Dr Marm never without my Nikon!


Lensbaby Spark Fun

Winter Blues

Winter Blues

According to  the groundhog, “Punxsutawney Phil” we are due for an early spring…however, many states have endured horrific winter weather over the past week.  In the Sacramento, California area our snow level dropped to 900 feet which is insane for us!  Of course, the next day no clouds were in the sky and nothing but beautiful blue overhead.  What these images can not share is the temperature–our morning lows have been 30 degrees or so with our day high nearing 60.

I decided to take my Lensbaby Spark out for a jaunt in the backyard to celebrate our chilly, but dry weather.  The Spark lens is the lightest Lensbaby in my collection and easy to manage on my D600.  The challenge and fun aspect of this lens  (in my humble opinion)  is that you do not secure your composition–hands need to maintain constant pressure on the Spark to keep the effect you desire.

My favorite aspect of using a Lensbaby is the fact you can achieve so many different results with the same tool.  Creativity is unlimited.  The next two images are of the same Oak Tree which towers over the backyard and yet appear so different, because of the lens flexibility.

Over Head

Over Head

Love the look of swirls–especially with fall color but still creates a fun abstract result with bare branches.

Just a Twist

Just a Twist

Some flowering varieties, one in various shades of green and the other with a splash of color.

Abstract Beauty

Abstract Beauty

The light in this shot allowed the creative aperture of the “sun” to show through a bit.

Backyard Blooms

Backyard Blooms

Anyone else ready for spring???

ICM–Intentional Camera Movement

Wow! It has been SO long since I have done a blog that WordPress has quite a few changes. Mostly, I have just been sharing my limited images via Facebook–but decided to keep a theme and share my recent new shooting technique. (New to me, not anything I invented!)

Have you ever had an image where you moved when your shutter was still open and it blurred your photo? Maybe–strong winds with your camera on a tri-pod without using a cord?  I certainly have had my fair share of blurry photos due to unintentionally moving something I should not have while I was shooting.

Recently, I was reading an e-book, “SLOW The Magic of Long-Exposure Photography” by Andrew S. Gibson. I learned that there is a technique to intentionally create movement in camera and it is called–wait for it…Intentional Camera Movement (ICM). I had seen the results of images posted by others, especially with fall shots and didn’t know how to achieve it, but now I do! As Mr. Gibson suggests–you can look it up on Flickr and see some talented shots.

The technique is basically panning your camera as you shoot in Shutter priority with a long enough exposure–half a second or longer to create the movement, with abstract results.  I found the coastal region of Northern California to be an ideal spot for this venture. Pacific Ocean below a bluff

Pacific Ocean below a bluff
Silky Appearance

Silky Appearance

Liked the angle of the water

Liked the angle of the water

Black and White

Black and White

Saturated Colors

Saturated Colors

The advantage of this shoot being at sunset was that I could get quite a few different color options as the sunset faded and the light show began.  The above images were processed using Lightroom 4.3 and started as RAW files, so I would have more choices refining what I captured and wanted to share.

En route to the sunset location there was a grove of trees in their winter glory–no leaves and darker bark with sunlight hitting them just as I wished. so, here is actually my first attempt at ICM.

Quite Squiggly

Quite Squiggly

Got a good chuckle, and decided I was pleased with my result. Clearly, there is indeed movement during this shot! Soon, I discovered it was much easier to pan horizontally than vertically! Hold camera and tuck in elbows to your body for a cleaner pan.

There was a field with such luscious green grass a herd of White-Tail Deers were munching away in the distance. The road was a good 50 yards or more from where they were located, and we were separated by a barbed wire enclosure. Here are a few shots of the pasture.  The first two shots are from the same file–only difference is with the “Clarity Slider” in Lightroom.  Same exact image with clarity at -100 for the second view–no other differences, but certainly changed the result!

