Seeing seaside sunset: LAPC

Seeing seaside sunset with my dog near Waldport, Oregon. She doesn’t like water, but felt comfortable taking in the scene from this distance.

seeing seaside sunset

The Lens- Artist Photo Challenge this week is Here Comes the Sun, but this is more like “there goes the sun.” 😉

In the Spotlight: LAPC

The pictures featured in this post focus on part of the picture being in the spotlight. A darker background increases the contrast and draws your eye towards the lighter part.

We visited Steamboat Geyser at Yellowstone National Park in the early morning. The sun rose behind the scene, bathing the steam in light.

in the spotlight geyser

These two Northern River Otters at the High Desert Museum were in constant motion the day I photographed them. In this picture, sunlight illuminated both of their heads simultaneously.

Northern river otters
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Sticks & stones: Monochrome Monday

A collection of sticks & stones along the shoreline at Yaquina Head in Oregon.

sticks & stones

Monochrome Monday

Wyoming skyscapes as paintings: LAPC

I dip a dry brush into Titanium White and tentatively paint delicate wisps onto Cobalt Blue Wyoming skyscapes

Wispy clouds

Emboldened, I fill my brush and paint curving lines reaching towards the sky

Wyoming skyscapes
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Trailing petunias up close: Macro Monday

I saw these multi-colored trailing petunias in a hanging basket in downtown Bend. Since they produce so many flowers, another common name for this plant is ‘million bells.’

Trailing petunias
Trailing petunias Calibrachoa hybrida

These perennials are hybrids from plants originally grown in South America. They bloom from spring through first frost and they’re easy to grow. They make a perfect addition to hanging baskets.

Macro Monday

Lens in my pocket photography: LAPC

Though I don’t have a favorite type of photography, I prefer to do “lens in my pocket” photography. I use a Samsung Ultra phone or a Panasonic Lumix camera that easily fit into a pocket.

Sometimes I like taking panoramas of scenes from afar with my phone, such as this photo of bison in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park.

Lamar Valley

At other times, I like a closer view of wild creatures. This Barred Owl in my backyard was photographed with my phone attached to a spotting scope. This is called “digiscoping.” The owl visited regularly last spring, feasting on the numerous Pacific tree frogs in our pond.

Barred Owl in Bend

I bought an inexpensive phone case and glued on a universal mount for digiscoping. You can quickly pop in a phone, attach it to a scope or binoculars, and it’s ready to go.

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White-faced Ibis drawing & photos: FFA

This is a pencil sketch I drew of a White-faced Ibis. He is a character in a book I’m working on. The ibis, Arco Iris, gets his power from the rainbow obsidian stone he wears. Sometimes if you draw a character, it helps you write about their personality and physical traits.

White-faced Ibis drawing

I recently took pictures of White-faced Ibis in a field near Paisley, Oregon. The field was full of blue camas and it gave the scene a kind of magical feeling.

Ibis in a field

When you think of ibis, you may think of ancient depictions of this bird found in Egypt, but there are three species in the United States. You can find Glossy Ibis, White Ibis, and White-faced Ibis in parts of North America, Central America, and South America.

Inlay depicting Thoth as the ibis with a maat feather. Image source: Metropolitan Museum of Art, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The plumage of our local ibis looks black at first, but when you take a closer look, it’s iridescent. Their feathers catch the light as they plunge their long beaks into marshes and meadows in search of prey. They eat a variety of prey including insects, worms, and small fish. Ibis are particularly fond of crayfish.

Birds in a field

When in breeding plumage, some of the White-faced Ibis’ feathers turn a bronze color, their legs turn pink, and a mask of pale white skin around their eyes appears. What better way to attract a mate than putting on a mask, pink leggings, and a bronze cape!

Do you have artwork you would like to share? Be sure to include the First Friday Art tag.

