Dave Skinner Photography: Blog https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) Dave Skinner Photography wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) Wed, 06 May 2015 01:56:00 GMT Wed, 06 May 2015 01:56:00 GMT https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/img/s/v-5/u338496590-o391231883-50.jpg Dave Skinner Photography: Blog https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog 91 120 April 2015 Challenge https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/5/april-2015-challenge This will be our final Challenge post.  I want to thank everyone for their participation and encouragement.  We can always post photos on our Facebook pages if we don't use Flickr, Shutterfly, SmugMug, 500 Pixels, Google+, Photobucket, or Zenfolio, to name a few.  After 2 1/2 years of a huge variety of pictures, it's time to move off the stage.

The theme for the month of April was "Your Favorite Photos."




Don traveled all the way to downtown Paso Robles for an event shoot and captured the heart and soul of some classic vintage cars, as well as sidecars. He says, "I managed to sneak off to the sidecar rally in the park and got a few pics, but not much.  The weather was wet early morning, and I was surprised that so many people showed.  They also had a few vintage cars."

Without the sun's glare, the overcast skies provided just the right lighting to catch all the detail and color in these vehicles.  Have you driven a Jaguar lately?  Nice angle, Don.  The low and wide angle makes this car look a lot heftier than it really is and emphasizes the front end detail of British pride.





Some of us have owned Grease Slappers if it refers to dirty, greasy cars and trucks we've had the pleasure of cleaning.  Or if we used Dixie Peach Pomade back in the 50's and 60's to keep our hair slicked down.   I assume this is a sidecar or gas tank logo.  The American mind: it's a creative thing.





Wet and wild green thing is next up.  The proverbial and ever-popular MG.  Another British icon.  Looks like a 1952 model to me.  But what do I know?





Just what are we looking at here, Don?  Is this like a surfboard that you stand on while scooting down the freeway?  Isn't there supposed to be a seat attached?  Must be detached due to the rain.  Looks like a smooth ride.





I think Don is musing the possibility of adding a sidecar to his Harley.  That was the shortest muse he ever mused.  Janet is happy.





Don's last photo is accompanied by a story:  "The lady in the last pic rode in from Prescott, AZ. she mentioned camping out at the Paso RV park north of town. I asked her if she was tenting it.  She said no, she's 5' 3" tall and her side car is 5' 7" long.  She takes all her gear out and sleeps in it. I'd guess she was in her mid 50's.  The lady has some grit!"

True grit: it's a rare commodity these days.  Thanks for sharing, Don.







Dave's photos are the usual stuff - nature - local university - more nature.  He can't get away from the same ol' thing.  This first shot of the moon was taken during the last part of the most recent full eclipse we had.  As the moon 'descended' toward the horizon, earth's shadow descended also.  Taken at Cosumnes River Preserve before sunrise - geese in formation in the distance. 



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



I stuck around after the moonset and found a pair of American avocets, foraging in the water.  This bird has very striking colors, easy to spot and very active. 



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



The rose garden at the local museum had its premier showing a few weeks ago.  Sometimes the abstract is worth capturing, even if it does have an ugly fly in the frame.  As I look at it now, I probably should have cut back on the cyan from the sky reflection on the lower petal, limiting it to three main colors (including white - sorry, all you artists out there).  Putting an insect in your photo sets up a tension between the soft, serene and beautiful and the rough, alien and threatening.  This ruins the whole picture for most people, but I like a little shock and awe here and there.



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



And so for you purists who love perfection, here you go: no distractions!



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



I competed in a Black and White photo challenge for the Stockton Record and sent this photo, along with others taken at UOP, a local cemetery and local marina.  A fun project, trying to pre-visualize what your color shot will look like after converted to B&W.  I so wished there had been a bit more cirrus clouds overhead, but am happy with what God gave me, anyway. 



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



I returned to the Preserve mid-month, the day after it rained, hoping to get some nice sunrise shots, but no clouds were to be seen.  But the rain had drenched everything, especially the tall grasses in the fields.  Its weight bowed the grass so it looked like waves being blown about. 



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



Watching nature's wonders is one of the reasons I like visiting the Preserve.  I spotted three freshly emerged Green darners sunning themselves on the cattails right after sunrise.  The were good little posers, so it was pretty easy to get as close as I could (about 5'-6').  I like the detail in this picture, the left over water drops on the reeds and the shadows.  These guys won't bite and if you've got the knack, will perch on your finger. Ha!   





My very last picture is taken under one of my favorite oaks at the Preserve, complete with viewing bench which overlooks a backwater filled with floating plants, reeds and critters.  You can usually see an egret or heron here.  This tree is massive and gnarled.  It's missing some branches after all these years, but it still maintains a majestic shape.  I opened up the shadows in Photoshop for more bark detail. 



(c) Dave Skinner Photography





And so ends this journey and adventure.  I hope you learned some stuff, were encouraged, and smiled at the shenanigans.  Over and out, fellow fotogs.  May your best photos be right around that next bend in the road. 




wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) 2015 April cars sidecar vintage https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/5/april-2015-challenge Wed, 06 May 2015 01:55:50 GMT
March 2015 Challenge - The Six S's https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/march-2015-challenge---the-six-ss The March hare has scrambled back into his hole while the robin ventures farther north and Russian thistle drinks what groundwater is left here in California.  Time to review the month's pictures and enjoy the changing season, where green is the color of the day.  Don and I were both able to 'adventure' into the known and unknown, looking for scenes that matched the Challenge themes:  SILHOUETTE, SUNSET, SHADOWS, SPRINGTIME, SHAPES AND SIMPLE.  An alliterated amalgam of choices for the brave of heart and sentient of soul. 




Hey, it's spring again and time to relish the greens, the flowers and the warmth of a special sunset.  Or sunrise.  Dave starts out with a SPRINGTIME theme - a sunrise capture of grasses in the foreground and a nice set of clouds overhead.  Hoping for more color in the sky, I was disappointed since the morning before was a blazing red here in the valley.  You never know what's going to happen at sunrise or sunset - that's half the fun of shooting them.  I purposely placed the sun behind the tree trunk to eliminate any glare or blown highlights.  Shooting manually, I chose a couple of exposures - one for the sky and one for the foreground - then married them in Photoshop Elements to bring out the rich green of the grass and trees starting to leaf out.  There's also a bit of a silhouette here, but not a 100% black subject.  Nikon D90; 12-24mm lens @ 12mm; 200 ISO; f8; 1/160.







We're going to mix these pictures up this month for a little variety.  Don is going to liven things up with this nicely balanced sunrise photo of three blooming daisies for another SPRINGTIME submission. It also fits the SHAPES category.  Nikon D300; ISO 400; 1/2500 sec.; f10; 95mm.







Dave's annual jaunt to Knight's Ferry wouldn't be complete without a few covered bridge pictures. This one is inside right after sunrise and features the plank board shadows framing a band of sunlight, fitting the SHADOWS theme.  Note how shadows rob the color of the wood and cool the overall feel of the photo.  D90; 12mm; f8; 1/4 sec.; ISO 200. 







Here is Don's interpretation of SHADOWS - a Morro Strand selfie of him and Janet.  Pretty cool composition and color.  D300; f8; 1/250; ISO 200; 18mm.







Dave's SILHOUETTE is purposely underexposed so the oak tree loses it's brightness, color and detail.  When shooting a silhouette, try to render it as dark as possible while retaining the background color and brightness.  I really don't like this shot, except for the shape of the tree.  The contrail is really distracting, the sky isn't blue enough and there's no interesting detail in the foreground to see.  D90; f8; 1/320; ISO 200; 18mm. 







Don's SILHOUETTE on the other hand is beautifully composed and exposed.  He definitely gets the top prize for this shot!  I hope to see it on his wall the next time I visit.  That's Morro Rock to the left.  Wow, Don! You must have grabbed some incredible shots that night.  D300; f11; 1/500; ISO 200; 31mm.







Adding to the SPRINGTIME and SHAPES themes, Dave was intrigued by this solo light colored bush lupine surrounded by the darker blue species.  It may be what they call chick lupine, but I'm not sure.  Taken on the old Stanislaus River bed, just west of the covered bridge at Knight's Ferry.  I was struck by it's light magenta color and shading.  D7000; f11; 1/500; ISO 400; 220mm.




(c) Dave Skinner Photography




Don's next picture reminds us that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is on parade everywhere, especially on vintage fences that have a modicum of moisture during the year.  He didn't specify a category on this one, so we'll use SHAPES as a good guess.  D300; f11; 1/50; ISO 100; 18mm. 







These Yanks have been routed from their attempt to capture an artillery cache at the Civil War re-enactment at Knight's Ferry on the 21st.  They're retreating into the SHADOWS of the covered bridge.  This young soldier is looking back at the battlefield, wondering what happened.  D7000; f7.1; 1/640; ISO 800; 210mm. 




(c) Dave Skinner Photography




Ah! The proverbial doorknob in all of its worn and wizened glory.  Don has captured its SIMPLE SHAPE perfectly and framed it with a reddened weathered door.  It's always good to tell a story if you can or offer a mystery to be solved.  Did someone remove the screws and try to pry the plate off, too?  Or did they fall out from old age?  And who and how many times did they enter here and when?  God only knows.  D300; f13; 1/160; ISO 100; 48mm.








Dave's final photo is another SPRINGTIME/SHAPES rendering.  Ithuriel's spear is a striking floral setting.  I saw these about 25' from the large Confederate cannon at Knight's Ferry.  I wish I could have been there earlier, before the sun was directly overhead.  There was a dark clump of shrub in the background which I positioned for the best contrast.  This shot is a little overexposed, with the highlight on some of the petals somewhat too bright, but I'm not complaining.  It was a fun find and a fun shoot.  D7000; f7.1; 1/500; ISO 400; 195mm.




(c) Dave Skinner Photography




Don's almost final picture portrays the warmth of another SUNSET, a fitting way to say 'thanks for looking' and 'until we meet again.'  D300; f7.1; 1/200; 90mm.







Don's final final picture is another SILHOUETTE/SUNSET entry.  This oak portrays a wonderful character of age and grace in a world full of chaos and confusion.  Let it remind us of the strength and faithfulness of a God who hears our prayers, forgives our sins, and puts a song of praise on our lips.  "O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!" Psalm 8:1.  D300; f16; 1/1000; ISO 500; 42mm. 







The monthly Challenge for April will be an easy-peasy, care-free FREE FOR ALL.  Just go out there and have fun shooting your favorite subjects.  If you want to give your pictures themes, that will work, too. 

April theme:

             - FREE FOR ALL (whatever you want)





wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) 2015 challenge march shadows shapes silhouette simple springtime sunset https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/march-2015-challenge---the-six-ss Wed, 01 Apr 2015 02:26:24 GMT
February 2015 Challenge https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/february-2015-challenge February has come and gone --- a short month that flew by for most of us.  And with the warmer weather, there were a lot of distractions that kept us from zeroing in on the challenge.  Add to that the limited challenge themes:  ROMANCE, RED, WORDS, EYES, and UPSIDE DOWN, and we were really in a pickle.  The March challenge will prove a little more user friendly, hopefully.





Don graces us with a number of EYE theme photos, courtesy of the local Atascadero Zoo.  He writes, "We went to the Atascadero Zoo for these. I wanted to get a photo of the tiger, but he was off in a corner of his cage snoozing. Wouldn't even open his eyes for me!"  Don, you needed to offer him "Steak on a Stick" during your next visit.   We'll let everyone guess who these eyes belong to:































Yours truly, Dave, found it difficult to target the ROMANCE theme, especially when mainly shooting nature.  But even nature has its romance, so there is one photo that may apply.  This happy couple was inseparable as they foraged in the February grass at the Preserve.  There weren't any other quail around as they scratched and kept watch about 15' from me on the trail.  I kept expecting them to fly off, but they just went about their business.  Ah, true love!





You don't need much explanation for this Cosumnes Preserve portrait of a little tree, other than to say, "UPSIDE DOWN."   Sorta looks like a fast shutter speed with the wind blowing leaves around in the air, but we know better.





A bit of red for February's RED theme is next.   This guy was feeding on last season's cattails, flying from one to another, calling/singing when perched and enjoying the morning sunlight.   I used a fast shutter speed to freeze the action and retain some detail in the feathers.  






I didn't plan for the WORDS theme, but had taken this sign photo after driving by it a number of times but never stopping.  Walnut Grove Road, just west of Thornton, CA on I-5.  





The last February category was EYES.  Now this shot was planned (although planned on the last day of February).  I had Angel and Elizabeth stand side by side in front of the sliding glass door to get enough light.  I boosted the ISO to 800 and used my new (new to me) 60mm AF MicroNikkor.  This was the best of about 6 shots.  I took out the face color, because Liz is a lot darker than Angel and was partly shaded.  I used the dodge tool on to lighten the dark areas under Liz's eye.  I accentuated and isolated the color in Angel's eye to add some interest.  The depth-of-field is very shallow, so only a few areas are in sharpest focus.  That's okay.  P.S.  The girls thought I was nuts posing them, but there was a method to my madness.



(c) Dave Skinner Photography





Okay, that was fun, and the March Challenge will be even funner.  Themes will be:


        *  SILHOUETTE  (thanks to Bruce for this suggestion)

        *  SHADOWS

        *  SPRINGTIME

        *  SUNSET

        *  SHAPES

        *  SIMPLE


Hope your month is filled with God's blessings.  Take time to thank Him for them.  Happy shooting, folks!

wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/february-2015-challenge Sun, 01 Mar 2015 23:11:36 GMT
January 2015 Photo Challenge https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/2/january-2015-photo-challenge We've started the New Year with a bang (make that literal gunfire in my neighborhood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxo0F8k3jA0).  We've survived another year in the New Millennium, thanks to God's providential mercies.  We've endured the pain, enjoyed the blessings, and now hope for a wonderful 2015.  Time to trust God and step out in faith, no matter what our circumstance.

January's challenge themes were Yummy, Abandoned, White, Trio and Low Tech -- a wide array of choices for our shooting pleasure (aren't clich├ęs wonderful?!).  We were given five Saturdays to venture into the known and unknown haunts of our little worlds to grapple with the dilemma of 'what shall I shoot today?' 

Looks like it will be another Don and Dave show again for January.  That's okay -- not everyone is bitten by the shutterbug.  We'll just have to put up with their panoply (monopoly?) of pictures one more time.  If this bothers any of us, we know what we can do to protest. 




Don's first submission fits the Abandoned theme.  He says, "For abandoned, we have an old house that is slowly falling."  This was taken on Klau Mine Road, west of Paso Robles.  We can certainly see the power of entropy here as years of destruction tear down this place that was once a happy home.  It's strange to think that left unattended, our homes will end up like this as well.





Low Tech is captured in Don't second photo.  Once a common fixture across America, the windmill is now a relic of the past.  Frozen with rusty gears, a few still stand here and there, reminding us of the ever-moving wheel of progress.  Hey, this would look cool in my backyard, though.