Boosted Clarity to about 60

Boosted Clarity to about 60

All clarity removed…

Lighter colors and details

Lighter colors and details

One last view of the deer in the distance with a nice tree to provide a change in scenery!

Tree and Deers

Tree and Deers

Continuing with the theme of movement…here are two images that were not ICM, but I kept them due to their abstract result.  If you know me, I am a great fan of Lensbaby Optics and love the abstract results you can create with them, so no wonder why I couldn’t part with these shots. To clarify–neither is a Lensbaby image!

Drawing of a Sun

Drawing of a Sun

What came to my mind as I first saw this image was that it reminded me of pictures that children draw with a sun in the sky with rays coming off of the center. OK–I still draw mine that way, am certainly NOT an artist in that respect!

This was taken at dusk…my intended shot was to get the hawks that were swooping down and making a meal of the bats that were coming out from under the specially designed bridge (designed for the bats, the previous one was lost in a flood). I used a WAY too long of an exposure to hand hold and the speed at which the bats were exiting and hawks swooping and snacking were much faster than the settings on my camera were!



Look forward to working on my panning and ICM skills and writing more blogs to share with you!

Thanks much, for viewing–it is greatly appreciated:D

American River Stormy Views

I am an avid reader and enjoy reading photography books, blogs, e-books–anything I can gain knowledge from and enjoy the wonderful images others have created.  Many times I have read that the best photos come from your location–knowing when the weather and conditions will get you an amazing view.  Usually, this is written by someone who lives near Yosemite, in Hawaii, and other vacation destinations I’d love to live near.

This week in Northern California we went from 100 degree weather down to the high 70s–that was a delightful shift and much welcomed!  There was also a threat of rain.  I was watching the sky and the clouds and noticed they were getting very inviting for a photo outing.  So, I went to the American River–one of my favorite locations and a 5-minute drive.  Have been dealing with severe back and neck challenges due to an injury, so am very limited in what I can do and for how long.  (This outing was less than 20-minutes and SO worth it.)

My Nikon 18mm is a wide angle prime and very light weight and has become my go-to lens.  Do love the continuing “learning curves” of photography! When I got home, realized I had a very slight vignette in every corner of my images.  (Have now taken the rubber hood off of my lens!)  So, decided to embrace the vignette concept..having never tried it before–had a fun time with it:)

The first teasing drops of rain began as soon as I sat down to take a few snaps, so didn’t stay long, but did enjoy the ever-changing clouds!

A few green spots near the river

Played a bit with white vignettes to match the clouds

A small area near the shore with slower moving water, a haven for ducks

Took advantage of a full frame camera and just cropped these, so the vignette was not apparent.  Know too much of a good thing can become boring, so no vignettes on these views!

View down the river

A patch of blue

Ironically, this is not a time I usually visit the river–in the middle of the day and during summer.  Had to take these shots in between folks going down the river on rafts.  Was reminded of this when I drove through the gate, to find limited parking. Am glad I went, though–certainly does validate the concept of finding great views in your own neighborhood:D

Poppies Popping

The state flower of California is the Golden Poppy.
 In spring, they are abundant and can be found many places–on
freeway hillsides, in neighborhood yards and along the American
River, to name a few locales.  Actually, my header on my blog
is from a few years ago.  I had hoped to find both Poppies and
Lupine in bloom and took me quite a few trips before I found what I
was searching for.  These are a few shots I got to enjoy when
hunting for them this year.

Front and

Early Morning

On the

Among New

Couldn’t decide whether I preferred a portrait or
landscape shot, so decided to enjoy both options!  Do you have
a preference?

Multicolored River


The clarity of the water seemed to make this
vision even more impressive!

Catch Your

This photo was not at the American River, but I
made certain I got to enjoy this amazing view.  Taken on
Mother’s Day.  Well worth fighting the traffic to get it.


I was not alone!  Numerous cars pulled up and
stopped along this 2 lane highway to capture the beauty.

Who Wouldn’t Want
This View?

The last two photos were taken with my new
camera, the Nikon D800E.  Have been waiting for a fullframe
camera for quite some time.  The wait was worth it!  Look
forward to sharing more photos with you taken with this amazing

Sacramento Zoo Visit Highlights

Have you ever done a blog and saved it as a draft and then posted something else?  And then, your next blog is more current and it posts…well. I have some photos to share of our local animal talent!

My zoo visit was last year before the holidays, thus the 2011 on my photos–but decided to share them anyway.  Hope you enjoy the critter visit:)

Last year, my staff gave me a membership to the Sacramento Zoo–seemed time to visit once again.  Was a beautiful, but colder day here–highs in the low 50s, but plenty of sunshine!

The Sacramento Zoo has a wonderful crew of dedicated docents and hosts events through out the year.  Unbeknownst to me–today was an event–where special treats were made and given to the animals.  Remember now the joys and challenges of shooting through plexiglass and wire mesh!

Here are some of my views from today…

Anteater–they are much bigger than I ever remembered!

Walking around...

Next door–there was a lonely Spotted Hyena that spent much of the time pacing back and forth.

Hanging out

The old adage..of let sleeping dogs lie–think that also applies to napping cats, such as this beautiful Snow Leopard relaxing away on top of a rock!

Holiday Berries behind!

Right across from the “cats” was an enclosure with some very friendly River Otters.  Friendly would not have been something I would aquaint with otters–but they knew how to ham it up for sure!

Hi there!

For anyone who has dogs…you know those smudges on your car windows?

Favorite Spot--will come back here!

About ready for a nap!

Was fortunate that the giraffes came out for a bit on nuzzling together.

A Tender Moment

More Visits with the Giraffes!  It is not uncommon to visit and they don’t even come out of there barn.  Certainly depends on the weather and what special treat are being presented!

Not sure why I am looking at you...but here is my wondrous face and neck!

Some friends with wings and feathers…


Curled up tight

Disagreement About Something!

Challenge with these two…was the backlighting.  Chose to blow out the background, so their wonderful colors could be viewed.

Awww, so cute!

A new use for your old phone books–probably one you never thought of…for these Hornbills, the phone book was filled with crunchy bugs.  They had fun “flipping through the pages” and were rewarded with a tasty morsel. Bugs and more bugs…pages and pages with “snacks” hiding out!  Check to see if your local zoo can use your old phone books!

I'll Have One of Those!

This was one of my favorites…his “whooping” and calls announced his presence long before he was in sight.  Spent most of the time swinging through the cage and putting on quite a show.

Who's Making All the Noise?

Some holiday cheer for the Red Pandas…so cute!

Hmm...a little holiday snack!

Framing a bit…

In the Center

Just remember there are many options to support projects we believe in and hope it will transcend time .  In my opinion, we need to look and identify needs now that we can impact and ensure they will be enjoyed and last for may centuries to come.

Is there a smaller zoo  or animal wildlife refuge area in or near your town or county?  The might be a great place to start what your animals need for comfort and growth.  Treat Days, Adoption–providing approved snacks and goodies.  Ask the merchants and store owners,, they should be able to offer you time and means for supporting their animal population!


I am one of those few folks that are actually happy to give up an hour in the spring–thrilled for more daylight!

Northern California is severely lacking in rain and we had some in the forecast today…sadly, to no avail as of 5:30 p.m.  What we got was a nice cloudy and overcast sky.  Perfect for catching some seasonal blooms at the Carmichael Botanical Garden.  So, off I went!

In addition to the Tulip blooms, the trees had lovely blossoms as well.  For this, I dusted off my macro 60mm lens (literally!) and caught some different views.  Must say, it has been a long time since I have tried to manual focus on any lens, except for my Lensbaby optics!

What is spring without budding blossoms?  Hopeful these will survive the week of predicted rain!

