June Challenge: Sunrise… Entry #2 Solar Powered Morning

Oh no… I’m not done with Robin yet.
When I first announced the sunrise challenge her comment was…
“OMIGOSH! Of all the possible challenges, you picked this one? This challenge, for me. is far less photographic than it is biological.
YAAAAAWN!!! My pooor bioclock…”

But rebeKah explained it to her…
“Therefore the word “challenge”, Robin. LOL You gotta get your shut-eye before 12a.m. I’m off to see The Solar Impulse at the airport. Does that count since it is sun related and it is before it next rises again?”

Hey wait a minute! Where did we find all of these Crazy Women?

So Robin, some of the “crazies” have been kind enough to forego a few hours of sleep just so that you may see exactly what a sunrise looks like and Crazy Woman Lorraine is about to show you a “Solar” Sunrise! This is her story, and we know she always has a story to tell!

“I started out on this assignment under self induced pressure. I am one to take several tries at my assignments trying to get the best shot I can. This time I knew I had only one shot at it due to schedules, etc, so I needed to make sure I had things planned out really well. I studied up on sunrises the night before. I planned on using manual settings and adjusted my camera accordingly. I chose a location that I thought would be good. Its off of Hwy 66 near the lake where “My Railroad Bridge” is, which is my year long challenge. My husband had taken a sunrise there before at the first part of the year and I liked the view.

I hurried out to the location to get set up before the sun came up over the horizon. I was pushing it time wise. I arrived and set up my tripod only to discover that I had a lot of brush and vegetation that had grown up around the area that previously had made a good sunrise shot. So off the crazy woman goes literally running with the tripod to try to find some higher land to get a better view. On higher land I could see the sun coming and was disappointed that it was going to rise over the power lines! Geez….of all places! I was hoping for it to come up over the lake more! In the end, the power lines didn’t hurt the shot like I thought they would.

I was afraid that I might have not gotten anything decent but was pleasantly surprised at some of the good shots I ended up getting!”

Solar Powered Morning (Photo by Lorraine)

Solar Powered Morning
(Photo by Lorraine)


June Challenge: Sunrise… Entry #1 Early in the Day

The deadline for the Sunrise Challenge was looming and I sent out this e-mail:

“OK all you crazies! Thus far I have gotten only one sunrise photo for the monthly challenge! I really did think you were all crazier than that and will extend the deadline through the Summer Solstice which is June 21.”

Robin (as in, the “other Robin”) immediately sent this response:
“Just can’t do it. Heart refuses to pump that time of day.”

And my response was: “Quick! Call 911! See you are a crazy woman!
I was having second thoughts after posting it but hey… it’s called shooting something different!”

And Robin said: “Yea, maybe, but probably not. Haven’t seen a sunrise since I was extremely young. Not a morning person. Now, you want moon shots, I’m just waiting for Sunday night 🙂 Gonna use my hefty tripod this time, no truck going by is gonna spoil my shot!”

Me: “Spoken like a crazy woman, Robin!”

Robin: “I’m so glad to have, in some small way, lived up to your expectations, O great one-eye’d one.”

So after this exchange, I was not expecting much but then to my surprise I got 6 sunrises! You women really are crazy! Even I procrastinated until the last moment and by then the clouds were more common than the sun.

Soooo… here is the first sunrise from Donna:

“Early in the Day”
“I had been talking to Debbie and Merrie at work about shooting the sunrise and encouraging them to shoot a sunrise from work out the windows in the morning since they would be up-and-at-em anyway. Last Thursday, I thought to myself you should really take your own advice since I had to be in at 6:30am. I took my camera with me to work and on the way I stopped at the end of the Lake Ray Hubbard Bridge and shot the sunrise as it appeared over the lake. I decided not to crop the picture too much because I liked the image with the cars and bridge which went along with my journey to catch the sunrise!”

Early in the Day (Photo by Donna)

Early in the Day
(Photo by Donna)

You are shooting the moon with a WHAT?

I received an interesting e-mail from crazy woman Robin… you know, “the other Robin”, one of our most recent members who I met through Capture Dallas. I can tell you that Robin is an excellent photographer, has posted some unique shots on Capture Dallas, is driven to excel and is… a bit crazy! But then again, she did join the club, and it took no coercion on my part to get her to do so!

