Gaillrdia- Arizona Sun

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Early one recent morning I took a walk around the neighborhood looking for flowers to photograph. I found a few patches of Gaillardia. I love the cone in the center with all that texture, and the bright colored pedals. Gaillardia-Arizona SunI spent a lot of time with these flowers. I shot it from several different angles, getting closer,

Gaillardia-Arizona Sunand closer,

Gaillardia-Arizona SunThis is my new favorite flower! I like it so much I’m going to purchase some and plant them in my yard, and hope they survive. I don’t have a green thumb.

Have a great week-end everyone!

Nikon Df| AF Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 micro| Hand-held| Lexar Professional Digital Film

Developed with CS6, Nik Viveza 2, and Nik Color Efex Pro 4


Birding with the Nikon Df

Copyright © Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

As I mentioned the other day I’m renting the Nikon Df for a week. I wanted to try the new lighter, smaller Full Frame camera while hiking, shooting landscapes, and night/low light photography.  Just to see how it handled I took it out birding yesterday morning. I was pleasantly surprised with how well it did.

This camera isn’t thought of as a Sports or Action camera, but I think it can handle itself with good timing, and technique in these venues.

Colors are truer with this camera. See how turquoise the Male Lazuli Bunting looks in the images below. This is how he really looks.

Lazuli Bunting-MaleCompare this top image to one I took of the Lazuli Bunting Male with my Nikon D700.

Lazuli Bunting-1st yr MaleThe sensor isn’t picking up the greens as well in the D700.

Here’s an image I captured of the Male Lazuli Bunting taking off from the snag using the Nikon Df.

The Dart Take off!Here’s one of a Violet-green Swallow Female taking off from its perch. She was fun to watch. She’s building a nest nearby this snag. She would fly around and around before landing on this perch or flying to the nest. She even buzzed just above my head a few times! I didn’t get too close, and tried to be still so not to upset her.

Violet-green Swallow-FemaleSwallows are so fast that I haven’t been able to capture one in flight. This take off shot really excited me. It’s a first for me.

The little House Wren made an appearance too.  Here it is singing its morning song.

House WrenDay 1 with the Nikon Df- I’m finding the camera responsive and fast enough. I’m the one that is slow. My index finger can’t find the shutter button without looking for it. The button is not where my finger is used to going, and the front wheel rotates in a completely different direction than what I’m used to as well so, I’m slower finding it and turning it, and of course I’m turning it in the wrong direction. Right now I have to take my eye off the viewfinder to find the dials I used the most, and it takes two hands to change the ISO dial. I wonder if one can do that one handed while looking through the viewfinder after having the camera for awhile?

A bigger issue for me is; I think my Auto-focus motor is going out in my 300mm f4 lens. For several months now while using it the Auto-Focus will just stop working. It’s done it on 3 cameras, and it’s getting harder to get to it to work doing the usual fixes- What usually works is turning off the camera and reseating the lens, but that isn’t always working now, and didn’t work at all yesterday.  I switched off Auto-Focus and shot in full manual. It’s tough to shoot Birds manually focusing. I missed a lot of shots!

I bought this lens used just about a year ago. I don’t know how old it is, but I have an idea based on the serial number. It’s probably close to 10 yrs old. If the previous owner used this lens as often as I do then it’s not surprising to me to have the Focus motor go out on the lens.

I packed up the lens this morning and shipped it to Nikon Service for repair.  I’m hoping it’s not too terribly expensive to repair. I would love to have it back in top shape in plenty of time for Fall/Winter birding.

I’ll leave you today with a Violet-green Swallow-Male saying, “I’m outta here!” 🙂 I believe he’s the mate to the female pictured above.

Violet-green Swallow-Male

More to come!

Nikon Df| AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4| Induro Tripod










Diablo Trails Challenge

Copyright © Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

A month or so ago I was inspired by my friend Anne to join her on Saturday April 19, 2014 in Walnut Creek, CA to participate in the Diablo Trail Challenge. It would be her Birthday and she wanted to do something fun and athletic for it. I read about the event and wanted to join her.   There were four events going on; a 50K, Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K.  Anne is a runner; she signed up for the 10K, and I hike/walk signed up to do the 5K. I thought we’d finish about the same time.

I asked He-Man if he wanted to do it with me and he said he would.

The Diablo Trails Challenge is a fundraiser to protect, restore  the land, trails, and build new trails. This event started and finished at Castle Rock Recreation Park in Walnut Creek, CA.

The whole event was really well-organized from start to finish. Overflow parking was at local High School. Since my event was last I knew parking in the park would be full, so I went straight to the High School where I found plenty of parking.

