Photography Assignment 2014 – Holidays

The topic of our final photography assignment of 2014 is Holidays! We will be working on this one for the ENTIRE month of December, so whatever holiday(s) you happen to celebrate this month, show us your best photos!

The rules for the assignment, as always, are simple:

  • Your photos have to be NEW, as in taken between now and New Year’s Eve – Wednesday, December 31 – NOT something you took last year, last week or yesterday. No fair scrolling through the old photos stored on your hard drive or phone to find that really super hilarious photo you took of your Uncle Phil in his Santa suit last Christmas. The idea is to go out into the world with whatever picture-taking device you have and come up with the most interesting and creative NEW Holiday shots that you possibly can.
  • You may submit up to 10 (TEN) of the best Holiday shots that you took during the month of December, 2014. Accompanying captions make it more fun but aren’t required. If you submit photos of identifiable people, be sure you get their permission to have their photos posted online!

That’s it! As mentioned, you have the ENTIRE month of December to complete this assignment so there are NO EXCUSES! At some point between now and Thursday, January 1, 2015, email up to TEN Holiday photos to me at 39DegN@gmail.com and put “HOLIDAYS” in the subject line. The results of this assignment will be posted here in the blog on Saturday, January 3.

As always with these assignments, please keep in mind that you don’t need a fancy-schmancy camera to play along. It doesn’t matter what kind of picture-taking device you use – DSLR, point-and-shoot, camera phone, etc. – it’s all good. The important thing is to PARTICIPATE! These photography assignments are just for fun and also to help you become a better photographer by training your eye to see specific things or by practicing certain techniques. There’s no critique involved, no judges, no winners, no prizes… just the most interesting and creative HOLIDAY photos you can muster with whatever camera you have available.

Let me know if you have questions about this assignment. If not, get out there and get to it! Remember… BE CREATIVE, use good composition techniques, and, most of all, HAVE FUN! The more the merrier, so please share share share this post and tell your friends about the assignment so they can play along too!

In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be posting some tips and techniques to help you improve your Holiday photography, so keep an eye out for new posts! (Or better yet, SUBSCRIBE to receive 39° North Photography blog posts in your email. Look for the Subscribe box at the top of the right sidebar).

Here are a few Holiday examples from my own archives:

Holiday Lights at the Denver City and County Building

Christmas Sophie

Christmas Sophie

photo 3

Snowy Wreath

Scavenger Hunt #2 Reminder

How are you coming along with your Scavenger Hunt assignment? This is your friendly reminder to finish up the assignment and email your photos to me by Sunday evening, October 5. The 10 topics are listed below. Click HERE to read the original post for Scavenger Hunt #2.

  1. Yellow
  2. Clouds/Sky
  3. Rock/Stone
  4. Something That Makes You Smile
  5. Window(s)
  6. Two
  7. Shoot From Your Boots (i.e. low angle photography)
  8. Fence
  9. Fall/Autumn
  10. Paper

I can’t wait to see your photos!

Autumn in the Aspen Grove

Shooting from My Boots on the Green

Photography Assignment 2014: Scavenger Hunt #2

It’s photography assignment time again! Let’s do another Scavenger Hunt, cool?

Shot From My Boots

Shot From My Boots

For those of you who are new to the blog and my scavenger hunt assignments, here’s how it works… 10 topics are listed below. Your assignment is to go out and take photos that in some way represent each of these topics. You can choose to photograph as many of the ten topics as you like, but you may submit only ONE photo per topic. Here are the topics:

  1. Yellow
  2. Clouds/Sky
  3. Rock/Stone
  4. Something That Makes You Smile
  5. Window(s)
  6. Two
  7. Shoot From Your Boots (i.e. low angle photography)
  8. Fence
  9. Fall/Autumn
  10. Paper

I suggest that you jot these topics down and carry the list with you when you’re out and about with your camera. It’s a good idea to have a camera with you at all times because you just never know when great photo-ops will pop up!

The “rules” for the assignment are:

  • Your photos have to be NEW, as in taken between now and Sunday evening, October 5 – NOT something you took last year, last week or even this morning for that matter. New. Fresh. NOW. No digging old photos out of your hard drive or your Camera Roll, ya hear? The idea is to take your photo-taking-device out into the world with the ten topics in mind and come up with the most interesting and creative shots that you possibly can.
  • You may choose any or all of the ten topics to photograph, but please submit only ONE photo of each of your chosen topics.
  • Please label each photo with the name of the topic above to which it pertains. You can do full captions, but the caption should at the minimum include the name of the topic.

That’s it! If you’re in, start taking your photos NOW. I’m giving you a little over ten days to complete this assignment – including TWO weekends – so GET BUSY! Sometime between now and Sunday evening, October 5, email your photos to me at 39DegN@gmail.com and put “SCAVENGER HUNT” in the subject line. The results of this assignment will be posted in the blog on Tuesday, October 7.

