New Year, New Toys

Santa was pretty good to me this year and I acquired a new DSLR for Christmas, the Nikon D5300.    Let’s just say it is a pretty significant upgrade from my Nikon D40x, which served me well.    So, it has taken a few weeks for me to get the hang of the new controls and software adjustments.

I went for a nature walk today with my family near my home and here are some of my results from the first photo walk with this bad boy.   I think you will agree that I am lucky in more than a few ways.   I live in an awesome area with beautiful blue skies, the Nikon captures that blue nicely and, more importantly, I have an pretty darn cool family that spoils me (and will let me drag them outdoors for fun with my camera).

This first image is completely SOOC (Straight Out of Camera):

wetland SOOC

I didn’t adjust these two much in post-processing but I think they all came out nicely.

slide mountain with trees     nature trail

The camera came with a kit 18-140mm VR lens that I am loving.   It is really nice.  The camera feels great, not too heavy.   Nikon added some ergonomic touches that really make the camera feel like part of your hand.   I love that.  On the technical side, I stayed in AUTO.  (I know, I know.)   I’m working on getting a better grasp of the focal points in the viewfinder before I worry about how to use the manual controls.   That’s a bigger goal for me this year — get out of AUTO and really figure out that whole exposure triangle.   I’ll post more about that later but, I will be heading back to school on this one.   Nikon School for me this summer!   I’m pretty excited about it.   Never hurts to learn something new!

Here’s one more from today … a full panorama of from Slide Mountain to Washoe City.   Boom.   Pretty stunning, huh?

washoe lake pano from wetlands

ABE, American Bald Eagle

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I finally shot a bald eagle!  OK, wait.   To clarify, I have been trying to get a photograph of an american bald eagle for years.   And, technically, I have about a dozen or so crappy, out of focus and from too far away to count as a real picture shots of bald eagles.   Even when I went to Alaska, I did not get a decent picture of this beloved bird.

Where did I shoot this one?   Nevada.   Ya, go figure.   Apparently, we have quite a few, though.   They like the kokanee salmon that spawn from Lake Tahoe through Thomas Creek.   They like to feast in the fields in the spring after the cows and sheep give birth.   They even like muddy, almost dry Washoe Lake State Park.   Have I ever seen a bald eagle during any of the photo trips that I have done over the past ten years?   Nope.    I saw one once while playing golf.   No camera, of course.

Today was my lucky day.   And, by luck, I mean I have been stalking this huge bald bird for weeks and missing it.   My husband, who doesn’t really take a lot of photos, sees the bird every day.   He calls me from the truck on his way to work to tell me all about it.   So, after many misses, I decided to leave for work a few minutes early and go the long way around the lake to get to my office.    Nope, not Lake Tahoe but Washoe Lake, Nevada.

you lookin at me

The weather has shifted and it was pretty cold this morning.   The fog curled around the south end of the lake, even though the water in the lake is very low.   It’s nearly dry, actually.   The lighting was horrible and the fog kept coming in and covering me in grey.  But, he was there.   My bald eagle.

And, I got him.

Getting ready ...

Getting ready …


Almost take-off

Almost take-off




I had to drive around and sneak up on him, trampling through the dirt and sagebrush in my work khakis.   But, I got him.   Oh, ya.   I was totally late for work, too.

Worth it.   I got my ABE.