Congratulations, grasshopper!

13 02 2016

Congratulations to my dear friend Michael Powell for getting his photos published in a spread in the local Mt. Vernon Voice newspaper. He was out shooting at Huntley Meadows one cold morning and the co-editor of the publication happened to be there. He asked him if he would like his work to be featured in the newspaper. He had a two page spread available to fill and Michael had to get him photos pronto. Nice showcase for your work, grasshopper! You can see more of Michael’s work on his blog at https://michaelqpowell.wordpress.com/.

Michael Mt Vernon Voice





Itsy bitsy frog

26 07 2015

The teeniest of frogs—barely a 1/4″—in one of the ponds at Lilypons this morning

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

TinyFrog lorez





Beetle on Sacred Lotus

6 07 2015

Beetle (unidentified) on Sacred Lotus

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

BrownYellowBeetleLotus





Frog on lily pad

6 07 2015

My friend Michael Powell and I took a drive out to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens this morning to drop off some signage material for the event this Saturday and also to do a little shooting. He said he wanted to find a frog on a lily pad and I found this one for him. We both did some shots until the frog was startled and sank into the abyss. I had my Tamron 180 lens on my Nikon D800 but since there are now wire fences around the water lily ponds, I couldn’t lean in a far as I was inclined to do—hence the more environmental look to this shot (rather than my usual closeups). I kind of like the shadow of the tree functioning as a leading line down to the frog. See my bonus critter? It’s a little guppy/fish at the bottom, right.

Check out Michael’s most excellent nature photography blog here: https://michaelqpowell.wordpress.com/

GreenFrogSubmersed





Photo Lesson: Just ducky

9 12 2013

Anytime you notice an S-curve in your composition, relish it! An S-curve is an imaginary line in a photograph that resembles the letter “s.” This serendipitous composition of ducks leads the viewer in at the top, meanders into the middle, then curves back out again—which adds motion to the image. Look for opportunities to utilize the S-curve’s soft, flowing lines to help create separation in a frame or make the S-curve your focal point. And don’t stop with landscape photography—the S-curve can be used in posing subjects for portrait photography as well.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

JustDuckyFB





You put your right foot in and you shake it all about…

4 11 2013

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

PutYourRightFootIn





Stretching

4 11 2013

Great Blue Heron stretching…loved shooting in this mid-afternoon light right before the rain…storm clouds covered most of the sky, but the sun kept coming through just a little bit here and there

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

GBH Stretching





Getting my ducks…er, geese…in a row

4 11 2013

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

GeeseInARow





Double date

3 11 2013

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Double Date





Re-post: Fall in Virginia

25 10 2013

We’ll be heading out to Boyce, Virginia to the Blandy Experimental Farm to check out the Ginkgo grove this coming Saturday, so maybe I’ll have new fall photos to post!

Originally posted in October, 2010

Since I haven’t been able to get my bounty of fall photos this year, I’ve made a collage of my favorite images from the past three years. These were all shot in various parts of Virginia, including my own neighborhood. Enjoy!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.







Re-post: Ellie, Claire and the manatees

1 02 2013

Originally posted Feb. 9, 2010. I just love this shot of the twins with a manatee and wanted to share again!

Michael and I just got back from Sarasota, Florida, where we had been visiting his parents for a few days. Later this week I’ll be posting some images from our various adventures, including visiting the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens on Thursday, a windy walk through Historic Spanish Point on Friday, and showcasing and selling my Polaroid transfer notecards with his mother at an art show in their lovely community on Saturday.

On Sunday I spent a truly blissful day with my friend Camilla and her children—son Nolan and the twins, Ellie and Claire. After breakfast, we headed to the Mote Marine Aquarium and Laboratory. The twins were especially enamored with Hugh and Buffet, two manatees who were born at the Miami Seaquarium and brought to Mote in May 1996 to help teach the public about sea cows. Mote Marine Laboratory is the first facility to have been granted permission from US Fish and Wildlife to conduct basic husbandry training with captive-born manatees.

I’m not sure if the manatee below is Hugh or Buffet, but he was as drawn to the twins as they were to him (he probably thought he was seeing double!). A Mote employee told us that this one had weighed 2,000 pounds, but currently weighs 1800 pounds. The average weight of a manatee is approximately 1,000 pounds, but it can exceed 3,000 pounds. Learn more about manatees on the Mote Aquarium site here.

According to the aquarium’s website, Hugh and Buffet eat about 72 heads of lettuce a day! (Which begs the question—if all they eat is lettuce, how do they pile on all that weight? Are they going heavy on the ranch dressing, shredded cheese and croutons?)

