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  • Behold the turtle.
    He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.
  • Leanne the Photographer

    Looking Through a New Lens


    chiapoo pet photography by Leanne Wildermuth

    A few weeks ago, I was looking forward to photographing my niece’s Senior portraits. It seems like just a month ago she asked me, as a freshman in high school, to be the one to do them for – and now the time has come.

    My Panasonic Lumix (FZ50k) has been amazing to me, and I’ve loved owning a Panny for the last several years. It’s given me some beautiful shots (you can see a great sampling on my freebie wallpaper page) and I knew that it would serve me well when the day came to photograph my niece.

    Then, something unexpected happened.

    I was waiting for Catybug to finish volleyball practice one day a few weeks ago and one of the girls came out and asked if I would do her Senior portraits. Of course I said yes – she’s adorable and as soon as she said it I started taking pictures of her in my head. I have all of these compositions in my mind now and I’ll be so disappointed if I don’t execute them the way that I see them!!

    Then, it occurred to me that my camera might not be “big” enough for the job. I tossed around the idea of getting a SLR for a couple of years but since photography is more of a hobby for me, I didn’t feel the need to have a bunch of expensive equipment. Now, though, that I’ve got two Senior sessions approaching, I needed to quickly decide if my Panny was going to be enough to give me the shots I was seeing in my head of these young ladies.

    I went shopping (at Dell, because they have more than just computers, they have cameras AND credit cards!) and started comparing. Researching. Asking friends. I added the Nikon D90 (and a few lenses) to my cart and hesitated. I just got up, and walked away from my computer. Talk about stress!!

    I talked to my hubby about it and we realized a few things:

    1. I would be taking a lot more professional shots than hobby shots in the future
    2. These Seniors are really important, and I didn’t want to give them anything less than my best
    3. I need the tax deduction.

    With all of these things in mind, we decided that I should not empty my shopping cart, but proceed to checkout. Once the equipment arrived, I would put it together, take a few shots, compare them to my Panny, and then make the final decision.

    The day arrived, the UPS man gave me a big old box and I was both excited and nervous at the same time. I took out the battery and charger and got that going first – it only took a couple of hours to charge the battery, just enough time for the girls to be home from school and be my guinea pigs!

    My first shots were my decision shots. Catybug sat in my studio and I set up my tripod. I put my trusty old Panny on the tripod and took the first shot:

    panasonic lumix photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    And then, I put the Nikon D90 on my tripod in auto mode, using the default 18-105mm lens and knowing nothing about the camera:

    nikon d90 photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    I think you can probably guess what my decision was at that point, but I did leave these photos up on my monitor so my hubby could make the call, too. That was a no-brainer. I couldn’t believe the difference – and so now I’m even more excited to get these Senior portrait sessions underway – because it’s quite possible that I’ll be adding portrait sessions to my price list and offering them on a regular basis.

    Next week, I’ll be sharing photos from my two upcoming sessions. Stay tuned!!



    tiny swirled paper people photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    My daughter had a friend over, and she brought a small container full of these tiny little swirled paper people. They’re not more than 1-1/2″ tall, and don’t even fit onto my pinki finger. I looked at each one in amazement – little tiny details on so many – a hundred maybe? Some dressed as clowns, some with curly hair (tiny paper, curled and glued) – I don’t know who made them, but I just adore them!

    orange house finch photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    Orange house finches are an oddity around here, I see maybe one a year. According to Cornell, the color variation is due to diet – so he must be eating more beta-carotine. I promised Taba a pic, so here it is!

    killdeer bird photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    The elusive Killdeer – they are everywhere, but I can’t manage to get a nice, crisp closeup shot of him! They are so fast.

    canadian geese clan photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    Surely, you know better than to try passing them on the left.
    gosling photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    A well protected gosling.

    goslings photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    Gosling siblings.

    red winged blackbird bird photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    Male Red Winged Blackbird, on top of a sign located next to the river. How, pray tell, do you park in the rear on a river?

    red winged blackbird bird photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    My ideal Red Winged Blackbird shot.
    mallard ducklings photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    Mama mallard and her babies. Awww.

    mallard ducklings photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    Another mama and her babies.

    I hope you, too, stop to look around. There’s so much to appreciate and enjoy all around us! Yesterday afternoon, I watched a hummingbird flit around my delphinium, saw a shrew hustle into his little hole alongside my garage, and watched a young bunny sit underneath my bird feeders and munch on dinner. A storm blew in and the fresh, clean air swept across my face as a few light raindrops trickled down from the sky. I trimmed my roses while warm rain fell on my back.

    If you stop to appreciate these things, you’ll find all of your worries just slip from your mind. It’s hard to be troubled when you’re taking in all that is good around you.

    Don’t forget to enter to win a custom portrait in my weekly giveaway!


    Bird Photography


    Hermit Thrush bird photography by Leanne Wildermuth
    I decided to join in on this weeks Bird Photography Weekly (#40) since I have a few bird shots that I’ve been wanting to share with you!

    The beauty above is a Hermit Thrush – new to my yard and it took me a little while to identify her. I used my Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song book
    (and confirmed with Taba), and was just giddy to have a new visitor to my yard!

    Red Winged Blackbird male bird photography by Leanne Wildermuth
    This male Red Winged Blackbird joined us over dinner by the river last weekend, he and his spouse were enjoying the tortilla chips I broke up and tossed their way.

    Red Winged Blackbird female bird photography by Leanne Wildermuth
    The female Red Winged Blackbird came much closer than the male, such a pretty little girl. I’m glad I tucked my (big honkin’) camera in my purse before we left the house! There are always neat creatures hanging out down by the Mississippi River.

    I hope you enjoyed my birds this week – we’ll see what photo ops present themselves for next week!

    Don’t forget to enter to win a custom portrait in my weekly giveaway!

