Thursday, December 30, 2010

deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum

 I had a great time visiting the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum (Lincoln, MA) with friends this week.   Lots of interesting modern art sculptures out playing in the snow like the two headed creature above.

Pine cone people lurking under a tree

yours truly at a forest doorway

one of the more interesting entry booths that I've seen

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winterhaven Fesitval of Lights 2010, Tucson Arizona

Here's a slideshow of a few pictures I took of house / yard displays at the annual Winterhaven Festival of Lights in Tucson.

I really enjoyed listening to a number of owls hooting in the neighborhood trees just as it was getting dark out.  Lots of people walking the neighborhood as well as lots of people on horse drawn wagons.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Midday at the Oasis (exotic bird sanctuary)

I had the great pleasure of visiting The Oasis Sanctuary today, located near Benson, AZ. The Oasis is a bird sanctuary specializing in providing permanent care and shelter for parrots and other captive exotic birds. Currently the Oasis is home to about 650 exotic birds, mostly parrots. Parrots can often live to be 60 to 80 years old, which means they can outlive their caretakers and need to find new homes. Click pics for bigger images.

In addition to large walk-in fly-in aviaries, there are a lot of birds in smaller cages with fewer birds depending on the bird's history, condition, whether it get along well with others, etc.

one of several large aviaries where parrots can socialize, fly, and get support from the flock. This aviary had a number of African Grey Parrots.


one of the people on our tour gets a picture while our great tour guide fills us in on the history of this particular bird, one that she herself rescued

the vast majority of birds that we saw seemed to really "enjoy" having visitors -- its easy to pick up on their intellect watching how they interact with humans, each other, and different bird species

my theory is that this is what happens when a green parrot flys through a rainbow..

kind of reminds me of a parrot version of a painted bunting that I've seen in the wild

fortunate for them that there are no "Post, No Bills" signs anywhere...

ok, remember the two guys in the balcony of the old Muppets Show? I'm just saying...

hopefully not looking for nuts...

These are two of the parrots that Mark Bittner, featured in the movie "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill", brought here sometime ago to be rescued. That's a great documentary/movie if you ever get a chance to see it. That movie is actually the first time I had ever heard of the Oasis, many years ago.

simply incredible
I was about to take a picture of the middle bird and the other two quickly moved into the picture, no doubt to give me a "field guide" style portrait, front, back, side profiles..

The Oasis Sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Per their brochure: "As a true Sanctuary, The Oasis does not breed, adopt out, sell or trade birds. Once a bird enters the doors of Oasis, they are guaranteed a lifetime of care and compassion. To ensure the safety of as many birds as possible, The Oasis has developed proactive relationships with bona fide Avian adoption programs around the country, who work to find loving and educated homes for unwanted, adoptable birds."

The Oasis Sanctuary provides tours, by appointment only. Remember, the Oasis is an exotic bird rescue / shelter operation, not a zoo.  The Oasis survives through donations.  They require a minimum of two weeks advance notice to schedule a tour and request a Sanctuary donation of $10.00 per person. Located in the general Benson, AZ area, see their web site for more info.

Its an amazing planet we live on. Wish we humans took better care of it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

...and watch out for that propane tank

A confusion of signs resting next to a building in Prescott Valley

Sunday, November 28, 2010

fun with High Dynamic Range (HDR)

These are pictures of my first attempts at HDR, or High Dynamic Range, pictures. A short explanation of HDR is:
  • In situations of high contrast in light, it can be impossible for your camera to properly expose a bright or dark area in one part of the picture without under or over exposing a different part the picture (the camera sensor has a limited dynamic range for a single shot)
  • HDR addresses this by having you take multiple pictures with different exposures, properly exposing different parts of the picture in different images
  • The multiple images are then merged later using software which takes the best exposure pieces of each picture and merges them into one image
There are a number of software programs available for processing HDR images, for these pictures I'm trying out a free demo version of Photomatix Light (demo leaves the "Photomatix" watermarks on my pictures you see here, $39 to purchase and get rid of watermarks).

My first photo above is an HDR composite of three separate exposures I took in Sedona, AZ yesterday. The dark sculpture was in the shade, with a much brighter sky and leaves behind it (no flash used).

Here's a better example. This is a foot bridge across Oak Creek at sunset last night. I would not have been able to get the above picture without using HDR -- the sky/redrock cliffs were still in full sun, the bridge in partial light, and the highly shaded creek bed below very dark in comparison.

To illustrate, I've posted my three exposures below which were then merged to make the above picture (remember, these are my very first attempts at this, so with experience this could be done much better).