The manatee below would grab a head of lettuce with his tiny flippers and slowly eat it as he sunk to the bottom of the tank (slow food fashion). The other manatee stayed up at the top of the tank, swimming in circles and grabbing chunks as they floated back up (drive-thru fast food style).

Interesting fact: Manatees are not aggressive and they have no social hierarchy. Humans could learn a lesson or two from them, couldn’t we?

Speaking of seeing double, the twins are identical, so it is very difficult for me to tell them apart. I learned that at this point in time, Ellie has all of her front teeth but Claire is missing a few. Unless they smiled and showed me their teeth, I kept calling them by the wrong names all day—despite my internal repetition of this refrain—Ellie Teeth, Claire No Teeth, Ellie Teeth, Claire No Teeth. I took a closeup head shot of them facing the camera and when I showed them the photo on my screen, I asked “which is which?” They both pointed to the face on the right and simultaneously said, “that’s me!” If they can’t tell each other apart, how are we supposed to?!

The Orlando Sentinel reported on manatee deaths in record numbers here. Most of the deaths have been linked to the cold snap that hit the state in early January.

It was a bit chilly that day, so you’ll notice that the twins are wearing coats. What you don’t see are their summer shoes—blue thong sandals and pink Crocs! And speaking of chilly—we left mostly mild and sunny Sarasota yesterday to return to Washington, D.C. and the remnants of the weekend’s blizzard…just in time for another possible snowstorm beginning today and not ending until tomorrow (with a predicted 10-20 inches more of the white stuff). Oh, joy.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

EllieClaireManatee





Clay Bolt’s “Meet Your Neighbors” photography project

13 07 2012





Announcing nature and outdoor photography workshops with Brian Loflin in Virginia and Washington, D.C.

12 07 2012

My photography mentor and former employer, Brian Loflin, will be in the Washington, D.C. area in August to conduct a series of lectures and hands-on photography workshops. Brian and I are partnering with my friend, Rob Bergsohn, who founded the Northern Virginia Outdoor Portrait Photographers group at meetup.com.

I’ve worked with Rob on several small workshops for the group and we wanted to expand the offerings to include workshops conducted by Brian Loflin, who is a published photographer, experienced teacher and author as well.

MY GO-TO MENTOR
I’ve learned so much from Brian and he is my go-to mentor whenever I have technical problems or want to learn a new photographic skill. When I worked with him, I assisted with him on shooting everything from the world’s largest offshore drilling rig to a western clothing catalog to an aloe vera processing plant to an overhead view of a shopping mall from a small plane. He is an excellent teacher who makes learning fun!

PUBLISHED AUTHOR AND PHOTOGRAPHER
A master natural science photographer, Brian has photographed and authored several books with his wife, Shirley: Grasses of the Texas Hill County and Texas Cacti, both published by Texas A&M University Press. They have just completed text and photography for their next new book, also by Texas A&M University Press: Texas Wildflower Vistas and Hidden Treasures.

Brian Loflin is a seasoned photographic professional with a career that spans more than four decades in the advertising, aviation, bio-medical and publishing industry. As a graduate biologist with a background in marketing and communications, his early experience was as a medical photographer and a freelance photojournalist.

During his career, Brian’s photographs have been published in many international magazines as well as books and other publications, including major news agencies of the world. His work has won numerous industry awards and has won the admiration and respect of his clients. Those clients include leading names in the advertising and aerospace industry including: Bozell Worldwide, Milici, and Frye-Sills Advertising, Fairchild Aircraft, Aeritalia, Raytheon/Beech Aerospace and BFGoodrich Aerospace.

Brian has been active in several professional industry organizations, is past president of the Minnesota Nature Photographers and founder and current president of the Austin Shutterbug Club. He is now is an active photography instructor in the Informal Classes program at the University of Texas at Austin. Brian and his wife, Shirley, actively teach and conduct seminars and workshops in many areas of photography. They also lead nature photography tours to a variety of destinations. Below is a small sampling of his nature photography.

See his work at www.loflin-images.com and www.thenatureconnection.com. His blog, www.bkloflin@wordpress.com, highlights tools and techniques used in natural science photography, in both outdoor and studio settings. Below is a video that promotes his ongoing photography classes in Austin, Texas.

______________________________________________________________________

Register for the workshop of your choice by clicking the register link next to each course. Meetup.com will require you to create an account, which is very simple to do. Once you have an account, you may pay for the workshop through PayPal on the site. If you have problems or questions, e-mail Rob Bergsohn directly at rbergsohn@gmail.com.

These workshops are a fantastic value with an experienced and published photographer who is also a great instructor. August is fast approaching, so sign up today!