Can we guess Don's reason for shooting these mailboxes?  If you're thinking Yummy or White, you're wrong.  Note there are exactly three boxes.  Hey, it must be the Trio theme!  Nice cedar tree and fence to compliment them.





Well, what do you think about these cupcakes?  Should they be in the Trio or Yummy category?  Don says, Yummy, and so be it.  Are your taste buds aroused, trying to think of what these would taste like?  I can taste each one in my mind - and not intake one calorie! Pretty cool, but not much fun.  Wonder if he and Janet actually paid good money for any of these.  Don says, "I'll start out with Janet's Yummy pics. We went down to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory with the Nikon Coolpix for that category."





More yummies coming up.





"We also ran across this abandoned TV. As you can see, it works perfectly including the picture, in picture, in picture. I believe that qualifies it for the trio category, also. This was done by layering in Elements11."  Now we know what Don does in his spare time.  Very creative, Don.  Note the touch of the sunglasses placed on the TV.  Not sure about the significance there, but am sure there was a method behind his madness.  Hey, that looks like my old 32" Toshiba!





Don's White themed photo features a white fence and bare tree canopies.  Nice composition.  Note the Round Up swath protecting this fence from melting if the field catches fire this summer or someone tosses a cigarette butt that catches the field on fire.  Either way, that's a lot of Round Up getting into the water table! Ha!







Yours truly did a lot of shooting in January, so you'll have to grant him a few extra photo submissions. Thanks. 


Low Tech can be seen in these first two pictures, both taken in Sutter Creek.  The first at an antique store and the old gauge at Knight's Foundry on Eureka Street.  Please help me identify the heart and circle shaped items and the 'Asbestos' piece.  I didn't ask the three old ladies who were minding the store.  They were too busy admiring my aussie hat, anyway.





Knight's Foundry is one of my favorite places to shoot in Sutter Creek.  I've taken pictures of this gauge before.  This time I removed all the color, then added the light yellow back in on the gauge for another Low Tech photo.





Northeast of Pine Grove, on Shake Ridge Road, we found this abandoned Ford pickup, so I had to stop and take a few shots with my telephoto lens, since it was 'parked' away from the road.  The color version just didn't look too eye-catching, so I used Photoshop 9 to give this rendering for the Abandoned theme.





 An Abandoned oak leaf and telephone pole are the next subjects in this macro shot taken at Cosumnes River Wildlife Preserve.  I was drawn to the angles, weathered wood and the red blush of the leaf.  Plus, the blue on the metal is striking.   



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



My last Abandoned theme photo is of homeless Mark from Oklahoma sitting on a Sacramento River promenade bench watching the world go by.  We didn't ask for his story, but he was more than willing to talk about incidentals - like he has two blankets to keep him warm at night.  Nikon D7000 and 12-24mm wide angle lens, cropped.  



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



Sometime we're surprised by ordinary things, like this apple core on the side of the road at the Preserve.  Not worth a second glance, except when I saw all the ants on it.  This is first thing in the morning and the ants weren't moving, it was so cold.  Fitting the Yummy theme, we could also toss it into the Abandoned category as well.





More in the Yummy domain (also fits the Trio theme) with these three custom soda bottles.   These were in a candy store in Old Sacramento. 



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



The following photos fit the White category. The first two were taken in Old Sacramento, which is a great place to find a wide variety of memories to take home with you. People are friendly, fun things to do, big selection of eateries, and history all around you.





 White Delight with a little red accent:



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



My last White picture was taken at the Preserve when it was very foggy in the morning.  Used a little creative license here to fool the eye and add some interest.  Title: Three Faces of Eve 





The final two photos fit the Trio theme for January.  We can name them Down Below and Up Above.   



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



I heard these sandhill cranes flying overhead and quickly aimed my telephoto at them, but they were barely visible in the fog.  This should have been a throwaway picture, but with a little Photoshop work, it was worth keeping.





Here's the original I had to work with.  Don't bee too quick to toss a picture that's poorly exposed or out of focus.  You can use Elements or other programs to find something worth showing.







And now, another month is ahead of us, although it only has 28 days in it.  We're off to a good start and with the weather turning warmer, we'll have little excuse for not taking our cameras with us here and there.


February's Challenge Themes will be:


2. RED





If you'd like to see all of the Challenge photos at their original (sent) sizes, you can go here:  http://wordydave.zenfolio.com/p960307740


Happy shooting, everyone.



wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) 2015 abandoned challenge january low tech trio white yummy https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/2/january-2015-photo-challenge Tue, 03 Feb 2015 02:42:52 GMT
December 2014 Challenge: My Favorite Shots https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/1/december-2014-challenge-my-favorite-shots Our normally busy December was normally busy again this year for most of us.  I think Yours Truly was the only one able to get out and corral some scenery.  The weather didn't cooperate with all the rain, but who's complaining?  Taking pictures in wet, foggy conditions will test your mettle, but that's why you have mettle - so it can be tested.  I'm anxious to get some frost close-ups this week, but don't think I'll be able to.




It looks like Don didn't get out much, the poor boy.  I can say this because he's told me as much when he sent his pictures for your viewing pleasure.  "Just a couple of pics this month. We spent pretty low key Christmas. I thinks me needs to get out more."  You're forgiven, my boy. But you need to make amends by submitting more in the January Challenge.

Here's Don's favorite kitty, Callie, enjoying some couch time while waiting for that special Christmas present: sardines in a can!  She will certainly be jolly after feasting on some scrumptious, stinky fish tails!

Don used his flash for this shot, but didn't get things overexposed.  Note that Callie isn't looking at the camera.  Can you guess why? 






Don's second photo is pretty creative and proves you can actually have fun with your camera.   I'm going to let everyone guess how he captured this bird's nest, keeping it in perfect focus while the tree lights are streaked.  Put on your logic caps and figure it out.  He'll let us know exactly how he did it, I'm sure.  Don, you're a real magician.  Isn't that real snow I see?








Dave took his days off as an opportunity to head into the wilderness (careful to be back around 9:30 each morning) and discover the blessings of being cold and miserable. With gloved fingers stinging, nose running, and cataract-plagued eyes blinded by the sunrise, he was still able to get a few favorites.


This first one was taken while visiting Tom and Barb Birks in Sonora.  Their house is at the top of the hill above this tree line.  We were at this place in the valley below them, visiting an Xmas boutique in the farm/ranch house.  Pretty cool.  I was intrigued by the pastoral scene, fall colors, pond and the two 'cowboys' riding their horses on this small spread.  Nikon D5100, 55-300mm zoom.





This second photo was taken at sunrise on Staten Island Road, west of Thornton, CA.  The cornfields are flooded after harvest for the winter waterfowl to call home, so thousands of geese, sandhill cranes, swans, ducks and other assorted birds feast and frolic, waiting for spring so they can fly north again.  When I shoot birds, I try to get the best compositions possible. This means setting up for the landscape and waiting for the right amount of birds to be in the right place before snapping the shutter.  Predicting flight patterns helps here.  I don't use the continuous shutter feature - guess I should, though.  The larger challenge is focus.  If using auto focus with a telephoto lens, there will be a lot of 'lens seeking' if you're focusing on just a few birds.  Better to pre-focus, then switch to manual focus.  Just remember to switch back to auto-focus afterwards. 






This heron hangs out at a backwater pond between the main road and parking lot at Cosumnes River Wildlife Preserve.  Easily spooked by the slightest threat, it takes some stealth to get close enough for a good shot.  After spotting him when driving by on the main road, I turned back and pulled into the parking lot.  Walking out of the lot and across the main road, keeping as far away from him as possible, I used a 3' diameter tree at the water's edge to sneak up on him, carefully keeping the tree between us as I crossed the road and went down the bank to the tree.  There was a fork in the tree at head height, so I slowly raised the camera into it for the picture.  A few branches were in the way, but I was able to get this capture from that position.  Then, wanting to have a clearer view, I crept toward the side of the tree. Before he was in the viewfinder, the big boy jumped up and flew away. Camera shy and a large part chicken.  But I was happy with the pose he let me have before saying sayonara.





Fog is a challenge.  Very little color.  Very little contrast.  Very little warmth as you're bundled and gloved.  This particular photo was taken right when the sun was starting to peek through.  It bathed everything with a pinkish brown cast.  I could see the sandhill cranes coming into the composition and waited until they were right where I wanted them.  Tripod.  Zoom lens.





My last favorite shot was taken on Staten Island Road just as the sun was rose.  These willets were flying in unison, partly in the shadow of the levee road, with the sunlight bathing half of them with a reddish glow.  These birds are gray when the sun is high.  I like the contrast of the pink and blue water reflections.  This is the only capture (out of dozens) where they are in a turn.  I'll have to go back and try to get more of them in this position where you can see their white wing banding. 







Unfortunately, this blog site limits the width of our posted pictures.  They would be more impressive if we could view them at their original sizes.  Such is life.  We who beg cannot be choosers as well. 


The old year has now vanished, leaving behind its memories.  That's all we have now.  Tempus volat, nunquam repetiit.  Time flies, never to be repeated, but we hold those treasured thoughts in our hearts, the good, the bad and the in between.  May God give us His grace as we look to this new year and trust in His wisdom, mercy, blessing and hope.


Heads up and write these down:  the January Challenge themes will be . . .


1.  Yummy

2.  Abandoned

3.  White

4.  Trio

5.  Low Tech


Happy New Year, everyone! And Happy Shooting!


wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/1/december-2014-challenge-my-favorite-shots Sat, 03 Jan 2015 02:39:45 GMT
November 2014 Photo Challenge https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/12/november-2014-photo-challenge Here we go again.  Another month's photos in the hopper after trip to tropical paradise (Don) and four visits to the local wildlife haunts (Dave).  Hopefully, a few other busy folk will send in their photos soon so we can add to the repertoire.  I know December is an unusually busy month, and we've skipped it for the past few years.  Some of you may get some great captures that you're dying to share, so we'll break tradition this year and feature a "My Favorite December Photos" theme. 

The winter rains have started in earnest, thankfully.  I have a feeling it will be open storm doors until March, which will either dampen (PI) our spirits or challenge our commitment to shoot no matter what - a Post Office mentality for some.  I'll try to focus on more indoor challenges to keep all of us wusses dry and comfy. 




Mr. Don will start off the Challenge with his submissions.  He says, "Here are just a few of the shots from the Maui getaway.  I have finally recuperated from the ordeal.  Came home with a raging sinus infection probably brought on by snorkeling and flying. I took about 700 shots and spent days in processing them down to 127 'keepers'.  In the Green category, we have my favorite tree, the palm where it belongs..... in Maui."

Don and I have a mutual disgust for any palm tree north of San Luis Obispo in our fair state.  Northern California hasn't been tropical since before the Noahic Flood, and it is insulting to imply otherwise.





The next three submissions are in the "Strong/Bold Color" challenge category.  "For the strong color, there is the Bird of Paradise, Pink Hibiscus and the Rainbow Eucalyptus. All were shot with the Nikon D300 and 18-200 lens. I filled the distracting background on the Hibiscus to make the flower pop." 

I always picture a green Maui and environs dotted with these floral bursts of color everywhere.  I've never been there, so can't say for sure.




The pink hibiscus has been isolated by Don's use of blacking out here and there in the background.  The alternative is to carry a 12" x 12" piece of black velvet in your camera bag to use as a backdrop.  The hard part is finding someone to hold it for you!  And, no, I don't use one either.   




These rainbow eucalyptus are beautiful and very photogenic.  I think there are some in Morro Bay down at the landing parking lot below the natural history museum.  Maybe not.





Don's Close-Up photo captures the intricacies of an unnamed leaf in Hawaii.  I'm going to guess it's a Ti plant with a radical Photoshop hue slider going on - from green to red.  That's one way to spice it up.  Don, let me know if my guess is correct (about the slider).  He didn't say, but I assume he used his 60mm macro lens on this one.





For a final photo that meets the Challenge theme of 'Angle,'  here we have Don capturing Janet's favorite burger hang-out.  "Shot on a clear starry night with the Nikon Coolpix."  Note the starry sky and sharp focus.  That means he either used a tripod or propped his camera on something while shooting. Great shot, Don.  Pretty cool that there are burgers in space.








Old Davy's shooting was extremely limited in November, but he tried to cover all four Challenge themes while doing the 'back to nature' thing.   With the changing (and still warmish) weather, fall leaves are still holding on here and there.  Blue skies are turning gray, which can be a big plus - no horrible shadows and blown-out highlights to deal with - evenly lit landscapes and close-ups - morning dew drops.  The waterfowl here in the valley increase, and their habits offer interesting opportunities.  Winter sunrises and sunsets are the best, especially before and after storms.  And fog can add a somber, ethereal touch. 

So let's not give up taking pictures just because it's another dreary looking winter out there. 

There's a lot of Green at the Cosumnes River Wildlife Preserve. With so many waterways, ponds and flooded fields, you can't help but run into it.  These cattail reeds (and others) are home to red-winged blackbirds, but are frequented by other foragers who flit here and there, like this red-capped kinglet who's giving me the once-over.  The kinglets land for maybe 2-4 seconds in one spot before flying to another a few feet away.  It's almost impossible to zero in on them.  And using auto-focus in the reeds is mostly a joke because it's almost impossible to focus on a bird when it's surrounded by them.  This little guy/gal landed in the perfect spot for me to get a pre-focus, then move my camera to the left for the composition.  I've used the Paint Daubs filter to give it a grainy look.   





This shrub at the water's edge was screaming for me to take its portrait, and since it was Green, I obliged.  You can still see some remnant yellows and reds in the foreground trees, but I've purposely let them partially silhouette against the bright green.



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



My final Green photo shows some of the variety of green in nature.  Moss, lichen, leaves - each contributes different shades (tints), intensity (chroma), hues and lightness.  This oak branch scheme struck me as worthy of shooting.  I could have taken a close-up, but chose to keep the full identity and strength of the tree by including its shape.  



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



Shooting into the sunrise on a foggy morning on Staten Island Road (about 5 miles SW of the Preserve), I've intensified the colors slightly in this next entry to fit the Bold Color category.  The original photo included the sun and more field grass to the right, both of which were cropped out.   


(c) Dave Skinner Photography



Here's the original picture. Note that lenses do weird halo things when you shoot directly into the sun.  That's one reason for the crop.  And I wasn't really happy with the dirty yellow color.  I wanted something warmer.



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



Driving back home from the Preserve one day, I pointed my telephoto toward this power line parade just north of Eight Mile Road on Interstate 5.  [Warning: Do not attempt to take pictures in a vehicle traveling 65 miles per hour unless you're an expert like me!]  I've cropped and colored it (remember, the sky is gray overcast).  This fits the 'Angle' theme for November.  



