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Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Christmas Turkey

On Christmas Day Jan and I went to her folks' place for a "round robin" Christmas Dinner. The main course was at her sister Karen and brother-in-law Frank's house. I had heard that they had "adopted" a tom turkey recently (or rather I think the turkey adopted them), and I was anxious to see if I could get a shot or two of the bird.

Normally, I think that turkeys are pretty secretive, preferring to stay far away from humans and their habitat. But this one seems to have taken over Karen and Frank's yard, and is very protective of his "space."

As I moved quietly closer to the turkey, he noticed me and immediately displayed his tail feathers, and began to quietly gobble (I guess that's the term for it), moving back and forth in a diagonal pattern. As he weaved back and forth toward me, I got the impression he wasn't very happy I was there.

As he moved closer to me, I moved away from him. We "danced" like that until he began to lunge toward me to peck. I took one last portrait shot, and then stomped and yelled at him and he ran off behind one of the cars.

Frank says the turkey is fond of sneaking up behind him as he reads the paper in the hammock. Maybe if I took the time, the tom would eventually learn to tolerate me being around. I hope you like the photos, and I hope your Christmas holiday was filled with good cheer.

All the best,

Mike Z

Friday, December 18, 2009

Our Christmas Tree 2009

I am sending all my Photographic Memory friends and visitors this Christmas "card" to let you know how much I appreciate everyone who's visited and shared my photos and stories. I wish you all the Happiest of Holidays, whatever the holidays mean for you. I hope you're with friends and family, and that you are able to forget about the worries and stresses that inevitably crop up in life, and most of all that you find rest, joy and peace as we end 2009 and look forward to 2010 and beyond.

All the Best to You and Yours!

Mike Z

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sunset in Wharton TX

I did a lot of traveling this week--from Austin to San Antonio to Houston to Brownsville, and back to San Antonio! I don't recommend that much driving to anyone. Too hard.

But, as I drove through Wharton TX, south of Houston on the way to Corpus, I passed this small pond as the sun set, and had to stop and take a photo.


I have a few more, but this shot is my favorite. I hope you like it. As usual, when I find more "photo ops," I will post them up.

all the best,
Mike Z

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tour of the McNay Museum, San Antonio TX

Driving through San Antonio, I had passed the McNay Museum many times. This time I had my trusty travel camera with me, so during lunch hour (arguably the worst time of day to take photos) I drove in to see the sights.
Entrance Gate, McNay Museum

Entrance to the McNay Museum

Fountain as it looks from entrance

The Fountain and Main Building

I was met at the gate by a very friendly Security guard, who asked what I was doing and if I was going to take professional photos. I said no, I was just going to take some snapshots of some of the artwork around the museum. He said the museum itself was closed that day, but that I was welcome to take non-commercial photos if I wished.

Small sculpture near the fountain

Sculpture near the Fountain

There were quite a few sculptures on the property, and an oriental garden and pond. Some of the sculptures were very strange, but most, like the one in the photo above, were very tasteful, and added to the calm feel of the area.

Another view of the Main Building

Another View of the Main Building
I wandered around for a while, snapping away, and came across this metal sculpture near the side of the main museum. I thought it was a very fine thing, a lot like some of the sculptures at the Benini Sculpture Ranch that I had been to recently.

Sculpture 1

Sculpture on the Grounds

The Security guard had told me that the museum was a popular place to have portraits and bridal photos taken. He said some days as many as a dozen different photo sessions were scheduled. The fee for the professional photo sessions was very reasonable, $20, and helped with the maintenance of the grounds around the museum.

Many Brides get their portraits here

Bridal Portrait

Near the main building there was a small pond with a mobile sculpture in the center. There were a few lilies in the pond, and it seemed to be well tended.

Moving sculpture in lily pond

Moving Sculpture in Pond near Main Building

Water Lily in the small pond

Water Lily in Moving Sculpture Pond

Palm Tree against blue sky

Palm Tree and Sky

The photo above was a whim. I looked up at one of the palm trees and thought how pretty it was next to the blue sky. I hope you agree.

