Denise Goldberg's blog

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Blue sky, and then...

Today was a day when the weather wizard got the better of me.

I rolled out on my bike under blue skies studded with white clouds. But - uh oh! what's that dark gray spot? The forecast called for thunderstorms in the afternoon, it was still morning, and most of the sky was inviting. So - I chose to ignore the gray patch. As you'll soon see, that wasn't a very good idea.

Pedals turning, wheels rolling, I was a short 2 miles from home when I started feeling raindrops. Rain, light rain, getting heavier, heavier...

I stopped, waited for traffic to clear, then turned toward home. That was apparently a signal to the weather wizard, and water stopped falling from the sky. What to do, what to do? I was damp but not totally soaked. The temperature was quite warm, so I decided to turn around again and continue my loop.

It stayed dry for a bit. Then the rain started. It wasn't too heavy. It was still OK for riding, but I cut may planned loop a bit short and headed towards home - just in case. Closer, closer, closer still... the rain started to get heavier. Oh! The skies have opened up. Waves of rain, harder, harder. It was getting difficult to see, but I was within a quarter of a mile of home. I pushed on.

Home again...

Do you want to know how much water there was? I took my cycling shoes off to find a puddle inside!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Birds? Hiding!

I headed out seeking birds, but the birds apparently didn't want to play today. They were hiding in the trees, chirping, singing, not making it easy to capture them with my camera.

There were other living creatures who were happy to pose though...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sparkling moving water

Sunshine drew me outside this morning, two wheels rolling, no destination in mind... The sight of flowing water in a park in the center of Lawrence called out to me, a fascination with flowing water made me stop.

Did you know that Robert Frost lived in Lawrence, Massachusetts when he was young? This wonderful fountain, perhaps a form of poetry in water, wears his name.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Kaleidoscope, a continually shifting pattern of shapes and colors...

Life is a sort of a kaleidoscope, isn't it? It occurred to me recently that my photo galleries are another sort of kaleidoscope, ever changing. While I know where I stashed the latest photos, I suspect that the people who wander there may not know where to go to find the latest additions.

I've added a new page, accessible via the Kaleidoscope menu entry, that is intended to highlight new and changing galleries. There are also links from that page to "maps" of my cycling and hiking trips.

I plan to update this page on a regular basis. Galleries that are highlighted on this page are each represented by a single (changing) photo. Clicking on the photo will take you to the gallery.

Enjoy! And I'm sure you'll let me know if you see room for improvement, won't you?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Do you want to pose for me?

One more toy jumped into my camera bag this week, a Kenko 1.5x Tele-converter, for use with my new telephoto zoom lens. Adding the teleconverter to my 70-300mm lens gives me a one and a half times boost, allowing me to get closer to the wonderful creatures I encounter without stepping closer and invading their territory.

I headed out seeking birds, and hoping to capture some of those fast moving chipmunks and red squirrels too. I could hear the birds, but most chose to stay hidden. Most, but not the bird posing below, who was scampering across a field, shrieking, following its partner, scurrying. At first I didn't know who this was, but it didn't stay a mystery for too long. (An email from Stephen from Australia pointed me in the right direction, to the plovers page of a bird book.) It appears that my mystery bird is a Killdeer. Here's the description from my bird book:


The common noisy breeding plover of the farm country. Note the two black breastbands.

Voice: Noisy; a loud insistent kill-deeah, repeated; a plaintive dee-ee (rising). Also a low trill

No chipmunks, no squirrels, but the rabbits were happy to pose. Fun!

I'm having a great time playing with my camera. I hope that the wonder of capturing beautiful but fleeting moments never goes away.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Blue?, blue, is my world blue?

As I look at things with my eyes, my world sports what I would consider to be normal colors. But as my camera has been viewing things over the past couple of weeks, the world wears a tint of blue. Is that because I've been playing with a new lens on my camera? But the hues in the pictures I shot last Friday were consistent - and I used two different lenses. So it's definitely not the lens.

Ah, it must be the camera. I looked for hints of what would cause a blue tint to photos, and oops! it was a camera setting that some silly photographer (yes, me!) left on my camera. The white balance setting was totally wrong. I thought maybe I had the white balance set for a sunny day and I was shooting under cover of clouds, or on a sunny day in the shade of trees. That was close, but the setting was actually worse than that. Somehow, someday, I had apparently set the white balance to custom. Now that's a really bad choice if the meaning of custom isn't also indicated to the camera - and the day I inadvertantly set white balance to custom had totally different lighting conditions than my "camera days" over the past two weeks. I rode my bike to work today so exercise after I returned home was somewhat over the top. But - I needed to verify that my guess was right, so as soon as my bike and I rolled home, I grabbed a quick snack, my camera, and my walking shoes and headed out to play.

The answer? Yes, it absolutely was my brain-cramped white balance setting that was causing the blue tint. New photos carried reality in them, and I spent the evening fixing the photos that I'd taken over the past two weeks.

The good thing about this exercise is that I think (I hope) it will be a very long time before I forget to adjust the white balance on the camera again. And yes, I am smiling; it's absolutely silly to get upset about something like this.

