Thursday, July 31, 2008

SkyWatch: Shooting Backward

Eastern Sky at Sunset

A hot humid evening following a thunder shower produced the atmospheric conditions that made this image possible. Soon after the sunset the eastern sky acquired a beautiful muted glow combining blues and reds with many shades between the two extremes.

Don’t forget to check the eastern sky during a spectacular sunset, on occasion it will equal or surpass the main event.

For more Sky Shots from around the world and to join in on the fun, visit the Sky Watch gang

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Simple Beauty

A Butterfly and a Thistle flower, Simply Beautiful

Self Admonition:
Never become so busy with the seemingly important things in life that you cannot find time to admire the simple beauty of a Butterfly or a Thistle bloom.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cool Move: Tri-Colored Heron

During my February Florida trip I captured the Tri-Colored Heron fishing. During the time this bird allowed me to watch it I observed it shading the water with either one or both wings prior to and during its lightening quick feeding strike.

I have observed Great Blue Herons striking numerous times and have never seen one use this interesting technique.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

High above the Danger

High in a treetop, the Porcupine watches my every move

Tuesday I posted the photograph of this Porcupine taken when it reached the bottom of the tree while fleeing me and my camera. As the Porcupine climbed the tree it attempted to stay out of sight by staying on the opposite side of the tree. I circled the tree attempting to capture more photographs and of course the porcupine did the same.

Finally, finding a perch that apparently satisfied its need for safety the Porcupine allowed me to continue my photo session. Shortly after shooting this photo I walked away, allowing the porcupine to continue doing whatever that Porcupines do.

For more Critters visit our gracious host Misty at Camera Critters Blog

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Awaiting the Storm

A Sunflower glows as the dark storm clouds crush down upon it.

For more Sky Watch and to join in on the fun, visit Tom and the Team at the New Sky Watch

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Celebrating my Second Blog Anniversary

Two years and 500 Post

How swiftly the time has passed since I uploaded my first post on what was to become Country Captures. What began as a whim has become an interesting hobby.

I have found this blogging experience to be very positive. Thanks to you, the photo-blogging community I have learned a great deal, not only about cameras and equipment but also about the world we live in.

So to you, my blogging friends; Thank you for all of your positive comments over the years, thank you for the encouragement, thank you for all of your visits and thank you for the inspiration that comes from reading your blogs and viewing your wonderful photographs.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Look…..But Don’t Touch!!!

This Porcupine is slowly making its escape after finding that I was not put off by the display of weapons.

A small population of porcupines occupies our area but sightings are quite rare. Encountering one this evening was definitely a special treat.

As the porcupine is a slow moving critter, catching up to it was not difficult as it moved along the wood edge. Photographing it was an entirely different matter. For quite some time the porcupine maintained a defensive posture.

In case you are not familiar with the defensive posture of the porcupine allow me to describe it. Quills raised, butt pointed towards the danger, head held low and turned only enough to allow them to keep visual track of the position of the intruder, not a position that lends itself to quality images.

After some time the porcupine tired of the game and moved off towards the nearest tree. Soon it was safely out of reach of danger high in the uppermost branches but not before I had captured the image displayed above.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tartarian Honeysuckle: an Invasive Species

The ripe berries of the Tartarian Honeysuckle appear to glow with their own internal light in this backlit photograph.

Tartarian Honeysuckle was introduced into this country first as an ornamental and later for wildlife habitat improvement. Although it will crowd out native plants it does provide a huge mast crop that is a favorite seasonal food for many species of song birds.

As to whether it is ultimately beneficial or harmful is for someone more educated on the subject than I to decide. As for me I am content to allow them to grow in my fence rows providing a multitude of meals for my little feathered friends.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Resting Damselfly

Even as a kid I enjoyed watching Damselflies flitting around. Few if any creature is more agile. Their coordination is simple amazing; controlling four wings as they fly at relatively high speed, stopping instantly and hovering in mid-air for extended periods of time and then darting off in seemingly any direction going from zero to top speed in the blink of an eye.