This is the e-mail that I got after posting the Super Moon…
” I had pretty much the same experience. I took a compass to White Rock Lake, tried most of the parking lots until I found one where there was something interesting in the foreground where the moon would come up, set up with the tripod and remote release, and waited.

A couple of older men trickled in with their tripods, too, and we waited. Eventually, about 8:20, one of the men called his wife and asked her to check the back page of the newspaper – he still takes the paper – and sure enough it was supposed to have come up at 7:58. While he was talking I spotted it, about five degrees above the horizon and barely noticeable.

I shot a few frames, and decided to go home and wait in my drive, but as I was going around the lake I saw a few opportunities to get clearer shots with a tree in the frame, so I pulled off on the rich people’s manicured shoulder and shot hand-held. By this time I had installed the doubler, so I was shooting 600mm hand held, thank goodness for image stabilization.

The one I sent you was the best of the lot. And that’s a tree, not a cloud.”

This was then followed up by an e-mail to me about a moon photo that someone had posted to Capture Dallas…
“Have you seen the moon shot posted by C. F.? Absolutely tack sharp, taken by the same camera I have, 1/500 second at f10 and ISO 100, only 200mm, so he cropped it a LOT, and it’s so totally much more sharp than mine. I just don’t know how he got that shot with those settings. He should have gotten a black frame. And, he didn’t get it in Photoshop, I ‘shopped mine as much as possible.

I’m beginning to wonder if there’s something wrong with my camera. I so often don’t get the sharpness others get, with me being really careful of settings. Or, maybe he was using a lens with one of those HUGE front-ends, collecting far more light than I can. Or maybe I just don’t know what I’m doing. Your expert comments would be so welcome.”

Of course that e-mail sent me scurrying to see what she was talking about. Now, I am by no means an expert and will never, ever profess to be so. I love photography and am trying to learn to do better one day and one image at a time. After checking out C.F.’s image, which was excellent, I sent her this e-mail in return…

“Just checked it out and it is excellent! He did crop it a lot but in looking at the settings and knowing that yours was hand held, and you used a slower shutterspeed at extreme magnification of 600mm with a much higher ISO… I think that could account for the difference. A lot too depends on the quality of the lens being used. Now the test would be to put your camera on a tripod and use his settings in manual and then reshoot the moon and see how different it might look. The moon is actually very bright and our camera is tricked into thinking it is not, due to all the dark sky and then tries to compensate for that. I think manual is the only way to go. I actually had to get my “destructions” out to be sure I was setting it correctly in manual before I went out.”

I have a 2x teleconverter but never use it as it always seems to degrade my image, and I certainly don’t need any help to do that!
And all lenses are not created equal! That’s why you can buy a particular lens for several hundred dollars and the same focal length lens for thousands of dollars. The quality of the lens will effect the quality of the final image. But then again, unless you are using such a lens to make a living, there is little sense in spending $5,000-10,000 on the latest and greatest. Yes, photography can be a money pit.
Well, the e-mails did not end there.

Crazy Woman Robin responds…

“Thanks for all your thoughts. I usually do aperture-priority, and I think that’s what I was doing with those hand-held shots. I wouldn’t have selected 1/50th manually. The lens should be rock-solid, it’s a full-format, considered pro-quality. The doubler should be, too. They’re both Tamron SP, their top shelf.
Moon comes up later tonight. I’m hoping for a do-over in the drive (faces ESE) and see what I get. Another thing I noticed is that his was at almost 11:00, so much less atmosphere to shoot through. Less distortion that time of night, but how did he get that beautiful yellow cast, usually overhead is much more monochrome.

If I get something I’ll let you know. If not, I’ll slither back under my point-n-shoot rock. Again, thanks so much.”


“Oh, funny, when I hit ‘send’ and spell check kicked in, it wanted my lens to be a Tampon.”

And my response was: “OMG!!! LMAO!!! You gave me all of that information just to find out the problem was that you were shooting with a tampon!!!! Ooooooooo Robin… you are a CRAZY WOMAN!!!!!!!!!!”

