Monday, March 27, 2017

It's been a busy week!

Saturday I took a trip to Felts Preserve in the Tampa, Florida area.  It was built and is funded by the Audubon Society.  It's a small tract of land with two different paths winding through the oak trees, ferns and shrubs.  At the end of each of the paths is a small pond/lake which I was told has numerous Wood Ducks and other water birds.  The bad news is I never got to the ponds to see them!

As you meander down one of the paths, you come to a small green house.  The sign says, "Bird Viewing Area".  There are two benches in the room adjacent to the two large bay windows.  Outside of the windows are six different bird feeders, each with a different type of seed.  They are numbered #1 through #6 from left to right.

I got there just before sunrise and sat down and waited.  There are screens on either side of the house and you could easily hear the sounds of the birds outside.  As light appeared it became louder and the shrubs slowly came alive with activity.  I first saw a flash of blue, as a bird shot by the window into the nearby shrub.  It shook upon it's arrival.  As if by queue, suddenly they appeared; Indigo Buntings.  Not one or two but I lost count at thirty!!!  After approximately five minutes of feeding, they were gone.  The area was quiet.

This happened numerous times in the five hours I sat there.  I took over 500 photographs of Indigo Buntings, Painted Buntings, Northern Cardinals, Gray Catbirds, etc.  It was an awesome day!!

Needless to say, I'm going back soon. The two hour drive only feeds my want for more!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Note:  The book is at the publishers and they are working on the final draft, (which I have to approve).  It should be printed and in my hands by next Monday.  Stay tuned...

Today I went to the Viera Wetlands.  It's an amazing place for nature photography.  Any bird or animal that lives near or uses water in some capacity in their lives can be see there.  I am never disappointed and have always come away with some awesome nature shots.  Today was no different.

The traffic there was heavy.  Clearly someone on some birding or photography blog mentioned that the Sandhill Cranes are nesting at the Viera Wetlands, because there were about forty or so photographers, (people with cameras) there, all in one area, blocking the road and talking REALLY loud!  The birds were at least forty yards away, nestled down in the cattails, barely showing anything, save a peek or two when they changed positions.  There were clearly no babies yet, perhaps there were eggs, but you couldn't tell from the road.  Regardless, the bottleneck was real and it took more time to get through it than it did to get around the rest of the wetlands.  You can see by the picture, even the birds were annoyed!

The star of the day was the Glossy Ibis.  They were everywhere; preening, flying, searching for food, etc..

Many alligators were present also.

All in all it was a great photography day.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Hello Faithful Followers!

Today is a great day!  Why you ask?  Well, I will tell you...

Today I talked to the book publisher and finalized all the necessary details to print and publish my 1st book!  I will again be in touch with them tomorrow to discuss layout and design, but it's pretty much done, (I did it myself), so unless they see something that is grossly out of the ordinary, I will have numerous copies of my book on or about March 15, 2017!!

The book is titled, "Florida Backyard Birds" and is targeting the novice bird watcher.  It's small, (45 pages), but it's full of photographs and detailed information about numerous species of backyard Florida birds.  This book will be the first in a series of birding books that I'm going to write.  The second one will be Florida Wading Birds, but it's only in the thinking stages at this point in time.

I will be contacting various libraries in Florida to see if they would like to purchase some copies for their shelves, but first it will go to friends and family and whomever else would like it.

A big "THANK YOU" to my loyal followers and those that pushed me to get it published.  You're the best!

Here's a sneak peek at the cover, (albeit a poor quality photograph).



More information to follow...

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hello All...

Yesterday and today were great photography days!  I went to the Apopka Wildlife Drive, (yesterday late afternoon and today early afternoon), and had an amazing photography day!!

The beginning of the drive is quite uneventful.  The dirt road was very dry, causing dust to come up from every car and with the wind blowing about 10-15 mph, it was quite the dusty adventure.

I took numerous photographs along the way.  There were many different herons; Green, Great Blue and Snowy, along with many American Coots and Common Moorhens.  Those pictures don't excite me as much as they used to, but I still cannot pass up a posing subject.

My favorite find of the two days was a Least Bittern.  This bird is normally found deep in the cattails with it's neck stretched to the sky, faux swaying to simulate wind.  It's rare to find one walking about searching for morsels of food, albeit fish or mussels or bugs.







All in all it was an awesome photography day, capped off by an Anhinga with a freshly caught fish, (I think some sort of catfish).

I did see a large male Otter, but it retreated back into the brush before I could take it's picture.  Perhaps next time....

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Hello faithful and not quite abandoned followers!

It's been quite a while since I've both had the time and material for a blog entry.  I apologize to the faithful and also to the not-so-faithful followers.  I will try to do better in the future!

