Robert Harrison, Photography: Blog en-us (C) Robert Harrison, Photography (Robert Harrison, Photography) Sun, 14 Aug 2022 13:44:00 GMT Sun, 14 Aug 2022 13:44:00 GMT Robert Harrison, Photography: Blog 119 120 August Butterflies DSC06678sunlit swallowtail Trying out a new camera - a Sony A7R IV - on some of my favorite insect subjects.


The size of the images, and their consequent level of detail is impressive. Mind you, this causes problems with software. Zenfolio can't handle the images if I enhance them (they're over 64M) and i'm not sure their web editor is happy either.

DSC06657black swallowtail

Still, they are dashed pretty.

Good thing I'm familiar with basic web programming (which as a computer scientist, I'd darned better well be).

(Robert Harrison, Photography) butterfly nature photography wildlife Sun, 14 Aug 2022 13:44:11 GMT
Wild Eyes, my first public exhibition What to say?  It's not the Fraenkel, but I'm not complaining.  I was asked to put together a small exhibition for the Centre Al hospital. 

close_up_tri_colorTri Color Heron

Since it's unlikely you'll visit there, I've posted my images here.  close_up_tri_colorTri Color Heron close_up_tri_colorTri Color Heron close_up_tri_colorTri Color Heron close_up_tri_colorTri Color Heron close_up_tri_colorTri Color Heron close_up_tri_colorTri Color Heron

(Robert Harrison, Photography) animals birds cranes dartmoor deer frog green heron nature photography pictures pony sandhill tri-colored Sun, 10 Jul 2022 16:52:54 GMT
Carrabelle Beach Carrabelle Beach is most of the way from Mexico Beach to Apalachicola. IT's beautifully open, with stark white sands.  There aren't many shells, but other invertebrates are pretty common. We saw starfish, horseshoe crabs, and a shrimp. 

During world war 2, Camp Gordon Johnston used this beach for amphibious training, including for D-Day.  Other than a marker and a museum, there's not much left of the camp.

DSC05509DSC05509 DSC05542DSC05542 DSC05512DSC05512

(Robert Harrison, Photography) beach carrabelle beach florida horseshoe crab nature photography pictures starfish travel Wed, 26 Jan 2022 21:18:54 GMT
Mexico Beach Covid sort of put a dent in my posting - that and having to teach.  So finally, we got to travel, albeit somewhat slowly with a trailer. 

Mexico Beach is a community on the Florida panhandle. Sort of a red-neck Tybee Island with pretensions. 

DSC05465DSC05465 The weather the night we arrived was decent, tho it's been windy and we since then (and i've been the one with the dog).

DSC05444DSC05444 Our dog (who appears in other blog posts) is a lake dog, so he wasn't quite sure about this salty wavy water. 

DSC05433DSC05433 DSC05467DSC05467

(Robert Harrison, Photography) beach florida mexico beach pet photography photography pictures sunset travel Sun, 16 Jan 2022 18:45:29 GMT
Autumn Panorama Fall panoramaFall panoramaAlabama Woods in the autumn Seasonal change.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) nature photographic techniques photography pictures Sat, 14 Nov 2020 21:30:54 GMT
I like my T100 Side view of motorcycleT100

While this verges on product placement, I actually do love this bike. It's fast (60mph in < 4 seconds for me!), stable, and surprisingly comfortable. 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) motorcycle photography pictures travel triumph motorcycle triumph t100 Tue, 22 Sep 2020 21:01:55 GMT
Into the woods Woodland PanoramaWood SceneWoodland Panorama It's difficult to capture the sense of immersion in the open southern woodland.  It's almost a religious experience for me. I heard about a panorama and focus-stacking tool called Hugin.  Since it runs on my favorite operating system (Linux), I gave it a try.

The Edge of the LakeLake EdgeThe Edge of the Lake The results are stunning.  The main trick, other than using a stable pivoting point, is not to use too many images. They shouldn't overlap by more than a third because if they do and they're too complicated, then the program will not converge.  I ended up using every other image I took to make these.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) hugin nature panorama photographic techniques photography pictures postprocessing Sun, 06 Sep 2020 20:35:33 GMT
More Butterflies, using extension tubes with a 600mm lens Not the most exciting of pictures, but it's difficult to get up close and personal with bigger bugs. They sort of resent it, and being lepidopteran papparazzi is hard when they fly away.  It's hard enough anyway.

DSC03978A Gulf FritillaryA Gulf Fritillary This is a Gulf Fritillary. We're not near any gulf I know of, but it is a pretty insect. If you look closely, it's furry too.

DSC03994A Common BuckeyeA Common Buckeye This one's a common buckeye. The eyes on the upper side of the wings are rather diagnostic. 

The acuity of the pictures is good, but the lens combination is decidedly awkward.  Some of my images had blur, even at 1/640 of a second. So if you try this trick, and it is a good one for shy creatures, be prepared to take more images than you might normally. 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) butterflies insects nature photographic techniques photography pictures Sat, 29 Aug 2020 20:37:22 GMT
Butterflies DSC03935Monarch of the Buddliea Given the slow time (I'm isolating and there's only so many pictures one can take of our dogs) the arrival of the butterflies on our overgrown blue buddliea davidii is newsworthy.


(Robert Harrison, Photography) butterflies butterfly nature photography pictures Sat, 15 Aug 2020 13:43:45 GMT
Wasps and Flowers DSC03872Wild HibiscusSee the bee deep inside? Playing some more with the extension tubes in this summer of the virus.

DSC03847Paper waspsOne of the many species that make paper nests. Even the wasps posed for a head shot.  (These aren't particularly aggressive bugs - not like fire ants or yellow jackets)

DSC03837Day Lily The wet, not too hot, summer is really great for our flowers.  

DSC03876Glad tidings

(Robert Harrison, Photography) flowers nature photographic techniques photography pictures wildlife Sat, 04 Jul 2020 17:56:51 GMT
Extension Tubes Extension tubes fit between the lens and the camera body and allow for extreme closeups. They're not perfect, but are an effective way to get closeup pictures.

DSC03782_01black-eyed susan It takes a bit of practice to use effectively, but even with only a little you can get nice results

DSC03790Aster with native bee To put this in scale the aster flower is about the size of a dime or a 5p piece.  The little ant-like creature is a native bee.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) flowers nature photographic techniques photography pictures Sat, 06 Jun 2020 00:21:16 GMT
Dinner, Goofy Dogs and Staying Home DSC03771Dinner SceneProduct placement, much? With staying at home to avoid spreading this darned corona virus, fancy new pictures are a bit hard to come by.  A dinner still life - though one with cheap plonk - is one thing to keep my eye in.

DSC03767Finn acting silly The dogs are perpetual subjects.  Finn, above, is asleep. His eyes flicker when I make a noise.

DSC03773Big Brother His big brother tends to be more dignified.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dogs pet photography photography pictures still life Fri, 29 May 2020 14:34:20 GMT
Honeysuckle DSC03740Honeysuckle Just after the rain, the red honeysuckle seems unique to northern Alabama. (At least I've never seen it anywhere else).

DSC03732red honeysuckle

(Robert Harrison, Photography) closeup flowers honeysuckle nature photography pictures Sun, 17 May 2020 19:14:21 GMT
Trumpet Flowers DSC03614Trumpet Flowers

One of the more unusual wildflowers in Alabama, Trumpet flowers come out in the mid-spring, April.

They're distinctive and bloom just about the time the Hummingbirds arrive.

DSC03624Trumpet flowers

Not completely surprising as this sort of flower is exactly the kind of tube that the birds specialize in. They're even the right color (Red).

(Robert Harrison, Photography) flowers nature photography pictures Thu, 23 Apr 2020 23:55:39 GMT
Anole DSC03691Anole One of the less visible wild animals, Anoles can change their colors to blend in. Note the stripe on his back - it was in the shade.

DSC03697Anole This young lady haunts our doorway.  She's the more common green shade and about half the size of the last one.  He saw me photographing - despite the 600mm lens - and did his best to hide. She's doing the same - lots of green leaves around.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) anoles photography pictures wildlife Tue, 14 Apr 2020 01:08:45 GMT
Saturday Night Monkey DSC03598Saturday Night MonkeyStrutting his stuff Getting ready to disco -- exactly where the dog's left him.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) art pet photography photography Sat, 11 Apr 2020 16:06:12 GMT
Spring flowers in the time of plague DSC03583wild plum flowersNot quite wild - we planted it, but a native plum none-the-less.

It's a difficult - a bloody difficult - a damned bloody difficult time.

Spring carries on.

Renewal ... we will, despite whatever, or whomever, we lose, carry on as well.

DSC03570Bluets Nature survives. 

It's tough.

And so are we.

DSC03566Spring Beauty CarpetA carpet of spring beauties. A carpet of spring beauties - mind you they're growing over our septic field.


(Robert Harrison, Photography) Alabama flowers nature photography pictures Sat, 21 Mar 2020 22:25:42 GMT
Ghost Leaves DSC03488Black Oak DSC03488Black Oak

This Spring's floods have finally receded, leaving debris behind. The lake lowered slowly so that leaves were left on the dock. When they dried out and blew away, the muddy water that they trapped left behind a ghostly imprint. The ghost of Autumn last. DSC03485Southern Red Oak

(Robert Harrison, Photography) art art photography photographic techniques photography pictures Sun, 01 Mar 2020 15:54:05 GMT
Frisbee Dance frisbee_dance_2Frisbee DanceCatching (or in this case Missing) the frisbee. Finn loves his Frisbee. I like using rapid sequencing and using the Gimp.  To put it on redbubble I'll remove the background, but it's not a bad picture as is.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dog catching frisbee dogs photographic techniques photography pictures Fri, 21 Feb 2020 22:31:59 GMT
Moonlit Road DSC03375Moonlit RoadA moonlit dirt road in Alabama

I was experimenting with photographing the moon lit road. It's a bit dark and grainy, but captures the feeling. Where are the zombies (or for that matter the vampires or ghosts)?

DSC03368-1Moon lit road

It's amazing how much of the color is visible, even when the light is so limited.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) night photography photography pictures Mon, 10 Feb 2020 01:06:01 GMT
Tri-colored Heron DSC02848long neckTri-colored herons have longer necks than most other herons One of the birds we saw at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge was a tri-colored heron. They're not exactly rare, just uncommon.

DSC02854DSC02854 This one sat for a long series of photographs. It was almost as though he wanted a portrait sitting.

DSC02861DSC02861 Looking more like other herons. 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) bird bird photography heron nature photography pictures Savannah National Wildlife Refuge tri-colored heron Mon, 20 Jan 2020 01:59:42 GMT
Sandhill Cranes DSC03254Coming in for a landingSandhill cranes on their approach The sandhill cranes are back in Northeastern Alabama. These are off CR22 west of Rome. Impressive, big, noisy birds.

DSC03252cranes in field This year they didn't come as close to the road as they sometimes do. While my new lens is very sharp, one of the troubles is that autofocus tends to pick out the brush behind the birds, and it's difficult to use manual focus while handholding a massive instrument. (Note to self - bring your monopod next time.)

DSC03258in flight Still, I could get some pretty decent images. Especially of the birds in flight - which just didn't work with the older lenses.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) a Alabama. birds cranes field. flight in nature photography pictures sandhill travel Sun, 12 Jan 2020 22:41:21 GMT
Getting Close A  follow on from my earlier post about the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.

DSC02795Gator One of the things that makes for a striking shot is getting close to the animal. This is where the telephoto helps, a lot, really. This alligator was about seven feet long and could easily make a meal of a measily human. (Though apparently we don't taste that good.)  With the telephoto (and a lethargic gator) I could be out of immediate strike range and still get a close up. There's simply no way I'd do this with a 50mm lens (or its equivalent). 

DSC02655DSC02655 Otherwise you're stuck with photos like this, which while nice enough, lack impact.

DSC03112DSC03112 It also lets you get close to birds, though it helps when the bird is a mockingbird and letting you know that this is his territory. 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) alligators birds mockingbird nature photographic techniques photography pictures savannah national wildlife refuge telephoto travel Sat, 04 Jan 2020 13:19:38 GMT
Space and Time One of my friends who is a real artist, MFA and all, Art Vandenberg, showed me a work where he made a still life from six overlapping images. He moved the camera between each shot and composed a synthetic image from the individual images. Well, two can play at that.  It's a little harder than it looks and I have to get the gimp to let me accurately position pasted images, but here are my first tries.

tryptich1Beach TryptichTybee Beach  Space - where the camera moves

bird4_stripeBirdsA flock of birds and time - where the waves and birds move.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) beach birds multiple images nature photographic techniques photography pictures time and space tybee island Thu, 02 Jan 2020 21:21:58 GMT
Not Just Alligators. DSC02727ButterflyA fritilary of some sort or another. Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is famous for birds and alligators. They're be more of those later.  The main driving loop is closed this time of year to let the native wildlife have time off, but the Tupelo walking trail is open. It is a bit of a birding mecca and later in the spring and summer will have spoonbills, ibises and cranes as well as ducks, coots, herons and more normal swamp birds. Even though this is the off season we counted: great blue hernon, little blue heron, tri-colored heron, cattle egret, mockingbird, red-winged black bird, boat-tailed grackle, cardinal, philidelphia vireo, coots, turkey vultures, and a hawk of some species (only could see the silhouette).  There were also ducks - again too far off for a good identification - and sparrows which dashed in and out of the brush making a solid ID difficult.   

DSC02856Tri-colored Heron This tri-colored heron posed for us.

DSC02888AlligatorKeeping an eye on us And of course there were alligators.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) alligator nature photography pictures travel tri-colored heron wildlife Tue, 31 Dec 2019 15:17:33 GMT
Still life with cat. savanah_cat_bigSavannah CatWe had a visitor this morning.

We had a visitor this morning in Savannah. One of the local cats came over to show off his new bow - though how his people convinced him to keep it on is a mystery to me as our cats would object to such frippery. Still to each his own.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) black and white cat cat Cat on iron stairs pet photography photography pictures Savannah travel Sun, 29 Dec 2019 19:32:25 GMT
Sony 200-600 telephoto lens - a review DSC02620SquirrelSquirrel You may have noticed that I like to take photographs of wildlife, even fairly tame creatures like this grey squirrel. They don't stay still for portraits so a good telephoto lens is essential.

