Friday, July 30, 2010

Oh, No, More Butterfly Pictures!

Finally getting the new camera to take the kind of pictures I want! I figured practicing on flitting around butterflies was a good way to test things. This is the old familiar Monarch. There have been several visiting the last couple of days.

This is a Tiger Swallowtail. There have been a number of these as well! My neighbor has gotten into the swing of things and sent me another one I had never seen before so I will be looking out for him!
I have finished machine quilting the heron finally (after ripping out one heck of a lot of stitches that I didn't like). Now to just do the facing and the hanging sleeve!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Butterflies and Bird...

Still playing with the lenses and my camera and finally having more successes than failures but still not up to my standards! I am having fun trying to identify all the butterflies (and moths if I see any) that land on my neighbor's butterfly bush which sits right at the end of my driveway.

This is a Cabbage White and pretty common and one of the first butterflies out in the spring. This one has the black tipped ends and then one dot on each wing meaning it is a male. The females have two dots ! This one moves so fast I have had trouble getting a picture of him and had to go back to my telephoto lens finally.

This is again one of the Skippers which I think is a Peck's Skipper but may be wrong there.

And the Great Blue Heron is coming along. I have machine quilted all the sky background and most of his body and am trying to add some flying feathers with machine quilting to his front. May have to take a little artistic license here! It's coming along and I have been working on it quite a bit each day. You might see some of the detail if you double click on the image. His feathers are not done yet, nor is his head.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Visit to Quilting by the Lake

Well, normally I would have some pictures to tempt you to take courses there next year but..... The "powers that be" have decided absolutely no pictures are to be taken at the quilt show or in any of the classrooms. In my opinion, this is beyond overkill -- don't they realize the that it is good advertising for the venue and the quality of the teachers. I don't know any bloggers that don't respect a sign on a student's work that says "Please No Photos". This would seem a better solution than such an absolute prohibition. All of the classes I have taken in other venues have taken this latter approach.

As I spent very little time there except to see a few friends, I decided to detour on the way home and go to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. I knew it was a poor time of day to see any birds but thought I would check it out for a fall visit. Well, they have drained the main area!! They are rebuilding the habitat so much of the trail is closed as well. At least there were some beautiful wildflowers and it was a beautiful day for a drive! I didn't have binoculars with me but seeing Canada Geese close up is not much of a thrill anyway!

I believe these are wild Mallows! They certainly were large, plentiful and beautiful.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Becoming One With the New Camera!

Well, am having some fun with the new camera trying to identify all the butterflies on my neighbor's bush. So far there have been five different varieties, four of which I have good enough pictures to begin the identification process. This was a very small butterfly -- only about an inch long and he was moving all over the place. Haven't identified him specifically yet but he might be a Skipper of some kind!
This I believe is one of the tiger swallowtails. It is hidden here, but this is one bedraggled butterfly so I suspect he or she may be cocooning before too long. His body had long yellow and black stripes on it. So I have seen a Sulphur and a Painted Lady also but didn't get good pictures at all. These were relatively decent and I didn't use telephoto!
I also have gotten back to a little dyeing and Warren is now the proud owner of three very bright turquoise blue hats. I think they are a bit bright but he things they are just fine for blending in with the water when on his kayak and I notice he is already wearing one around!
The machine quilting on the Great Blue Heron is coming along as well although there is a lot so I am sure this will be a lengthy process and I have to take frequent breaks or my shoulders will object! Once I get started though, it is hard to stop.
I never thought I would enjoy the machine quilting part. I had always approached it with great trepidation, fearing I would somehow wreck the piece. Watching Phil Beaver on Simply Quilts was my magic moment. He said just to quilt around the objects when you start and then the quilting would come and that is how I approach it now. Only now I visualize that outline quilting ahead of time and the piece somehow tells me how to continue on. It seems my pieces are very noisy though and are constantly intruding on my well thought-out plans for completion!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Just Playing

The past three days have been spent just playing with my new toy. It is just like getting a new sewing machine after you have had your old one for many years. You want the new features but it just works differently and it is so much easier to go back to the tried and true and PREDICTABLE! These are some lilies growing in the garden.

