Zoo babies

I was driving past our local zoo today and decided to stop in for a couple of hours. It was sunny and warm and many of the animals were hiding out in the shade, but I was rewarded by two cute babies that I hadn’t seen on my last visit.

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This cariboo calf clearly isn’t a brand new baby, with those little antlers so prominent, but it was new to me. It was hiding behind its mother, not moving around much, and then it lay down. I was hoping it would be more interested in playing. There was also a very tiny calf there but it was sound asleep and barely moved a muscle the whole time I watched.

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This little muskox calf really caught my fancy…such a cute and energetic little bundle of hair. On my last visit, only one muskox was out grazing, with no sign of a calf. I’d only managed to get a couple of shots of the muskox family before capturing this image, and then one of the zoo staff showed up to feed them, so both adults and the calf moved into the paddock area which killed my muskox photo ops for the day. I really liked the later afternoon light today, especially at the flamingo compound, but visiting during feeding time didn’t work out so well for photographing some of the animals.

More zoo pictures to come.

 

What’s that human going to do…?

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What's that human going to do...?

The neighbors want to get rid of them, but we like them: there’s a family of raccoons that lives in one of my landlady’s trees in the back yard. Every year sees a new crop of babies. They play on the back lawn at night, rummage through the compost, and occasionally rummage through my plant pots, but they don’t bother us otherwise. They are so cute to watch!

Here we see Mother Raccoon watching me intently while she’s waiting for Offspring #s 2 and 3 to catch up before everyone bolted up the tree. I was out in the backyard photographing one of the cats when the family returned along the top of the fence from an early morning sortie, and my presence totally freaked out the kits. Mother Coon was bristling with anxiety while she herded her brood to safety, even though I barely moved…just sitting quietly and watching them from the middle of the lawn.

Annecy, France

While I was in France last winter, I visited lovely Annecy. Everyone told me how beautiful it is in summer, when there are colorful flowers everywhere, but even in winter I thought it was lovely. And unlike during the summer, there were no throngs of tourists blocking the view! This is a street leading into the well-known medieval Old Town.

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Next up is the Canal du Thiou, looking towards Lake Annecy, with the Palais de l’Isle on the small triangular island in the middle of the picture, the skinny pink building is the back of it. The Palais was built in the 12th century, and over the centuries has served as lordly residence, courthouse, mint and prison. I think it’s most well known as “the old prison.” I can imagine the cells must have been horribly dank and cold in the winter… I’ll include images of the front view in another post. I’m going back to France later in the summer, and I’m sure I’ll be revisiting Annecy to see her in all her summer glory. And of course that means more photos!

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We were lucky with the weather the day we were there. It had snowed the night before, not in town but in the surrounding area, and the storm clouds were threatening but we didn’t get rained on, and we had the sun peaking through every now and then.

 

Woodland butterfly

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Woodland butterfly

I’m not very familiar with butterfly identification, but from what I can find online, I think this is probably a satyr comma butterfly.

I’ve been interested in intentionally blurred images for a couple of years now, and was playing around with some today. Some of them I do in camera, others in post-processing.

Changing the subject…

I’m going to take a break from beach pictures for the moment.

Last winter I spent some time visiting family in France, near Geneva, Switzerland. I knew l’d be wanting to photograph everything in sight, and I also knew there would be times when I wouldn’t want to be lugging my heavy camera around with me, so before I left I expended considerable effort researching a decent point-and-shoot that wouldn’t totally overwhelm my budget. Image quality was uppermost in my mind however, and I thought I had succeeded in finding a Canon that seemed acceptable, and since it was on sale, it also squeaked in at the top end of my price range.  It went to Europe with me unused, and altho I didn’t have my computer with me for post-processing, I could tell as soon as I could get a glimpse of them on a borrowed computer that the quality of the images just wasn’t up to my expectations. I didn’t realize how bad they were until I got home and downloaded them all onto my computer. For this pixel peeper, they were all but unusable for any serious reproductions. To make matters worse, the week before I returned home, I slipped and fell and couldn’t save the (uninsured) camera as I went down. It ended up with a chunk out of the lens, so I couldn’t even sell the wretched thing once I got home.

But oh, I do love my NIK software, and last year I also learned how to make and use textures in my images to create digital art, so guess what is happening to all those images that don’t cut it as straight photos… Yes, I get to practice with all of them.

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Double click on the image for a larger view. It looks much better.

My favorite photographic subjects are animals, but while I was in Europe I just went nuts with all the old buildings and narrow cobbled streets.

This is the Chateau d’Étembieres (where are the other accents on my keyboard??), a fortified house that was built in the late 13th century and changed hands a number of times due to politics, assassinations, and whathaveyou. Damaged by fire in the late 16th century, it was quickly restored due to its important location as a fortification. It’s situated at the base of the Saleve in the Haute Savoie in France, overlooking Geneva, Switzerland. Today it’s a working farm.

After making basic adjustments to contrast, etc., I ran the image through NIK Color Efex Detail Extractor and then applied several texture layers. The original was a jpeg.