Category Archives: nature

Gliding Over The Gulf

Gliding Over The Gulf

Pelicans are so very stately when flying (a little prehistoric, too). Thankfully, that gives me decent practice with my panning skills. It still helps to have a camera with a relatively fast fps (frames per second) count, and it also helps to remember to put your focus mode into AI Servo (or whatever mode your brand of camera calls the ability to track moving objects while keeping them in focus).

I’m all packed and ready for my trip back to this national seashore later this week. All I need to do is cook a few items to put in the cooler. I’m driving, which means I not only am able to keep my tripods fully extended in the back of the car, but I can, essentially, bring along the kitchen sink, coffee maker, and refrigerator

On behalf of the National Parks Traveler, I’m traveling back to this national seashore to photograph a release of the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle hatchlings. Even though the hatchling schedule on the PAIS (Padre Island National Seashore) webpage gives a range of days during which there might be a release, that doesn’t always mean this will occur. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, though. And heck, I’ll be on vacation and the sunrises are amazing there, not to mention the seabird photography. I plan to stick around for a sunset or two, as well, and, on the 9th is the new moon, which means – unless there are storm clouds – I might see some stars.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under birds, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, nature, Padre Island National Seashore, Photography, Texas, Travel

Don’t Let A Little Bad Weather Stop You

Where Is Mt Rainier

The National Parks Traveler has just published my latest “Photography In The National Parks” article.  Click on the photo to go to my story.

 

 

 

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Filed under Bad Weather, Landscape, Mt. Rainier National Park, nature, Photography In The National Parks, rain, Travel, Washington State, Weather

Red-Wing Blackbird

Red-Wing Blackbird

I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to capture a good image of this neat bird.  I know, blackbirds are blackbirds are blackbirds (aka ordinary), but those chevrons of bright orange-red are quite the eye-grabber.  And these birds have such a pretty song.

This photo was taken out at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, here in southeast Texas, not too far from where I live.  I had my Canon 1DX attached to the 500mm prime lens.  Thanks for my efforts at losing weight and building up some arm strength, I was able to hand-hold the camera/lens combo (IS turned On) and grab some shots of this red-wing blackbird.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1DX, birds, Brazoria NWR, Canon, Canon 500mm f/4L IS II, Canon Lens, nature, Photography, Texas, Uncategorized, Wildlife Refuge

Morning Storm Clouds

Storm Clouds In The Morning

I finished every single one of my errands/chores yesterday so I could drive out to the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge this morning to see what might be there: tall grass and reeds and cattails with lots of water but not much birdlife – at least, not in the area in which I found myself and nothing near to me and my 500mm lens. The clouds on this morning, however, were dark and fluffy and big and presaged the coming storms predicted for today. So I pulled out the other tripod and my Canon 5DSR with the 16-35mm f//4 IS lens, affixed a circular polarizer to it and used my grad ND filter to bring out the texture in the clouds.

Clouds are a photographer’s best friend. They add drama and character to an already lovely scene and can really spice up an otherwise ordinary or ho-hum scene. The thing about photographing awesome clouds, though, is that you also need a frame of reference or some scale. So don’t just photograph the clouds themselves. Your viewers won’t know whether this was a horizon-filling scene or just a small spot in the sky. Add some ground or buildings or *something* to the cloud scene.

Copyright Rebecca L Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under 5DSR, Brazoria NWR, Canon, Landscape, nature, Photography, Texas, Uncategorized, Wildlife Refuge

It’s Almost Year End

It is.  It’s almost the end of 2015 and I, for one, am ready for it to be done with.  Except for my boob job in January, it’s been a pretty shitty year I’ll admit.

N6A0653_Becky and Her Baby

My 89-year old mother became ill in early February and subsequently died on the 19th, one day prior to my elder sister’s birthday.  We can’t thank our lucky stars enough that we were both there to care for Mom at the end of it all.   From then on, life and work went to hell in a handbasket.  I’d break into tears every time I thought of Mom or thought of (or heard or saw) something that reminded me of Mom, My sister and I constantly second-guessed ourselves concerning Mom (woulda, coulda, shoulda).  I found myself working for a horrible boss who made my work life miserable.  I was not in the least interested in photography.  And my entire life revolved around being Executrix of Mom’s estate.