The Sony 200-600 is my latest try - first a mirror lens, then a sigma 150-600, and finally this.  It is of first quality. Even though it costs about $2000, it is money well spent. Auto focus works well with the A7III. it's best to use continuous focus because the focal plane is very sharp and the subject can easily move out of it. It does use more battery power than smaller lenses, so be prepared with a backup.  I'm looking forward to trying it out at the Savannah natural history reserve.


At 100% magnification, the image is still sharp. squirrel_eyesquirrel_eye100%

A less extreme view is still good.

DSC02608two deertwo deer Even under less than ideal light (dusk and rain) the image is sharper than I could get with the sigma lens in much better light.

A DoeA Doewith the sigma lens

as is clearly visible when you scale the images to about the same size.


I think she's the same doe, but in her winter colors.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photographic techniques photography pictures review Sony 200-600 sony lens telephoto lens Thu, 26 Dec 2019 01:19:14 GMT
Trilobite DSC02452Ordovician trilobitea cast of a trilobite The Ordovician mudstone in northeastern Alabama is laced with marine fossils. Glaciers and sea have removed most of the layers above it - the next layer up is Pleistocene and above that Cenozoic.  The rock preserves details, but is very soft. This one, for example broke up when I tried to lift it. But next spring this will be covered in water and lost anyway. 

There are fragments of two more trilobites. One in the crack just to the left of the big one and another at the end.

The ant in the lower right is for scale. Insects and other arthropods had more adaptable body plans are are still here.  

(Robert Harrison, Photography) Alabama cast fossil mudstone photographic techniques photography pictures trilobite Thu, 05 Dec 2019 01:48:03 GMT
Sweetwater Creek State Park DSC02419The Ruins

Containing a souvenir of General Sherman's visit to Atlanta - though it was CSA General Wheeler whose cavalry destroyed the mill - Sweetwater Creek State park is just to the west of Atlanta. Like most Georgia parks, it costs $5 to park. Which is well spent. The park is full of natural beauty and hiking trails. It's possible to arrange a closer visit to the fenced off ruins. 



Fall colors abound. It's a good idea to visit on a weekday - if you can - because these uncrowded trails get busy.

DSC02440The rapids

(Robert Harrison, Photography) Fall colors Georgia photography pictures ruined mill Sweetwater Creek State Park travel Thu, 28 Nov 2019 00:34:07 GMT
San Diego DSC02308Street Scene Just some shots from a trip to the west coast. DSC02383Man and Dog A city scene

DSC02365Night Sky line

(Robert Harrison, Photography) California photography pictures san diego travel Fri, 22 Nov 2019 03:23:06 GMT
Impudent Bird DSC02340SeagullNot much scares these birds.

There isn't much that scares these birds. She posed for me, even though I stood barely a meter away.  The Gulls in San Diego have seen it all, are jaded, and if you're not careful with your food, thieves.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) birds diego gull nature photography pictures san sea seagull travel Sun, 10 Nov 2019 20:39:49 GMT


Good art tells a story and invokes an emotional response.  The looming figures seem threatening. The woman seems isolated, alone, detached from the threats.

It's actually from the latest hackathon (I guess my day job is peeking through). The figures in front are getting ready to demo their projects and the young woman is checking her email.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) art photography pictures Tue, 05 Nov 2019 02:01:42 GMT
Ollie DSC02171Ollie Asleep Our cat, asleep. He barely stirred from the shutter noise.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) black and white cat cat pet photography photography pictures sleeping cat Wed, 30 Oct 2019 23:44:22 GMT
Be The Person Your Dog Thinks You Are be_the_personbe_the_person Another cartoon. I can do this with your image too. (Well maybe not exactly like this, but something that suits it.)

In addition to the photographic products available from here, you can get it on t-shirts and other clothing from redbubble.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) pet photography photography pictures puppies Wed, 30 Oct 2019 00:26:30 GMT
Tamron 28-75 F2.8 zoom lens beebeeA cutout of a bee on our buddleia davidii I haven't been happy with the kit lens on my Sony A7III. It's OK, but the sharpness needs to be improved.  At high F-stops these are negligible at high F-stops (F16 and up), but at the lower F-stops it's a problem. This wouldn't be so bad if the widest aperture were decent, but at F5.6 -F4 it's rather slow.

The options are a Sony lens and a Tamron one. They're similar in speed and performance, but not cost.

Being economical I chose the less expensive one.

The lens is relatively heavy and a bit of a battery hog, but it is sharp - even wide open. 

DSC02075August The sharpness is similar to my Sam Yang 85mm and much better than the kit lens

DSC02085full frame bee

This is the full frame version of the header image.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) bee lens review photographic techniques photography pictures review tamron 28-75mm zoom lens tamron lens Wed, 23 Oct 2019 01:50:39 GMT
Dogs DSC02035Finn's stare I was practicing with the flash (a godox 200) and the Sony a7III. I used the adaptor for a nikon, but that's ok for "chimp tuning" (manual mode). You need to turn the flash mode on and more importantly turn off the "special effects preview" so that the image can be seen in the viewfinder. It's also a good idea to set the white balance to flash.

 I've opened another web-store for products that zenfolio doesn't support. Tshirts and the like.

DSC02043Finn Finn is one intense puppy.

DSC02028August This one's a bit of a cheat - natural light. Still good.



(Robert Harrison, Photography) dogs pet photography photography pictures Tue, 08 Oct 2019 22:37:34 GMT
A Tired Puppy DSC01995Finn, asleepTired out from a ride and frisbee. Tired. It's hard keeping up with your humans. Using the silent setting on the shutter helps keep the puppy sleeping.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dog pet photography photography pictures puppy Sleeping puppy Sat, 28 Sep 2019 17:55:43 GMT
Old Fort Niagara DSC01820The Castle  Fort Niagara sits 45 minute or so drive north of Niagara falls, at the mouth of the Niagara river. The French built it, lost it to the English, who in turn lost it to those upstart rebels. Never fear, they built Fort George on the other side of the river in Newark (now Niagara on the Lake). Actually, Niagara on the Lake's a more developed place. During the war of 1812 both forts were conquered by their adversaries (though not at the same time). Winfield Scott, of Mexican War fame, led the charge through the gates of Fort George.

The top of the "Castle" has shooting windows and at one time sported cannon.


As with most historic sites there are reinactors.

DSC01843Later works at Fort Niagara Well worth the admission fee. On a clear day like this you can see Toronto across the lake.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) New York Old Fort Niagara photography pictures travel War of 1812 Thu, 19 Sep 2019 01:13:01 GMT
Niagara Falls I visited one of the most photographed places in the world. The challenge is then how to take a stunning and at least partially original photograph.  Using the clouds and the weather helps.

DSC01655_01The maid of the mist

Seriously, even in the rain, there are crowds of people

DSC01667the fall crowd All armed with cell-phones and amidst them the occasional photographer.

DSC01706Time Exposure from Luna IslandA time exposure can help capture the power of the falls.

Long exposures can be interesting.

The best views are from the bridge (It costs $1 to get back from Canada - four quarters or a loonie)

DSC01734View from the bridgeAs seen on many a postcard or at dusk from the Canadian side.

DSC01779The Horseshoe


(Robert Harrison, Photography) Canada Niagara Falls photographic techniques photography pictures travel Mon, 09 Sep 2019 13:29:35 GMT
Morning flight DSC01623I love the smell of jet fuel in the morningSunrise on the 8:16 to Buffalo This is one of those that belongs in Delta's glossy brochure. I exposed for the sun and sky and expected enough details would show up to maintain the essential tension of the view.  It's what the M setting on the camera is for.

It's also quintessential Atlanta.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) airplane airport atlanta photographic techniques photography pictures travel Sat, 07 Sep 2019 01:01:44 GMT
Sunburst DSC01566SunburstDawn, August, a cleared field After a rainy night, dawn broke. I caught the sun bursting through the edge of the trees, just right. This field is being prepared for cotton, and you can see the two tractors they're using in it. Them and a smoky compost pile.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) alabama nature photography travel Thu, 29 Aug 2019 23:53:43 GMT
A dog and his toy 'nuf said?

Actually I'm experimenting with using the rapid multiple exposure and autofocus for capturing action. It's important enough to use a high shutter speed to capture the action - otherwise it's blurry. So shutter-speed preferred mode is usually the best.  It still might be blurry because the autofocus can isolate the wrong part of the image. So be prepared to take a lot of images to get the ones you want.

DSC01507_01Finn with his favorite toy. DSC01507_01Finn with his favorite toy. DSC01507_01Finn with his favorite toy. DSC01507_01Finn with his favorite toy.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) action shots dogs pet photography photography pictures Sun, 25 Aug 2019 18:08:54 GMT
White Balance DSC01455Churchyard at DuskColor Balance corrected

One of the more frustrating things when you fly on "automatic" is color balance. Most of the time the camera does a good job, but there are times when it just muffs it. Dawn and dusk are one of those times. I was helping my son to move to graduate school - a thousand mile drive - and we stopped in Staunton Virginia for a break. Walking at dusk, to find a place to eat, we strolled by this church and the light was just right.

However, that's not what the camera saw. It saw something far more blue and grey. Down right ugly.

DSC01455Churchyard at DuskColor Balance uncorrected

The uncorrected image is too flat.

The same effect is seen with a street scene.

DSC01455Staunton Street sceneColor Balance corrected

The effect isn't quite as bad with this image, but it's not what I saw or envisaged.

DSC01455Stanton street scene at duskColor Balance uncorrected

Again, uncorrected is just too blue and flat.

The right solution, of course, is to set the color balance in the camera. Almost as good is to use Darktable and correct the color temperature.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dusk photographic techniques photography staunton Staunton Virginia travel virginia Sun, 18 Aug 2019 19:27:10 GMT
Back from the UK (Finn is relieved) DSC01427Finn, resting

Finn, after we've picked him up from boarding, looking somewhat tired, a little worried, but mostly happy to be home. That's still his favorite chair, even though he has to scrunch up to fit in it now.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dog pet photography photography Fri, 09 Aug 2019 17:39:58 GMT
Cassie cassiecassie Our dog's cousin Cassie, asleep on her cushion. I made this image when trying to clean up an image I took.

DSC01329raw image ​​​​​​While she's cute, as always, this image is too busy. I trimmed out the middle and then used the GIMP's select by color. It doesn't always work, but when it does it's not bad.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dogs pet photography photographic techniques photography uk Wed, 07 Aug 2019 23:22:54 GMT
Waterfalls DSC01265_01waterfall The last post from our family visit. We walked up the river at Pontneddfechan. I posted a time-action shot earlier, but there are a number of other waterfalls worth the visit. I took long exposures to make the water stream.

DSC01274another waterfall It's reminiscent of the slow exposure times of  early photoprocesses, but colour of course.


The sky in the background was deliberately over-exposed to give it an ethereal atmosphere.


(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography Pontneddfechan travel uk wales waterfalls Sun, 04 Aug 2019 17:11:50 GMT
Small Whites DSC01348Little White Butterflies These small white butterflies, which are feasting on lavender nectar, are actually "Small White" butterflies (Pieris Rapae). Sometimes the common names are easy. They're a species of "cabbage whites."  No points for guessing what the other species is called - Large White.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) butterflies nature photography pictures Pieris Rapae Small White Butterflies travel uk Tue, 30 Jul 2019 09:51:07 GMT
King Arthur's Cave DSC01288King Arthur's CaveThe entrance. King Arthur's cave is an opening at the top of the cliffs in the Wye valley. It's supposedly a natural cave, but time and people have removed most traces of that.

The Wye valley, itself, is a designated area of natural beauty.

DSC01318Wye ValleyView from one of the seven sisters. Solar panels have penetrated rural England. It's just inside Offa's dyke so even though it's across the Severn it's in England. A number of the local villages make that clear by flying St. George's cross - the flag of England.

DSC01291The High MeadowThere's a solar panel on the barn in the centre. The Wye itself is used for whitewater kayaking and various youth groups, including scouts.

DSC01295scout campThe scouts are out canoeing. (The Scouts were out canoeing - their bus passed us on our way to the car)

There's a suspension bridge, that we crossed. Cassie wasn't overly keen on it, and this photo shows her triumphantly waiting for us to catch her up.

DSC01305bridge end

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dogs pet photography photography pictures Scout campsite travel uk wildlife Sun, 28 Jul 2019 15:51:55 GMT
rapid shots jumpJump Sequence

We took a walk to a series of waterfalls in Pontneddfechan (easier written than said). More on that later, other than it's currently hotter in the UK (32-35) than in Atlanta (30C) and a walk along a shaded river is much easier than one under the sun.  A group of young men were jumping from this waterfall. Not completely sure that's a good idea, but I used the shutter setting to take a series of photos in quick succession. This image shows them reassembled with the GIMP.

Use the open layers command, and then carefully, for each layer introduce a mask (default to transparent (black) and color in the overlapping bits), and adjust the images to be in register.  I used that grey rock near the middle left as a fiducial mark.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) GIMP overlaying images photographic techniques photography pictures Thu, 25 Jul 2019 19:31:00 GMT
Freddy DSC01149Freddy Since Jess died, my brother-in-law and family have arranged play dates for their remaining puppy. One is this happy-go-lucky Golden Retriever, Freddy. He's about two years old and is a bundle of energy and cheer. You'll see him occasionally in this year's images because he likes long walks and tennis balls.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dog dog photography Golden Retriever pet photography photography pictures uk Wed, 24 Jul 2019 19:54:02 GMT
The Grey Wethers DSC01134The Grey WethersThe quarry for Avebury, watched over by fast mean cows and slow mean cows. Avebury is a world heritage site, and - unlike Stonehenge - a place where you can actually touch the stones. Most people see the village, Silbury hill (you cannot miss it - even if you wanted), and maybe the East Kennet Long barrow. If you walk east, cross over the ridgeway, and brave the bovines, you can see the Saracen stones in a field known as the Grey Wethers. This is where the stones for the ring came from. It's a bit of a hike (we did a 10km loop), but worth it.