First Friday Art (FFA)

Wind-sculpted poem: Haiku & MM

Beach scene in Oregon

wind-sculpted mountains
emerge from sandy shorelines
embrace life, vanish

wind-sculpted mountains

Note: These sand “mountains” near Waldport, Oregon are about 1/2 inch tall.

Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge – Sand and Life

Macro Monday

Storm over Playa : 1-to-3 Photo Challenge

In early June, while participating in a Great Basin Natural History workshop, I took photos of the storm over Playa. Playa, located on the shores of Summer Lake, serves as a retreat for artists and scientists looking for a peaceful place to do their work. They also offer a limited number of workshops.

We had an unusually wet spring here in the High Desert. This photograph shows a big storm over Playa. I stayed in the two-story cabin pictured and had commanding views of the Basin and Range landscape. High winds were pushing dust storms into the air near the lake’s shore.

I’ll be showing how I processed this picture three ways with Corel PaintShop Pro 2021. Prior to trying out the various effects, I slightly increased the contrast and brightness.

The first two show the original photograph and the same picture with a Retro effect. For this image I went to Effects>Photo Effects>Retro Lab>Process 2. This effect slightly blurs and darkens the edges and increases color saturation. I thought this effect made the center appear brighter and gave the photo a vintage feel.

Storm over PlayaStorm over Playa
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Memorable moments from home: LAPC

Trying to choose only three of my favorite photos for this challenge was very difficult. I decided to focus on memorable moments from home.

The first shows a glorious fall sunset behind my juniper tree muse. I like the combination of color, lightness and darkness, and texture in this photo. The branches of the western juniper tree seem to be directing a symphony of clouds.

best photos dusk desert sky

The second is a close up view of a different juniper tree’s bark. Though some see western junipers as an unwelcome invader in sagebrush habitats, I’m impressed by their beauty. Their rough bark varies in color, as does their wood. Wrinkles add to their character as they age. The birds in my yard are grateful for the shelter and food these trees provide.

memorable moments with juniper bark

The third picture is of my “pet” Cooper’s Hawk. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of her. On this day, she took an extended bath and spent a long time preening her feathers. Her fluffed up feathers, piercing gaze, and stance are not the typical view you get of these raptors. It was one of those memorable moments!

Cooper's hawk visited me

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Picking favorites

Real or surreal? Strange sights seen LAPC & RDP

I’ve noticed odd plants, animals, and natural features recently and wondered if they were real or surreal.

I had an odd feeling when my flight flew over Mt Rainier a few weeks ago. Just as we passed over its peak, this strange creature emerged from its depths. Yikes! I was glad I was able to take a quick snapshot before it disappeared.

real or surreal

While exploring Crack in the Ground on a June field trip, I was overcome by a sudden feeling of peacefulness. I paused when I noticed a movement from the corner of my eye. This benevolent Picasso face emerged from the rock walls and smiled and nodded at me.

Picasso rock face

On a recent hot afternoon, I dozed off in my comfortable recliner. I was awakened by a strange noise. A few feet away, I saw a weird creature. It had the head of a ground squirrel and the body of a cat. Was it real or surreal?

cat with squirrel head
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Pagoda lantern and pond scene: CFFC

As sweltering temperatures occur here and elsewhere around the world, my mind keeps wandering back to the landscape near the pagoda lantern at the Portland Japanese Garden. I visited this impressive garden on a cool day in late October. The waterfall near the sculpture, Heavenly Waterfall, enters a small pond, full of koi fish.

Pagoda sculpture

This ‘snow-viewing’ pagoda lantern (Yukimi-dōrō) is located in the the Lower Pond section of the garden. The roof, or umbrella, on these lanterns is designed to catch the snowfall. These sculptures are traditionally placed near water.

Heavenly Falls

Though it’s still a couple of months away, I’m looking forward to the cooler temperatures of autumn and the bright splashes of colorful leaves.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge (CFFC) – landscapes or waterscapes

Shore pines along the shorelines: TTL & WIL

On a recent trip to the Oregon coast, I was impressed by the contorted shapes of shore pines along the shorelines. The scientific name of this tree is Pinus contorta var. contorta. It’s a very fitting name.

