Tag Archives: Nikon 35-70mm lens

Shooting Blind

The blinds provide a barrier to clear photography.

When my #2 son returned home the other day with his friends Chris and Marcus and told me that the three of them were going to play basketball in the driveway, I tried to stay cool, calm, and collected. I told him to have fun and waited until he closed the front door.

Then I grabbed my Nikon D700 and started to scheme: How could I get great action shots of the boys without them knowing I was shooting?

Marcus drives against Chris.

I figured #2 would be mortified if I came outside and snapped away. For some reason, he thinks that’s embarrassing. What’s up with that? Doesn’t every kid want a personal photographer?

The #2 son and Marcus talk at a party.

Apparently not!  So I decided to try my luck from inside, shooting through the open blinds in the kitchen. I didn’t dare raise them, because the window I was using is close to the driveway and the basketball goal. I didn’t want to be detected. This was furtive photography at its best.

My #2 son waits for an opportunity against Marcus.

At first I used my Nikon 50mm lens, but that proved to be too limiting. Once I twisted on the Nikon 35-70mm instead, my flexibility increased, as did my keeper rate.

Marcus shoots over Chris.

It was fun having a great vantage point to watch the action and interaction among the three sophomores.

My #2 son tries a layup over Marcus.

How is basketball played with three boys? Easy . . . #2 teamed with Chris against Marcus. It seemed fair, because Marcus plays on our high school’s basketball team.

Chris attempts to stop Marcus' shot.

Looked to me like Marcus was schooling his friends.

I had a blast with my stealth shooting. I felt so clever, putting one over on my #2 son.

"Is that you, Mom?

Or maybe not!

Pulling On Our Social Pants—the ProGrad Dinner

Cheshire Cat Chase

Let me go on record as saying I am definitely pro ProGrad. A supervised, all-night, alcohol-free party graduation evening where the kids have fun and get prizes is a great way to celebrate a milestone.

But leading up to the event are a number of fundraisers that some of the parents and seniors are involved in, all in the name of raising money and earning Bulldog bucks to be spent at the party.  The #1 son and I have attended meetings and have done a bit of volunteering so that he can have these coveted bucks. But we haven’t been overly involved, because that’s just how we roll. He’s not very social, and I’m very lazy.

Love the barrel of monkeys above the “Toy Story” table

Then it came time for the biggest fundraiser of them all: The dinner and auction, which was last Saturday night at the high school’s cafeteria. Of course, #1 wanted nothing to do with something quite that social. His BFF and our “third” son, Chase, though, participated with three of their senior friends.

Each table utilized a theme that was carried through by the kids and included everything on the table, from flatware to dishes to cups. Chase’s table’s theme was Alice in Wonderland. I think he wanted to be the Cheshire Cat, because he didn’t have to smile behind his drawn-on grin.

The Mad Scientists' Einstein cake (a Facebook friend opined that it looks like “Lost‘s” Ben Linus!)

The tables also had desserts, which were auctioned off.

A planet and rocket ship carried out our table’s space theme.

Even though #1 wasn’t there, the Mister and I pulled on our social pants and attended the gala. We sat with our friends Joyce and Don at their son Daniel’s space-themed table.

The Milk Bone was used for a game, not for dessert.

The six seniors who worked their theme’s three tables did a great job serving us food and entertaining us with their moonwalking (don’t think of Michael Jackson’s variety, though; it was more like Neil Armstrong).

Daniel cuts the spaceship cake.

The Mister and I had fun chatting and eating. We won the auction for our table’s cake (thanks to no competition), which continued to carry out the space theme.

Buck shows his school spirit!

All of the tables were really well-done. Buck was the headliner at a hunting table where everyone was dressed in camouflage . . . we almost couldn’t see them!

Jacob and Karan sport their Mardi Gras ties.

Even the boys got into the spirit of things. They willingly dressed up or in costumes and served food and bussed tables without any fuss.

What Chase was really thinking!

Well, almost all the boys!

Dunking the Duck!

The car wash duck is ready to be washed.

Let’s check out our latest It Doesn’t Take Much to Amuse Me story, shall we?

Yesterday the Mister called me in the morning. He had brought his car in to be washed, and somehow his keys had gotten locked in his Honda Odyssey. How? No one’s sayin’. Just that it happened. Sounds like something my sons would pull. If they hadn’t been at school, they would’ve been the #1 suspects.

So I brought him his valet key (we only live about 10 minutes away) and was rewarded with a free car wash for my Pilot. That’s my favorite kind!