(Robert Harrison, Photography) nature photography pictures travel uk Wed, 24 Jul 2019 07:39:46 GMT
Back in the UK, Wotton Under-Edge DSC01061Tyndale MonumentTyndale Monument - to an early translator of the Bible into English. Wotton under-edge is a village not too far from Bristol and a favorite local walk when we're in the UK.

Screenshot from 2019-07-21 07-33-23Map We parked on the Old London Road just past the major parking area. This is a popular area when the weather is nice and on weekends. I didn't make a GPS track because we've been here so often. We walked around the edge to the north, climbed up onto the top, walked to the monument, and then back across the top to the car. In the UK (but not the US) Bing maps will show the ordnance survey maps. To encourage them, I left that part of the screenshot in.

DSC01073DogsFreddie likes his walks. The dogs, Cassie and her friend (borrowed from another family) Freddie love it. Almost anywhere in the UK, you'll find people walking their dogs off-lead when they are away from the roads.  Most of the time they even make sure that the droppings are off the trail.


Most of the woods are dark and somewhat gloomy, but there are patches of blackberry (not yet ripe), raspberry (excellent), and miscellaneous wildflowers

DSC01071Blue wild-flower

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dogs nature photography pictures travel uk Sun, 21 Jul 2019 12:05:48 GMT
Frisbee Dog frisbee_dogFrisbee DogFinn has learned to catch frisbees (but not two at once) Our little puppy, now 70 pounds, has learned the joy of catching and playing with frisbees.  The cloth one is the better for throwing than the korg one, but the korg one is practically indestructible as a chew toy.

DSC01044Playing with the puppy Finn's good enough at coming (recall command) that we can safely play with him outside. 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dog playing Dog playing with frisbee dogs pet photography photography Tue, 09 Jul 2019 20:52:48 GMT
Wild Llama Productions I've started to film and produce videos under the name of "Wild Llama Productions." (It's a homage to Monte Python, in much the same way as the Python language is.)

The video below is a sample of my work. It's in single viewpoint "Talking Head" format, which is appropriate for the purpose of this video. It's intended to describe the research done in the Evidence-based Cybersecurity Group.

Raw footage from my (old) D7200 at 1080p/40 fps, edited with shotcut and mixed with Audacity.


(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography video wild llama productions Mon, 08 Jul 2019 02:00:00 GMT
Cuppa - Still life with tea and glasses. DSC01036A relaxing cuppa

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography pictures still life Mon, 01 Jul 2019 21:24:27 GMT
Dog and Shark DSC00999August and the Shark August confronts a denizen of the deep.

DSC01031Asleep His little brother is exhausting. August has been a fantastic "pater familias" - looking after the puppy. 

I've been a little remiss on posting - I have a new product line - videos. It's been taking up a surprising amount of time. More on this in a later post.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dogs pet photography photography pictures Wed, 26 Jun 2019 00:28:32 GMT
Rat Snake A black rat snake on our pathBlack Rat Snake I know many people aren't keen on snakes, but I've had a soft spot for black rat snakes ever since I was a summer camp counselor at Camp Horseshoe. These, frankly beautiful, creatures are excellent at keeping the mice and rats at bay. They're surprisingly intelligent and calm down quickly when handled. Not that I'd recommend it because it's better to let them do their thing without being molested. They're a common non-venomous snake in the Eastern USA.  Since some of the other snakes that are attracted to rodents are venomous (I'm thinking of Copperheads) I'd much rather have one of these keeping the little furry critters out of my house.  By the way, this is a fairly small one, they can grow to nine feet long and five to six feet long is a pretty common size.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) Black Rat Snake nature photography pictures snake Mon, 10 Jun 2019 20:10:48 GMT
Owls DSC_1898Barred Owls A pair of Barred Owls visited us recently. It was hard to get a good shot as they stayed in the deep shade.

These are the ones who call "no soup for you" at night.

Barred OwlsBarred Owls

(Robert Harrison, Photography) barred owl nature owl photography pictures wildlife Sat, 01 Jun 2019 13:02:54 GMT
ANZAC Biscuits anzac_bakedJust out of the oven

ANZAC biscuits are a storied staple of OZ and NZ. They're named for the expeditionary force from WW1, and both the name and composition are enshrined in Austrailian law.

Unfortunately, Austrailian measures and flour are different from those used in the land of the free, so the recipe requires adapation.

Here's my version:

(1/2 batch)


1/2 cup of flour (all purpose or plain)

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of Oatmeal (Plain, uncooked)

1/2 cup of Cocoanut flour 


1/2 stick of butter (125g +-) in:

    2 Tablespoons corn syrup (I use Golden Eagle, a distinctly Southern brand - the same you use for Pecan pie).

    8 Tablespoons water.

When melted add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to the liquids. It will foam.

Add the liquids to the dry ingredients, stir and knead together. The dough will be a bit crumbly. Then form biscuits on a non-stick sheet. They won't rise or spread much.

anzac_rawThe raw biscuits

Bake 12 minutes at 350F (175C).


The difference between this recipe and the OZ one is the additional syrup and water. When I stick to the OZ measures, the dough is far too dry to form. I gather that tablespoons (or possibly cups) are different below the equator.



(Robert Harrison, Photography) ANZAC biscuits pictures recipe travel Thu, 16 May 2019 13:54:59 GMT
Auburn Graduation 2019 My son has just graduated from Auburn, Physics and Mathematics. Wonder where that came from?

The rather horrible pictures I took from the peanut gallery shows our view. Not too much to see.

DSC00946View from the stands What's cool is the quality of the detector in the A7III. I cut the middle out to show his graduation handshake. It's a little tiny bit from the middle.

The Handshake Not quite as good as a telephoto, but clear enough to identify the people.

DSC00963Toomer's Corner Of course, no photoessay on Auburn would be complete without a picture of Toomer's corner.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) Auburn photography pictures travel Wed, 08 May 2019 01:57:23 GMT
more fun with the portrait lens (puppy pictures) Our found dog is about a year old.

DSC00895Finn asleep I'm really loving the light and color that this SamYang lens gives me. This was taken about f2 so it has a very shallow depth of field. The lens's point spread function (how big the image of an infinitely small point of light would be rendered) is comparable to the detector sampling on the A7III.

DSC00899Finn with a smaller aperture With a larger Fstop the depth of field is wider, but then you have to hold the camera very very still.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dogs pet photography photography pictures Wed, 01 May 2019 18:29:40 GMT
Wild Turkey DSC00886A wild turkey hen The wild turkeys are back in Alabama and some of them, at least, are willing to get quite close to our house. 

DSC00894Turkey (and Deer) patrol Our dogs are on alert for the birds (and the deer - who don't get so close). They both know the words 'turkey' and 'deer' as well as that dashed 'S-animal' (squirrel)

DSC_1234On deer patrol


(Robert Harrison, Photography) dogs nature pet photography photography pictures puppies turkey wild turkey Wed, 24 Apr 2019 00:41:55 GMT
Sam Yang 85mm f1.4, a review. One of the few problems with the A7III is the cost of lenses. I can easily spend twice as much on a lens (albeit a very high quality one) as on the camera body itself. While the quality of the lens matters, there is a point where it gets ridiculous - especially when I can buy a new motorcycle for less.

The reason for this cost is mostly due to the electronics, (that and labor - I expect Zeiss doesn't pay minimum wage on piecework). So I decided to try the relatively inexpensive Sam Yang 85mm F1.4.  I wanted the speed as my kit lens is f4-5.5, and since I'm usually using it on manual there isn't a big advantage to having automatic focus or F-stop.

DSC00844Finn on his first birthday

The lens is really sharp. Finn's nose is in crisp focus - even though the depth of field limits where it's sharp. This is great in a portrait lens.

Focussing is a little trickier than with the kit lens because the camera doesn't shift into "assisted focus" where it enlarges the middle of the image. Still it's just like my old film SLR and that was a blast.  The lens doesn't focus quite as close-up as the kit lens (no closer than one meter). The contrast is a little lacking, but that's easy to fix in Darktable.

DSC00848Azaleas Still our deciduous Azaleas come out well, even if I can't qet quite as closeup.

DSC00850white Azaleas So I'd say the lens is a success - as long as you're willing to live with the limits.  I wouldn't use it for sports photography or anywhere where rapid - nearly unconscious - focusing is needed, but it shines when you're a more controlled environment. I was able to use it in both manual mode and aperture preferred mode (A) where the camera adjusts the shutter speed to get the exposure right.


(Robert Harrison, Photography) azaleas dogs lens review photographic techniques photography pictures review Thu, 11 Apr 2019 20:20:06 GMT
Spring in Alabama I've been rather busy of late, what with my first commercial shoot (such as it was) and my university. We held another iteration of the GSU hackathon and you can see some of my work online.

Still, spring has finally emerged and both the animals and plants are out.

DSC00809An Anolehunting wasps and other insects. Those fresh-water muscle shells are 8-12cm wide. Another view:

DSC00813Sillouette of the Anole Carolina Silverbells (in Alabama)

DSC00824Carolina Silverbells in flower and wild iris

DSC00816A wild IrisOnly in the spring and only for a few days.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) Alabama anole carolina silverbell flowers iris lizard nature photography pictures Mon, 08 Apr 2019 16:39:24 GMT
More Puppy Photos, and by the way I do real estate photography too. Between record floods, extremely wet weather, and an actual commission, I've been pretty busy. I could post a show, "Post Offices of North East Alabama" but that would be rather boring (They were all built about the same time, in the same dull brick, designed by the same architect, and are due for replacement/upgrade).

So instead, here are a couple of puppy photos. Much better A black lab puupyFinn, looking cuteFinn, looking cute. On one of those rare times when he is still. Finn is still looking cute, at about 11 months. DSC00663August, dignifiedAugust is still an intense dog. His big brother (now the smaller of the two dogs, but still boss) is still intense. He's more relaxed with having another dog around.  I tried using the swivel screen on the A7III to put the camera at floor level in this shot. It seems to have worked.



(Robert Harrison, Photography) pet photography photography pictures puppies Sat, 23 Mar 2019 16:03:22 GMT
Record Flood I've been a tad remiss at updating. There's a reason.

DSC00545Flood at Lake Weiss. Normally this is dry land. Our puppy was thoroughly excited by the extra water (He is a water dog after all). We didn't want him to swim too much because there's a metric tonne of stuff in the water.

DSC00549Another view of the flood Still, I could find interesting wild things, including this stick insect, which was toughing it out on a pawpaw.

DSC00555Stick Insect

The squirrels have been busy.

DSC00559Hickory Shells

(Robert Harrison, Photography) Sun, 03 Mar 2019 01:01:56 GMT
Soda Bread, a Recipe IMG_1311Soda BreadIrish Soda Bread after baking

Between the day job and wet weather, I've not had much chance to photograph this week. So here's a recipe instead.

  • 2 cups plain flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt (or 2 cups self-rising flour)
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon Caraway seed

Mix the ingrediants either adding a little flour if it's too sticky or a little more buttermilk if it doesn't come together into a dough. In the US I use regular flour rather than self-rising because in the US self-rising flour is slightly bitter. In the UK, just use self-rising flour. Kneed it gently and put on a greased baking sheet.

Ready to bake

It's traditional to cut a cross in the top of the loaf, though this time it didn't quite take. I tend to use "lite salt" which has potassium chloride in it. It makes a big difference with yeast breads, though not here.

Bake at 400F (200C) for about 1/2 hour.  I used 27 minutes in a preheated convection oven, but you may want more time in a regular oven. The loaf will sound hollow when rapped on the bottom when it's done.  It will sound a little hollow if it's not quite done, so when in doubt bake it longer.

This recipe was most likely introduced to Irish cuisine after the potato famine when (eventually) the corn laws were lifted and people could afford flour. Baking powder wouldn't have been available before the mid-19th century in any case. A similar recipe - without the buttermilk - makes a good "damper bread" that you can bake directly in the coals of a fire (Build a fire, and brush the coals from the center. Then put the bread in the middle).

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography pictures recipe uk Sun, 17 Feb 2019 15:27:31 GMT
Sandhill Cranes DSC00495_01Sandhill Cranes The Sandhill Cranes are back at their winter refuge outside of Centre Alabama. They congregate in the harvested fields between the dual metropoli of Rome and Centre along county road 22 just across the border from Georgia. There are close to 1000 birds this year.

DSC00500_01more cranes I experimented using a Sigma 600 mm zoom lens with an adapter for a Sony A7III.  The auto-focus, etc doesn't exactly work, but the camera is fine on manual.

DSC00503Sandhill Cranes The birds were calling raucously in the rain. The most difficult part of getting these images was the relatively low amount of light. Still the quality beats my D7200 by a mile.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) bird photography nature photography pictures Sandhill Cranes Sun, 10 Feb 2019 20:55:43 GMT
Gimp Beautify DSC_1738Finn, dozing

The beautify filterset for the Gimp aren't part of the default set. On linux, use apt get to install gimp-beautify, and there's something similar that can be done with windows and Mac. 

DSC_1738_sketchFinn dozing, sketched Applying the life-sketch filter in beautify results in a pretty good simulacrum of a charcoal sketch.

DSC_1738_classic_sketchClassic Sketch filter And the classic sketch results in a artistic effect. 

The only trouble with the beautify effect is that it's slow on my limited hardware.



(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography pictures puppy Thu, 07 Feb 2019 00:48:29 GMT
Using the speedlight DSC_1735AugustAre you done already? I've been learning to use studio lighting at a course in the Atlanta Photographers Studio. So I've started to bother the animals with experimenting with a godox G200. (Lots of power, quirky controls).

DSC_1738Finn One thing I've noticed is that the detail is far better than when I use natural light. Finn's photo, above, is at a low aperture (f1.8) so the depth of focus is a tad shallow. Where it's in focus it is sharp. 

