Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Walk Around Lake Wichita

I moved to Wichita Falls almost exactly two weeks ago to take a weather forecasting job at Sheppard AFB.  I am renting a room on the south side of town.  I try to go home as often as I can, but since the part of central Texas where my house is located is still 230 miles away it's not practical every weekend.  So since I am here on a saturday I decided to check out the local environment.  It turns out there's a nice park about a mile away from where I'm living. 

There is a walking/bike path at the park which is part of the circle trail, which you can use to go all around the city without having to get on a road.  I plan to pick up my bicycle next weekend when I'm at my house, so that I can explore a little bit further.  As it is, I only walked about 3 miles today.  I did see a little bit of wildlife along the way. 

However, since I didn't have my real camera or big lenses with me, I didn't get a chance to take pictures of any of the birds, turtles or small mammals that I saw along the way.  I'm sure I'll get plenty of opportunities in the future though.  For today I had to make due with my phone camera. 

I like getting outdoors and I need more regular exercise, so I plan to hit this park at least a couple of days a week after work.  There's even a little exercise machine right near the parking lot. 

Over the longer term, it appears that the city has some big plans for this lake.  They recently got a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to drain and excavate the lake in order to develop it for an even wider variety of recreational uses.  It will be exciting to see how this project turns out in a couple of years.  Here is the website with more information about the project:

Well that's about all I have for today.  Talk to you again soon.
Todd   :-)

Monday, February 20, 2017

An Early Morning Walk Up Mount Scott

Who would have thought that Oklahoma would have mountains.  Okay, so they are not mountain like they have in Colorado, or even the mountains that I spent the past 2 1/2 years traipsing up and down in Arizona.  But the Wichita Mountain wildlife refuge does contain some significant hills, the tallest of which is Mount Scott at almost 2500' above ground level.

The view looking back down the hill was quite nice

I drove up to the top a couple of weeks ago, took a couple of pictures, then drove back down. 

The view from my first trip up to the top of Mt. Scott in late January.  
But this morning it was all about the walk.  It's just a little under 3 miles, but basically all uphill, then all downhill, no real flat spots along the way.  Also, it's a paved road, so you have to be on the lookout for cars going up and down.  That being said, it really wasn't a bad walk at all.  

The views are great.  Especially since we were treated to some very interesting cloud formations this morning. 

In addition, since it just rained last night, even the mountain side of the road provided some nice scenery with quite a few little mini waterfalls. 

Rain runoff created these little mini waterfalls.
Then once we got up near the top, the mountain peak was still shrouded in clouds, so it became a walk through the fog. 

Finally, I inadvertently set up a little camera comparison opportunity, as there were two scenes that I liked enough that I edited the shot from both my real camera (EOS M3) and smartphone (LG G5). The M3 shots were then edited in Lightroom, while the LG G5 shots were edited in Snapseed.

Here we go ....

EOS M3 17mm Tokina lens

LG G5 wide angle lens

So it's not exactly the same scene, as the LG G5 lens gave a wider field of view.  Overall I like the shot from my M3 better, as the smaller sensor in the camera phone just left a bit too much noise, especially in the sky.

But this in this second example, I'm really glad I had the LG G5 with me, as even with the noise, I think the wider angle (and shooting in HDR plus mode) did a better job of capturing the drama of this cloud formation.  

EOS M3 17mm Tokina Lens

LG G5 wide angle lens

Well that's about all I've got for today.  Til next time ... 

Todd  :-) 


Thursday, March 31, 2016

San Pedro River at Charleston Road

Today one of my friends and I took a short hike down at the San Pedro River; but at a different part of it than I usually go to.  We parked in the lot near the bridge on Charleston Road, then made our way down the bank to walk along the river.  The goal was to find a wall of graffiti going under the old railroad tracks. 

Found it!

I wasn't out there for wildlife today, but I did notice quite a few birds (flycatchers mostly) along the river, so I'll probably head out there again with my 500mm lens soon.  We also discovered that there's a petroglyph site not far from here, so that's on the near-term agenda too. 


