Wild Weds. 11/52 En Media Res

Copyright © Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I went hiking both Saturday and Sunday hoping to find something interesting in nature as well as stretch my legs, but I hoped to see wildflowers. Saturday I saw flowering trees looking lush and pink in their full bloom and not much else in the way of flowers. I did see a pair of Does resting in the grass near the creek at the bottom of the trail.  I really do think Deer are my Spirit Animal.  He-Man and I stuck to the wooded area trails and did the steep switchbacks to gain some elevation.  We hiked over 2 miles and gained approx. 500ft in elevation.  I also rode the Fit Desk for 4 miles on Saturday which did not burn off nearly enough calories! 😦

On Sunday I proposed a different route that would take us along meadow and grassy trails, but still be hiking uphill, and if I didn’t run out of steam I’d even go up the wall.  Our mileage wouldn’t much  over two miles, but the elevation gain would be close to 600 ft having to go uphill to the top of the mountain/hill then down to the valley and back up the steep hill, and WALL then down the back hill to the car.

I saw several wildflowers in  bloom, there were fiddle necks, Hounds Tooth, Pacific Pea; Lupine; and a few others, but the best came when hiking up the hill leading to the WALL.

He-Man was well ahead of me because I kept stopping to photograph flowers, new pine-cone buds, a lizard in camouflage or so it thought,  so I was making tracks trying to catch up before he hit the WALL- which is the last section of this hill, but it’s nearly vertical.  I’m not kidding it’s really steep.  The grade must be 9 or 10%. Everyone calls it the Wall.  Thankfully it’s fairly short from there to the top.

Anyway, I was looking high, low, and sideways for flowers, birds, insects, etc, and in a thicket of dry and dead thistle or teasel I spied something like leaves, and kept going up the hill a few steps then my brain said, ” uh, no there shouldn’t be leaves  like that on those, back up!” So, I did and look what I saw when I really looked at it!  A pair of Silvery Blue Butterflies en Media Res!

Silvery Gray Butterflies en Media Res 2


I have never seen this type of Butterfly before and never in this position! I was so thrilled and excited; doing my happy dance!

The Silvery Blue is in the Gossamer-Wing Family.  Its habitat is varied but, not in deserts, but there is an exception as they are found in the Mohave Desert.  They are found where there are Lupine, Pea family, and Vetches. All of which were present when I saw these two.  Their season here is Feb- Aug.

He-Man missed it completely. 😦  I was tired and running out  of gas so took the cutoff right before the wall so, gained a little more mileage, but a wee bit less elevation. Next week I’ll take my hiking poles and claim the Wall again! 🙂

I was so grateful to have seen this. I’m still Wowed by it!

I’ll share some of the wildflowers in future posts.

Happy Hump Day!

Nikon D810| Nikkor 105mm @f/5.6| ISO 400| 1/1250s| Handheld

more to come…


Wild Weds. 6/52 Fungi

© 2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

While hiking to stretch my legs I spied two different types of Wild Mushrooms.

I have no idea what their names are. Since I have no knowledge of which ones are harmless ~vs~ those that are deadly I have a healthy respect fear of them in the wild.

Aside from photographing them that is.  They make wonderful subjects for macro/close up imagery.

I think these are in the Shelf Mushroom family. I liked the big one on top that looks like a fan.  The stripes had a greenish/gray hue that I liked.  I spied them growing on a fallen log just off trail.

Shelf Mushrooms

These  Brown ones below were growing under Valley Oaks among the fallen leaves and twigs.  I laid down on my stomach to see if I could spy any Fairy Folk, but they must have known I would do that and scattered among the leaves and debris. Sadly, I didn’t spy one. Not one! 😦

Wild Brown Mushrooms

I was hiking with a new lens.  I’ve longed for a replacement lens for my very old 28-105mm Nikkor lens.  Nikon replaced the 28-105mm with an AF-S 24-120mm f/4 VR lens in 2003. That version doesn’t get good reviews . I didn’t upgrade to that one since my old 28-105mm was better.

In 2010 Nikon improved the  Af-S 24-120mm f/4 VR adding VR II, better lens coatings, and some other things so it’s sharper at the wide end, and the long end: that version is still sold new today.  It’s well liked, at least a lot better than the first version was.  It’s the lens I replaced my 28-105mm with.  I’ve had it now about a month, and I like it. I’ve wanted a lens a bit wider, and longer for a long time for a walk-around/hiking lens.  My lens as you can imagine is old. Nikon hasn’t supported it for a long time now so should it break finding parts is going to be really hard, and finding somewhere to fix it might prove just as hard.  Replacing it has been on my mind for several years.

Just after the Holidays Nikon  had a sale on their Refurbished lenses and the AF-S 24-120mm f/4 G ED VR II was on the list.  The price was right…  so, after stalling and/or balking on the purchase for several years I finally pushed the “buy” button.

