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Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Day 2012, at Slumber Falls again!

Guadalupe River

Well, we had such a good time last Thanksgiving, we decided to do it again! Jan's family rented a space at Slumber Falls Camp in New Braunfels, TX, and we celebrated Turkey Day in fine style!

Interestingly, I noticed that I got 320+ hits to last year's Thanksgiving Day post. So I decided to post some of this year's photos in a new post for 2012. I didn't get as many shots of the landscape as I would have liked because we were getting Christmas Card photos done, and time slipped away from me.

As I said last year, I hope your Thanksgiving Day was the best yet for you! If you don't have Thanksgiving where you are, please try to be thankful for all you have.

Till next time,
Mike Z

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Butchart Gardens, Victoria Canada

Part of the main gardens - Click to see larger

Jan and I had a wonderful opportunity to go on our second cruise to Alaska this summer, and we went on a different cruise line. It was a different experience!

One of the highlights of our trip this time was a night tour of the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia. It is an amazing old limestone quarry that was transformed into a series of beautiful gardens by Mr. Butchart's wife Jennie. The photo above is from the first garden we toured, which was the main garden area and the major part of the old quarry. We were told while touring that Mrs. Butchart had rapelled down the steep sides of the quarry, planting ivy as she went. The ivy now covers nearly every wall of the quarry and is quite spectacular.

I hope to get back there someday, as the groundskeepers plant seasonal plants all along the walkways in the Gardens, and it would be a different experience each time you visited, depending on the season.

Hope you enjoy the photo. If you'd like to see it larger, click on the photo and it will load in a new window. 

All the best,
Mike Z

PS: here's a short video (about a minute and a half) showing the seasons of the Butchart Gardens:
5 Seasons of the Butchart Gardens


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blue Moon Last Night, Austin TX

Blue Moon, August 31st, 2012 Austin TX

A Blue Moon, as most of you probably know by now, is the third full moon in a season with four full moons. Last night, I had to go out and try to get a decent full moon photo for the occasion! Unfortunately, there were thin clouds over the moon, so it was impossible to get a clear shot.

I wrote on someone's Facebook page that I can never hear the words Blue Moon without thinking about the song from the 50's/60's by the Marcels. I hear in my head most clearly "Baw buh buh Baw buh Dangy Dang Dang, buh Dangy Dawg Dig Bluuue Mooooon, You saw me standing alone...." Ah the memories...

Till next time!
Mike Z

Saturday, August 4, 2012

New Mexico Sky, Albuquerque Aug 4, 2012

Clouds and sun over the convention center
Today I'm in Albuquerque, NM at a convention, and at lunch time I just had to get outside for a few minutes. These wispy clouds caught my eye, but alas no camera. Then I remembered my cell phone! So I took this photo. I will say that the sky is not quite as blue out there as in the photo, but it captures the clouds like I wanted.

Another view of clouds over the convention center
 The photos were taken with my Samsung 4G Touch cell phone. I didn't do any cropping/editing to the photos, they are just as they came out of the camera phone.

Hope your day is going well.

Thanks for stopping by,
Mike Z

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Full Moon, Austin TX 10:30pm

Full Moon, Austin TX

I have never really tried to shoot a full moon with my D7000 before, because I was a little intimidated by some of the miserable failures I had experienced with other cameras before. But tonight the moon was so bright and beautiful I just had to try.

After several blown out attempts (the moon is VERY bright tonight) I tried the aperture very small and used the in camera flash. And, I got an almost passable photo. Stumbled on it by sheer luck. No tripod, but I should have used one.

I am pretty proud of this photo even though it won't ever be a contest winner. I might just give it a try next full moon! :-)

All the best,
Mike Z

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Someone likes my photos!

As a non-professional but hoping-to-be-acceptable photographer, I have long wondered what it would be like to have folks like my photos well enough to buy prints of them. Photographer friends of mine like Bob Zeller, the excellent bird and landscape photographer, already know how that feels. I have donated a few framed photos, and enjoy matting and framing my photos to give to folks who need a little something to relax them, or give them something tangible to remember a shared experience. But the requests to purchase my photos have not been overwhelming to date.

Several months ago, I got an email from a very nice lady named Laura, who lives near New Braunfels. Last Thanksgiving I had taken some photos of the Guadalupe River, and posted them on my weblog. Laura wondered if I could make her a canvas print that she could hang above her fireplace in her new house, and could I help her make that print? Of course I could! I was thrilled! Little did I know that the print she wanted was 30"x40", way beyond my printer's capabilities.

But after several emails and phone calls, we decided how it would work. And in about 3 weeks as I remember, she got to pick up her new gallery-wrapped canvas print. I got to see where it was to be hung, and it looked really good to me.

A few days ago, she sent me an email with the photo above attached, and told me that she had had the photo framed to set it off from the fireplace rocks. It looked so much better to me! I was glad she thought of that.