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



While stumbling through the underbrush by the kayak/canoe launch at the Preserve, I found this wonderfully rare (I think) anomaly on a blackberry bush.  The leaves didn't separate at birth and formed the appearance of a butterfly.  Pretty cool.  This is both a Bold Color and Close-up entry.  Taken with the Nikon D5100 and old MicroNikkor 55mm close-up lens.





Here's another macro shot, taken on Bruceville Road at the Preserve.  Everything was dripping wet.  Tripod, manual focus and settings. Nikon D5100.  Nothing spectacular, but it's fun to see water drops on spider webs.  Note the extremely shallow depth of field, due to using an f3.5 aperture. 





One more 'Angle' theme shot, taken in the middle of Franklin Blvd. at the Preserve, near the oak tree photo I posted above.  I was intrigued by the hexagon pattern in this manhole cover.  The oak leaves added a sense of place and color contrast.  D5100 Nikon and MicroNikkor 55mm.







Ginnie has skated in just under the wire to add a most unusual macro capture of a poor victim of the fly swatter.  She says, "You should know better than to give me a beautiful hand-tooled leather flyswatter for my birthday, little brother.  Canon S3 IS, f/8, 1/1600 sec, 400 ASA.  Set on Super-Macro, lens touching the window." 

What a way to go!  My sis has a terribly warped sense of humor, but we all still love her!









Again, we've come to the end of the show, sans Bugs Bunny.  Hope you've learned a little more about what to look for when you're clicking away and been encouraged to get into the spirit of giving by making more memories for yourself, family and friends. 

Our December Challenge theme will be "My Favorite December Photos."  Easy to remember.  I know we're all extra busy this month, so you won't be hurting my feelings by not participating. 

Let's all remember the Reason for the Season: celebrating the birth of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - loving each other - and giving out of that love.




wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) 2014 November challenge photo https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/12/november-2014-photo-challenge Wed, 03 Dec 2014 02:55:14 GMT
October 2014 Challenge: "O", Event, Black and White, Aged https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/11/october-2014-challenge-o-event-black-and-white-aged Winter is approaching.  The clouds are opening.  The rain is starting to fall. Leaves are turning color.  Time to bundle up and drink some hot cocoa.  And it is the perfect time to grab your camera and find some memories to capture.

October's challenge themes were:

     - "O" for October

     - Event

     - Black and White

     - Aged

This was one of the busiest month's of the year for me.  Barb and I headed to Paso Robles for a week of visiting friends and family, enjoying the Pioneer Day festivities and traveling to the coast a few times.  Thankfully, Liz and Angel were able to go also.  Good memories and great shooting. Don and I traveled the area, looking for great sunrises, moonrises, fall color, old barns, sentinel oaks, and ocean spray.  My cameras got a real workout after taking more than 1500 pictures.  Great fun.



We'll start with Megen's submissions, noting that only pumpkins were injured in this first photo.  "O" for Orb Launch is the title, and let's note that Meg didn't really have a choice but to include another orb - that small star, otherwise known as the sun - in her picture.  Her camera is shooting at a rather high shutter speed, freezing the mid-flight pumpkin and launcher to a large degree.  And I'm guessing the flash was on since the launch posts are showing a lot of detail in what would normally be dark. 




Meg's second entry is called Aged Extreme to fit the "Aged" theme for October.  Looks like this guy has been left in the weather for a few years and getting ready to celebrate another Xmas. 





Meg's family went to Yosemite and had a wonderful time biking around, seeing the wildlife and being awestruck by the beauty of God's creation.  The drought is affecting all of California, even Yosemite.  Here's her shot of Mirror Lake, sans water - much different that when Don and I were shooting there in February, 2013.  She's entered this in the "Event" category with the title, "Drought."





Pumpkins also qualify for the "O" theme since they're "Orange" in color.  Nice detail in Megen's close-up:





Meg's "Black and White" theme entry fits the bill, as her pup, Timber, smiles for the camera.







Let's peruse Don's photos next, starting with "O" for Old Guys Rule.  Check out that guy with the red hat on, looking like a photo geek in the middle of the street.  Don used Photoshop Elements to add the 'flash' on my camera.  I like the slower shutter speed, which added movement to the little Chiquita's swirling dress.   





Here, Don worked hard to balance the light in his Cripple Creek barn for the "Black and White" theme.  This barn is located east of Paso Robles and is a favorite spot for photographers and artists with brushes.  The grizzled oaks add to the western aura of the scene, and the low sunlight position makes for great shadows.  





One of the biggest "Events" in Paso Robles is the Pioneer Day Parade.  Here is wonderful example of Mexican American horsemanship, which was an important influence in the area's early ranching days.  It looks like Don was using his flash for this shot, as the rider's face is perfectly lighted, and her black horse shows a lot of detail.  Great photo, Don.





I guess we can fudge on this Caterpillar Yellow tractor by saying it borders on "O" for Orange, and thus fits the "O" theme.  Whatever it is, it's sure BRIGHT!  Did we say BRIGHT?  So bright that the driver had to wear sunglasses.  Nice details here, too.  Don shoots with Nikon's 18-200mm zoom, a great lens.







Dave has culled four shots from his October vacation time in Paso Robles. The first is for the "Aged" theme, taken at the park by the Pioneer Museum, where the old steam engines were on display. These two old birds were chewing the fat while their picture was taken.  Dave should have been a little lower for a better angle, but he's still learning the trade.



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



Hearst Castle is a true diversion from the mainstream tourist spots.  Extravagance on display.  Dare we say "Opulence?"  Here we have the "O" theme covered with a montage of art and architecture. 





Dave really likes shooting events, but more so, the people at the events.  These girls capture the fun of girlhood, the spontaneity of the moment, and pure American patriotism!  Unfortunately, they'll probably never see this photo. 



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



Dave's favorite vacation photograph was taken on Ranchita Canyon Road, northeast of Paso Robles.  He and Don were out before sunrise, scouting Hog Canyon and vicinity for some great shots.  When this bend in the road offered a nice minimalist abstract with clouds doing "the Dance," Dave knew this would be a memorable composition and decided to convert it to "Black and White."  He'll probably get this one printed and framed, even though it's not perfect (a bit too much empty space in the upper left). 



(c) Dave Skinner Photography





Miss Ginnie is our last guest for the month's Challenge, but certainly not least.  She wasn't going to send anything in, but this reflection shot of her patio chair and table during an "O" for October Rain caught her eye, and she had to get it.  Thanks, Gin.







Well, another month is in the can.  Thanks to everyone for sharing their favorite photos.  It's fun to see each other's handiwork.

November's themes will be pretty simple:

     - Green

     - Close-up

     - Bold Color

     - Angle(s)

This will let you get all the fall color you want, do a food shoot of some split-pea soup, put a magnifying glass in front of your eye and take a selfie, and find a few buildings to focus on.  Easy-Peasy.  Have fun, and be sure to thank God for His beautiful world and the fact that you can enjoy and appreciate it and the fact that you are healthy enough to get out and capture it on 'film.'

". . . God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy."  I Timothy 6:17b




wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/11/october-2014-challenge-o-event-black-and-white-aged Tue, 04 Nov 2014 02:43:22 GMT
September 2014 Challenge - "S" for September, Morning, Reflection, Over-My-Head https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/10/september-2014-challenge---morning-s-for-september-reflection-over-my-head  

Yes, September is past - October is here.  Change is in the air, as John Updike aptly put it:


"The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-

Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.

The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts

Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.

~   John Updike, September




Whatever month it is, it's a great time to take pictures, but September usually isn't too hot or too cold or too wet or too crowded with families with kids.  And the Challenge themes were tailor-made for it.  We've received a good number of photos to peruse and enjoy, starting with Don's "S"s and Reflections.

He says, "I stuck with the "S" and Reflection categories.  I was going to try to shoot some star trails for "Over my head", but the weather conditions weren't cooperating.....until this morning. Unfortunately I got up too late.  I've been getting up early every morning for almost 2 weeks now, only to see fog or high overcast.  I got up at 5:30 this morning and didn't even bother to look outside right away.  By the time I did, I knew I'd missed my opportunity.  The sky was just starting to go from black to deep blue and it was crystal clear.  Not enough time left for a long exposure.  I've got 2 days left....don't count out one more submission."


We're still waiting for that star trails shot, Don!  But we aren't holding our breath. 


Don says, "Four of the photos fall into the reflection category. Janet and I were coming back from a jaunt to Morro Bay when we pulled up behind this polished tanker truck.  I would entitle this, "Objects in mirror are much closer than they look".  The last two are in the "S" category, "sea" lion and "sea" otter.  These 2 were posing for the tourists in the harbor.  All were shot with the Nikon D300 and 18-200mm lens.  Cropping, contrast and color enhancement done in Elements 11.
























Megen is our second featured artist for September.  She monopolized the "S" theme with all of her entries, using creative alliteration to title each one.

Sometimes, getting in really close is the best choice for a portrait, as you can see here.  It allows for extra detail and a realism. 



 September Slumber 



Shabby Shed



Screen Shadow 



Spidery Splendor 



Spider in the Straw





Linda, you're next up with a September "S".  You said, "a sad smoky sunset.  There is so much smoke, it turned the sun brilliant orange.  Beautiful except I knew the reason.  And then I saw the reflection of the sun in the water running down the street in the drought." 





For the Over-My-Head theme, you said,  "This tree is dead and brown on the outside, so it was a surprise to see so much green inside. Hope it survives this awful drought." 


Poor redwood.  There are two redwoods on our north side over the fence.  Beautiful, but super messy.





And we finally have a Morning theme photo! But look who our sunrise subject is!  Linda says, "The beetle landed on the window before my eyes. So I snapped its picture, since I was standing there with my camera hoping to get a good sunrise."  Wow!  Looks like an alien to me. Great catch!







Bruce's new digs in Redding is a nice little development with lakes and access to hiking trails.  We'll enter all of his photos under the "S" theme: "S" for Serenity, Stillness and Solitude.  Thanks, Bruce.  Great composition and color.
















Ginnie also submitted a few pictures for the month, including our only flower photo - California Fuschias.  She took it in the morning, so it fits the Morning theme.  Note the complementing/contrasting swatch of color behind the flower on the right.  Now what if it had been red - or blue? 





She also went crazy with the "S"s as these next three shots prove:  Sea Splash, Sentinel and Sky, and Seagulls at the Seashore. 


What makes this zoomed in crashing wave composition work?  It's taken with a fast shutter speed that freezes the water droplets, adding interest, but the dark band of shadow running diagonally across the top of the photo is the reason why.  You wouldn't see the water drops in detail without it, and it adds balance to an otherwise non-interesting, uniform cacophony of spray. 





I rarely put my subject in the exact center of the picture.  But it works perfectly for this shot.  Why?  First of all, because Ginnie has cropped it to a square, which is more suited to portraiture than landscapes.  So she's taking a portrait of this wonderful lonely oak.  But she's also blending the simplicity and uniformity of the subject below with an abstract group of clouds, which force our eyes to wander all over the picture, and not just focus on the center.  This photo speaks symbolically as well, as we consider the loneliness and weariness of this old sentinel, stripped of any friends, open to the harshness of sun, wind and rain, soon to die --- contrasted with the beauty, wonder and promise of what's above.  That's one interpretation of many, I hope. 










At the bottom of the totem pole is yours truly, lover of the frozen narrative, laborer in the visual vineyard, long time hunter of carpe momentum. 


Mornings were made for photography and painting (in my most humble opinion).  The air is clear, the colors warm, the wind is still and the surprises are wonderful.  This Morning theme shot was made to order as the clouds were arrayed spread-eagle, there was no direct sunlight (cloudy behind me with the sun rising), and a warm tone was in the sky.  I'm not happy with the little oak tree in the foreground, but couldn't get far off the designated pathway for a better shot close to the water.   Nikon D7000, 12-24mm lens, f7, 1/200, ISO 200.



(c) Dave Skinner Photography



I didn't expect to see this Over-My-Head theme vintage craft flying above the drag strip in early September.  My camera settings were less than optimal before this shot.  I had been shooting at 1/200 when I first saw the plane.  It looped around while I followed it, shooting it while it left a trail of 'smoke' on its first flyby.  Then, as it looped around again for a second time, I finally realized how slow the shutter speed was and bumped it up to 1/640, making my last few shots sharper.  Nikon D5100, 55-300mm, f5.6, ISO 100. 





This next capture fits the Reflection theme.  Here is a black-necked stilt plying the shallow waters at Cosumnes River Wildlife Refuge.  I placed him to the right to accentuate the water movement and ripples behind him (or her?).  These are really fun birds to shoot, especially when they're fighting over females or territory.  Nikon D5100, 55-300mm, f13, 1/320, ISO 1250, E.V. +1.3 (which was a big mistake - I ended up over exposing a number of shots).





Here's another Reflection photo, taken at Lodi Lake during General Mills annual Fun Run for kids on a Saturday morning.  Nikon D5100, 55-300mm, f11, 1/400, ISO 800, monopod.  When shooting telephoto, I try to keep my ISO moderately high so I can maintain a fast shutter speed and keep the details as sharp as possible. 





My "S" theme photograph finds a sunset silhouette for the subject.  Couldn't resist shooting the golden sky over the neighborhood, including this one taken over the backyard fence.  Nikon D5100, 55-300mm, f4.5, 1/320, ISO 800.  







Another month in the can, and October is on the calendar.  Should be another great time for capturing your world, making memories and sharing them with us.  Thanks to everyone who sent photos.  I know it's not easy to plan a photo shoot for most people, especially busy people like you all. 

October's Challenge Themes will be:


"O" FOR OCTOBER   This seems to be a good way to give folks more latitude and variety in their picture choices.

EVENT   Any event that you happen to attend, like Pioneer Day, a birthday party, or your local police arresting a desperado.

BLACK AND WHITE   This is self-explanatory, but you don't have to convert a color picture to black and white to be in compliance.  A color picture of a piano keyboard (close up), a color picture of a black and white sign, whatever. Just make sure the photo emphasizes something or black and white.

AGED   This can be an aged person, aged barn, aged tree - anything or anyone that is experiencing their vintage years. 





Rules are flexible, but the best guidelines are:


Maximum width = 1600 pixels

Maximum .jpg file size 500kb.

I can make adjustments if necessary, though, so don't worry if you're having a problem re-sizing.


As always:  Keep shooting and have fun!



wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/10/september-2014-challenge---morning-s-for-september-reflection-over-my-head Fri, 03 Oct 2014 01:40:12 GMT
August 2014 Challenge: A for August, Blue, Reminds Me of Childhood, and On the Wall https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/9/august-2014-challenge-a-for-august-blue-reminds-me-of-childhood-on-the-wall  

It's hard to believe we started this Challenge blog three years ago this month.  Wow!  That's over thirty posts and a lot more pictures.  I'm going to ask a favor of everyone:  Please email me and let me know if you want to keep receiving the Challenge results.  Some of you may have lost interest and don't want to participate any longer, which is fine.  Just give me some feedback.  Thanks.  Email me at: wordydave@sbcglobal.net   Going forward, I'll only send the results to those who reply.