Some shore pines are barely attached to rocky cliffs. This common tree of the coast tolerates salt spray and a wide variety of soils.

High winds are common near the shorelines and they sculpt these lovely trees into interesting shapes.

Others grow in 40-50 foot tall forests, constantly buffeted by the wind.

These resilient trees have adapted to living in a challenging environment. They twist and turn in an effort to find the best ways to survive.

Thursday Tree Love

Whatsoever is Lovely Week 27

Captured sunshine: Macro Monday

These colorful lichens at Lake Abert look like bits of captured sunshine.

Captured sunshine in lichens
Colorful lichens at Lake Abert, Oregon

Macro Monday

Double views in changing seasons: LAPC & WWP

Changing seasons bring double views

Shining cactus blossoms returning

double views of cactus

Mothers guarding their curious young

Cow with calves

Dramatic storms hovering over landscapes

Double views of Summer Lake
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GIANT thundereggs at Priday Polka-Dot Agate Beds: LAPC

North of Madras, Oregon, you’ll find giant thundereggs tucked away on a hilltop near the ghost town of Ashwood. Polka-dot agates and thundereggs occur naturally at the Priday Polka-Dot Agate Beds.

Agate beds

The thundereggs you’ll find here are amazing! You never know what kind of treasures you’ll find on the inside.

Close up of rock

Giant thundereggs
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Primrose painting, photo, & Poem: First Friday Art

Today I’m sharing a primrose painting, photo, and poem I created. When I was on a field trip in early June, we saw a “field” of this plant in bloom near Crack in the Ground. Tufted evening-primrose, Oenothera caespitosa, usually only bloom at night but on that day, dark clouds filled the skies.

Here’s a watercolor I painted of the flowers.

Tufted evening primrose

And here’s the work in progress in my little studio space.

Studio space

This is the close up photograph I took of these beautiful flowers near Crack in Ground. I’m growing evening-primrose in my landscaping and, so far, the always hungry resident mule deer have not discovered them. 🤞

Tufted evening primrose

Here is a Sijo poem about these remarkable flowers.

Awakened when the moon rises over the silent desert
Flowers in sandy soil open, shining like pale lanterns
Enchanting the world with intoxicating scent, until dawn breaks

Do you have artwork you would like to share? Be sure to include the First Friday Art tag.

First Friday Art

Focus on the eyes: LAPC

When you focus on the eyes of your subject, you make a connection with them to share with others.

The intense golden stare of an alert Great Horned Owl.

Focus on the eyes

The ghostly ice-blue eyes of a dog with ancestry from frozen lands.

Close up of dog

The chestnut brown gaze of an immense grizzly bear in motion.

Grizzly bear
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Cactus buds in my garden: Macro Monday

Here’s an up close view of prickly pear cactus buds in my garden. Yes, those spikes are sharp and difficult to weed around, but I eagerly await the day when their delicate yellow flowers unfurl.

Cactus buds

Macro Monday

Guided by shadows haiku: FFC & WHPPC

guided by shadows
emerald meadows slumber
slip into summer

Guided by shadows

Friendly Friday Challenge – Green

Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge – Guide and Slip

Stick fence at Summer Lake: Wordless Wednesday

Stick fence at Summer Lake
Stick fence at Summer Lake
Rustic fencing
Stick fence at Summer Lake – closer view

Wordless Wednesday

High Desert voices of the many and the few: LAPC

High Desert voices can be heard throughout Central Oregon if you just pause and listen.

Bold shouts of the many

High desert voices Abert Rim
Lichen-covered boulders at Abert Rim

Quiet whispers of the few

Painted By The Earth Summer Lake, Oregon 30March2018
Stones layered with calcite at Summer Lake

Raucous calls of the many

High desert voices Summer Lake
Waterbird colony at Summer Lake
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Tulips up close: Macro Monday

Here’s a picture of tulips up close growing in my garden. There’s something special about these two flowers.

tulips up close

They are the first to make it to this stage without being eaten by our resident deer!

