Sunday, August 31, 2008

Several actually. Still attached to the bird, a red-shouldered hawk.

I quite like the facial "expressions".

Iridescent Clouds over the Painted Desert National Park in Arizona. I visited Arizona this past April, on a business trip to Phoenix. Two colleagues and I flew out early and visited Canyon de Chelly and Monument Valley, along with a brief visit to Petrified Forest/Painted Desert National Park. More pictures from that trip to come.

And we've now come full circle. A tilapia (or other fish) which lost its life (as illustrated in the piercing theme) becomes nourishment for three anhinga chicks just beginning theirs.

Not the most pleasant way to be fed, at least for my sensibilities, but the chicks were very enthusiastic. Continually bobbing their heads about mom's beak. Making it hard to get a good shot, with the chicks moving in and out of view as well as blur from all the motion.

The three shots in this meta-theme were all taken at the aptly named Anhinga Trail at the Royal Palms visitor center in the Everglades National Park. A wonderful location for wildlife photography in the winter months. Winter is the dry season in the Everglades, and the wildlife congregates at available water sources. The trail is built through and around a permanent borrow lake. As the wildlife is protected they've become habituated to humans on the trail. This anhinga nest was not more then ten feet from the boardwalk of the trail. I've got shots of cormorants and egrets eating fish on the trail itself, amidst the tourists (alas from 2006, or else I'd use one for the fish theme!) seemingly oblivious to the activity around them. Plus in the winter there are no mosquitos!

Mom anhinga sitting on her nest. This profile shot gives a nice look at the knife she uses to catch the tilapia and other fish for herself and her brood. A very effective weapon.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A bad day for this fish, tilapia I think, as this anhinga is in for a bit of sushi.

The anhinga is also known as the snake bird, as they swim with their body underwater and their neck and head above. They are expert spear fishermen (fisherbirds?). But once the fish is caught they need to get it un-pierced and maneuver it so that they can swallow it head first. A feat worth watching. And while this one did it over water, others headed to land so when they dropped the fish it couldn't swim away.

Tilapia are not native to the Everglades and have become something of a pest. They apparently became established when a hurricane flooded a fish farm in southern Florida, although this may be apocryphal. And while the anhinga enjoy them the alligators and gar have not yet developed a taste.

I have, although I prefer mine cooked.

These three were hanging out at Paurotis Pond in the Everglades.

Papa osprey keeping a close eye on mom and the kids (who were featured in theme 158: Fear).

The highlights are blown in the upper breast feathers, but otherwise a nice shot methinks. And you?

A baby alligator and its reflection. You can get an idea of scale from the leaf and branches. This was a very small gator. Another shot from my Everglades visit.

The gator was back in the shade and the sun was playing games with some clouds. I waited quite a long time for the sun to hit its eye. I'm glad I waited.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Another early morning Cabo shot. Here we have the pink light of dawn reflecting from the clouds to the wet sand on the beach outside our place. It was a gorgeous morning (easy to remember as they all were :-) and there were very few people on the beach at this hour, 6:30 to catch the sunrise.

The blur was unintentional but my attempt to capture the colors was not. I hope you like it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Another Cabo image. There is quite a bit of color noise and I'm not quite sure that it works. Let me know what you think.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Water, specifically the Sea of Cortez with the Pacific Ocean in the distance. Taken on a sunset cruise on my trip to Cabo.

Another day, another sunrise. Yep, that's the sun. Air layers of differing temperatures result in a mirage, causing the distorted image seen here.

Continuing my Mexican morning photography problems, not long after this image I again bollixed up the focus, losing a number of interesting images.  But I'm planning to go back next April to try again. Yeah I know, but somebody's gotta do it.
366 Theme 142: Shiny

It doesn't get much shiner than this!

One of the things I'm enjoying about this challenge is going back over my images from the year. This is another image of the sunrise in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (the Sunrise theme was as well). And I'm going to be adding one more, for the Distorted theme. I hope you like them. We were staying right on the beach and I shot the sunrise every morning.

Now I'm not a morning person, and it seemed I had some issue every morning. I wrote about the battery dying when I took the green flash image used for the sunrise theme. Well this morning I had focus problems. I shot a series of images as the sun rose and at one point I changed the focal length on the zoom lens. I was using manual focus as the sun was too bright for autofocus. For hopefully obvious reasons, I wasn't looking through the view finder when taking this image, nor the others in the series. At the same time I changed the focal length I managed to unintentionally change the focus. And thus had a whole bunch of shots of a way out of focus sun. Fortunately I was able to get a good number of keepers as well.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's not everyday you see a plane fly by upside down.