Free Shuttle buses were running continuously between the Park and High School.  There was a line for a shuttle bus when I got there, and Anne had sent me a text message telling me it took her awhile to get on a shuttle. The volunteers at the Shuttle bus waiting line were very “time” conscious . They walked up and down the line asking if anyone was doing the 10K?  If they found any they were quickly sent to the front of the line.

Once we got to the Starting area I found the check-in process well-organized and well manned. Then all we had to do was people watch while waiting for the 5K to start. As it got closer to the start time people started gathering near the Starting Line I went up in front and grabbed a quick photo.

4 Minutes til Start Time

Then I went to the back of the pack, raised the camera over my head and tried to capture the 5K pack-

Minutes before the Start of the 5K Save Mount Diablo Run April 1When the Gun went off to begin our event I crouched low and slowed my shutter speed to capture the motion of the runners/walkers feet-

They're Off!The trail started off on flat sandy/rocky soil then quickly we started going up.  Several men runners from earlier events passed us. About a half mile into the hike I saw a woman running down the hill wearing a 10K bib. She was the first woman we’d seen returning. She might have been the first place 10K woman.

First Woman I saw coming down the mountainThe trail was mixed terrain; flat and easy or rocky and tricky. The trickiest place was the creek we crossed.

There was big puddle  that was too deep to run/walk through so everyone went around it, which caused a bit of a bottle neck. We let returning runners/walkers come across first. There’s He-Man with his back to me in the blue T-shirt carrying a black camera bag.

5 Crossing the creek_4944We got to the 5K turn-around point but, I hadn’t seen Anne coming down yet so we decided to wait a bit for her. 8 minutes later Anne; the Birthday girl/woman turned the corner with a friend (Bill).

It's my Birthday!Anne and Bill left us shortly after saying Hello to keep their pace and time. We’d meet them at the Finish.

There were lots of cheering volunteers and staff along the trail. This man, a photographer, and female volunteer not shown were just past the 5K turn-around point where we waited for Anne.

Staff on the trail cheering on the runners_4950This couple was having a lot of fun, and look like they have plenty of energy to finish.

7 Man and Woman just past the 5K mark on their way down_4956a male runner on the way to the Finish Line- he might be a Half Marathon Runner.

8 Runner Male Will on the way down near 5K mark_4948Photographing the photographer

Photographing the Photographer_4961v2The Finish Line in my sights!

Nearing the Finish line

After crossing the Finish Line I collected my Finishing Metal, and T-shirt then grabbed a snack then we headed to the Shuttle.  I couldn’t find Anne to say Good-bye, and I didn’t have cell service, but tried sending her text message anyway. Anne found us in the Shuttle waiting line. We all left together. We all agreed it was a fun morning with great weather.  I’d do this event again. Maybe next time Baby Girl, and #1 Grandson will do it with us too.

All images taken with a Nikon D700 w/AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G  using Lexar Professional Digital Film, developed in Photoshop CS6



P52 14/52 Tunnel View in Golden Hour

Copyright © 2014 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

P 52 14 of 52 Tunnel View Golden HourI ventured North-east to look for Wildflowers  then went into Yosemite National Park to photograph the river, and waterfalls, but couldn’t be in the park and not go up to Tunnel View. I swung by here earlier in the day to see how it looked and thought it would be a good place to shoot the sunset since the clouds were getting thicker by the hour and by 3PM Half Dome was covered in clouds.

I made two images up here a cool version using my Singh Ray LB Color filter then removed the filter and made the warmer image you see here. I’ll share the cooler image soon since I like them both.

This is all the color we got this evening. More clouds rolled in obscuring the sun and blocking any more color. By 7:40pm I was in Pearl (my car) with the heater on thawing out my very cold fingers still hoping the color would come. There were only 3 photographers set up waiting and hoping outside on the observation deck; everyone else had left. Shortly after that all the color faded completely and He-Man and I headed home relaxed, and very content.

Nikon D700| AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm @ f11| 1/30s| ISO 200| Manual Priority| Matrix Met| tripod



Ruffled Feathers

Via Flickr:
Copyright © 2014 Deborah M Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Another Allen’s Hummingbird image I made last week-end. He has a little smudge on his breast that I’m tempted to clone out, but I also like him the way he is in his natural environment. What would you do clone it out, or leave it?

Nikon D300s| AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4 @ f8| 1/400s| ISO 500| Manual Priority| Matrix Met| Tripod| Santa Cruz, CA| Fine weather