Mule deer

Macro Monday

Bald Eagle drawing & photos: First Friday Art

Here’s a pen-and-ink portrait I drew of a Bald Eagle. This stylized drawing captures their intense gaze and powerful bill.

Bald Eagle by Siobhan Sullivan

Last week while I was photographing the “eyes” of aspen trees, I noticed a bald eagle overhead. It perched briefly atop a ponderosa pine to escape the Red-winged Blackbirds attacking it. It’s always amusing to see how large birds of prey react to territorial songbirds.

Bird of prey
Bald Eagle

Do you have artwork you would like to share? Be sure to include the First Friday Art tag.

First Friday Art

X-ray images of fish exhibit: Monochrome Monday

This beautiful exhibit at the High Desert Museum featured x-ray images of fish. X-Ray Vision: Fish Inside Out! The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES) organized the exhibit.

I am presenting them in sepia tone. The photographers at the Smithsonian showed their structure in artistic layouts.

Though I wrote down the species of the fish in each display, I decided to let the x-ray images of fish speak for themselves. The wonder of Nature.

X-ray images of fish
inside of fish
X-ray images of fish
inside fish

Skeletons of fish

This exhibition closes at the High Desert Museum on May 8, 2022, but it will continue travelling to other museums around the country.

Monochrome Monday

Aspen eyes – somebody’s watching me: TTL

When I’m out walking among the aspen eyes early in the morning, I always feel like somebody’s watching me. While Michael Jackson was referring to his fans or the paparazzi with those lyrics, I’m referring to the eyes of nature. These aspen trees watch over me, always making sure I’m safe. My many-eyed guardians are beginning to leaf out with their distinctive fluttering leaves.

Thursday Tree Love 130

Petrified wood bits – Bear Creek: LAPC & Macro Monday

Last month, we collected petrified wood bits from Bear Creek, south of Prineville Reservoir in Oregon. The following pieces are one inch or less in size. Getting decent photographs of these tiny stones proved to be a challenge.

I set up a tabletop studio and tried a Panasonic Lumix and a Galaxy Ultra phone camera. I had to keep adjusting the spotlights outside of the studio. Each stone was given a quick spritz of water to bring out their color. After many unsuccessful attempts with both cameras, I finally got some good shots with the Panasonic.

petrified wood
Close up of wood
petrified wood
close up of rock
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A colorful walk in Portland: 1-to-3 Photo Challenge

Today I’m sharing a photograph of a colorful walk in Portland processed three ways. We visited the Portland Japanese Garden in October 2021. The fall colors are a photographer’s dream!

I’ll be showing how I processed this picture from the garden three ways with Corel PaintShop Pro 2021. Prior to trying out the various effects, I increased the contrast slightly.

The first two show the original and the same picture with a retro effect. For this image I went to Effects>Photo Effects>Retro Lab>Hue 90. This effect blurred the edges like a vignette and cast a green glow over everything. Even the carp in the foreground is green! It’s easy to imagine this as a strange world in a fantasy or science fiction book.

A colorful walk in PortlandGreen vignette retro
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Fighting future fires for free

Here in Central Oregon, homeowners can take steps towards fighting future fires for free. In the spring, you can dispose of yard waste for no charge. In Bend this year, the free disposal runs from April 30 through May 15. Here’s a link showing dates at all locations. The landfill also takes yard waste for half price in early November.

fighting fires for free
Piles of yard waste

You may wonder why the local landfill is taking yard waste without charging the usual amount. Central Oregon is in the exceptional drought category, according to U.S. Drought Monitor.

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Lower Crooked River drive – am & pm: LAPC & FFC

A couple days ago, we went on a Lower Crooked River drive. We were there early in the morning, attempting to avoid an incoming storm system. I remembered I had been there about a year earlier for an afternoon drive. How would the lighting differ in the photos taken on both trips?