So now I know a little of how it feels to have someone like my photos well enough to purchase prints. I could get used to that! :-)

Till next time,
Mike Z

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Photos of Three Waterfalls 2006-2007

Snoqualmie Falls, Snoqualmie WA 2007

At Heather the Raven Lady's request (see her 'blog by clicking on my link), I have posted what began as one waterfall photo and now has evolved at the suggestion of my daughter Amy into a montage of three waterfall photos. Snoqualmie Falls in Washington state was a pretty long drive from Tacoma where Amy and her family live, but it was well worth all the effort. When we got to the site, we could hike along one of the ridges and get better and better views of the falls. At the end of the trail was a covered viewing platform that jutted out over the canyon and afforded a spectacular viewing area. I chose to photograph the falls from a little bit different vantage point, along the trail leading up to the platform. I have to say it was a magnificent delight to see these falls.

Falls Under Bridge, Mt Ranier WA 2007

Another really memorable "waterfall moment" was on our way up Mt Ranier that same year. We had stopped for a photo-op (I appreciate all the passengers for putting up with too many of those) and hiked through the woods to a good spot, and I shot a few photos like this one. I have this photo enlarged and waiting for a frame, and it brings back that trip for me as few other photos I took that day do. Makes me take a deep calming breath almost every time.

Shoshone Falls, near Twin Falls, Idaho 2007

I found this post in my Drafts folder this morning (7/22/2012!) and thought I'd post it. Brings back great memories of our travels in past years. Can't believe it's been 5 years since I shot these photos! Hope you enjoy them.

All the best,
Mike Z

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tracy Arm Fjord, our Trip to Alaska 2012

Striations in the hillside formed by glaciers - click to see larger
We passed numerous hills that had been "sanded down" over millions of years by the ebb and flow of glaciers. The parallel scars, or striations, made interesting patterns in the rock.

Entering the Tracy Arm Fjord - click on photo to see larger
Our ship, the Celebrity Infinity, is the largest boat that is capable of navigating this fjord. We were lucky! The day was chilly but sunny, and the spot where we were standing was high enough to afford a good view of the mountains and the water.

Iceberg in Tracy Arm Fjord - click on photo to see larger
Jan and I went on our second cruise to Alaska a few weeks back, and I have been trying to get all the photos together to make a photo book, and a video of the photos. It is a long process because I have so many photos! (I know, waaah, waaah...)

So this will be a new type of post for me. I call it the "add-a-photo" post. I will add more photos of our journey through the fjord, ending with some photos of the Sawyer Glacier that I am pretty proud of.

I really like the blue color in the ice in this photo, it's as close to the color I saw as my camera could get. The day we went through the fjord was about as perfect as you could imagine. It was only after that that the weather got bad....

Till the next post,
thanks for stopping by!

Mike Z

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park


Bill, Joanne, Jan and I went to Big Bend National Park recently, and I wanted to post a montage of the photos and movies that we took in the Santa Elena Canyon.

I hope you enjoy them!

Mike Z

PS I changed the link from the Photodex website to the YouTube website so folks wouldn't have to add a new program to view it. Some were having problems with the Photodex add-in program.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Butterfly Tree in my Daughter's Back Yard

First off, I have to say that cell phones are no substitute for "real" cameras, at least my Blackberry is not.

That said I have to say when miraculous events occur in one's life, and the only thing you have is a Blackberry, then by all means take the shot!

We had brought the grandkids back to our daughter's house in Copperas Cove, and I had gone out to see how the lawn mower was holding up, when I looked up and saw literally hundreds of Red Admiral butterflies feasting on the ligustrum flowers by the porch. What a sight! I had seen photos of this sort of thing, but never up close and personal.

I called the two boys out to see the butterflies, and we spent a good deal of time getting "up close and personal" with the beautiful insects. At one point I had one boy on my shoulders and the other scouting critters for us to see. I took several photos with my phone, and the above was the best of the lot.

I hope to go back soon with a movie camera to see if I can give you a better idea of what we saw.

Till then,
thanks for stopping by!

Mike Z

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Guadalupe Mountains in West Texas

July 14 2012note: Texas Highways magazine has an online article about the Guadalupe Mountains in its August 2012 issue. If you'd like to learn more, visit:

My first sight of the Guadalupe Mountains
Last month I flew to El Paso for work. I was not able to take my camera gear, too much to carry on the plane. I had been east on State Highway 180 before and had seen the Guadalupe Mtns from the highway, and I knew I wanted to get some photos. I stopped in Walgreens and got a $30 camera that supposedly had a 4x zoom and headed out.

Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan seen heading toward McKittrick Canyon

According to the Canyon Notes of McKittrick Canyon, the photo above is of Guadalupe Peak (highest elevation in Texas) and El Capitan. "Not far from where the range ends in the plunging cliffs of El Capitan, a deep canyon has cut into the heart of these mountains. Tucked within the 2,000 ft. high limestone walls is a place that some call "the most beautiful spot in Texas."" (Canyon Notes)

I was at the southern tip of the mountain range, and ahead of me were McKittrick Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns. I drove on and pulled off the highway for the short drive into the canyon park.

Entrance to McKittrick Canyon
The end of the day was rapidly approaching, so I was just able to get out of the car, and walk a few hundred feet down the trail toward the canyon itself. There are three trails in the area, the .9mi Nature Trail, the Canyon Trail which is about 3.5mi, and the Permian Reef Trail, the longest at 4mi. It is certain that I will be back with a better camera to walk these trails.

Different view of McKittrick Canyon

On the Canyon Trail, you can see the Pratt Cabin about halfway up the trail. In 1921 Wallace Pratt, a geologist with Humble Oil, heard about the canyon and went to see it. For the next 50 years his love for the area steered the course of McKittrick Canyon. (Canyon Notes)

View of Guadalupe Peak from roadside rest stop

So on the way back to El Paso after doing some work in Carlsbad, NM, I stopped at a rest stop/scenic view and took some more photos of Guadalupe Peak (I hope the Canyon Notes are right about the name). The clouds behind the mountain were spectacular, and I hope the Walgreens camera did them justice.

 Before I got in the car I shot the photo above of the road heading back to El Paso.


I just had to try to get the sunset, so I stopped along the highway and just snapped a few to see what would turn out. 

So that's my trip to the Guadalupe Mountains Part 1. Part 2 will be when I bring my camera and gear and spend a whole day walking through the most beautiful spot in Texas. 

'Til next time,

Mike Z

PS -- one thing I found out about my Walgreens camera was that the more I used the 4x zoom, the more out of focus the photos were! Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Puerto Rico photo book

I had such a great time taking photos in Puerto Rico, and thought it would be a great idea to add to my photobook collection with Puerto Rico 2012. Some of the photos are in my previous post, but there are many new ones here as well.
I highly recommend Shutterfly if you are ever interested in making a photobook of your own. They have a simple interface and the prices are reasonable (especially on sale!)
Please enjoy the photos and story,
Mike Z

Monday, February 13, 2012

Our Puerto Rico trip Day 1 -- The Rainforest

I have been feeling very guilty about not putting any entries or photos on the Memories for so long. So I am going to put several posts on this week to make up for lost time. Jan and I were fortunate to be invitied on a trip to Puerto Rico a few weeks back, and I have to say I was overwhelmed with the beauty and variety of the sights we saw. The photo above was taken from the 14th floor of the Caribe Hilton Resort, where we spent a few hours each night recuperating from the day!

Our first morning there, we spent time wandering around the hotel itself. There were many beautiful areas near the beach, the photo above is of the small fortification that protected the early Spanish settlers from the English, who came to take the gold that the Spanish had collected from the area.

In the afternoon, we took a guided tour of the El Yunque rainforest. It is a National Park, and was very clean and well-kept. Our destination was the largest waterfall in the country, and we had a 1.5 mile hike in store for us from here to see it.

The Yokahu Tower shown above was several hours' drive from the hotel, our guide (he's in the blue jeans in the photo of the whole tower, was very cheerful and informative. He was obviously proud of living in Puerto Rico, and in Jan's and my opinion, justifiably so!

The photo above is looking out at the Atlantic Ocean from the tower. The rainforest, our guide told us, gets on average 144 inches of rain a year, TEN times the average for the central and eastern part of the island. The Trade Winds are responsible for that.

There are over 160 varieties of trees in the El Yunque, and they are protected now from farming for wood, as the forest had been in the past. Sometimes, however, hurricanes and other natural occurances take their toll.

There were several instances of unusual root systems in the trees in this rainforest. The photo above shows one kind of root system. Another even stranger tree has the roots coming from the top of the tree, and they hang down like curtains to the ground, where they deliver more water to the treetops.

La Mina waterfall. Quite a sight. There were many people wading and swimming here, but Jan and I did not go in.

The sign at the foot of the trail. It was a long journey there and back, and both ways were uphill!

I saved my favorite photo for last. As Jan and I were walking away from the falls, she pointed out this small patch of fern growing out of the steps. She really liked these tiny ferns, so I snapped a photo. I got several different kinds of ferns along the walk, but since this was Jan's favorite, it "made the cut."

That evening we kayak'd through pitch darkness to the Bio Bay near the ocean, where luminescent algae light up like millions of tiny fireflies as the water was disturbed by hands or paddles. I wish I could have taken some photos, but I had taken so many photos of the rainforest, my chips were full. Pitch blackness is not a good photo subject anyway.

Our second day was a tour of El Morro, the largest fortress on the island, and of Old San Juan. I think you will like those photos, too.

Till then,