A lot has happened to me since my last entry.  I was gifted an amazing new camera, (a Canon 7D Mark II) and I purchased a 70-200mm 2.8 lens!  My photography, as you can imagine, took a giant leap upwards in both quality and quantity!!  The images are cleaner and due to the amazing amount of light I can now capture, my eye seems to have gotten better also!  Now there is still a lot of improvement that I need to make, (the camera is so technical that it'll take me six months to learn all it can do, and even longer to somewhat master the settings for any particular shot.

Anyway, here's one from the other night.  Now understand that it's not a great subject matter, (two dogs playing), but it does show some of the abilities of the camera in catching action and capturing it in a crystal clear fashion!

I have also gone out and attached my 2x converter to it, making the lens a 400mm at 4.0 aperture.  What a beast!  I'm very impressed at it's ability to focus fast and silently!  Here's one example of a House Finch taken at about 25 feet.

There will be more coming.  Please stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Well Hello Again!!!  It's been over a year since I've taken the time to sit down and write anything on this blog.  If you are still reading, (and I don't blame you if you aren't), then I will make all attempts to keep posting much more regularly.

Last week, a good friend suggested a "photo date"; that is, meet and go somewhere fun and take lots and lots of photographs.  That is exactly what we did!

It was a very warm Sunday morning and I decided early that I would climb out of my comfort zone and leave the zoom lenses behind.  My lens of choice for the day was the Canon 18-55mm kit lens.  This lens came with my first Canon 20D about nine years ago and has been bouncing around in my camera bag ever since.  I took it out, cleaned it off and put it on the camera.  It felt strange.  I've never shot with a lens this short for any length of time.  This will be quite interesting.

My friend had recently purchased a new Fuji camera and a new 16mm lens.  I had quite a bit of reservation trying to keep up with newer technology, with an eleven year old camera and equally old lens.

We first went to a large antique show/flea market in the area.  There weren't a lot of people there, but many of the vendors seemed to give us the 'stink eye' when they saw our cameras.  We answered numerous questions; "Why are you taking pictures?" and "What are those pictures for?"  We were very polite and no one stopped us, but we were put in a few uncomfortable situations by being followed and watched.

Here are a few of my shots from the day.  I have to admit, the 18-55mm lens was quite impressive to me.  The focus was sharp and the macro was amazing.  I can't wait to do it again.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Just Another Day

Being sick isn't fun.  Having a perfect photography location literally twenty steps from your bed AND being sick is even less fun.  However, with a carefully planned system, one can always devise a way to accomplish one's goals.  Now, having a bathroom two steps from my side of the bed is a wonderful thing on days like today and yesterday.  It seems I caught was can only be described as "the double faucet flu" and so going to work wasn't an option.  Heck, for that matter, staying home wasn't much of one either.  However if you're going to have to visit the porcelain palace a lot, one would hope that it would be at home, where convenience and a modicum of privacy is available.

Initially I was content in staying in bed as much as possible, eating chicken soup, (thank you wonderful wife) and getting rid of this disease.  Then the birds started singing.  First it was the Carolina Wren at the crack of dawn, (I think the clock said 5:55am), singing loud and proud right off our patio.  This was followed by the female Northern Cardinal who amazingly enough has a virtual symphony of songs; everything from low chortles to melodic melodies with a canary type sound.
After that, I was awake.  I did everything I needed to do upon waking and laid there and listened to the sounds.  I heard not only the Northern Cardinals, (both), but also Blue Jays, Mourning Doves, a Gray Catbird or two, the Carolina Wren, (who overpowered most of the others), and an occasional unknown Warbler.

Now if you know me, you know that I can't stay in bed with this type of thing happening outside my window.  Its not even a logical thought.  So, I got up, got dressed and schlepped out to the patio to see what photo-ops awaited me?  As I lay there I thought, this isn't really a good idea.  You've had nothing to eat or drink and it seems that this headache and fever are getting worse.  Then the birds came.

They must have been watching me, because the minute I started to get up and go back to bed, they started to fly in.  Red Winged Blackbirds, Brown Thrashers, Northern Cardinals, Carolina Wrens, Mourning Doves, Blue Jay and even a Yellow Rumped Warbler or two were on the feeder almost immediately.  The light wasn't at it's best as it was just becoming light, but I tried to take a few pictures anyway.  Turns out they weren't very good as they were too dark.  I waited.

By 6:20am it was pretty well light out and the birds were still coming.  Not as many as before; I suspect that many were full from the gorging they had prior to sun-up, but there were still some.
I think I snapped about one hundred pictures, most were duplicates.  I was having fun and frankly I'd forgotten about the sick feelings I'd had, (for the moment).

At 6:45am Mother Nature called, (and you don't hang-up), so I quit for the day.  I got some good shots, but really not as many as were available.  I found a few lighting situations that I need to work on and get better at.  This will come in time.

Today, even though I didn't feel good, was a pretty good day out back.  I'll try again this weekend, when I feel better.