Early impressions are good.  I think I’m going to be able to live with this lens for many years.  At least as many as I have the old 28-105mm lens.

Of course cameras improve with every new version released which can make the lenses of yesterday and today redundant in resolving power.  Which is what I faced with my 28-105mm. It isn’t as sharp on my Df as it was my D700. When I upgraded the D700 to the D810 which has 36 mega pixels ~vs~ 12mp I was afraid my old lenses wouldn’t resolve on it well.   Reviews since have proven that. 🙂 I haven’t even tried my old 28-105mm on it since it’s not quite as sharp on the Df at 16.2 MP.  I’m keeping it to use on my Df though. Just a little added sharpening and contrast is all it needs on that camera.  I LOVE my Df. I think I should have just bought another one of those, but that’s another post.

Too much gear talk?  I’m wild about gear. I could talk about it all day…well not all day, but for a good while! 🙂  Anyway, because I was testing out the lens at this stage I wasn’t carrying my Canon 500D Close-Up lens, or a macro lens. I wanted to see just how close I could focus with this lens, and find out how the images look.

They’re not bad. If I had carried my tripod they probably would be better, but since it was quick “stretch my legs” hike I didn’t carry it.

I am now looking forward Spring when I’ll be carrying my close-up lens with me everywhere to see how much closer I can get, and get really close. 🙂

I’m so excited for the possibilities this lens brings me when opportunities arise in the Spring, and using my LensBaby lenses, and Macro Lens.  It’s so hard for me to pick a favorite lens. I love every lens I own.  I don’t know how I would ever be able to pick just one! I’d need at least 3 to be truly happy.

What about you, could you live happily with just one lens? Do you use one lens 90-100% of the time? What lens would you choose if you could only have one?

Nikon D810| Nikkor 24-120mm| SanDisk Digital Film| PS CC 2018

more to come…


Views from the Trail

Copyright © 2017  Deborah M. Zajac   ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I thought I’d share with you some recent images from the trail.  The clouds were gorgeous, and the deer were too, and I loved the Oaks that lined the trail a little bit more than usual on this morning hike.

I was on the way down here. The view is looking at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay Area. The white teeth like structure left of center near the water is Shoreline Amphitheater, and moving to the right are the hanger of Moffet Field looking small from up here.  The mountains in the distance is the Diablo Range.

View of the Pennisula from the Trail

Autumn was on display.  Even dying I thought the blossoms were pretty.

Naturally Dried_IMG_7872


I think this is a Coyote Bush. It goes all Fuzzy this time of year.

Trail Fuzzies

Liquid Amber Leaves in Fall

The trail…

Lined with Oaks

The Toyon are full of red berries this time of year…

On the Trail_IMG_7864

and the wildlife… I saw a young Buck, a Doe, and some wild turkeys along with the usual suspects; squirrels, and birds.  This pretty doe was in the front yard of home when I was headed up hill along the road to the trail-head.


I made two short videos. One of the Buck, and the other of the wild Turkey’s.

Here’s the video to the Buck.  I dislike my voice in this video, but can’t figure out how to mute it so no one has the option to hear it. 🙂 I couldn’t upload the video directly from my computer, so had to put it up on YouTube.com for you to see.

I hope you all have a lovely week-end and your views where ever they are are wonderful.

iPhone 7 Plus| PS CC 2018

more to come…

This and That

Copyright ©2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I didn’t get out too much this past week-end unfortunately,  my original plan to shoot the night sky Saturday fell apart. So I had a Plan B, but that fell apart too. (sigh) Plan A got cancelled due to all the smoke in the air from the Detwiler Fire burning near and around Mariposa, and Yosemite NP.  As I write this 76,000 acres have burned.  Evacuation orders have been lifted in some areas, but Firefighters are saying it may take up to two more weeks for the fire to be fully extinguished.  It’s so sad!

Plan B was scuttled when a friend had to change plans, and I didn’t want to be alone so I stayed home and painted a bit.

Before all that happened my Archive Drive crashed Thursday and Saturday afternoon we were still recovering images and documents from our back-up drive, and cloud service. I can’t tell you how scary that is to think thousands of images made over the course of many years may be lost!  I’ve got them all back, but my external drive is full no doubt due to the huge 36mp files of the D810 so, we bought a new external drive which should be here this week. Then I’ll have my stuff backed up two places, have room to grow, and feel much, much better!

Saturday evening I pulled out an old book I have by Ferdinand Petrie, called Drawing Landscapes in Pencil and stayed up late to practice some drawing then I added some watercolor to it.  Wanna see? If you follow me on Instagram you’ve already seen this. 🙂

I had some new watercolor paper to try too. It’s by Legion papers called Stonehenge Aqua. I like it. There’s not much blooming or bleeding, and the colors look wonderful on it to me.  It’s got some tooth, but not as much as Arches cold press paper. I prefer the smoother hot press papers, so this paper just might be the perfect balance for me.