We had ample opportunities before us as the August Challenge themes were far ranging.   "A" for August would have been enough to choose from -- a whole dictionary letter filled with nouns.  "Blue" didn't only present color, but emotion as well, although no one went in that direction.  "Reminds me of Childhood" focused mainly on nostalgic toys, but could also include a can of Spam or birthday cake.  "On the Wall" was more specific and pointed.

Let me remind everyone:  the plurality of Challenge theme choices should make it easier for you to choose your subject.  They are not meant to be shot inclusively.   You can select either one or more or all - whatever you feel like.   Most photo challenges only offer one choice, thus limiting the subject and making it much harder to plan and capture it.   But we usually let you have a wider field of themes, so you're more motivated to get out there and shoot.  Has it been working?




We'll highlight Don's photos first.  He says, "Most of this months pics were shot in Morro Bay.  Janet and I took a drive over to pursue one of our favorite pastimes....the antique shops.  For things that begin with the letter "A", we stopped at the avocado farm on Hwy 41."  







"The antique shops had possibilities for all the categories.  The pedal car reminded me of the one I had as a kid." 





"The "Antiques" sign covered 3 categories: Begins with "A",  is blue and on the wall."





"While Janet shopped in one of her favorite stores, I had plenty of subjects for the "On the Wall" shots." 














Megen's choice for "Reminds Me of Childhood" theme is a picture of her daughter, Jordan.  Jordan's dance troupe participated in the annual Pinedorado Days parade in Cambria, CA.  When it's hot, the imagination goes to work.  Ah, refreshing!  She'll love seeing this in another ten years!










We want to highlight Linda's entries next.  She says, " We were driving down the street in San Francisco, and there's a lot of construction going on. You can say there's some blue, there's a letter A, and it's a wall.  I thought the angle was interesting."





"Also in San Francisco, which always evokes childhood memories, because my dad used to take us there, and he always told us about when he was stationed at the Presidio. He also has pictures from Coit Tower 20 or so years apart. This day we were obviously at Pier 39."





"This beautiful Automobile was part of a display in Lodi."





"An Angler at Lodi Lake. The clouds were amazing that day. I spent many days at Lodi Lake during my childhood."




"Experimenting again with unusual angles (see #1 LOL),  this Arrow will tell you which way to go.  Also at Lodi Lake."





Be sure to visit Linda's blog:  http://lindyslovelies.blogspot.com/2014/08/photo-challenge-for-august.html  where she has more pictures taken for this month's challenge and gives us more comments on them.  Thanks, Lindy.  Looks like you were having fun.






We all remember the thrill of jumping on the swings at school or in the park and getting as high as we could.  We experienced the rush of wind in our face and new perspective of our little world from such great heights.  Some of us were brave enough to launch into the blue, splashing down in the sand feet first - hopefully.  Our friends were impressed and we could enter the hero ranks alongside them.  Of course, bad timing would reward us with a pride-crushing crash landing. But we'd get up and try again.

John sent us two "Reminds Me of Childhood" photos, featuring his two young flyers in action.  It was deja vu all over again.  He says, "I think we all can remember taking the leap." 










Adding to the "Blue" theme, Ginnie's entry comes with a warning:  don't look if you're a bit squeamish about seeing all things dead as doornails.  It's only one picture, but she's figuring it has a little of each of our four Challenge themes in it, so she gets the Everything But the Kitchen Sink Award.  I'm not sure whether this is a blue-belly fence lizard or an alligator lizard, but I do know it's not posing for the camera.


She says, "My personal challenge this time is to wrap all categories into one photo as explained:

"A" for Aesthetic response, or emotional response to image. 
Something Blue, this guy is either a Bluebelly or a California Alligator lizard. 
On the Wall, I'm sure he had been. 
Reminds Me of My Childhood, several little brothers used to chase me with these, just to hear me scream.

Sorry about the quality, but I still don't like these creatures and couldn't go back out and do a retake."








Let's all welcome Sharon to our Challenge Group.  It's fun to see another perspective, and Sharon has captured all the theme flavor needed to keep the ball rolling.  It's not often you see an ["A" for] almond blossom rendered in metal, especially ["A" for] aluminum.  Hence, her title for this shot: Aluminum Almond Blossom.  Nice detail and composition. Now we're all wondering about the 'rest of the story.'  Just what is this?  A picture frame?  A vase?  A trivet?  Such a mystery!





None of us can forget the View-Master travel reels as they ingeniously spun around inside that plastic viewer.  Click, click, click.  We clicked our way from the Pyramids of Egypt to Yosemite National Park in a matter of minutes.  All in glorious color and 3-D!  High tech in our low tech worlds.  Makes me want to run out and buy one.  Thanks for sharing these "Childhood Memories."





Sharon shows her humorous side with "Blue Boy Revisited."  Note her choice of composition.  She's emphasizing the "Blue" theme by adding the blue sky to the scene.  The main subject isn't centered, but placed at the left to balance the two blues so neither is overwhelming.  The man logo on the door adds to the message, making it more personal and relational (does that make sense to anyone but me?).  Bordering on the abstract, there is an artsy feel to it, as well. 






Sharon's last entry reminds us of childhood, also.  Looks like this little guy has a lot of memories of his own.  Note the complementary colors, use of available light and rule of thirds used here.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_thirds  Thanks, Sharon. We look forward to seeing more of your photos next month.








As you can see, we've broken the record for posting the most pictures for a monthly challenge.  Thanks to everyone for their participation and enthusiasm for the project.  Nota bene --- You don't have to shoot EVERY theme in a given month.  One will do.  So don't feel intimidated or overwhelmed if you see four themes posted.  I only do that to make it easier for you to choose what you want to shoot and add variety.

Wow!  August was a long month -- with five weekends.  So there was no shortage of picture taking for me.  I'm pooped, especially after shooting the Ripon Hot Air Balloon Festival yesterday morning to round out the month.  These first two photos emphasize both the "Blue" and "Childhood Memories" themes.








The Stockton Record also hosts reader photo challenges.  The latest one was entitled, "The Blue Hour."  This is one of two pictures they posted that I sent to them,  Burns Tower on the University of Pacific campus before sunrise.  It's always fun to wander the grounds when no one is around but the campus police!  They let me alone when they saw my tripod. 





Another "Blue" capture.  This time from work.  This is the dumpster bin that sits by the cutter machine I operate.  Blue, with a modicum of rust to make it interesting and keep your eyes moving.  Yeah, that prop bar used to be straight many moons ago.  The recycling company that provides the bins is well known for it's heavy-handed beating up of these poor containers.  Ha!





One more "Blue" shot - this time from the Sundial Bridge in Redding.  An amazing piece of architecture, you don't want to miss using your camera on it (literally) if you ever scoot by the city.  It's less than a minute from the freeway. 

I made this shot with my telephoto lens propped on a ground level light fixture, guessing at what was in the viewfinder.  It was a trial and error attempt to get an abstract that emphasized both the bridge engineering and blue hour sky after sunset.  I didn't have a tripod, so had to resort to any available prop I could find.  Don't be afraid to experiment like this.  You'll be surprised at the results compared to trying to hand hold your camera when you don't have enough light.  I also used the back of a bench seat, the bridge railing, and planter box as make-do tripods that night.






We also visited Weaverville with cousin Bruce and Penny.  Their museum is a must-see destination, as well.  First class displays.  These next three shots were taken with the "A" for Antiques in mind.  An old trunk, a bottle display and the guts of a grand piano.  You can see the full set of old stuff here:  http://wordydave.zenfolio.com/p413007466
















For the "Reminds Me of Childhood" category, I chose this old phonograph with the green wool record protector.  Lots of brass, dark wood and an easily replaceable needle.  Grandpa Skinner had an old Victrola that we kids could use when we got older.  Loved playing everything from Irish bar songs to Roy Rogers westerns.  All at glorious, scratchy and monotone 78 RPM.  Those were the days our kids and grandkids will never experience, sadly.  Although, Sister Ginnie bought a portable (retro) player a few years ago so she could play some of the old kid's records for her grandchildren.  She was hooked, also.  Hopefully, the tradition will continue.    







Another childhood memory is lining up for a race.  I captured this bunch of kids sprinting off the start line yesterday at the Balloon Festival.  It was difficult jockeying for position with so many parents taking pictures as well.  Sometimes it helps to carry a big camera and get down really low for the shot.  Lots of fun watching them run a false start, being herded back to the line, then getting them ready to go again.  Nikon D90, 12mm lens, on camera flash for fill.  You can see the full set of Festival photos here:  http://wordydave.zenfolio.com/p170207956






Last, and certainly least is my shot of something "On the Wall."  This was taken on the wall of the Burger King in Willows, CA where my grandfather Skinner was born.  I don't think they had carbonated beverages around in 1894, but maybe.  The "Nu" in the NuCO2 isn't a new element.  It's the name of the beverage company that provides the CO2.  This was taken with my trusty point and shoot, then played with in Photoshop to get this spongy look.  An added bonus: the pigeon feather in the right corner.  Hey, photography is about having fun, not like so many of those other - boring - hobbies, like playing chess or collecting tiddlywinks.   










Update:  Cousin Bruce also sent some of his photos of Weaverville and the Sundial Bridge in Redding.  The bridge photos emphasize the blue in the twilight sky, and the museum and classic car pictures remind us of "A" for Antiques, "On the Wall" and "Reminds Me of Childhood" themes.  Thanks, Bruce.  Keep shooting more shots of the bridge: one of the September themes is "S".





Now, this is camping in style!








That's Barb and Penny watching us take pictures and before they realized there were zillions of spiders right below them, ready and waiting for the lights to come on so they could have their dinner!







Well, that was certainly a veritable variety of showman(and women)ship.  Thanks to everyone who went the extra mile.  It was worth every step. 

September's Challenge Themes will be:

Morning - a picture that is taken in the morning, like you in the mirror when you first get up! Or not!

"S" for September - anything that starts with the letter, 'S.'

Reflection - we've done this before and it's time to revisit it.

Over My Head - everything from Combinatorics (high math) to the moon and stars.


Again, as a reminder, we need an update on whether you want to continue receiving the blog posts each month, so please email me if you do at wordydave@sbcglobal.net


Enjoy your September - you're as young today as you'll ever be! 


Happy shooting.





wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) A blue childhood memories wall https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/9/august-2014-challenge-a-for-august-blue-reminds-me-of-childhood-on-the-wall Tue, 02 Sep 2014 02:01:18 GMT
July 2014 Challenge - Celebrations, Selfie, Hot-Hot-Hot, Water https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/8/july-2014-challenge---celebrations-selfie-hot-hot-hot-water  

There was little trouble finding subject material for July's challenge themes, especially the one for 'Hot, Hot, Hot.'   'Water' also played a big role in trying to stay cool when it was swelteringly blazing. Hey, it's August 1 and still over 100 degrees today where I live.   The monsoonal moisture added some humidity and sprinkles to the mix - and great sunrises and sunsets for us 'photo pholk' (another moniker for lovers of beauty in nature who also happen to own cameras).  It was a wonderful month.


This challenge blog was started a few years ago with the hope that it would encourage everyone to get out and shoot the world around them - make some great memories - and learn more about their camera gear and technique.   It has a counterpart on Facebook: Holding Your Breath.  I've started this new Facebook group to give everyone an opportunity to post their photos at any time.  There are no challenge themes to deal with;  just add any picture you want to share.  Very simple, easy and hassle-free. 




I also enter challenges posed by the local newspaper, the Stockton Record.  It's a fun way to stay 'in shape' thinking and planning what, where and when you're going to shoot.  The last one was 'The Golden Hour' - pictures taken either right after sunrise or right before sunset.  Since I really like taking sunrise photos, I headed out one morning to 'Celebrate' (July Theme) another sunrise at Cosumnes River Wildlife Preserve, which hosts a number of sentinel oaks dotting the landscape along the grazing fields by the river.  This photo isn't the one the editor/photographer, Clifford Oto, chose to print and comment on, but this one below gives you the feeling of that morning's light as the clouds were forming and moving to the east.   I had to laugh after reading the two paragraph comment about my early morning trek and camera gear and then seeing no picture on the page.   I got top billing in the story that featured five or six photographers, but the layout editor must have goofed (or Oto never sent them the file).   I'm the old kid on the block for these challenges and don't mind the youngsters getting published ahead of me, though.  Humility is better than pride.


Clifford has a blog, as well, that replicates what's printed in the paper.  The photo is in his blog, anyway.  Not my best choice of shots from that morning - I like this one a lot more!  Okay, statistics:  Nikon D90, 12-24mm lens, ISO 200, 3 bracketed exposures married in Photoshop to bring out the grass and keep the sky dark.  Hints:  Sunrise and sunset sky colors, clouds and drama change quickly.   Be patient, but don't miss the best light, either.  Sunrays (and shadows) are fleeting:  grab them when you can.   You can see the whole series here




My 'Selfie' for the month was also taken here at the Preserve.  This viewing area overlooks a backwater area that usually entertains a number of birds.  There are mostly herons and egrets here, but the tide must have been out (yes, the tide affects the rivers even this far inland), along with the birds the morning I was there.  This old oak is huge and gnarly, housing squirrels, big ants and local fowl.  A nice, quiet place to sit and remove all of the stickers from your socks.





Before going to the theater downtown last Saturday to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (how irrevocably stupid was that!), we walked along the waterfront promenade to get pictures of The Sherman, a 20's vintage boat that has been a restaurant in different locations over the years. Now, it's in Stockton being refurbished (it's a mess right now).  They have it moored in front of the Stockton Arena at the end of the Channel across from Weber Point.  It was excruciatingly 'Hot, Hot, Hot,'  so I had fun taking pictures on Weber Point of the young people playing in the water fountain that displays a number of different scenarios for your cooling pleasure.   This kid was really getting down to business as he briskly walked by.  The water display is about 25' x 25'.  I used the telephoto for these shots, so I could stand back and not get wet.  Nikon D5100, ISO 400, f16, 1/1000. 





My last shot highlights the 'Water' theme at the same fountain, but on the other side.  Mr. Brawney had just walked through the water and turned around, waiting for the mood to strike to return, I guess.  Thankfully, he stood there long enough for me to grab this shot.  Most of the pictures taken were 'wait and see' photos.  Everyone was moving so quickly, it was hard to compose and get thoughtful shots.  I converted from color to black and white for a minimalist, high contrast look.  Nikon d5100, ISO 800, f22, 1/1000.  Series here.







John is a water lover and you can find him surfing and frolicking in the wild and wonderful Pacific Ocean when his adoring wife lets him go.  Here are a few shots he took while 'Celebrating' in Santa Cruz recently.  'Water' and 'Selfie' captures are added to the mix as well. 


Cooper is looking for the next big wave, while John bites his tongue.  Is that how you trip the shutter on a GoPro camera?  Very cool shot. 




