Re-organizing My Dis-organization

My good friend, Jim Miller, did a post (click here) about how he organizes his photographs.  It is a great post, as he describes in great detail how he key-words all of his image files, to make them easier to find.  A very good, efficient system.  Probably one that all good pros should use.  But since I have had my own method for so long, I will now, for your entertainment, show you how I do it.

If I may regress, re-wind back to the good old days of yesteryear, 1960.  Do you remember Kodachrome (ASA 10).  That was my favorite film that I used when I first started to get passionate about photography.  I loved that particular slide film.  It was very slow as film of that day was, but I could look at a scene and picture how it would photograph.  I had Kodak Retina IIIs 35mm range-finder camera that I had purchased at the base exchange at Karamursel AFB, Turkey.  Back then zoom lenses were non-existent.  I had the basic 50mm lens, then I added an 85mm and a 135mm (whoopee) telephoto.

But back to the subject I intended to write about.  When it comes to organization of photos, working with slides wasn’t bad.  I had various slide trays that I kept for them, putting images for the different trips that I took into each tray and labeled them.

Later when I switched to negative film is where it started to get messy.  I tried notebooks with sleeves for negatives.  I couldn’t keep up with that, so I started just putting the negative into shoeboxes.  I still have some of those boxes of negatives.  I just hope no-one will ask me if I have a certain picture, that will make me have to sort through them.    I think I should throw the boxes away, then I won’t have that worry.

Now comes the digital age.  At first, my digital files were nearly as bad as the shoeboxes.  What a mess, image files were ending up in the strangest locations on my computer.  I one opened my Quicken program and discovered a photo of a raccoon.  🙂  Okay, I’m kidding about that.  🙂  Then about three years ago, when my friend in Tennessee asked me, “how in the world do you find anything?”,  a light bulb popped into my head.  I realized that I needed to do something.

It was about that time I was really getting into shooting wildlife.  So I opened a new folder in my computer’s hard drive, and called it “Photographs.”  How about that.  I certainly felt that this was a step in the right direction.  Since I was shooting a lot of bird photos, I made a folder in Photographs and named it “Birds“.  Boy, now I was on a roll.  When I had a bird picture, I just opened Photographs, then clicked on Birds.

But then I thought, there are a heck of a lot of birds out there.  Different species, etc.  So then if I photographed a sparrow, I made another folder under Birds, and named it Sparrows“.  You can see now where I am going with all of this.  In Sparrows, I have folders for the different species of sparrows, i.e. Vesper, House, Song, Fox and all the others.  If I want to find a photograph of a Lark Sparrow, I just go to my Fastone Image Viewer, click Photographs>Birds>Sparrows>Lark.  All of my Lark Sparrow photographs are there in thumb-nails.  I pick the one I want and open it up in my editing software.

I then did the same for Animals, Flowers, Scenics, etc.  All those are the main folders with sub-folders under each one.

I might mention that when I take the card from the camera, I download it into my Fastone Image Viewer.  I can delete the ones I don’t want, then easily move the keepable (is that a word?) images into the proper folder named above.

This system works for me because, at my age, I don’t want to spend all my time doing what Jim does.  Especially when I shoot a couple of hundred or more on any given day.  I know that his end result is probably much faster than mine and more efficient.  I know my friend in Tennessee is probably giggling over this post as she does use something similar to Jim’s method, as probably all the other pros out there.  But since this old dog doesn’t want to learn new tricks, I will now demonstrate how to find a photograph of a House Finch.  Click Photographs>Birds,Finches>House……

House Finch


And there you have it.  A pretty good system, if I do say so myself.  Also, as any photographer who wants to protect his images, I back up my files on a regular basis.  Now, I need to get that ‘coon image outa my bank account. 🙂

Who was that masked….er…bird.????

Loggerhead Shrike. (Lanius ludovicianus).  This black-masked little bird may look like the Lone Ranger, but he is far from it.  No white hat on him.  He is pretty barbaric;  impaling his prey of reptiles, amphibians, or rodents on barbed wire or thorns.

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike

Happy Birding!!

