Pacific Science Center Tropical Butterfly Garden

Ever since I saw the shots that Shelley Powers took in a butterfly garden and learned that there was a butterfly garden in the Seattle Pacific Science Center, I’ve wanted to go and take pictures.

I finally got there today because I thought Jen and the kids would enjoy the butterfly garden and the dinosaur display. As it turned out, though I think I ended up taking pictures under the worst of all possible condition. It was unseasonably hot today, 85 degrees, and when I tried to take my first shot the lens was so steamed up that the camera wouldn’t focus.

Even stranger, I somehow ended up being alone with Zoe, and it’s rather difficult to take pictures of butterflies while trying to entertain a three year old who you have to lift up to see most of the butterflies.

That said, I suspect taking pictures of butterflies is a little unfair because they are so beautiful that it’s hard NOT to take a good picture of them.

A designer could do much worse than to use the subtle shades of brown and gray found on this butterfly:

And the colors on this butterfly seemed to beautifully complement the plant it had landed on:

While the brilliant reddish-orange seemed to make this a favorite with many visitors.

Since I bought a year-long membership, I hope to head back up on another day to try to get even better shots.

We are Family

My younger brother got married over Memorial Day weekend, so we brothers were together for the first time since forever, and all my kids were together the first time since Christmas.

Somehow it seemed an appropriate time for Rick to get married because I’m sure that my mother would have been pleased that my brother had finally found someone he wanted to marry and would have someone who loved him as much as she did.
It doesn’t take long for such thoughts to lead to other thoughts about those who have passed away recently. Though Lael probably gets her temper more directly from her mother than my mother,

I’m still reminded of my mother’s readiness to stand up for herself when I saw Lael let her cousin know in no uncertain terms that it was HER turn to launch the rocket, sword or no sword.

Just holding the picnic on Puget Sound reminded me how much my father loved it. I spent a good fifteen minutes watching Zoe play in the stream that ran into the Sound, young enough to still be fascinated about the miracle of cold stream water.

All in all, it might have been the perfect weekend if I hadn’t managed to catch the youngest granddaughter’s cold. She must be the perfect child if she felt as bad as I do today and fussed as little as she did.

A Senior Moment

Either iCal or I suffered a senior moment a couple of weeks ago when I noticed that I was scheduled for a dental appointment May 24th. As usual, I arranged to have lunch with several Vancouver friends, only to discover that the real appointment was June 12th.

I figured it would be rude to cancel the lunch, so I drove down anyway despite the high cost of gasoline here in the PNW, $3.49 per gallon. Luckily it was a great lunch with some interesting discussion, followed by a long visit to my old hiking partner.

As a result, however, I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge as I’d wanted to, and the sun was settling in the East by the time I got there. Needless to say, it made the photography harder than it would have been otherwise.

For instance, the highlight of the day was sighting a male Ruddy Duck in full color:

I was certainly happy with how close he came, that blue bill stands out beautifully, and his tail is standing up in the traditional pose.

Unfortunately, the light was behind him and much of his body lacks detail, even after trying to compensate for shadow in Aperture.

This shot, taken later after he had moved to the other side of the pond,has much better overall exposure, but he was further away and I couldn’t get him to pose as he’d done in the earlier shot.

This frustration makes me appreciate good wildlife photography more than I would otherwise because I realize just how many hours must have been spent to get the perfect lighting and be in perfect position to get the shot the photographer wanted. Heck, it even gives me an excuse to fill up more of my hard drive with imperfect shots of Ruddy Ducks until I actually get the one I want to get, not to mention lingering over that Canon 600mm lens that I’ll probably never own.

I had different problems trying to get a good picture of a Cinnamon Teal, a bird that seemed everywhere on the refuge, though I’ve only seen one in the wild before. They spend most of their time in the weeds along the shore, so most of the time I actually flushed them before I knew they were there. I had many blurry shots of foliage with no apparent sign of a bird, but I did manage to get this one

which has a certain appeal despite, or, perhaps, because of, the blur.

My favorite shot was probably this one

because it shows the Cinnamon Teal in its natural setting, even though later I got another shot in a pond that had even better resolution.

In the end, it was a great day even though I felt a little guilty wasting a tank of gas and thirty plus dollars on an unnecessary trip. Maybe I need more senior moments.