Thank you Robin for letting me share this little ditty with the crazies! We are all on a quest for the best image we can get and I absolutely love the comical spin you put on it all!

I will direct you to the image she was referring to on Capture Dallas and then post her image. And what I thought were clouds in the sky around the moon was actually a tree!

Thanks Chuck for your great image to give the crazy women some food for thought, but I’m about certain that poor Robin will never be the same! If you have any words of wisdom, I’m sure she would love to hear it.
Here is Chuck’s image:

And here is Robin’s Super Moon!

Robin's Super Moon (Photo by Crazy Woman Robin)

Robin’s Super Moon
(Photo by Crazy Woman Robin)

Thanks Robin! So great having you in the club and looking forward to all the crazies meeting you!

Super Moon 2013

It seems there has been a lot of hype over the “super moon” on June 22-23, 2013 and quite frankly, I do think it is a lot of hype, but nonetheless, it is a good reason to go out and try to shoot it! Lorraine has gotten a wonderful moon shot previously which I will also post and Merrie has done well too in the past but wanted to try again, but “yours truly” has up until now only gotten a non-descript speck in the sky with no detail, so this time I was determined to do better.

To read about my quest for a proper moon shot, please refer to my personal photo blog:

I will repost the photos here to share.

Basically, I think we forget that the moon is actually very bright, after all, it is reflecting the sun, but when you point the camera to a large expanse of dark sky, your camera exposure meter misreads the situation and tries to make the black a medium tone of gray; thereby, blowing out any details in the moon, thus, ruining the shot. And unless you are shooting through a telescope, your moon is not going to look like much unless you use the longest lens you have, stabilize it on a tripod, shoot in manual exposure setting your ISO 100-200, shutterspeed about 1/125 and an F-stop of 11-14. These are just beginning settings and you can veer away from this as necessary. And then… you will still need to crop your image to get a sizable moon.

And when you try to include something else in your photo, that is another issue unto itself. I was simply trying to get a shot of the moon that showed some detail with relative sharpness.

I took many shots and they all looked about the same, so I chose one and paired it with this quote that I very much like.

Super Moon 2013 (Photo by Fay/Lala)

Super Moon 2013
(Photo by Fay/Lala)

To my surprise, this one did win Photo of the Day on Capture Dallas.

By the way, if you click on any of the photos on the blog, you can see a larger version.

Now this is a moon shot that Lorraine got back in December, and I think it was her first attempt!! Great job, Lorraine!
Her settings were: ISO 125, 300mm, F-11, 1/125 sec. on manual.

Full Moon in December 2012 (Photo by Lorraine)

Full Moon in December 2012
(Photo by Lorraine)

I got an e-mail from Merrie asking about how best to shoot the moon and I shared my starting settings with her advising her to shoot in manual and on a tripod, and this is what she got.
From right clicking on her e-mailed photo and checking properties and then “detailed”, I can tell you that she was shooting with an ISO 125, at 300mm, F-11 and a shutter speed of 1/125 sec.
Merrie's Moon (Photo by Merrie)

Merrie’s Moon
(Photo by Merrie)

This is the cropped image that I did in Lightroom, but keep in mind, it was cropped from a resized image, not the full resolution image.
Merrie's Moon Cropped (Photo by Merrie)

Merrie’s Moon Cropped
(Photo by Merrie)

Now I pulled this cropped image back into Lightroom and gave it a little more brightness, clarity and contrast and this was the adjusted image.
Merrie's Edited Moon

Merrie’s Edited Moon

Vickie also sent me a moon and I will include it here. Interestingly enough, I was unable to get her shooting data when I right clicked. If anyone knows why… can you help me out. Can this be turned off in the camera?
Vickie's Moon (Photo by Vickie)

Vickie’s Moon
(Photo by Vickie)

And imagine my thrill of also getting one from Lily!
It was so good to hear from her again and let me share her image.
Edited Super Moon (Photo by Lily)

Edited Super Moon
(Photo by Lily)

Now I am assuming that this has been edited because on her image I did see about 5 “edits” written and we know that Lily does so well with photoshop, and I am hoping she can answer a question that was posed to me.

