Musings with Camera in Hand

Belinda Greb – The Photographic Journey


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Enjoying Spring

The last few weeks have been really lovely. Temperate days and cool nights. Beautiful flowers have been spicing up the normal homogenous green of Oregon, while birds are busy tending nests and eggs, and butterflies, hummingbirds and dragonflies are starting to put in an appearance. I saw four baby robins flying from their nest which had been getting much too small for them. The mother robin watched as they flew away, and it was a bit sad the next day not having her in that area of the garden keeping a careful watch.

These are the day where my gypsy spirit comes out and I’ve a strong urge to chuck the job, pack my dog, camera and car take off on a journey across the land.  But since my car is now 200,000 miles plus, and my dog doesn’t especially like long rides, my practical side kicks in and for the time being I content myself with short jaunts.

I did want to explore places I hadn’t been before, so one week I went south of Eugene to the Mt Pisgah/Buford Park area.  I had fallen on my knee in the morning, but it actually felt better once I got out and moving.  Not to say that my winter’s sedentary ways didn’t make my pace up the steep trail a pretty slow going! In fact, I didn’t make it up to the peak, but stopped, supposedly to take a picture here and there and also as a way of catching my breath. I decided at a fork to take the path that wound down through grassy meadows and towards an oak grove as opposed to staying on the path up to the peak.

I was happy with my choice.  At one point I was scared out of my wits as I heard a rustling and saw the grass moving as something made its way towards me.  It turned out to be a very fat squirrel…I think! It looked more like the size of a marmot, and perhaps there are marmots in that area.  A few minutes later, it happened again.  I don’t know what startled them, but I was surprised they were running towards me and my dog, who luckily was oblivious, off investigating other scents.

There were lots of birds about, and still a lot of wild flowers. And the grass was so long, my ankles felt quite itchy when I got home  and my dog was scratching for days! Once I worked my way down the dirt path, there was an oak grove and benches where one could sit and soak up the warmth and watch for the finches and jays that were flitting about. A lovely day. However, I’m used to solitary walks and rarely running into anybody.  On the main trail, going up towards the peak, there were quite a few hikers due to the proximity of Eugene and also, dogs are required to be on a leash. It was only after I took the other path, I could let Maisie off her leash and really relax.

The next week, I was going to head over to the coast, but since my knee was still stiff, I decided instead to investigate Fern Ridge Wildlife Area.  The option to print the parking pass of the computer hadn’t worked, so I had to stop by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to get a parking permit, which seemed to be unnecessarily more complicated than need be. No, I was not a hunter, and at one point the nice lady thought I might have to give my social security number to get the one day $7 parking pass! However, I got my pass and by late afternoon had made my way to Fern Ridge.

The first part of the area I stopped was Perkins Park. That had some lovely park areas, and people were about enjoying the Spring Day.  Because my dog also needed to be on a leash, taking photographs was a bit more complicated and sometimes comical.  My dog, Maisie is pretty good, so she doesn’t take off suddenly if she knows I’m taking a picture.  However, we did manage to get tangled a handful of times, and occasionally while I was focusing, there suddenly would be a lovely lab in the frame. I did manage to lose my lens cap and stubbornly had to retrace my steps until I found it.  The park had lots of large lovely oaks, some firs and long grasses bordering the lake itself.

There were a lot of Red Winged Blackbirds, tree swallows. I had been hoping for some egrets and heron, but only saw one white egret that was quite a distance away.  I did also see a pair of Western Grebes at some distance, but I haven’t gotten around to processing that image yet.

One of the landscapes taken at Perkins Park, I had fun with, enhancing it to create a supernatural scene. I used two of my older exposures, a moon shot and a swan, and then also used a public domain image of the Unknown Woman by Thomas Dewing to create an image influenced by one of my favorite novellas, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.

Again, having my dog on the leash, with my camera equipment was not that relaxing with people about, so I made my way next to the marsh that abutted the lake – the area set aside for birds to winter and nest. I enjoyed the solitude of the marsh setting and found the landscape to be quite beautiful. I love the fact that there are so may areas in Oregon set aside to provide a habitat for birds.

I enjoyed climbing up on a bird watching platform to get another vantage point for some landscapes shots. This area was much more peaceful for me. Again there were a lot of Red-Winged Blackbirds, a few ducks, some Kildeer, but I also captured this beautiful Cedar Waxwing. I had my telephoto, taking a shot of a blackbird that had perched his way of a tree, when something flew in front and landed a branch even closer to me. I was so please with the sharpness the result. I’m really loving these sunny days for my photography.

I was exhausted when I got home and glad I hadn’t driven over to the coast. While I enjoyed both areas, I have to say I’m quite spoiled to normally have a place all to myself when I go rambling about with my dog. I somehow just feel more constrained and it is difficult holding on to cameras and the leash at the end of which is a dog that is raring to go.

Yet it’s also very nice to be able to find some place new to explore that may end up as a favorite place. Two places I explored last year were Malheur Wildlife Refuge and William L Finley Refuge and both places I see myself returning to and am eager to do so soon. Neither of those places are appropriate for a dog on or off the leash as they are bird habitats, and poor Maisie will probably be left at home and I will have to deal with my guilty conscience.

At any rate, although today it is raining, and my knee is still sore, these last few weeks of Spring have been thoroughly enjoyed, and I hope that others are enjoying theirs as well.

My final image today is a simple one, of a common song sparrow. I loved its expression.  It was in some branches, and I added grain and texture to the background, and then distorted some of the branches as well.

I also visited an osprey’s nest and will maybe do a short post next week with those photographs. However, I’m hoping that will be some young there, and will try to visit it before then to see if I’m lucky.

A couple of these links will now got to a new site I’m excited to be affiliated with – Crated.com. Please check out my gallery at: http://crated.com/BelindaGreb .

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