 Scary GoPro selfie:  this is what the sharks see. Be careful out there, boys.





 And the question is:  Where is the sandy beach? 





Addie and Pops -  nice color here, John.   Hey, where can I get a t-shirt like that?   Thanks for sharing your adventure with us.  It's like we were there in the freezing water with you, wondering 'when can we get out and find that warm, cozy restaurant for dinner?'







Our month's submissions include those of Mr. Don, who thankfully added the 4th of July 'Celebration' to his photo repertoire.  He's used two pictures here to really bump up the theme value.  Like, 'Wow!'  You're having way too much fun on that computer, buddy. 





More celebrating going on here at a July wedding.  And more computer fun to boot.  Nice composition here, using the oak tree theme in the background to tell a story within a story.  Nothing like a wedding to bring out the smiles and the cameras.  Hey, have you photogs ever shot a wedding?  As the number one photographer?  It is a huge undertaking, not to be entered into without courage, physical fitness, a long list of shots, patience, camera knowledge, a good flash unit, and willingness to NOT get to eat a piece of cake (you're too busy shooting).  Ask a lot of money for your photos - they're worth every penny and more!  If you love stress, you'll love shooting weddings.





Now, on the lighter side, Don has captured a nice little water drop for our 'Water' theme.   As an aside, he has calculated the water usage of a drip system and says,  "A little trivia:  26,000 acres of vineyards, with 1/2 gph emitters, will use approximately 15,730,000 gallons of water in 1 hour."   I'll let you argue the finer points with him.  Photo spec note:  How fast a shutter speed do you think Don used to record this single drop in focus?  Yes, you're right! 1/250th of a second, ISO 500, f11 at 70mm. 






Water and more water from the pump.  Don says, "I wish my water pump was actually hooked up to a well. I'd be watering my yards with it......free."  Don, you couldn't afford the well drilling.  Some San Joaquin Valley wells are over 3500' deep.  Groundwater levels are the big problem right now.  The Central Valley farmers usually pump about 40% of their usage from groundwater each year. This year it will be 65% or more.  Can't keep this up.  Oh, nice picture, by the way.





And speaking of 'Hot, Hot, Hot', it gets really hot in Paso Robles, in spite of it being only 20 miles from the foggy Central Coast.   But Don is tricking us on this on, saying, "For the "hot" theme, I put the heat to the old thermometer in Photoshop Elements 11. Hot enough for you?"


Naughty, naughty, Mr. Dahl!





Don's last photo is a selfie.  I'll let you decide for yourself what kind of comments should accompany his picture. Wow! When does the TV series start?







July was a great month for picture taking, and I'm pretty sure August will be the same.   We're all looking forward to some eye-pleasing submissions and stories about them.  Theme choices will be:

- "A" for August -  Let us see something that begins with the letter, "A."  

- Reminds Me of Childhood -   Toys, vintage photos, places, faces, etc.

- Something Blue -  I think we've done this before, but let's do it again.

- On the Wall -  Have fun shooting outside or inside. Just make sure your subject is on a wall.

Happy shooting and enjoy the adventure.



wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/8/july-2014-challenge---celebrations-selfie-hot-hot-hot-water Sat, 02 Aug 2014 20:46:36 GMT
June 2014 Challenge - Technology, Nature, Big Smile, Architecture https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/7/june-2014-challenge---technology-nature-big-smile-architecture Here we are again, enjoying what we like about the summer months - the great outdoors, the food, the gallivanting - and complaining about what we don't like - the miserable heat, the extra yard work, the event overload.   Thankfully, we live in a country that has seasonal variety, unlike our equator-hugging neighbors.  This gives us that much more opportunity to vary our photos throughout the year as well.


The June Challenge was a big mix of themes again: Technology - Nature - Big Smile - and Architecture.   Pretty fun and easy subjects to capture wherever you live. 





Yours truly purposely headed to Hwy 49 Saturday after working four hours - just to get some architecture shots.  Not the wisest decision, since I was dead tired when we got home and pretty good for little to nothing on Sunday.  However, there was the added bonus of a few 'Technology' pictures, like this one shot on Hwy 88 between Lockeford and Clements.  I didn't remember seeing this tower before - at least not jam-packed with communication gear, so I pulled over and zoomed in.  Nikon D5100, 55-300mm, f13, 1/500, ISO 400.  Paint Daubs filter.




So this was new technology, but there is also 'old' technology to consider, like this at-one-time-state-of-the-art fuse box, sans box.   This was taken in a little town called Plymouth, north of Sutter Creek, Amador City and Dry Town.   Boasting the Fly-on-the-Wall Restaurant, a Fairgrounds, and the huge 49er Trailer Camp, there are a number of old buildings on their main drag worth seeing. 

Admittedly, there's nothing artsy or clever about this photo.  But it is a one-of-a-kind artifact worth highlighting, IMHO.  Little wonder these old relic buildings were prone to going up in flames.





You can't go wrong when 'Nature' is a challenge subject.  From your backyard to the horizon and beyond, we're surrounded by the glory of natural beauty (and the not-so-beautiful).   I'm fascinated by singular character of oak trees and like to preserve their personalities for viewing (I almost said, 'on film').   The oaks around our area have long been cut down and removed by farmers and city developers, but there ARE a few original, undisturbed groves left in the San Joaquin Valley, like Oak Grove Regional Park here in Stockton and Cosumnes River Wildlife Preserve about 20 minutes north of us. 

I recently made a pre-sunrise trip to the Preserve and found a number trees worth capturing, including this one.  Tripod, Nikon D90, Tokina 12-24mm, f10, 1/400, ISO 400.  It was wonderfully cool and quiet, the moon setting, clouds forming in the west, and a golden sun creeping above the horizon.  No mountain lions or park rangers to scare me off, thankfully.





Our Hwy 49 trip is the perfect way to go back in the time machine 150 years or more.  Much of the architecture of that era is preserved in storefronts.  I'm pretty sure the homes aren't that old, though - maybe 100 years or so.   Erected in 1912, the Placerville courthouse isn't as ornate as its ancestors, but still carries its stately head high.   I converted this from color to black and white to emphasize the architectural lines without any color distraction.





Unfortunately, this blog site downsizes the pictures, so you don't get to see them at their original sizes (if they're larger than 1200px wide).  Bigger is better when it comes to photography.  It irks me to see people using their cell phones to cruise the Internet and Facebook looking at great photos.  They might enlarge them on their little screen, but they only see a portion of the picture then.  The bigger the computer monitor, the greater the impact of just about any capture. 

Next are more architecture views from Sutter Creek.  You can see the whole set here:  http://wordydave.zenfolio.com/p188471343












And the last photo from yours truly was taken in Weberstown Mall parking lot here in Stockton when we were on our way to a sushi restaurant.  I pulled out my Canon SD980 point and shoot when I saw some clouds over the Sears store building and had to get the shot. 









Next up is Mr. Don - our inimitable Norwegian paparazzo, who will explain the methods of his madness for this month's Challenge.  Don loves technology and has an eye for what makes things tick (or not). He says, "Since I'm old school, I went with old technology....the wheel and the pay telephone. Actually, I guess the wheel is timeless." 










The iconic Acorn Building in downtown Paso Robles can probably boast of being the most popularly posed edifice in town.  It calls us back to a time when life was much different (I won't go into detail).   Don says, "In the architecture category, I chose a couple of Paso landmarks.  If you study the Acorn Building, you may notice it's not a straight forward shot.  It's a reflection in a window across Park Street."  By "study' he means look closely at the backward running clock and signage.  Thanks for cluing us in on this, O Great One.  Don converted this to black and white, which you'll rarely see of this tower - unless you're looking at a really old postcard from the 19th century!







The next architecture photo is a great late afternoon photo of Don's alma mater -- the International Oooniversity of Odd Fellows.  Note the nice light and depiction of ornamental accents you'd see in a building this old.  This kind of intricacy is pretty much anathematized in our day (note all of the newer establishments in Paso Robles).  But maybe we'll see the pendulum swing in the future.






Now it's time for another Nature theme rendition, and Mr. Dahl asked his pet lizard to pose for us.  Of course, he couldn't refuse because he's a . . . . . you guessed it . . . . a yellow-belly!   Actually, it's a blue-belly, a western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis). 





Don's final picture fits the Big Smile theme in the monthly challenge.  This photo lets you get a glimmer of what happens in the creative mind  --- mayhem and magic, all mixed together.   He says, "The braces came off last week.  It's amazing what a good orthodontist can do.   Everything was shot with the D300 except for the pay phone.  That was with the Coolpix.  The smile shot required learning layers in Elements 11."  Great work, Donnie.








Be sure to think about taking some 4th of July celebration photos for this month's new theme:  Celebrations.  Fireworks, picnics, birthdays, anniversaries, retirement, wedding - whatever fits the bill. 

Theme #2 will be:  Selfie.  Take a self-portrait that will have people guessing about who you really are.  It doesn't have to be the traditional Facebook foto - try something unique, creative, even scary. 

Theme #3 will be:  Hot, Hot, Hot.  Lots of leeway here, so have some fun with it.

Theme #4 will be:  Water.  Cold, hot, running, frozen, colored, dripping, flowing - just make sure it's H2O and capture it for our viewing pleasure.


Remember, the only huge rule when sending me your pictures is:  No .jpg file sizes over 1MB.  The lesser rules are:  black and white is okay,  photo manipulation in your favorite software is okay, nudity is not okay, photos must be taken in the month of July, and have fun.

Also, it's great if you send a blurb about your picture: where you took it, time of day, what suffering you endured to get it, or camera settings (last on totem pole).


Happy shooting, fellow fotogs. 


wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) architecture nature technology https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/7/june-2014-challenge---technology-nature-big-smile-architecture Wed, 02 Jul 2014 23:55:35 GMT
May 2014 Challenge - Trees, Nostalgia, Where You Live, Refrigerator https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/6/may-2014-challenge---trees-nostalgia-where-you-live-refrigerator  

May Challenge Themes

Nostalgia, Trees, Where You Live, Refrigerator




May whizzed by in all its springtime glory, punctuated by gardening, working, and vacationing (at least for me and Barb).  The Skinners ventured to Paso Robles mid-month to attend Dave's 50th high school reunion.  So there were hundreds of pictures taken, but few which met the monthly themes criteria.  Oh, well, that seems to be the story when you're distracted by the bigger fish.  It was a wonderful time visiting with the Dahl's, Guffey's, and antiquated classmates.

Without further ado, let's see what the month has to offer.  It looks like it will be another Don and Davy Show.  So, fasten your seat belt and be prepared for awe-striking photography.  Ha!




Old Davy will go first with his "Nostalgia" offering.

I was shooting a band concert on Memorial Day, but the exposure conditions were less than wonderful.  Firstly, the setting was a dilapidating cemetery in Woodbridge that I had visited before, but was never able to get inside the locked gate (they try to keep kids and their beer bottles out of it).  So this was an opportunity to get up close and see things from a different perspective (other than through a fence).  Unfortunately, this poor place is a dusty remnant of its former glory, and even though I've seen people working in it when I've visited Lodi Lake before (it's right on the edge of the lake), it's still a mess.  Many of the gravestones are fallen and broken as you see in this first "Nostalgia" shot.  Note the unfinished poem(?) on the bottom of the stone and misspelled word.  Letty Taylor was born in 1806 - a true California pioneer.

Nikon D90, 12-24mm zoom lens.




While shooting the Memorial Service, this tree caught my eye (thinking of the "Tree" theme), so I zoomed out, framed it and shot. Nikon D5100, 55-300mm lens.  Let me say that I take two cameras for most of my shooting now.  The D90 sports my 12-24mm wide angle lens, and the D5100 wears the 55-300mm long zoom lens.  It looks weird, wacky and nerdish with one camera on my neck and the other on my shoulder, but it works great - they don't crash into each other, are lightweight and I have a huge advantage of not having to change lenses.  This tree is nothing special, but the yellow leaves provided a stark contrast to the oak backdrop.



Here's another "Nostalgia" picture, taken Saturday night at a two-band concert in Lodi, where my friend Rich was playing trombone in both bands (he also played at the cemetery venue).  A huge dance floor was provided for frolicking to the old Swing Music songs, but very few took advantage of it.  Maybe it was due to the fact that most of the attendees were in their 70's and 80's.  Wonderful music, but horrible lighting conditions. I used my SB600 flash for this shot. In Photoshop Elements 9 I used the "Dodge" tool to lighten the band group. Nikon D5100, 18-70mm lens.



The "Where You Live" theme can have a wide range of opportunities.  I noticed a dragonfly land on a branch of my birch tree out front here at home and thought, "Dragonflies don't land in birch trees."  I quickly retrieved my camera and shot with the 55-300mm zoom before changing the lens to the 55mm MicroNikkor close up lens.  After taking a few dozen shots, there were only a few in pretty good focus with good exposure and background. This female California Darner had pretty ragged wings, with spider web remnants scattered here and there. Pretty distracting, so I used the "clone" tool and erased them. Nikon D5100, 55-300mm @ 220m, f5.3, 1/200, ISO 400.




The last "Where You Live" photo shows the proud, screaming parents and relatives attending Angel's 8th grade graduation.  Delta Sierra Middle School is in North Stockton. Every school in North Stockton (north of Hammer Lane) is in the Lodi Unified School District, not Stockton Unified.  The area around the school is middle class (like the one I live in), non-gated, and a big mixture of cultures. I wanted to capture this in the picture. Nikon D5100, 55-300mm lens @ 195mm, f18, 1/500, ISO 400, using the "Posterizing" filter in Photoshop Elements.



My final entry is another "Nostalgia" photo, taken in Don and Janet's backyard.  The wooden wheelbarrow, blues, rust, old metal and composition were calling my name and I couldn't resist the invitation. Nikon D5100, 55mm MicroNikkor lens, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, about f8 or f11.  The added grain and moire patterns were added in Photoshop Elements 9.






Okay, Don, it's your turn to show your stuff.

Don's "Around The House" photos are a mix of eclectic decorative items, including this jelly bean dispenser.  He says, "I seem to be hung up on things made of glass. I also realize I need to restock the Jelly Belly dispenser."  So here are my questions:

  • Who gets to clean all the glass?
  • Why didn't I see this when we visited last month? Maybe you keep it in your bedroom.
  • Did you use your macro lens or 18-200mm zoom for these pictures?
  • What did you do to 'de-highlight' the main reflection on the logo?

The bright reds and yellow carry this shot. And the added multi-colored jelly beans add interest as your eye roams around the picture.  Were you 'tasting' them while looking at the different colors?





Glass and more glass create a perceived vanishing point in this next picture.  My guess is that Don shot this through the rounded cabinet glass, using a really small aperture (note that everything is in focus, near to far). Overhead kitchen light and available window light (note the green reflected in the back boards) were all that was necessary to capture this essentially warm-touchy-feely composition.  