Vickie had asked how she could get her moon “yellow”. Well, the moon I was seeing was not yellow and had very little color at all. And Lily’s moon has a lot of sepia like toning. So Lily… can you share with us what you did to get this image so that we all may learn. I was also not able to pull up your settings and maybe you might help with that question too! And as you can see, we were all shooting the same moon and yet, they do all look a bit different.

And now for my rendition of a “Super Moon”…

Super Moon Rising at Lake Ray Hubbard (Photo by Fay/Lala)

Super Moon Rising at Lake Ray Hubbard
(Photo by Fay/Lala)

Please stay tuned as I will be posting an hysterical exchange with Robin… you know, “the other Robin” about her moon shot!!

Just a few more from Fossil Rim…

We are driving along the 9 mile road stopping here and there to “shoot” the animals. Sometimes there is room for cars to go around and sometimes there is not, so I pay particular attention if there is someone who needs to pass. As we were stopped, suddenly the car behind us toots it’s horn. Now the regulations for the park expicitly say you should not use the horn… and further more, there was room for the car to go around.

As the car came around, the gal stopped and called out the window… “I’m sorry!” My little boy hit the horn by accident.” So as she is giving her apologies, he grabs her cellphone and proceeds to take a photo of me, looks at it, smiles and then shows me the photo he has taken. Such a little stinker! So I figured if he can get the photo then so can I and thought you might enjoy this very young photog at work!

Smile (Photo by Fay)

(Photo by Fay)

Gotchya! (Photo by Fay)

(Photo by Fay)

Delicious (Photo by Fay/Lala)

(Photo by Fay/Lala)

Now this next one was a bit of a mystery. I don’t know what I did but it was severely overexposed and the next shot was the actual shot I was taking. It is rather abstract looking and rather than delete it, I am saving it just for the heck of it. It looks like two eyes staring out… like maybe it is an owl.
Ya just can’t make this crazy stuff up!
Winter Nightmare (Photo by Fay)

Winter Nightmare
(Photo by Fay)

Here is what I was actually shooting… and I think his nostrils were the “eyes” of the “owl”!
Who goes there? (Photo by Fay)

Who goes there?
(Photo by Fay)

Just a couple crazy women! Merrie and Tess (Photo by Fay)

Just a couple crazy women! (Merrie and Tess)
(Photo by Fay)

Love the animals… and they will love you back!

This was Merrie’s first time to visit Fossil Rim and the animals gave her a warm welcome although I’m not so sure she was expecting this!

Kisses for Merrie (Photo by Fay/Lala)

Kisses for Merrie
(Photo by Fay/Lala)

However… she took it all in stride and just kept shooting!
So Sweet and Gentle (Photo by Merrie)

So Sweet and Gentle
(Photo by Merrie)

You Talkin' to Me? (Photo by Merrie)

You Talkin’ to Me?
(Photo by Merrie)

Always Best to Wear Vertical Stripes! (Photo by Merrie)

Always Best to Wear Vertical Stripes!
(Photo by Merrie)

Hey Good Lookin'

Hey Good Lookin’

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center… Glen Rose, Texas

We recently had an outing to the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and Merrie, Tess and I went and were sorry that rebeKah was unable to join us as originally planned. Tess and I had been there before, about a year ago but this year it was dreadfully hot. Probably not the best time of year to go as the animals tend to be more sluggish in the heat and seek out the shade.
And who can blame them?

There is a 9 mile drive through the 1,800 acres and all of the shooting is done from the car. We had the windows down and the air conditioning going and managed to stay relatively comfortable.
We had a bag of food that was purchased there to feed them and what a fun day we had! I will post some of our favorite photos from the day.
We plan on returning in the fall when it is cooler.

Twins (Photo by Tess)

(Photo by Tess)

“Hey Jude” was playing on the radio when Tess spotted a deer and in her loudest voice she yells… “Hey Jude!” and the deer immediately looked up!

