Would you rather take pictures or be in pictures?

I’m old school. I’m not into selfies or being in photos. I am what I am but what I’ve become is a fat, wrinkled, butt ugly old man.

Where do you like to vacation?

I’m retired. That means I’m on a lifelong permanent vacation. If you mean where would I like to travel for a visit I’d say San Francisco. I really enjoyed my short stay there in 2010 and would love to have two weeks there with lots of money.

If you had to describe your day as a traffic sign, what would it be?

No passing allowed. I’m tired of speeders and people in a hurry in general.

List at least five favorite first names.

Wilfred, Gertrude, Bob, Tom, Dick, Harry

Flower Of The Day: Canna Lily

The flower photo below was taken just the other day at the Oregon Zoo. This year’s batch of Canna lilies is a vibrant orange that quite a challenge to photograph well. Certain colors are just too bright and monochromatic to bring out good detail. I really had to work on this photo to bring out as much as I did.

Canna Lily #34

An Old Kitty

I’m beginning to feel like our eldest big cat at the Oregon Zoo, long in the tooth. I know many would say I’m only 66 and still have a long life ahead of me but I’m beginning to feel my age in more ways than just my physical condition. With my need to move again in the next 6 months I’m really getting tired of having to move so much. This will be the 6th time in ten years I’ve had to relocate, mostly because of money.

Poor Mikhail lost his twin sister last year to old age. He remains but is 16 years old himself. That’s a ripe old age for a very big kitty. I’m sure this record heatwave we’ve had this summer hasn’t helped him one bit.

Mikhail On The Ledge

Long Term Love Affair: Fuji X-E1

It’s been awhile since I made the move from Nikon DSLRs to the Fuji X Mirrorless System. I wanted to get back to a rangefinder style camera that I so loved in the days of 35mm Film cameras. My Yashica Electro 35 GT was my very first camera. I purchased it while stationed at Misawa Air Force Base in Misawa, Japan. It had a feel to it in my hands that just fit. The controls back then were all fully manual. There was no such thing as Auto-focus or Auto-exposure. There was no image stabilization, Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority. You were lucky if you had a light meter built into the camera. What you did have was a camera that took really good quality pictures when combined with your knowledge of the camera’s features and your expertise in composition & light. Film speeds were very limited to ASA 25 Kodachrome slide  film, ASA 100 Kodacolor print film and a few European films like Ilford and Fujicolor. Then there was ASA 100 PanX and 400 ASA TriX Kodak B&W film. That was it.

But you know, that was all you needed if you knew what you were doing. Most of the time you didn’t even need a light meter because you got  good at judging the available light and adjusting your shutter speed and aperture accordingly.

Now, with digital photography, the new folks you meet in photographic forums are spoiled stupid. They whine about every little feature that doesn’t do everything for them. Buy a lens without image stabilization? No way! They’d rather pay twice as much for the latest version that has VR (vibration Reduction). Thank you rookies! I’ll buy the non-VR lens and save a bundle because my hand holding technique is solid out of habit so I don’t need Image Stabilization.

When the Fuji X-E1 was introduced I had already been using Sony’s NEX-5N mirrorless changeable lens camera. It had a 16 MP APS-C sensor and took great pictures. I only had 3 lenses at the time I sold the Sony to my best friend, Warren, and used the money from the sale of my D800 & D7000 Nikon DSLRs combined with the cash I got for my Sony kit to buy the Fuji gear with 5 lenses. A year later the X-E1 was replaced with the X-E2 and I picked up my 2nd X-E1 chrome body for $450. I slapped a 27mm F/2 pancake lens on my chrome body and my favorite 55-299mm F/3.5-4.8 zoom on the black body that also had a Really Right Stuff L=Plate with grip for extra stability with the bigger lens. Voila! The perfect camera kit. My Think Tank Retrospective 20 and Really Right Stuff Mirrorless Movers bags kept my load lightweight and protected. I’ve added two Mefoto small and medium tripods to supplement my bigger Manfrotto gear and I’m ready for anything. This gear will last a lifetime.

Now, about the quality of the pictures taken with a Fuji X-E1, I’ve never seen better shots from anyone shooting with anything. That includes my top of the line Nikon D800. The Fuji X Trans-sensor has no  moire filter between the subject and the sensor. There is no mirror and there is no prism. The light travels straight from the subject to the sensor. This makes shooting in very low light a piece of cake. If your eye can see it this camera can capture it. The pictures are scary sharp.

