Photography · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – This has a story?

Robin’s bath time

Every picture has a story and every story has a picture. Yes, this is true. Even the photos that didn’t turn out as planned can have a beautiful story.

I grew up when we used film in our cameras. After using all the pictures on the roll of film, we would take our photos to a Fotomat to have the film developed. In about a week or so we would go back and pick up our printed photos. My family always made a big deal of this. We would plan to go out for supper after we picked up the photos, then we would look at the photos while we waited for our meal at the restaurant. There were the photos that would make us say things like, “I remember that! It was fun!”, the photos that made us ooh and ahh at how pretty the photo was and we had the photos that would make us laugh- sometimes to the point of tears running down our cheeks because nothing in the photo turned out like we thought it would. Yes, waiting a week to see the photos does seem like a long time now, but there was nothing quite like the anticipation of picking up that envelope of photos.

For the most part, my mom was the photographer of the family. She captured all the holidays, vacations and family events. Part of the fun of getting the photos was seeing who would be missing from the photo or who would be missing a head. Mom didn’t always get the picture exact, but that didn’t matter as there was always laughter and always a story. I remember Mom looking at the photos and commenting, “Well, that isn’t how I thought it would turn out” or “He look! I got Uncle ___’s chin in this picture!!” Yes, we joked with her about her photography skills and we would laugh at the photos and sometimes, unfortunately, we probably were a little too mean with our words. However, Mom took the comments in stride and kept on taking pictures. Thank goodness she did – we have many great family memories and many wonderful stories.

I try not to post, what would be considered, less than perfect photos, but sometimes that is just what I do to tell the story. Bird photos can be a bit tricky. For me, it takes several attempts before I get a photo the way I want it. This makes for a lot of photos to go through and decide which ones really aren’t worth keeping. This is surprisingly hard – even with the bad photos. Sometimes the fun of the photo is what could have been – trust me, I have lots of those! Even when the photo isn’t perfect, there can be a perfectly beautiful or humorous story.

The escape

The blue jay in this photo had spent quite a bit of time on the fence post looking around and squawking. I had been taking pictures of some of the other birds and then decided to take a photo of the blue jay. He must have known something was up when I turned the camera towards him because he took off.

The food tastes better here.

The oriole had been enjoying the hummingbird food from one of the other flowers, which was making for a nice picture. Happily, I started taking pictures of him. That is the exact moment he decided to reach for the other flower. He’s balancing with his wing, so there is a blur on his wing. I didn’t know orioles would drink the hummingbird nector.

High wire act

On the day that this picture was taken, there had been several northern cardinals visiting this bird feeder. They would perch next to the tree for a bit and then hop to the feeder. They stand on the tiny branch, instead of the perch on the feeder, to get to the food. I liked the red of the cardinal against the gray/ brown of the tree, so I tried to get a picture of the cardinal perching. Instead, I captured him in mid hop.

We would like some privacy!

While walking on a beach, I noticed this beautiful damselfly. I was a bit of a distance away when I took this photo. It wasn’t until I got home and looked at the pictures, did I see what I had actually captured. There were two damselflies, shall we say, enjoying their time together. It wasn’t until I zoomed the photo to see how I wanted to edit the photo, did I see the true subject. I never did crop this photo.

These photos aren’t as classic as my mom’s family photos, but I smile when I see them. I hope you get a smile out of these too. 🙂

Thank you for stopping by!

Photos are originals by Kim Lawless

Photography · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Cuteness Overload!

Nom, Nom, Nom… love those seeds!!

During the dark days of winter or just when ever some happy thoughts are needed, it seems to help to look at pictures of little critters enjoying their day – at least it helps me! 🙂

Ground squirrels are just too darn cute – that is until the destructive side starts to reveal itself. But then, those eyes!! I just can’t stay mad at them too long. I spend quite a bit replanting flowers in my garden every year, but… those eyes! I’m preparing (emotionally) for these little guys to be back in the Spring. At least when the are back, it is warm enough to spend some time outside. 🙂

Since these guys spend so much time in my yard (maybe I shouldn’t feed them?), thought I should learn more about them. The ground squirrels in my yard are referred to as 13 stripe ground squirrel. Here’s some fun little facts about this particular ground squirrel:

  • Dig burrows of 15 to 20 feet long with more than one entrance.
  • Litters are usually 7- 10
  • Usually solitary, may congregate in groups of 10 in a prime habitat.
  • The are climbers, but prefer the ground (I saw one climb a tree in my yard so he could get to the bird food.)
  • They eat freshly planted seeds and/or immature plants

There are some benefits to having ground squirrels around:

  • feed on weeds, weed seeds and insects that can cause damage to crops -this may not be a true statement for my yard… 🙂
  • Their digging might actually improve the soil. (I should have the healthies flower garden around!)
  • They are cute and fun to watch!

Not convinced yet that these little guys are cute? Here’s a few more pictures that might just convince you! 🙂

I can see better now
I see yummies!!
Shhhh… I’m hiding
Brave hunter has found seeds

The ground squirrels and I had lots of fun last Summer, so I have far more pictures than I realized!! Hope you liked these few I picked out. Some days it is fun to just smile about silly things.

Thank you for stopping by my blog!

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless

Photography · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Sunflowers, Sunshine and Warmth

A Kiss of Sunlight

We’ve been having some snowy cold days here in the middle of the U.S. So many days in a row now that a hint of the sun peeking through the clouds brings about a feeling of warmth. Remembering the days when my daughter and I would go for a drive and find a place where we hadn’t been before so I could take some pictures. Some of those days were more hot than warm, but always a good time. Also thinking about the days when I would walk around the lake, with my camera in hand, enjoying the gentle breeze as I took pictures of the landscape or butterflies or different birds. Ahhh… those nice warm days.