This is my favorite image from today…

Hope your spring is full of blooms and you enjoy each blossom!

Rooster Hokey Pokey and Attitudes!

Fair Oaks is a small town nestled between Carmichael and Citrus Heights, near Sacramento, CA.  The “Town Square” is a small park with local businesses surrounding two sides.  What is most unusual are the feathered friends that roam through out the entire town.  Roosters and Hens peck at the grass and root in the shrubbery and come near people–obviously, well fed!

I am sure many of you remember the song, “The Hokey Pokey”…one of those tunes that can get stuck in your head?  What I noticed as I was processing my numerous rooster shots was they were “doing the Hokey Pokey!”  So here goes a few views of these talented roosters and hens!

You put your Right Foot out!

What goes out…come in…

You put your right foot in!

And now, for the left…

You put your left foot out!

And you shake it all about!

You put your head in!

I must admit…did not capture anymore obvious views to the song…but I did notice some serious attitude as I got a little closer views. Some “head shots” with attitude and feeling…


Snacking on grass

I'm talkin' to you!

Not in the mood!

Eye to eye!

Black and White Hen

This one, just seemed a bit wiser and older–reminded me of a “wise soul!”

Wise old soul

Any identifications are welcome!  Of course, I “Googled” roosters and found a few identifications via Wikipedia…but none that looked familiar.  I was surprised to see that “Fair Oaks Roosters” has a Facebook page…a non profit, so of course, I “liked” them–happy to help:)

Hope your day is wonderful!

Return to Mono

Surrounding Hills

If you are tired of visiting Mono Lake through my blog, I understand.  Yes, this is the third post (in a row)…you may have guessed it–I am hooked on this amazing wonder.  Think only additional visits might cure me–happy to try again!

Life lessons can be easy or hard to learn.  My personal belief is that the harder ones to learn are those we remember.  I sure as heck hope so.  Because since my last post, I realized I shot every single photo from December 16-31 in jpeg–ONLY on my D300s.  Son of a gun.  How did I not figure it out sooner?  Didn’t try to view a different white balance on a photo I already shot and was making very few changes in Lightroom 3.

I am now taking a Photoshop course through BetterPhoto.com which gave me enough confidence to finally try to process my images in Photoshop…only to realize ALL my pics were jpeg, which is why I couldn’t get them to open in Adobe Camera Raw.  Originally, I figured I must have changed my setting by accident when I shot sunrise.  Figured one day was only in jpeg.  Nope–now recall the last day of work before vacation, I went to take a photo and didn’t want to waste space with RAW that I wouldn’t use.  That one moment has cost me much in opportunities with editing my trip.  BUT, I better remember to check my settings every time I put it away and pull it out of my camera bag. #lessonlearned  Must say, this on-line course is really well-organized.  Lewis Kemper is the instructor, it is a privilege to have a local accomplished photographer such as he!

So, I was viewing my photos with a new lens today and happened to find a few more worth sharing.  Think the threatening weather added much to the clouds and saturation to the colors.  Really so much more than I managed to capture.  Next time, I sure as hell will have my camera setting in Raw and not jpeg!

A few views before sunset at South Tufa, Mono Lake…

Water's Edge

Further Back

Across the Way

Lighting the Way

Mountain Glory

Tufa Window

As sunset begins the color change–many folks will leave and miss the real light show that begins when the golden hour starts.  30 minutes after sunset, in my limited experience is well worth staying for.

First changes

Another view from sunrise the next morning…

Early Sunrise


Of course I now realize I should have used my (c) from 2011 instead of 2012–another lesson for future learning:)



Mono Lake Revisited…again!

Well, yes–my last post was on Mono Lake–but I visited again and witnessed the most amazing sunset and sunrise moments in my life.

I do know that I need to do more research on what conditions make for a more vivid color show at sunset and sunrise…my hunch is that storm clouds and conditions calling for weather changes do make a huge difference!

