Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

15 08 2012

Late this afternoon as I was heading out to run an errand, I just happened to have my Coolpix L110 around my neck and saw this Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris diffinis) fly past me. It landed on a Bearded iris leaf and stayed there for at least five minutes! I fired off a few shots from a distance of about two feet and then switched to macro mode on the L110 and moved in closer. I was able to shoot these from about seven inches away and the moth just stayed there, virtually motionless. I was able to knock off about 20 different shots (from directly behind the insect, then moving to capture a side view) until it flew away.

I’ve photographed this type of insect two other times (one in my garden here and one in Wisconsin here), but have never had one stop in one place. Before today, I had never been able to see the detail in the wings because they always seem to be in motion (much like a hummingbird, actually!). I would have preferred to diffuse the sunlight to lessen the harsh shadows, but sometimes you have to play the hand you’re dealt (or dance with the one what brung ya, or something to that effect).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Flowers in February?

7 02 2012

This afternoon I made a quick trip over to Green Spring Gardens to meet with one of the horticulturists to verify that I have all of my plant IDs correct (thanks for your assistance, Mary!). From my short walk through the parking lot to the Horticulture Center, I saw a few Daffodils (Narcissus), several clusters of Snowdrops (Galanthus) and a few types of Crocus (I think these are Snow Crocus).

I know it’s only February 6 and Punxsutawney Phil did “predict” six more weeks of “winter” last week, but I didn’t see much in the way of that season today at Green Spring Gardens! Not expecting to find anything to photograph, I didn’t bring my “big girl” camera, but I happened to have my Nikon Coolpix L110 in my bag and got a few shots of this flower cluster. The sight of flowers, however sparse, banished my SAD immediately!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Sue’s spectacular sunrise

27 01 2012

On our last night on the long road from San Antonio to Virginia, we spent the night with our friends, Sue and Steve, in Huntsville, AL. We arrived at Sue’s house at almost midnight and set the alarm to get up by 6:30. I really didn’t want to get out of that comfortable bed, but when I caught a glimpse of this gorgeous pink and yellow sunrise from the guest room window, I was propelled out of bed to get this shot. Who needs sleep when there are scenes to record like this?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Lake Lavon

27 01 2012

I shot this image of a part of Lake Lavon as we were leaving my younger sister’s home in Wylie, TX on Tuesday morning, en route from San Antonio back to Virginia. Despite recent rains, the lake is still 12 feet below normal. At its deepest, the lake is only 40-45 feet deep. The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) receives raw water supplies from Lavon Lake, Jim Chapman Lake, Lake Texoma, Lake Tawakoni, and Lake Bonham for treatment and distribution to the region served. The North Texas Municipal Water District serves hundreds of thousands of North Texans. Learn more about the effects of drought on Lake Lavon here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Kato in repose

8 01 2012

This is one of Brian and Shirley’s cats. Every time I came into the living room, he was sitting in some human-like position in this big chair, so I had an obligation to photograph him. In the top photo, all that’s missing is the remote control!

© Cindy Dyer. All right reserved.





Urban cowboy

8 01 2012

Presenting my father, a.k.a. the King of Texas

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Self portrait, Texas sky

7 01 2012

Photograph taken near the town of Poth in Wilson County, Texas

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Bowtie sky

3 01 2012

Originally posted 3.31.2009. While preparing for my photography exhibit, I came across this photo in my archives and thought I’d share it again. This image was shot off of I-95, just a few miles from home. As my regular visitors may have noticed, I am quite fond of photographing skies. Images like this are the reason that I always carry a Nikon Coolpix with me. I can’t always carry my pro gear on my daily jaunts, but the quality I get from this point-n-shoot is great!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

bowtiesky






Pixel spies his first moth

3 01 2012

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





The skies really are bigger in Texas…

28 12 2011

I discovered this one above the local Target store at 8:00 a.m. the day after Christmas and couldn’t pass it up!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Saturday sky

22 11 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Halloween sky

2 11 2011

Photographed with my Nikon Coolpix L110 near Ladysmith in Caroline County, VA on 10.31.2011; the leaves are just beginning to turn

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Barbara Garneau Kelley, Sneeze Guard Heiress

12 09 2011


Not many people are aware that Barbara Kelley, editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine and Deputy Executive Director of the Hearing Loss Association of America, is an heiress. This does not mean her bank account is brimming, but it does mean she has a rich and interesting family history.

Barbara shared her family history in a recent publication we worked on for her new venture (looks like she inherited her father’s entrepreneur genes!). Susan Parras, HLAA’s webmaster, told Barbara that a casting agency for the Next Food Network Star series was interviewing potential contestants in Washington, D.C. on August 8. Barbara has wanted to explore doing something fun with hospitality, cooking and entertainment, but hadn’t done anything with it until Susan’s announcement. With my help, Barbara switched into high gear and we prepared a four-page hospitality brochure/resumé as well as a food prep demo video to present to the casting agent.

The impromptu creative session was a good excuse to thoroughly clean my kitchen and get it ready to be a faux cooking show set. I did the video on my little Nikon Coolpix L110 and the results were pretty amazing considering the size of the camera and the fact Barbara performed unscripted, in one take, with no fumbled words! I was pretty impressed with her ad-libbing and ease in front of this (amateur videographer’s) camera. We plan to post it on youtube.com and link to her site soon.

The interview with the casting agent was scheduled for just four minutes long, but the ever-on-her-toes Barbara seized the opportunity to (hopefully) make a lasting impression with the agent. When the woman interviewing her said, “I would shake your hand, but I have a cold,” Barbara took this as her cue to reply, “On the subject of germs, I’m a sneeze guard heiress!” She proceeded to tell the agent about her father’s invention and the family’s background in the food and hospitality business.