The dogs don't seem to mind the flashes. 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) pet photography photographic techniques photography pictures Thu, 31 Jan 2019 01:51:08 GMT
Atlanta Streets DSC00424Getting ready for the superbowl

Just a few scenes from my walk back to G-deck after a long afternoon at the Imaging 2019 trade show. There's a murder mystery set there, but no such luck today.

DSC00427Fairley Street

and the famous Coke sign at Five points.

DSC00432The coke sign


(Robert Harrison, Photography) Atlanta photography pictures travel Sun, 20 Jan 2019 22:02:13 GMT
Bridge over Dekalb Industrial DSC00416Atlanta MistA view from the bridge over Dekalb

Imaging USA (2019) is in Atlanta this year. It's about a quarter mile north from here in the Atlanta Convention Center. (almost visible in the distance.) Say hello if you recognize my name (one of the several thousand Robert Harrisons).

DSC00412_01Pruned glory

In the same way that you prune roses to get new growth in the Spring, I've been somewhat quiescent recently. I've been taking classes in portrait photography and studio lighting at  The Photographer's Studio, a non-profit community group in, well, not quite Buckhead (Peachtree Hills). Well worth the effort.


(Robert Harrison, Photography) Atlanta photography pictures street photography Sat, 19 Jan 2019 22:17:23 GMT
Impermanence DSC00400Ideal and real

The real or the ideal? To paraphrase Plato, which is more real the image or its reflection in the lake.

One of those artsy images.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) nature photography pictures Mon, 14 Jan 2019 20:48:41 GMT
Aberrations I've been taking a class in portrait photography and one of the questions that came up in discussion was the difference between a "prime focus" and a zoom lens. 

  • Prime focus lenses are lighter and have sharper images than zoom lenses (in general).
  • Prime focus lenses are usually faster than the equivalent zoom lens (lower lowest F-stop).
  • Zoom lenses let you shift the image size to frame the subject without moving.

There's a reason for this. 

aberationsaberationsAn ideal lens focuses all the colors on the same plane. A real lens can have both spherical aberations (not focusing on a plane) and chromatic aberations.


An ideal lens (on the left above) will focus all points from the same distance on a single plane. It will also focus all of the colors in the same place.

Real lenses fall short of idea. The focal plane isn't actually planar (spherical aberration) and the colors don't focus in the same place (chromatic aberration).

Chromatic aberration occurs because the index of refraction (relative velocity of the light) in glass depends on the wavelength of the light. Fortunately, the index also depends on the composition of the glass. So "achromatic" lenses which are made of two (or more) lens elements of kinds of glass shaped to correct for the differences in index of refraction have been used since the 1850's (if not earlier). Mind you, early photographic processes were orthochromatic and most sensitive to blue light so chromatic aberrations were less critical than with modern detectors.

My old film lenses had a special mark for Infra-Red focusing. After finding the best focus with visible light, you could adjust the focus if you were using IR-sensitive film.

This is also why a small concave mirror works better as a fire starter than most lenses - all the reflected light is focused on the same place which results in a much hotter spot.

Spherical aberration requires careful design of the shape of the lens and lens elements to bring the focus into a plane.  The analytical approximations from my old optics book have been replaced by numerical ray-tracing and similar computational methods. Computer aided manufacturing has brought the cost of high-quality lenses into the range that most of us can afford.

Applying these corrections to a lens at a single focal length is relatively straightforward. Not trivial, but straightforward because there's only one target, the best image a a fixed length from the lens.

A zoom lens has multiple configurations of the lens elements and the corrections have to work reasonably well in all of those configurations. That means that the design will have made compromises.  There is, typically, an optimal zoom where the image is sharpest. My A7III came with a kit zoom lens (28-70mm) and the best image quality about the middle of the zoom range. The lenses that came with my old Nikon are best at the lowest zoom. The lens needs to have more elements than a typical prime focus lens. Each element absorbs and scatters some of the incident light. Hence the lens is both heavier (more elements mean more glass) and slower than the equivalent prime focus lens.

Usually, you can use "chimp zoom" and move closer or farther away to frame the image the way you want. There are times when you can't and that's where the zoom excels. A zoom can also have much smaller physical dimensions (my 600mm lens is a great deal shorter when it's not zoomed out which allows me to put it in a pack and carry it to where the animals are.)

(Robert Harrison, Photography) lenses photographic techniques photography Sat, 12 Jan 2019 19:37:36 GMT
Sad news Jess looking dignifiedJess looking dignifiedA dignified old lady. We heard over Christmas that one of our dogs' cousins has passed on. This image shows her in the fall, with a calm and dignified expression, the grand dame of the family. She was a flat-coated retriever which is a uniquely British breed. Typical of her breed, she was friendly, devoted, loved to chase balls, and at home in the water. You can find these dogs in the US, but they're not exactly common (our vet had heard of the breed but not seen one.)

picking blackberriespicking blackberries She was active, albeit slowing down, until near the end. This image shows her and her sister calmly waiting after a 4-5 mile stroll while her people pick blackberries on a farm lane near Castle Coombe.

DSC_0218DSC_0218As a puppy - about one and a half years old. It was a little harder to get her to stay still when she was a young dog. She will be missed.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dogs pet photography photography Thu, 10 Jan 2019 16:17:32 GMT
Flooding DSC00367FloodingThe water level is above full-pool. This should be full of mud. This winter has been wet; rather wet to say the truth. Lake Weiss, where this is made, is a flood-control lake and it's performing its function.

DSC00371DSC00371Waiting for better water. Our boats are chained on shore because it's not just flooded and filthy, but rather windy and dangerous sailing.

DSC00372DSC00372Tupelo trees I've posted about persimmons. These are Tupelos - a related species that produces large amounts of (unfortunately inedible) fruit.

DSC00324DSC00324   Red at night, sailor's delight? 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) nature photography pictures Tue, 08 Jan 2019 00:38:07 GMT
Birding with your telephoto DSC_1484A Pine WarblerA pine warbler, caught mid flight

I was having fun, trying to catch some of the local fauna with a telephoto (A sigma 150-600 zoom, which is OK as a lens but could be better). It turns out I identified two new ones for my life list.

DSC_1483Pine WarblerMore canonical view of the Pine Warbler This pine warbler was gleefully hunting whatever it eats on a scrubby loblolly pine.

DSC_1478DSC_1478Yellow throated vireo This yellow throated vireo is on his way south. He's a much brighter yellow than the Pine Warbler, who he resembles.

DSC_1468DSC_1468A bluebird And, of course, the obligatory bluebird. He's acting like the thrush he is.  

The acuity on this lens isn't everything I want. Some of that is the inevitable consequence of having a narrow field of view - which means that there isn't enough of the incident light captured to get great resolution. The rest is that it's a zoom with the optical compromises that accompany zooms.  Still, I hadn't planned on finding two new birds for my list, and was, well, chuffed as a chaffinch to do so.


(Robert Harrison, Photography) alabama birding nature photography pictures Sun, 06 Jan 2019 21:04:59 GMT
A7III vs D7200 DSC_0915D7200 Controls Not a lot of pictures in this post. I've been using a Sony A7III for the last month or so and 300 images in, I can write a limited review.

The two cameras are easy to use and give images with about the same resolution. The Sony is a mirror-less camera, a version of the next generation of hardware, and it shows in the finish and features. The D7200 is an older technology, perfectly competent and well-developed, but somewhat clunky in comparison.

In no particular order, the relative strengths of the two devices:

  • Composition aids. The D7200 can display a grid and has a level line that's visible when using the screen. The A7III has more grid choices, and the level line is on in the viewport.  The A7III can do a "zebra display" which reveals over-exposed regions.
  • Lenses. There are an enormous number of lenses available for the Nikon. Far fewer are available for the Sony. The Sony lenses are more expensive. There are some extremely high quality lenses for both (Zeiss lenses for the Sony) and you pay for them. There are adapters that will take Nikon F mount lenses to the Sony E mount. The adapters let you use the lenses, but the autofocus is a bit wonky.
  • Battery life. The nikon batteries last forever (>800 shots if you're careful). The Sony eats charges. Get two batteries and an external charger for it.
  • The Sony has a full-sized sensor and the D7200 has a smaller "APS-C" one. This makes the Sony a little bit sharper than the Nikon, but that's a second-order effect (Fraunhoffer diffraction.)
  • Focus. Both cameras have similar automatic focus modes. However, manual focus on the Sony is seriously cool. The camera zooms in and you can get the image focused exactly the way you want. The Sony has more focus points and can be razor sharp. Autofocus can be a headache because it will focus on what it wants. Often that's what you want, but sometimes it isn't. The 7200 has a neat feature - you can decouple the focus control from the shutter control and use spot focus. Unfortunately, my 7200 has the habit of randomly resetting focus mode to what it wants. 
  • Sensor cleaning. The 7200 sensor seems to attract cruft. I've gotten into the habit of using the cleaning function every time I turn the camera on. 
  • Preview. The 7200 has a preview button that sets the aperture of the lens. That's a good start, but the Sony beats it hands down. If you adjust the exposure, or work in manual mode, or exceed the speed/aperture/shutterspeed limits of the camera, it shows what the image will look like. This is extremely useful for contrasty or back-lit scenes.
  • The Sony needs to be turned on to see what the image will be. The Nikon, being mechanical, can be used with the power off to see what the image will look like. Obviously both need to be turned on to record an image. Not a big deal when you can recharge quickly, but this can be an issue for extended field trips. (Bring yet another battery for the Sony.)
  • Menus: Some reviewers complain about complicated menus for the Sony. Both cameras have similar complexity.
  • Low-light performance and grain. The Sony is better. Acceptable grain at 3200 ASA.
  • Both cameras can take videos and sets of frames in rapid succession.
  • Raw format. Both cameras can save raw images. Darktable 2.0 supports the Nikon, and Darktable 2.4 supports both. I've tried building Darktable 2.4 for my version of Linux mint, but haven't tested it yet. I don't know about Adobe's software. 
  • Image quality. I nearly always need to process the D7200 images to get the best quality. I rarely have to fiddle with the Sony ones.
  • The Sony is a great deal lighter.

I seem to have automatically switched to the Sony for my main camera. 


(Robert Harrison, Photography) A7III camera review D7200 D7200 vs A7III photographic techniques photography Wed, 02 Jan 2019 03:18:58 GMT
Winter DSC00333An Old LureA rescued fishing lure that's seen better days. The sun has dipped into the south taking the light and color with it. The rain has washed what's left away.  Even the fish are asleep.

DSC00343Rorscharch Sticks

What's left is form.

DSC00347A CleatOnly pine needles now. Form and shape. Seeds of the new year.

DSC00351Dried Aster A winter photoessay.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) nature photography pictures winter Tue, 01 Jan 2019 01:15:15 GMT
The unplanned puppy Finn Maccool (or more properly Fionn Mac Cumhaill) is a central figure in Irish mythology, a hunter of giants, and symbol of Irish (and more generally Celtic) nationalism.

A fitting name for our puppy, now with us for six months, who was dropped out of a car in rural Alabama.

Finn on his first dayFinn on his first dayTiny, skin and bones, with a share of ticks, Finn trusted us from the beginning.

Finn was so weak when we found him that I had to carry him home. Our neighbors were able to lure his brother into their car only with a hot dog. Although we can't know, he looks and acts like a pure black labrador retriever.

AugustAugustFinn's older brother approved of the addition to our family. Fortunately, Finn's older brother approved of the idea. One of the things having two dogs has taught us is that they're social animals. They need company, and having a single dog is a little like solitary confinement. The older dog is much calmer with a little brother around.

Finn MaccheulFinn MaccheulExhausted after his first trip to the vets The first trip to the vets was exhausting. We asked if we should leave a contact number and were told "He's your dog now." 

Finn restingFinn resting Good food, a stable and loving environment, and a dose of worm medicine make a big difference, but the scars of his ordeal are still visible a month later. It's only after about six months that he has finally realized that the water bowl will be refilled so he doesn't have to drain it.

Finn, resting.Finn, resting. After about three months, he's grown and has a sleek and shiny coat. A healthy and happy, if a bit bossy, dog, and one who enjoys his training classes at Adog (Dogwood training academy).

DSC_1239Finn at nine months old

Looking for deer. He'd like to play with them, but somehow I don't think that would be reciprocated.

with_the_dogswith_the_dogsOn a walk, in Atlanta, with his brother.

(Pinch collars, a training aid, look ferocious, but are actually more comfortable than a chain "training collar".)

DSC00058DSC00058On a camping trip.

We've taken the two dogs camping.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dogs photography puppies Sun, 30 Dec 2018 17:03:34 GMT
Holiday Lights DSC00313Ho Ho HoFather Christmas, full of air?

One of the characteristic things in the good ol' USA around Christmas is the presence of Christmas light displays. It can be a little tricky to capture these and here are a few tricks that work for me (outside of the obvious need for a good tripod).

Film Speed. You can always use a higher film speed, but as shown below that tends to wash out the colours.

DSC003082000 ASA or so

The colors work better with a slow speed and longer exposures. (I used ASA 50 - as low as the a7iii would go and aperture mode to get to a 30' exposure). This brings its own problems as even with a decent tripod you can get motion.

DSC00309motion problems The next trick is to use the self-timer. That gives the camera time to settle before the exposure. (See the title picture and the one below).

DSC00312with the self-timer Of course, you can get those "happy little accidents" like when a car came by and I had to move mid-exposure.

DSC00311A happy accidentAvoiding a car running my camera and )possibly more importantly) me over.


(Robert Harrison, Photography) exposure holiday lights long night photographic techniques photography pictures Mon, 24 Dec 2018 01:54:39 GMT
Bon Secour NWR A follow up to my post on RVs. 

One of the highlights of our trip was exploring the nearby National Wildlife Refuge. We were about a mile down the road from it, and while route 180 is fast, there are wide margins so that it is eminantly walkable.

X marks the approximate location of Fort Morgan RV park.

I have a birding life list into the hundreds and was still able to identify five new species without serious birding. (Just walking with binocculars in hand.)  We walked there three times: first, late in the afternoon to the junction of the Gator Lake trail and the Pine Branch trail (4 miles round trip),  second, to the shore on the Pine Branch trail (6 miles round trip), and lastly to the Gator Lake trail returning via Mobile street, the shore, and the Pine Branch trail (8 miles round trip).