While we were waiting for our cars to go through the wash, I saw the above duck that was on the other side of the windows near the car washing machines (why did I just imagine gigantic Maytags?). Inside the building was a device that let you spray the duck with water.

My lame-duck attempt to spray the waterfowl

I just happened to have my handy-dandy Nikon D700 and Nikon 35-70mm lens just in case a photo op popped up. Boinggg! Here it was! I held the camera and tried my darndest to focus and shoot with my right hand while using the sprayer with my left. Missed the duck by that much!

The Annie Oakley Mister hits the target.

Fortunately, the Mister came to my rescue! He manned the duck-shooting controls, while I took care of the Nikon. Know what we discovered?

The swiveling duck

The duck swivels on the base! It was like a carnival game . . . without being goaded by a carny into paying $10 and without winning the giant stuffed bear (which we so don’t need in our cluttered house even though the #2 son would love it).

The duck comes around to the front again.

The Mister proved to be an excellent shot . . . perhaps the Annie Oakley of the car wash duck world. And I didn’t do too bad myself with the Nikon despite having to shoot through glass.

Here comes my Pilot behind the duck!

Before we knew it, there was the Pilot squeaking its way to clean behind the duck. The decoy waterfowl really had helped us pass the time in a fun way.

Big chamois strips dry off my car.

Now the Pilot was getting dry.

Drip dry duck

As the duck soon would be . . . until the next car wash patron decided to have some fun.

Next time we get the cars washed, I think we’ll bring the boys. They would love the chance to dunk the duck!

We just have to make sure that car keys do not “accidentally” get locked inside the Odyssey or Pilot!!

Will Photograph for Blog Material

Nicole poses with our high school’s mascot

When friends think you can take decent photos and see that you wield a big camera, they naturally jump to some conclusions. That aren’t necessarily correct.

Mine always think I can take good non-action shots, which means that they ask me to snap family or kid photos. Fortunately, there are far more-talented photographers in our community who do a much-better job with this subject matter, so I usually say sorry, no thanks. I’ll jump at the chance to take sports photos, of course—that’s familiar turf for me.

Erica feels at ease on the top of the truck.

But then my good friend Sherri asked if I would take publicity photos for our high school’s ProGrad effort. She assured me that it just would be a few shots at a local restaurant, Raising Cane’s, that’s helping our fundraising attempts. Not only did this seem quick and easy peasy, but it would be more payback for her son Eric helping the #1 son get an A on his physics project last semester.

Raising Cane’s owners Amy and Cody join Erica and Princess on the truck.

Plus I needed material for today’s blog post! ProGrad is starting to become a great source of photos for me.

The finished photo taken outside

I opted for my Nikon D700 and Nikon 35-70mm lens. First we shot outside (glad the weather cooperated!). Eric drove his BIG Ford F-250 truck onto the sidewalk in front of the door. Then I had to get both the truck and the restaurant’s sign together in the photo. Glad I had the 35mm wide-angle part of  my lens!

Inside Raising Cane’s

Next we went inside the restaurant to shoot in front of a big painted sign on the wall. Naturally, I didn’t have my external flash, because I thought we were only taking photos outside. So I upped the ISO a bit to throw more light from the D700’s built-in flash. The photo looks okay, but it would’ve been better lit with the external flash. I need to learn to always bring it just in case.

Eric and Sherri

All in all, it was a fun photo shoot filled with good-looking seniors. And it was nice to help out a friend.

You may be wondering, where’s our favorite #1 son? He’s a senior at that high school. Why isn’t he pictured?

What Brooke and Eric probably were thinking as I snapped away.

Because, of course, he doesn’t like to smile. See that thought bubble over the heads of Brooke and Eric? #1 would’ve brought that with him to the photo shoot! Better to leave him at home and be content to annoy teenagers who I don’t have to live with.

Let It Snow . . . For Real!

Snow in my backyard. (Nikon 105mm lens)

I’ve been thoroughly distracted all morning. But it’s hard to blame me—it’s actually snowing here in the Houston area! And that’s a mighty rare occurrence.

Snow falling past the front of my house.

My sons, at ages 14 and 17, have only seen snow twice in their lives. So this is really a treat; I hope they’re able to see the snow out the window at their high school.

Snow and palm trees . . . an odd combination!

Of course, growing up in the Chicago area means that I’ve witnessed enough snow to last a lifetime! It’s fun seeing the fluffy, big flakes that are falling right now, but that’s all I want to see. No long-lasting, dirty snow that’s covering up ice for me!