As always with these assignments, please keep in mind that you don’t have to be a “Photographer” and you don’t need a fancy schmancy camera to play along. DSLR, point-and-shoot, camera phone… it doesn’t matter. These photography assignments are just for fun and also to help you become a better photographer by training your eye to see specific things or by practicing certain techniques. There’s no critique involved, no judges, no winners, no prizes… just the most interesting and creative photos you can muster with whatever camera you have available. Got it? Let me know if you have questions about this assignment. If not, get out there and get to it! Remember… BE CREATIVE, use good composition techniques, and, most of all, HAVE FUN! The more, the merrier, so please share share share this post and tell your friends so they can play along too!

Here are a few examples from my archives:
yellow

Yellow

clouds

Clouds

rock penguins

Rock Penguins

Something That Makes Me Smile

Something That Makes Me Smile

window

Window

two

Two

fence

Fence

 

Autumn Aspen Leaf

Autumn Aspen Leaf

paper

Paper

My Grasshopper Friends

I recently issued a plea on Facebook to my gardener/farmer friends for suggestions on how to organically control the burgeoning grasshopper population in my garden. I received a few interesting ideas, including: various ways to cook and eat them (not an option as I don’t eat animals); getting chickens and having THEM eat them (good idea but I’ve already decided against getting chickens); getting sheep or goats and having them eat the grasshoppers’ food source (not a good idea as I LIKE having a garden AND I’m not allowed to have sheep or goats in my town); and a plethora of natural homemade pesticide recipes (excellent ideas, Margaret, but sounds like a lot of work). My favorite suggestion, however, was that I simply learn to love them (thank you Anna). And since the grasshoppers don’t seem to actually be eating all that much of my garden and there’s plenty of yummy stuff to go around, that is what I decided to do. And so, with no further ado, I would like to introduce you to some of my new grasshopper friends.

(Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge those images or you can click here –> View photos at SmugMug).

Big Green Caterpillar

This very large and hideously beautiful caterpillar was found lurking in one of my flowerbeds over the weekend. I initially thought it was a hornworm, which are are known to strike fear into the hearts of gardeners everywhere as they are quite fond of things like tomato, potato, eggplant, and pepper plants.

tobacco hornworm

tobacco hornworm

However, after a bit of further research, I’ve determined that this beauty is the larva of the modest sphinx moth, perhaps even the offspring of the very modest sphinx moth I discovered hanging out on my back patio in mid-July this year!

modest sphinx moth

Modest sphinx moth caterpillars feed on aspen, poplar, cottonwood, and willow leaves and are not considered to be pests. (Adult modest sphinx moths, on the other hand, don’t eat at all, EVER. They don’t even have mouth parts)! My yard must be a modest sphinx moth larva haven because I have lots of aspen trees and a very large cottonwood tree. I’m actually kind of surprised that this was the first such caterpillar that I’ve seen.

I spent quite a while observing and photographing the big green caterpillar. (It was quite a joy to watch it move, actually). After I was done with the portrait session, the caterpillar was gently placed into the “back forty” of my yard, where it was free to find a nice patch of dirt in which to dig a shallow burrow and pupate for the next 9 months.

Crater Lakes

Crater Lakes is a series of five scenic lakes high up in the James Peak Wilderness Area west of Rollinsville. I hiked up to the two lower lakes on my Friday off two weeks ago. The hike to the lower lakes is about 3 miles one way, with the first two-mile portion following the same route, South Boulder Creek Trail No. 900, as a hike I did last summer to Heart Lake

East Portal Trailhead

East Portal Trailhead

Once the Crater Lakes trail splits off from South Boulder Creek Trail No. 900, the going gets pretty tough. At one point, the trail funnels hikers through a narrow break between two large boulders. If I hadn’t studied the trail description, I think it might have taken me a little while to find my way through the rocks. The tiny rock cairn on the left is supposed to help.

Trail between the rocks

Trail between the rocks

After an arduous 1-mile climb up the side of the valley, the trail finally starts to level off and the lower of the two lower lakes comes into view between the trees.

Lower Lower Crater Lake

Lower Lower Crater Lake

The lake above Lower Lower Crater Lake, which I shall call Upper Lower Crater Lake, was much more approachable than the first one, plus there were way too many people in the Lower Lower lake area for my liking, so I started following a trail that hugged the western shore of the Upper Lower lake. After crawling over a very large downed tree that was sprawled across the trail, I turned a corner and found an astoundingly beautiful hillside absolutely COVERED in wildflowers, primarily columbines.

Tons and tons of Columbines

Tons and tons of Columbines

More Columbines

More Columbines

I don’t know how many photos I took of those Columbines, but it was a LOT. It was really hard to know when to stop!

I had originally planned to hike up to the Upper Lakes, but I was so captivated by that hillside and took SO many photos of the Columbines that the time just got away from me. I did continue to hike a little ways further to the inlet stream of Upper Lower Crater Lake, but by that time, the ubiquitous afternoon storm clouds were starting to roll in. Of course, on the way back, I had to take another 100 or so photos of the Columbines, including bunches of photos of Hummingbird Moths feasting on said Columbines.