For more information, e-mail us:
Rob Bergsohn: rbergsohn@gmail.com
Cindy Dyer: dyerdesign@aol.com

The workshops below are listed in chronological order and some repeat more than once to allow participants ample choices to fit their schedules and interests.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 4

9:00 a.m. – Noon
$45/per person (Register here)

Macro/Close-up Photography Class
Location: Rob’s studio, located at 3106 Shadeland Drive, Falls Church, VA, near 7 Corners

This class will cover the skills and techniques required to enable the participant to capture photographic images of tiny subjects around us. It will illustrate the procedures and equipment to make images at- or near-life size or larger of various subjects from small plants and insects to postage stamps and miniature electronic components. Macro equipment need not be purchased prior to the course; the class will provide insight as to the appropriate equipment for each participant’s needs. Emphasis will also be made on how to construct many of the tools you may need. It is valuable to the film and digital photographer alike. (Photo of currency © Brian K. Loflin)

1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
$45/per person (Register here)

Nature Photography in a Studio Environment
Location: Rob’s studio, located at 3106 Shadeland Drive, Falls Church, VA, near 7 Corners

This course will cover the skills and techniques required to enable the participant to capture photographic images of natural subjects from the world around us without leaving our kitchen. It will illustrate the procedures and equipment to make excellent images of living plants and flowers, animals, patterns and textures. (Photo of ant © Brian K. Loflin)

______________________________________________________________________

SUNDAY, AUGUST 4

9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (lunch and beverages provided)
$90/per person (Register here)

All-Day Nature Photography Workshop at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, VA
Lecture Location: Lecture at Rob’s studio, located at 3106 Shadeland Drive, Falls Church, VA, near 7 Corners.
Outdoor bbq lunch will be provided on Rob’s deck after lecture.
Photography Location: We will all meet at Huntley Meadows by 2:00 p.m. to begin the hands-on photography portion of the workshop. Huntley Meadows Park is located 12 miles from Rob’s house at 3701 Lockheed Blvd., Alexandria, VA. For exact directions from Rob’s house, click here.

This is a comprehensive hands-on workshop to teach the skills, tools and art of nature photography. A classroom discussion will cover the skills and techniques required to enable the participant to capture photographic images of natural subjects from the world around us. In addition to the mechanics of making a technically accurate nature photograph, the class will cover the tricks of the trade that will hone the understanding of the art of nature image design. Following the classroom discussion, the group will break for lunch and reconnoiter at Huntley Meadows Park. Brian will guide us through a four hour nature shoot, putting into practice the techniques during the morning class discussion. Participants are advised to bring a tripod. (Photo of dragonfly © Brian K. Loflin)

About Huntley Meadows:
Nestled in Fairfax County’s Hybla Valley, Huntley Meadows Park is a rich, natural island in the suburban sea of Northern Virginia. Its 1,425 acres harbor majestic forests, wildflower-speckled meadows and vast wetlands bursting with life. Some of the best wildlife watching in the Washington metropolitan area is enjoyed here. From the ½ mile wetland boardwalk trail and observation tower, you’ll have excellent views of beavers, frogs, dragonflies and herons. Huntley Meadows is well known as a prime birding spot, with over 200 species identified in the park. The Visitors Center has informative exhibits on local natural and cultural history, as well as the gift store featuring nature-related books, jewelry, and stationery. (Photo of dragonfly at Huntley Meadows Park © Michael Powell)

______________________________________________________________________

MONDAY, AUGUST 6

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
$45/per person (Register here)

National Zoo Photo Safari
Location: National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. (map)

Zoos can be a visually depressing environment for visitors, but animal photographs made in zoos don’t have to be! Learn how to make dynamic animal images at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. with Brian Loflin. Learn the tricks of avoiding cages, concrete and confinement as we spend time on our walking zoo photography workshop. You will learn hands-on how to take advantage of the best light, composition and use of lenses to improve on animal photography. Watch for the fleeting moment that will make animal pictures pop! Learn how to accentuate the positive aspects of animals in their existing environment in order to make effective and dynamic images.

7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
$45/per person (Register here)

Night Photography on the Mall
Location:
Meet at 23rd and F Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C., near Foggy Bottom metro, on-street parking available (map)

How do you make perfect pictures of cityscapes, monuments and other scenes at night? This class will cover the use of time exposures using manual exposure techniques to produce stunning nighttime images. Many photographers have never used shutter speeds longer than one second, and low ISOs to produce the perfect image. This class will break open the mystery of low-level and night photography. Participants must have a tripod available for the class. We will meet up at the corner of 23rd and F Streets N.W., and begin the class with a walk to the Lincoln Memorial.
______________________________________________________________________

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
$45/per person (Register here)

National Zoo Photo Safari
Location: National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. (map)

Zoos can be a visually depressing environment for visitors, but animal photographs made in zoos don’t have to be! Learn how to make dynamic animal images at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. with Brian Loflin. Learn the tricks of avoiding cages, concrete and confinement as we spend time on our walking zoo photography workshop. You will learn hands-on how to take advantage of the best light, composition and use of lenses to improve on animal photography. Watch for the fleeting moment that will make animal pictures pop! Learn how to accentuate the positive aspects of animals in their existing environment in order to make effective and dynamic images.

