Monthly Archives: February 2012

‘Shrooms

As I was driving down the alley toward my apartment complex carport, I happened to look down to the side of the drive and spotted a tall stand of mushrooms.  Photo op!

0649_Clump of Mushrooms

0653_Clump of Shrooms

0677_Askew

0692_Focus On One

0624-2_Huddled Together

0636-2_Curled Edges CROP

0616_Huddled Together ORIG

0616-2_Huddled Together

0644_Standing Out In The Crowd

0644-2_Little Shroom CROP

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Filed under Mushrooms, nature, Photography

Black & White

Stormy Scene at Pima Point, Grand Canyon National Park, AZI’ve created an album on my website (via SmugMug) specifically for monochrome (mainly black & white) photos.

This photo is titled: Stormy Scene at Pima Point, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ.

That day at the park was amazing, with the weather changing every three hours from snow flurries to snow storm to clear sunny skies with fluffy white clouds to dramatic frowning stormclouds and rain showers in the distance. I felt really lucky to be standing in that spot at that time….and I was the only photographer there! Everybody else had high-tailed it back to the shuttle bus to try and make it to Hermit’s Rest before the storm hit.

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Filed under Black & White, Grand Canyon National Park, Photography, South Rim

What I Did On My President’s Day Vacation

I just finished reading the latest post to Rob Slaven Photography on what he did over the President’s Day holiday.  He was out taking photos.

I too had the Monday off.  I spent it before my laptop, working on photos already taken; I uploaded all sorts of photos to my Google+ site, my Facebook Page, and my Flickr site.  I also wrote and published a couple of blog posts, as well.  I always feel prolific during my days off because my weekdays are so hectic and stressful.  All I want to do when I get home in the evening is eat dinner, watch the nightly national news, then go to bed and zonk out by 8PM (hey, I get up at 4AM each morning, so to pack in enough hours of sleep, I go to bed pretty early – it has to be something really special to keep me up past 8PM).  That doesn’t leave much room for working on photos or posting them to any site or blog.

Here’s a sampling of photos I uploaded to my various sites.

0052-2_Bleeding Hearts

2668_Salmon and Water

2718_Salmon Run

2923_Glowing

2820_TeaRose

3581_WindTurbines

8930_Falls Creek

7027_Sun & Clouds on Mourne Mountains_tonemapped

8653_Dunluce Castle 5-29-11_tonemappedREV

7242_Dunluce Castle_REV_8-17-11_tonemapped

Enough fun for the time being.  Time to log in to my office computer for a little bit of work.  After that, I need to figure out what outfit to wear tomorrow, get my breakfast and lunch ready, and in general get back to the workaday world mindset.  Sigh.

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Filed under Photography

Bird Photography , Port Aransas and the Texas Coastline

TX Coastal Map

During the weekend of Feb 10 – 12, 2012, I drove from my SE Texas home of Angleton to Port Aransas, further south and west along the Texas coast. The two couples with whom I traveled during my 2011 Ireland photo trip each spend 2 months in Port Aransas, and they invited me for a weekend stay.

The husbands (Larry and Ed) are avid birders, and Ed is also a bird photographer. Since I have no real experience with that particular part of the medium, I figured this would be a good chance for me to learn as much as possible from Ed, while hopefully capturing some decent wildlife images. Mind you, I am no Alan Murphy, but I managed to capture some pretty nice images….and also some less-than-stellar whicht I’m posting here anyway just so you have an idea of the multitude of birds that I saw. 

Port Aransas is approximately 3 hours’ drive along Hwy 35, SW from Angleton (4 hours SW from Houston). I left at dark-thirty Friday morning to meet up with my friends at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. This place is a wealth of wildlife (most of which was not showing because of the windy, rainy, overcast day…..and perhaps because the wildlife knew I would be coming down for a visit).

