Monday, September 29, 2008

Capturing Autumn

Autumns colors combined with golden hour backlighting combine to transform this simple poison ivy plant into a beautiful scene of autumn glory.

Frequently the best was to capture the vibrant colors of autumn foliage is with strong backlighting. Backlighting allows the light to shine through the leaves creating a soft glow.

Dragon Webs

It would appear that this Dragonfly has a web to assist it in capturing its prey.

Of course this is not the case as Dragonflies do not spin webs.

A habit of Dragonflies that I have observed numerous times this summer is that of returning time and time again to the same perch. I have found this habit to be very beneficial to the photographer as it has allowed me to scare the Dragonfly away during setup and then have it return to the exact same perch after a wait of only a few minutes.

I have noticed a marked decline in the number of Dragonflies with the onset of autumn.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Trolling for Photos

When the fish are taking a break from feeding, what better to do than to click around with the camera?

With the autumn foliage colors beginning to show, it is a beautiful time to be outdoors. Combining photography and fishing has been most rewarding for me this year. Many times I have been sidetracked from fishing by waterfowl, birds, insects, or the scenery.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Camera Critters: Redtailed Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawks are year-around residents of our area. Frequently they are seen perched high in a tree or on a utility pole where they can survey their surroundings, spotting prey and keeping a sharp look-out for danger. Seldom does an encounter with one of these majestic birds offer a good photographic opportunity.

This encounter, although near enough, did not afford me the quality of image that I seek but I though it acceptable to share. The encounter occurred in early morning with low light levels in the forest. I am pleased that it turned out as good as it did considering I shot it hand-held with the 400mm lens, ISO 800, at 1/30th of a second. This image would have been totally impossible without image stabilization.

For more Camera Critters click Here

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Glowing Contrails

Seldom will I intentionally capture a sky image where visible contrails exist. In this case the glowing contrails were so striking that I used them as the focal point of this sunrise image.

Judging the angle of travel, I would guess that the aircraft that painted this beautiful sunrise were using the airport at Harrisburg Pa.

Happy Sky Watch everyone. To see more and to join the fun click HERE

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Close Encounter: Great Blue Heron

While fishing my favorite lake Saturday evening I noticed a Great Blue Heron standing along the east lakeshore preening. As capturing a few images of one of my favorite birds immediately took precedence over fishing, I maneuvered the boat across the lake trying to approach at a good lighting angle. Once I was within about one hundred yards of the bird I slowed the electric motor to its very slowest speed and continued my approach.

When I was within thirty yards of the heron I began shooting with the 100mm-400mm lens zoomed to 400mm. Soon I was taking close-up head shots and trying to capture the entire bird required zooming out. As I looked away from the camera I could hardly believe my eyes for the heron had allowed me to approach within twenty feet!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Published: 2009 Wildlife Calendar

Today my wife informed me via e-mail that two of my images had been selected for publication in the 2009 Pennsylvania Game Commission Calendar.

The Fox Squirrel graces the month of October while the Whitetail Buck is December’s display. I was also pleased to learn that two of Willard’s images were also published.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Good Bye old Friend

Yesterday in a little country graveyard, Willard and I bade our old friend and neighbor Dale farewell for the final time.

Dale lost his battle with cancer, the only battle I have ever known him to loose. To say he was a fighter would be an understatement as Dale was never happier than when he had a good feud going with someone.

Dale was money poor and land rich. Dale didn’t have much education but was one of the most cunning men I have ever known. Farming a hard scrabble farm, driving school bus, cutting timber, and maintaining our local township roads kept the bills paid and the fields, forest, and streams kept food on his table. Dale was oft times blamed for killing a lot of deer on his properties but as he would accurately point out, if that were so then why were there more deer there than on most surrounding lands? The source of many of these rumors were started by people jealous of the fact that he owned the land and absolutely would not allow them to set foot on it for any reason.