7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
$45/per person (Register here)

Night Photography on the Mall
Location:
Meet at 23rd and F Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C., near Foggy Bottom metro, on-street parking available (map)

How do you make perfect pictures of cityscapes, monuments and other scenes at night? This class will cover the use of time exposures using manual exposure techniques to produce stunning nighttime images. Many photographers have never used shutter speeds longer than one second, and low ISOs to produce the perfect image. This class will break open the mystery of low-level and night photography. Participants must have a tripod available for the class. We will meet up at the corner of 23rd and F Streets N.W., and begin the class with a walk to the Lincoln Memorial.

______________________________________________________________________

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
$45/per person (Register here)

National Zoo Photo Safari
Location: National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. (map)

Zoos can be a visually depressing environment for visitors, but animal photographs made in zoos don’t have to be! Learn how to make dynamic animal images at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. with Brian Loflin. Learn the tricks of avoiding cages, concrete and confinement as we spend time on our walking zoo photography workshop. You will learn hands-on how to take advantage of the best light, composition and use of lenses to improve on animal photography. Watch for the fleeting moment that will make animal pictures pop! Learn how to accentuate the positive aspects of animals in their existing environment in order to make effective and dynamic images.


7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
$45/per person (Register here)

Night Photography on the Mall
Location:
Meet at 23rd and F Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C., near Foggy Bottom metro, on-street parking available (map)

How do you make perfect pictures of cityscapes, monuments and other scenes at night? This class will cover the use of time exposures using manual exposure techniques to produce stunning nighttime images. Many photographers have never used shutter speeds longer than one second, and low ISOs to produce the perfect image. This class will break open the mystery of low-level and night photography. Participants must have a tripod available for the class. We will meet up at the corner of 23rd and F Streets N.W., and begin the class with a walk to the Lincoln Memorial.

______________________________________________________________________

SATURDAY, AUGUST 11

9:00 a.m. – Noon
$45/per person (Register here)

Macro/Close-up Photography Class
Location: Rob’s studio, located at 3106 Shadeland Drive, Falls Church, VA, near 7 Corners)

This class will cover the skills and techniques required to enable the participant to capture photographic images of tiny subjects around us. It will illustrate the procedures and equipment to make images at- or near-life size or larger of various subjects from small plants and insects to postage stamps and miniature electronic components. Macro equipment need not be purchased prior to the course; the class will provide insight as to the appropriate equipment for each participant’s needs. Emphasis will also be made on how to construct many of the tools you may need. It is valuable to the film and digital photographer alike.

1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
$45/per person (Register here)

Nature Photography in a Studio Environment
Location: Rob’s studio, located at 3106 Shadeland Drive, Falls Church, VA, near 7 Corners

This course will cover the skills and techniques required to enable the participant to capture photographic images of natural subjects from the world around us without leaving our kitchen. It will illustrate the procedures and equipment to make excellent images of living plants and flowers, animals, patterns and textures. (Photo of leafcutter ant © Brian K. Loflin)

______________________________________________________________________

SUNDAY, AUGUST 12

9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (lunch and beverages provided)
$90/per person (Register here)

All-Day Nature Photography Workshop at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, VA
Lecture Location: Lecture at Rob’s studio, located at 3106 Shadeland Drive, Falls Church, VA, near 7 Corners.
Outdoor bbq lunch will be provided on Rob’s deck after lecture.
Photography Location: We will all meet at Huntley Meadows by 2:00 p.m. to begin the hands-on photography portion of the workshop. Huntley Meadows Park is located 12 miles from Rob’s house at 3701 Lockheed Blvd., Alexandria, VA. For exact directions from Rob’s house, click here.

This is a comprehensive hands-on workshop to teach the skills, tools and art of nature photography. A classroom discussion will cover the skills and techniques required to enable the participant to capture photographic images of natural subjects from the world around us. In addition to the mechanics of making a technically accurate nature photograph, the class will cover the tricks of the trade that will hone the understanding of the art of nature image design. Following the classroom discussion, the group will break for lunch and reconnoiter at Huntley Meadows Park. Brian will guide us through a four hour nature shoot, putting into practice the techniques during the morning class discussion. Participants are advised to bring a tripod. (Photo of cardinal © Brian K. Loflin)