Just over a week passed from the photos I took at Mono Lake the previous week, to these views.  It is a common spot to find photographers and many famous artists have captured the glory of this locale. I was joined by about 4 serious photographers on this night. The scene constantly changes with various flashes of color and the changes in the clouds.  There is not a single place in the 360 degree view that is not worthy of remembering. A good example–is watching a professional photographer from the Bay Area running with his tripod from one spot to another.  That is how much you want to be able to capture every moment. Here are a few of the more memorable shots from an amazing sunset session.

Changing Flashes

All glowing

Western View

Finishing off the show was the most fire ball of light on the Western horizon…

Last fire light

Following this show of light, I was on such a “high” in total amazement of what I had witnessed over the course of less than an hour.  Decided if there is such a thing as “Photographers’ High” I had the pleasure of experiencing it. Was wide awake until well after midnight and had my alarm set for sunrise.

Didn’t think I could see anything as wonderful as the night before–however, I was not disappointed by any stretch of the imagination by a spectacular sunrise.

First light

Calm waters

Spectacular reflections

Space Age View

Distant colors

The last part of the extraordinary sunrise is when the first rays of the sun hit the highest peak. The color is in fact red and glows for a few minutes. For the true meaning of the art of photography that is “all about the light” this is one of the few times it is so visible. After a few minutes, the color of the sierra peak returns to the normal wonderful color–but still you can remember what it looked like!

Golden Hour Moment

So thankful this wonderful treasure is no longer on the closure list for California State Parks. To be a supporter, you can join the Mono Lake Committee–it is over 16,000 members strong. I was able to visit the information center and bookstore, located in Lee Vining and will now proudly be sporting a “Long Live…Mono Lake” on my license.  www.monolake.org

My heartfelt thanks to all of the individuals that have dedicated their time and resources to keep this fabulous place for many generations to come!

Winter at Mono Lake

In order to celebrate the holidays with my family, I had to get to Southern California from Sacramento.  Although the Sacramento International Airport does have a brilliant new terminal with both Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue flying out of it–it took me 1.5 hours to get through security and to the gate, when I flew Veteran’s Day weekend.  This didn’t include having to park a car and take a tram.  So–let’s say, 2 hours to get to the gate, 1.5 hour flight–wait for baggage and get a rental car another hour easily–that is 4.5 hours.  So, I decided to drive:)  Renting a big car in LA–SUV, because I can’t stand having little bitty car is another expense I saved driving!

The most direct route is I-5 and I could make it in about 5 hours.  Easy…and very boring.

Last weekend, I saw a Tweet that said that Highway 120 was open. This is a highway that connects Yosemite National Park from the Valley at 4000 feet through Tioga Pass at 9953 feet to Highway 395.  Being able to access the High Country in Yosemite was inviting.  Plus, another benefit of driving Highway 395 is that I would have to go right past Mono Lake.  Since my destination was LA–I would also have to go through Lone Pine, which is the base of Whitney Portals and Alabama Hills.  That will be another post…

So, instead of taking 361 miles via I-5, I saw a sign as I reached highway 395 that said Los Angeles 399 miles–that was after I had already gone over 100 miles to get there. Reached my brother’s house with 471.7 showing on the mileage.

Mono Lake State Park was slated for closure, but fortunately came off the list a short while back!

Lee Vining is the town closest to the South Tufa viewing area.  This was my first winter visit, and not my last for sure!

My first shots are from sunset on Tuesday. Not much color to speak of and very few clouds in the sky to be found–but still such beauty and captivating!

Parking Lot View

Seeing double?

Off in the distance

The temperature on Wednesday morning as I drove back to get sunrise shots was 12 degrees. No wind, but quite chilly!  My first attempt at night photography…

In between night and day!

Mellow Morning

Winter Grass

Helpful headlights

Have a wonderful holiday season–may it be filled with joy, friends, and family–plus your camera!