We saw alligators, coots, mockingbirds (great posers), pyrrhuloxia (think cardinal but in a charcoal gray color with a cream-colored beak), northern cardinals, a red-shouldered hawk, red-tail hawk, armadillos, sandhill cranes, whooping cranes, blue herons, snowy and great egrets, doves, deer (lots – probably more than any of the birds), a red-headed woodpecker, javelinas (think wild pigs), wild turkeys, turkey vultures, black-headed vultures, American kestrals, pelicans, and harriers.

1194_Mockingbird

1200_Turkey Vulture

1210_Red Headed Woodpecker

1211_Red Headed Woodpecker

1465_Young Buck

1497_Sandhill Cranes

1478-2_CamoDoe

1549-CamoDeer

1657_Armadillo

1420_Pyrrhuloxia

1241_Mourning Doves

1285_Flying Away

1249_RedShoulderHawk

1292_Viewing Area

1428-2_Mockingbird

1720_American Kestrel

Here’s the trick to birding and bird photography:

GO SLOW and BE OBSERVANT

When it comes to birding and bird photography, patience is a virtue; you just can’t rush it, because it’s so easy to miss elusive little creatures hiding within the greenery. They are good at camouflage.  Our chauffer (Ed) drove between 10 – 20 mph while we all scanned the ground, the landscape, and the horizon.

In addition to the wildlife refuge, there are various parks and other places for bird and wildlife watching.  Another place at which we stopped was a small park just outside of Lamar built around a 1000-year old oak tree.

1734_Old Oak

1775_Great Blue Heron

1783_Pelicans

1803-3_Pelicans CROP

1815-2_Brown Pelican

1838-3_Great Blue CROP

1848_On One Leg

To get to Port Aransas (from the town of Aransas Pass), one must take a 5-minute free ferry ride  across the Intercoastal Waterway, where huge container ships pass to and from the Gulf of Mexico.  Kind of surreal to be out in the marshes and then look up and beyond to see a huge container ship passing through – I wish I’d thought to photograph that particular image, but I was too busy scanning the waters for wildlife.  Next time….

Port Aransas is a funky little seaside town with LOTS of condos, rentals, RV parking and pad rental, and hotels. March (or April, I forget which), the locals make sure they have enough supplies for a week at a time and hole themselves up in their homes or rentals while the beaches, roads, bars, clubs, and restaurants fill up with Spring Breakers.  I’m told its a madhouse and there is very little walking room on the beaches.

0520_Get Intaxicated

0491-2_Beach View

0496_The View

0509_Room With A View

The town and its outskirts are also full of small pockets of bird watching opportunities, from Paradise Park to the Leonabelle Turnbull Bird Center to sandy “roads” winding around the marshy coastal waterways. Birdlife is everywhere! 

1954_Pelican

2000_Stilts in Flight

2119_Stilts In Flight

2021_Stilts and Shoveler

2089_Cinnamon Teal

2106_Photographer

2126_In Flight Orig

2126-4_In Flight

2150_Grebe

2035_Airing OutThe Wings

One of my hosts rented a house with a large pond behind it, and each morning I was there, a great blue heron, roseate spoonbills, and white ibis populated the shores.

1929_Roseate Spoonbill

1931_Ibis

During the Saturday morning visits to those little birdlife “pockets”, we saw red-wing blackbirds, mockingbirds, ringneck doves, cardinals, a catbird (ever heard of the term “sitting in the catbird seat“?) and one bright yellow bird called a Great Kiskadee (I was totally stoked to have captured a number of photos of this little bird with the raucous call).

2263_Red Glow

2259-2_Red Glow

2179-3_Kiskadee Vertical

2211-2_Kiskadee

2227-2_Kiskadee

2235-2_Kiskadee

During the morning’s ramble through the sandy coastal waterway areas just outside of town, we spotted curlews, egrets, herons, and redheaded ducks.  We even saw a Reddish Egret that flew away as we approached.  So much for the money shot.  It really is a beautiful bird.