Another Don 'shelfie' composition adds book title interest.  Land Warfare details how war methods have evolved, specifically in the 20th century.  Don bought this because he has a love affair with big metal objects like Army tanks.  They Felled the Redwoods  has a lot of great photos in it, kind of like a comic book for grown-ups. Paso Robles area history is a Twisselman forte. Don enjoys boning up on all the local trivia so he can impress people with his vast knowledge on Facebook.  I'm trying to come up with a good reason that The Redneck Joke Book is in the collection, but am afraid of offending anyone, especially Don!  The Cat Who Went to Paris  was written by a former cat-hater.  Go figure.  And Cats in the Parsonage is a light hearted look at Taffy and Tiffany, who spend their time teaching their owner about life: "Ask the animals and they will teach you" (Job 12:17).  

All of which is to say, you can learn a lot about a man from his library.  And what does this have to do with photography?  Absolutely nothing.





I really like the painterly rendition of Don's newest glass collectible. He says, "Janet picked this jar up at an antique store a few days ago. What do you serve when the revenuers come calling? White lightnin' and pretzels.  Actually, it's pretty weak.....she watered it down a lot."


This is a masterpiece of still life composition, especially with the addition of the pretzels.  Take away the pretzels and a lot of interest and intrigue is lost.  The golden browns in the bottle compliment the wood slat panel in back.  And the cork and wood handle add to the 'softness' of the picture. Great photo, Don.





Don's last entry emphasizes the 'old time' feeling provoked by this close up.  This also fits the "Nostalgia" theme category.  I'm curious about the light source in this shot.  There is a lot of blue and strong direct light from above on the handle and wire, indicating it was taken outside.  But the cork and glass look a bit muted.  Don, did you burn in the cork and some of the glass in Photoshop?  Inquiring minds want to know the secret here. 







Well, that's it, folks.  Another month and another Challenge have come and gone.  It's time to face the hot summer with a smile and thank God for air conditioning.  June should be a wonderful time of going, doing, sprucing, visiting, buying, eating, enjoying family and friends, and all the other blessings given to us so fully and freely.

June's Challenge themes will be:

  • Big Smile
  • Nature
  • Technology
  • Architecture


wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/6/may-2014-challenge---trees-nostalgia-where-you-live-refrigerator Tue, 03 Jun 2014 01:52:45 GMT
April 2014 Challenge - Bold Color https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/5/april-2014-challenge---bold-color Spring is springing with color right now.  The extra rains have helped push a few more blooms skyward, cleaned up our dusty world and air, and put a smile on most people here in drought-stricken California.  This was a great month to search out the bright and bold complexion of God's creation. We were created to see in color, thankfully.  We can imagine a world without color when we see a black and white movie or picture.  In some ways, a colorless world can add drama and simplicity, but that can be lost with colors that distract, compete with one another and bend our brains (try looking at fluorescent pink for 5 minutes).


The April theme of Bold Color caters to those of us who love flowers, and especially yours truly who is blown away by macro photography's hue intensity in a close up shot of a rose.  Wow!  So I apologize to you ho-hummers out there who would rather see a turquoise shoreline or an Irish redhead.  I wasn't able to make either of those destinations this month.




Unfortunately, I've only received photos from one of our old faithful shutterbugs, Don.  And again, unfortunately, only one of the two pictures he sent had a file type that I could open.  I've told him about it, so if he resends it, I'll add it.


Don says, "The first of these is out on Jardine Rd. Have you ever noticed that Lupines and Poppies rarely grow in large bunches together?  Maybe it's a segregation thing.  I cloned in a few more Poppies."


This is an interesting composition that includes the barbed wire fence the flowers were behind, the road and trees in the distance.  Your eyes are drawn to the flowers immediately, then backward along the road to the trees.   Don had to crawl through the fence to get this angle, so he's standing in the wildflowers while shooting, trespassing on private property and killing living flora at the same time!  What a guy! Nikon D300; ISO 200; 1/125th; f22 (for maximum depth of field).




Okay, Don resent his second Bold Color entry for posting.  I should let you guess how he took this. Not too hard to figure out, but I'll let him tell how he did it.  Very creative, Don.   He says,  " I suppose I could entitle the second pic, "Traffic Light Out of Order".  It's actually a triple exposure on the tripod.  Take the first photo during a red, run over and trigger the cross walk light, run back to the camera and catch the green and then the yellow on one frame."





Little question what yours truly, Old Davy, will submit after visiting the Stockton Rose Garden and Electra Road this month.  His backyard provided an array of bold and vivid flower fare, as well.  


But this first entry was taken at Buckley Cove Marina in Stockton, where sailboats are berthed. Walking on the levee across from the menagerie of masts and namesakes, it's pretty easy to use a telephoto lens and capture some abstract shots.  Red is one of nature's boldest pigments, easily drawing attention. Hence, the fable that the police stop red cars more than any other color.  The cyan/turquoise stripe is really the award winner here, though.  It divides the composition perfectly (IMHO) and balances the hot red with a cool blue. Nikon D5100; 55-300 Nikkor @280mm; f13; 1/400th; ISO 400.  I try to keep the shutter speed up past 1/400 when shooting this zoom, which means I have to increase the ISO sensitivity to 400, 800, or sometimes 1600.  This camera can handle the noise at these levels, thankfully.




Again, forgive me for throwing in a few flower pictures.  I just can't stop taking them.  The rose garden downtown boasts its best blooms in April - the first blush of healthy and audacious hybrid teas, floribundas, miniatures and climbers.  The early morning sprinklers had adorned most of the blooms with dew, adding to the production. This is my favorite photo of the set. Nikon D5100; 55mm MicroNikkor; either f3.5 or f5.6; 1/250th; ISO 400.  I really like the softness and harmony of the yellow as it supports the pinks.  For those of you wanting to plant this beauty, its name is Arizona. Full set here: http://wordydave.zenfolio.com/p120596508






The Cambodian New Year is the big, local, week-long celebration of Cambodian culture and Buddhist religion.  I wanted to visit (first time) just to take photos for this Challenge.   I had seen what the Buddhist temple looked like, along with all of the 'angels' and reclining Buddha statuary located on the grounds (Huell Howser production) and figured I couldn't miss getting bold color and unique images (see the set here: http://wordydave.zenfolio.com/p708207351).  It was quite the experience.


This umbrella caught my attention.   Someone had hung it outside a tarp-covered booth for some reason, making it look out of place.  But it makes a great abstract (optical illusion) and cries Bold Color.  Nikon D5100; 55-300mm Nikkor @110mm; f16; 1/500; ISO 800.






Just so we aren't overwhelmed with red, here is a backyard close up of our iris.  One of the most important aspects of my macro photography is making sure the background is just right.  Color, texture, arrangement and bokeh are all play a vital part in a balanced composition.  I often spend more time looking for the best background than taking the picture.  A good photograph is much more than just capturing the subject.   Nikon D5100; 1/100th; ISO 400; f3.5. 






Flower photography can also have an element of fun.  This same iris bed was the source for this next shot of an iris bloom, the 'tongue' petal specifically.  The sun was backlighting the bloom (as the leaf above), so the color and texture were rich and detailed.  That made for a nice picture in itself, but I wanted to accentuate the colors for the Challenge theme.  Opening the 'Mosaic' filter in Photoshop Elements, I converted the composition to small sized 'stained glass' artwork.  Camera specs same as above.





This next Bold Color photo was taken at work.  Can you guess what it is?  Hint: the silver band at the bottom is baling wire.   Yes, it's a bale of paper trim with NCR pink paper mixed with 60# white bond.  Nothing too special, but it made for a great composition after cropping and using the Paint Daubs filter in Photoshop Elements to soften the final image.  Colors were intensified, also.  Trusty point and shoot Canon SD 980; f2.8; 1/20th; ISO 500; no flash.





Okay, one last entry from yours truly (there were more, but I've already monopolized to the max).   This was taken at San Joaquin Delta College's Demonstration Garden early one morning.   I tried to put both flower centers in the same plane, so they'd both be in focus while everything else would be softened.  Note the strength that pairing makes compared to shooting a solo flower.  The element of relationship enters the scene and steps up the interest (IMHO, again).  This works with a trio as well, but things start to get confusing and impersonal to a degree after that.  Pastels aren't the definition of Bold and fit the softer side of the color spectrum, but when they fill the frame, they come close to the real deal (I'm tired of looking at red, anyway).  Nikon D5100; 55mm MicroNikkor; f3.5; 1/125th; ISO 200.







The May Challenge will present more variety in the themes as we will have four to chose from (or mix):  Trees, Nostalgia, Where You Live and Refrigerator.  Black and white is okay, along with software manipulation (cropping, color and contrast adjustment, HDR, filters, etc.).  Thanks ahead of time for all the pictures you're going to send for posting.  I'm sure you're getting tired of seeing mostly mine.

Have a great month enjoying the warmer weather and God's creation.  "[Don't trust] in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy." I Timothy 6:17b.



wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) 2014 May boat bold color lupine poppies roses wildflowers https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/5/april-2014-challenge---bold-color Fri, 02 May 2014 13:00:05 GMT
March Challenge 2014 - My Best Pictures https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/4/march-challenge-2014---my-best-pictures Sometimes the easiest sounding Challenge theme is one of the hardest, especially when each month we're sending in what we think are our best shots.  So March will earmark variety and give us sampling of what we like personally.  Then again, with this theme - if you only took a few pictures, most or all of them are your best.  Maybe we should do a 'Your Worst Shot' challenge and have you explain why you think it's bad - the technical and artistic reasons.  Another good theme would be 'Before and After.' Nikon camera photos are low on contrast, color and sharpening.  So you have to take time to crop, adjust everything, dodge and burn areas if you want, and apply other sundry tweaks.  You'd be surprised at the difference - or maybe not.  But the actual theme for April is given at the end of this blog.




Our first shot is a belated entry that was taken by John from his house in Paso Robles showing a rainbow over the Parkfield hills. Nothing like stepping out your door and seeing this.  Wow!  Unreal.






And here are Ginnie's best shots of the month, including some added comments for the last two pictures that I missed in her e-mail.  She says:


"These photos are certainly not my best, but might be a bit interesting to include for the March Challenge.  Mostly I just go thru whatever I've taken during the month and try to make something fit.  Uninspired, maybe.  Lazy, probably. First one was taken over in Harmony right before I almost stepped on the snake (dead, but I didn't know it at first).  I had spotted about 15 head of cattle lined up on a nice green grass hill and was walking along to get the best angle and don't even know why I looked down.  Yuck!  Anyway this one steer was watching me hop around so I got his picture.  The story is better than the shot."




Here is a San Miguel Mission picture - good early morning light to accentuate the shadows. Plenty of light on the left wall and roof. Great composition in a 1x1 dimension. Is there a pastel coming? Very nice.


"This one was taken at San Miguel Mission one morning.  Everything there is so over-photographed, over-painted and over-romanticized, but I still love it."