When one owns property in a rural area where wildlife abounds they can be certain that it will attract a class of person whose only desire is to destroy it. Dale was always on guard for these types. His motto was that when they pushed you, shove back. Shove back and shove hard!

Dale, you fought a good fight. Only cancer was able to beat you, and the pain it inflicted is now past. Rest in peace Dale……….We will still carry on the fight.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Yawn: Green Heron

Financial collapse, presidential election posturing, and high energy prices may excite humans but the Green Heron finds it all extremely boring. The trivialities of our world pales beside the important things in the Green Heron’s life.

Life in the wetlands may appear quiet and serene but for each life sustaining meal that one creature consumes, something else must die.

The heron yawns before beginning feeding for the day while at the same time keeping a sharp lookout to assure its own safety.

For more Camera Critters click Here

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

SkyWatch: Sorghum Sunset

I captured this image of our neighbor’s field of sorghum illuminated by a radiant sky about ten minutes after the sun had disappeared below the western horizon. Oft times the most beautiful light of the day occurs before the sunrise or after the sunset.

This has been a beautiful week in SC Pennsylvania with cool clear nights and cool humidity free days. Perhaps the storms of the past weekend swept the last of the hot summer weather away.

For more Sky Watch and to join in on the fun click the SWF logo at the top of this post.

Peaceful Morning

The US 522 bridge lies shrouded in the morning fog as the Potomac River glides quietly beneath its strong girders.

A motel at the north end of the bridge became the site of a “hostage” situation a few weeks ago. Police were notified that a wanted man and his pregnant girlfriend had checked in at the motel. Upon officer’s arrival the criminal informed police that he was armed and that he was holding his girlfriend hostage.

For two days this bridge between Maryland and West Virginia was closed forcing people to detour 70 miles out of their way. One health care worker was reported to have swum the river rather than make the long drive around.

The situation was finally resolved peacefully only to find that the “hostage” was in fact a willing collaborator and that the couple was unarmed the entire time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Second Choice Image

This evening I decided to hike to an area where I had found a large concentration of Monarch Butterflies feeding on thistle last September. Upon arriving I found that I was too late. Most of the thistle had already matured and died. I did encounter one Monarch feeding on a goldenrod but before I could complete the camera setup it gracefully fluttered off among the pines.

Looking around for another available subject I spied this little butterfly. Although not the stately Monarch I was searching for: this little thumb-nail sized butterfly posed beautifully for its portrait session.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Goldenrod & Skipper

Two weekends ago Snakeroot was the wildflower of choice for our local insects. Now nearly all of the attention is riveted upon the prolific Goldenrod.

Sunday afternoon found me spending a couple of hours photographing wildflowers and insects in an overgrown meadow. This tiny little skipper is my favorite shot from that session.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

C&O Canal: Shrouded in Fog

This section of the old C&O Canal just west of Hancock MD could easily be confused with a swamp from our deep south if only there were some Spanish moss hanging from the trees.

To capture this image I held the camera only a couple inches above the water. This angle is much easier to obtain with a point&shoot with a flip finder but I was determined and simply aimed the camera by feel and shot numerous images giving myself many frames to choose from.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Camera Critters: Muskrat

A Muskrat hurries back to the safety of the water carrying a huge bundle of food

Muskrats are hesitant to leave the protection of the water and when they do they make each trip count. This bundle of reeds will be carried into the den for later dining.

I hope you all have enjoyed the muskrat photographs I have been posting. Some of you have commented upon pond owners despising the little critter. Muskrats in a natural habitat create very little problem, but a man-made pond is a totally different matter.

Ponds are created in places where water would not normally pool. The basin is typically sealed with a layer of clay which keeps the water from seeping into the soil. When a muskrat digs its burrow through the clay layer the pond begins to leak. A colony of muskrats can destroy a good size pond in fairly short order.

For more Critter Captures visit our friend Misty by clicking the Critter Captures logo above.