2324_Take Off

2323_In Flight

2335_On The Ground and In The Air

2436_Great Egret and Long-Billed Curlew

2448_Egret in Flight

2455_Long Billed Curlew

Port Aransas is a hop and a skip from Corpus Christi to the north, and Padre Island to the south, and during our busy Saturday, I also got to see a little bit of Padre Island, with all of its shore birds as well as pelicans in stately flight, and beached Portuguese Man-O-War (Men-O-War?).

2476_Brown Pelicans

2488_Brown Pelicans

2504_SanderlingORIG

2526_Sanderling

2532-2_Beached

The one thing I have problems getting used to is the fact that wheeled vehicles are allowed on Texas beaches.  I remember standing on the beach at Padre Island, trying to capture an image of a sanderling, with the loud noise of the wind and the crashing waves roaring around me.  A big ole truck drove right by me, just a few feet away, and I never heard it!  The truck’s motor was dampened by the soft sand and the noise of the waves.  Good thing I had not decided to step back while I had the camera to my eye!

That evening, I also met two fantastic bird photographers: Jeff Dyck  (a Canon guy) and John Terpstra (a Nikon guy) who flew down from Canada to visit with Ed for a few days.  Jeff and John set up their camera systems for me to look at, actually touch, and drool over.

0544-2_Canon vs Nikon

I left mid-morning on Sunday to head back home. Because I was far more observant of the roadside after my weekend with birders, I spotted this red-tail hawk sitting on the telephone pole. Very obliging, this creature was, as I inched closer and closer with my Canon and rented 100-400mm lens.

2644-2_Red Tail Hawk

2642-2_Red Tail Hawk

Btw, I like that lens! It worked very nicely for me – this time – both handholding (it has image stabilization) and on the tripod. I rented this lens previously, for my 2011 Colorado trip, and apparently received a crappy copy, since all of my elk images were fuzzy, no matter how much I worked with the focus adjustment. This copy worked just fine, thankfully, since I used it extensively that weekend.

So, there you have it – my weekend along the Texas Coast and first foray into the world of bird photography.  I now have my Sibley Guide to Birds (a very cool book) and with enough practice, I might actually get good at it someday! Winking smile

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Filed under birds, nature, Photography, Texas

A Bright Spot of Yellow in Port Aransas, Texas

Great Kiskadee - Paradise Pond, Port Aransas TX

Great Kiskadee – Paradise Pond, Port Aransas TX

A taste of things to come once I start to work on the writeup of my 2-1/2 day weekend trip along the Texas coast. I’ve become enamored with bird photography and now understand why birders get so excited about seeing a certain bird. I’ve even got the Shipley’s Guide to Birds now, and it’s a really cool book!

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Filed under birds, nature, Photography

Just Testing

I’m testing various and sundry methods of setting up multiple photos within my posts that allow for  clicks on my photos to take the clicker to my photography website, gallery, and (ahem) storefront.  One of the blogs I follow: Travel Photography by Dmitrii Lezine, commented that he uses Windows Live Writer, which links to his WordPress blog, and he can upload multiple photos rather than one per post.  So I thought I would give it a whirl.

PurpleFlowersWet

PinkTulips

Ok, let’s see how this works…..By golly, it works!

What you do, once you set up Windows Live Writer, is link it to your blogsite, so that any post you type on Live Writer gets sent to your WordPress site, with all your regular WordPress theme, widgets, etc.  To insert the photos, you click on Live Writer’s picture icon.  There are several ways to insert a photo.  I tried to insert it via web/Smugmug directly, and I couldn’t get that to work (dunno why).  So, I went into SmugMug and clicked on the photo I wanted to insert, and copied that photo’s URL.  I then went back to Live Writer and inserted that same photo from my computer, right clicked, and hyperlinked the photo to my SmugMug gallery using the URL I previously copied from the photo in SmugMug.  After publishing this post, I clicked on each photo and voila!  Each time I was taken to my photo website (via SmugMug) where the XLarge size of that particular photo was displayed.  I could close out of that photo and I could see all the other photos in that particular gallery.