This is just a broad look at the garden growing in front of the house.
I do know that to fully utilize the telephoto, I am going to have to have a tripod, something I have been avoiding. Things just work differently in this camera. When I get good pictures, they are much crisper than my old camera. Now I can take ten pictures in the time it took to get one before so I have had to delete many pictures off my computer after taking them as I would soon run out of room!

I believe this is a buckeye from the markings but don't know which one. Will have to do a little more research. This is the third variety of butterfly I have seen on my neighbor's Butterfly Bush in the last three days. Today is the first day we have been able to tolerate being outside for any period of time -- very nice. The weather has been really hot and humid for up here -- shaping up to be the warmest summer in history for this area.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A New Camera

Well, after doing a lot of research I finally broke down and got a digital SLR. I got the Canon Rebel XS (10 megapixel) and a Tamron 28-300 telephoto lens. I have always been pleased with the quality of the pictures I get with my Panasonic Lumix and if this camera can live up to those, I will be happy -- even happier if they are better (which I suspect they are!). The great part and the main reason I did the upgrade was that the Lumix was just plain slow. I am delighted by my ability to take a whole lot of pictures in the row and get them focused besides!! I have just begun to play with the settings. I am used to controlling some of these things but my first shots were using pretty much the auto ISO features although not the automatic setting. This was the inside of the last of our clematis with the macro end of this lens. Pretty good considering I got it for telephoto but it will do as a closeup. I also have the 17-55 lens that came with the camera and haven't played with that yet.

This was a closeup of the early buds (for us) on the Rose of Sharon next to the house.
The flowers in front of my neighbors -- you have seen these before. A hummingbird was flitting around but much to fast for the light this late in the day.
I looked at the properties and many of these pictures were taken with an effective ISO of 800 with little noticeable noise so that is good. I almost always use 100 ISO with my Lumix.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rochester Civic Garden Center Tour

Our next door neighbors, Joe and Sharon, have had spectacular gardens which have grown and changed over the years and which now cover their property and change with the seasons. These have been recognized twice getting a local "Garden of the Month" award. Today they were part of a large fund raiser for the Rochester Civic Garden Center. They were one of ten gardens chosen from Rochester, all in Webster this year. It was estimated that 650 people took the tour. The weather was perfect.

The above picture and this one are of some of the beautiful hydrangeas they have throughout their yard.

Sharon on the far right is explaining some of the features of the garden in the back of the house. These are very much woodland gardens as we are a heavily wooded area. They have created paths through the woods back here and have sculptures and fountains as well.
This is another view of the back garden after the folks had left.
Again, the garden area in the back. Joe and Sharon took out a huge tree a few years ago which opened up this area to a bit more light.

This is the area right in front by the mailbox. You can see the sign announcing the tour at the far left.

This is looking at the front of the house. The butterflies were even cooperating by frequenting the butterfly bush to the right.

This is the fountain in the back garden.

There were many visitors in the front yard, some of whom were trying to figure who the crazy lady taking pictures was and why she was taking the pictures at all!

Sharon again escorting visitors in the back in the early morning. There was a constant stream of people from the time it opened until 4 in the afternoon when the tour ended.

Some more visitors in the afternoon. This is the view from my house. I get to enjoy these beautiful gardens without having to do any work. We always say our yard is the comic relief!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Katazome - Day 2

Another appallingly hot day to be spending with no air conditioning but if we didn't move at all, it was okay. The room was not bad but when 15 of us had to gather in the kitchen - oh my....
At lunch Karen shared many of the pieces she has made using these techniques. Isn't this gorgeous!

This is one of Karen's pieces which looked all muted and mushy when all the paste was still on but look at it now with the paste washed off! There is a lot of control with her techniques and dyes.

The next two are the before and after pictures of one of Karen's pieces. The first has the resist still on it.

This is my piece with the resist still on. I can't wash it out until next week sometime at the earliest! How about testing our patience!

Barb and Diane are working on their pieces here.

Barb and Glynnis are working on their pieces -- both very nice!

Here Karen was demonstrating how to make the patterns match using these stencils so that you can make large patterns.

Here we are all crowded in the kitchen as Karen mixes up our pigments and soy milk binder.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Katazome Anyone?