Well, that about sums up my "tour" of the McNay Museum. I hope you like the photos.

Best regards,

Mike Z

Friday, November 20, 2009

Rose Macro 2

Rose Macro 2

Another week, another rose from Jan's work. I decided to try the macro technique again. This time I used a different lens, a Nikon 24mm 1:2.8 D, with the same teleconverter and extension tube setup as last week. I tried a smaller aperture to get more of the petals in focus. Minimal cropping to get a suitable photo size, and I posted it up!

I hope you like this one. I think it's an improvement over last week's. Glad you stopped by, and hope you'll return soon, dear friend.

Best regards,
Mike Z


This morning the rose had opened a little, and I took another photo of it. Not a macro this time, I used the Tamron lens without the teleconverter or the extension, and just tried to get a good close up of the rose as it opened.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rose Macro Photograph


I haven't done any macro photography in a long time, but when I got home from this week's business trip, I noticed that Jan had gotten a beautiful tea rose from work. So I figured, what the heck, I'd see what I remembered about shooting close-up.


I took a photo of the rose in the vase to show a different perspective. I will try to do more macro photos, and change some of the camera settings to improve.

Thanks for dropping by, I appreciate you taking a look. Come back again, and hopefully there'll be more photographic memories.

All the best,
Mike Z

PS - I just checked and this post is #100! Not bad for an old guy....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Butterflies at Flat Creek Winery


Jan and I took a "day trip" to Marble Falls last weekend to visit one of our favorite Hill Country wineries, Flat Creek Estates. I brought the camera in hopes of taking some good photos of the grounds and buildings, but these butterflies caught my eye. And that was that!
I am not sure of the name of the orange creature above. I looked it up on a butterfly identification website, and the best match is a Gulf Fritillary. It was very difficult to get them to stay still long enough to get a good sharp photo!


My old friend the Pipevine Swallowtail (see On to the Next One from 2007). There were many of these around the bushes and flowers. They were constantly running others off from the flowers which was very interesting to watch.

This is a very close cropping of another photo of the Gulf Fritillary. If you look closely, you can see that it's sipping nectar from the flower! This photo is one I'd like to get enlarged and framed. I like it a lot. I hope you do, too.


I hope you enjoy these "gardens with wings," as one website has called them. I have re-cropped and replaced these photos so you can see the details better. Please come back soon and see what's new!

All the best,
Mike Z

---> PS - I just found a very nice video that shows off a little of the winery and the wines. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Benini Sculpture Ranch near Johnson City

I apologize to all who have come to see more photos and stories. I have been busy and sick, but they are no excuse. A dear friend reminded me today that I have been over 3 months "absent." I will try to make amends now.
A few weeks ago, Jan and I had the opportunity to visit the Benini Sculpture Ranch near Johnson City TX. I don't remember now how I heard about it, but I think it was from one of Jan's sisters who had recently gone with her husband. We drove a good distance, and finally made it. They tour was by car, so most (if not all) of the photos below are from the driver's side window perspective. I have picked a few favorite sculptures, but there were dozens more.
Gothic Cross by Rick Cunningham
Sculpture Garden Gothic Cross

Adam and Eve by David Massey
Sculpture Garden Adam and Eve

Palladin by Bettye Ann Turner
Sculpture Garden Palladin

Gemini's Song by Peter Mangan
Sculpture Garden Gemini's Song

Detail from Gemini's Song
Sculpture Garden Gemini's Song Detail

Thunderbird Monument by Rick Cunningham
Sculpture Garden Thunderbird Monument

Redwood by Samuel Burns
Sculpture Garden Redwood

Dancers 1 by Jerry Daniel
Sculpture Garden Dancers 1
(Not Exterior Inside, Not Exterior Outside by Eyefells is in the background)