Needing some reminders of the warmer days, I went through my photos from last year of flowers and flowering weeds. These were some nice memories of warmer (and sometimes much hotter) days. If you are having day after day of cold and clouds, maybe these flowers will make your days a feel a bit warmer too.

First Buds of Spring
Pretty in Pink
Standing tall
Hundreds of wishes to blow in the wind
Uniquely One

Until I can get back outdoors to take more photos, I am content to spend my evenings on the couch, with a blanket on as I write or edit photos or read but mostly, spending time on social media or watching some TV (British comedies are a favorite to watch) or playing solitaire on my laptop, each of these with my cat cuddled up next to me. Not really a bad way to spend time on a cold night. 🙂

However you are spending your time, I hope you have enjoyed looking at these photos.

Thank you for stopping by!

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless

Photography · Writing

No Resolutions Just One Word

No resolutions this year. Most of mine barely make it to February before I think “eh. maybe next year”. Some of my friends and I were discussing our resolutions for 2021 when one of my friends mentioned that she doesn’t focus on resolutions. She prefers to chose one single word and practice it everyday. Her word for 2020 had been KIND. She said this year had tested the word and there were days that she didn’t live up to the definition. But overall she was able to turn some situations around and have a positive outcome.

That got me thinking about my past resolutions: lose weight, eat healthy, exercise more, be a better person. Pretty normal resolutions, but not any that express a true sense of self reflection and a true desire to make positive changes. These were so open ended. I mean, seriously, “be a better person” is not a clear resolution. How was I ever going to be successful without a concise definition? I had set myself up for failure and accepting of the “eh, maybe next year” attitude. Not anymore. It is time for true change.

After giving this a lot of thought and reflection, I have picked my word for 2021: Gratitude (the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness).

I am choosing to show gratitude by being thankful for what I have and for what I have experienced. Show more gratitude by lifting others up – applaud their successes and help when times are difficult. Be part of a world where there is more kindness than hatred, more caring than disinterest and where we think more about others and less about ourselves. I’m going to put my words into action and really practice my word – Gratitude – everyday. I have always told my children that actions speak louder than words. Now it is time to show them what this really means.

Yes, it is daunting. I don’t know if I will be able to show gratitude and appreciation everyday. But I do know I’m going to try, probably fall a time or two, and keep trying until GRATITUDE is a part of who I am.

To start this, I have mentally looked over the past year and found those things that I appreciate and that I am grateful to have experienced. Looking back, I have been fortunate enough to have had a pretty good year in my personal life. I got married in June, have a job that I enjoy, my family and I have stayed healthy (one person in my family did have COVID, but we were blessed that it was not a severe case) and I get to continue to grow in my photography hobby. Sure things have been different, but I feel blessed even in these unpredictable times. My hobby – photography – has been a good escape and I do enjoy sharing the photos and a story or two. I am very grateful and appreciative of the time when I get out and take photographs. It has been a wonderful way to see the beauty in nature. I’ve also been blessed with new friendships as we share photos and discuss the various subjects. I’ve been able to meet a variety of people while out on walks. It has been different with masks, and being socially distanced, but still we’ve been able to connect. So there’s my look back at the year.

I also took the opportunity to look at my photos and pick out a few of my favorites. These are photos from my walks and a few from my yard. I hope you like these too!

Thank you for joining me as I’ve become a bigger bird nerd, learned more about insects than I ever imagined, discovered nature’s beauty even in the weeds and learned more about photography every time I took a photo.

May you find your word, to help you through whatever 2021 has in store for all of us.

I hope you have a very happy New Year!

Thank you for stopping by my blog!

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless.

Photography · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Trying out a new lens

Frank trying to be sneaky

So excited!! I recently got a new lens and I was able to give it a try. I now don’t have to be extremely close to the wildlife to get decent pictures or I don’t have to crop too much of the picture to get the exact image I was trying to get. Some cropping and editing are still required, but not to the extent that the picture is distorted. This lens should also help me capture the bald eagle photos I want. 🙂

This lens is heavier, so I need to practice stabilizing the camera when I am out and about taking photos. I do have a tri-pod that I will be working with more, but a tri-pod might not always be practical. I was joking around with friends and family that I will need to lift weights to build enough muscle to hold the lens. And in a year’s time I will have the best abs around as my core muscles will be developed to also help stabilize the lens and camera. 🙂 These comments are mostly exaggerations, of course, but handling the weight difference will take some practice. I am looking forward to the practice and the challenge!

The easiest way for me to practice is to go into my back yard and try to get some photos of the birds and Frank (the friendly squirrel). For these shots, I tried various ways to stabilize the camera: pure strength (required multiple shots and hope that at least one was good), sitting in a chair and using my knee as a brace for my elbow to minimize shaking and also, the deck railing to lean against and rest my elbow while holding the camera. I was surprised at how easy it seemed to be to just use my strength and get some decent shots. I didn’t have to take nearly as many photos as I thought I would need with this approach, however, it would reduce how much time I could spend shooting while on a walk or just at a particular subject. Using my knee while sitting in a chair worked, but it was awkward and had questionable results. Leaning/bracing using the deck rail, seemed to provide the best option for taking the photos, proving that I will need to use a tri-pod more and a little weight training won’t hurt. 🙂

All in all, I was happy with the overall results. I was able to get clearer pictures of the cardinals and other birds, since I didn’t spook them by getting too close. Here are the results (some cropping was still required):

Thank you for stopping by – hope you enjoyed the pictures and just a bit of a story. 🙂

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless