Monday, February 28, 2011

Bloggy love

I visit several blogs on an almost-daily basis and I’d like to share one with you that I truly enjoy. She posts one nature photo daily that is more often than not accompanied by an inspirational quote. In fact, her bird photography is what inspired me over the years. I love her birds and butterflies!

So I asked her if I could interview her and she agreed. I’d like to introduce you to Kerri, author of the blog, A Little Piece of Me.

CG: Hi, Kerri. I've been reading your blog for several years now and have always been impressed with your nature photography. I hope you don't mind if I put you on the spot and ask you for a few pointers on how to take a good bird photo. In fact, I was thinking about you the other day while I was sitting outside in my yard, trying to keep still in the cold and keeping my movements quiet. And I wondered how in the world does Kerri do this?

To start, what type of camera are you using?

KERRI: From 2007 through the end of December 2010 I had been using a Nikon D40X - my first DSLR.  Then my Wonderful Hubby surprised me at Christmas with a new Nikon D7000.  I am still learning it but it is an awesome camera!

CG: That’s a good camera. What is your lens of choice when photographing fast-moving birds and butterflies?

KERRI: I am using my Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens for most of my images. 

For Macro work -I use a  Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor Lens - but only if something is very still - I don't normally use that if something is moving.

CG: Do you use a tripod?

KERRI: Never.  I should!  I know that all good photographers do - but there is just something about the feel of that camera in my hand that is part of the JOY for me.  And I do it for the JOY. 

CG: Is there a special feeding station set up in your yard?

KERRI: The feeding station is on my deck which is surrounded by pine trees.  I have several traditional feeders and I also have two grapevine wreaths that I sprinkle bird feed in.

CG: Do you shoot through a window?

KERRI: I have a sliding glass door that leads to my deck.  A lot of shots of the birds at the feeders have been taken through that sliding glass door.

CG: I read once that you used a blind to shoot. Could you explain this and maybe even share a photo of it?

KERRI: In October 2009 I purchased a $50 chair blind that hunters use and I use it for photography. I have also taken it to some of the wildlife areas that I visit and have shot "in the wild" with it.  It works great.  This is not the EXACT one but very similar - 

Chair blind

It's basically a camo chair with a hood that has zippered windows that I shoot out of. 

CG: Wow. That way you can move around some and not spook the birds. So what advice would you give to the novice nature photographer?

KERRI: Shoot Shoot Shoot.  Take pictures, experiment with your settings, learn your camera and LOVE your subject.  I think the JOY you find in your subject will come thru in your images.
Also - for birds - listening is the key for me.  Sometimes I will stand still in the same spot for a LONG TIME and just listen.  I usually hear them before I see them.  And there is a sort of calmness that this gives to each outing as well.

CG: Thank you so much, Kerri. Lots of good information here and you continue to inspire me.
You can find Kerri’s work at the following places:

A Little Piece of Me (photo blog)

Kerri’s Flickr Photostream

Nature Store on CafePress (notecards, etc.)

I love the photos on this post!

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .
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All photos in this post are courtesy of Kreations by Kerri.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Winter slumbering in the open air

I spent much of my afternoon today sitting in the yard with my husband in the sunshine, with George at our feet. After a rather iffy morning, the sun finally broke through the clouds and I could almost hear the sigh throughout the land.

* sigh *

Sunshine on a weekend is so wonderful. And what a change in temperature from just a week ago. And I saw today that the lilac is beginning to bud.

I read a magazine that came earlier in the week that I was saving for just such a day. I love Coastal Living magazine. I took some photos of birds and some of them turned out alright. And I also shot these handsome portraits of our best buddy.

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He loves us always.

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He itches sometimes.

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And the sun was making him droswy so he took another little nap.

: : :

And winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring !

(excerpt from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Work Without Hope)

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The little birds love to perch on the wire my husband has strung from the tree to the house. As I’ve mentioned before, he has all the feeders – well most of the feeders hung from the wire. It’s completely foiled the squirrels who have been reduced to foraging underneath them rather than eating directly from them.

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Silly squirrels – just on the other side of the yard are masses of nuts that have fallen from the trees just waiting to be opened. I’m guessing it’s much easier for them to eat the fallen sunflower seeds, though.

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I’m waiting for the Oscars to begin and I always enjoy the opening bit. I heard this year that there were going to be children doing scenes from the nominated films, which, in theory, sounds pretty cute. We shall see. I do like James Franco and Anne Hathaway for the hosts. It should be interesting, to say the least.
Later this week, I’m sharing some bloggy love. More on that to come.

Until tomorrow, my friends . .

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Feelings are much like waves


We can't stop them from coming

but we can choose which one to surf. 

~Jonatan MÃ¥rtensson

: : :


Today was not a wonderful day and the best part of it was coming home. It had stormed in the afternoon, a vicious, wicked force with pounding rain and violent wind gusts. By the time I left for home, the downpour had stopped and the wind had the roads nearly dry, and was still blowing strong.