Many thanks to Stephen from Australia who shook me into action via a question in an email. I was already thinking my recent photos were too blue, just hadn't taken the step to figure out why. Stephen's email gave me the motivation I needed to solve the puzzle.

Robin satisfied

This robin was so happy with his (her?) prowess at catching worms that he decided he had time to pose for me!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Beauty in wildflowers

From a new still-opening black-eyed susan to the edges of Queen Anne's lace, beauty in wildflowers...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Yellow bird flying

I had to look twice as I cycled past a patch of bright yellow flowers this afternoon. There were birds perched among the flowers, several bright yellow goldfinches. That beautiful sight was captured in my mind only; I was wandering with my baby camera, and the only hope to capture an image of those beautiful yellow birds would have been with my SLR with the long lens. It still would have been a long shot.

I stopped my bike and stood there watching for a few minutes. As soon as I took one slow step towards the flowers, the birds flew away.

The memory will need to satisfy me for now.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Seeking birds... Boston!

I had an appointment in Boston this afternoon. It's Friday, it's summer, and that means that traffic is in summer escape mode. I decided to take the train, no fighting outbound traffic for me today. I found I had two choices of inbound trains. The train closest to my appointment time was supposed to arrive at North Station just 1/2 of an hour before my appointment. That should be enough time to take the T, but I felt like I would be cutting it a bit short. And I hate being late...

Ah, the train before that one gives me an hour and a half. Hmmm... I can walk! I checked the distance by requesting a map on Google Maps, and came up with 4.5 miles. It was a hot walk, but beautiful. I thought about taking the T back to the train station, but you know me - I walked back too!

My walk went through the Boston Common, the Public Gardens, down the Commonwealth Avenue Mall (a green space with a walk that runs between the driving lanes of the road), by the Fens, and a little further too. Beautiful green spaces, enjoyed by people, and birds, and squirrels. I had my camera with me, seeking birds... Oh, you're right, I was seeking little 4-legged creatures too, but the squirrels and chipmunks really didn't want to play.

I loved the quizzical look on mama duck's face!

Baby duckling paddling swiftly in mom's wake...

Happy bird, perched atop a statue

Feed me!

Are you looking at something?

More photos can be seen in my Seeking birds in Boston gallery.

A sign of the times?

A telephone on a train platform, padlocked... Is this a sign of the times? A push towards using a cell phone? Or protection against vandalism?

On the platform at the Anderson commuter rail station on Woburn, MA

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Can you see the frog? Look closer...

Reflections near and far

A wacky statement

Midway through the day, I wandered over to the Versus Tour de France site to check on the results of today's stage. A better place to wander would have been the official TDF site, but that's not where I started today.

The Versus site opened with a short article by Bob Roll. I've always thought that he was a bit odd (it takes all types, doesn't it?), but his closing statement really blew me away. What do you think?

"If you don’t watch the stages to come, you must have a screw loose somewhere." (Bob Roll, July 12, 2007)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Birds hide, flowers shine

My camera with its new lens accompanied me on a fast walk this evening in the hopes of capturing some shots of birds. I could hear the birds, but they were hiding high in the tree tops, behind a screen of leaves. A couple of squirrels ran in front of me, passing through too quickly for me to even start to focus.

I did capture some beauty in the form of pink flowers - in spite of the ever-present wind causing the flowers to wave their petals at me. Ah, the camera stopped the motion...

From computer to sunshine

I've somehow (temporarily) fallen out of my habit of heading out of the office in the early afternoon for a quick walk. Today I decided it was time to break that habit out of its hiding spot again.

I was rewarded with this photo of a bee happily buzzing around some flowers. Fun!

Sunday, July 08, 2007


My camera has become an ever-present companion. A few things jumped into my camera as I wandered, captured!

There are also some images that are only in my mind, fleeting images. Their owners wouldn't stay still long enough for me to capture a photo. Who are the missing creatures? A pair of goldfinch, a woodpecker, and a great blue heron. Maybe next time...

Lens lust satisfied

...for now, that is!

Wow, that was a really hard decision! Although I had a serious case of lens lust, I knew it wasn't a spur of the moment desire for a longer lens but something that had been building for a while. I wandered through photos from some of my recent (bicycle) tours, and there were always some shots where I knew that a longer lens would have captured a better photo. There were birds, little red squirrels, sometimes even a deer. And they were always too far away.

If you read my Still dreaming... post last week, you already know that I returned the first lens, and ordered a second (different) lens. The replacement, a Canon 70-300 DO IS, showed up on Tuesday, giving me the holiday Wednesday to play. The light was a little funny that day, and I wanted some sunshine to complete my test. Yesterday the lens jumped into a bag on my bike and happily came out to play as I spotted things along the road.

My impression after playing with the lens on 2 different lighting condition days is that it is a good choice for me for right now. It takes beautiful pictures, but it needs a little more care and attention to get properly exposed good shots than the 100-400 did. Based on what I've seen so far, I think (I hope!) that I will be happy with the lens.