A Sandriling

Since pets (dogs) are not allowed in the refuge and there are not that many people who visit, the birds are quite tame. The Sandriling walked within two feet of me.

Fifteen inches (1/3 meter) of rain will flood the trails.

There were mosquitos, even at the winter solstice, so a summer visit should include insect repellent and quite possibly a face net.

Without trying, we saw:

  • Osprey
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Brown Pelican
  • Sandriling
  • Snowy Plover
  • Willet
  • Common Loon
  • Horned Grebe
  • Double Crested Cormorant
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Bufflehead
  • White-eyed Vireo

There were gulls (of course) and crows, as well as several varieties of sparrow, that we didn’t identify.  Not to mention these guys, who scared off the plover.

The Blue Angels.
(Robert Harrison, Photography) birding hiking nature photography pictures trail map travel wildlife Sun, 23 Dec 2018 10:12:12 GMT
Travels with an RV DSC00058 At Fort Morgan RV park

A complete change of pace for camping, (my base weight < 15lbs), we decided to try out using an RV. There are several companies that hire them and we ended up with cruiseamerica.

We decided to explore the Gulf Shores region in Alabama. It’s on the Gulf of Mexico, near the Florida panhandle, and something of a “red neck Rivera.” So we fit right in. We picked one of our sons up from his university (Auburn) and after spending the night there (Eagles landing RV park is clean, has nice people running it, and is convenient for a stop over.) drove on to Fort Morgan. We stayed in Fort Morgan RV park, which is a small, nice, friendly, and remote place near Bon Secour NWR (about a mile walk from the trail head.)

I’ll post some of the things we saw in another post, but you can see my portfolio here. Instead I’m writing notes about what we learned in the experience.

This is a 25-foot class-b machine. It was just barely big enough for 3 adults and 2 big dogs.  To be honest, it was just big enough for 2 adults and 2 big dogs.

Hooking the machine up to the power and water at the site (the “shore line” and town water) was straightforward, as was dumping the tanks. Follow the instructions and little can go wrong. It is important to let the tanks fill up so you get a clean flush, do the black water first, and then the grey water. It takes about two minutes, tops.

We used almost no propane. Turning on the water heater a few minutes before you needed it and then turning it off worked well. The water stayed warm for most of the day. Similarly we brought winter sleeping bags and between 3 adults and 2 dogs, only needed the heater now and then.

In no particular order, here are points to consider:

  • Bring a wooden cutting board to put hot pots on. Our unit had two small burners, which were enough, barely. Occasionally we needed to boil water, say for noodles, and move the pot off the burner to finish cooking. The countertops are laminate and would be damaged by direct heat.
  • Clean up as you go along.
  • Find a place for everything and put it back.
  • For long-term: an external propane hookup is a great idea.
  • An awning over the door would make life in rainy weather much easier. (The rental units don’t have this because it tends to be fragile and would be damaged by a typical renter.)
  • For purchase: Aerodynamics matter. The flat surfaces on this unit produce significant drag. If I were purchasing one, I’d look for smooth surfaces and rounded contours.
  • Speaking of driving: It handles like a dump truck. You can get up to speed, but anything more than 70mph is a bit dicey. It bounces and rattles. Drawers will open in turns.
  • 30 gallons to fill up from 1/3 of a tank of petrol. Fuel economy isn’t a feature of these vehicles. They’re not too bad on the motorway, but terrible in town.
  • Having a second vehicle would be a good idea. There are three solutions: 1) tow a car behind an RV, b) use a trailer or “fifth wheel” with a detachable towing vehicle, and iii) a truck camper.  Truck campers are about half the size of this unit and relatively rare in the South.  We saw both towed vehicles and trailers at the RV parks.
  • The propane-powered/electricity-powered fridge worked fine. It’s a little small and slower to cool than a home unit, but fully stable.
  • Storage is a bit tight and takes no little thought to organize. We didn’t get it quite right, but it was OK.
  • The black water tank pellets are some sort of detergent. They help to break up the debris. We could not find any for sale and used laundry detergent pouches. No idea about this for the long term, but in a pinch, it worked well.
  • Most RV sites have water, power, wifi, and cable TV.
  • There was no oven. We brought a Dutch oven which worked OK. It helps if you’ve used one before.

Overall, it was a pleasant experience, and one we’ll probably repeat. There are people who live in these things year-round. It would be tight, somewhat cramped, but definitely do-able.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) camping rv travel Fri, 21 Dec 2018 14:10:27 GMT
Paths and tracks DSC00267PathsCross tracks on the sand. Which way should I go? Walking on the nearly deserted beach, winter on the Gulf Coast, Bon Secour NWR. One of my more meta-physical images. Where to?

(Robert Harrison, Photography) art photography pictures travel. Wed, 19 Dec 2018 23:50:19 GMT
Bon Secour NWR DSC00189Palmetto and pines One of the few places on the gulf shore that you can get to the dunes is Bon Secour NWR. We weren't there at the best time for birding (though to be honest, much like fishing, there is no bad time for birding. Only some are  better than others.) The beach is only available to the public after a mile and a half (3km or so) walk - so few people make the effort. Pets aren't allowed, which prevents your sweet little fluffy from disturbing the birds and other animals.

Which is a good thing. The birds are surprisingly tame. This little sandbird came within a few feet of me, letting me take pictures (70mm lens on a Sony A7III) all the way. Here are a couple of the better ones.

DSC00132feeding at the surfline As with other animals, it helps to get closer to their eye level. Though, without a waterproof camera, there is a limit.

DSC00162Searching for critters

(Robert Harrison, Photography) beach nature photography pictures shore bird shore bird and wave travel Tue, 18 Dec 2018 15:35:40 GMT
Pelicans DSC_1415Pelicans in Mobile Bay We're exploring the Gulf Shores, near Mobile AL. These are the more cannonical pelicans, very different from the white and black ones we get on Lake Weiss. I'm not sure whether the one in the middle is just yawning or simply stretching or giving some "birdy talk" signal. 

DSC_1414Pelicans on Mobile Bay The birds were enjoying the dusk, after a series of torrential days. 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) mobile bay nature pelicans pelicans on posts photography pictures travel Sun, 16 Dec 2018 15:18:52 GMT
Who Goes? DSC_1223Deer Spotting

Deer outside, just outside the window. It is a matter of supreme importance.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) pet photography photography pictures puppy window Thu, 13 Dec 2018 21:19:49 GMT
Frost DSC00026Frost on White Oak leaves

Winter is (finally) here in the South. I caught the frost on our leaves before the sun melted it.

DSC00027Frost on leaves

Something of an abstract study. There's also an overlap with one of my previous incarnations where I'd have mounted the crystals for diffraction studies - doing imaging with the Fourier transform and math rather than a lens.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) frost nature photography pictures Tue, 11 Dec 2018 22:20:40 GMT
Trying the Sony A7iii Finn, looking coyFinn, looking coy My Nikon DSLR is not bad, but its low-light performance and speed of focus could be better. A lot better, to be honest. I decided to try the Sony mirrorless camera - based on reviews and being about a $1000 less than Nikon's offering. The lack of a mirror and the addition of an internal stabilizer are fantastic! (the mirror movement imparts an inescapable shake to the camera in a normal DSLR) A slow shutterspeed photograph of Finn is sharp as can be.

Finn, giving his cute lookFinn, giving his cute look Don't let the sad expression fool you, he gets more than enough to eat and quite a lot of attention.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photographic techniques photography sad puppy Fri, 07 Dec 2018 22:20:22 GMT
Getting a good image DSC_1190August My long suffering model stayed still long enough for me to make a couple of images that show how to get a dramatic picture.

DSC_1177Not very good picture of August

Most Doggy pictures look something like this. Taken from a human vantage point, with a posed, almost demanding stare. August is clearly thinking something along the lines of "What are you doing you crazy person?" Not very photogenic.

DSC_1190August AgainAfter a game of tag with his brother. For this (repeated so it shows on twitter), I got down at his eye level and made a hand-held image with a fast film speed. Still a little blurry, it captures his focus and intensity. A much better, if still technically flawed, image.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dog photographic techniques photography pictures Fri, 30 Nov 2018 23:21:12 GMT
Perspective. with_the_dogswith_the_dogs

Not the greatest, techncially (it's from an Iphone), but this shows how to manipulate perspcitve. The two dogs dominate the image because I made it at their eye level rather than from human eye level. I love the sort of disgruntled expression on our older dog (in back). 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) animals dog walking dogs pets photographic techniques photography pictures Sun, 25 Nov 2018 15:50:48 GMT
Lab Session A Lab SessionA Lab Session Having more fun with the GIMP, and my puppy of course. 

Lab Session 2Lab Session 2

(Robert Harrison, Photography) black lab dogs photography pictures sketches Tue, 20 Nov 2018 14:20:37 GMT
Thanksgiving Break DSC_1109That famous sign

The students are gone, vanished into the dust. GSU becomes almost a ghost-town, even the homeless head off for greener pastures.

DSC_1121A ghost.

Normally these scenes are figuratively crawling with undergrads (figuratively because no one in their right mind would crawl on Atlanta streets.)

DSC_1126An Undesired Streetcar

Mind you, the streetcar to nowhere is just as empty as usual.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) atlanta photography pictures travel Tue, 20 Nov 2018 02:02:01 GMT
Oldbury on Severn St Arilda's Church in Olbury on SevernSt Arilda's Church in Olbury on SevernThis church, on a little hill overlooking the Severn valley, is in a village to the north of Bristol that has been occupied since pre-Roman times. Another cartoon.  The church of Saint Arilda.  Arilda lived in the 5th or 6th century and other than dying while defending her chastity in Oldbury on Severn, not a great deal is known about her. Oldbury on Severn is a tiny village to the north of Bristol that has been occupied more or less continuously from pre-Roman times. Her church is on a little rise that gives it a commanding view of the Severn valley.  I suspect the rise was first used as a fortification and later as a church.

The original image, taken on a hot, dry, and extremely bright summer day is somewhat bland - to say the least. Cartooning it brings out the drama and my original vision. 

Several of these cartoons would make excellent greeting cards, and to blow my own horn, as it were, can be ordered from mpix labs on my site.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography pictures travel uk Sun, 18 Nov 2018 15:16:44 GMT
A Christmas Card? DSC_0482_cartoonChurch in Castle Coombe

I played with colour-specific masking in the cartoon. It brings out the Post box (In the UK the Royal Mail collects and delivers the post, In the US the Postal servcie collects and delivers the mail. Go figure.)

This would make the background for an excellent Christmas card - even though I did make it in the Autumn. To blow my own horn, you can order cards on my site.

The original isn't quite as nice.

Church in Castle CoombeChurch in Castle Coombe

I find the original, taken in the overcast conditions, is more threatening - reflecting the stormy future of the UK.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photographic techniques photography pictures travel uk Sun, 18 Nov 2018 00:17:53 GMT
Cartooning PoppyPoppy

One of the effects I've been playing with is the cartoon filter in the Gimp.  It draws black lines where the gradient in the image intensity or color is large. 

DSC_0966_cartoonDSC_0966_cartoon It is a useful technique.

DSC_1042_cartoonGarden in fall

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photographic techniques photography pictures Mon, 12 Nov 2018 01:11:29 GMT
That season of mellow fruitiness DSC_1042_01Fall colours in the rain

Fall is, finally, coming to the Atlanta area. When you get the light right, it's intensely beautiful color. Nothing as gaudy as the maples up North, sort of understated, but still there.

DSC_1072_01Virginia Creepers

I almost titled this "Mcclellan" because it's a Virginia Creeper (obscure Civil War joke). This is an image where playing with the color balance brought out the tones that I saw from the sun light filtering through it. 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) nature photography pictures Wed, 07 Nov 2018 19:08:23 GMT
color theory on the cheap. DSC_1048Dogwood fall colours I attended a prospective student meeting at SCAD last night. They gave us a quick example class in color theory. While it comes from Josef Albers' work at the Bauhaus (and later Black Mountain NC) it isn't quite a theory in the sense that a STEM person would think. (It's actually a combination of physiology, psychology, and culture)

That doesn't mean it isn't interesting and worthwhile.

It blew my mind. I understand why the above image "works."  

Marcia Cohen, a new emeritus professor, gave a workshop in color theory.

First we made illusions like:


Where you get a sense of transparency if you pick the hues and saturations just right. She then showed an example with an illusion of depth. I've tried to reproduce it, but it's not as good as Alber's example


In any case, I was seriously impressed with the place, and going to give it a shot.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photographic techniques photography pictures Sat, 03 Nov 2018 12:37:59 GMT
Autumn DSC_1048Dogwood Cold, wet, and fall. Autumn is finally upon us. I've been experimenting with image effects.

DSC_1036a coven? Becomes, after processing:

DSC_1036_cartoonWitches This works best for images with broad areas, so my current crop of (extremely) hot peppers:

DSC_1055Sakura peppers, becomes: DSC_1055_cartoonPeppers, cartooned.

Contact me for your own custom shooting session (the mandatory and usual plug)

(Robert Harrison, Photography) nature photography pictures Fri, 02 Nov 2018 19:43:53 GMT
Persimmons DSC_10172018 Crop of persimmons One of the joys of the rural South are the persimmon trees. Persimmons grow further North (I've harvested them just outside the Strafford train station in Pennsylvania and on the C&O canal by the Potomac), but are far more common in Northeastern Alabama. 

These are not ripe. Almost ripe, but not quite. The deer and raccoons get them as quickly as they turn soft - and a darker orange. Early on they have a protective colony of ants, which defend the ripe ones to their death. That said, we get our share by carefully feeling the fruit or shaking the trees to see which fruits drop. The bulk will turn ripe after the first hard frost and there will be some on the tree until Christmas.

It's a bit of a pain to convert the fruit into a useful form for baking. What I do is to mash them with sugar - about a cup (300 ml or so) and then dissolve the mixture with milk. Then it's an easy matter to strain the mixture and remove the seeds and inedible bits. After that, any muffin recipe will do - I like adding walnuts, cinnammon, and ginger.