Friday, September 12, 2008

High Oil: Good or Bad?

During his 2006 state of the union address President Bush stated that America was addicted to oil. As he continued his speech he mentioned alternative energy and new technologies to replace our dependence on oil.

Since 9-11 oil prices have skyrocketed, at times nearly quadrupling the prices we were paying during 2000 when gasoline could be found at prices only a few cents over a dollar. Most of us have complained about the high prices and many of us have adjusted out lifestyles to reduce the impact upon our standard of living while others among us have simply gone broke. The high cost of energy has caused prices of other goods to rise as businesses found they could no longer eat the increasing cost of transportation.

We are all familiar with the impact of high oil prices upon our personal lives but for a moment let us consider the question posted in the title of this post, are the high prices good or bad for us, our country, and our world?

Many scientists agree that global warming is a problem, if not a crisis, brought on through the burning of fossil fuels. The importation of oil from unstable regions of the world finances much of the terrorism that has become the focus of the current administration and the fear of the common citizen. Fossil fuel is believed to be a finite resource, when it’s gone, it is gone. Crude oil is the source of not only gasoline and diesel, but it is the raw material for much of today’s products such as plastics and an entire range of petrochemicals.

With this in mind is it responsible of us, as caretakers of this earth for future generations, to be using this resource as a motor fuel? Should we be roaring away, carefree in our hopped up pickup truck or SUV while a much more efficient and environmentally friendly vehicle would serve the purpose?

I cannot help but think the prices we have been experiencing are in some ways linked to the current administration’s pledge to break our dependence upon oil.

The markets are driving new technologys and forcing conservation. In turn not only are we importing less oil but we are producing less pollution. As new renewable technologies come on line, pollution will be reduced even further and our flow of money to unstable governments will shrink. If oil prices drop substantially this process will quickly be reversed and the new technologies will not be perfected or implemented until once again some years down the road the problems with our oil based economy will once again surface.

High Oil prices; Good or Bad?
Please post a comment, tell us what you think!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A pair of Hawks soar high among the threatening clouds

For more Sky Watch and to join in visit the gang by clicking the Sky Watch logo at the top of this post.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wild Ride

Two boys enjoying a Wet and Wild ride

As the lazy days of summer draw to a close; many families took advantage of our beautiful Labor Day weekend to spend a day on the water. I captured this image at Bald Eagle State Park during a day trip my wife and I took to picturesque Bellefonte Pennsylvania.

Barb of Discover Pa blogs a photo-or-more each day from this beautiful town. Barb's blog is one of my wife’s favorites. After having followed Barb’s blog for quite some time my wife came to the conclusion that Bellefonte, with its great Victorian architecture, was a “must see”.

I captured many beautiful images of Bellefonte during our visit but I am not planning on posting any here. Bellefonte is Barb’s town, so if you haven’t seen it yet, just pop over and give our friend a visit at Discoverpa.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Another Butterfly

With summer waning, soon the butterflies will be gone. I am in no hurry for butterfly season to end but I know that with its passing a new season, full of new photographic opportunities, will burst forth

This shot was captured using the 25mm extension tube on the 100-400mm lens.

I am finding the 25mm extension tube to be a very useful tool when shooting macros with the super telephoto. The extension tube reduces the minimum focus distance considerably allowing the capture of much greater detail in small subjects.

To date I have not experienced any problems using the extension tube in conjunction with the 100-400mm but when combined with the 24-105mm I have had problems with using auto-focus.

Monday, September 08, 2008

50 Years and Counting

Fifty years ago a young couple stood in front of a young minister and took the vows of Holy Matrimony.

Saturday, they once again stood in front of the same minister, now retired, and renewed their sacred vows.

Uncle Herman & Aunt Verla

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Wetlands Capture: Solitary Sandpiper

As you all can tell, I have been found considerable enjoyment shooting the various creatures of the wetlands this summer.