The Canon 70-300 DO IS uses a different lens technology than most of the lenses that Canon offers. It uses diffractive optics, something that I don't fully understand but that I'm more than willing play with. I figure - I hope - that the photos that are created by my new lens get better as I continue to experiment.

Only time will tell whether I made the right decision!

Interested in seeing more pictures from my first days of playing with this lens? You can find them in my Another day, another zoom gallery.

Friday, July 06, 2007

After the rain

Petals droop, but colors still shout... floral beauty!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Listen... the rumble of thunder. Listen...

I chose not to ride to work today because the weather forecast called for (a relatively high chance of) thunderstorms. Yes, I'm a fair-weather bike commuter.

The ground stayed dry all day, and I arrived home to blue skies with scattered white clouds, and a warm temperature in the low 80s. The National Weather Service showed a severe thunderstorm watch for the area, so my bicycles insisted on staying under cover. I headed out walking, hoping to stay dry but knowing that clothes dry quickly if the rain caught me.

Home again. The sky was much darker than when I left, the air was quiet, the ground was still dry.

The dark skies continued to get darker, darker and darker. Thunder started rumbling, and the occasional flash of lightening decorated the sky. Light rain started falling. It morphed into heavy rain. Heavier, louder. A cool breeze started blowing, and the temperature dropped to 67, down 15 degrees in a very short period of time. Rain. Wind. Dark skies.

I love watching storms. I love the smell of fresh rain.

Listen to the thunder. Listen to the rustle of the rain. Feel the cool breeze. Listen...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Funny birds!

These birds fascinate me. They hang out along the shore with the sea gulls, and although they share some coloration with the gulls, they are clearly a different type of bird.

Standing, their legs seems to be running in place, kneading the sand below a thin layer of water. What's down there? Why the quick movements?

And then... they're off! Time to run across the sand. Funny...

I think they are some kind of plover, but I'm not sure. Do you know?

Translation needed?

¡ǝɔıu .ǝɹoɯ ǝɔuo sɐɹǝɯɐɔ ɥʇıʍ buıʎɐ1d puɐ 's1ǝǝɥʍ oʍʇ uo buıɹǝpuɐʍ 'uɐǝɔo ǝɥʇ ɟo ǝbpǝ ǝɥʇ buo1ɐ sɐɹǝɯɐɔ ɥʇıʍ buıʎɐ1d ¡sɐʍ ʇı ʎɐp ɐ ʇɐɥʍ ɥo

...ʞɐǝɹʇs ʎ11ıs ɐ ɟo ʇıq ɐ uo ɯ,ı 'ʇɥbıɹ ǝɹ,noʎ 'sǝʎ puɐ

What do you mean you can't read my blog entry? I think it's perfectly clear! Oh, OK, here's the non-flipped version of my text:

Oh what a day it was! Playing with cameras along the edge of the ocean, wandering on two wheels, and playing with cameras once more. Nice!

And yes, you're right, I'm on a bit of a silly streak...

Want to play? You can build your own upside down words here.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Purple delight

Still dreaming...

I suppose that getting my new choice of new lens right on the first try was a bit too much to expect.

The lens I ordered Wednesday afternoon arrived on Friday, not bad considering that I didn't upgrade the shipping method from the cheapest ground option. I headed to the coast early Saturday morning to play. I figured the sea gulls would be willing to pose for me, and they were. The lens took amazing pictures. And yes, I will take some credit for the photos since I was the one who was driving it! The image stabilization was wonderful, but... and this is a big but! The lens is big, and it's heavy, and even though I knew the size and weight when I ordered it, it didn't really hit home until I attached it to my camera and started working with it.

The big question for me is - given the size and weight - will I be happy taking it with me as I travel on my bike, and will I switch lenses during the day to give me the best of both worlds? The lens switch is the smaller of the two concerns, and I do believe that I will happily flip lenses to match my photo dreams. But the weight and size of the lens really got to me.

I played with the lens, and I thought, and I thought, and I thought.

After many hours of switching from "no, it's not the lens for me (right now)" to "well maybe it is, it takes beautiful bird shots" to "yes, of course I should keep it" and back to "no, it's not right (for me) for now", I finally decided to go with my gut, return the lens, and try to find a reasonable replacement. After all, I know that I really do want a longer-reaching lens, and I know that I need to be happy carrying the lens with me on my bike. And I looked for other answers. I found a lens that looks very interesting to me, but the reviews I found were very mixed.

Hmmm... what to do? I have nothing to lose but time since I can return the lens if it doesn't work for me - so there is a Canon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS heading my way. According to the Canon web site, "Diffractive Optics elements are combined to reduce size and boost image quality". The difference in size and weight is amazing. The 100-400 IS lens weighs 3 pounds and is 7 inches long at it's shortest length. The 70-300 DO IS lens weighs 1.6 pounds and is 3.9 inches long. That sounds a lot more reasonable to me from a weight standpoint. I guess I'm just going to have to wait until I try it to see if the quality and characteristics of the photos make me happy.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed, hoping...

In the meantime, here are a couple of shots taken with the Canon 100-400 IS.

Interested in seeing more pictures from my shots with this lens? You can find them in my Zoom views gallery.