Poor Mom.  She thought she was leaving my sister and me with a nice little nest egg of her savings.  As it was, my sister and I spent every single penny of that nest-egg savings getting Mom’s house up to snuff so we could finally put it on the market; fingers crossed that this sale goes through smoothly so we can be done with it.  These upgrades included a total re-grade and re-sod of the entire front, back and side yards around the house (including the addition of what they call “French drains” to get the standing water to drain into the ditches around the house thanks to the horrid spring thunderstorms Texas constantly experienced all April and May); installation of more foundation pillars in the hallway; patching and repainting the cracks in the walls caused by the foundation work as well as the house’s normal settling issues here in southeast Texas; re-carpeting the hallway, one bedroom and the large den; getting the electrical issues worked out; installing a new roof to replace the one damaged by a freak April hailstorm; fixing the garage door, removing all of the high-tech hurricane storm shutters; and a number of other smaller issues  – all required by the home inspector’s and the structural engineer’s report and the current realtor’s suggestions to make the house more – well – salable.  This work has all taken two months shy of a year since Mom’s death.  It’s been an albatross around my neck and I can’t thank my sister’s husband enough for all of his help – his 30 years in the construction business has enabled me to keep from going mad and throttling most of the people and businesses within this horrid little Podunk Texas town in which I currently reside.  My experience this year has lead me to believe that there is absolutely no business here in this town that is totally trustworthy.  At least, not when it comes to dealing with a divorced, middle-aged woman such as myself.  Fuck ‘em all, I say.

As you can probably tell by now, this entire experience has given birth to the New Me:  Angry White Woman.

I don’t take shit off of anybody anymore and I’m far more vocal about my feelings, opinions and beliefs (this includes my political and non-religious leanings, much to many of my Facebook friends’ annoyance).  I have discovered I am also far more willing to stick my neck out at work and push back to the dirty politics I experience on behalf of myself and my friends who either cannot or will not push back themselves (it’s easier for me to do it since I’m close to early retirement and I don’t have a family for whom I must provide – this allows me to follow the courage of my convictions).

It’s taken me 54 years, and I’m absolutely certain Mom’s death was the catalyst to make me realize what is truly important in my life.  Hint:  it aint work.  Work is not my life and never has been – it just pays the bills, pays for my camera equipment and allows me to travel.  No, what is really important – to me – is family and people who love me.

Thanksgiving Dinner

I no longer have family here in Texas.  They all live out in the Pacific Northwest, and sooner rather than later, that is where I will move.  I am making my plans little by little.  I don’t want to grow old and spend my remaining days alone in a Texas nursing home, waiting to die, far away from people I love and who love me.  Besides that, I’ve never been a huge fan of Texas and am ready for the next adventure further west where the mountains and my family live.

I’m also trying to regain my photo mojo.  I’ve done a few small photo projects this year, including:

Storm Front On The Refuge

Portrait Of A Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night HeronAnoleSpiny Backed Orb Weaver

Using my new 11-24mm, 100mm macro, and 500mm prime lenses at Brazos Bend State Park, Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, and around my home and my mother’s home;

Jupiters Eye On The HelldiverWaiting For SunriseThe Rising Sun 2The Rising SunKnife Edge Fly ByAleutian P40K WarhawkGrumman TBF AvengerJapanese FighterTexas Raiders Taking Off

Spending a wonderful sunrise photo shoot as well as an entire day in the photo pit at the 2015 Wings Over Houston Airshow;

Pirate Spooks On Stage

Reaching Across The Stage For A Toast

Dessert At The Kings Feast

Preparing To Serve The Beef

Feast Staff 2015

Halloween Becky In The POW Pub

Pirate Spooks

A Witch And A Zombie

Performing my duties as staff photographer for The Merchant Prince and capturing images for his use out at the 2015 Texas Renaissance Festival;

A Crown For A Princess

Photographing my newest great niece whom I have never met until last year (for only 20 minutes before getting to the airport) and who is now almost 3 years old;

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And photographing my company’s annual gingerbread decorating event.

I haven’t really taken any photo holiday because almost all of my annual vacation days were spent caring for Mom and thereafter taking care of the estate.  I did take a short trip to visit my sister and her family in eastern Washington over Labor Day, spent a weekend in Santa Fe NM during the Memorial Day holiday, and visited my sister and her family, again, during Thanksgiving.

