Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #205 The Eyes Have It

Tina challenges me to explore the concept that, “In photography, the most successful portraits will, with rare exception, include focus on the eyes.”

Eye Spy billboard captured in Times Square

The movie titled “Big Eyes” told the story of an American artist Margaret Keane. These murals reminded me of that style.

I have been shooting this smiling sun for over 20 years when I stop in Gilroy, Ca. for cherries on the way to Pacific Grove in May. I try to photograph this from a new perspective.
I printed this photograph many years ago and called it, “Peeking”.

The Sacramento Zoo provides many photo opportunities. This time I was focused on the eyes.

Alpaca after shearing. What is she trying to tell me?
Fish Eye

A salute to a dear photo friend who left us too soon. Greg loved to wear hats. Here he is at the Highland Games in Woodland many years ago.

Greg Morris

I found these odd eyed dogs at some dog events around town.

My Liberty (Libby) Love expressive eyes

Charlies had the most beautiful eyes

Moxie is really starting to vary her expressions. Raised eyebrow when the word “treat” or “dinner” is mentioned.

Did I hear the word, “Dinner”.

Thank you for stopping by to see how I focused on EYES! I would love to read your comments!

Moxie Turns One

It is said that puppies grow so fast. This is my girl when I first picked her from Mom Phoebe and Dad Bailey’s litter of 10.

Here she is on New Year’s Eve @ 8 months.

Her birthday starts off at 7:05 a.m. Moxie is my new alarm clock.

She first starts with a subtle whine. This evolves over time. I get up, dress quickly, and out we go to potty. Now we are ready for a game of fetch. Most of the time she is a good retriever. The ball is either dropped by my feet or she wants to give it to me. Sometimes, I think she likes the idea of tug.

Moxie can get distracted. I have a small secluded backyard. My neighbor’s landscaping could be called “natural” foliage mixed with strange stuff. I was surprised to see an airplane parked in the yard behind my house when I looked up a satellite map. Looking through the fence I also see an abandoned Edsel, and another vehicle I can’t identify. I have lived here for over 4 years and I have only heard interesting sounds from there. The latest was heavy equipment jackhammering for 10 minutes at 10 p.m. I hear the usual mowing of the field. Last summer welding went on and on as a shed was built from scrap pieces of metal. It sure would be interesting to get a camera drone and see the field.

But I digress. All kinds of stuff fall into my yard from this neighbor’s yard. I am learning the life cycle of pine trees. In Spring, pine flowers fell on my patio an inch thick, after a big wind. Then the occasional pine cone, often eaten by squirrels. Then come the pine needles. Again, not good for dogs to consume. Now, a wild berry tree is dropping blackberries into my yard. Moxie enjoys searching, and eating these berries. She even lets me think she wants to play ball, and off she trots with her ball to the berry patch. So far, there are no digestive issues. On the other end of the yard, they have a very large, very old, brittle oak tree. In the winter/spring branches fall. Today, a large branch that has been dangling over my yard finally fell down. No one was injured. but we were standing a couple of feet away. In the fall I go out and pick up acorns before Moxie grabs them. Acorns are not good at all. Learning what is good and what is toxic for animals is the number one question I ask at a nursery.

Moxie settles down for her breakfast. I imagine that she thinks if she eats it up fast I will forget that I even gave her anything. I grab some coffee and sit in my recliner with my Golden in my lap. Read a couple of emails, check out FaceBook, and plan the day. Today, a photo session is on the agenda

Her birthday photo session.

We try and groom Moxie every night. I have all the equipment I used on Charlie, and so I started early with Moxie. She even looks forward to having her teeth brushed. At first, she liked the taste – peanut butter! Now we do a full brush!

Moxie just finished her first heat cycle with no issues. The vet is now changing the dialog once again. Spay before six months, wait for at least the first cycle or 18 months to never spay a Golden Retriever. Something to think about.

Around 8 months of age Moxie developed a couple of fears. Her biggest is large trucks. This has interfered with our peaceful walks, and car rides. I have not settled on a crash-tested car harness because Moxie settles herself on the floorboards behind the passenger seat. With the harness, she was getting so tangled up. We both were stressing out. Each day I try and take her somewhere. During her heat cycle, we just drove around and made a stop at Starbucks. Now, we have started walking around Oak Park or Phoenix Field. I use a Gentle Leader on her, and it helps to get her to focus on walking with me instead of leading the way and pulling me. Also, we are back to going to Basic class with Carley, and we practice all the commands throughout the day. Some days are better than others, but today I feel that progress is being made.

Just like when I had kids, I arrange dog playdates. Moxie loves to play with other dogs. Right now we were sticking to girl dogs. But soon our next-door neighbor’s puppy Seven will come to play. Moxie’s Mom Phoebe lives across the street and sometimes comes to play.

So between feedings, playing, grooming, napping, training, and walking Moxie keeps me plenty busy. Having a puppy is a full-time responsibility, and I am glad I am up for it! Well, most of the time.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 194 Bokeh

Sofia challenges me to primarily think of out-of-focus areas in your photos. Are they an important component of your shot? What is bokeh for you and how do you achieve it? I’ll be looking forward to seeing how your beautifully blurred areas also have a story to tell.

Using a large aperture setting would be how I would describe my style of photography.

