Photo a Day – December 2016

I’m not sure why I’m subjecting myself to this type of self-induced pressure, but I am. I don’t tend to do very well with posting something every day or other such consistent projects. But I have a new lens that I’d like to challenge myself a bit with and so I’m going to attempt to shoot one photo a day for the month of December. But I want the pictures to cover a wide variety of subjects and composition choices. It’s a prime lens, which I don’t tend to shoot with often, thus the challenge to have such variety.

So here we go with Day 1:

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Rare Morning Reflection

Typically, Garden of the Gods doesn’t have a large, swampy pond. In fact, there’s not really a whole of water in the garden at all. But courtesy of a whole lot of precipitation last week (rain, hail, graupel, and snow), the pond has returned. I drove past the other day but it was in the middle of the day when the sun is bright and harsh. Not very photo worthy at that point. So this morning being one without rain and cloud cover being forecast, my niece and I got up ridiculously early so we could head across town and see the pond at sunrise.

While I was waiting for her to come out, I captured this shot of the moon. Made me pretty happy that she wasn’t quite ready or else I’d have missed it.

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A quick stop at the Starbucks drive-thru (so glad they open at 5:00 a.m.!) and we were off. It was a somewhat decent morning – very calm and 45 degrees. Although the dampness made it a bit chillier. I dressed well, but Bailey might’ve liked longer pants and warmer shoes. But at that point, she was doing well to be there.

It was pretty much a given that we wouldn’t be alone once we go there. The pond being a rarity, photographers tend to swarm around sunrise and sunset. There were only four others when we arrived, so it wasn’t too bad. There was plenty of room for everyone to get their shot without tripods and silhouettes in their pictures. Our timing was good as the sun was just beginning to come up so we didn’t have to wait.

Leave it to me in my gracelessness, I did manage to slip on some damp, muddy rocks and weeds, but nothing was hurt. Just some slightly wet pants. Apparently the guy who trotted down that way right before me had goat feet or something. Or maybe the fact that my shoes have almost no tread whatsoever had something to do with my abrupt landing.

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Oh my word. That morning light and dew is so breathtaking.

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I’ve never been a fan of hauling myself out of bed super early, but scenery like this is so worth that 4:15 a.m. alarm clock buzzing.

We were both getting hungry on our way home – it was all of 7:00p a.m. after all – so we made a quick run through Chick Fil A for those tasty little Chicken Minis. They were delicious and we had a great morning. Pretty sure I’ll be getting to sleep a little earlier tonight.

The Butterfly Pavilion

Even though I’ve lived in Colorado¬†for a very long time, I just never made it to The Butterfly Pavilion in Denver. Technically, it’s in Westminster, but it all runs together. Apparently it’s their 20th year of operation. Not that I expect I’ll be able to see ALL the things in Colorado. Highly unlikely. But it’s one of those I’ve wanted to go to for some time now.

The first Saturday of each month, they allow about 25 photographers in an hour earlier than the general public so that they can use tripods. The space for humans isn’t that massive, so during normal business hours, tripods aren’t allowed. You can stay longer once it’s open to the rest of the world, but no more tripod.

So Hazel*, my fellow photo junkie, and I made a trip north (and a bit west) a couple of weeks ago to check out the butterflies as the sun began to shine in their beautiful, tropically humid world. Of course, we made the obligatory Starbucks stop (we had to meet someplace, after all) before heading out of town at o’dark thirty (aka 6:00 a.m.). When we arrived, it was rather windy, so we skipped out on perusing the grounds outside. The morning light was beautiful, but the wind was just too much to have any photographic fun.

It was a pleasure to be there with only a couple dozen other people who totally understand whatever weird photographer quirks you may have when trying to capture the shot. Having the tripod was a plus, although there were times when you just had go handheld.

I loved getting to see such colorful and interesting varieties of butterflies. So much more than is typical out in the backyard. Some sat still the entire time we were there, leading me to wonder if they weren’t statues put there to trick the other butterflies like the zoo has. Okay, not really. I know they were real. At least I’m fairly sure they were.

I don’t think this one moved one iota the entire two hours we were there. The wings look like velvet when you see them up close. The colors are just amazing!!

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Another “never moved” butterfly.

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Others flew around constantly and landed only long enough for me to point my camera in their general direction before taking off again.

The current featured butterfly. The Owl Butterfly. Pretty cool how their wings look like owl eyes and they can camouflage so well. If you look closely, you’ll see a little snail down on the left side of the tree. Silly little photobomber.

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Little hitchhiker.

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Pretty butterflies. Fun photography. Good times.

* Name changed to protect the innocent. Or at least she who doesn’t know I’m talking about her on my blog.

Neighborhood Walk

It’s very difficult for me to take a walk and not take a camera along. In fact, on this particular morning, I was more than happy to have the camera accompany me. Having recently had snow which was melting, it made for some fantastic reflection shots. Reflection pictures are some of my very favorites.

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Clouds and blue skies. Lovely combo. Decorative grasses are nice in there, too.