By coincidence, there was a lecture series being presented by the Benini's free to the public. We stayed for part of one, which was very interesting, but I was anxious to get back out there and shoot! We met Mr and Mrs Benini, who were very gracious to us and invited us back any time we chose to come. We will be back for sure!
Benini is a sculptor of renown and regularly invites other sculptors to craft and show their own sculptures on his spacious ranch. It is wonderful that so many have an outlet for their work, and that so many like Jan and I can come out and enjoy it.
If you are ever out near Johnson City, TX please make an effort to see the Sculpture Ranch. You will be glad you did.
Till next time,
Mike Z

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Flowers from the Austin Pond Tour 2009

The Pond Tour this year was HOT! several senses of the word. There were many, many (almost too many) beautiful ponds all over Austin to see and enjoy. The pond owners were gracious and friendly, and had bottled water for the thirsty tourists which helped us all.

A night blooming water lily that was just closing up when we arrived at Mark's wonderful pond.

There were bees everywhere. I was glad to see them!

I really like the color of these lilies.

I like this photo because of the koi swimming by...

All in all there were over 30 ponds and water gardens to see and admire. We spoke to many people who had no idea there were so many ponds and bogs in Austin! The pond owners worked very hard to show off their ponds and yards. And, the Austin Pond Society folks who put the tour together deserve a special word of thanks for all their efforts to make the tour a success. Bravo!

Next I post up some animals and insects that I got to photograph on the tour, and then some of the ponds themselves. I am really saving the best for last! I hope you enjoy these, and will come back again to see the rest.

All my best to you,
Mike Z

PS-if you click on the Title of this post, you can go to my Flickr collection of flowers from the tour.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Pond Tour is This Weekend!

This weekend Saturday and Sunday (Saturday evening, too) is the Austin Pond Society's 15th Annual Pond Tour. I am so amazed that a year has gone by so quickly.

As some readers will know, my first Pond Tour was last year around this time. I saw the event on one of the TV stations and convinced Jan to go with me Sunday afternoon to see some ponds. As you might expect I took the camera along...

I want to add a link to my favorite pond of the 2008 Pond Tour, Kathy and Rick's Pond. Their pond will not be on the tour this year, and I will miss the opportunity to see how it has changed. I hope that it will return in future years.

The video above is of Mark Akin's beautiful spring-fed pond and water garden that will be on the Sunday Tour this year. We will be there bright and early to see it in person. The video is so relaxing that I highly recommend it if you've had a stressful day.

And, last but not least, if you are in the Austin Area this weekend, PLEASE consider seeing the Pond Tour! If you'd like to spend $12.50 and see more than 30 of the most beautiful water gardens you've ever seen, go to the Austin Pond Society website, scroll down to the 2009 Tour, and click on Wristbands and Bus Tour. BTW, I am the Tour Guide for the Saturday Bus Tour, and we leave from St Andrew's Presbyterian Church Saturday morning at 8:45am. Should be fun!

Glad you stopped by! Come back often. I enjoy reading your comments. You make my day!

Mike Z
PS--Bad news I think for the Bus Tour. Not very many people it seems want to spend the day in air conditioned comfort seeing ponds. I am pretty certain that the Bus Tour is cancelled. But you can still go see ponds! It really is a great weekend. I promise you'll enjoy the tour.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fireworks in New Braunfels, 2009

We got to see the fireworks in New Braunfels TX again this year.

I tried again to get some good photos. I hope you like them!









Hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Fourth of July weekend! (This applies to those outside the US, too!)

Mike Z

PS-Thanks to Jason R for showing me how to get the "bulb" setting on my camera.

PPS-To see last year's fireworks photos go to Fireworks 2008

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Took a Photo Class at Zilker Park

Originally uploaded by mzieglertx

Today some members of Austin Pond Society went on a photography field trip at Zilker Park. Our topic at this month's meeting was How to Take More Interesting Photos. Gordon Hamilton, from SeniorNet, and I had presentations, and all the members were invited to this photo shoot to practice our skills.

Click on the Title to see more photos from the class. I hope you enjoy them.

Best regards,

Mike Z