About Huntley Meadows:
Nestled in Fairfax County’s Hybla Valley, Huntley Meadows Park is a rich, natural island in the suburban sea of Northern Virginia. Its 1,425 acres harbor majestic forests, wildflower-speckled meadows and vast wetlands bursting with life. Some of the best wildlife watching in the Washington metropolitan area is enjoyed here. From the ½ mile wetland boardwalk trail and observation tower, you’ll have excellent views of beavers, frogs, dragonflies and herons. Huntley Meadows is well known as a prime birding spot, with over 200 species identified in the park. The Visitors Center has informative exhibits on local natural and cultural history, as well as the gift store featuring nature-related books, jewelry, and stationery. (Photo of Great Blue Heron at Huntley Meadows Park © Michael Powell)





Vermont Road Trip Part 1: Ice cream, shoes, cheese, and a most memorable picnic in the rain

1 07 2012

The Lower Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area in Ferrisburgh, VT, near the entrance to Kingsland Bay State Park, encompasses 738 acres of wetland and floodplain forest habitat. Otter Creek reaches out to Lake Champlain and hosts a wide variety of wildlife: birds include state-endangered ospreys, bald eagles, ring-billed and great black-backed gulls, double-crested cormorants, great blue herons, mallards, hooded mergansers, and many types of ducks; mammals include mink, fox, white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits and gray squirrels; reptiles include many species of salamanders, bullfrogs, spring peppers, tree frogs, turtles and snakes; fish include large and smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, chain pickerel and yellow perch.

After photographing the Hearing Loss Association of America’s Convention 2012 in Providence, R.I. (June 21-24), my sister Debbie and I hightailed it up to Vermont for a short road trip. We left Providence about noon on Sunday and officially kicked off the Vermont tour that evening with a visit to Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in Waterbury. I tried the Late Night Snack, which was inspired by Jimmy Fallon (vanilla ice cream, fudge covered potato chip clusters and a salty caramel swirl). I just read a few online reviews and although the reviewers rave about the flavor, I wouldn’t try it again. I should have stuck with my favorite standby: chocolate chip cookie dough. You can’t go wrong with that flavor, no matter which company makes it!

We stayed in Shelburne that night. On Monday morning we impulse shopped at the Vermont-based Danform Shoes (great bargain basement where I bought a pair of my craziest shoes to date—heretofore known as my Saturday-Day-Night-Fever-Don-Johnson-Miami-Vice-white-Mafia-don-Wendys-advertising-newsprint-tabletop mules; stay tuned for a shot of these wild things!), drove around part of Lake Champlain, visited Shelburne Farms (a beautiful 1400-acre working farm) where we bought picnic supplies (cheese, crackers and various spreads), stopped at the Vermont Wildflower Farm in Charlotte, then stopped at Dakin Farm in Ferrisburgh for more cheese, crackers and Vermont maple syrup. It rained off and on all day, so I wasn’t able to hunker down and get some macro shots at the wildflower farm, unfortunately. That was something I was really looking forward to. I did get some great deals on wildflowers seeds and perennial bulbs, though, so it was worth the trip. Plus, who cares about rain when you have cheese?

We then drove to Kingsland Bay State Park and had a wonderful late afternoon lunch picnic on the porch of the historic Hawley House, c. 1790. This property dates back to the first settlers in Ferrisburgh and was home to Ecole Champlain, an exclusive girls camp, until the late 1960s. I’ll have photos and history to share on a future post about this lovely stone house with a wraparound porch on all four sides. We started our picnic at a picnic table by the bay, but the intermittent rainfall drove us to the wraparound porch. It was the most memorable picnic ever! Debbie and I concocted our own strange Chopped dishes with the various cheeses, crackers, chocolates and sweets we picked up along the way (photos and descriptions to come!). Aside from the two employees at the park entrance, a few seagulls and one very attentive chipmunk, we had the entire park to ourselves that afternoon.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

I shot this image with my iPhone using the app “645 Pro” in 6×17 panoramic format. It is one amazing app! It gives you lossless developed RAW tiff files and high quality jpgs, low-light performance, and live preview and real-time LCD readout. It offers seven professional color and b&w “film” options inspired by classic print and transparency film, and five switchable “backs”—645, 6×6, 6×7, 6×9, 6×17. Amazing! (I own a FUJI 6×17 panoramic film camera, so I’m very familiar with this format. It’s so fun to use this app to mimic the panoramic film format—it’s much lighter and easier than the real deal!)

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/40177690″>645 PRO for iPhone</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/jaggr”>Jag.gr</a&gt; on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>




The beauty of pollination

15 02 2012

Thanks to my friend Jeff for sending this amazing video to me!





FAVE: Under the ocean in Fiji

30 01 2012

Thanks to my friend, Jeff, for forwarding this link to me. Turn your sound up, sit back, and marvel! (Then tell me it doesn’t make you want to learn to scuba dive.)