While visiting Donner Summit, I borrowed a reflecting ball. The shallow depth of field places the photo in a forest setting and the reflection is in focus.

By using a shallow depth of field here my photo leads the eye in a line.

A line of pigs
Colorful crayons

The story I tell with my flower photographs often is about one particular flower standing apart from the rest.

The bee settles on a flower in the field of flowers
Paws, please!
When my Moxie was a young pup!

While capturing images with people the depth of field helps to tell the story.

Racing fans gather during the Amgen finale in Sacramento

This last photograph was taken in 2004 while visiting my In-Laws in Florida. This is an example of why I recommend not discarding all your old mistakes. This was my first DSLR the Nikon D70. I was not familiar with white balance and forgot to change from the indoor lighting setting to the outdoor one. My images were quite blue. But today, I saw potential in this image. I changed it to black and white. What do you think?

I hope you enjoyed my look at bokeh and how it helps to set the stage for my images. Please comment and let me know.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #185 Changes (Another Change)

John states, “Given that change is inevitable, for this week’s challenge consider change as it applies to you. Maybe it’s the changes in your family over the years, the change of seasons in your favorite park, or even the change in the technology of your camera equipment. In short, what does “change” mean to you?” Photography and camera equipment have been bouncing around in my thoughts, so here goes my journey through camera changes.

Last year I bought myself a Nixplay digital frame.

Nixplay Digital Frame

It has brought me, and my husband a lot of pleasure. I receive photos from people I love who are far away. I upload favorite flora and fauna photographs. My dogs make an appearance. I turn the frame on in the morning and with my coffee it brings back memories of the past. Seeing my grandchildren grow. Watching as my puppy changes. Noticing the changing seasons.

My cameras have evolved over the years. For my nineth birthday I got my box camera.

I saw my box camera, Imperial Debonair at a Swap Meet and had to have this reminder. The models with the fold out lens is like the German camera I had. Interestingly, my Uncle Mark still had the same one the last time I saw him. Wish I could have it. The Nikon is my first SLR.

Then as my father got a new camera I inherited a rather complicated, 35mm German camera. I had to manually set the f stop and shutter speed. For this I used a light meter. The shutter needed to be screwed in each time. I mastered this and captured many family moments in my teens. My father moved up to a Canon slr and I moved up to a Yashica rangefinder camera. I used this camera through college, and until my son was born. My next rangefinder camera had two distance settings. I was simplifying, but understanding the limitations of my tool.

When I went back to teaching, I liked to use my camera as a tool in my classroom. All my photos were printed, and I found places that printed duplicates. On the first day of school I would take a photo of each student as I got to know them, and then on Back to School Day the parents could find their student’s desk. Activities in class were documented, and placed in a photo album. Field trip volunteers got a photo taken with their student. And the last day of school students could take any of the duplicates as a reminder.

There is something about having the printed photo in an album. I just invited my first cousin from Israel to lunch. We really did not know each other. After lunch I brought out my parent’s albums, and we found common ground in looking at pictures sent from over 70 years ago. So special.

I dabbled in video for a while, but I didn’t want to learn how to edit properly. So my next step was to a SLR. In the last years of my teaching profession I was pulled back into the artistry of photography by the high school students photo work displayed outside my library. I purchased a Nikon N80 and began my lens collection. My photo were still printed, but I moved into slides for a while.

My first connection with digital came with my Sony CD Mavica, 3.3 mega pixel camera. Cute, compact and it wrote the files to a cd, but oh so slowly. I took a photo of my toddler granddaughter and she was in the next room by the time the file had recorded.

The idea was good, but technology kept innovating.

Then came the Digital slr. Now I was intrigued. My first serious look at digital was with my Nikon D70.

Taken at the Sacramento Zoo with my Nikon D70

I could still use all the lenses I was purchasing for my N80 slr and I saved images on my compact flash card. As the technology improved I graduated to a D200

Peeking
Taken at the Oakland Zoo with my Nikon D200
Another from the Oakland Zoo

Nikon D7000 upgrade

My Liberty Love poses
My Nikon D7100 at the Sacramento Zoo
Libby has an eye on the prize with my Olympus

The Mirrorless Digital cameras came on the scene and the smaller size, and quality appealed to me. I moved to the Olympus line, but I never felt like I was having any fun. I loved the size, quality of photographs, but I never got the hang of the menu system. So I switched to Fuji. I first tried the Fuji 100f. This is a great camera for street shooting. I have had great luck taking pictures, but I am mindful of the single focal distance available. Once that menu system was understood I sold my Olympus system and purchased the Fuji xt2.

Changing over to my Fuji xt2 I capture wild horses in Nevada
My Fuji 100f captures there 2 Lagatto Romagnolo at a dog show

My Nikon system sat for a while and finally I sold my workhorse Nikon D7100 to a friend. Sold all my lenses and purchased a Fuji xt4 at the start of the pandemic.

Dragonfly landing on a lotus

Which brings me back to upgrading my iPhone 8

My Charlie visits the snow. My handy iPhone 8 got this one.

I just got my Phone 13 Pro. Always with me, and the capabilities are there to grab a good shot for my Nixplay Digital frame.

My first attempts with my iPhone 13 Pro

Technology changes but I still remain to same in wanting to capture some great memories.