I am particularly pleased to have captured this Solitary Sandpiper moments after it captured either a salamander or a tadpole that had began to develop legs.

As the dry weather took its toll on the wetlands, the water life continued to be concentrated into an ever smaller areas. This in turn created a feeding bonanza, attracting many species of birds to its shallow waters.

Tropical storm Hanna dropped a couple of inches of much needed rainfall on our area yesterday. The wetlands should be benefiting from the additional water.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Feeding the Need: Muskrat

After learning that the Haines-Seville Wetland contained a small population of muskrats, I began returning in the evenings in hopes of capturing more images.

August was quite dry in our area and the wetland was shrinking daily. This in turn concentrated the muskrats into a smaller area allowing me to cover much of the open water from one position.

Each evening as the sun neared the horizon the muskrats would surface from their submerged dens and begin feeding. Some would leave the water and travel only a few feet before cutting vegetation and carrying it back to the water while others would apparently travel some distance as they would be gone ten to fifteen minutes before returning with their fresh cut bundle.

Whenever possible the muskrats travel in the shadows but on a few occasions one, such as this one, would break the rules and travel through a sunlit area.

For more Camera Critters and to join in on the fun, click on the logo at the top of this post.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

SkyWatch: FoxFire

As autumn nears, a ripe Foxtail head is silhouetted against a blazing sunset

For more amazing SkyWatch and to join in on the fun visit the gang by clicking the Skywatch logo at the top of this post.

Thanks to everyone who posted their thoughtful comments on the previous political post. The future of the USA lies in the balance and for those of you who are US citizens please exercise due consideration, examine the candidates and then as our friend Deemom said VOTE!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Which way to jump: The Presidential Election

As a lifelong conservative republican, for the first time in my life, I find myself undecided at this point in an election year.

I have always supported the republican candidate for the presidency as their espoused values have always mirrored mine than did the opposition. Not only does time change but so do we, along with the values and actions of political parties.

I have watched as Ronald Regan’s trickle down economics has become “flood up” filling the pockets of the wealthy. Republican tax cuts have slashed the tax burden on the wealthy while making only minor changes for the middle working class.

Labor unions have had their backs broken and the American blue collar worker has had to make do with an ever shrinking piece of the American pie. Employers can order mandatory overtime, working laborers seven days a week indefinitely under the threat of discharge if they don’t comply. Outsourcing overseas for short-term profits has crippled the manufacturing base of the USA while at the same time we have watched our trade deficit skyrocket.

Big oil is chalking up record profits quarter after quarter while the working class suffer under back breaking energy cost. Food prices are rising while at the same time farmers are going broke putting diesel fuel in their machinery and buying fertilizer at a price per ton that only a few years ago would have bought an acre of land.

President Bush takes credit for the Medicare prescription drug plan but does he mention that he insisted that it specifically forbids using the buying power of this large plan to negotiate prices and instead pay top price. Of course it doesn’t really matter how much we pay for the drugs, we’ll add it to the deficit.

I have also watched McCain throughout the years and have always admired his independent stand on many issues. Much to his credit many times McCain has not toed the party line. I really thought that here was a man who could make a difference. Listening to him now I find my hopes dashed, he is sounding more and more like McSame, toeing the party line, continuing the agenda of the administration we have had for eight long years.

John, its time for a change!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hover Fly

While shooting this Hover Fly I suddenly noticed it quickly run across the bloom and took flight as a Bumble Bee took its place searching for nectar. I didn’t realize until I reviewed the shots later that I had actually caught the bumble bee approaching and scaring the Hover Fly away.

This shot as well as many other of my insect shots was captured in an overgrown area where Penn Dot once had a small depot. After moving out a few years ago the weeds have slowly taken over.

What appears to be an eyesore from a short distance away is a vibrant community of wildflowers and interesting insects. Often the best habitat we can provide wildlife is to simply allow some land to revert with no further intervention on our part.