Remember to plant the seeds when you're done. It's the least you can do for the plants.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) nature photography pictures Tue, 30 Oct 2018 00:45:00 GMT
All those settings. DSC_0915Nikon D7200The setting knobs on a Nikon D7200 One of the things I learned at the Master's class was that at least some photographers don't know what these settings are good for (besides impressing other people). Going beyond the basics is outside of the scope of this blog, but a little information can work wonders.  You can find cheat sheets for most cameras which are easier than reading the manual - when you can get it. 

It's worth using the different modes on your DSL. After all, that's why you paid for it.

There are two relevant settings on the knob in the centre of this image. The bottom ring sets whether the camera takes a single shot, continuous 3 frames a second, continuous 10 frames a second, self timer and mirror lock. Neat, but other than bracketing, I usually use the S.  The dial on top sets the mode and that's far more useful.

I have it set for automatic, without a flash. Elsewhere I've set the speed to 200 - it can do automatic speed adjustment but that tends to end up with very high speeds and lots of grain. This setting tries to balance off shutter speed and aperture for generally optimal shooting. It's a good first approximation, but the other settings, P,A,S,M, are useful.

P turns on the programming mode. That lets you set things like HDR (if you don't save raw images) or bracketing. Neat but not particularly useful.

A, on the other hand is often exactly what you need. With A you set the aperture - the 'f-stop' - and let the camera pick the shutter speed. This lets you force the lens to use a high f-stop (small aperture) with good depth of field, or to use a low f-stop for shallow focus.

Using the highest F-stop let me take this image:

DSC_0707Saint Catherine's chapel and Hawthorne where the hawthorne and the chapel are both in focus.

For portraits, I like a big aperture because it defocuses the background. By the way, in a shameless plug, you can book a session with me.

DSC_0976A happy couple By the way each F-stop is half as bright at the one above it. Since the size of the aperture scales as the width squared, they go by the square root of 2 (e.g. 1,,4,5.6,8,11,16,22 ...)  and usually the lowest number is the best the lens can give you (which is never one).

S does the same thing but lets you control the shutter speed. Very useful for action shots and with big telephoto lenses. (1/4000 S is a good idea with a 500mm lens). You can also force the shutter to stay open long enough to get blurred motion.


M lets you set the shutter speed and aperture. There's a bar on the side of the view finder that more or less lets you know how close you are to the correct exposure - or you can just let the speed adjust.  I've used manual when taking pictures of the sun or the moon because the camera tries to make the average exposure 15% grey, which is usually fine. In those cases I fix the aperture and shutter speed and then adjust the film speed to get the image I want.

DSC_0560Our SunOur sun, showing a few sunspots. Preparatory to shooting the recent eclipse You can even see a sunspot or two. (I used a solar filter for this and even through that the contrast and light were too bright to let the camera make the decisions).

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photographic techniques photography Fri, 26 Oct 2018 15:53:56 GMT
Street Photography DSC_0978Tending the pressure washer I just finished a master's class with Richard Renaldi as part of the Atlanta Celebrates Photography 2018 program. I learned a lot. One thing I've never done is to simply ask people if I can take their photograph. Well, to qualify this, ask people I don't know.

It's both easy and hard. By the end of the afternoon I was pretty shot, but the results weren't too bad. I've posted my results in People of Atlanta

You can always make an appointment for a private session. (have to put this shameless plug in.)


DSC_0994A sage

(Robert Harrison, Photography) masters class photographic techniques photography pictures street photography Sat, 20 Oct 2018 13:12:39 GMT
The puppy grows DSC_0965Finn, resting. About six months old.  The grids are the same as in this image from the day after we found him.

Finn MaccheulFinn MaccheulA very thin dog, somewhat exhausted after his first visit to the vets. Something tells me he's grown. A few months of good food tends to do that.  Now for the inevitable - Click here - to document your special animal by making an appointment.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) pet photography photography pictures puppy Tue, 16 Oct 2018 00:26:32 GMT
Star Shots DSC_0953A starry night Experimenting with star shots using my fish-eye lens. Actually, any lens that has reliable focus will do, but at F 3.5 this is good enough. You can see the different colors of the stars, something usually hard to see with your eyes. (Though we see it on clear nights in winter.)  Cassiopeia is visible in the centre bottom of the image. The star motion is visible even with the short exposure (30s). 

DSC_0955Another star shot. I moved the camera for this shot. The North star is just left of center at the bottom of the image (Cassiopeia points at it) There were meteors but other than where I caught my head (180 degree FOV is a bugger) I didn't catch any.  Still, the detail beats my earlier attempts - you can see the small stars. Later in the night would have been better, but the clouds were already rolling in. 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) night photographic techniques photography pictures star pictures Mon, 15 Oct 2018 01:09:12 GMT
HackGSU Spring 2018 DSC_0946CheckinThe tidal wave approaches

The computer science department at GSU hosted its biennial Hackathon this last weekend. The quality of the student projects has definitely improved.

DSC_0941DSC_0941 The organizers. 

DSC_0942Girls can code

(Robert Harrison, Photography) hackathon photography pictures portraits Mon, 08 Oct 2018 22:16:50 GMT
Remediating Grain mother and fawnmother and fawn

I made this image a couple of months ago, at dawn, using a 600mm lens and a film speed of 3200. The apparent grain is larger than ideal. I use darktable to process images because it's a) free and 2) works on Linux (2 is more important). Like Adobe's lightroom, darktable can process grain. 

Mother and Fawn, denoisedMother and Fawn, denoised This image, processed with a parametric denoising algorithm, using wavelets for the convolution, is much smoother. It takes a careful adjustment to trade off between smoothness and loosing image detail. The image below has a patch from both the original and processed.

Mother and Fawn, for direct comparisonMother and Fawn, for direct comparisonA patch from denoising on top of the original


(Robert Harrison, Photography) nature photographic techniques photography wildlife Fri, 05 Oct 2018 00:12:27 GMT
Fall Sunflowers DSC_0910Fall Sunflowers

We have a fair lot of logged over areas in Alabama. In Autumn, they erupt into swarms of these flowers.

DSC_0906Sunflowers It feels as if you're swimming in a sea of yellow.  Makes a change from:

SunriseSunrisemorning mist over a regrowing woods in Alabama.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) alabama flowers nature photography pictures sun Tue, 02 Oct 2018 00:44:12 GMT
Getting over the new puppy DSC_0889Ollie, relaxedFinally getting over the new puppy. One of our cats, at least, is finally getting over that uncouth young invader (our unplanned puppy). Which gave me a chance to make some newer images. He's actually relaxing, even when the dog is inside.

DSC_0885Get that thing out of my face. I used an 85mm lens which has a shallow depth of field. 

DSC_0890Is he back? Though upping the "film speed" and using a higher aperture helps. He's keeping a weather eye on the little one - ready to give him the claw if needed.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) cat cat photography pet photography photographic techniques photography pictures Tue, 25 Sep 2018 20:48:44 GMT
Orb Weaver DSC_0878Orb WeaverFall Spider The onset of Fall brings out the Orb Weavers. Argiope Aurantia, The golden garden spider or golden orb weaver is one that's common in our garden. This image was made with a low F-stop and shows limited depth of field. 

DSC_0880Argiope_aurantia Increasing the F-stop results in greater depth of field - which is somewhat distracting. 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) argiope aurantia nature orb weaver photographic techniques photography spider wildlife Mon, 24 Sep 2018 00:37:29 GMT
More experiments. DSC_0747.oilSt Catherine's interiorRendered with oil and highlights using the gimp. Experiments, experiments, experiments. Did I mention I was a scientist? This shows playing with the oil effects. I'm doing another experiment - seeing if Facebook adds will help draw attention to my blog and my business site. If you're anywhere in northern Georgia or eastern Alabama and want a photographer - give me a looksee.

St Catherine's interiorSt Catherine's interiorThe original. Note the doves. The original image, for your delectation. 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) architecture churches photographic techniques photography pictures uk Fri, 21 Sep 2018 01:03:33 GMT
how the puppy's doing Finn 3/1618Finn 3/1618 About 5 months old, healthy and (in this case) tired. Finn (and his brother's) fur reflects light. The blue cast is from the sky-light above him. There's not much evidence of his struggles - other than a tendency to drink the water bowl dry immediately after it was filled. He weighs about 40 lbs (18kg in rational units) and is learning how to be a well-trained dog.

Don't forget about the coupon RWH-LTO-ART Apply it to any of my works to get them at lab cost - which is a dashed good offer.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photographic techniques photography pictures puppies Wed, 19 Sep 2018 23:49:23 GMT
A modest experiment CalvaryCalvaryOne of my favorites, Point Reyes California I've set up a coupon RWH-LTO-ART which you apply at checkout to set costs for an order to the lab costs (What it would cost me). It's something of an experimnt, but you can get a print of any of my works - and some at least - are PDG (pretty darn good).

(Robert Harrison, Photography) Sun, 16 Sep 2018 21:49:12 GMT
Blackberries DSC_0782English Blackberries The blackberries were turning ripe in the UK. This shows a few ripe ones with the mixture of colors of unripe ones. (It's from Maiden Castle). They ripen towards the middle of September.

Wild BlackberriesWild Blackberries

Fruit of the same name, but in the US. They are clearly a different species. Ours ripen much earlier (they're mostly over by July 4th) and don't form such dense clumps.  Both kinds are good to eat and worth the harvesting. (Though US ones are a bit more tart than UK ones).

picking blackberriespicking blackberriesPicking blackberries near Castle Coombe. Jess and Cassie are patient dogs.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) nature photography pictures travel uk usa Sat, 15 Sep 2018 17:21:08 GMT
Saint Catherine's chapel, Abbotsbury Abbotsbury, Dorset, is rather unsurprisingly named after the abbey that was established there from the time of King Cnut until its dissolution in the turbulent 1530's. Henry VIII needed the money, didn't he?

AbbotsburyAbbotsbury The village itself lies between the downs and the sea. The ruins of the abbey (dedicated to St. Peter) can be found in the village. The chapel survived because it was used as a beacon. It's visible off the fleet in the day and with a fire in the old bell tower, far out into the channel at night.

DSC_0679St Catherine's chapel in the storm The inside, in addition to being a dovery, is picturesque. There still are services and people leave written prayers the two small niches that once held statuary.

DSC_0696Interior of St Catherine's

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography pictures travel uk Wed, 12 Sep 2018 23:00:57 GMT
Hiking in Devon DSC_0579Hiking on the South Coast trail When the weather is good (as it's been far too often this summer), hiking in the UK is beautiful. The South Coast foot path is spectacular, with sun and a cool breeze to keep away the heat and flies. The long beach which slides off into the distance is the Fleet, a barrier beach just to the west of Weymouth.

DSC_0667Storm clouds over the Fleet The weather isn't always so good, as this image from the next afternoon shows. It's best to be prepared for anything when hiking in what passes for summer here.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) devon photography pictures travel uk weather Sat, 08 Sep 2018 09:33:54 GMT
Long exposure madness Exeter at nightExeter at night Experimenting with long exposures to take night scenes. 

DSC_0558a happy accident It takes a rock-solid tripod.

DSC_0559Exeter Cathedral, with bins Getting the exposure right can be tricky.

Abbotsbury at nightAbbotsbury at night But it can be neat.

DSC_0563Exeter Tea Shop

(Robert Harrison, Photography) Fri, 07 Sep 2018 19:55:29 GMT
Where's Mum? DSC_0569Where's Mum?Waiting in the National Trust car park. Not even a photographer would distract these #puppies.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) pet photography photography puppies uk Thu, 06 Sep 2018 15:52:51 GMT
Exeter Abbey Ruins DSC_0553In the remains

The ruins of St Stephens Alms house in Exeter make for an interesting visit. They're slowly returning to nature, in the middle of a busy city.

DSC_0547low gate.Watch your head

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography pictures travel uk Tue, 04 Sep 2018 16:56:11 GMT
Untouched Beauty Untouched BeautyUntouched BeautyA country cottage, Tintern, in its primal state. While it would be nice, sod that, first rate to live in the English countryside. Even if it is near those barbarous Welsh (Tintern's near the ancient border of Offa's dyke). Refinished cottages are not exactly affordable. This shows what they look like in the process of rebuilding. 

Still, given the countryside that's nearby, it's worth the expense and effort.

Wye River ValleyWye River Valley

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography pictures travel uk Mon, 03 Sep 2018 09:35:40 GMT
Cousins Jess looking dignifiedJess looking dignifiedFinn's cousin Jess They will probably never meet, but Finn and August's cousin Jess is looking especially dignified in her old age. She's a flat coated retriever, a breed popular in the UK, but rare in the US.


She and her sister Cassie enjoy swimming and long walks. If you look carefully, occasionally they show up in my UK landscapes. 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) flat coated retriever photography pictures uk Sat, 01 Sep 2018 11:33:22 GMT
More Puppies! DSC_0454Rough and tumbleAn action shot of the two brothers. Finn had a chance to play with his brother again this weekend. Both dogs have grown by leaps and bounds. I guess food, water, and love are good for them.

DSC_0448My Ball The two dogs also like fetch, although we don't have as good facilities for it as Finn's brother.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) pet photography photography pictures puppies Sun, 26 Aug 2018 19:47:59 GMT
Artistic effects ollie_oilOllie as an Oil paintingAfter processing

The artistic filters in the GIMP are worth exploring. 


The oil effect doesn't work equally well for all images, and quite often cubism is better.

DSC_0215_cubistMother and FawnApplying Cubism.

DSC_0215_oilMother and Fawn Oil Though it does do a good job of removing the grain.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) artistic filters gimp photographic techniques photography pictures post-processing Thu, 23 Aug 2018 22:20:09 GMT
Experiments with a Fish-eye lens DSC_0395Peachtree Street I've been experimenting with an inexpensive fish-eye lens. The super-wide angle and distortion are intriguing. 

Peachtree in the Morning.Peachtree in the Morning.I love the smell of exhaust in the morning.

This image was made with a 30mm lens in almost the same place as the one above it.