Snow and a swimming pool—also an odd combination!

Some of my mom friends have been wondering whether the schools will close early due to the snow. It makes me laugh, because where I went to high school in Waukegan, Illinois, they prided themselves on never closing the schools. Even when we had a foot of snow!

The snow sticks to the grass.

It’s nice to see the snow actually sticking to the ground, but I don’t think we’ll have much of an accumulation. Which will disappoint the #2 son. The last time we had snow, he was able to build a snowman (Snowbo the Hobo, he named it). He shielded Snowbo from the sun and made it last almost a week! I’m sure he’d like to do that again, as well as have a snowball fight with his older brother.

The snow starts to accumulate on the plants.

I just hope that it’s still snowing by the time he gets home from school at 3 p.m.!

Colorful Chicago

No leaves? Then it must be fall in Chicago!

Even though my Thanksgiving weekend trip to Chicago was really to help celebrate my mom’s 80th birthday, I also wanted to be reminded of one thing: What fall really looks like.

Here in south Texas, most of the trees are still green and lush with leaves. We really only have two seasons here: Hot and cold every now and then. I haven’t spent a changing season in Chicago since 1983, so I was anxious to be treated to the beauty of fall turning into winter up north. I knew there would be plenty of bare trees, like the one shown above, but I was hoping that most of them would be showing their colors.

The leaves have turned yellow.

And many of them did! My little brother, the big-shot Chicago lawyer, lives in the city, where my mom and I visited him and his family a couple times. He obliged us with walks around the area both days, and, of course, I was toting my Nikon D700 and Nikon 35-70mm lens.

That's more like it!

I especially like the trees that seem to burst with color. Some of our local south Texas trees have turned dark red, but none can boast of yellow, orange, and red hues like these.

Dark red leaves make their own colorful statement.

Almost everywhere we walked, trees and bushes sported their colors.

A glorious scarlet maple

All of that glowing red almost made me miss Chicago in late fall . . . well, until I remembered how blooming cold it gets as winter arrives!

I definitely was getting an eyeful of color from the foliage until the hour grew late, and darkness started to descend while we were walking in a park. How could the view get any better?

Sunset in Chicago

Of course . . . sunset! I’ve always said that south Texas sunsets are the prettiest in the world.

The sunset continues in the park.

But these? Looks like Chicago has the second prettiest!

Here’s Your Sign!

The fateful new gate

I’ve decided that I must have a “kick me” sign on when I fly. From that ridiculous garment bag incident to that long delay leaving Kansas City, I don’t seem to have good karma when it comes to airports these days.

And that sadly continued on Thanksgiving Day. I was flying to Chicago to visit my mother for the long weekend and a celebration of her 80th birthday. I got there in plenty of time and noted that my gate was E15, which, of course, was the furthest gate possible from security. As always! Every time I passed an arrival/departure monitor for Continental, I checked my flight. E15 and on time. Great!

Wish I had seen this sign when I passed it the first time!

I hoofed it all the way to almost as far as you can go and passed a final monitor. Oh, oh . . . now the gate was C44. Which I had already passed! What the heck?

Yes, it was the dreaded gate change back to the C terminal. With sweat dripping off my face, I powerwalked the 10 miles back to C44 and got there with 10 mins to spare before boarding. Whew!

Early on, it wasn't very cloudy.

All too soon, I was on the plane and then on my way to Chicago. Time to relax and take cloud photos. At first, it was crystal clear; not a cloud in sight. But after 20 minutes or so, the puffy stuff started rolling in. And I began clicking away with my Nikon D700 and Nikon 35-70mm lens.

Love the marshmallowy clouds!

If there wasn’t a wing right outside my window, I might think I was in marshmallow land. Or Antarctica, for that matter. It seemed so calm and serene.

Lake Michigan

As we started our final approach, Lake Michigan finally appeared. Almost time to see my mom!

Art hangs from the airport ceiling.

O’Hare had interesting artworks hanging from the ceiling as I walked through the airport.

More hanging ceiling art

Not only could you look up to see art, but . . .

A drawing hangs over a window.

. . . there also were drawings of Chicago landmarks hanging over windows. Very eclectic!

It was a neat sign that I was back at my midwestern home.

The Junk/Art Car Turns Heads

What the heck?!?

Saturday morning I was looking out my front door window, watching the parade of cars go past our cul-de-sac on their way to my neighbor T-bird’s garage sale. Suddenly, the above sight caught my eye.