Ranch Watercolor

Sunday He-Man and I rose early to get on the trail early; we were extending our route and wanted to beat the heat. It was going to be in 90’s again Sunday. We were on the trail just before 7am.  There were quite a few cars already parked near the trail-head when we arrived.  A lot of others had the same idea to beat the heat and get an early start.  We parked at the bottom of the mountain, and planned to  hike up into Fremont Older an Open Space Preserve.

There are a few options to get up there; the most popular routes are:  take the road all the way up to stage 3 of the Parker Ranch Trail system and hike the rest the way up via the trail, or do what we did and walk along the road to Stage 1 of the trail, then you come out on the road again for a bit then catch Stage 2 which is the toughest bit with some switchbacks at an 8% grade.  I was huffin’ and puffin’ going up those. At the top of those you meet Stage 3 of the trail.  There are two sets of switchbacks on this part of the trail, but they aren’t nearly as steep as Stage 2’s.

When we crossed into Fremont Older Open Space Preserve we hiked up to the top of the Toyon Trail then turned around to head back. We altered our route on the way back by bypassing the Stage 2 part and chose a different section of the trail that meanders through an Oak grove, and you climb another steep hill to meet the road. We walked down the road to Stage 1 of the trail and  caught the road back to the car. Phew! Hope that makes sense! Here’s a screen shot of my route from my Garmin Edge 500.

Morning Hike Route Saratoga

He-Man’s not as fast as he was going downhill since his Patella Tendon ruptured nearly 3 yrs ago so, if my time looks slow…it is. When I’m heading down at my normal pace I get way ahead of him so, I turn around a go back until I see him. I get some extra steps that way too. 🙂

There was a lot of fog and, we’re getting some smoke from the fire up here. Here’s one image from the trail. I took this with my iPhone. I went gear light today.

View North from the trail

The faint peak in the fog and smoke on the right might be Mt. Diablo at  (3,889 feet (1,185 m)) high.  The highest hilltop on the left is Hunter’s Point in Fremont Older Open Space Preserve.

We hiked 4.34 miles,  gained 827 ft in elevation, and were back in the car headed home by 8:55am! Not too bad.

We spent the afternoon looking at Loveseats, and bought two. Our current two are really beat up and have needed replacing for over a year, but with a 4 yr old at home we put it off for as long as we could stand it.  Now we’re excited for the new ones to arrive!

That was my week-end. I hope you all had a lovely week-end and got to have a bit of fun, and relax so you’re ready for the week ahead.  I hope it’s a great week for us all!

iPhone 7 Plus| PS CC 2017

more to come…

What’s Blooming?

Copyright ©2016 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

White Yarrow- from a quick hike Sunday morning. I went early while the wind was calm. I was the only person on the trail both going and coming. It was wonderful having the hills to myself for just a little while.

White Yarrow Image

Nikon Df| Nikkor 28-105mm + Canon 500D Close-Up lens| Delkin Digital Film

More to come…



Sunset on Mt Diablo Range

Copyright © 2016 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I went for a short hike Sunday evening with friends, and found it super cold and windy up in the mountains above the valley floor.  There were so many beautiful wildflowers up there, but it was so windy I only made a few images of flowers. Macro photography and wind just don’t play nice with each other.

Nothing to do then, but find a composition and wait for Golden Hour, and hope that the clouds that rolled in don’t block up the sun and we get some color.

My fingers got so cold I couldn’t feel the heat from my hand warmers, and I was having trouble feeling my shutter button. After Golden Hour myself and a friend called it and started back down the hill to the car.  About halfway down the colors in the sky popped. I had to stop to photograph it.

Landscape Photography

I hiked down pretty fast after the sun sunk behind the mountains, and once in my car I cranked the heater as high as it would go, and waited for another friend who drove up with me. She and several others braved the cold and wind further up the trail.

I’m glad I didn’t hike back to the car earlier. I would have missed this!

Nikon Df| Nikkor 17-35mm| Delking Digital Film| Tripod| PS CC 2015 & On1 Photo 10| Single exposure

More to come…



Monochrome Madness 2 33/52

Copyright ©2015 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

So, WP has changed the layout and look of posting, and adding images is different. I’m  kind of struggling through the new changes. Was there a memo about the changes? I missed it if so.

For this week’s MM2; and I’m really late posting mine this week! Is another image from my hike up Slacker’s Ridge Trail. This image I made during the Golden hour before the mad rush of people headed out of the headlands, and into the city for dinner, shows, and general Saturday night Merry Making. 🙂

MM2 33 of 52 San Francisco Bay from Slacker Ridge Trail

Okay. Inserting my image went well this time. I didn’t have to delete it and try again! YEAH! “)

To see all the images posted this past week click here.

Nikon Df| Nikkor 24-70mm| Hoodman STEEL Ultra High Speed Digital Film| CS6 & Silver Efex Pro

More to come…