"The last one is a shot of these 2 hens sharing some gossip on the way in to lay one.  Kind of reminded me of girlfriends at the mall."



 ~~~ G.G.'s WORDS OF WISDOM ~~~


"I still long for the old days of SLRs, film and being in charge of the shot 100%.  I know, I know.  BUT, out of a roll of 24 I would get at least 2 or 3 keepers.  Taking time, framing the shot, getting the light just right, watching the depth of field.  Was a lot more fun.  Now we take 150 shots,  sit at the computer for hours figuring out which ones may be best and how to improve them and still only end up with 2 or 3 keepers."





Old Davy had plenty of opportunities to capture and share his best shots for the month, including tiptoeing through the tulips (literally),  visiting a concert, and watching a Civil War reenactment.  Quite a variety of venues and shooting challenges.

The tulip farm was a real dud if you wanted to get a landscape scene - not many blooms and city street background. So it was time to get out the MicroNikkor 55mm close-up lens and move way in, filling the viewfinder with explosive color.  I decided to apply the "Brush Stroke" filter to this shot to make it a little dreamier. Ha!



I like shooting events, especially reenactments because the people don't mind if you take their pictures.  They expect it, I think.  The Union troops were lining up, getting ready to deploy onto the battlefield when I went down low in front of these three young kids using the 12-24mm wide angle.  I knew the sun was in the photo and would produce a lot of flare, but that's the nature of this Sigma lens.  I was happy with the expressions of pride and determination, and having a little sister in there was icing on the cake (looks like that's her brother on the left).  When I processed the shot, the lens elements flare was green, so I selected that area and took most of the green out in the largest spot.




The wildflowers were beautiful that day at Knight's Ferry - I could have missed the reenactment and spent the afternoon just chasing them with my camera.  I've never seen so many poppies and bush lupine painting a hillside. This picture accentuates the lupine with a blurred poppy background. Again, I've used the Brush Stroke filter for more of a painterly effect. Here, I'm using the 55-300mm zoom, ISO 800.  More of these photos here: http://wordydave.zenfolio.com/p655841936





A friend invited me and Barb to a band concert in Lodi, so I knew I'd have to use the 55-300mm to zoom in on the stage from about 100' away.  We sat way up in the second row from the back of the auditorium.  During the intermission, people moved around a bit - one lady decided to prop her feet up on the seats while playing Solitaire on her cellphone.  Her eye-popping socks caught my attention, and I had to grab the shot.  I used a special filter on this picture, too, but can't remember its name.






Did you know that Don served his country in the 60's, bravely signing up for a crack at the enemy, ready to go into harm's way at a moment's notice, willing to travel the ends of the earth for Uncle Sam?  Now, that same adventurous spirit nerves him with his photography, as he heads out in the middle of the night to shoot in critter country or meanders the streets in the urban jungle.  These next two photos were taken in downtown Paso Robles at the train station when only the owls and crazies are wide awake.


Don says,  "The train station shots required some early morning shooting.  Note the time on the depot clock.  The moon was double exposed into the depot pic.  There's been a lot of railroad tie replacement going on.  Hence the stack of old ties.  Janet wasn't too crazy about me going out at the early hours.  I think she suspected if I didn't get mugged I'd at least get arrested." 


Very cool shots, but would have been much better if you'd been arrested.








"This [next photo] was with the macro lens on the tripod, 8 seconds @ f22 in the shade.  I was trying to capture as much depth of field as I could without the wind moving it during the exposure."


Shooting macros is a lot of fun. But the closer you get, the depth of field is pretty miniscule.  By stopping down your aperture, you allow more of your subject to be in focus.  It worked pretty well for Don in this beautiful iris picture. Wow!





Don's last shot is of a carpenter or wood bee foraging on some wisteria. These big guys are actually harmless, but may fly around you or into you during mating season:

"One behavior can be alarming, though. The males compete with other males to mate with females. This involves them chasing males away and chasing females to mate. During these chases they zoom about crashing into windows, people and anything else in their path. Humans in the way of all this may think they are under attack, they are not, they are just in the way. Males may also hang around waiting for adult females to emerge, and again they behave in what might seem to us as an aggressive way, by chasing other males away and investigating anything that gets near the exit hole. You might be buzzed around and checked out to see if you are a rival that needs chasing away or a female that needs mating. However there is no danger as males cannot sting, so like much male mating behavior it's all bluster and show." http://www.bumblebee.org/OTHERbees.htm


The colors in this shot are superb - no direct sunlight to overexpose anything. Thanks for being so brave, Don.







Well, it's already April and spring is here.   Thanks to the Lord for the recent rains and snow.   It's all about color this month, so the April theme will be Bold Color.  Should be pretty easy pickings. And you don't have to limit yourself to nature photography.  Signage, buildings, clothes, birds, anything will qualify.  Just make sure it makes a bold statement with color.

Happy shooting!




wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/4/march-challenge-2014---my-best-pictures Thu, 03 Apr 2014 03:20:22 GMT
February 2014 - The Letter 'F' https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/3/february-2014---the-letter-f Here we are at the end of a very short month. February is one of those dreary, 'pray it rains' months.  We weren't disappointed as this latest storm was an answer to many prayers and drenched our beautiful state of California.  I looked out the kitchen window yesterday and was amazed to see all the green!  Grass, tons of poppies ready to bloom, and as many weeds, each with various shades of green.  They say there are more shades of green in the world than any other color.

There isn't much to motivate the photographer when outdoor life is dull and gray.  February's challenge theme of capturing anything that begins with the letter 'F' hopefully broadened the possibilities and opportunities to take pictures.  I was surprised at the variety of submissions, but shouldn't have been.  Browse through your dictionary and you'll find thousands of ideas.




I'll start the ball rolling with my entries. Our boss, Roberta, brought in some daffodils for Jan at work.  Their freshness faded after a few days, so when she threw them in the garbage can, I plucked them out and brought them home, hoping to use them in a "F"lower/"F"ork still life photo.  I grabbed a plate with blue rings, a flower (along with other petals that had fallen off other flowers), and a fork and got to work arranging.  I'm horrible at arranging still life pictures, so forgive me. The setup was Grandma Skinner's old card table by the living room window.  There is a fluorescent light above it and window light to the side for fill. I shot with the Nikon D5100 and my old macro lens.  It was really difficult to get good, sharp focus - even after a dozen takes - so I used the "Dry Brush" filter in Photoshop Elements to make it look more like artwork. 1/30, f8.0 or so, and 3200 ISO.





My second shot of a peacock "F"eather was a little easier. Using the same camera and lens, I was hoping to get a much better rendering of the iridescence in the feather, but couldn't do it. The colors are bumped up in an effort to bring more life to the original. So, I'm not happy with this one at all. Should have taken a close up of the dead duck I found on the fire lane in back of our building at work (tossed it into the adjacent field). Not as much color, but the detail might have been better! Ha!





This next picture is one of those surprises that you see when you open it on your computer.  Barb and I had just seen The Lego Movie in Lodi and were walking down the main street back to the car when I saw a planter box full of oriental poppies.  Well, I just happened to have my Canon point and shoot in my pocket and had to shoot a "F"lower picture for the Challenge, of course.  It's simple to put the camera in macro mode (and it's always in no flash mode). Just move way in and presto!  These poppies are one of the most striking flowers you can shoot. They just explode with color and symmetry.  Canon SD980, ISO 80, 1/160, f2.8.





Admittedly, flowers are one of my favorite subjects to shoot - they're just standing there, waiting to model for you.   So, I'm submitting one last one for the Challenge.  Sorry.   There weren't a ton of blossoms on our purple leaf plum this year, which is okay - won't have as many little fallen plums to pick up this summer.   The pastel shade of pink is hard to pass up, and I think I've taken pictures of these blossoms for the past 10 years or so.  Always fun to be patient and wait for the breeze to stop, get positioned exactly for the best focus with multiple blooms, find the best background colors and then press the shutter.  Nikon D5100, macro lens, ISO 400, 1/100, f3.5 or so.








Next, we see what Mr. Don has been up to - shooting everything from "F"rogs to "F"irehydrants. Busy guy, that Don.  But he didn't get much exercise taking these - all shot at his house or down at the corner.  This first photo of his favorite frog is a masterpiece of frog photography - but don't expect National Geographic to be interested. Ha! Poor guy looks a little like he's "out of water" though!





Nothing like a yellow fire hydrant to get your attention.  Don, speaking of 'attention,' it looks like you need to do some touch-up work on this piece of utilitarian art.  Your neighborhood property values will rise accordingly, and you will be heartily admired by all your neighbors, and someone will call the Paso Robles Press and they'll send out a reporter for a story with video, and someone will see you on YouTube, and girlfriend from out of your past will see the video and give you a call, and Janet will find out about it, and  . . .  Better yet, DON'T get out your paint brush!





Don has also sent a few "f"stop fotos.   Pretty ingenious use of Photoshop Element in the first one.  Don, can I have your permission to 'steal' this one? Should come in handy sometime.









Don loves his Photoshop Elements 11 program and had fun with this 10-second exposure of a ceiling fan.  Using his flash and software, he came up with this artsy version of this whirl-a-ma-thing. Very cool, Don. Now just paint this on canvas and you can show it down at the Studios On the Park Gallery!








And last, but certainly not least . . . is Ginnie's masterpiece of, "'I SPY, all things 'F'.   Can you name all 22?  Cooper and Adi hunted all over the house finding things for this picture.  Was fun and exciting."  Let's see what we can come up with here:   I think I got 21.  Thanks, Ginnie.  Very creative!








Thanks for the submissions to everyone, and to everyone who thought about it but were too busy.  Maybe March will give you more 'free' time to get out there and shoot.


The March Challenge Theme will be Your Best Shot(s).  Feel free to photograph any subject, use any post-processing, and take it in color or black and white. No real rules this time, just keep your entries .jpg files around 300MB-400MB and 1000-1400 pixels wide max.


Enjoy the Spring celebration out there. We've received enough rain to make sure the blooms are blooming, the vacations are viable, and the smiles keep smiling.


Happy shooting!



wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/3/february-2014---the-letter-f Sat, 01 Mar 2014 17:58:49 GMT
January 2014 - Big Mix https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/2/january-2014---big-mix Wow! After two months we're back on stage, bringing you the best of the January Challenge. Let's see how everyone fared using their skills to play by the theme rules: Fashion, Texture, High Key and Abstract. January was an abnormally dry month and it was pretty discouraging going out for landscape shots and seeing everything so dead and dry. Hopefully, we'll get a slug of rain in February and March.

Personally, this was a very busy month for shooting (I've posted 5 times on my photo website). Sunrises, mostly. Below freezing this morning on Hwy 88, about a mile north of the Mokolumne River. Barb and I had been to Sutter Creek and Jackson last Saturday, so I scouted the best trees to shoot when we drove. The latest Stockton Record challenge is 'silhouettes' so that was my plan. Oak tree silhouettes at sunrise (http://wordydave.zenfolio.com/p947176127). Went pretty well except for no cloud drama in the sky and my fingers got numb and wouldn't work right before I called it quits. Didn't know your fingers hurt so much when they're 'waking back up.' Ha!




Our first entry was sent by Ginnie, but belongs to her granddaughter, Jordan, who was using Ginnie's camera at the time. It is a fashion photo of a magazine page. "This month's contribution was captured by granddaughter Jordan while on her own with my camera.  I think it fits all four categories; Fashion, Texture, Abstract and almost High-key.  Not to mention the cornflake near the bottom." Pretty cool, Jordan. I think you'll do a great job with our February Challenge theme: The letter "F." Shoot anything that is associated with the letter "F."






Don did a masterful job creating a number of High Key photos. High key is a style that incorporates a maximum of white and a minimum of contrasting color or black, like when your flash fires and everything is super over exposed. It is popular in portraiture and abstract, bordering on line drawing artwork. He says, "The topics this month were a bit of a challenge for me. Elements 11 got a work out! I have 3 shots that fall into the high key category, 1 that falls into texture/fashion and the landscape would be texture. The high key shots I over exposed in the camera and then tuned them in Photoshop. I think the first pic is my favorite. It almost takes on the appearance of a pencil drawing."



















It's interesting that just about everything around us has an element of texture. Dave's 'Fashion' photo of Liz was taken with the 55-300mm zoom lens with a large aperture. This did a great job of blurring the background, so the entire focus is upon her, and not the fence in back of her. You can see the whole set here: http://wordydave.zenfolio.com/p749960269  She did a great job of posing. I used a few posing positions from an app I downloaded to my hand-held device.




This next photo fits the high key theme with some abstract thrown in for good measure. Taken on a horribly cold and miserable morning at the Cosumnes River Wildlife Preserve, I waited for the Coot to get in the right space before getting the shot. Like Don, I de-saturated the color a bit, bumped up the brightness and contrast, and kept fiddling until I was happy with the balance.




Also taken at the Cosumnes River Preserve, this next grab would have been overlooked if I hadn't seen the feather lying on the leaves by the trail. So there are two textures at work here, both contrasting or complementing each other, depending on your point of view. They compliment each other philosophically (both found in nature), but contrast in that leaves feel and look entirely differently than the softness of a feather (my point of view).





Close up photography is an easy way to create an abstract, and a lot of what I photograph focuses on finding the unusual in the usual by getting close.  These next shots were taken in Sutter Creek at the now-closed Knight Foundry. They combine abstract and texture. Again, taken with the 55-300mm zoom lens. You can see the whole set here: http://wordydave.zenfolio.com/p594527627, where there is a lot more of these two themes captured.










That's It, Folks! As mentioned earlier, the February Challenge is wide open, as long as you shoot something that begins with the letter, "F." Using generic terms like "fauna," "flora," are okay, but it's much more fun to be specific, like "fedora," feathers," "food," or "Fred." You get the idea. Be creative and have fun.

Again, try to keep the pictures you email me (wordydave@sbcglobal.net) under 500kb in file size and under 1300 pixels wide. If you can't, don't let that stop you from entering them. Black and white, color, HDR, artistic filtering, whatever you want to do is okay with me.

Until we meet again, have a nice month and happy shooting!


wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/2/january-2014---big-mix Sat, 01 Feb 2014 22:59:56 GMT
November 2013 Challenge - BT&T https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/12/november-2013-challenge---bt-t November's wintry air, sky and color remind us that life is certainly and perennially seasonal. "Around, and around, and around we go . . ." on the merry-go-round we call our earthly existence. We're reminded that although we go through many changes as we get older, it seems the earth renews itself every year and will continue to do so after we are gone.

Anyway, our Monthly Challenge themes were Bare Trees, Thanksgiving and Transportation - a real hodge-podge. Let's see how we fared.



Old Davy will start us off on a humorous note with a few Thanksgiving photos of corkscrew cuisine. I might make this an assignment some time: Make a cartoon of one of your pictures. It's a lot of fun and easy to do if you have a 'Brush' tool in your photo software. You can caption it if you have a 'Font' tool, as well. Try not to let this poor dead and soon-to-be-toast turkey gross you out. He really isn't feeling a thing. Nikon D90, 12-24mm lens.



The teenie weenies are the rage here with the girls - me, not so much. I ate two and put two back in the crockpot, I think. Those are the happy faced ones! Nikon D90, 12-24mm lens.




After taking pictures at Cosumnes River Wildlife Preserve Thursday morning, I grabbed a few while driving home. If your window glass is pretty clean and you don't have any reflections and don't look through the viewfinder, and just hold your camera out and guess at the best place to point it, who knows what you'll get. Caution! This is an unsafe and probably illegal procedure. I don't advise it for anyone else! You can shoot your eye out if you're not careful.

This next shot is of my favorite row of poplars on Peltier Road on I-5, about 15 miles north of Stockton. With November being so warm all the leaves hadn't fallen yet, but a few trees had dropped most of them. This picture was pretty blurry at 70 mph, so I played with it a bit, added unreal colors and tried to make it as striking as possible. Nikon D5100, 55-300mm zoom lens.



Another grab shot out the window features my Transportation theme entry. A lot of people had to work on the Holiday. Nikon D5100, 55-300mm zoom lens. This is a great lens. I'm so glad I have it.






Don's Transportation theme photo sports a restored classic. This is his neighbor's '36 Ford. Very nice shooting angle and background color, Don. Nikon D300, 18-200mm zoom lens set at 18mm (my guess).



Don's final photo is of a bare birch tree, with "Just a few die hard leaves hanging on." Good composition and angle. Winter will soon knock off those remaining leaves.






World traveler, Ginnie, rounds out our entries for November. "Meg, Cath and Stacey were in charge of food this THANKSGIVING.  It was great.  My only contribution was turkey and gravy. The Martha Stewart method works best for me: turkey covered with cheesecloth, basted every half hour with melted butter and white wine. Yum.  No flash, just the halogen light from the hood, had to lighten it up a bit."



Ginnie drove all the way to the Grand Canyon to find a Bare Tree for our Challenge. What a girl!!!! Great shot! Good contrast and composition. And check out the color array. Very nice.