First I gaped . . . and then I grabbed my Nikon D700 (with the Nikon 35-70mm lens attached) and ran out the door. My first thought: Great blog photos!

Any surprise that the owner wore a tie-dyed outfit?

The car, which had jewels, rocks, toy figures, and more glued to its interior and exterior, stopped at the garage sale, giving me a chance to snap a bunch of photos.

The relatively sedate interior features Mardi Gras beads.

I’m not sure how the car’s owner drives without being thoroughly distracted. The Toyota’s interior didn’t have as much junk glued on it as the exterior, but I did admire its cluster of Mardi Gras beads (which would be popular with our many Louisiana natives).

B.O.B. from "Monsters vs. Aliens" is featured on the dashboard.

Just look at the beautiful rocks glued on the dashboard among the toys (don’t think I’d want to be stuck near the creepy Burger King, though)!

Colorful balls hang from the window frame.

The owner told me that he’s been working on the car’s interior for about a year. Looks like it’s still a work in progress.

The owner seems to be a Willy Wonka fan.

The exterior, which the owner said he’s spent about five months remodeling, features a plethora of signs. Many of them spout the words of wisdom of Willy Wonka.

The back of the car looks jeweled.

I think that sticker that reads “Normal people worry me” explains everything!

Gumby and Pokey are among the toys adorning the roof.

My favorite part of the car is its roof. There’s so much to look at!

The Kung Fu panda joins Snow White and Scooby Doo on the roof.

I like how the toys are intermingled with glass objects, like the dragonfly on the paperweight above. Gives the car’s roof a true eclectic feel.

"Monsters Inc." characters flank more jewels and stones.

So what did the car’s owner walk away with from the garage sale? Just another “Monsters vs. Aliens” character to add to B.O.B. on the dashboard.

The junk car is leaving the ’hood.

So is it a junk car or an art car? Maybe it’s both. One thing’s for sure: The altered Toyota definitely is a head-turner!

A Chookooloonks Blog Day


Recently photographed flora

There’s a blog I like to read called Chookooloonks. It’s authored by another photographer mom who also lives here in the Houston area (we’ve never met).


Karen, the author, likes to feature only one or maybe two photos in her blog along with mostly self-introspective text. In admiration of her style, I was going to try to match up these flora photos (taken with my new/used Nikon 35-70mm lens, which has a macro mode) with some great introspective verbiage for today’s post. Hey, I’m not just a bunch of photos and short sentences all the time, you know! I’ve got some great thoughts rattling around in my brain, too.

But then I got distracted by a fax machine issue, and, well, now all I can think about is eating lunch in an hour or so.

So go check out Chookooloonks when you have a chance. Then come back here tomorrow to look at lots of photos and read lots of short sentences. It seems to be a style that works for me . . . most of the time.

A Devil of a Time Playing Halloween Disc Golf


The #2 son (dressed as his pal Randy) putts.

Wanting to photograph disc golf usually is a no-brainer for me. I enjoy trying to capture the athleticism of the disc golfers, particularly the #2 son, the Mister, and, occasionally, the #1 son.

ERic putts.

Eric putts.

But take that athleticism and couple it with Halloween costumes? There’s no need to ask me twice!

Last Saturday’s special Halloween mini disc golf tournament was on a private course in and around the homes of two avid players, Marcus and Steve. The participants were told to dress in costume or they wouldn’t earn their payouts.


Matt, the Grim Reaper photographer

That didn’t mean they had to play dressed up, fortunately. As you can see from the top part of Matt’s costume, he’d probably still be on the course if he had worn his bobble-headed Grim Reaper apparel while he was throwing.


Sam and his clown act

The same might have been true of Sam and his rather disturbing clown and partner outfit. Is it just me or does this look wrong on so many levels?


The devil made Billy dress up like this!

Billy, though, did play in costume, and his get-up was the hit of the tournament! Given his love of oldies music, it wasn’t surprising that Billy would come dressed as the devil with the blue dress on. Mitch Ryder, eat your heart out!


Jessica jumps for a thrown disc.

I shot with my new/used, discontinued Nikon f/2.8 35-70mm lens, because I wanted to concentrate more on taking people pix vs. action shots. The lens doesn’t really focus fast enough for great action photos, but I was able to snap a few that I liked.


The costumed and non-costumed gang

The 35-70 did a much-better job capturing the costumed throng.


Billy blows a kiss.

As well as yet another photo of that devil wearing his blue dress, black socks, and velcro shoes!