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Archive for June, 2009

Burrowing Owl in the Sunlight

Western Screech Owl in the Sunlight

For the past few years, we’ve seen what I thought were burrowing owls, but I’m finding are Western Screech Owls, at night by our home, but never during the day.Today, while photographing a dove nest in a cholla, I felt like I was being watched and then heard soft owl sounds. I turned and saw bright yellow eyes staring at me through an Ironwood tree behind me. Walking just a few steps to one side, I was able to find an opening in the branches to photograph one little guy through. We’ve seen four, and three of them made themselves known while I stood there.

Burrowing Owl in the Shade

Western Screech Owl in the Shade

 

A few more steps to the side…barely breathing…I tried to see the second one from where I could hear him. One more soft chortle and I saw him through another set of branches, in the shade. I made a few images, then backed away and and watched them settle back into the root structure at the base of the tree. I lost track of time as I quietly knelt in the shade of a nearby tree and watched and listened to these magical little beings.

 

Dove nest in a cholla cactus

Dove nest in a cholla cactus

This is the dove nest I was photographing when I heard the owls. The owls were only about ten feet behind me, deep in an Ironwood tree…if I hadn’t been at this nest, I would have not known they were there.Isn’t this a really well made, and safely placed, dove nest? Taking lessons from the Cactus Wrens, it seems. Mama Dove was eating Saguaro fruit just a few feet above and to the side of me. Didn’t seem bothered at all, which pleased me. I don’t like to disturb any of the critters I photograph.

Dove on her nest, two eggs under her
Dove on her nest, two eggs under her

Here is the dove who was eating Saguaro fruit. When I knelt in the shade to watch the owls, I heard a flutter to my left and this Mama settled back into her nest no more than six feet from me. Keeping an eye on me, to be sure, but confident enough to return to her nest and rest.

Between her and the owls today, I got some lovely, peaceful moments.

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Neysa

Neysa

Our cat Neysa, a manx, in one of her favorite “safe places”…between my husband’s feet while he’s sleeping. Although I was a bit sneaky in making this image, when my husband woke up he loved it and it’s still one of his favorite images.

Neysa

Neysa

My manx girl, rescued from the Humane Society. She came home with me after several trips there and several dreams that wouldn’t let me NOT bring her home. She was pretty wild at first and is now a close friend and lovely “little bobcat”. When we pet or pat her, she wags her little stump of a tail like a dog.

Gypsy Rose

Gypsy Rose

Our cat, Gypsy Rose. She came from a woman who’d lost her husband and had to let many of her animals go. Rosie was “Sissy” when I found her, but she told me her secret name and so it goes. She also came to us pretty skittish, although bursts of affection defined who she’s become now. She is everywhere with me, my pocket kitty, who is a kisser. Rosie is a Turkish Van, with one green eye and one blue eye. And yes, she KNOWS she’s beautiful!

Gypsy Rose

Gypsy Rose

Shhhh…she’s sleeping with her little friends by the Christmas Tree. This is our Gypsy Rose in a moment when she didn’t know the camera was on her. I guess she wanted to make sure the little blue pegasus didn’t fly away.

Silver Sage, aka The Button

Silver Sage, aka The Button

This is Silver Sage, aka The Button (as he’s cute as one). He is an American Shorthair, with “ticking” (stripes on the legs and tail that make him unshowable that I LOVE). He came from a woman who lived in a little trailer with far too many cats and I paid more for him than any other cat I’ve had in my life (more than one weanling colt I bought several years ago), but he is worth all the gold in the world. I’ve had cats since I was bequeathed one at 20 minutes old, and he is one of the most special (shhh…don’t tell my other cats) felines to grace my life. He came home “on trial” for a Christmas Eve present and the decision was made to never let him go, within seconds of placing him in my husband’s lap.

My Mom's Bengal, Suki

My Mom's Bengal, Suki

While my Mom was away on a vacation, I took the opportunity to photograph her cats so I could present her with Mother’s Day photographic prints of them. My husband graciously wiggled feathers, made funny noises, and kept the other kitties occupied when I got the attention of one in a particularly delightful moment. The cat above is Suki, who like a hummingbird flitted and flew around the room during the entire “session”, then settled for one moment on top the couch and gave me this beguiling look when I squeaked at her.