A meeting of creative minds

8 01 2012

On Wednesday morning I drove from San Antonio to Austin to visit my friends Brian and Shirley Loflin. The next day I had the pleasure of lunch at P.F. Chang’s in Austin on Thursday with four fellow creatives.

BRIAN LOFLIN
Brian is my former boss, photography mentor and friend of more than 25 years. He is a freelance photographer and photography instructor in Austin and his career spans more than four decades in the advertising, aviation, bio-medical and publishing industries. Brian is past president of the Minnesota Nature Photographers and founder and current president of the Austin Shutterbug Club. He is a photography instructor in the Informal Classes program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Brian and his wife, Shirley, actively teach and conduct seminars and workshops in many areas of photography. They authored, produced and photographed Grasses of the Texas Hill Country and Texas Cacti, two photographic field guides for Texas A&M University Press and available at most booksellers. They have just completed text and photography for their next book, Texas Wildflower Vistas and Hidden Treasures, also by Texas A&M University Press.

Visit Brian’s natural science photography blog here. You’ll find his commercial work here. In his other business, The Nature Connection, he provides photography and digital imaging services to biologists, professionals, educators and others involved in the natural sciences. He is also available for workshops, seminars and presentations, as well as group and one-on-one training in nature photography, macro/close-up photography, beginning digital photography, field photography and composition and light.

STEVEN SCHWARTZMAN
Austin photographer Steven Schwartzman began his blog, Portraits of Wildflowers, just eight months ago. He commented on my blog many months ago and we formed a sort of mutual admiration society and have kept in touch ever since. His work is beautiful and many times I have said to myself, “I would have shot that one just like he did.” I think that his style, composition and capture of light is so similar to mine.

I e-mailed him when I left Virginia and asked if he would like to get together for lunch when I came up to Austin. It was then that I discovered that he also knew Brian through the Austin Shutterbug Camera Club and the Native Plant Society. He said he was surprised to learn, via my blog posts last March after I visited Brian in Austin for a Joe McNally / Dave Hobby workshop on the Flash Bus Tour, that I had known Brian for more than 20 years!

Steven’s photography has been published numerous times in Texas Highways magazine. In 2007, his photograph of a basket-flower was one of a hundred finalists in Parade magazine’s photo contest on the theme “Celebrate America’s Beauty.” In 2009 and 2010, he was commissioned to provide all the photographs and text for three laminated wildflower guides for Quick Reference Publishing. He has contributed more than 200 photographs to the native plant database of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. His other interests include natural foods and language. I particularly enjoy his fascination with words in his other blog, Spanish-English Word Connections. He has written an excellent tutorial about his photography techniques on his blog here.

From Steven’s blog:
I grew up on Long Island and went to college at Columbia University, where I majored in French. Upon graduation I spent 1968 and 1969 as a Peace Corps math teacher in Honduras; I learned that I was good not only at math (which I knew) but also at teaching it (which I’d had no reason to suspect). It was also in Honduras that I learned the rudiments of photography and got my first “real” camera, a Pentax Spotmatic. In the late 1970s and early 1980s I did a fair amount of art photography and eventually published three books of 3-D infrared photographs. The combination of 3-D and black-and-white infrared was an unusual one but I was fond of it, at least in part because it was unique. My book
Bodies of Light won an award from the Printing Industries of America in 1981.

I moved to Austin on July 6, 1976, two days after my birthday and the 200th anniversary of American independence. In my early years in Texas I did some landscape photography, still primarily in black and white infrared. I was an early adopter of digital photography: in 1999 I launched into a project to produce a photographic CD documenting the Austin area. In the process, I grew increasingly aware of and captivated by the many species of native plants that grow here; they became and remain my primary photographic subject.

It was such a treat being able to meet Steven in person. He is the first fellow blogger I’ve officially met in person and likewise for him! I’m hoping to be able to do a mini photo field trip with Steven in Austin before I head back to Virginia later this month.

SONYA MENDEKE
Sonya Mendeke, a freelance print and web designer living in Austin, is my former college classmate, one-time roommate and lifelong friend. You can see her design work on her newly-redesigned website here. Her hobbies include painting, sculpting and photography. You can see her graphic design work here. She also created whimsical and colorful paper clay “Bugs with Attitude” as well as birdhouses and plant pots.

During our lunch, I shared one of my favorite memories of Sonya. When we were both in college, I lived with her in a large two-bedroom apartment not far from the university. Both of us made extra spending money by doing odd freelance illustration jobs. At some point Sonya connected with a cattleman who wanted her to do drawings of his prize sire bulls for a catalog he was publishing. She showed him her portfolio and one of her illustrations was done in an illustration method called stippling. Wikipedia identifies stippling as “the creation of a pattern simulating varying degrees of solidity or shading by using small dots. … the dots are made of a pigment of a single colour, applied with a pen or brush; the denser the dots, the darker the apparent shade—or lighter, if the pigment is lighter than the surface.” Folks, we’re talking thousands upon thousands of dots to create one illustration. Thousands.