Well, what do you do on the hottest two days of the year? You take a class in an un-air conditioned classroom! Good thing I spent many summers at Quilting by the Lake which didn't have air conditioned classrooms either. Our RAFA group took the opportunity to engage Karen Miller to teach us Katazome -- she had offered to teach on the east coast as part of a cross country camping trip she was making with her husband. Her website has some of the most amazing examples of her art!

Katazome is the art of making stencils which are used in the production of fabric in Japan. These stencils are cut from a special rice paper, treated and then can be used over and over for delicate and intricate stencilling of patterns. Today we spent the morning cutting our own stencils and then applying the first sealants to them so that they would dry by late afternoon.
Karen also mixed up the batch of rice paste which we used as a resist with her stencils later in the day and will use for our own tomorrow.

A potluck lunch was the next business of the day!

After lunch, Karen shared many examples of stencils as well as fabric that she had made or had purchased in Japan. Incredible work and now I know how the yucatas I have are made as well as many of the other traditional Japanese fabrics.

Believe it or not, this is one of my fabrics where I had applied the resist through one of Karen's stencils. When you see the final piece of cloth, there will be color where the white areas are and the dark areas will be white. You could do just the opposite and apply the dyes or paints directly through the stencils and then you would have a piece of cloth that looked like this finished. Karen cut all these stencils and many, many, many more -- incredibly intricate but she showed us fabric made by experts in Japan that make these look crude!

This is my second piece of fabric. The butterflies will stand out as white against a colored background. This was another of the stencils Karen had created.
More tomorrow! Can't wait to see how this all turns out! I can see how this "carving" of the stencils could be addictive as it is so easy with the rice paper.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Rainblow of Birds at Nola's House

Friday after seeing Marcia and Priscilla seemed like the perfect time to try to get out to Red Creek and visit my friend Nola who has all the birds at her house. Priscilla took me on a wonderful set of back roads through towns I had never heard of to get me there as she lives about five miles from Nola!

After tallying the birds, I realized that the whole rainbow was present (1) red in the Rose Breasted Grosbeaks and Cardinals, (2) orange in the Baltimore Orioles, (3) yellow in the Goldfinches, (4) bright green in the iridescent Ruby Throated Hummingbirds, (5) in the Bluebird mom, and (6) Purple and House Finches (okay, cheating a little as they really look red to me) and (7) all the neutrals in the Mourning Dove, White Breasted Nuthatches, Hairy Woodpeckers, female and male Red Winged Blackbirds and the female Purple Finches. I took all these photos in less than an hour I might add!

This is my favorite of the photos I took over just about an hour! Featured are a male Goldfinch in full summer color and a Rose Breasted Grosbeak playing like a Hummingbird!

Here is a female Red Winged Black bird to the left and a Mourning Dove to the right eating the leavings of the other birds.

There were fatter and more chipmonks than I have seen also around the bird feeders. Surprisingly, I didn't see one grey squirrel though!!

This is a closeup of the Red Breasted Grosbeak. They were everpresent.

Here a Hairy Woodpecker is sharing the feeder with the Rose Breasted Grosbeak.

Nola uses grape jelly to entice the Baltimore Orioles who frequent the backyard. Today only the females were at the feeder. They are the duller of the two sexes but even they are wonderfully bright!

Here one of the goldfinches shares the feeder with the Hairy Woodpecker female and a White Breasted Nuthatch.

I was able to get very close to some of the birds including this male Goldfinch.

This was the Ruby Throated Hummingbird, a frequent visitor to our area. He was in the shade.

Here the Goldfinch is again sharing the feeder with the femail Hairy Woodpecker.

Here is the House Finch at the feeder.

Mama Bluebird pictured here was watching over her three day old babies in t his bird box.

The Purple Finches were bright and frequent visitors to the feeder. They are more colorful than the Houses Finches which we see so frequently at home and the beach.

A White Breasted Nuthatch posing for me.
I should add that coming up to Nola's house is like coming through the dense forests of yesteryear. Beautiful canopy of trees on their acreage along with the resident wildflowers and beavers building an ever growing pond.
They have also had nesting Wood Ducks and Golden Eagles out here. The pond is very difficult to get to see but I imagine I would find a myriad of ducks here as well.