Sycamore Canyon

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The advantages of driving down long bumpy roads and hiking steep treacherous trails are found at the end of the road, wherever that may be, and the views one can take in.  Such is the case with this special AZ treasure, where we discovered Indian ruins now several decades ago, up high in the cliff wall overlooking the amazing landscape below.

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The morning glow and first sunlight as it peaked over the hills were enough to give one pause as we relished our recent visit to this treasured place.

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They say, take time to smell the roses.  I say, take time to enjoy the beauty around you, wherever you may be.

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Buzzard Point

I have lived in Arizona most of my adult life.  While I was born in Phoenix, I have moved around quite a bit… but settled into AZ when I went to college, and never left.  I now live outside the big city, away from the traffic and the crazies.  The biggest drama I have these days is the elk eating my tulips… or the deer pooping in my drive way… Or where to go for our outings.

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We just got back from exploring some of the back roads outside of Flagstaff in the Woody Mountain Road (FR 213) region.  This area has some amazing overlooks that just continue to amaze me with their stunning beauty.  As long as I have lived in Arizona, I never tire of it’s wonderful vistas, stunning ridges, and deep canyons.

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This particular trip took us to Forest Road (FR) 792 outside of Flagstaff, and in particular Buzzard Ridge Point.  The end of the road yields this stunning overlook that just takes your breath away…. simply amazing.

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Best of 2016: Animals

I have read a lot of Photography books in the last few years.  When I started reading that a photographer has to choose what type of photographer he/she wants to be, I resisted.  Photography is photography…right?  It’s the technical aspect of choosing the right aperture / shutter speed combination, and lighting… and the artful aspect of style and composition.  What one shoots could be anything.

Yet, in the last few years as I have attempted to perfect my images, I have to finally agree that one does migrate toward certain styles and formats.  For some it may be wedding photos or portraits.  For me, it is clear… it’s landscapes and wildlife.

So as I build a Best of 2016 for landscapes, I have to also look to my wildlife photographs for a ‘Best of’ collection.

This past year we have traveled far and wide through the U.S., so my photography has been on the go, and not in blinds or frequenting the same wildlife habitats.  Instead it has been more happenstance of what wildlife we might have seen in our travels.   So this ‘Best of’ is more a collection of different types of animals with it’s wide variety, than a collection of best composed animal stories.

So here are my Best Animal Photos of 2016 with a focus on different animals we have gotten to see this year.

ramwall_IR.jpg 1.  Big horn sheep on wall in Zion National Park

ramprofPSPS_IR.jpg2.  Big horn sheep close-up in Zion National Park    We saw these sheep watching the world go by in November (2016).  There wasn’t a lot of traffic or cars in the park this late in the year, so these ram were just hanging out watching cars go by.

bearwalkPSi.JPG3.  Black bear in our front yard!    I can’t believe we saw a black bear out our window while having dinner!  I had to wait for it to get off the front deck eating out of our bird feeder before I could pursue it to get this photo.  It was about 5:30pm and the sun was just waining.  Easily the most thrilling animal sighting of the year for me.

lilelkcallPSi.JPG4. Elk in Happy Jack, AZ    It’s not uncommon for us to see elk where we live.  But this bugling baby was a treat as he bugled to his mom in the snow.

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5. Elk call  Speaking of bugling elk… I caught this mom hollering about something out in the woods.

lilsmomPSi.JPG6.  Elk mom & babe  It’s always a treat to see the new born elk with their spots.  It doesn’t happen often, but when we do, it is a thrill.  The new moms are always so watchful of their playful and energetic new borns.

elkinthemiddlePSi.JPG7. Elk in the Middle.    It’s fun when we get a group of elk, as you can see the different ages and sizes and interaction with the elk siblings, cousins, moms, and gatherings.

lilvert2PS_IR.jpg8.  Newborn Elk    I could do a Top 10 on Elk alone.. but I have to move on to different animals.  I had to include this one though, as this little babe still had wobbly legs and was just too precious to not include.

owlfar hortPSPS.jpg9.  Canyon Owl    I love owls, but rarely see them.  I’m lucky if I see one a year.  We saw this guy carefully watching us from his little perch along the canyon walls outside of Canyon X in Page, AZ

puffinwavPS_IR.jpg10.  Puffin Wave    While I’m on birds, I have to include this awesome puffin we saw in Englishtown, Nova Scotia.

eagleflexPS_IR.jpg11. Eagle Flight    I would have been happier if this eagle had a fish in his mouth… but nonetheless, it’s a close up eagle in flight, so it goes to the diversity of animals (in this case birds) we saw in 2016.

turkeywaddlePSPS_IR.jpg12.  Gobble gobble.    I don’t know about you, but it’s not everyday you see wild turkey.  I have never seen one in gobbler mode strutting his stuff…. but I’m happy with any opportunity to photograph a turkey in the wild.

chips songPSi.JPG.    13.  Chippies.    Moving on to little animals, I caught these two little chipmunk ‘talking’ to each other.  If this photo had sound you would hear the chirping the one on the right was making.  She saw me and stood there with her foot up and just chirped incessantly until this other little chipmunk came up to see what all the ruckus was about.

red tree turn_IR.jpg14.  Tufted Ear Squirrel.    I love these cool squirrels with their tufted pointy ears.  I really like the texture of this tree bark against the furry critter and blurred wooded background.

redleapPS_IR.jpg15.  Tufts in Flight.  Then there is this guy caught in flight mid air jaunting across the rocks looking for just the right pine cone to nibble on.