The one thing I love the most about the Fuji X-E1 camera is that it keeps my eye on the subject at all times. The critical adjustments are ergonomically laid out so well that you seldom, if ever, find yourself needing to look at the camera’s menus. All important information is displayed on the 3″ LCD or in the EVF. I am in love with the Fuji X-E1s.

Two Fuji X-E1s

Fuji X-E1 & 27mm

Zoo Visitor Waits In His Chariot

This little boy seemed so well behaved and so patient as we all waited this morning for the zoo gates to open at 9:00 a.m. sharp. I took advantage of my zoo connections to walk in the off and promptly be handed my ticket without even asking. At 5 minutes before 9 I exited that office out the back door that leads to the ticket taker entrance after the main gates are open. I beat the rushing crowd by 5 minutes. I took the time to say hello to my friends, the ticket takers. I’m just good old Bob to them and they always seem glad to see me. I go to the zoo about 150-200 times a year.

The little boy in this photo didn’t seem overly excited about anything. He just sat back and took all that was going on in stride. With my 200mm lens onboard my Fuji X-E1 it was simple to take this shot from across the courtyard.

Boy With Red Bottle

A Beautiful Flower Panel

It’s a term I just invented, a flower panel. There’s simply so much going on with this photo that I find it enjoyable just to let your eyes roam. There’s one sharp blossom, the main subject, that follows the rule of thirds for composition sake. The rest of the blossoms surround that one sharp subject and contribute beautiful pink coloration to the entire frame, ie. panel. I love the soft muted background of warm colors that go well with the bright pink blossoms. All in all I’d love this sort of “panel” framed and hanging on one of my walls. I think something large, like a 20″x30″ high gloss print would be nice. It would be best suited if printed on a metal sheet that has the heaviest gloss finish and makes the colors pop off the page. I’m dreaming of course as I don’t have the money for such an extravagant display. The flower species is a Gaura or beeblossom.

Delicate Pink Flowers #2

Predatory Birds

I managed a zoo visit today before the heat set in. We actually caught a light sprinkle and an overcast sky so here we are at 1:00 p.m. and it’s not even 80 yet. We topped out at 100 yesterday and 102 Friday. My knee did really well today after giving it a day off yesterday, I’m still work toward Saturday’s Renaissance Festival in Washington.

I was lucky to stumble across a 10:00 a.m. bird show at the zoo that showed 3-4 oredator birds in our zoo collection. There were two owls, a buzzard and some prey birds for a comic relief. Three ducks raced around a track to get to food at the finish line. It was hilarious see them actually lean into the curve to keep their momentum. I managed to capture the birds shown below. The buzzard flew so low to the ground it startled viewers in the stand. What a magnificent flying machine.

Owl #3

Buzzard #1

Flower Variations

I’ve had to do a lot of digging online to discover the variations between flower species. When you say that a flower is part of the sunflower family that’s like saying a trout is a fish. It’s too generalized. I’ve photographed a number of flowers at the Oregon zoo that are all Rudbeckia. Depending on the actual flower that may be a “Black Eyed Susan”, (Rudbeckia Hirta) or a Rudbeckia Hirta Irish Eyes (Rudbeckia Gloriosa) or a cone flower. I’m no botanist but I can certainly see a huge difference between the four yet there are similarities. Sunflower, Irish Eyes, Black Eyed Susans, cone flower, it gets kind of complicated.

The other thing that’s maddening is that should you google images of any of these names all three varieties will be shown in that same collection. Again, the look vastly different from each other yet are clumped together but with different names. If there are any botanists reading this please enlighten us about this mystery.


Sunflower 2

Rudbeckia Gloriosa Irish Eyes

Rudbeckia #7

Black Eyed Susans

Black Eyed Susans In The Sun

Cone Flower

Cone Flower #9

Scientific Mumbo Jumbo


I Really Like This One

The photo below was taken today as an afterthought while buying some fresh vegetables and fruit from the Jim Dandy Farm Market. This heat wave we’re in right now isn’t helping the potted flowers at the market at all but I did spot this collection of curious flowers hanging in baskets outside the store in the shade. I’ve never seen anything like them but they were a very interesting variety.

Thingy # 21