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Zucchini Pasta with Tomato and Onions

So last night I was really tempted to make myself a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.  Not totally bad for me, but I knew that I had some better stuff in the fridge, and since I knew I'd probably write about what I ate, the veggies might be a better choice ... lol, this accountability thing might just work after all.   :-)

This was just a simple "pasta" dish using zucchini squash in place of the pasta, and tomato, onion, spices and olive oil instead of sauce from a jar.  I've cooked this dish before, both for myself and with a friend.  It's been delicious every time.  I suppose I could have just sliced up the zucchini, but a couple of months back I got on Amazon and ordered one of those Veggetti slicers  that you may have seen on TV.  It works pretty much as advertised.  It took me just over a minute to turn a medium sized zucchini into a pile of "pasta" strands.

Here is the entire ingredient list:
  • 1 zucchini squash ... spiral sliced 
  • 1/4 red onion ... thinly sliced 
  • A dozen or so cherry (or regular) tomatoes ... cut in smaller pieces 
  • 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil 
  • Italian spice, salt, pepper, pinch of garlic powder 
  • Parmesan cheese
After gathering and preparing all the ingredients, the first step is to heat up some oil in the pan, then add the sliced onions with a little Italian seasoning:

After the onions had cooked for a couple of minutes I mixed in the zucchini strands:  

The finally the tomatoes, with a little more Italian spice, garlic and some salt & pepper: 

After everything is in the pan, it really only takes a couple more minutes for everything to thoroughly heat and soften up a bit.  When it was all done, I toasted a piece of bread, sprinkled on some parmesan cheese and sat down for tasty, but healthy meal.  

I hope you found this post helpful ... and if you decide to make this yourself, please come back to let me know how it goes.  :-)


Thursday, September 3, 2015

This is a neat weather map

I'm a weather guy, so of course I like anything that will give me a quick look at what conditions might be expected at my location.  If I see something interesting, I did into the data a bit more.  This map is fun to look at just for the winds, it can be almost mesmerizing to watch the flow.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Good Photographer Doesn't Need Photoshop?

Anybody who enjoys photography on more than just a very casual basis has probably heard someone (almost always a person who fancies themselves as a "real photographer") proclaim that a "real" photographer ALWAYS captures the image they want "in camera".  Using software to produce the final image is "cheating".  Even on Instagram, where one of the main USPs (unique selling points) is the filters, there's a fairly popular hashtag #nofilter ... as if that's something to be proud of.

I can't speak for all photographers (and just to be clear, I'm an amateur at best); but for me, when I look at a scene to try to decide whether or not to capture the image, I'm always thinking about how it's going to look AFTER I process it.

Here's my definition of a "real photographer" ...

Having the ability to imagine in your mind how the finished photograph will look Before you click the shutter.  

Here's an image I captured today (on my LG G4 smartphone).

It's not the "best" picture I've ever taken, but people seem to like it.

Now I'm going to let you in on a "secret".  Here's what that picture looked like when I first captured it:

Did I "cheat" ????

What if I told you that I took this particular picture, in this particular way, precisely because I had a pretty good idea of what it would look like after I processed it?

There were a couple of things I really liked and/or had had to think about in regards to this scene.

1) The contrast and detail in the clouds, the way they were lighted, was really nice .. especially those two cells in the middle.

2) Power lines usually bug me, so I wanted to find a way to make them a part of the picture, rather than a distraction.  It helped that all those birds are sitting there, I imagined "watching" the storm.

3) Foreground is almost as important as the sky (IMO) when photographing storms.  I love these little yellow wildflowers that we have around here, so if I get use them in the foreground, I try to.

4) I know that I crop almost every picture I take at least a little bit, so I wasn't worried about the exact framing, just that captured all the elements of the scene that might want included in the final photograph.

After capturing this image, as well a couple more while I walked around (didn't like any of those enough to process them), I pulled the initial picture up in my favorite mobile editing app Snapseed, and spent about 3 or 4 minutes transforming it into something as close as possible to the image that I saw in my head before I took the picture.

I could probably leave it at that, but I'll give you one more example from a couple of weeks ago.  Again, the final image is one that almost everyone who's seen it seems to enjoy.  But the original image, if I'm totally honest, is almost one that I didn't even process.  Here it is ...

I'm not going to post the original of this one, but just believe me when I tell you that it didn't look exactly like this "straight out of the camera"... and if I had just shared that one instead, it wouldn't have gotten quite the same reaction.

Well that's what I've got for now.  Feel free to opine in the comments section if you have your own opinions on this subject.

Keep havin FuN!