porci lookPSi.JPG16. Porcupine Scowl.    I’m not sure how many porcupine’s I have ever seen… but I caught this fella scowling at me on an overlook in Northern California.  He was not too happy that I was in his face with a camera.  I took his portrait and backed off and left him in peace as he wasn’t nearly as happy to see me as I was him.

chipmodelPS.jpg17.  Ground squirrel pose.    We stopped at an overlook in Utah outside of Lake Powell for lunch.  This little guy wanted hand outs in the worst way.  He was a riot to watch because he didn’t want to get too close, but he really wanted a nibble.  What a curious fellow he was.  We tipped his for his entertainment, took his photo for posterity and went on our way.  We left him an apple core that was about as big as he was.  He dragged it off like the coveted prize, but not before he posed for us and flitted about trying to get our attention.

smbird5PSi.JPG18. Hiding among the Daisies.  This little bird was digging up bugs amongst a field of daisies.  He squatted down as if I couldn’t see me.  Can’t hide from my camera, little guy.

elkfacePSi.JPG19. Young ‘un.     I had this young elk’s attention, until it realized I was no threat and went about it’s business.  It liked right at me, as if to say, ‘what ya doing?’.

ramalerti.JPG   20.  Ram Alert.    We saw this young ram munching on these trees on the White Rim road within Canyonlands National Park.  The road was thrilling all by itself, but made more fun seeing this guy along the way.

 

I could go on and on, as I have a ton of animal photos, many of which are contained within this blog as I take them…. but these are some of my favorites for the year.  We got to see a wide variety of interesting and fun animals throughout the year in our far and wide travels.  I count myself lucky for each and every animal portrait, capturing their moods and feelings at that point in time, and the ability to be able to share.

Thanks for stopping by…. again, as before, feel free to pick your favorites.

Best of 2016: Second Cut

My Best of 2016 post, posted ….here and Honorable mentions …here, have been such a huge hit they have even inspired a Best of 2016: Restaurants post … here.

Many have asked if these are your Best of 2016, what kind of photos didn’t make the cut?  So, by popular demand… here are a few that didn’t make the ‘Best of’… the Second Cut, as I call them.

serelepots2PSi.JPG1.  Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

lthsclPSi.JPG2. Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

seatreeesPS_IR.jpg3. Cape Breton Eastern Shore, Nova Scotia

crwn clsPS_IR.jpg4. Mt. Hood, Oregon

bodegarays cloPS.JPG5. Bodega Bay, Northern California

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6. Fall on Mogollon Rim, Northern AZ

 

mosslog long2PSi.JPG7. Maple Drop, Mogollon Rim

 

burnartPS.jpg8.  Burnt Art, Mogollon Rim  AZ

SnowBurst.jpg9. Snow Burst, Happy Jack  AZ

toadstoalsPS.jpg10. Toadstools, Utah

smoked treePSi.JPG11. Smoked Tree, Mogollon Rim AZ

rockshadowPSi.JPG12. Harris Beach, Northern CA

stars2PS.jpg13. Lake Powell,  AZ

 

This is been such a fun exercise for me… it’s actually made me feel better about my photos.. so thanks for all the likes and comments.   What I have found most interesting has been the differences in people’s taste.  Some liked some of my Honorable Mentions better than my Top 10 picks… including my husband, who liked some of my Second Cut (didn’t even make Honorable Mentions) photos best.  And that… is what makes it so difficult to choose ‘Best of’, because depending on your tastes or moods of the moment, one might pick different favorites.

Next up, I’ll collect a Best of Animals post to highlight all the amazing animals we saw in 2016.

If you didn’t see the original posts that this is a sequel to.. check them out here, here… AND here.

Feel free to choose your faves… I love to hear what people think. :)

 

 

 

From the Archives: Australia

It’s been awhile since I have been to Australia, but it is a place I revere with great affection.  It’s got everything… great views, wonderful scenery, awesome and diverse food, and the best people anywhere.  It’s super friendly, great climate, and lots to do and see.

I wrote about it here.    My friend, Pat, is making her first trip with her family to Australia and asked me where she should go.  That’s always a tough question, but got me to thinking where to recommend.treeharborbrgi.JPG

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Anyone going to Australia will be hitting Sydney, and with it, automatically see the Harbor Bridge, the Opera House and the boardwalk or Circular Quay.  But while there, I might recommend the Harbor bridge climb or the unfortunately now defunct Mutiny on the Bounty harbor cruise (see below).

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The Queen Victoria Building isn’t much more than a shopping mall, but it is home to this ancient and fascinating clock>

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When I was there some years back, we also took an excursion to Symbio, because I wanted to see koala’s and kangaroo’s.  It was little more than a zoo… but I got to pet kangaroo’s, so it was fun.

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Of course if one was to do excursions Bondi Beach and Darling Harbor are also great outings.  The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains is a beautiful outdoor destination out of Sydney.

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My knowledge is all quite old.  I’m quite sure my friend will bring home her own great experiences and be telling me the places to go.  All I have are my memories of the places I have been, and they are all cherished indeed.

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Woodpeckers are in

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redseed2PSi.JPGYou can tell when the weather is nice, even if only for a short period of time… the birds and squirrels come out in droves to collect seeds and food before the storms return.  They are fun to watch as they happily hop around soaking up the fleeting sunshine.

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We have red headed Acorn Woodpeckers and Northern Flickers in these parts.

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… and the occasional endearing dear and crazy squirrel .

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