The cattleman loved the stippling style and asked her to replicate it on at least a dozen or more illustrations. She recalls being offered something like $300 for the project. Since we’re talking early 80s, I’m quite certain it wasn’t $300 per illustration. It was most likely that much for the entire portfolio of drawings. With dollars signs in her twinkling brown eyes, Sonya jumped into the project immediately.

It wasn’t long before I heard sailor-worthy words muttered from her bedroom studio, occasionally drowned out only by the never-ending tap-tap-tap of her trusty India-ink-filled Rapidograph pen. Night after night I would find her, mechanical pen in one hand, cigarette in the other, endless cups of coffee nearby, stippling into the wee hours of the morning—exhausted, hopped up on caffeine and almost losing her (creative) mind. The illustrations were wonderful and she did get paid. Afterward, check in hand, she vowed she would never stipple again, no matter what the compensation. I’m sure that, to this day, she still hears the tap-tap-tap sounds deep in her subconscious. In addition to the stippling method, I doubt that she is so fond of things bovine either.

Two years ago, Sonya was interviewed in a video by Roy Gatling and Austin-Artists.com. You can view that video, Saving the earth, one piece of art at a time, here. Roy Gatling is Senior Manager, Project Management at Dell and the husband of another of my college classmates, Maria Gatling, also an Austin artist. Roy and Maria are the co-founders of Austin-Artists.com and Austin-Architecture.com. Check out Maria’s self-published notebook and workshop titled, Be Inspired—Creative Something Every Day, here and her creativity blog here.

PHIL CHARLTON
Phil is a friend of Brian’s and a professional photographer in Austin. He specializes in architectural interiors, but shoots beautiful landscapes and fine art images as well. I especially love his images of Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas (at left). The chapel looks very much like Garvan Woodland Gardens’ Anthony Chapel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which I photographed a few years ago on a road trip with my friend Sue.

From Phil’s zenfolio site
(www.philcharlton.zenfolio.com):
I am a native Oklahoman with a Cherokee heritage. After graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1966 with a double major in math and physics, I moved to Texas where I entered the space industry at NASA. During my 17 years at NASA I worked in the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs designing and testing many systems essential to space exploration.

I left NASA for a second career in the computer business. I held positions at Compaq and Dell before taking early retirement. It was during my NASA years that a friend influenced me to buy a professional quality camera and that led to my current interest as a professional photographer.

My wife Amanda and I have lived in the Austin area for the past 18 years. We enjoy traveling the world and have visited many exotic locales such as Belize, South and Eastern Africa, United Kingdom, Peru, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, and Canada. The beautiful sites of these distant lands are inspirational to my photography.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





The Painting Years: Landscape with deer

30 12 2011

This was a 24×36 oil painting that I copied from a small postcard in Lila’s “morgue file.” (I don’t remember the original artist’s name.) I was immediately drawn to it because of all the blues and greens. It was a monumental undertaking because of all the details and all the color mixing. I most certainly didn’t complete this one in two Saturday sessions! I was so tired of it at the end that my father tried to bribe me with money to finish the deer in the background with more details. I had completed the one on the far right and was so exhausted that I just painted brown amorphous shapes in for the others! (Maybe one day I’ll surprise him and finish it. Hmph.) He just told me that this was yet another painting that Lila advised me against attempting. Well, except for not finishing the deer, I showed her, huh?





The Painting Years: Birds in flight

30 12 2011

Here’s another painting I copied while studying with Lila Prater in Weslaco, Texas. I was about 15 when I painted this 18×24 canvas.





Hallelujah light over the Blue Ridge Mountains

10 08 2011

Day trip 8.8.2011, going south on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, lovely weather (especially for August!), lovely sky (dramatic cloud formations and rays of light), and lovely company (Michael’s nephew Sean and his wife, Anna—visiting from Columbus, Ohio)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Cindy’s camera craftily captures clover–chewing cottontail

5 08 2011

This alliteration title is for my father (who helped craft it). I was able to get within five feet of this cottontail to get this shot at Green Spring Gardens.

Here are some facts I gleaned from www.bunnyhugga.com:

• Rabbits can’t see directly in front of their nose but can see behind them (to keep an eye out for danger approaching)

• Rabbits can sleep with their eyes open (a useful trick but disconcerting for us!)