DSC_0388Dekalb Ave

Sometimes the image works surprisingly well as in this one of a man disputing the reason for his traffic stop.

DSC_0397A police stop.The man on the phone is calling his lawyer. I think this one works surprisingly well.

And, of course, my spacious office with its elegant high-class furniture (and Asterix's replacement on the desk undergoing brain surgery).

DSC_0408My officeComputers in different stages of repair and reuse.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) atlanta distortion fish-eye gsu photographic techniques photography pictures Wed, 22 Aug 2018 16:56:23 GMT
A Momentous Step Screenshot from 2018-08-21 08-17-50My Commercial Website

The first really big step in becoming a commercial photographer. I've set up my Google business listing.  You can see the quality of my work on this blog, and if it's not extraordinary, it is pretty dashed good - above the plimpsoll line so to say. As you can tell from the places I photograph, travel is something I'll gladly do, though I expect pets and people in Atlanta will be my main customers. There is a bit more paperwork, but this is the start.

I've had to be careful, for privacy reasons, about the people I put in the public area. Zenfolio has private 'customer galleries' and that will be used for customer proofs. For the curious, that machine is running Linux Mint, and using Darktable for image processing.

And now a return to our regularly scheduled programming with a neat picture:

Peachtree in the Morning.Peachtree in the Morning.I love the smell of exhaust in the morning.

A Morning in Atlanta, Police in front of Kell Hall.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) business pet photography photography portrait photography Tue, 21 Aug 2018 12:31:56 GMT
Two Cultures Two cultures at AveburyTwo cultures at AveburyArchaeologists (the serious ones on top) and true believers. Something of a followup on my last post. This images, taken at the West Kennet long barrow several years ago (during another of those increasingly common heat waves) and near the solstice, shows two groups of people enjoying Avebury.  The ones standing on top of the barrow are from an archaeologist guided tour. It's a great place to see the entire sweep of the neolithic monument. The others are celebrating, dancing and chanting. They couldn't be more different.  There's usually a corn dolly or other offering left inside the barrow. Better than the crisp wrappers that were there 30 years ago. 

Silbury HillSilbury HillThe view from the front of West Kennet Long barrow. The view from the barrow

(Robert Harrison, Photography) avebury neolithic photography pictures sacred site silbury hill travel uk west kennet long barrow Sat, 18 Aug 2018 21:08:21 GMT
English folk magic The GuardianThe GuardianThis skull was fastened to a tree, guarding the entrance to the village of North Bovey in Dartmoor. A hint of pagan times past, or just for the heck of it?

One of the interesting things about travelling in England, especially in the more rural areas is the survival of what appear to be folk traditions. This skull, discreetly hidden away and overlooking the entrance to the village of North Bovey, is one example from Dartmoor. 

A guardian, or just something fun for the tourists? Well, maybe not just for the tourists. Speaking of tourists, my portfolio is worth a look.

DSC_0403Offa's Dyke Figurine.

This figurine, on the Offa's dyke path, near Tintern Abbey is covered in offerings. It's maybe a hundred meters from 'the Devil's pulpit' - a rock where the devil would preach to the monks.  Don't forget to take a look at my portfolio while you're here.


(Robert Harrison, Photography) folk magic folk traditions magic pictures travel uk Thu, 16 Aug 2018 23:58:25 GMT
Dawn Dawn Sky, AlabamaDawn Sky, Alabama Just a quicky (i'm performing brain surgery on my computer). This was the dawn sky a couple of weekends ago in rural Northeastern Alabama. We couldn't even smell the local chicken farms. ;-).

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dawn photography pictures Thu, 16 Aug 2018 01:59:01 GMT
That time of year. DSC_0307DSC_0307 The deer were out again. Not completely surprising because it's illegal to hunt so close to houses, but still neat. They're beginning to pair off, though perhaps couple up is a better description because they form groups, for mating.

DSC_0302DSC_0302 This buck divided his time between browsing and chasing the does.


DSC_0315DSC_0315He's sniffing for pheromones at the moment.

This time I tried using a monopod and the results are much better (200 asa instead of 25600). I still have work to do, but it's on the right track. A slightly higher speed and using the mirror-lock function are probably the next step.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) deer nature pictures wildlife Sun, 12 Aug 2018 20:31:37 GMT
Petroglyphs from Albuquerque DSC_0110PetroglyphsLizards

One of the things that I've discovered, rather belatedly, is how useful a little post-processing can be. These are photographs taken when skipping out on the ACA meeting in Albuquerque New Mexico a few years ago. They were indescribably dull (digital cameras have a highly linear response) and a tiny amount of contrast/saturation/shade correction works wonders.

DSC_0118Totemic TurkeyA bird, a shaman, or both? Ralph is not the artist.

DSC_0111Hand print The petroglyphs are not far from the city.


(Robert Harrison, Photography) native american new mexico photography pictures southwest travel Fri, 10 Aug 2018 19:10:54 GMT
Wryscan Quarry (more ruins) DSC_0910Are you sure this is the way, Frodo?The road into the hills, off to the West.

Wryscan Quarry is tucked deep inside of Moel yr Hydd. An earlier post shows some of the ruins. The ruins remind me of Mordor, or at least what I image it to be. One can almost imagine Sam asking, "Are you sure this is the way Frodo?" The trail goes down hill, away from where we stayed so we didn't explore that. 

DSC_0899Worker's houses


(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography pictures travel uk wales Wed, 08 Aug 2018 23:49:43 GMT
Deer Sequence DSC_0221Who's there?

Our local herd is mixed gender - mostly female with a fawn, and one buck. He's just spotted me DSC_0221Who's there?

Is that dangerous?

DSC_0221Who's there?

Let's go. DSC_0221Who's there?

(Robert Harrison, Photography) available light deer nature photography Sun, 05 Aug 2018 20:44:51 GMT
Mother and Fawn Deer and her fawn.Deer and her fawn. Caught this image this morning. It's a bit grainy, which given the time (dawn), the lens (600mm) and the shooting position (off-hand), isn't surprising. Carrying a tripod so I could have used a longer exposure would have resulted in less grain, but no deer. I think that's a fair trade.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) nature photography pictures wildlife Sat, 04 Aug 2018 20:17:05 GMT
California Trail Maps, 2018 I’ll have to figure out how to get wordpress to handle gpx or kmz or kml files, but here are the maps from our excellent expedition (part 1, part 2, and part 3).

The trail from ‘camp one’ in the redwoods. 20180803065711-28244-map dsc_0280

Point Reyes overveiw:

Abbott’s cove:








Drake’s Cliff:












Tule Elk Preserve:


Two elk












Jade Cove:
This location is a bit of a secret – and nearly to the current blockage on route 1.  It is a bit of a climb down a steep cliff and there is more than enough poison oak. That said, it’s a fun day trip.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) hiking travel Fri, 03 Aug 2018 11:18:08 GMT
Figs First fig of the seasonFirst fig of the season

It's a dark and stormy time in Atlanta. Still the figs are finally beginning to ripen.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) fruit photography pictures plants Thu, 02 Aug 2018 00:43:33 GMT
A Moment in Time. A moment in timeA moment in time The ferry terminal, San Francisco, July 2018. 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) doorway Ferry people in doorway photography pictures san francisco travel Tue, 31 Jul 2018 21:43:48 GMT
Cat and Puppy DSC_0123DSC_0123 Our cat, well one of them anyway, has finally begun to relax about that terrible new interloper.

DSC_0116DSC_0116 You can see that the fur is returning around his eyes; the result of two weeks of good food and care. He still barks at the cats, when he can, but they've learned that showing him the paw works. So we end up with the cat back on the plant-stand, relaxed, and well rested.


(Robert Harrison, Photography) pet photography photography pictures Mon, 30 Jul 2018 18:47:13 GMT
The Joy of Frogs A selection of the Genus Rana

DSC_0628Cajun FrogSwimming in the swamp in Lafitte NWR. From my wildlife gallery

(Robert Harrison, Photography) frog frog closeup frog swimming nature photography wildlife Sun, 29 Jul 2018 16:19:23 GMT
Most Excellent Adventure – Part Three, Point Reyes. After turning inland we headed to Sonoma – where I forgot to take pictures as it looks much like any other small California town, and we were focused on wine tasting. It used to be free, but isn’t any longer so pick a winery and do a ‘vertical’ tasting. We stayed at the Sonoma Creek Inn, which is the last remaining building from the old hot springs complex. I’d recommend it both in terms of quality and price over the main part of town. (A thousand dollars a night at some of the motels there – which is way way way outside of my comfort zone).

Then we headed down to route 101 and up route 1 to Point Reyes National Seashore. After stopping at the park center to pick up a good map, we headed to Abbott’s lagoon before going to our rental cottage.


We also picked up food. A warning is in order here. There are several small markets along the inner bay in Inverness. Avoid them. The Palace Market in Point Reyes Station is the only one that’s reasonable -both in cost and selection.


The dunes and beach beyond the lagoon were closed to allow shorebirds to nest and raise their young. Totally laudable, and later we walked to the beach farther North. These pictures are uncommonly sunny – usually the coast is socked in with fog this time of year.  More like this view from Drakes’ cliff


My photoblog can be found at zenfolio. For what it’s worth, I’m also selling photos at Shutterstock and Alamy.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography pictures travel Sun, 29 Jul 2018 11:15:33 GMT
Dragonfly DragonflyDragonfly From Lake Weiss.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) dragonfly insect nature photography wildlife Sat, 28 Jul 2018 19:35:18 GMT
A new lens AugustAugust I'm in the process of upgrading my photographic equipment. Zoom lenses don't quite cut it for professional work. They don't have the acuity of a fixed focus lens and, equally important, they are significantly slower. Nikon's 85mm F1.8 lens is my latest addition for taking portraits (both animal and people). It arrived today and I tried it out. 

Finn after almost two weeksFinn after almost two weeks These are natural light - with a D7200 - in a darkish house. (We live in an urban forest).

My MuseMy Muse

I'd want to add a supplemental light to this shot, but as a candid shot, it's not bad. The lens lets me keep my distance which limits the disturbance to the subject and flattens the perspective. No outsized noses.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) pet photography photographic techniques photography pictures portraits. Fri, 27 Jul 2018 17:30:00 GMT
Tyndale Monument Tyndale Monument at duskTyndale Monument at dusk Tyndale monument, above at sunset, and below nearer mid-day, is not far from Bristol. You can, for a small donation, climb the tower and see sweeping views of the Severn valley. William Tyndale is one of the first translators of the Bible into English. At the time (1525 or so), this was a capital offense, and when the Catholic church caught up with him, he was strangled then burnt. His work, directly from Hebrew and Greek sources laid the foundation of the King James version. Whether or not you are a Christian, someone who stands up for their beliefs, in the face of nearly certain persecution is worthy of great respect. 

Tyndale MonumentTyndale Monument

(Robert Harrison, Photography) cotswalds England history photography travel Tyndale Tyndale monument UK Thu, 26 Jul 2018 21:49:15 GMT
A Ruined Village DSC_0880DSC_0880 Moel yr hydd is a mountain near Snowdon. It's surrounded by a deserted village, a slate quarry that was founded in 1830 and closed in 1946. 

DSC_0774DSC_0774Moel yr Hdff in the dusk, from Blaenqu Ffestinog The mine village is stark and slowly decaying back into a pile of rocks.


There's a poem, in Welsh on the walk into the village. It says, roughly, we lived here, had a school, a church, a village, and now it's gone. 

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography travel UK Wales Thu, 26 Jul 2018 00:28:55 GMT
Grasshopper GrasshopperGrasshopper One of the fun things to do with a telephoto is to get close-ups of small critters. These are all over the place in Northeast Alabama. I doubt they'd let me near enough with a conventional closeup lens.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) Wed, 25 Jul 2018 01:04:52 GMT
Coastal California CalvaryElectric CalvaryOne of my favorites, Point Reyes This is one of my favorite images from California. Simple, stark, and yet (at least to my eyes) somewhat moving. It's actually the road to the lighthouse at Point Reyes. 

Tenacity 2Tenacity 2The tree, the fog, the roots holding it to the cliff. I like to balance it off against this one, of a Monterrey cypress clinging to the side of a cliff in the fog. (Though this is from northern California and not Monterrey).

(Robert Harrison, Photography) california nature photography point reyes scenery travel Mon, 23 Jul 2018 21:12:02 GMT
Finn meets his brother DSC_0074DSC_0074Taking a break from the zoomies Our rescue puppy got to meet up with his brother yesterday. Both dogs look fantastic and nothing at all like the bedraggled creatures they were a week ago. I guess good food, proper care, and a dose of love do work.

DSC_0080DSC_0080Mid-wrestle. Finn's on the bottom in this image. The two dogs had a case of the zoomies and as it was a social call I couldn't quite get down on their level to get the best images. Still you can see the joy the two healthy puppies had playing with each other.

DSC_0083DSC_0083Ready for more? Since our puppy was in better shape, we've had the easier job of it. Our neighbor's animal is no longer hand-shy or timid and the two brothers hit it off. They both slept extremely well that night.

DSC_0067DSC_0067A quiet moment on the porch.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) pet photography puppies Sun, 22 Jul 2018 15:26:02 GMT
Our Rescue Puppy Finn on his first dayFinn on his first dayThin and wary, but cautiously optimistic.

One of the disputable joys of spending time in the Alabama back-country is the chance to rescue animals. Someone dropped off this puppy and his brother on our dirt road. It was 95F, sunny, and they had neither food nor water. Our neighbor and us rescued them from being coyote food. 

Finn MaccheulFinn MaccheulAt home, after his first vet appointment

We took ours to the vet in Centre (Nichol's animal hospital) for a physical. Puppy shots and a dose of worm medicine later, he was ours. He hadn't been abused, per se, just neglected. Irregular feeding and limited access to water. That was about to change.