Ground Squirrel and San Angelo State Park

I was leaving San Angelo State Park one day, and as I drove by some trees this Mexican Ground Squirrel was muching on a mesquite bean pod.  He looked at me as if I was being rude to watch as he ate.  Embarrassed that he caught me looking, I moved on. 🙂

Mexican Ground Squirrel

Seriously, soon there may not be any mesquites left in the park.  They are not a native specie, but were brought in many years ago, probably accidentally on truck tires, carried by birds, etc.  They are a very thirsty plant.  They multiply, their roots run deep and they use up all of the ground water.   The Concho River is the source for O. C. Fisher lake, and the mesquites along the water shed and in the park are spelling the demise of the river and the lake.  To that end, a program is under way to eradicate all of the mesquites in the along the watershed and the park.  The park itself, encompasses more than seven thousand acres.  I worry for the loss of habitat, but those authorities in the know, say that there are enough native species left to sustain the wildlife.

Cabin at San Angelo State Park

More native species will be brought in to some areas.  With the mesquites and salt cedar gone, someday, along with some good rains, perhaps the river will flow again, the lake will fill, and the boat ramps will reach the water. 

O. C. Fisher Lake at San Angelo State Park

In other good news, a showing of my framed photographs will continue for another month at the Crockett National Bank in downtown San Angelo.  Originally I was invited to show for the months of December and January only, but it has been so well received that I have been extended indefinitely.  So if you get to San Angelo, drop in and have a look.  All of my work there is for sale, and I also have prints available in any size.

Click on the photos to see enlargements.

Bosque Del Apache Trip – Part II

The Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge consists of open fields, copses of trees, and several large lagoons or ponds.  Also included is a board-walk over one watery acre where there are reeds and water birds.  But the main part is the 12-mile driving tour that goes through and around these areas.  You may take your time and do it at your own pace.  You may stop anywhere you desire.  All you have to do is pull to the side of the road.  There are also many permanent viewing areas placed along the drive.  At the visitors center you can use the blinds and cactus gardens to see quail and other birds and small wildlife.  Rather than bore you with a lot of narrative. I will show some more images that I captured there.

But before I do that, I want to relate one our most thrilling experiences.  As we were doing the driving tour, we came upon this large lagoon that was filled with several species of ducks.  I spotted with my naked eye what I at first thought was a rather large white breasted duck.  Then through my binoculars, I realized that it was a hawk trying to sink it’s claws into a Northern Shoveler.  I figured that I might have as much as a minute to grab my 500mm and the tripod.  But just I reached for them, a beautiful Bald Eagle swooped down, snatched the duck from the hawk, and flew away.  An awesome image that I regretted that I wasn’t able to capture.

Gambel's Quail in tree

Cactus Wren

Black-throated Sparrow perched on Cholla

A young Western Meadowlark

Merlin in the brush

Sandhill Cranes in afternoon sun

So those were some of the highlights of the trip photographically, that is.  While in Las Cruces we enjoyed the fine Mexican food that can be found there.  However, a trip by Bob Zeller must have a dramatic ending, shouldn’t it.  After dining at La Posta restaurant in Old Mesilla, I stepped off the curb.  Then after seeing an automobile approaching, I stepped back up on the curb, slipped, fell and badly abraised my arm and hand.  So a trip to Walgreen’s drug store, for bandages, etc. ensued, followed by going back to our room to get cleaned up.  No broken bones, fortunately, but it will be several days before my arm and hand will be without bandages.

Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Happy Birding!!

Listen to the Mockingbird………

The Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is the state bird of Texas, and also for a few other states.  And true to it’s name it really can do a heck of a job of miming other birds.  The one that dominates our back yard, can do a great bluejay, and others of our backyard birds.  I can go out there and make random whistles and it will mock me.  My wife says that I am always harrassing him.  But not true, just conversing with him.  He is very territorial about our/his yard.  And that’s the reason we don’t have very many other visiting birds hanging around long.  If we put seed out, he won’t touch it, but neither will he let any other bird have it.

My Stokes Field Guide to North American Birds describes the bird as slim ,flat-crowned, long-tailed, long-legged  with a fairly thick relatively short bill.   Gray above, whitish below, two white wingbars, white base to primaries creates a patch on edge of folded wing.   Indistinct gray eyeline, yellowish eye.  In flight, the distinctive white patches on outer wings are very visible.