Another Canyon capture tweaks the Transportation theme a bit. Just say your spirit can be easily transported to praise God for the wonders and beauty of His creation. You can also say that one step too far and you can be easily transported to the next world. Yeow!




Ginnie's last photo is a freebie. I've lost her email that explains all about how she got this picture, so maybe she'll tell everyone more about it. It was taken out the window as they were driving by the big solar array at Carrizo Plain. Pretty cool - or should I say hot?





Now that was fun, wasn't it, boys and girls? I know how busy everyone is in December, so we'll have a hiatus/break so everyone can focus on the reason for the season - God's wonderful gift of His Son, the Lord Jesus. Messiah, Savior, Redeemer, King of heaven and earth, in spite of the evil we see around us.

Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year. May God's blessings be on you and your family this holiday season.

Old Davy and Barbie

wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/12/november-2013-challenge---bt-t Tue, 03 Dec 2013 04:03:09 GMT
October 2013 Challenge - Fall Color, Backlight, Numbers and Best Shot https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/11/october-2013-challenge---fall-color-backlight-numbers-and-best-shot We're cycling back into another winter - a bit slowly, but it's inevitably coming. Rain, clear skies, red noses and bare trees await us all. October is a transition month, with colors starting to blush, the summer growing season finishing, and a magical return of your winter wardrobe. With kids back in school and vacations over, there should be more time to jaunt here and there for photo opportunities. Key words, "should be."


I was glad Ginnie and Jack were able to vacation on the east side of the Sierra with Monte and Stacey. The color displays are wonderful right now, both there and on the west side, too, as you'll see. Thanks, Ginnie for sharing these. The first was taken of glowing Aspens on the June Lake Loop. Postcard perfect for a Fall Color theme.  



Aspen distribution can be seen on this map - for those of you who would like to check things out.




Monte and Stacey also enjoy the Sierra and can be seen in the back country with full packs quite often. I don't think they roughed it too much on this trip, but I may be wrong. This is a nice shot with subjects in the shade, the tree canopy framing them, and the special golds, reds and yellows adding to the feeling of being there with them.



Ginnie also captured the changing color of one of my favorite trees in Yosemite Valley - the Cook Meadow sentinel elm tree. This is one of the most photographed trees in the world, and it's extra special when Half Dome looms large in the background. Don and I were shooting from the same spot last February - with snow on the ground!



Regal El Capitan towers over the Valley floor and color. Ginnie spotted five climbers on the rock face - all having a great time wondering who talked them into their crazy adventure. If you haven't been to Yosemite, put it on your bucket list now! And be sure to take binoculars so you can get a true perspective of how massive this rock is when you see climbers dotting along.



UPDATE: Apparently, only the first of Ginnie's posted photos was for the Challenge, so we're adding three more that have found their way to my Inbox.

She writes: "Jack and I recently met brother Monte and sister-in-law Stacey at June Lake for a weekend, then drove home hitting Bridgeport then backtracking to Tioga Pass to spend a night in Yosemite.  The fall colors were spectacular!  Especially the aspens on the eastern side of the Sierra.  There were dozens of photographers out complete with tripods and high-end looking equipment. All of these were shot with the trusty D40."



She took the next photo in Yosemite that fits the Backlight theme.



"The Number shot was taken in Bridgeport while waiting for Jack to scope out Ken's Sporting Goods.  I was surprised to find a phone booth, thought they were all taken out.  On retrospect should have taken a picture of the gas pump where we had to fuel up....$5.09 a gal."

This is a nice use of reflective color and a tight crop. These pictures are proof that you don't need a super-expensive camera to get great shots!






Yours truly had fun with the Numbers theme. I've collated five pictures into one, which somewhat lessens their impact compared to viewing them one by one in a large format. But this way I can call it just one photo and move on to another! Besides, they all have something in common: they were all shot at the Dahl House in Paso Robles. A few of them have been Photoshopped to death. The one at the lower right corner is a white ruler that I spiced up the color on. And his house number sign really has black numbers, so I de-saturated the color, then painted the leaves and berries with the Fill Tool, then picked some pastel colors that would balance and used the Fill Tool on them, too. We'll see if Don likes it enough to paint the real ones to match. Forget it - Janet might, but it looks a little too foo-foo for the old man.



For the Fall Color theme, I'm choosing a sunset shot I took last night at the Isenberg Sandhill Crane Refuge just northeast of us. The cranes fly in to winter here in October. There were a few heavy duty photographers there when Barb and I arrived a little before sunset. One of them, Mike Corlew of Folsom had a Canon rig on a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod. He had 'borrowed' from Canon Corp. a new $12,000 200-400mm lens with a built-in 1.4 teleconverter that you could just switch on and off. His camera probably cost him $5000. So I talked to him awhile because the cranes hadn't started flying in yet. Actually, they didn't start until the sun had set and it was getting dark. Mike also races (or 'raced') hot air balloons, not an inexpensive sport. In fact, he called it the world's most expensive, non-recognized sport. But, I digress.

I started shooting when the long lines of birds started coming in from the south and east where they'd been feeding all day. You could pick them up at probably a mile away and follow them in. Since there was so LITTLE light, I set the ISO on my Nikon D5100 to 1600 to try to keep the birds in focus. Almost impossible, but I kept shooting probably over 100 pictures. I told Barb afterwards that I'd be lucky to get one or two good ones. I was right. Nikons crave lots of light. I used my monopod - big mistake. I had thought the fly-in would be before the sun had set and I wouldn't have any problem hand-holding some panned shots. I was wrong here, too. So I used Mt. Diablo in the background as a stationary focus point and waited until bands of birds would fly in front of it. The monopod worked okay in that situation.

Interesting that the three guys with the big gear all left without taking any pictures! Ha! I couldn't believe it! A few of us with little cameras, spotting scopes and binoculars (Barb) stayed until dark. The mosquitoes were impressed! I'll post the other pics on my website - all 6 of them!



Here's my favorite shot of the month, taken before sunrise at the same Refuge. So this fits the Your Best Shot theme, I guess. Monopod used here, too.






Senor Don brings up the rear here with a couple of Backlight theme shots. Don, you've employed the sun for the backlight on the leaves, but there is a strong light coming from the front as well, like a flash. Note the shadows behind the water jug and on the pail in back of it. Looks like either an off-camera flash or some direct sunlight reflected from a window. What's the deal here? Did you use your 60mm macro for this and the next one? Nice.

Don says, "Walking around the house, I snapped one of Janet's plant projects and Cali (Aka Missy) was craving attention, so I did a no view finder point and shoot. I was quite surprised by the result....a little cropping and viola. As for my best shot, I haven't taken it yet."



It's surprising how great some grab shots can be. Missy's portrait is also a fine example of backlight. The auto-focus feature on the lens was indispensable here. Even though the sky is washed out, the exposure is purrfect for her face and whiskers. Very cute. Can you recommend her dentist? She has nice teeth!



And for our last picture of the month, Don has combined both the Backlight and Numbers themes into one with this photo of his Harley's 'dash' lights. I think you can almost throw in the Fall Color theme as well with those orange numbers. Very striking, Don. I like the close cropping and extraneous lights in the background.





So another month fades into the annals of history and our feeble memories. I'm glad we can preserve some of the excitement in our picture sharing.

Our November themes will be:  Thanksgiving, Transportation, and Bare Trees

Remember: Your pictures can be up to 1500 pixels wide, 500kb in file size, Black and White or color, software manipulated or Plain Jane if you want.

Happy shooting to one and all.



wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) 2013 October backlight color fall numbers https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/11/october-2013-challenge---fall-color-backlight-numbers-and-best-shot Sat, 02 Nov 2013 02:06:53 GMT
September 2013 - Shadows, Cemeteries and Weathered https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/10/september-2013---shadows-cemeteries-and-weathered Another month has flown by as the geese and cranes fly in for their winter stay.  The weather is changing, leaves are turning, and photo nuts are clicking away, hoping to get that perfect 'fall color' shot.  September was a transition month with not too many seasonal things happening.  It was hot, cool, rainy, sunshiny, cloudy, and pretty much ho-hum.  The photo challenge themes were "Cemeteries, Shadows and Weathered."

Let's see who did what, where and why as we peruse the latest and greatest photo fare for the month.




We'll start with Old Davy's limited entries.  Thanks to lots of work, being sick and a general busy-ness, the old man didn't do much target  shooting.  Oh, well - life goes on, bumps and all.

This first shot was taken on Clements Road as I waited for the sun to rise behind some storm clouds.  If you've seen this set on my website, most of the pictures are in color, but I wanted to see what fortune I'd have converting to black and white to accentuate the contrast between the trees and sky.  I filled the lower portion of the picture with black, eliminating all the detail, and worked with the contrast and brightness to make the clouds really stand out.  This was taken with the Nikon D5100 and 55-300 telephoto lens. Settings were f11, 1/640th, 55mm, ISO 400.



My second shot is another black and white.  Taken indoors with the D5100, ISO 200, 1/30th, f?, and the 55mm MicroNikkor lens.  Walking into the living room as the sun was setting in the backyard, these shadows caught my eye, so I ran to get my camera and arranged the crane on the opposite side of its normal position to get the shot.  I wasn't really happy with the orange-peel wall texture, so I used the blur tool in Elements 9 to soften them, then really tweaked the contrast and brightness to maximize the contrast.





Let's all welcome Brian to our team.  (Group clap here!)  Brian is a budding photog who sent me two pictures that fit our themes of Shadows and Cemeteries.  He says this of his first picture:

"The first picture features me in the Marin Headlands near the Golden Gate Bridge. We only had one flash so it was a long exposure. I was hit with the flash first, then clambered through the iron bars-flashed-then passed the flash to my friend who lit up the last doorway. I thought it hit the themes of shadows and weathered nicely."

Brian gets extra credit for this team effort photo that involved a lot of planning.




Brian's second picture was taken by his friend and fits the cemetery theme.

"The second picture features an early morning of Soldier Hill(?) near Lafayette Bart. Although not an actual graveyard, the crosses represent soldiers lost in the war which I thought went well with the theme of cemeteries. This picture was simply done by using a flashlight. My friend Aaron took this one."

Great composition and contrast that really set the mood.  Nikon D40x was the camera of choice.





Don's recent trip to Montana afforded some great photo ops to fit our themes.  Thanks for keeping us in mind, Don, while you could have been enjoying yourself!  Ha!  He says:


"We spent a few days at the Runamok Ranch in Montana with my 1st cousin Rod and wife Susan. All 3 of this month's themes were there and then some. There was so much, I didn't know which way to point the camera. What more could I ask for?  I'll start with the small family cemetery on the ranch. Baby Simon died 2 weeks before birth due to umbilical strangulation and is buried here. The morning sun was casting a shadow of his cross." 




Here are his other photos:

"With 18,000 acres [on his cousin's ranch], there is a wealth of weathered things to photograph. These are my favorites. There are many old structures that are deteriorating since being abandoned. The log cabin is one of these. You want weathered? Check out this wagon wheel. And lastly, I think I heard this wagon begging to be in the Pioneer Day Parade. It's certainly from the pioneer era."

Don shoots with a Nikon D300 and 18-200 Nikkor lens.










Ginnie's fabulous fare include some artsy views of shadows.  The lower, violet portion of this sunset (looking east) is the shadow of the earth rising under what's left of the sunlight.  Pretty cool.



Nice composition and shadows made by this crystal close-up.




"Our Friday painters group had scheduled to meet east of Paso at the intersection of Cripple Creek and El Pomar Roads. Got there at 9AM right along with asphalt trucks and workers who were repaving El Pomar. The painters left and I took pictures of an old weathered farm shed and some cows.  Was a bust."







Thanks to everyone for another outstanding month of entries.  What will October bring?  A change in seasons hopefully, along with more opportunities for capturing your world through the lens.

The themes for October will be your choice of:  Backlight, Fall Color, and Numbers.  Nothing too exciting here. Sorry.  If none of these suit your taste, just send in Your Best Shot.

Happy shooting to all, and to all a good night!


wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) challenge photo photography https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/10/september-2013---shadows-cemeteries-and-weathered Thu, 03 Oct 2013 02:36:23 GMT
August 2013 Photo Challenge https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/9/august-2013-photo-challenge Here's another month to record - this time with three themes: The Eyes Have It; Blue; and Water.

I've been thinking about moving this challenge to a group Facebook page, where folks can submit their photos directly, and our group will be able to comment on each submission. This will be much easier than the current format and will be much easier to access. It will also mean you can post as many pictures as you want (within reason). The only problem with this is everyone in the group isn't on Facebook, and would require them to get an account, if only to access the challenge page.

So that's the proposal - what's your opinion? This would be a closed group (only those who are invited can join through my okay). What advantages or disadvantages do you foresee?

The advantages from my perspective:

  • I wouldn't have to take around four hours to design and post every month. Right now, the Zenfolio blog site I'm using is horribly unfriendly to use and crashes 50% of the time when I try to add a photo. I have to get out of the program, then get back in fresh. I've learned to save everything right before adding each picture, or I lose the previous stuff. Very bad website.
  • More photos could be submitted.
  • We could enjoy photos all month, instead of having to wait to see them every 30 days or so.

The disadvantages from my perspective:

  • Everyone isn't now on Facebook.
  • Folks may not want their photos on Facebook.
  • People don't like change.




We'll look at Don's pictures first, all of them taken at the Hayes' family reunion up in the Sierra. He says, "The 'rearview mirror eyes' is my sister in law. It was taken from the cargo area of a 5 passenger SUV. I was seated there by virtue of being the nimblest of the senior citizens." I'm pretty sure this shot comes under the "Peeping Don" category.



"The four 'Sunny' pics are of a dog down at the creek. Sunny loved to fetch sticks out of the creek and had no problem if they were on the bottom. He would feel around with his feet in 12 to 18 inches of water and then dive for them. He'd come up with the stick and then shake vigorously to clear his ears."








"'Black and blue eye' is a young lady who bumped into a wall with her swim goggles on.....got a nice shiner for her effort." Oh, the sweet innocence of youth - inevitably traumatized by unexpected blows and bludgeoning. Cute picture, Don.




"Lastly is Calista who was a trouper and great model for posing for the blue/eyes/water trifecta....." Congratulations, Don - you win the prize for getting all three into one picture. And the prize is: a one month's vacation at your expense to see America, visit places you've never seen and enjoy experiences you've only dreamed about!






Dave's (my) submissions were varied after shooting almost every weekend in August. September will be a different story, thanks to an all-month scheduled overtime at work. That should include Saturdays, my main day to scout around. Oh, well, hopefully others will step up to the plate and get some name and fame recognition.

Nothing like a car show to find some blue paint to enjoy. I usually like to use my zoom lens and marry a few hoods together for contrast, color and perfect lines. I really like the stand-out blue here in this shot that graduates from cyan to more of a process blue color above it.




The next picture is in "The Eyes Have It" category. Erica was one of the re-enactors at the Civil War Encampment at the old Lockeford schoolhouse. This was her second venture into the world of petticoats and corsets. Thankfully, it wasn't too hot that day. After presenting/showing me what women's apparel consisted of in those days (specimen undergarments were on display on a blanket on the ground), I told her about the photo challenge and asked if I could get a close-up portrait. I didn't realize her eyes had so much color until I processed the picture later. This was taken with the Nikon D5100 and 55-300mm lens, ISO 400.




More blue to enjoy next. I looked out the north man door at work and saw some swirling clouds straight up, went a got my little point and shoot and captured a nice design. Canon SD980.




The next picture is a heavily processed portrait of another re-enactor in Lockeford. He was just sitting in the 'sewing' area where a woman was showing girls how to use an ancient hand-cranked sewing machine. His pipe smoking really added to his character. Sorry, I didn't ask him for his name.




The final entry was taken at the Civil War Camp as well. I took pictures of this Dalmatian last year also - in the same tent. Nothing like a white tent to give you nice lighting! This wasn't an ordinary tent - it was a Sibley tent, designed and patented by Henry Sibley in 1856. It's about 10' wide at the bottom, so there's plenty of room inside for an officer's belongings.





Our September Challenge themes: --Shadows--; --Cemeteries--; and --Weathered--

Again, this should be a wide enough range of subjects so everyone can participate. Black and white is okay, and will actually accentuate the first two themes. Be creative - use double exposures in a cemetery, take a macro of a weathered face, fence or Ford, wait until sunset and get some shadows - whatever. It's up to you. Remember, we aren't critics and won't be hammering your pictures - unless you absolutely request a critique.

So, happy and adventurous shooting in September. Bookmark this page so you won't forget the monthly themes. And thing about doing this on a closed group Facebook page. All opinions are welcomed, but yours truly will make the final decision. Email me at wordydave@sbcglobal.net.







wordydave@sbcglobal.net (Dave Skinner Photography) https://wordydave.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/9/august-2013-photo-challenge Sun, 01 Sep 2013 22:09:33 GMT