Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bask in the Glory of a New Day


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I was out and about taking pics this morning on John Adams Road.  It's a gravel road with soy beans growing in the fields and a small pond to attract wildlife.  I new the morning glories were in bloom, and I was primarily trying to get some good pics of them.  The Maryland Meadow-Beauty blooms near the pond and is a real treat to see as well.


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I also enjoy the beautiful light coming through the sycamore lining the road.  One even had a spiderweb on it today!


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The road less traveled may be the prettiest road you've driven down in a long time...at least as long as you stop to photograph the flowers:-)


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Monday, September 1, 2014

Great Blue Heron at Yates Mill


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Dennis Hoffman took this shot while we were at Yates Mill yesterday.  I spent some time last night post processing it using Nix Color Efex Pro.  This is one of those shots where you don't know it's coming, you see movement, and you point and hope.  Dennis is very fast and accurate with his large lens, and I was so excited to see that he got this shot.  I got one, but it is entirely blurry.

See:-(


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Here is Dennis' original shot which he has in raw format.  Besides obviously cropping it, I used the darken/lighten center filter to lighten the head while darkening the grass.  I used the detail enhancer filter too bring out the feathers a bit more.  I also adjusted the contrast a bit.


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Dennis got one other great shot of this bird too.


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This shot was pretty dark, and I used similar techniques to lighten the bird and enhance the feathers.  I probably should do it one more time and see if I can make it even better.


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Thanks to Dennis for letting more tinker with and post these shots.

Yates Mill


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We were honored to have Dennis and Phyllis Hoffman drop by for a visit on their way home from visiting family in Virginia.  We had a few hours of daylight to do an activity, and Yates Mill seemed like the perfect destination.  Dennis loves to take dragonfly pictures, and there are a lot of dragonflies around the mill pond.  Of course Dennis and Phyllis were familiar with my shots of the mill and knew they would enjoy the scenery and history of the mill as well.

I took this shot of Dennis and his lens in the parking lot.  Earlier in the summer the coneflowers were beautiful in this garden.  Now, there is milkweed and their bugs as well as morning glories.


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The most exciting moment of our visit was seeing a great blue heron (GBH) on the mill pond forebay and dam.  He was pretty tame for a GBH.  I stood as close as 6' to him at one point.  He even flew right over top of Johnny's shoulder.  Dennis got a magnificent shot of him in flight and wings out.  I got this head close-up.  Although I've seen GHB's at the mill near the boardwalk I had never seen a heron at the mill itself before.


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We missed the 2PM tour, so we didn't go inside the mill yesterday, but at the end of the tour they turned on the water wheel, and Dennis and I were able to get some lovely pics of the spillover.  If you plan to visit the mill, you should definitely try to time to visit to coincide with a tour so that you can experience the wheel turning.


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I am going to let Dennis talk about all the dragonfly species he and I shot there yesterday.  I am sure we took shots of at least 10 different dragonflies.  I'll share my favorite of the day below.  The muddy water down near the mill pond serves as the backdrop.


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I couldn't resist this cute baby turtle either.  We saw fish and water bugs in the water under the mill too.  No wonder the GBH hangs out there!


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In this shot, Dennis is standing in the corner of the overlook deck where I took my daily photo.  He suggested that spot over another one that I usually use, and the results were good.  Johnny is looking at Phyllis through the view finder, and Donnie is resting in the shade.  It was QUITE hot yesterday after a mild summer.


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To my delight, on the back marshy boardwalk, there was a swarm of hummingbirds.  I am sure I saw at least 10 buzzing about at one time.  I worked to make this one presentable.  I want to go back this week and try my  hand at some more shots.


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In our way back to the car, Johnny wanted to play.  I always enjoy taking people shots as they walk on the boardwalk.


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The highlight of Johnny's visit was Maggie.  He has missed Blaze so much, and Maggie was happy to sit beside Johnny and read with him last night.  Maggie is 7 and a border collie/corgie mix of some sort.  She was a happy and polite house guest.


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Unfortunately, Phyllis and Dennis are on their way back to Texas now.  We sure hope they can visit again some day.  Johnny tried to leave with Maggie, and Phyllis gave him that Grandma hug on the way out.  'Til next time.


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Saturday, August 30, 2014

NC First Lego League 2014 Kick-Off


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Johnny and I traveled to NC A&T today to attend the NC First Lego League 2014 kick-off.  There were about 350 people there.  I'm not sure how many teams.  It was a great opportunity to network with other Lego robot enthusiasts and to learn about the challenge that was just released.  There were workshops on strong robot building, EV3 programming, brainstorming ideas for the research component, and a One and Done where we got to try to build/program one complete mission on the board.  Johnny and I learned  ton!

Pictured is Johnny at the One and Done session.  He is thrilled that he just completed one of the missions.  Blurry as it is, I just ell in love with his jumping and smile.  You can see the video I pulled this image out of below.

Video

Friday, August 29, 2014

Church on the Hill

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Taken on our trip to the mountains last month.  We drove past it and turned around for the shot.  I removed power lines, enhanced details, and did some of massaging to get it to this result.

Here's the original.


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After some research, I determined that this is Meat Camp Baptist Church just outside Boone, NC.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014