Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the tag “Photography”

Squirrel!

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I was in my back yard yesterday evening and noticed this squirrel on the fence.  He was kind enough to wait on the fence until I went back inside and got my camera.  I was about 20 feet away from him and was using my 300mm lens, so was able to get a closeup of him.

Notice his aggressive stance.  He held that position for a good 3 minutes.  I believe he would have jumped on me if I’d gotten any closer.  The squirrels around here are quite bold and will stand up on their hind quarters at you as if to say, “Come at me, Bro.”

I have a love-hate relationship with the neighborhood squirrels.  I love them when they are outside doing squirrel things.  But if they ever get into my attic, it is war.  They have learned that the neighbors’ attics are much more hospitable places than mine.  The Great Squirrel War of 2014 has entered local Squirrel lore and legend and so I haven’t had any problem out of them in years.   (Lest you think I behaved poorly towards the squirrels, I merely had all of the wood soffits on my house replaced with concrete-impregnated Hardieboard.)

So, since this little fellow is outside, he is a good squirrel and the recipient of my benevolent bonhomie.

Thistle Do Nicely

Here are a few more pictures of my photo expedition to the tiny wildlife sanctuary.

Today’s topic is Texas Thistle.  I have always loved how Texas Thistle looks in the springtime.  From a distance, it has a gorgeous bloom and it sends these pink puff balls towering up above everything around it.

Here is what a patch of Texas Thistle looks like from a bit of a distance.

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Image © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

And here is one of the puff balls that the Thistle sends up into the heavens to attract bees.  (Bee sold separately.)

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Image © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Beautiful, isn’t it?

But the thing to remember about Texas Thistle is that every part of it except the puff ball is prickly.  And not just a little bit.  I mean tear-through-your-jeans prickly.  Buds … stalks … leaves … everything about it will hurt you.  Here’s a close-up.

 

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Image © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Even the buds look a little daunting.  It’s hard to believe these turn into the pretty puff balls.

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Image © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

But the most insidious part of this plant is when it is just a fledgling and just starting its life.  In its larval stage, it consists of a starburst of leaves that are almost perfectly flat against the ground.

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Image © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

They are green, so they blend in well with grass.  Stepping on one of these in your bare feet or sock feet will introduce you to a new level of pain you didn’t know existed.  We used to call these “Devil’s Tongues” when I was a youngster, and they flat cured me of ever going anywhere outside barefoot.  I have not been barefoot outside since I was in the second grade just because of the memory I have of stepping on them.

So there you have it:  Texas Thistle, ladies and gentlemen.

I think these should be featured on the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag instead of the snake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bee On a Firewheel

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Image © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Here’s a busy little bee going to town on a Firewheel wildflower.  I used the macro setting on my Trusty Canon T6.  The lens was about 6 or 8 inches away from the industrious bee as she was busy pollinating like all get-out.

It wasn’t until after my photo excursion that I realized these could very well have been Africanized bees.  Lucky for me, they weren’t.  I was very happy to see that the honey bees were in abundance at the tiny wildlife preserve where I took this picture.  They  were almost literally swarming around the patches of Texas Thistle, Firewheel, Bastard Cabbage, etc.  It was a good day to be a bee.  And a good day to be a photographer.

I left the colors, saturation, contrast, etc. alone.  It’s beautiful just as it is.

 

 

Rambles Through the Brambles

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Image © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Here is a picture I took with my trusty Canon Rebel T6 while out taking a ramble through a tiny wildlife sanctuary in one of the surrounding suburbs.  It just goes to show that there is beauty even in a dauntless stalk of prairie grass that has somehow risen above the chaotic melee of Texas brambles and has raised its arms to the heavens as if to say, “Here I am!  Do your worst!”.

I juiced up the saturation a bit to bring out the colors, but not much.  I love the cinnamon colored seed pods against the blue of the Texas sky.

The yellow flowers speckling the background are, I believe, Bastard Cabbage.  Even though I dearly love that name, it is an invasive species.  In fact, I believe most of the plants in this shot are invasive species.

I’m not sure about that lone red flower.  It looks like a Drummond Phlox, but that seems highly unlikely.  More likely it is a Firewheel or a Trumpet Creeper.  Whatever it is, it seems a little out of place.

 

Ants In My Plants

Out of extreme boredom, I took my new Canon T6 out into the backyard to try and find something interesting to photograph.  Unfortunately, I have the most boring back yard in the entire western hemisphere.   Here is all I found.  I found a branch that had been broken off of a tree and when I peered into it I saw half a dozen carpenter ants busily and diligently doing …. something.  Whatever it was, they were giving it their all.  Good job, little troopers!  Keep on doing … whatever … it is …that you’re doing.

This first photo is just for perspective.   The lens was about 1.5 to 2 feet away from the end of the branch.  You can barely make out the ants.

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This next photo is the exact same photo as above, but I cropped it and zoomed way in using some freeware photo editing tool.  Now you can see the ants doing their thing.

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Sorry my back yard is so boring.  I’ll go further afield next time.

