Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cruising for Squid

No greyhounds in this entry, unless you're wondering if squid are the "greyhounds of the sea". (They're not: fin whales are. But no fin whales in this entry, either.)

Last Thursday night I joined a group of people on a three-hour-long night excursion to observe the market squid off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. I met the passengers waiting to board the boat Redondo Special, and while I waited I saw a number of gulls and pelicans standing on the Redondo Beach harbor breakwater, silhouetted against the fading twilight.

Late afternoon, sunset, and twilight are some of my favorite times to photograph. The warmth of the light during those hours appeal to me. But the quality of the light changes rapidly over a period of a few minutes, so you have to act fast.

I thought I'd try to render the birds and the breakwater as silhouettes. I metered the sky just above the breakwater to make it and the birds go dark, and focused on the pelican at right-center. From where I was standing on the pier I had to go to maximum zoom on my Nikon 18-200mm. In post-processing I cropped the left side of the frame to remove unwanted distractions. This was the first one I took of the birds; I took sixteen altogether and it's the only one that shows three pelicans in profile. Interestingly, the pelican in the center and the gull to its left appear broken into two pieces; actually, there's a gull beyond and behind the center pelican, and another gull flying beyond the one standing. Other than cropping this is straight out of the camera.

A few minutes later I got this:

Again, this was straight out of the camera.

Where's the squid? Right here:

We saw a Risso's dolphin:

And there were lots of gulls dive-bombing for squid:

The seas were glassy-smooth that night. I think everyone had a great time.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Greyhounds make you realize... need to practice how to pan:


I got a clear shot of the back three-quarters of this hound, despite the fact that I was shooting at three frames/second. <sarcastic> Awesome... </sarcastic>

This is the second of two photos I took of two black greyhounds running at the 2006 Solvang Streak held during the West Coast Greyhound Gathering (WCGG). This particular hound was in full stretch as it passed by me. The result was disappointing on the one hand, but pretty funny (to me, anyway) on the other.

There are very few opportunities (other than the WCGG) for me to see greyhounds running at speed so I don't get to practice panning much. Well, it's wait 'til next year and try again...

(Shot with my Nikon D200 set to aperture-priority, using a 70-200mm VR zoom at f/6.3 and 1/750th second, ISO 200.)

Monday, January 24, 2011


I have loved photography for most of my life. I photograph anything that catches my eye. Anyway, for the last fifteen years or so my photography has centered on our retired racing greyhounds. So in this blog I'll post pictures that I've taken of them, of other greyhounds, of other dogs, and of many other things, and share the who-what-when-where-and-why about each picture.

But, about our first greyhound...

We adopted our first retired racing greyhound, Alex, in the fall of 1993. He was four years old at the time, so he'd been racing for a few years. We don't know how many races he ran, nor do we know what tracks he raced on (other than the last track), but we do know he was born in Oklahoma and finished racing at the Caliente racetrack in Tijuana, Mexico.

He was a striking white greyhound with black "ticking" (spots) over his entire body, and a thick black eyebrow over each eye. He was part of a group of dogs named after classical music composers by the adoption group: he was named Amadeus. But he was also nicknamed Groucho because of his eyebrows. Alex was with us for nearly ten years. But even ten years was not enough time spent with him. Though he's been gone for nearly eight years, I think of him still.

This picture of Alex is from a scanned print. I think this was taken with my Nikon N70 film SLR, using Kodacolor print film. The sky was overcast so there isn't much in the way of shadows. You can see that he's overexposed; white greyhounds are somewhat harder to photograph well than are greyhounds of other colors. As time went on I would underexpose so as not to blow out his highlights.