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For whatever reason, there were a bunch of ravens flying and squawking around the neighborhood on this particular day. Shoo!

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I kind of like it when the leftover flowers and weeds aren’t pulled up at the end of the season. Probably why my garden is always such a mess. Ha! These are not in my garden, however.

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Me, myself, and I. Or Sony. Or something.

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This picture is sort of odd to me. I don’t really know why. But it is. Well, for one thing, I don’t usually wear shoes that tie. You’d think I was two years old. But the angle of the sidewalk crack or something. Oh well. Odd isn’t a bad thing.

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Welcome home. It has become obvious which side of the mat is used more. The only way to even it out would be to turn it around and welcome us out of the house. Hmmm…maybe that’s not such a bad idea. When the weather’s nice and spring has arrived.

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Memory Cards, Morning Light, and Chocolate Milk

It was time to clean up the memory cards. Again. I do fairly well for awhile and then I sort of fall behind. So tonight I went through all those scattered on my desk to see which had been uploaded and which hadn’t. Naturally, I found pictures which I’ve already forgotten, though they were shot this month. Given the massive quantity I’ve taken in January, that’s not too surprising, really.

I sort of thought I had more cards than this. But there is the one in my camera. And the two in my camera bag. And a few more in my card shelf thingy. I also may still be missing one card altogether. Not that I don’t have enough to accommodate my crazy picture-taking ways.

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So here are some found images:

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Early mornings are such a conundrum. That’s when the amazingly beautifully gorgeous light appears. Most days here in Colorado, anyway. It brings such a beautiful glow to a frosty or snowy morning and I love it so much. Once I’m up, I’ll get out that door, camera in hand, as quickly as possible. Even if it means pajamas and slippers. Yep. I’m that lady.

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The problem is the getting out of bed part. I am SOOOO not a morning person. To those people who say, “Oh, I always wake up before my alarm ever goes off,” I don’t know how you do it. I mean that in all sincerity. I would like to be that person, but I’m not wired that way. Even if I wake up, my warm, cozy bed has this anesthetic power which seeps into my brain and says things like, “Just 15 more minutes. You’re so warm and cozy here. You didn’t get to sleep very early, so you should catch just a few more ZZZs because you really need them.” Silly brain. It listens to the bed and forgets that the morning light is stunning and fleeting.

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I like my beverages very, very cold. All should have copious amounts of crushed ice to obtain said coldness. Including milk. And, therefore, chocolate milk. I prefer to pour my chocolate syrup on top of the milk and then stir. Quite the opposite of John, who pours it in first. I always feel like there’s more syrup in the bottom with that method. Nevertheless, people can prepare chocolate milk any old way they please. Since my milk requires ice, I just pour the syrup atop the ice. Which is sort of cool, because it just sits there on top. In a blob.

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Yes, I usually make it in a Coke glass.

An Invitation

I belong to a few photography Meetup and Facebook groups. There are often calls for photographs for contests or gallery shows. I occasionally think that would be kind of fun. But just as soon as I do, that other critical voice (OCV) which lives in my head says, “Why bother? Yeah, your work is decent, but there will be so many images that are better than yours, anyway. Besides, you don’t have time to go through thousands of images to figure out what you would enter. Just forget it.” And no matter what anyone else might say about my photographs, the OCV is louder and more persuasive. So I cave and put that little spark out of my mind, returning to my wannabe life.

Since the beginning of this year, the thought of maybe entering something – anything – has knocked on my mental door again. The OCV is ever ready to slam that door, hard and fast, but something different happened this time. I was invited. I was invited by another local photographer to enter a couple of pieces in a gallery showing. Specific photos she chose.

Funny how a real, live, personal invitation changes things. Not to minimize the people who have complimented my work, but this somehow gave me validation. I know – I shouldn’t need that, should I? My photographer approval rating should not come from other people. But in my shallow, not-at-all-confident-in-my-work sort of way, I guess it does. But this? For me, this was huge.

So I called her. And got the details. And did a happy dance. On the inside, apparently. Kind of weird, as I’m a fairly expressive person. John was ready to do the happy dance for me since he thought I wasn’t.

I needed titles for my photos. I also need to provide her with a price. A price?!? Oh my. That’s the worst. I am no more able to appropriately price my work than twirl pirouettes on the tip of the Chrysler Building. One title came easily. The other, not so much. The pricing? Well, I’ll come up with something. Lower than others might think I should. But for the girl with the OCV it’ll be the best I can do.

When There Are No Good Barns

…you drop back and punt. Or shoot other stuff.

My friend and I were out hunting for a good barn to take pictures of. She especially loves pretty red barns. Alas, there were no lovely, rouge barns to be found upon our random journey. So we pulled over when there was a vast field snow beneath a blue sky. And a few other things caught our attention once we actually walked over to look around.

Vast field.

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Trees, for example,

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unusual creatures hanging out,

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an interesting fence segment,

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Or a bicycle fence shot from the road.

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