In the photo above, Barbara was preparing an original sauce recipe containing tomato, basil (from my garden), garlic, olive oil and brie cheese. She prepared it and left it for me to use with pasta. It was delicious! You can find this recipe on her blog here.

Excerpted from Kelley Hospitality, a four-page promotional brochure that Barbara and I created in record time:

The Sneeze Guard Heiress: A Legacy of Hospitality
I am a sneeze guard heiress. You know the plexiglass thing that is required by law to be over salad bars and buffets? My dad, Johnny Garneau, invented that in 1959. That is my claim to fame. I am one of five kids who grew up with an inventor, entrepreneur, restauranteur, and germaphobic father—kind of like the dad in the movie, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

My Dad, Johnny Garneau
My dad is folklore. People are shocked to learn that Johnny Garneau was a real person, and that he is still alive and well and working at age 89. Johnny is a dreamer, entrepreneur and entertainer, and most of all a restaurant man. After the war (the big one, WWII), he sat on the bumper of his ’46 Chevy, slapped his hand on his knee and said to my mom, “I’m going to start a restaurant!” And, by golly he did—he opened The Beanery—with curb service and a menu consisting of hot dogs, burgers, fries and shakes in 36 flavors.

In the photo above, Johnny Garneau explains the procedures of his American-style smorgasbord to TV celebrity Jean Connelly of WTAE-TV Channel 4 in Pittsburgh, PA (1961).

The Sneeze Guard is Patented and a Baby is Born
Fast forward to the late fifties when he had successful smorgasbords throughout the Pittsburgh and Cleveland areas. He could not stand the sight of people grazing the buffet, sticking their noses into the food and breathing their germs over the delectables. He called his engineers and had them design the first sneeze guard, one of his many inventions. He received the patent the year I was born. He later went on to open a chain of Johnny Garneau’s Golden Spike Steak Depots in Pennsylvania and Florida.

Sell the Sizzle, Then the Steak!
Johnny was big on this. You get them in the door with your hospitality and presentation—then you sit them down to a good steak. This is how we grew up—making people feel welcome, putting out the best, and making them feel good about themselves. He was inducted into Hospitality magazine’s Hall of Fame in 1969 for outstanding achievements in the food service industry. I was lucky enough to grow up on the heels of this celebrated man.

In the photo above, Barbara (center) is selling drinks and baked goods alongside one of her sisters (who did not inherit the hospitality gene) and one of her brothers (whom she has banished to roast in the sun). Barbara’s other sister owns several restaurants in Florida, so she obviously has the hospitality gene!

While neither of us are sure whether that brief interview will result in her going to the next selection phase, it did spur her on to keep blogging. I helped her set up a blog in WordPress and I now see that I created a monster! She has taken to it like a duck to water and is now blogging regularly about feeding her family, creating new recipes and road trips that revolve around food. I warned her that from here on out, she would look at life and all her experiences as fodder for blogging. She is already making her husband and son wait until she photographs their plates before they can eat. I plan to give her lighting and photography tips to improve her food photography skills. Download the entire brochure in pdf format here: KelleyHospitalityBrochure

Visit Barbara’s hospitality blog at www.barbaragarneaukelley.com. Her latest post is chock full of recipes (Hot Maryland Crab Dip, Spicy Burgers, Melanie’s Peach-Blueberry Crisp, Bagkelley’s Summer Veggies, and Pale Summer cookies) for her second annual Burywood Boyz Fantasy Football draft party.

Barbara’s father didn’t stop at the Sneeze Guard (aka, the covered food service table), though. He also developed the Pretz Roll, a combination pretzel-bagel roll for use by United Airlines, institutions and large chain restaurants. Read more about Johnny Garneau and his inventions in the links below:

http://www.personal.psu.edu/cjg212/tof2000/theinventor.htm

http://www.livestrong.com/article/24876-sneeze-guard/

http://www.cookingjunkies.com/rec-food-cooking/re-baron-beef-pittsburgh-pa-21025.html





Not too shabby for a point-n-shoot, huh?

10 08 2011

Yesterday Michael and I took our guests out for their first vineyard/wine tasting experience and to see the Blue Ridge Mountains. Since I don’t drink, I wandered around the three different vineyards looking for things to photograph with my “baby camera,” the Nikon Coolpix L110. It has macro capabilities and this is really the first time I’ve used that feature since I bought it last year. I like to carry a small point-n-shoot in my purse at all times, and this is my fourth one—and by far my favorite. The Nikon Coolpix L110 has 12.1 megapixels, 15x optical zoom-Nikkor glass lens, 3 inch display, VR image stabilization, motion detection, 720p HD video recording with stereo sound, and can shoot up to 6400 ISO. The macro function gets you as close as 0.4 inches!

While Michael, Sean and Anna tasted wines, I stalked this Great Spangled Fritillary (Speryeria cybele) on the patio at Gadino Cellars in Rappahannock County, VA. The critter was quite focused on the task at hand, so I was able to get several decent shots using the macro function (and without a tripod, I still got a sharp image). I also recorded a short video of it with the camera (it won’t win any documentary awards, unfortunately), but it does show that with this little camera you get quite a lot of bang for your buck (under $300). I recommend it if you’re looking for something small that also has video capability—and the macro feature is pretty amazing, too!

UPDATE: My Hearing Loss Magazine editor, Barbara Kelley, was looking for a point-n-shoot recommendation and says the Nikon Coolpix L110 has been discontinued and is now replaced by the L120, which is 14.1 megapixels and has a longer zoom (21x). It’s available for about the same price ($279 at Target and on amazon.com).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.