Colony of Sea Lions

I started writing this blog post about a herd of seals. No really. That’s what a group of seals is called. I asked The Google. I think it’s a pretty cool collective noun for them though, better than a pod (dolphins) Not as apt as a cauldron of bats or a shrewdness of apes. But I digress.

Edit: Halfway through the post I checked another fact on The Google and lo-and-behold, my herd of seals is actually a colony of sea lions! How do I know this awesome fact? Sea lions have visible ear flaps and my pics of the sea critters very definitely have ears. Who knew! Well, apart from David Attenborough that is. Not me!

Anyway back to the seals sea lions. I was tempted to steal a pup and bring it home with me to live in my hot-tub. I would feed it fish fingers and ice-cream and teach it to play fetch with Dawg. But I thought better of it as I was in the middle of selling my house, and even though my new apartment complex has a pool, it is only temporary and my new house might not have a big enough bathtub to keep a full-sized seal sea lion.

I’m sure Dawg would have loved a new playmate but it wasn’t to be. I was astonished at how close all the gaping tourists (me included) could get to them. We were only about 6 feet away and they weren’t even batting an eyelid. And I’m happy to add that everyone obeyed the signs and no-one tried to pet them.

Definitely one of the coolest moments I’ve had in the USA so far – La Jolla Cove, San Diego, California incase you are wondering.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


WPC Structure: Wings

For the past 7 years since I moved to the USA I’ve become ever so slightly obsessed by hummingbirds. They’re absolutely amazing! They’re so small, fast, squabbly (is that a real word?), colourful, noisy and un-afraid. I saw one take on a titmouse the other day!

Anyway this weeks WPC of structure is a good excuse to use my weekend shots of the hummingbirds and in particular their wings and the structure of their feathers.

Technical jargon if anyone is interested: the shutter speed I needed to capture these shots was 1/3000 of a second with an ISO of 1600 at F6.3. I was using an 18-300mm Sigma lens on my Pentax K5 at full zoom and when editing I used a huge crop as well. I’m pretty pleased they turned out as sharp as they did (not counting all the binned blurry efforts btw).

I love how they fly right up to you and look you in the face as if to say “Hey giant thingy, what are you?” Now if I could only get one to perch on my finger.




Woke up today to a world filled with mist. Perfect for this weeks Photo Challenge theme of ambience… unfortunately I forgot for a short time where I actually live! There’s very little of scenic value in East Central Illinois. My visions of rolling hills shrouded in mist with spooky shadowed trees and mysterious silhouettes and spooky ambience weren’t going to happen. Anyway I fired up the imps in the camera (Terry Pratchett refernce for non-Pratchett fans) and headed out this morning to go photograph Ambient Stuff.

Firstly I visited the lake where I did manage to snap a few shots that, whilst not exactly what I wanted, turned out OK.

Then I headed off to the graveyard, but by this time the mist was starting to lift a little bit so didn’t get the shots I wanted there either.


Oh well, it got me out with my camera, plus more importantly I had fun shooting randomly again. I haven’t been out without purpose or intent to shoot anything for months and I forgot how much fun it is wandering around with a camera.

Happy shooting everyone. Go take your camera for a walk.



I thought about trying to be sensible and write a ‘proper’ travel blog seeing as I’m just back from Kauai with my mum and sister, but all my thoughts and impressions from the holiday are all jumbled up, so I’m just going to throw photographs up and maybe write a bit about each picture and try to convey how awesome and photogenic the whole island is.

We started off on the right foot though; overnight at the airport hotel we met an Irishman who offered to party with us because “Floor tree is the Celtic party floor” *that was my best Irish accent btw*, plus our hotel receptionist was Wil Wheaton and I’m sure he would have been up for a shindig. Unfortunately we had to get up at 3.30am the next morning so declined the party. Am I sensible or what? Well maybe not…. sharing a room with my sister for the first time in mumblemumblethirtysomethingmumblemumble years meant of course that the long (vaguely) light-sabre shaped pillows meant a pillow fight. Hey, mum was next door and couldn’t tell us off! Anyway absolutely NO sleep that night, plus American Airlines terrible planes (Get with it American. You need to update your planes!!) meant we were pretty exhausted when 16 hours later we arrived in Kauai. Not too exhausted to go explore the beachey though!

Aloha Kauai

The rest of this blog (and probably the next couple of blogs I post) is going to be pretty random with photographs just thrown up any old way and not at all in any kind of order.

Beautiful Kauai – you can see why they call it the ‘Garden Isle’

The photograph above was taken from the helicopter trip we booked as a surprise for mum’s 70th birthday, so I’m not really sure what the mountains are called.

Kalalau Lookout

The rainbow shot is from the lookout at Kalalau Valley and the Na Pali Coast. The Kalalau lookout stands at 4,000 feet above sea level and gives you a peek at a valley that as late as the 1920’s still was the home to residents who farmed crops there. The only way into the valley is by foot along the Kalalau Trail or by boat. There was a total eejit standing up on the railings trying to get a better shot than the rest of us mere mortals standing on the ground. He tried to get me to stand back while he was shooting, but 1. He wasn’t supposed to be standing on the railings (plus there was a huge drop off on the other side. THAT’S WHY THE RAILING WAS THERE SILLY MAN! and 2. By the time he’d finished shooting the rainbow could have gone! So I walked up beside him and started shooting despite his objections. Hey, he was shooting over my head anyway and he was in the best spot.

What a plonker!

I understand nothing getting in the way of a good shot, but really!!!

Wailua Falls

This waterfall was just a short car ride from Lihue. Located at the south end of the Wailua River it cascades into two streams, dropping into the pool below. I vaguely remember watching Fantasy Island when I was wee, but seemingly these are the falls in the opening credits.


Then last and most certainly least is us. Hummed and hawed about posting this and losing my anonymity – my secret life as a ninja could be exposed now, but I love this picture of us. My mum had a blast on her holiday and doesn’t she look great for 70?

Many many more photos to come.

Mexican Cemetery

Before moving to the USA I wasn’t even aware of Cinco de Mayo, never mind any ‘real’ traditions or customs of Mexico. After extensive research (Googling a few pages) I discovered that it isn’t really a Mexican day, it’s more of an American thing. Kind of like St. Patrick’s Day, not as big in Ireland as it is in the USA. Anyway I was lucky enough to visit Mexico for a short trip in the summer and one of the highlights (photographically wise) was the Mexican cemetery. After getting home and extensively researching (more Google) Mexican customs regarding Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead I found out how important a day this is to the families of the departed. It’s a day of celebration and honouring their dead.


Descansa en paz – Rest in Peace.

Photo 101: a pop of colour

Red bellied Woodpecker – Yes, even though it’s got a red head. Makes no sense to me either!

A splash of colour in a dull background. I love my bird feeders but I’m rubbish at taking photos of the birds at them. I probably need a longer lens than a 90mm (this shot has a huge crop) The trouble is I don’t know what lens to buy – do I go for a big huge beast that I can’t carry around with me, or do I go for one with a mega zoom and lose the qualilty. I need somebody to just tell me – BUY THIS ONE! I do love my Pentax K5 and really wanted to stay away from the Canons and Nikons, but they do have a better selection of lenses, and by better I mean cheaper! In the meanwhile I’ll continue trying to shoot birds and get frustrated they’re not as sharp as I’d like them to be. (That is shoot birds with a camera obviously!)