And then home, up the long driveway that I had hoped would be clear to pass. I knew that a storm like that had probably brought a tree down.

And it did. And my husband had just finished clearing it.

And being home never felt so good.


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I didn’t want to do anything but roll in a ball and shut out the world. I’m sure you’re all familiar with that feeling. But instead, I opened up a few photos that I didn’t think were all that and just began playing with them. I don’t even remember what I did, but I know that I used several new textures from the Florabella collection.

Florabella Collection Fine Art Textures Set III


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Being creative completely quieted my mind. I highly recommend Photoshop as therapy.

And don’t think that I totally understand what I’m doing in there. I can do a few things, yes. They are basic but they yield the results I’m looking for. And some day, I’ll learn more of what it can do.


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For some reason, this is my favorite. The arch of his little male house finch combined with the shape of the cooper perch look like a heart to me.

For you see, each day I love you more
Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.
~Rosemonde Gerar

: : :

Well, it’s Friday night and I think I’ll pour the drink of lonely men and hoary nights. And then I’m putting on my pj’s and my thick wool socks and popping a DVD into the computer.


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This is what it looked like at the manor house on Tuesday morning. So pretty.

Have a beautiful weekend, all ~

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

I am not lazy

The conversation I just had with my husband went like this:

ME: This is a goldfinch, right? (Showing him the photo on my laptop).

HIM: We have a stack of bird books right over there on the windowsill.

ME: But you’re sitting right there and you already know the answer.

HIM: I’m not telling you. Go get the book.

ME: Are you kidding me? You’re not telling me? I’ll just look it up online if you’re going to be like that.

HIM: Are you kidding ME? You can’t even get up and walk across the room?

ME: You can’t even say yes or no?

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American goldfinch

Realizing this could get even more ridiculous, I would like you to know that I got up off the couch, walked all the way across my living room, got that book, brought it back to my comfy, cozy seat and looked it up. I already knew it was a damn goldfinch, but I just wanted to make absolutely sure.

And I wanted to prove that I am not totally lazy.

And while I had the book open, I checked to make certain that the little woodpecker that I was posting below was exactly what I thought it was.


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Downy woodpecker (female)

And I was correct.

My husband is the birder in the family and although I have learned much over the years because of him and his love for his aviary friends, when I’m posting about something, I want to make sure I’m right.

Maybe I rely on him too much at times.

: : :

This afternoon, my office phone rang. It was one of my co-workers who had already left for the day. She told me that she’d just driven by a local florist who had a sign out front that said, “IF YOUR NAME IS KATE, COME INSIDE AND GET A FREE ROSE.”

I want to thank my co-worker (thanks, Sue) for telling me about this.


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I have a pretty pink rose to show for it.

: : :

So . . .

What are your plans for the weekend? Inquiring minds and all, you know . . .

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Here comes the sun

My re-entry into the real world after a 4-day weekend went fine today, if I must say so. And I must, you know.

I got a lot done and I even had enough energy to take my afternoon walk. I almost didn’t take the walk, but had to force myself after George came over to me, put his chin on my lap and gave me the sad eye treatment. So I put on my trusty Sorel’s and my jacket and headed out into the snow with a now-happy dog.

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This is what it looked like from my seat on the front porch where I spent a good deal of time during my snow day yesterday. It was an absolutely glorious day, and quite lovely on the porch.

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In fact, it was so lovely that my cheeks got sunburned.

And now I do look like the proverbial country girl with rosy cheeks.

Ha ~

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I sat outside for several hours, reading my book and just listening to the birds. OMGosh, can they ever sing ~

It made me so happy. In the summer, I can’t go near the porch and the plants we’ve put here have all shriveled up from the intense heat. But in the winter, the south-facing porch is absolutely the place to be.

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It’s just the right size, too. Perfect for two people and a dog.

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And ok, a cat too.

Hello, Miss Blackie.

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Earlier this week, I found a wonderful free Photoshop action while visiting one of my favorite blogs, Donna Boucher’s Quiet Life. The action is from Sesame Ellis (Rachel Devine) and is available on her FB page. It’s a soft, vintage look and you can adjust the layers to suit. I lowered the opacity of the copper tones in the photo below.

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This is a my wonderful sister, Charlotte (on the right), and her eldest daughter, Emily, taken in Philadelphia the summer before last.

Here’s the original shot below.

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Sesame Ellis Free Coppery Black & White action

As an aside, Emily told us earlier this year that she’s getting married in September. We are all so happy for her and I think Joe will fit nicely into our wacky family. We all like Joe.

Emily is an artist and started a blog in 2009. This is my favorite post to date:

The Sketchbook Project

: : :

I love having you visit and want to thank you for taking the time to stop by today. It’s always a pleasure to see you.

Until tomorrow, then . . .
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PS - This post is just beautiful. I mean it, Caroline.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Brunch on a snow day

It snowed 6 inches last night and school was closed today. I want to tell you how productive I was all day, but other than a good morning walk and another short one in the afternoon, I can’t think of a single productive thing I did.