Mom's Rescue Kitty, Phoebe

Mom's Rescue Kitty, Phoebe

Mom’s sweet rescue kitty, Phoebe…yes, named after the “Friends” Phoebe. At first a fairly wild, skittish kitten, she has matured into a loving, elegant cat.

My Mom's Cat, Mystye

My Mom's Cat, Mystye

What is making Mystye so focused? And, OK, a bit crazy eyed? Why, it’s the Australian Shepards outside the French Doors looking in. The windows on the doors are typically “kitty TV” and she sees lots of bunnies and birds…but the DOGS are on the WRONG side of HER house! Next image is of her “barking” at them…otherwise known as the officially correct term “macking”. Any of you cat folks out there will know what sound I’m talking about!

My Mom's Cat, Mystye

My Mom's Cat, Mystye

This blog entry is dedicated to all the people who have asked if I only photograph horses. 🙂

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The Visible Horse

Visible Horse

Visible Horse

     When I was growing up with my horses, I was passionate about drawing them. I was not very good at it, hence my becoming a photographic artist. I started with the form as I saw it and wondered why the legs looked all wrong and the shading was somehow “off”.  I found a wonderful book by Sam Savitt that unlike all the other books on drawing horses that emphasized circles and lines concentrated on the skeletal and muscular anatomy of the horse.  The light went on in my head and my horses developed some beauty as they galloped and reared on the pages of my sketch book. When I joined the veterinary science 4-H club, I was fascinated with the intricacies of what truly “formed” the horse.

     I was blessed to live in Tucson, where Al Marah introduced me to the Arabian breed. Although I’ve yet to own one, I’ve managed and trained on Arabian ranches, and have enjoyed the breed on other ranches I’ve worked on…and many of the horses I photograph are Arabs. Bazy Tankersly and her horses intrigued me, as most of my horses were Quarter Horses and the Arabian was so different. In addition, I was an ardent fan of Marguerite Henry (author) and had read about the foundation sires in King of the Wind a couple dozen times by the time I was 12. The first crush I remember having on a horse was Mrs. T’s Canadian Beau…a stunning bay stallion with a heart of gold and a truly sane temperament.

Visible Horse: Skeletal side

Visible Horse: Skeletal side

      Somehow I’ve never bought or been gifted with the Invisible Horse model that I’ve seen for years, nor as yet do I own the Breyer model of the Visible Horse. But I have been blessed to see a living vision, a visible horse painted onto a champion Arabian, moving from a stand through the walk, trot, and canter as it was presented at Al Marah a couple of months ago. I don’t believe there was a person in the audience, from child to experienced equestrian, who did not learn something from Susan Harris’s presentation. God bless Susan Harris for not only her creative vision but for traveling around the world to paint horses everywhere for us to see and learn from. Now I KNOW why horses get “cinchy”, beyond any knowledge or intuition I had previously, as well as a deeper knowledge of why it is so important to keep your horse active to condition it properly.

Visible Horse: Musculature

Visible Horse: Musculature

     When the arena presentation was over, I asked if the horse might be able to come into the sun for some formal portraits as the shaded arena had not allowed for great photography. Very kindly, one of the Al Marah staff accommodated the request and immediately a couple dozen cameras and cell phones came out to document this living work of art. Hoping to photograph the horse in action as well, I also requested that the horse be put at liberty in a small arena.  A few minutes later, I was in the arena with him and two wonderful gals who moved him around while I photographed him at the trot and canter. I got down low and created some head portraits and worked to create an image that would allow the viewer to see both sides of him at once. This was very challenging, as he was distracted by all the action and crowds outside the arena and was at liberty. I only had two micro-moments when he turned quickly and I saw THE image I was hoping for. The resulting image is the one at the top of this entry.

     I do not know the name of the horse or of it’s owners. I hope to find out so I can gift them with a print. Susan is on an extensive tour, and I will be contacting her to show the images to her to see if she’d like to use them on her website and promotional materials. She is a treasure and the people who host her, offer their horses, and assist her in the painting of them are gems as well. I encourage you to visit Anatomy in Motion to learn more and to see if Susan is coming to your area. If she is, grab your local pony club, 4-H group, riding club and a herd of your friends and go!

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