• Rabbits noses twitch 20 to 120 times per minute (faster when excited or stressed and slower when relaxed or sleeping)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





American Goldfinch

25 07 2011

Finally—my first-ever shot of the elusive, quick-moving American Goldfinch (male), photographed at Green Spring Gardens yesterday morning. My friend Gina saw one of these in her garden yesterday too (perhaps he followed me home?) and thought for sure she had discovered something rare and exotic—much like a sighting of Bigfoot or even rarer, the Dodo bird. She even thought it was perhaps a flyaway pet looking for its home. That is, until she started a web search and learned what it really was. She was so excited doing the research that she is contemplating a career change from flight attendant to ornithologist. This morning her voice had morphed into that of the character Miss Jane Hathaway (the love-starved-pith-helmet-wearing-avid-bird-watching perennial spinster) from The Beverly Hillbillies. (P.S. I advised Gina to not quit her day job.)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Here comes Peter Cottontail…

12 07 2011

Photographed at Green Spring Gardens this evening

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Buffet line

5 07 2011

A Fiery Skipper butterfly patiently awaits its turn behind a Bumblebee on a Stoke’s Aster.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





From the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens archives…

29 06 2011

Since I didn’t get the photographic bounty I usually do at Kenilworth, I thought I’d repost images I’ve created in past years. Enjoy!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

KenilworthCollage2





Spent blooms

28 06 2011

In past years the Lotus flowers have bloomed just in time for the annual Water Lily Festival and Festival of Lotus and Asian Culture at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens on the third Saturday in July. This year the flowers, particularly the white variety, seem to have peaked much earlier than usual. Most are past their prime blooming stage, but there were lots of opportunities to photograph spent petals in those beautiful Lotus leaves! There are plenty of pink blooms that haven’t flowered yet, though, and there are several ponds that are chock full of beautiful magenta-colored water lilies. Click on the panoramic image below to enlarge for full effect!

The place was a flurry of activity this morning, with children on field trips and student volunteers doing everything from garden chores to turtle counting. They caught the turtles in nets, pulled them up, filed a notch in the shells of those that weren’t captured previously, then released them back into the ponds. Michael saw a foot-and-a-half-long snapping turtle pulled to the surface and then released. Before I knew they were doing the turtle counting procedure, I saw a four-inch-long Red-eared slider by the edge of one of the ponds and was able to get the “record shot” at right (definition of a record shot: certainly won’t win any awards, but they’re proof I was there!). We’re pretty sure the dent on his right side wasn’t the work of a turtle counter since Michael said they were making the file marks on the shells near the back of each turtle and the notches were very tiny.

As I was wrapping up my very brief photo session at the park (it was too sunny to shoot any winners; no clouds to help out, either!), I looked behind me on the path and saw something dark, shiny, at least four inches long, with lots of legs. My first thought was “very large spider!” I moved closer and saw it was a crayfish (crawfish or crawdad if you’re a southerner like me!), hanging out on dry land. I got this one (slightly blurry) record shot of him and he skidaddled (slowly and backwards) back into the nearby pond. It was officially my first crayfish/crawfish/crawdad sighting ever!





Male House Sparrow

12 04 2011

When I was sitting on our front porch photographing the potted Grape Hyacinths on Sunday afternoon, this little bird landed less than 10 feet away from me. I turned to get this quick “record” shot before it flew off. I did a bit of sleuthing and I think this bird is a male House Sparrow.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Move over, will ya?

6 04 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





The UT Turtle Pond

6 04 2011

Turtles bask in the reflection of the University of Texas Tower. The Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) and the Texas river cooter (Pseduemys texana) are common to waterways in central Texas and are also the two most common species in the UT Turtle Pond.

The semiaquatic Red-eared slider is a subspecies of the pond slider and is native only to the southern United States. It is the most popular pet turtle and as a result of pet releases, it has been established in other places. It gets its name from the red mark around its ears. The freshwater Texas river cooter has yellow and black markings and is native to creeks, rivers and lakes in Texas. They can grow to a shell length of 12 or more inches.

I knew that the University of Texas Tower was infamous because of the shooting rampage by sniper Charlie Whitman on August 1, 1966, but I didn’t know many of the details. Click here for trutv.com’s Lost Innocence, a chilling account of that day by author Marlee Macleod.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Signs of spring in dad’s backyard

6 04 2011

When I was photographing my niece Lauren wearing the necklaces (see previous post), we startled a tiny bird nesting in one of the hanging ivies on the back porch. I took a peek and noticed this perfectly-formed tiny nest with three little eggs. We don’t know what kind of bird she is—she’s very small, slimmer than a sparrow. The eggs have a slightly blueish tint and some dark speckles here and there. Any guesses? It’s not the best photo in the world (certainly won’t win any prizes), but I didn’t want to disturb the nest to get a better shot—I just held the camera up above the ivy and photographed it without looking. This is the best shot I got!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.