Thanks, Dmitrii!

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Filed under Blogging, flowers, Photography

Looking Forward

Looking forward to my April (2012) vacation, that is.  Hopefully nothing unforeseen will occur to prevent this trip.  My first vacation of the year, and by then, I am going to need some time off or else I might end up going postal at work (just kidding, really I am, but by then I really will need a break from the 4AM – 4PM daily grind).

Anyway, this is not a lesson-type post or a detailed travelogue-type post, but rather a just-because-I-want-to-post-some-photos post.  So, here are a few photos taken between 2005 and 2010 showing you some of the places I plan on heading this April, if all goes according to plan:  Seattle, Skagit Valley to see the tulip fields, Mt. Rainier, and my sister and brother-in-law’s home to celebrate both my birthday and my bro-in-law’s.

On a side note, a number of these photos were taken with my then-trusty Nikon D70 (my very first digital SLR).  I loved that camera!  And, although I am now a pleased and proud Canon full-frame owner, I will readily tell people that I think Nikon made the best first digital SLRs.  Canon sucked in the beginning.  In addition to my D70, I bought the Canon digital Rebel (6mp), which was touted as the first reasonably-priced digital SLR (and it was, compared to Nikon’s digital SLRs).  However, in a side-by-side comparison, the D70 bested the Canon, both in camera body and kit lens.  So I ended up selling the Canon and bought a Nikon lens.  Although that was just 5 years ago, I have gone through a series of digital cameras, including the Nikon D40, Nikon D40X, Canon 5D, and my current Canon 5D Mark II bodies.

And yes, for those of you thinking it, I’m digging through archives yet again.  I’ve shown most of my more recent photos and haven’t gotten out very much for any new photography (although Feb 10-12, I will drive down to Port Aransas to visit some friends and do a little bird photography).  I think my archived photos are awfully nice, and there’s nothing like going back through the Raw files for a fresh re-edit.

Sea-Tac Aiport – one of my favorite airports (admittedly, I haven’t been through too very many airports, but still, I like this one).  This is a part of the huge long, wide, floor-to-ceiling window in the main portion of the terminal, where all the food/shopping is located.  Note the little airplane flying away.

Puget Sound, a Washington State ferry, and the Olympic Mountains

Washington state ferry “Tacoma” heading toward Bainbridge Island

View from the Seattle waterfront looking out toward Bainbridge Island

Harbor Island, Elliott Bay, and the Public Market at sunset – photo taken from the patio of the Inn At The Market

Inside Pike Place Market

When I lived in Seattle, I shopped at the fruit and veggie stalls in Pike Place Market alot – I loved cooking with chanterelles

There is nothing like fresh salmon – I won’t order it in Texas, though, because they just don’t know how to  cook it like they do in Seattle (IMO)

Ristras in the Market

I used to buy fresh flowers from the Market quite often, because I worked downtown and it was easy to stop off, buy a bouquet, and take it with me on the bus home

Seattle has all sorts of public art

The funky structures at Gasworks Park, on the north shore of Lake Union  (which is where I took that top photo looking toward the Seattle skyline)

Skagit Valley tulips early on an April morning

Heading toward the Sunrise entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park

On the path to The Mountain

The view near Emmons Vista

Looking back down from whence I came – to the distance on the left is Mt. Adams, and on the right is Mt. St. Helens.  Far down below is the Paradise Inn.

Up, up, up the path

Lone viewer looking over Nisqually Glacier

A room with a view

Waterfall and river of ice

Mt. Rainier and Nisqually Glacier (at the Paradise area of the park)

Sunrise at Paradise (sunrise in Paradise)

Becky and The Mountain

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Filed under Mt. Rainier National Park, Photography, Seattle, Travel, Vacation