Finn restingFinn restingResting after dinner and a chew. Sleek, slightly plump, and relaxed. He's at home now.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) pet photos photography puppy Sat, 21 Jul 2018 13:10:20 GMT
California LIghthouses Point CabrilloPoint CabrilloPoint Cabrillo lighthouse in the fog. The light really works. One of the recurring themes along the California coast is the lighthouses. Even with GPS and modern navigation, the foggy cliffs and harsh currents make them necessary. Mind you, they're mostly automated, but that's probably a good thing. 

The 300 StepsThe 300 StepsPoint Reyes lighthouse.

Point Reyes lighthouse is 300 steps down from the main land. Not too bad on a clear, cool morning in the sun, but not for the faint of heart in a storm. (and to be honest not for the faint of heart at all - it's a 30 story climb.) The original keepers used a wheeled cart to lower and raise supplies. You can see the marks from the cable at the top of the stairs.

Sailing into Santa Cruz HarborSailing into Santa Cruz HarborSanta Cruz Lighthouse. Only a few years old. One of the two lighthouses in Santa Cruz, this one is only a few years old and marks the entrance to the small boat harbor. The Alcoa plant at Moss Landing is just visible on the horizon.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) California lighthouse lighthouses photography pictures travel Fri, 20 Jul 2018 18:40:32 GMT
Most Excellent Adventure – Part Two.

After a couple of days exploring San Francisco, we decided to explore further north. Unfortunately, the next few days were predicted to be hot – 110F 38C – in the internal valley so we changed our plans. No lollygagging about in the Napa valley.

Instead we headed to the coast, up to Fort Bragg. It’s a bit of a drive, up the 101 and then over on the 20, but we could stop in Jackson State Forest and explore the redwoods.

A surviving redwood, with our rental car for scale

We stopped at a rest area for lunch where there were logging artefacts and some of the worst pit toilets that I’ve seen. The redwoods that have regrown form circles about the one that was removed. Many of the trees that return aren’t redwoods, but douglas firs, so we’ve done a great deal of damage.


A logging steam engines from the 1920’s.
The road to Camp One

Camp One is a right turn, most of the way to Fort Bragg. You follow a winding dirt road back to a parking lot. There’s a short (1 mile) and long (3 miles) loop up the valley. We took the longer loop to stretch our legs. It’s a bit of a climb on freshly cut trails, but well worth it. The header image shows one of the redwood stumps from this walk.

Regrowing Redwood Forest
The Harbor, on the way up after dinner. Django’s is strait in front of us

Fort Bragg is nothing much to speak of. We stayed at the Hotel 6, which had the dual advantage of being the least expensive motel and an open room. It was a choice between eating at a glorified fast food place or going for a walk. We, of course, chose the walk and found Fort Bragg harbor to the south. Live music echoed up and we made our way to “Django’s Rough Bar” for some excellent sea food, live jazz, and good beer. It’s named for Django Reinhart, the two fingered guitar maestro and the rough bar at the harbor mouth.

Angry Bastard, an excellent bitter

The next day we’d head down route 1, stopping along the way at the Jug Handle State Nature Preserve and Point Cabrillo. But more on that later.

For what it’s worth, I’m selling photos at Shutterstock and Alamy.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography pictures travel Sun, 08 Jul 2018 18:16:48 GMT
Elkhorn Slough Wildlife Refuge (State of California)


Another digression, between Monterey (we actually stayed in Marina, but more on that in another post) and Santa Cruz, we visited the Elkhorn Slough State Wildlife Refuge. It’s a great place for birds, in November through early spring, but less so in summer. Still we counted about 15 species, including a couple of new ones for the life list, so I’m not complaining. Rather I’m thinking of an excuse to visit at a better time.

The Center building itself. It wasn’t this nice when I visited about 8 years ago.

The refuge, an old farm, is maintained by the state and in great shape. They will lend you excellent binocculars (Eagle optics), and the rangers are friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable.

A view of the slough from the South Marsh loop

There are about 5 miles of looped trails over a range of habitat. However, it’s mostly slough, mudflat, and open fields with some oak woods mixed in.

A copy of the trail map that they hand out at the center.


Speaking of oaks, California is in the midst of a slow crisis of sudden death oak fungus, so it’s important to clean your shoes when traipsing about.  They also had us brush off any possible seeds from invasive species. Poison oak isn’t an invasive species, and it is present in the refuge (the birds love the berries). One interesting difference between the western variety and its relatives in Georgia is that the California poison oak was already turning red and losing leaves. Still you should be careful about it – unless you like itchy patches of blisters. (Using soap and water within an hour or so of exposure is usually enough to remove the oils.)

Burning off Eucalyptis

However at this time of the year, the non-avian wildlife is worth a serious look. In addition to lizards (mostly fence lizards) and a gopher snake that stayed put for an intimate photograph, there were rabbits, seals, and sea otters. Sea otters!

A curious Gopher Snake.

I repeat sea otters. At least two of them (both surfaced at the same time) and possibly three of them. There is a power line that crosses over the Parson’s Slough overlook. An Egret rookery is at the far side of the slough where it crosses. The sea otters were playing in the incoming tide more or less directly under the wire. There was also a curious seal, who would poke his nose up, now and then.  I have to admit I didn’t believe that sea otters came in the sloughs, but I was wrong and the ranger was right.

Our day started out sunny, but then the fog and chill (54F, 12C) rolled in, hence the fairly grey photos.

For what it’s worth, I’m selling photos at Shutterstock and Alamy.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography pictures travel wildlife Mon, 02 Jul 2018 19:43:12 GMT
Tule Elk on Point Reyes.


Something of a digression, but we just walked the Tomales point trail at Point Reyes National Seashore through the Tule Elk preserve. This species of elk was nearly hunted to extinction and reintroduced to park about 40 years ago.

Fine, neat, but so what.

Most of the hikers on the trail, and there were more than we’ve seen on any other trail in the park, missed the elk completely. We saw at least 21 and possibly as many as 26 (there was a large herd that was hard to count, my best estimate was 20). There’s a trick to it, well two tricks actually:

  1. Skill and knowledge
  2. Patience

The first step is to find the elk. Being prey animals, even though they’re the size of small cows, they tend to hide away. We  saw three heads on the top of a ridge in the distance. Were they elk? Well, out with the binoculars. Yup, elk.

Further on, to get out of the wind (Tulome trail is very windy. The Park Service quietly understates ‘even experienced hikers may find it difficult’.) we took a diversion to hide behind a pile of rocks. There was a small cluster of similar little dots in the distance. Again, out with the binoculars and quelle surprise, a herd of elk, not 100 meters from the path.

Elk as little dots in the distance.

So then it was just a matter of walking to the closest point on the path and waiting. While a fair number of people walked past, chatting about this and that, we watched the elk.

Elk backs with the Pacific Ocean behind them.

At first, they were blobs in the distance.

They walked closer and soon our patience was rewarded.  People kept walking past without noticing the animals. Shame.

Two elk



These pictures were made with a 200mm lens, which isn’t a particularly powerful telephoto lens.

For what it’s worth, I’m selling photos at Shutterstock and Alamy.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography pictures travel wildlife Thu, 28 Jun 2018 21:04:05 GMT
The Start of a Most Excellent Adventure.

We decided to try exploring the West coast for a number of reasons. The most pressing being to see how the trees I planted while working for the city of Salinas were doing. Well, not really, but it’s been a while and, quite frankly, we wanted to see somewhere we haven’t been recently.

We started off by flying into San Jose, which is a smaller airport than SFO, but has the advantage of being much easier to get away from. We booked a couple of nights in Antioch – near the end of the BART yellow line with plans of exploring the city. (FYI we stayed at America’s Best Value Inns there which is cheap, clean, and decent.  Hazel’s drive in, just down the road, is a fantastic little restaurant if you’re in the area (bring cash – they don’t take credit cards).) If you do this, it turns out there’s no parking to speak of at the Antioch station. Drive to Pittsburg Bay Center and park there. (You also avoid a transfer).

A street in Chinatown.

We explored Chinatown and had excellent dim sum at the Imperial Inn before walking to Telegraph Hill (the Coit Tower then pier 51).  The trick to finding good dim sum is to look at the clientele. If they’re mostly Chinese, you’ve found the right place. We picked up salted plums and various Chinese candies that aren’t easy to find in Atlanta. If you walk a few streets West of the tourist area, you can find the Chinese grocery shops. There English is a scarce commodity, but the vegetables and fruits are authentic.  There’s also a tension between the mainland and Taiwanese Chinese. Several of the buildings pointedly had either the PRC or Taiwan flag displayed.


dsc_0055 Unfortunately the heat followed us, it being 85-90F (30-32) instead of the more normal 60F (16). So we decided the best thing to do the next day (with inland forecasts of 35-38 (100-108) was to take the ferry.  We started at the SFO ferry terminal (near the Embarcadero BART stop) and took the ferry to Sausalito.




The natives posed for a practice shot with my mirror lens. It’s OK, but the resolution isn’t up to my normal standards.


The ferry ride costs about $6.50 each way (use a clipper card, and keep track of your balance). It’s the cheapest way. There’s a bike over the bridge and return on the ferry route that looks fun, but you have to be prepared for it. (We weren’t.) Sausalito is a bit of a tourist trap, so we walked around and admired the yachts. Most of the yachts weren’t being used, and some could be had quite cheaply – if you don’t count the work you’ll need to put in to make her seaworthy.

Sailing by the Golden Gate

The yachts are entrancing, but I’d need a lot of practice to move up from a sailing canoe to one of these.

More sailing.
The skyline, including Alcatraz

For what it’s worth, I’m selling photos at Shutterstock and Alamy.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photography pictures travel Tue, 26 Jun 2018 15:08:43 GMT
97% Totality.

The top of G-deck turned out to be a good decision. There were a few other people there, but nothing like the crowds in Woodruff park (where I understand fights broke out over viewing equipment.)

I used a regular photographic tripod, which is decidedly sup-optimal for astronomy, but good enough for this purpose.

You can see how the shadow appears to roll over the sun in the sequence below.










(Robert Harrison, Photography) photographic techniques photography pictures science Tue, 22 Aug 2017 05:35:23 GMT
Ready for the eclipse. I ordered a solar filter for my long lense. It looks something like a very fragile and expensive piece of tinfoil, but works.

Even with that filter, getting the exposure correct can be a bugger. I ended up in manual mode 1/4000 s f29 iso2000.  The featured image shows the results, and, yes, those dots in the middle of the sun are sunspots. So we’re ready to go.  I’ll probably play around a bit with the film speed to reduce noise, but this is decent enough to work.  I’ll use a tripod tomorrow and be at the top of G-deck.



If you don’t adjust the exposure, the sun is completely washed out. Not at all what you want. After adjusting the exposure, it works somewhat better.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) photographic techniques photography pictures science Sun, 20 Aug 2017 12:51:00 GMT
Dunster Loop #Exmoor #UKwalks I’ve been queuing up a series of walks – mostly about 10 km (6 miles for us colonials), and this is the second.


This started out as a “pub walk” from the house we hired in Wootton Courtenay – and we did get to one, about seven miles in. After several missed turns and places where the map … deviated from the trails on the ground.

screenshot-2017-06-30-14-21-24 This shows our GPS trace overlaid on the most current Ordinance Survey map. These differences made it a bit interesting.

I covered the first part of the hike on an earlier post where we hunted a local pub. So you can read that post for details. We take this walk up at the village of Timberscombe.

Saint Petrock’s church in Timberscombe

We headed uphill on the wrong road, but eventually found our way to where we could see Dunster in the distance.

Dunster’s there, somewhere.

sany0555 If you get to this carved bird (the buzzard), you’ve gone too far.

Some of the local landmarks have a decidedly sci-fi name. Is Gallox bridge in Gallifrey?

Gallox Bridge
Inside the Stag.

We stopped in the Stag – which is an excellent pub – and let two sweaty, dirty, and tired hikers enjoy their pints inside. It had a guitar in the corner so if you were a better player than I am, you could entertain the crowds (or if you were a better runner you might escape the disapprobriation.)



The path heads uphill, of course, from the town. It winds its way past St. Leonard’s well (Shades of Blackadder) along a ridge.

St Leonard’s well. Locked, but making the footpath mucky for the last thousand years.

There is an excellent set of views of Minehead from the exposed ridge. The sun is shining on Butlin’s holiday camp.

Minehead in the distance

We also wanted to look for this weird feature – seen on google maps.
Unfortunately, it’s nothing special.

(Robert Harrison, Photography) england nature photography pictures trail map travel Fri, 28 Jul 2017 13:24:27 GMT
Dunkery Beacon #UKwalks I’ve been queuing up a series of walks – mostly about 10 km (6 miles for us colonials), and this is the first.

Dunkery Beacon is the tallest peak in Exmoor. We’d hired a house in Wootton Courtenay which is at the base of the peak, but if you’re driving there are other places to start from.  I would probably park at Webber’s post where there is a large parking lot, but no post. screenshot-2017-06-26-12-46-11

We managed to arrive just after a heat wave; 32-35 is no fun without aircon. It was typical English summer weather; i.e.raining and cold.

The trail proper starts in a lovely grove of trees and then ascends a moderate slope.
Of course we started in the sun, but that was not to last.

Wootton Courtenay is there, somewhere beneath the clouds

We passed the ponies several times – this shot being on the way up.

These preferred Bracken to handouts, which was a relief.

The top is marked by a cairn. We used it to shelter from the wind while eating lunch.

This shows the path up the hill.

We followed a steep descent part way down the hill and made our way through delightfully pretty woods sany0506 (Rowan and Holly so we were doubly safe from the foul spirits of the undead) to Webber’s post, and back to our house. If I started from Webber’s post I’d go across the hill and up the way we did rather than the other way around.

Of course, then the weather cleared.

The view from the Timberscoombe trail.
(Robert Harrison, Photography) england nature photography pictures trail map travel Mon, 10 Jul 2017 03:49:00 GMT
Peas Potatoes and Gutter Cleaning. Ah, spring. Even though it’s early March, it’s already late spring in Georgia.

The early Daffodils are fading.
And the Cranes have flown off.

Time to plant peas, potatoes and clean the gutters (again).

(Robert Harrison, Photography) nature photography thoughts and poems Sat, 04 Mar 2017 13:19:11 GMT