Friday, August 31, 2012

Dragonflies and Herons

Within the past eight days I walked around my favorite place, the lake, three times. High school started almost two weeks ago and since Kaefer (a freshman!) has zero period this year, I can be at the lake by 7 am. It's very quiet at that time, not very many people apart from some dog walkers, joggers and, of course, bird watchers.

All the three mornings I got there were completely different. The first time was a foggy morning, so typical for this region. The second morning was sunny and bright, and today was an overcast, rather grey morning. So the atmosphere was always different - the birds, however, were not, although I suspect they prefer the grey, foggy mornings to appear. The sunny mornings bring the dragonflies.

So if you like birds and dragonflies, this post is for you.

The foggy morning

This great blue heron I can imagine in a Japanese painting, it was so quiet and peaceful. But then another great blue heron appeared and chased the "intruder" away.

A little bit later I found another great blue heron in a little bay of the lake (can you see the algae? An annual summer problem - it doesn't look too bad, but it stinks!). It was a pretty young heron, and he was determined to catch some breakfast.

He was successful and caught this crayfish. It took him some time though to swallow that big guy.

Was this black-crowned night heron admiring his beautiful appearance?

These two egrets seemed to be happy just to have each other.

Near the boat ramp seems to be a popular hang out spot for juvenile herons, both green herons and black-crowned night herons.

The sunny morning

Here is one of the younger black-crowned night herons again. Quite the pretty guy, don't you think?

The adult version - I love these birds.
You can see a flying black-crowned night heron in the top photo, on a the foggy morning.

Then I found the dragonflies.

They were zipping along over the lake and close to the edge.
Hard to photograph, I just got incredibly lucky with these shots.

I enjoyed "chasing" these fast fliers with my camera.

The grey morning

Yes, juvenile black-crowned night herons again.
They were sitting right in front of me and didn't care a bit.

The adult one again, almost in the same spot as on the sunny morning.

Another great blue heron.
 This one is older though as you can see by his plumes (you have to look closely).
Guess what this is?

 And this?
Yes, the same pair of juvenile black-crowned night herons.
Hanging out near the boat ramp.
They seemed to follow me around the lake this morning.

This one loved to play peek-a-boo.

And for your enjoyment - some duck butts.

These are the last photos for the August Break 2012. It was fun and sometimes challenging to find good images. You can see all of them on flickr if you want to.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Mission

A few years ago we visited the mission in Santa Barbara. I loved that place, the atmosphere and, of course, I took many pictures. While one day I will post them here on my blog, today there will be only one - my favorite one, of the roof. I used two of Kim Klassen's textures, "createedges" (soft light at 100%) and warmvignette (soft light at 75%). This is for Texture Tuesday and the August Break.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Le Pont de Solignac

This beautiful old bridge in Solignac, France (near Limoges) and the medieval church were the only things I liked in that little town. Otherwise, my memories of this place are rather unpleasant- a very dark time in my life, about  half a year before I turned 30. The bridge, however, still holds consoling feelings for me. This is for the August Break.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Taos Pueblo

The original plan for today was to just post the above picture for August Break. Then I happened to read Gina's blog this morning (btw, you should hop over there, she takes gorgeous photos) where she wrote about the story about the images. That inspired me to write a little bit more about this photo and actually add a whole lot more of images. Thank you, Gina!

All these photos were taken in Taos Pueblo at the very end of December 2009. We had spent a few days in Santa Fe and were on our way to Colorado to attend a friend's son's wedding. We still had a couple days before we were expected and since I always had wanted to visit Taos Pueblo we decided to do it now.

Taos Pueblo was built around 1450 AD and is today the largest existing multi-storied pueblo structure in the USA. About 1500 Taos Indians reside here. It is a tourist attraction, you have to pay to get in there and you can only take photos with a permit.

This is the first view of  the pueblo when you get in. Not much color, a bit sad - it didn't help either that it was very cold and overcast. I felt a bit uncomfortable walking around people's living space, I felt a bit like an intruder from a different world.

The gate to the church was decorated with the typical paper bags that you can find in Santa Fe around Christmas. I don't know whether these ones were also lit up when it got dark - by the shape of the paper bags I actually hope not.

The overall impression was a bit depressing and sad. I couldn't help compare these adobe buildings with our own way of living, so convenient with central heat, hot water and washing machines.

Just to give you an idea how cold it was:

There were dogs everywhere, and I'm not quite sure whether they had owners who cared for them or were stray ones. This little guy followed us for quite a while.

However, not everything was grey.

There were little shops in some of the adobe buildings, selling beautiful Native American jewelry and lovely colorful blankets. They always had a fire going in there and it was warm and cozy.

And the Taos Indians in here were very welcoming and friendly. They were eager to answer our questions, but were also curious where we came from (our German accent!) and wanted to know how we liked to live in the States. It changed my feeling about the entire place, I felt much more comfortable.

And finally even the sun ventured out of the clouds. At least a little bit. It lit up the place.

There were so many little details in the pueblo that I liked.


Interesting texture in the adobe could be seen everywhere.

And the dogs were pretty nifty in finding spaces to warm their bellies.

It was an interesting visit. I'm glad that I went to see Taos Pueblo and experience this kind of mood change during the visit. It's all about the people. We were lucky to have met very welcoming and friendly people. I am thankful for this.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


At my favorite lake - on a foggy early autumn morning. I fell in love with the colors and the arrangements of these canoes. The birds added an extra kick (there were more coming in a little bit later)

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Church in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds - or Cotswold Hills - is my favorite area in England - I love the hilly landscape, the quaint little villages, the honey colored walls, the sheep, the winding back roads... It's a scenic area.

This little church I found in the tiny village of Upper Slaughter. It looks like a front door to a regular house - see the door bell and the slit for the mail? - but it was at the side of the church. Perhaps this is where the vicar resides? Or has his office? Who knows?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

From Behind

Taking pictures of people is still not easy for me, especially strangers. I don't want to be invasive, and when I think of blogging about a picture of someone, I'd like to keep other people's privacy. I also want to keep Kaefer relatively private, and that includes her friends.

So over time I have come to take pictures of people from behind - and I found that these can turn into rather nice pictures that tell their own story. Like this 4H girl waiting for her turn.

The Geek...

Runners on the beach - yes, it's Kaefer and the Geek.
Adding some atmosphere...

This kid in London's Trafalgar Square is not necessarily from behind, but enough to keep his privacy.

I loved this old man who was building a sandcastle with his grandson at the end of the day on the isle of Sylt, Germany. The little boy was much more interested in watching the waves. This picture says so much about the special bond between a grandparent and a grandchild.

 And here she is again, my favorite girl.

What do you do when you take pictures of people? Are you comfortable photographing strangers? Do you try to keep their privacy? Do you ask for permission? (Oh, the picture of Kaefer and her friend and their fancy hairstyles? I asked the mom whether I can put it on my blog...). Let me know in the comments.