"Hey Jude!" (Photo by Tess)

“Hey Jude!”
(Photo by Tess)

In Unison (Photo by Tess)

In Unison
(Photo by Tess)

What???? (Photo by Tess)

(Photo by Tess)

Just Taking It Easy (Photo by Tess)

Just Taking It Easy
(Photo by Tess)

The cheetahs are behind a fence and do not run wild like the rest of the animals but we noticed that one of the cheetahs kept running into the chain link fence. At first we thought he just turned quickly and bumped into it, but when he continued to walk into it, we realized he had a problem. The gal who works at the center told us that he had glaucoma and they had to remove his eyes and suture the lids closed. So this poor cheetah is blind. It was all so sad and Tess got a close up shot through the fence.
Blind Cheetah (Photo by Tess)

Blind Cheetah
(Photo by Tess)

More Raptors…

We got an early start to shoot the raptors as Photo Day started about 7AM and we could shoot until 11AM. Though I don’t particularly like getting up and out that early, I do like getting done in time for lunch! There was a slight threat of rain and the skies were overcast but otherwise quite pleasant. Tess and Donna wore their boots thinking they might ward off the chiggers and I guess it was a good thing as some of the areas were muddy from a previous rain.

I do hope more of you will join us at the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center next year to shoot the raptors. It is a great opportunity to get close to these birds! So let me share a few of my favorite photos with you.

Eastern Screech Owl (Photo by Fay/Lala)

Eastern Screech Owl
(Photo by Fay/Lala)

Great Horned Owl (Photo by Fay/Lala)

Great Horned Owl
(Photo by Fay/Lala)

Great Horned Owl (Photo by Fay/Lala)

Great Horned Owl
(Photo by Fay/Lala)

Common Barn Owl (Photo by Fay/Lala)

Common Barn Owl
(Photo by Fay/Lala)

Red Tailed Hawk (Photo by Fay/Lala)

Red Tailed Hawk
(Photo by Fay/Lala)

Red Tailed Hawk with a Spritz of Water (Photo by Fay/Lala)

Red Tailed Hawk with a Spritz of Water
(Photo by Fay/Lala)

And not only did we get to shoot raptors but there were also some wildflowers in bloom!
Tess and Donna Shooting the Wildflowers (Photo by Fay/Lala)

Tess and Donna Shooting the Wildflowers
(Photo by Fay/Lala)

Following our photo shoot my friend Mary from Capture Dallas joined us for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. Mary belongs to the Heard Nature Photography Club and primarily shoots nature photos that are absolutely beautiful. To see some of her photos go to:
The Crazies Meet Another Crazy Woman (Photo by Fay/Lala)

The Crazies Meet Another Crazy Woman (Donna, Tess, and Mary)
(Photo by Fay/Lala)

Tess… Chiggers… and Raptors…

Last year Tess joined me to shoot the raptors. Little did we know that we would be eaten alive by chiggers. E-mails flew back and forth about these strange bites that were popping up all over our bodies two days after the shoot, and I do believe we even took a few photos of them to compare. Yep… chiggers for sure! So when this year’s raptor shoot was announced, I asked her if she was interested in going and in spite of our chigger experience she immediately said yes but we did spray ourselves with “Off” in hopes that it would prevent further problems.

Tess has a 100-400mm lens and after letting me try hers, I was lusting for the lens as it has good zoom range. The only drawback is the weight. I had a weak moment after using hers and got the same lens and I must say, I think our bird photography has improved as a result. We’ve had some practice shooting the birds at White Rock Lake which is always fun but we could never get as close to birds in the wild as we do at the Blackland Raptor Center, and I think that is why she immediately said she wanted to return. It is a great opportunity for close-up bird shots regardless of the lens you are shooting with.

So let me share with you some of Tess’s favorite shots from Photo Day…

Red Tailed Hawk (Photo by Tess)

Red Tailed Hawk
(Photo by Tess)

Red Tailed Hawk (Photo by Tess)

Red Tailed Hawk
(Photo by Tess)

American Kestrel (Photo by Tess)

American Kestrel
(Photo by Tess)

Great Horned Owl (Photo by Tess)

Great Horned Owl
(Photo by Tess)

Great Horned Owl (Photo by Tess)

Great Horned Owl
(Photo by Tess)

American Kestrel (Photo by Tess)

American Kestrel
(Photo by Tess)