This little Damselfly surprised me as I was photographing wildflowers and butterflies. I was not expecting to see a Damselfly as I was quite some distance from water when it appeared and perched upon this dead weed.

The flight of the damselfly reminds me of that of a helicopter. I have only once had the opportunity to ride in a helicopter. That was over two decades ago but the memory remains fresh. This was the first time I had ever flown and the bird was a two-seat crop-duster with a little clear bubble cockpit. I felt as if I could see all of creation from our vantage point above the West Virginia farm land. At one point the pilot told me we were traveling at 50MPH and a short time later he stated that we were sitting still, I could tell no difference.

Since then I have flown in fixed wing aircraft many times but no flight has been more memorable than that first time in the air. ............Flying like a Damselfly.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Look Mom…..

……….I’m learning to Hightail!

A young fawn practices the famous tail movement of the Whitetail Deer

For more critters and to join up visit Camera Critter courtesy of Misty Dawn

Friday, July 18, 2008

Gypsy Moth Damage

A Monarch Butterfly checks out the damage left behind by this year’s plague of Gypsy Moth Caterpillars.

The Gypsy Moths has run their course for this year. What promised to be a devastating outbreak fizzled. Aerial spraying combined with a cold wet May and a multitude of songbirds the damage was not nearly as bad as last year. I did not encounter any area where the trees were completely stripped of foliage.

I was concerned about the future of our forest as the outbreak of 2007 stripped thousands of acres here in South Central Pennsylvania. Hopefully we have seen the worst of the Gypsy Moth outbreak with our oak forest spared the destruction we experienced in the 1980’s.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

After the Rain

After a particularly rainy spell that ended in the evening the fog began lifting from the valley floor.

For more Sky Watch and to join in on the fun visit Sky Watch at its new site.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A New Butterfly

While walking along the overgrown fence row bordering one side of my property I noticed a gray butterfly flutter down into the underbrush. As I began to pay closer attention I found that a number of them were flying out of the brush into the open and then descending again into the thick growth before alighting. Soon one made the mistake of landing upon an exposed greenbrier leaf allowing me to capture this image before it fluttered along its way.

As with the Calico Pennant Dragonfly, I don’t have a name for this subdued beauty and am hoping someone here will be kind enough to identify my little treasure.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dinner Cruise, Country Style

This evening my wife & I went for one of our summer evening Dinner Cruises.

Our dinner cruises begin with latching the boat trailer on behind the truck, stocking the cooler with sodas, water and ice. A stop along the way to pick up a pair of subs (know as hoagies around these parts) at Harr’s Grocery & Flea Market completes the preparations.

As we motor across the lake I typically wolf down my sub so I can begin fishing upon reaching the western shore but my sweet wife eats in a much more relaxed fashion relishing every bite of her tasty $3.50 12” sandwich.

A nice bass like this is reason enough for me to hurry my dinner

Thank you all for your wonderful comments on my red dragonfly. I do believe you all pegged it. The male Calico Pennant looks to be a good match.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Red Dragonfly

Last weekend while fishing I noticed many large dark colored dragonflies patrolling along the lake shore along with a very few smaller red ones. This weekend the red dragonflies seemed to outnumber the others.

This dragonfly allowed me to drift the boat right up to the sprig of marsh grass it was resting on.

I attempted to identify this creature by checking some web sites but was unsuccessful. If any of you viewers could enlighten me I would appreciate it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

On The Wing: Stream Bluet Damselfly

This morning while fishing my favorite lake I found large numbers of dragonflies and damselflies flitting about.

The tiny Damselflies were hovering low over the lake’s surface. They would allow me to approach within a few feet with the boat. The 100-400mm lens set at 400mm allowed me to capture this image of a hovering Stream Bluet Damselfly.

I found it nearly impossible to auto-focus on these slim creatures if there was anything in the background other than open water.

For more Camera Critters and to join in on the fun post your favorite critter then visit our host Misty and sign up.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

SkyWatch Friday: Rainbow

I have shot a great many rainbow shots but so far none to my total satisfaction.