I took the above picture with the exposure basically set on the distant redrock cliffs. Notice how the dark creek bed is very underexposed.

This this is a 2nd photo, -2 ev, (shorter exposure), resulting in darker sky / cliffs, and even darker creek bed.

and the 3rd exposure was +2 ev (longer exposure) which shows the dark creek bed, but completely washes out the distant bright sky and cliffs. The bridge is also better exposed.

This was a really nice place to experiment with HDR. It turns out to be easier than I thought. Some cameras, including my G12, have an exposure bracketing option which allows you to set the camera to take 3 pictures in a row, one normally exposed, one slightly underexposed, one slightly overexposed. That's what I did for these pictures. But, it is possible to experiment with HDR by just taking multiple pictures with different exposures. The software also helps to align the images from from the multiple pictures.

For best results the pictures should be taken on a tripod.

For my experiments, my first HDR photo of the sculpture was hand-held, the bridge series with the camera sitting on a railing, and the last sculpture (below) with the camera handheld but partly resting on the ground.

My third attempt -- looking up at a very dark sculpture up into a much brighter sky. No fill flash used.

I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I did putting them together. I'm a convert. You will certainly see more pictures (certainly not all) posted over time on my blog where I use HDR techniques. And without demo watermarks on the images (smile). So far, I like what I've seen with this Photomatix software and after a little more research will probably end up buying their Photomatix Light version to get started.

There are a lot of techniques and available resources on the web about HDR techniques. I'm a total newbie and was very pleased with my novice attempts at a first try. Pretty cool stuff!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

rustic turkey vulture

A very large turkey vulture stands in front of The Painted Gecko, a metal arts business on Ft Lowell in Tucson.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

piercing blue skies

I did a double take the first time I saw this tree growing on a building along Speedway Blvd. Quite the sky catcher and very effective at drawing passing eyes to their business. Click pic for more detailed view.

[Links: A number of Tucson area artists participated in an open studio tour event last weekend. I was too busy to visit any studios, but while looking at participant's web sites I discovered a metal artist with some really nice work. Check out some of Adam Homan's sculptures at his website (be sure to click on his pics to get larger images, press his "return" button to see other sculpture groups).]

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

taking jellyfish to new heights

2010 All Souls Procession, Tucson

One of the many great experiences at the annual All Souls Procession is watching the finale performers. They often use a high lift crane which you may remember me referencing in prior year's blog posts. My low light pictures never do full justice to the height and performances of the suspended aerialists...

MMOS has just posted a VERY COOL daylight rehearsal video shot by Stu Jenks of the aerialists rehearsing for their performance last Sunday night that really captures their movements and how high they are above the ground!

Monday, November 8, 2010

2010 All Souls Procession Pictures, Tucson, AZ

About 20,000 or so Tucsonans enjoyed great weather for the Annual All Souls Procession in downtown Tucson Sunday night. This is one of my favorite events, lots of people watching, pyrotechnics during the finale event, peaceful, tolerant, diverse, reflective, and non-commercial. Simply amazing! I even painted my face this year, wandered around taking pics, walked in the procession, and enjoyed Flam Chen's acrobatics and fire work during the finale.

Below is a slideshow of many more of my All Souls Procession pictures from last night. To get the largest full screen images, press play, then press the expand button at the bottom right. Enjoy! Leave me a comment if you stop by and were there...

Friday, October 29, 2010

All Souls Procession 2010 Costume Fashion Show

I had a fun time down at Cafe Passe thursday night watching a show of costumes used in past year's All Souls Procession events. Nicely done! But where's the burlap? Here are a few pics... (click for bigger pics)

Flam Chen is known for their stilts and very unique creative costumes! and fire, of course... but that's for another night.

As part of the event, they had an auction of customized All Souls Procession tee shirts from prior years -- customized is a huge understatement!

Cool band playing afterwards... Bummed that I had to leave before the Mission Creeps played, but it was great to be able to come down here and people watch.

Outside the Little Village on 4th Ave, home to Cafe Passe, and the Bohemia, The Wooden Tooth, and Ventana Galleries.

I was trying out my new G12 camera in low light shooting for the first time. It performed pretty well for a small camera, especially considering that I was juggling a book in one hand while trying to take steady shots and had just thrown down a large coffee since I was going to have to do a little late work for the U tonight. [More (better) pictures of this event by me and others are on flickr, select slideshow at top right]. (more better?!)

One more week until the All Souls Procession -- really looking forward to it! A great Tucson event!