My main vacation is coming up and I hope it will be the jump start to much more photography in 2016:  I’m going to be spending 10 days in Europe (including Christmas and New Year):  8 days in London and 2 days in Paris.  Everything is paid for, I printed out all of my tickets, and I am all packed, including my camera backpack:

  • Canon 5DS body
  • Canon 5DS-R body
  • Canon 1DX body
  • Canon 11-24mm lens
  • Canon 24-105mm IS lens
  • Canon 24-70mm IS lens
  • Tripod, a gazillion memory cards, a small Canon flash, a couple of wireless shutter releases, and lots of extra, fully-charged batteries

I’m not taking my 70-200mm lens because it’s heavy and my backpack is already heavy enough (plus I’m taking two suitcases as well as my laptop bag with travel laptop, mouse, memory card readers, 2 external hard drives – 1 TB each, iPhone, iPad, book, and folder with all of my ticket information for the various venues I will attend).  I can only take so much – don’t even ask me what I’ve packed in the suitcases (grin).

I apologize for not publishing more blog posts.  I know one is supposed to do that to keep readership and to keep one’s writing skills in tip-top shape.  I’ll get back into the groove, I promise.  I’ll have free WiFi in my London and Paris hotels, so I know I’ll be editing photos and writing about my experiences, uploading to both my Facebook photography page as well as my Twitter account.  I may even publish a post while there.  For now, stay tuned to forthcoming imagery from my 2015 trip, as well as the trips I have planned for 2016.  I plan on making up for lost time.

N6A3701_Seahawks Becky Cap

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Filed under 1DX, 5DS, Attitude, Aviation, birds, Brazoria NWR, Brazos Bend State Park, Canon, Canon 11-24mm, Canon Lens, Equipment, Landscape, Life, macro, nature, Photography, Texas, wildlife, Wildlife Refuge

Morning At Brazos Bend State Park With A Canon 5DSR and 500mm Prime Lens

Portrait Of A Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

Portrait of a juvenile yellow-crowned night heron

I recently ordered (and finally received) a Canon 5DSR camera body.  The thought of 50mp to play around with, to crop away, to do with as I wish, was too great not to pass up for a landscape, birdlife/wildlife and portrait photographer such as myself.

To further break the budget, I purchased several lenses including a Canon 500mm f4L prime super-telephoto.  Can you say “photographer heaven”?

Even though the temps here in southeast TX are in the triple digits and extremely humid, I took this camera/lens combo out to Brazos Bend State Park one morning.  Actually, I’d gone the day before, as well, with a 1.4x extender attached to the 500mm to make it a 700mm.  On that day, I was not impressed, which was too bad since there was quite a bit of birdlife out there during the hottest part of the day (around 1PM).  I apparently didn’t do my microfocus adjustments that well with the extender on, because all but 6 photos (ok, not stellar photos), displayed some back-focus issues.

So, I removed the extender that evening, re-adjusted the microfocus, and returned to the park the next morning with just the 500mm focal length.  I was pleased and proud with the images that resulted, and even happier with the resolution of the images after much cropping, such as the image above, which is about a 33% crop.

Who You Lookin At

Juvenile yellow-crowned night heron

Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

Portrait of a juvenile yellow-crowned night heron; a 33% crop

Hazy Morning On The Lake

A hazy morning on 40-Acre Lake; yes, you can get nice landscapes with a 500mm prime

On Gossamer Wings

On gossamer wings; a 100% crop

Bejeweled2

Bejeweled; a 50% crop

Out On A Limb

Out on a limb

Blue and Green

Blue and green; a 33% crop

I’m blown away with that this camera and lens can do and can’t wait to get back out for more photographic fun.

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Filed under birds, Brazos Bend State Park, Canon, Canon Lens, Equipment, Photography, Texas

Spring Means Bluebonnets

Field of Flowers

Spring means bluebonnets in Texas hill country.

It’s been maybe 4-5 years since I traveled into the hill country in search of those quintessential blue harbingers of a Texas spring.

Bluebonnet Scene

One day, last week, a co-worker emailed to tell me she had driven to Chappell Hill and then on to Washington-on-the-Brazos to view the wildflowers.  She said the color display was amazing.

Red Yellow Blue and Green

So on my next Friday off, I took my cameras and myself on a little drive along Hwy 290 to Chappell Hill to see the color for myself.

The Long Dirt Road

Field of Bluebonnets

The Road Up The Hill

Springtime in the Hill Country

Golden

Becky and the Field of Gold

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Filed under flowers, nature, Photography, Texas, Texas