 

Yellow Rose of Texas

A yellow rose outside my house that survived the storms yesterday.  Beautiful, but strong.

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Poor Biff’s Almanac — Ode to Saturday; To Hail and Back; A Photo Finish

writer
Tonight’s Background Music is provided by Justin Hayward (of The Moody Blues fame).
Album:  The View From the Hill
Best Song:   “Promised Land” … though they’re all good.

It’s been quite a day in Biff-land.

In Praise of Saturday

For one thing, it is Saturday, which is my favorite day of the week.  What’s not to like about Saturday?  It is virtually the only day of the week that affords me the luxury of sleeping in a little.  Though I often do get up early on Saturdays, there’s usually nothing that compels me to.  The alarm clock is given the day off.  Even if the cat wakes me up demanding to be fed, I can usually feed him and go back to sleep without much difficulty.

Another thing to like about Saturday is that I have time to eat a proper breakfast.  It may only consist of a bagel and a cup of coffee, but it is a breakfast fit for the gods because I get to eat it leisurely while reading something or watching TV or surfing the internet; not grabbing something frantically as it pops out of the toaster and then gulping it down as I run out to my truck to go to work.

And not only do I get to eat a leisurely breakfast, but the Science channel actually wises up and plays back-to-back-to-back episodes of How It’s Made.  They lose their minds again later in the day and begin to play schlock until the following Saturday, but I enjoy it while I can.

Another good thing about Saturday is that, even though I always have a good long list of things that need doing around the house, I can start and stop them at my discretion.  I can also just leave the house without having to send out an email to the department telling them that I’m going to be out of the building for a bit.  I just get in my truck and go.  That’s about the closest many of us get to tasting true freedom.

And finally, another good thing about Saturday is that it is far enough away from Monday that I don’t spend the entire day lamenting the end of the weekend and the looming threat of Monday.  For this one day a week I can pretend to live a life of indolence and leisure.   But Monday morning is always eager to remind us that we have mortgages, utility bills, insurance payments, food bills, etc. etc. etc.

There Will Be Hail to Pay!

If you were one of the five people who read my blog from yesterday, you may remember that I was discussing my doubts as to whether or not it would rain.  I was wrong.  It rained.  As some of my relatives in Alabama might say using one of their quaint rustic idioms, “It rained like a cow on a flat rock.”

There was much thunder and lightening.  The storm warning sirens went off.  There was very loud rain and wooshing winds.  When the calm of morning arrived, I could see from my handy-dandy rain gauge that I bought just a few weeks ago, that we got just over an inch of rain in about 2 hours.  Sweet!

I was lucky, though.  There were areas nearby that got 3-inch diameter hail.  I happened to drive through one of those areas later in the day and took the following pictures.

Here you can see that the hail very nearly stripped this tree of all it’s leaves (which can be seen on the ground underneath).  I just took a single picture of one such tree.  There were hundreds and hundreds of trees like this.  The hail had already melted away by the time I took these pictures, making it look like the trees just spontaneously shed their leaves.

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Here you can see some leaves surrounding a storm drain where they were washed to.  Again, this was just one of dozens of such drains.

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I stopped and took this picture through the fence surrounding a back lot of a luxury car dealer.  Pretty much every car on their lot looked like this.   And there were several dealerships that were affected by the hail.  There were dozens of cars that had had their rear windows shattered.

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This was a flower bed outside of a business.  It was nearly obliterated by leaves.  You can see some pink sticking up through all the leaves.

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And this was just a random fire plug I found which caught my eye.  No storm damage here.  It looks white in the picture, but it was painted silver.  I liked the look of it against the red brick.

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A Photo Finish

And finally, I finally decided to get myself a real camera.  Many, many years ago (okay, a few decades ago), I had a Canon AE-1 SLR 35mm camera and I loved that thing.  But it was eventually rendered useless by the digital age and so for the past 15 years or so I have had a series of point-and-click cameras and phone cameras, all of which were universally disappointing as cameras.

Phones especially make abominable cameras.  I am continually frustrated by things like the camera taking the picture about 10 seconds after I click the button.  Or there being so much glare on the display that I can’t see what I’m taking a picture of.   Or it focusing on random items in the background instead of what I want to take a picture of.

Finally, I’d had enough of trying to get my phone’s camera to behave and decided to buy a real camera.  I used to quite enjoy photography in my youth and I let technology ruin that for me.  But now I feel like the technology has finally caught up to the experiences I used to enjoy back in the 35mm film days.

I bought a Canon EOS Rebel T6 and though I’ve only gotten to play with it for about 20 minutes so far, I really like it.  I wanted an DSLR camera to mimic my Canon AE-1 SLR.  I like the SLR rather than the all-in-one cameras because I like looking through the viewfinder to compose the shot rather than looking at the display.  I like seeing what is actually going to end up in the image in real time.

Anyway, I won’t bore you with a lot of camera talk, but I hope to present a few photos now and then that I’ve shot with my trusty Canon T6.  For now, here is a sample of a picture I took earlier today.

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