I should have been cleaning out my closet.

Or cleaning the refrigerator.

Or dusting.

But instead, I finished the book I was reading, promising myself that I wasn’t going to cry. {Readers had told me that the book made them cry, so I was prepared.}

After my morning walk, I noticed that it was 10:30 a.m. and all I’d had to eat was nothing but a couple of cups of coffee.

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So that’s why my stomach was growling.

I opened the frig, thinking I would make some eggs, some toast . . . and then I saw the lettuce I’d just bought yesterday and suddenly wanted some. So I made a bed of Artisan lettuce and added sliced English cucumber, hot house tomato wedges, avocado slices and sunflower seeds. Over the top, I sprinkled freshly grated sea salt and ground pepper and finally I added a dollop of Marie’s Italian dressing.


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It was OMG yummy.

And I kept reading my book. There’s a lot of questions and just as many answers. And all in all, I liked the The Shack a lot.

And I did end up crying after all.


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I served my lunch on my brand new placemats – a gift from fellow blogger Hilary, at Crazy as a Loom. {I love the name of her blog}. Aren’t these placemats beautiful? I was surprised to find that they were made from blue jeans! Check them out here:

Blue jean placemats

The great thing is that they’ll last a long time, sort of like my own blue jeans. Well, the ones that still fit, anyway. *snort *

And now, I feel that I must post the obligatory snow picture, although I know that so many of you are sick of it all about now.

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I sat on the porch this afternoon, right by the red front door you see, reading my book in the sunshine, with George at my feet. No jacket needed, for the sun was wonderfully warm.

Tomorrow, it’s back to the real world after a 4-day weekend. Wish me luck.

Thanks for stopping by today, my friends ~

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Bits and pieces

It’s sleeting as I write this post and if the forecast is correct, we may have a snow day tomorrow. It will be a surprise if it happens, but I’m rooting for it.

There is something joyful about storms that interrupt routine. Snow or freezing rain suddenly releases you from expectations, performance demands, and the tyranny of appointments and schedules . . . and the heart is suddenly and unexpectedly a little giddy.

Wm. Paul Young, The Shack

I went to the grocery store this morning to get a few things and picked up a book to read as well (just in case we do have that snow day). I’d never read The Shack and am finding it pretty interesting so far.

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I also brought home a bouquet of pink tulips to brighten the place up a bit.

What I didn’t do was take my walk today. Or yesterday. I don’t want you thinking that I’m always doing the right thing, you know. It’s lazy of me not to exercise but I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

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Miss Blackie sits on her pillow on the windowsill in the master bedroom. This is one of her favorite spots in the house, where she can sun and view the birds in the dogwood tree.

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We have lots of bird books. Recently, I’ve had to begin using glasses to read. My husband thinks it’s about time because he’s been using them for years.

And that’s one of my favorite coffee cups, from Starbucks. I like mermaids and I believe I used to be one in a former life.

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No I didn’t. I just made that up.

Bet I had you wondering, though.

I think this looks like a handwritten letter ‘k’, don’t you? I found it while I was sitting outside yesterday watching the birds.

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This male house finch is King of the World on the top of the dogwood tree. That reminds me - Titanic was on the other night and I watched part of it. I love when they stand at the bow of the ship and hold out their arms . . .

Speaking of movies, today I sort of half-watched two on AMC: Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Moonstruck. And now I’d better go because my pooch is giving me the eye and he’s brought one of his favorite stuffed toys for me to throw.

Enough of this silly blogging, he tells me. Play with me.

So how are tricks with you?

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Monday, February 21, 2011

My afternoon, in photos

I was sitting outside in the sunshine, minding my own business. It was chilly, but in the sun, my shutter finger wasn’t frozen. I sat still. And closed my eyes.

I could hear birds in the distance, children playing, traffic a long way away. The drone of a plane, and then the flutter of wings. The birds had come back to the feeders.

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As much as I like winter, I love the promise of spring on a sunny day. I captured a chickadee at the feeder.

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I took photos of the branches against the windows of the house.

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I captured a male house finch as he called to his mate.

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I watched as another had a bite to eat at the feeder.

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It felt so good being outside. I could almost smell the earth coming alive, although there’s ice and snow left in the shady parts of the property.

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I took a portrait of my friend as he lolled about nearby.

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I could hear the beating of the bird’s wings as they flitted about in the branches above me and I closed my eyes for a few moments.

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And then I opened them. And I saw what looked like a large bird approaching the feeders. All the birds took off, including this tufted titmouse.

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A hawk! Everything happened so suddenly that all I could see was a flutter of wings – large wings.

And then all was still.

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And I captured him as he perched in the dogwood tree.

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And it wasn’t  until I opened the photos in Photoshop that I noticed that he had also captured something. You can see it here.

And it was awhile until the birds began to return to the feeders.

The end.

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I do believe that is the same sharp shinned hawk again. They look a lot like the Cooper’s hawk, but my husband believes this to be the sharp shinned. Hope your Monday is a good one.