the Deadman’s Creek Trail.

The weather turned wet and gray yesterday evening. On our last walkies of the day, we drove over to the old orphanage doggie park and walked a circuit. It was spitting rain and the wind blew. While not cold, it wasn’t the best weather.

But The Girl is good so long as she’s moving. She’s hates being wet (but loves the snow), so I heard her shake now and again as she sniffed around. It’s a good sound and I enjoy.

The windproof hoodie I wore was enough to keep me warm. It was dark when we got out, but not bad with a light. So I enjoyed the outing and the time with The Girl.

I had to make a grocery run, so we drove to store, did the necessary reprovisioning to keep us fed, and returned home. It began raining not long after. I was glad to be home and have provisions for the next few days.

This morning is gray and rainy. I need to get out for a walk, so I’ll probably grab the M65 field jacket, put on my base layer bottoms, and get The Girl out for a walk. I really want to go walk the Carson River again today, so I think we will. Maybe there will be a photo-op out there. It will be a very different look from the recent walks.

But I was reminded of the wonderful hike we made up Deadman’s Creek Trail Sunday afternoon. While at the gazebo that overlooks Washoe Valley, I paused to make a panoramic image of the view. The fall colors are so warm and contrast so well with the cool colors of lake and sky. There is more water in Washoe Lake than I recall since we moved here in 2007. It is good to see.

It is a good. It was a good weekend. Now I’m off to go walk before the rains get started again. Life is good.

Willow Leaf

While walking the Riverview Park trail a couple of weeks ago, I spent a little time experimenting with a Wollensak lens.

Well, here is the last of my images from the fall Riverview Park hikes. The leaves are almost gone now and the trees are all dressed in their winter clothes. While there will be many days of hard blue skies and warm sunshine, the warm colors of summer and fall are gone.

But it is good. The change of seasons reminds me of changes of life. There is no constant; it is always dynamic. Sometimes the changes come so fast they take breath away, leaving one aswirl in thoughts and emotions as the changes are absorbed, if not understood or accepted.

At other times there is a slower ebb and flow to life, during which we ride those waves. The seasons remind me of those times as I walk daily the trails and watch the change in the position of the Sun and the change in the living things around me.

The slower times provide opportunity to reflect and process the times of faster change. It is good. Life is good.

On The Trail

Western Nevada gives me so many wonderful views. I love this time of year.

We are having some absolutely gorgeous weather this fall. Yes, we had a few cloudy, windy, cold days. But the sun came out late in the week, so the Girl and I went on a long easy hike from the staging area on Silver Saddle Ranch down to the Carson River and Mexican Dam. As I worked my way to the breakover where the trail heads down toward the river, I paused for a few minutes to take in the sun and the view. It was well worth the few minutes spent in field.

I will never tire of this view, no matter how many times I see it. Now I’m feeling the need to hike the Dead Truck Canyon trail again so I can get an overlook of Carson City. It would make a great image at the right time of day. It will be fun to push myself up the hill, too, with a full load out of my gear. I’ll bet my legs will complain. That is a good thing.

Soon They’ll Be Gone

These will all be gone too soon.

A few days ago, the Girl and I walked (again) the Carson River out at Riverview Park. Although they are currently rebuilding the trails, we cheat and bushwhack when we get close to working heavy equipment and then move back to the trail when we’re clear of the construction activity. I doubt they would bother me anyway and we stay out of the way of work crews.

In any event, most of the leaves are now gone. There are a few hangers-on, some cottonwoods and a few willows. They will shed their summer clothing soon and take on their winter grays.

In any event, I wanted to capture something of the sense of the day. I had the Lumix G3 with me, and the Wollensak 25mm f/1.9 affixed to the adapter. This lens doesn’t cover the sensor of the G3, but it’s close enough. The vignette doesn’t really bother me; it adds something of the vintage look to the capture, as do the optics of this old movie camera lens. I like the look.


I’m glad the Girl didn’t get into these!

There’s an old Wife story about “spiney.” I think we were visiting with my dad one afternoon, probably a Sunday afternoon because I recall there being ham and beans in the large pot simmering on the range. That means the weather was cool and there was probably football to watch, back in the days when I watched professional sports. (I loved watching football games with dad.)

Wife remarked something about my few-day-old stubble and couldn’t think of an appropriate descriptor. Somehow or another, she managed to say something about me being “spiney,” and it came out unintentionally.

Of course, dad picked it up and ran with it, much to the embarrassment of Wife. That was another great laugh and a great Wife story.

We were hiking on the Riverview Park trails a week or so ago and came across a patch of cockleburs. When I saw them, several thoughts ran through my mind in quick succession.

“Boy, I’m glad that the Girl didn’t get into those! Even with her short fur, she’d be an unhappy Girl when I had to pull them from fur, ears, and feet.”

“Boy, I’m sure glad I didn’t get into those. They’d be a bitch to get out of my socks!”

“I sure got into a lot of those back in Missouri, particularly when squirrel hunting in the fall. They were a bitch to get out of my clothes and are spiney as hell!”

“Those might make an interesting photograph. I’d better make one.”

At that, I pulled up the Panasonic Lumix G3 and got to work. I happened to have the Wollensak 25mm f/1.9 cine lens on the camera. It has an interesting, if a bit busy, bokeh.

Vivitar Series 1 90mm f/2.5 Macro

The Girl is often my model, being the girl I have handy and being good-looking.

After months of hunting and waiting on the-bay, I finally bought a Vivitar Series 1 90mm f/2.5 macro lens — the Tokina build. This lens is called the “Bokina” for obvious reasons. Something spectacular happened in the optical design that resulted in very smooth out of focus backgrounds. Hence derives its nickname.

I bought mine in Nikon mount, which means it will work on all of my Nikons, be it a film or digital camera. I am going to enjoy working with this lens. It is a classic by numerous standards.