These fellows were doing some acrobatic flying over the the Florida keys. Flying upside down, loop the loops, pulling out of steep dives, while me and several of my friends looked and snapped away. And unlike with the pelicans, I got half a dozen keepers out of just eighteen shots.

It's also somewhat unusual to aircraft from the the RAAF flying over Florida. Maybe being form the other side of the Earth they thought they were right side up.

Brown pelicans were common sights at two of my vacation destinations this year, the Florida Keys and Cabo san Lucas, Mexico. They are seemingly effortless fliers, often gliding less than a meter above the water. I quite enjoyed an early morning cup of coffee watching them head out over the water from their night roosts as the sun came up.

This individual flew over our camp in the Keys. I hit the shutter release quite a few times on this bird and others, in Florida and Mexico, and had very few keepers. I think I'll have to take a trip to the (New) Jersey shore and practice my technique on the many gulls there.

A bit of meta blogging. Or is it recursive? 

Another image taken at the Philadelphia Flower Show. 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Taken at the Philadelphia Flower Show with my then brand new Canon G9 digicam. This camera has become my "car camera", the camera I always have with me (The Sky and Cloud theme images were also taken with it). It is a very nice pocket camera.

Say Cheese! I used a 400 mm lens with a 1.4 teleconverter for this shot as the alligators, like all the wildlife, are free to come a go as they want in the Everglades. There was no wall or fence between me and smiley here. But he (or she?) was just yawning and soon was simply basking in the sun, with wading birds wandering all about. This shot was taken on the Anhinga Trail at Royal Palm, where the animals have become habituated to having humans about and generally ignore the crowds wandering by. It is a great place to photograph wildlife.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The NJ Pinelands has plenty of scenes like this, overgrown remnants of a time gone buy. Located in the most densely populated state in the US, and between the major metropolitan areas of New York City and Philadelphia, the Pinelands consists of 1.1 million acres (4,500 square kilometers) of mainly pine oak forest and farmland. It is a huge and  easily accessible area with plenty of photo opportunities. And despite the large population living all around, one can wander through the forests and meet nary a soul.

Mom osprey has much better eyes than I do, as even with binoculars I couldn't find what had her so spooked that she was cowering and covering her two chicks. Moments before she had been feeding them by breaking off pieces of a fish her mate had brought to her. Then all of the sudden she was in this defensive posture. Whatever it was flew by, as she was soon back to feeding her brood.

Pelicans flying over the Flamingo marina in the Everglades National Park. There was a flock of maybe 50 or so birds that was flying in circles over the marina. Eventually they headed off towards the bay between mainland Florida and the Keys. I took a number of shots, and this was the best, although if you look closely you'll see that it isn't quite in focus. But it is the repeated image of the birds in a semi-ordered pattern that makes the image work for me. Let me know if it works for you.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Yet another Mason-Dixon image, this of a thunderhead off in the distance. It was an awesome and beautiful sight. And as you can see, there were even a few stars visible!

For the past two years I've participated in grasslands breeding birds survey, a project run the New Jersey Audubon Society. This shot of tree swallows was taken on one of the pre-survey workshop field trips at Duke Farms in central NJ, one of the largest grassland sites left in NJ.

For the survey I visited nine sites in Salem County, NJ on two occasions in May and June. Alas, most of my sites were farm fields which had been recently plowed, with very little grass or grassland birds. I joked with the director of the project that I was doing a "dirt land" bird survey. Sadly for the birds, there is very little grassland habitat left in the Garden State. But on the bright side, the birds in the photo have little to worry about, as Duke Farms actively manages the site to support grassland birds (and other wildlife). And these tree swallows are a happily raising families in the bird houses provided.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

In April I went to Phoenix to attend a business conference. Myself and two colleagues decided to go out the weekend prior and drive up to Canyon De Chelly and Monument Valley. This shot is from the first night of that trip, and is of the moon rising above Junction Overlook at Canyon De Chelly.

Another shot taken while driving home from work. I was looking for something to block the sun (where's a fist when you need it?). But the clouds were moving quickly and the sundogs would soon fade. 

This fellow, a longhorn beetle (Lagocheirus araneiformis) spent the better part of a day climbing the side of my tent at the Winter Star Party. It was very cooperative to the several photographers poking lenses in its face. It was there when I went to sleep that night but gone the next morning.