Here are some of my favorite photos:

Going my way???

Fledgling Northern Mockingbird

Fledgling Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

I hope you have enjoyed these photos.  Click on the images to see enlargements.

Happy Birding!!

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Yestereday, despite the cold wind, Ann and I decided to venture out to the park again.  The sun was shining nicely, so it made up for the cool temps.  We stopped at the bird blind, but saw nothing that we haven’t seen the past few days.  But after deciding to take a short drive around the park, I spotted this Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus), sitting among the mesquites.  At least I think it is a Sharp-shinned.  They are easily confusedd with a Cooper’s Hawk.  But this one has the more rounder head of the Sharpie.  If anyone has a different opinion I would appreciate hearing.  I think it is one of my best images of this particular hawk.  You can click on it and see an enlargement.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Location:     San Angelo State Park
Observation date:     1/21/11
Number of species:     19

American White Pelican     30
Great Blue Heron     3
Black Vulture     30
Sharp-shinned Hawk     1
Red-tailed Hawk     1
American Kestrel     1
Greater Yellowlegs     20
Least Sandpiper     30
Ring-billed Gull     10
Mourning Dove     2
Black-crested Titmouse     1
Northern Mockingbird     20
Spotted Towhee     1
White-crowned Sparrow     24
Northern Cardinal     4
Pyrrhuloxia     4
Red-winged Blackbird     20
Western Meadowlark     2
House Finch     12

Sparrows, Sparrows, Sparrows

Since this blog is basically about birding, and bird photography, I have been sitting here pondering what to put in my next (this) post.  Thinking back, I didn’t know a sparrow from a pigeon before I got into serious birding.  Well, I guess pigeons were bigger, right?   Anyway, now I have come to appreciate just how many species of birds there really are.  In the area where I live, according to the people that know these things, there are thirty different species of sparrows alone.

To be perfectly fair, actually they are not all sparrows.  Four of those species classified in the sparrow family are towhees, three are longspurs, and one is a junco.  That still leaves twenty-two named sparrows, just here in the Concho Valley.  There are more than fifty species including other regions of the country. 

Like any other non-birder, I thought all sparrow looked alike.  Wrong!  Since I now consider myself a birder, albeit a little new at it, I have discovered that there are really many beautiful sparrows to be seen and photographed.  You can see from the following examples.

House Sparrow

Pictured above is the common House Sparrow (Passer domesticus).  Now I ask, isn’t this a pretty little bird.  Nice rich colors of brown, with that little patch of gray on his head, and that black chest, not to be confused with the Black-throated Sparrow.

Black-throated Sparrow

The above is the afore-mentioned Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata).   Another little cutie.

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)  Another pretty bird with distinctive markings that you can’t miss.

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

Field Sparrow

Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla).  So these are five of my favorites.  Now when you see a sparrow, take a closer look, and you may be surprised at what you see.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Phainopepla – a new lifer

Suzanne and Sid Johnson reported that they had seen a Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens) on January 8, 2011 at San Angelo State Park.  I have been watching for it since, but had believed that it had left the building.    But this evening, Ann and I got lucky.  We had been out at the park, doing a little TLC at the bird blind and were leaving the park.  Just a little south of the gatehouse, there it was atop a mesquite tree, about 75 yards away.

I was wondering if I could be lucky enough to get a shot of it before it flew.  First, I took a few exposures from the window of the van with my Canon 7d and 100-400mm lens.  Then I grabbed my other 7d with a 500mm set-up and got out of the van, trying to get just a little closer.  I managed to get a few shots hand-holding the 500mm.  Well, I thought I am doing all right so Ann volunteered to run back to the van and get my 1.4 converter and tripod.  I couldn’t believe my luck that the bird stayed in place for so long.  In all, I shot 130 images, before finally a Northern Mockingbird decided to give chase, and drove off ths Phainopepla.

I have attached one of the better images.  Lifer number 219 for me.  If you click on it and enlarge it, you can make out the red eye.


Happy Birding!!