Just south of Prineville, Oregon, the Lower Crooked River Back Country Byway winds its way along the Crooked River. The 43-mile long road meets up with Highway 20 to the south.

This post highlights the 8-mile section between Prineville Reservoir and Castle Rock. See map at the end of the post. On this drive, the curving lines of the road and river contrast with the straight lines of geological features.

A morning drive

As we drove north from the reservoir, shadows covered the east side of the road. The morning light cast a warm glow over the canyon lands.

Canyon views

Basalt columns looked pretty in full light…

Columnar basalt

But took on more character in the shadows.

columnar basalt
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Western tiger swallowtail box & photo: First Friday Art

Here’s a western tiger swallowtail painting I did on a small wooden box.

Western tiger swallowtail

Here’s one I saw on the High Desert Garden Tour a few years ago. The Western tiger swallowtail, Papilio rutulus, ranges throughout western North America.

Seasons Butterfly 21July2018
Butterfly on flowers

The state insect in Oregon is the Oregon swallowtail butterfly, Papilio machaon oregonius. They have paler yellow coloring on their wings.

Would you like to attract butterflies to your garden? Here are a few things you can do, according to Gardeners.com:

  • Choose plants that attract pollinators
  • Limit, or eliminate, your use of pesticides
  • Provide shelter for breeding and avoiding predators
  • Provide water
  • Consider keeping a beehive

For a good list of plants that attract butterflies, go to Attracting Butterflies, Hummingbirds and Other Pollinators.

Do you have artwork you would like to share? Be sure to include the First Friday Art tag.

First Friday Art

Photo in thirds? Bending the rules: LAPC

When taking pictures, you might want to think about composing your photo in thirds. What?

According to the Digital Photography School, the rule of thirds “is a compositional guideline that breaks an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so you have nine pieces and four gridlines. According to the rule, by positioning key elements along the gridlines, you’ll end up with better compositions.”

While browsing my photos, I realized horizontal layers are more important to me in composition. Do my pictures always follow the rule of thirds guidelines? No, it’s okay to bend the rules.

SLR Lounge notes, “Of all the “rules” in photography, the rule of thirds is one of the easiest to successfully break.”

My photo in thirds examples (with layers)

This sandhill crane is in the upper third corner, but the differing textures and colors of the plants catch your attention. This photo has four layers.

Photo in thirds

This pronghorn is near the lower third of the picture. I could have cropped it more, but I didn’t want to cut out the misty mountains in the background. This photo has five layers.

Pronghorn at Yellowstone
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The guy next door: Monochrome Monday

the guy next door buck

We have a resident herd of mule deer here and I refer to this buck as the guy next door. He didn’t seem to be bothered by my presence at all.

Monochrome Monday

The path meanders haiku: Haiku poetry challenge

the path meanders
up a rocky desert butte
embraced by spring clouds

the path meanders Fischer Canyon
Fischer Canyon, Oregon

Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge #407 – Path & Desert

A white poppy up close: Macro Monday

A white poppy up close growing in our garden last year. Poppies come in a variety of colors, but they’re also pretty in white.

a white poppy

Macro Monday

Funny bird moments, slightly blurred: LAPC & BWPC

I often look at bird photos I’ve taken later and find out they’re slightly blurred. Fortunately for me, the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge this week is “Blurry.” I’m highlighting funny bird moments to go along with the Lens-Artist Photo Challenge of “Humor.”

This American robin looked kind of mad that I interrupted a private moment with its Ring-necked Dove friend. Ooops!

Ring-necked Dove and American Robin

Is this an ad for Subaru? Look a little closer to spot the Mountain Bluebird admiring its reflection in my mirror. It was quite taken with itself.

Funny bird moments bluebird
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Had too much fun on Earth Day

too much fun dead juniper
Western juniper at Fischer Canyon, Oregon

This western juniper looks like it had too much fun on Earth Day. I think it was trying to sleep it off. 😉

Trees