Taken at a local park as a thunder storm was rolling in. I was trying to photograph mammatus clouds and cloud to cloud lightning when I spotted these four birds flying into the scene.

A hand. Acting as a solar filter. Allowing me to photograph a circumscribed halo. Around the sun.

Another image from the Goshen Pond shoot. I like the minimalistic feel I get from viewing this image. Calm and peaceful matching how I felt as the day just starting.

I've taken to keeping a camera in my car, so when I see scenes like this I can pull over and get the shot. This one was taken on the ride home from work a couple of weeks ago.

This shot for some reason has an industrial feel to it for me. Maybe all the gray reminds me of drab warehouses. What do you think?

This shot is of the elusive, for me anyway, green flash. It's not the best green flash image ever taken. But it is mine.

For several years I worked in Torrance, CA just south of LA (I lived in NJ, which made for a long commute). I was close enough to the Pacific coast that I could watch the sunset most nights over the ocean. But in those three years I never saw a green flash.

This past April I spent a week in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. My sister and her husband have a time share which looks out over the water. I was up every morning enjoying and photographing the sunrise. On the morning of this shot I was looking through the lens as the sun broke the horizon. I noticed that the sun was green. It took a moment before I started firing off the shutter. And then the camera went dead. The battery had died! 

I quick went inside and uploaded the images to my laptop. And there was the tell tale green edge to the sun. I took plenty more sunrise images. But this was the only green flash I saw.

The Batsto River flowing through the Wharton State Forest in the NJ Pinelands. Taken in mid July when the foliage lends a green cast to the entire scene. 

There are sand roads throughout the Pinelands, and while four wheel drive vehicle is useful it's not required for many of them. Wonderful photo ops can be found down these roads throughout the year. This shot was taken under the bridge on Quaker Bridge Road, which is accessible, if a bit bumpy.

Moon set over Goshen Pond at dawn.

The last of the Mason-Dixon images. The shadow of the clouds on the moisture in the air bodes ill for our observing plans. The moisture means dew, which fogs mirrors and lenses. Which as it turned out didn't matter, as the clouds in the west completely covered the sky by midnight. It was very pretty though.

Sadly, one of the all to many star parties of late were everyone got plenty of sleep.

After the storm cells passed over us we were treated to a very foggy afternoon and evening. And while the conditions were very photogenic, they were horrible for astronomical observing.

Well, there's always another night. And this night's lightning,  safely distant, was fun to watch.

The second of the Mason-Dixon images, here comes the deluge. And while you can see a number of campers in this image, I was using a tent, which weathered the passing of multiple storm cells quite well. Although for the duration of this cloudburst, I was in the car.

This is the first of several images on this list taken at the Mason-Dixon Star Party. Unfortunately for us amateur astronomers, it would have been better named the Mason-Dixon Cloud Party. This shot is of a thunder head just to the north of us and the insignificant looking plane flying around it.

Not all of the thunder storms stayed north. And camping on an open field at the top of a hill is not the best place to be with lightning flashing all about. It did make for some nice photo ops though.

Each February over the past four years I've traveled to the Winter Star Party in the Florida Keys. And each year on the way down I've stopped at the Everglades National Park. If you are interested in bird photography I know of no better location. This past February I arrived at the visitor's center and asked the ranger on duty if there were any reports of interesting birds or other wildlife. "Nothing out of the ordinary", said he. So I wandered into the gift shop and as I was checking out the woman at the register asked if I had seen the great horned owl nest in the parking lot. "No I haven't", I replied. She told me to g out to the lot, wander down the median strip until I came to a bench, and then look up. I did and this is what I saw. I love the sparkle in the owlet's eye as it looks out over its brand new world.

I guess this just isn't out of the ordinary for the Everglades.

This industrious fellow was working the buttonbush plants at sunrise near Goshen Pond in the NJ Pinelands. It was completely oblivious as I set my camera up less than two feet away and fired off shot after shot. This was the best of the set.

This image is a homage to that shot by Cassie, which makes it a great choice for the first of my 366, as she it the one who got me started on this. Thanks Cassie.

My colleague and fellow photographer Cassandra told me about Project 366. And it sounded fun. And despite having less than half the year left I thought I'd give it a go.  

So without further ado, on to the images. Enjoy!

Credit for Project 366 goes to 366 Pictures and the list I'm using was modified from their original list by Helen at Dogeared Photos