Hummingbird Moth and Columbine

Hummingbird Moth and Columbine

By the time I got back around to the south end of Upper Upper Crater Lake, it had started to rain a bit. Undaunted, I continued to take photos of the amazingly abundant wildflowers in a meadow on that end of the lake.

Flowers, flowers and more flowers!

Flowers, flowers and more flowers!

And even MORE flowers!

And even MORE flowers!

I finally decided to put my raincoat on and just kept taking photos.

Upper Lower Crater Lake

Upper Lower Crater Lake

I decided to take a little detour to the rocky shore of Lower Lower Crater Lake on my way back and the view from there with the reflection of the mountain and the lingering snowfields was absolutely gorgeous.

Lower Lower Crater Lake reflection

Lower Lower Crater Lake reflection

The rain finally quit while I was sitting there so off came the raincoat and I continued on my return trek. Unfortunately, my second camera battery became “exhausted” not too long after I took the above photo and I suddenly found myself fresh out of fresh batteries. I was OK with that because I was also exhausted and just wanted to hightail it back to the car. UNTIL I spotted a large bull moose at the edge of a meadow less than a mile from the parking lot – my first EVER while-hiking moose spotting!  Imagine the AWESOME photos I could have gotten if my batteries weren’t exhausted!!! I did have my iPhone with me, however, so at least I was able to capture an image (albeit a really crummy one) to PROVE that I had indeed seen a moose.

2014-08-08-937

No, really…. it’s a moose. Trust me.

Please visit my Crater Lakes gallery to see additional photos from this stupendous hike.

McCullough Gulch

McCullough Gulch near Breckenridge is the next gulch to the south from a hike I did late last summer to Mohawk Lakes. I had planned to return to Mohawk Lakes earlier in the summer this year when the wildflowers were at their best, but I had the poodles with me on this particular day so I opted for the much-shorter hike to White Falls in McCullough Gulch.

White Falls - McCullough Gulch

White Falls – McCullough Gulch

McCullough Gulch lies in the shadow of 14,271 ft (4,350 m) Quandary Peak’s imposing north face. The hike to White Falls must be one of the toughest 1-mile hikes I’ve been on. It was fairly steep all the way and quite rocky, plus I had two dogs tethered to me who seemed to have been doing their very best to see me fall flat on my face (which I skillfully avoided doing). Nevertheless, the wildflowers were stunning and the beautiful waterfall made every treacherous, lung-busting step well worth the effort.

Bunches of Colorado Columbines

Bunches of Colorado Columbines

Shooting Star

Shooting Star

Orange Agoseris

Orange Agoseris

Jacob's Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder

Little Pink Elephants

Little Pink Elephants

Along the way, we met up with this Yellow-Bellied Marmot, who proceeded to tell us in no uncertain terms that we really needed to just keep moving and leave him alone to tend to his very-important marmot business.

Yellow-Bellied Marmot

Yellow-Bellied Marmot

White Falls can be heard long before it comes into view. McCullough Creek cascades down the mountain from far above like a beautiful, white braided ribbon.

White Falls

White Falls

White Falls

White Falls

White Falls

White Falls

American Bistort and Cinquefoil living precariously along the edge of the falls.

American Bistort and Cinquefoil living precariously along the edge of the falls.

I spent a while sitting next to the falls, taking photos and enjoying the cool spray. When Cooper started looking at me like this, I knew it was time to go:

“Can we go now PLEASE?”

I opted not to continue on up the trail to the lake above the falls, Upper Blue Reservoir. The dark clouds were building and I hadn’t brought a raincoat, plus I didn’t want to deal with two whiney, wet dogs in my car on the way home. :) I’ll have to save the lake for another hike in McCullough Gulch.

Here are a few of the flowers I photographed on my way back:

Colorado Starwort  (this was a new one for me)

Colorado Starwort (this was a new one for me)

Meadow Death Camas

Meadow Death Camas

Spotted Saxifrage on a cliff high above the creek

Spotted Saxifrage on a cliff high above the creek

Monkshood

Monkshood

Brook Saxifrage

Brook Saxifrage

I heartily recommend this beautiful little hike, especially in mid- to late-July when the wildflowers are at their peak. It’s a very popular trail, however (and quite a lot busier than I prefer my hikes to be), so if you go, be sure to get an early start to avoid the crowds and to snag a decent parking spot at the trailhead (and to avoid the inevitable afternoon showers), or go during the beginning of the week if possible.

To view a gallery of these and many more photos from my McCullough Gulch hike, CLICK HERE.

Phoneography Assignment Results

We had a nice turnout for the Phoneography Photo Assignment with a lot of great smart phone photo submissions. Check out a few of the submissions below and click on the link below the thumbnails to view all of the submitted photos. Thanks for playing along, Phoneographers!! We’ll definitely be doing this assignment again at some point so keep on honing your phoneography skills! :)