This image is my latest effort; still trying but not there yet.

For more Skywatch and to join in on the fun post your skywatch image then visit Tom and sign up on Mr. Linky.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Love Birds: Mourning Dove

While trimming around my grape arbor last evening a dove flew from it towards our windbreak. It seemed to have some difficulty flying, landing on the ground a few feet short of the trees. Quickly is scurried across the open ground and hopped up into the low hanging branches.

Of course this was the mother attempting to draw my attention away from her nest. A closer examination of the grape vines revealed two young doves sitting upon the nest. I decided rather than to risk scaring the little doves from the saftey of their nest I would forgo the trimming until they leave the nest of their own accord.

I returned this evening, camera in hand to find the adult sitting with her brood watching my every move.

For “Love Birds” of a different type check out my son Chad’s blog

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Popping White Dutch Clover

This image started with a macro of a White Dutch Clover bloom in my lawn. With Photoshop I increased the contrast and then brought the black level up until the background changed to mostly black effectively removing distractions. Lastly I applied a touch of unsharp mask to sharpen the edges.

My goal usually is to create an image as close as possible to how I experienced the original scene, but in this case I took the liberty to become somewhat more creative.

Personally I like the results.

What do you think? Be honest, I promise not to be offended if you don’t care for it.

White Dutch Clover, once common in lawns is now considered a weed by many. I encourage the clover in my lawn. White Dutch Clover fixes nitrogen eliminating the need for heavy fertilizer applications, it attracts and feeds bees, rabbits etc, it is also drought resistant and low growing not requiring frequent mowing. Attracting wildlife is reason enough for me to grow it, the other benefits are all bonus.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Honey from a Butterfly Weed

The Honey Bee was so intent upon being the first to gather nectar from a new bloom opening on a Butterfly Weed that it didn’t seem to mind my lens being shoved in its face.

The beautiful orange blossoms of the low growing Butterfly Weed add a touch of vivid color to our rural roadsides. Along with their beauty they also attract and provide food to many insects. Rarely do I encounter a Butterfly Weed that is not covered with ants, but in this case the lone Honey Bee was the only insect I noticed.

Overgrown roadsides are an excellent place to find a wide variety of wildflowers as mowing and cultivation rarely if ever interferes with their growth and reproduction. My wife and I discovered this particular plant as we strolled along an abandoned section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike that has been converted into a hiking/biking trail.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Tiny Snail

While composing photos of the lilies I was pleasantly surprised to find this tiny snail attached to the underside of one of the blossoms.

A macro shot reveals the beautiful intricate patterns that make up its shell.

For more Camera Critters and to join in on all the fun, visit our good friend and host Misty

Friday, July 04, 2008

With Trumpets Lifted Up

When viewed from slightly below the Lilies remind me of a band of trumpeters with horns raised.

Large patches of these hardy wild lilies are blooming abundantly along our rural roadsides.
Their early shoots are one of the first signs of spring to appear promising an end to the seemingly long winter. Now in early summer they are providing a welcome burst of vibrant color along our travel routes.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

SkyWatch Friday: The Last Light of Day

The most brilliant colors of sunset occur some time after the sun has dropped below the horizon.

The image on my previous post was taken as the sun was beginning to touch the mountains to my west. This image was captured sixteen minutes later.

As you will notice the contrast and intensity of color has dramatically increased.

For a full explanation of this phenomenon and great information on how best to capitalize upon it visit Jim Moore at Transient Light Photography.

For more Sky Watch or to join in visit our gracious host Tom at Wigger’s World

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Last Rays of Sunlight

A beautiful glow lights a pastoral Pennsylvania landscape during the evening's golden hour

The showers that have been caressing our landscape daily are presenting us with some very dramatic skies. This evening I captured this scene only moments before the sun dipped below the horizon.

Following the sunset the western sky became quite beautiful as the last rays of daylight painted awesome colors upon the clouds, but that shot must wait until later.