    High Def Flowers


    High definition double delight rose photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    I’ve shared these photos with friends and fans on Facebook, but wanted to share them here as well. I’ve been playing with an HDR photo editor to enhance my photos and the results are just – stunning!

    Trying to explain what the effects of HDR do to my eyeballs is like trying to explain that squishy face you get after gulping a big glass of ice cold lemonade on a hot day.

    The rose above is a Double Delight, one that if I were capable, I would replicate the scent and be a millionaire off of profits from its perfume. How I wish monitors were scratch & sniff!!

    High definition german bearded iris photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    This is a German Bearded Iris. After a heavy rainstorm, all of my irises fell to the ground so I quickly grabbed my shears and cut them, brought them inside and have been very much enjoying their concord grape scent. I loved the water droplets and took the photo op while I had it. This one, if things ever go my way, (haha!) will become a painting. If you’d like a print, however, let me know and I’ll hook you up!

    Peony Bouquet


    peony bouquet photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    I have 6 7 peony plants in my yard. (woops, I’m not very good at math!) This year, I had to transplant three of them, so I wasn’t too sure about their blooms. Needless to say, I’m totally excited that they’re blooming, and the four established peonies have upwards of 200 buds on them.

    I am a firm believer that peonies are meant to be cut. The stems grow thicker, the foliage thrives all summer, and these beautiful flowers do NOT deserve to be droopy and falling onto the ground from the weight of their petals. So if you have them? Go now, cut them and bring them in!! Enjoy the aroma around your home, and don’t let them rot on the ground outside.

    I’ve got two bouquets now, and have several vases on the table, just waiting to be filled.

    Update, the same bouquet, 2 days later:

    peony bouquet by Leanne Wildermuth

    Memorial Day – Timely Blooms


    poppies photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    “We cherish too, the Poppy red
    That grows on fields where valor led,
    It seems to signal to the skies
    That blood of heroes never dies.”

    ~Moina Michael, 1915

    An Iris Kaleidoscope


    Iris kaleidoscope tiger honey batik photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    iris kaleidoscope baboon bottom batik photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    iris kaleidoscope zebra batik photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    iris kaleidoscope photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    iris kaleidoscope photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    iris kaleidoscope gnu flash batik photo by Leanne Wildermuth

    Bird Love, Pine Siskin Style.


    Pine Siskin male female bird couple photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    Sunday morning, I wandered out to my studio to have a peek out at my bird feeders, and I got the privilege of witnessing the most beautiful relationship between a pair of Pine Siskins (who are, as many of you know, new guests on my feeders).

    I rushed for my camera (5 steps away) and was able to capture their loving interaction and I am really excited to be able to share this with you! It warms my heart, and kinda makes me wish I were a bird.

    First, the initial photo above. When I first saw them, they were eating together on my thistle sock. I snapped a couple dozen photos of them here until I got one that had them both looking up at the same time (without a blur, even). The rest of my photos are less about quality and more about the story.

    Pine Siskin male female bird couple photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    After they left they left the thistle sock, they flew over to my patio table and hopped around together.

    Pine Siskin male female bird couple photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    They moved from the table to the chair, and I started to wonder what they were talking about out there that they both looked up at (whatever it was) at the same time. I love this shot, it gives them that “old married couple” look!

    Pine Siskin male female bird couple photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    Everywhere that one would go, the other quickly followed. They hopped around this planter for about 20 seconds before moving on.

    Pine Siskin male female bird couple photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    The male was first to go to the next destination (there’s a bit of yellow in him, he’s on the left). The female quickly followed, and they gained balance and interacted for a few seconds.

    Pine Siskin male female bird couple photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    Next stop, the next planter in the row. Again, with the “you go, I’ll follow” relationship. They stayed close to each other, that’s for sure!

    Pine Siskin male female bird couple photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    Back to the table, I caught several shots of them hopping around the table and just loved their reflection on the pebbled glass. They picked at the bud that fell from our maple tree.

    Pine Siskin male female bird couple photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    They went over to our little fire pit, where they hopped around on the domed lid and picked at more buds and things that were stuck in the screen.

    I was in “awwwwe” the whole time, of course – this all took place within just a minute, maybe two. I’m not sure if they were just looking for bits and morsels to eat, or maybe looking for nesting material – whatever the case, this couple is really amazing and it was so interesting to watch them interact with each other!

    This last set of photos is what brought a tear to my eye. They hopped down from the lid of my fire pit, and met on the rim.

    Pine Siskin male female bird couple photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    And then they kissed.
    Pine Siskin male female bird couple photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    They both tilted their little heads to the right, opened their beaks ever so slightly, and kissed. They didn’t exchange anything, there were no supplies in their beaks that I could see, it was just this cute, intimate little moment between boy and girl bird, and OMG! Do you have a tissue?! *blows*

    Pine Siskin male female bird couple photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    These last three photos were taken in burst mode, and though I missed their beaks actually connecting, you can still feel the love. Bird love. Pine Siskin style.

    Welcome to my yard.

    Don’t forget to enter to win a custom portrait in my weekly giveaway!

    New Bird in My Yard : Pine Siskin


    Pine Siskin bird photo by Leanne Wildermuth
    It’s not a Goldfinch – not a Song Sparrow, it’s a Pine Siskin! Thanks to Taba for helping me identify this bird that landed on my feeder yesterday and was NOT afraid of me one little bit. He enjoyed my thistle feeder for quite a while, and allowed me to fill up my other feeders in very close proximity while he ate.

    He had me confused for sure – I knew it couldn’t be a female Goldfinch because of the speckled breast. Couldn’t be a Song Sparrow because of the yellow feathering. Then… what??? This sweet little Pine Siskin is a new bird to my feeders and I’m delighted to have him.


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