Sunday, July 30, 2017


On our visit to Salt Lake City last week, we took the grandkids to the Tracy Aviary, located in the city's Liberty Park.  A visitor to the aviary should be warned that there is a fairly high entrance fee (around $10 for seniors), but I thought the facility was well worth it.  The aviary is large, nicely laid out, and clean.  If there is a complaint it is that the diversity of species could have been greater, given the facility's overall size.

Unfortunately, I had not brought my telephoto lens on the trip.  The only lens I had was my workhorse 24-120 mm lens.  As result, even at 120 mm, a lot of the birds appeared really small.  Fortunately, even with hefty crops, I generally had enough pixels for the cropped image to appear sharp.  Here is what I got, more or less in the order we saw them.

First up were some pelicans.  One of these birds (the one in the back) had a "growth" on its bill, which apparently was normal.  Like many of the shots, this one was heavily cropped and appears a bit messy.

Next up was a ruddy duck, the male of which has a bright blue bill, a bird I had never seen before.  (Again, heavily cropped, but serviceable.)

One of the challenges when shooting captive animals, especially birds, is dealing with intervening wire netting.  That was the case with the following bird whose species I failed to record.  The caging behind the bird is obvious, but I was able essentially to eliminate the caging between me and the bird by opening up the lens's aperture to f/4.0.  Often my camera's autofocus would get a little confused between focusing on the bird and focusing on the wire caging.

The aviary had a wide variety of owls.

Note that this last,  the long-eared owl (who must have had its ears tucked back), has a major problem with one of its eyes.

One of the cages contained a number of macaws, both blue and red.

Here the caging between me and the birds was more noticeable, but not terribly distracting.

Far and away my favorite bird during our visit was the king vulture.  Not only was he the ugliest bird in the aviary, but he seemed happy to perch quietly while I took some photos.

Again, the caging was a bit of an issue.  Here is a closeup of his gorgeous (??) head.  A face only a mother could love.

Following the vulture, we visited the flamingo pond.  I liked the composition of this first shot.

I also got a second shot of a couple of flamingos that were having a heated discussion, with a third flamingo refereeing the argument.

Finally, a stately bald eagle that also seemed content to pose for me.

The grounds, both of the aviary and the surrounding Liberty Park, were nicely landscaped, and I got the following floral shots of corn flowers (I think) and a very large (perhaps 8 inches across) hibiscus.


Saturday, July 22, 2017


I spent a little time recently on Milwaukee's East Side and decided that most of the shots I got worked best as black & whites.

First was the North Avenue water tower.  Built in 1873 of locally quarried limestone, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.   Currently, it is under restoration.  As a result, it is fenced off and ornamented with a crane to help with tuckpointing work on the exterior.  Because of the construction and the crane, it was not going to work to take traditional photos of the tower.  Here is what I did get.

While I was in the neighborhood, I took a few photos of a hospital that has interesting, if somewhat dated architectural lines.

I was just fooling around with this last shot, turning the midday sky black and softening the overall sharpness.  A little weird, I thought.

Finally, I paid a visit to the lighthouse at Lake Park.

I'm not sure why I turned the sky black in this shot.  Perhaps I wanted to create a contrast between the lighthouse and the sky.

Here is an abstract closeup of the tower's rivet work, a shot that perhaps only I could like.

Finally, near the lighthouse are a number of ornamental lion sculptures.

Here my goal was to position the lion in front of dark background foliage.


Friday, July 21, 2017


I have always been impressed (probably over-impressed) with street art, perhaps because I have no artistic ability personally.

Over the last year the alley behind the Oriental Theater on Farwell Avenue on Milwaukee's East Side has been designated as an authorized venue for street artists and it now includes a wide variety of such art.  I did a post on the venue previously and recently returned to see what changes or additions had occurred.

One of the best murals, of a bullfrog, is actually at the south side outside the alley.  Here is a peek at the mural.

And a reflection of the mural in windows across the street.

One of the larger--and more powerful--pieces is a tribute, as I understand it, to the African American experience with the prison system.

The artwork varies in quality.  Some is very well done in my view.

Others, not so much.

Some of the smaller pieces are actually at ground level, and it isn't entirely clear that they were intended as part of the overall exhibition.  But they are interesting.

Finally, the following is perhaps the mural, as unpleasant at it appears to me, after which the exhibit was named.


Thursday, July 13, 2017


A couple of days ago, I came across a large snapping turtle smack in the middle of the street leading into our subdivision.  The street borders a small wetlands/pond area and most likely the turtle came from those environs.  The snapper remained motionless as I drove by and I wasn't sure that it was even alive.  As soon as I got home I grabbed my camera, and my wife and I walked back to check it out.

The snapper was quite large--its shell was over a foot across--and it appeared to be quite old, at least 20 years or so was my guess.  A look at the animal's front leg looks like it has had substantial experience.

I was able to determine that it was alive, as it generally kept moving to face me and my camera as I walked around trying to get shots.

Here is a front-on shot from just a few feet away.

I realize that turtles are slow, but on one occasion, at least, she(?) made a "sudden" movement toward me, encouraging me to keep my distance.  She also opened her beak in the following shot.

Finally, a couple of closeups, the last of which clearly shows that the turtle has "whiskers," one on each side of her beak, curled and stained green (presumably from pond scum, or whatever).  Who knew?


Saturday, July 8, 2017


On  a sultry evening a couple of days ago, I took my camera downtown Milwaukee to take advantage of the evening light.  My first stop was the Milwaukee Art Museum.  I took a number of shots in the hour before sunset and watched as the sky continued to change.

I have shot the Calatrava addition to the museum innumerable times.  What helped these shots was not so much the architecture as the sky.  In my effort to capture unusual perspectives, I took the following shot that I converted to a black and white.

I liked this shot for the linear perspective and the fact that the "mast" appears to run parallel to the lines of the gallery structure in the left of the image.

During this trek the following item on an exterior wall of the museum caught my eye.

This turned out to be a pilaster capital from a Northwestern Mutual building dating from some 85 years ago.  I think the building was demolished a while back to make way for a newer office building approaching completion.

Speaking of that building, which is set to open at the end of the summer, here is an attempt to use unusual perspectives and compositions to capture it.

I converted this to a black and white because the evening sky was casting the glass exterior in essentially the same evening blue palette as the sky.   Across the street was a much older building, The Cudahy, and here are a couple of architectural detail shots of that building.

Now it was getting dark and it was on to the scene at the Milwaukee River that runs through the center of the downtown.

First is a shot of Milwaukee City Hall's clock tower.  

This shot was more difficult than it appears.  First, the ambient light was declining, leaving the tower very dark.   I had my tripod and used it for this shot.  For the record, this was shot at f/8 with an exposure of 0.8 seconds at an ISO of 200.  But this exposure left the clock faces overexposed.  To compensate, I needed to reduce exposure of the sky and clock faces and increase exposure of the tower itself.  All of this made me grateful for Lightroom.

To wind up the evening I took a few shots of the scene on the river, placing my tripod on one of the bridges to capture the evening lights and the reflections in the river.

This last shot includes the gibbous moon that was being "smeared" a bit by the wisps of clouds in the evening sky.