Wednesday, November 30, 2011
What prompts us to film this, but not that? What attracts our attention to a particular subject - and I'm not talking leaves in general, but this particular leaf? The answer to that is probably more philosophical than technical in nature. Anyway, I didn't give too much thought to the actual filming of it and it wasn't until later while reviewing all the leaf images that I really became attracted to this image.
Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) should also be applied to photography. Usually the simpler you can make a composition, the more compelling it will be. That is certainly part of the attraction of Georgia O'Keeffe's artwork. And that is what I like about this particular leaf. It has simple flowing lines that transform it into a work of art while the highlights on the branch are so blown out that it also simplifies this detail. One might almost look for brushstrokes thinking it a painting and not a photograph.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Here is another photo of a horned grebe showing the unusual lobed toes (instead of webbed feet) used for steering and proplusion underwater. How would you like to try to scratch with a set of those? Like loons, their legs are set far back on their body which makes them excellent swimmers, but poor walkers. In fact, they build nests that float, avoiding land altogether. Their chicks are precocious, meaning they can swim and dive right from birth. Once the last egg hatches, they abandon the nest and babies can be seen hitching a ride on the parent's back to stay safe and warm.
Monday, November 28, 2011
This small waterbird is a horned grebe, recently arrived from the far north to spend the winter on the bay. They are diving birds, catching mainly small fish in their pointed bills and eating them while still underwater. This is non-breeding plumage of both the male and female. Notice how it has almost no visible tail. In breeding plumage, they look like a completely different species. The bird could hear the shutter clicking, but I wasn't moving and it has it's head cocked trying to figure out what was making that sound.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Here is another photo from the Patuxent taken at sunrise about a week ago. If you saw this same "layered" look in a painting, you might think it was not based on reality, but look how orderly the zones progress into the background. First are the marsh grasses, then a line of smaller trees tolerant to a wetter environment, followed by a line of evergreens. Behind those is a line of tall trees with a good deal of foliage still present giving way to a hillside of trees that have lost their leaves. And, again, a sycamore adds a point of interest with it's white branches and trunks while the reds and greens compliment each other so nicely. It doesn't get much better than this.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Geese are such graceful creatures and I find them fascinating to watch take off and land. I was returning from the river over the weekend early because there was so little going on down there. Some mornings are good while others are not. On my way back, though, I passed a small cornfield where quite a large flock of geese were feeding. I decided to stop and see if I could get some flight photos. Fortunately, over the next hour-and-an-half, they departed in smaller groups, giving me the chance to film several different taking offs. Unlike any number of other birds, geese will let you know when they are getting ready to leave as they like to discuss their plans just before leaving, so it is easy to be ready to film. Most leaves were down, but a couple of flocks flew past a particularly colorful tree as they took off.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I took this photo over the weekend at sunrise. Here and there you can still leaves, but the majority of the leaves are down. If you look closely, you can spot two eagles, each sitting in a separate major tree to the left of the image. Their heads appear as small white dots which stand out from the background. In my mind, the contrast between the stark white of the sycamore trees really set off the reds in the rest of the image. There are houses there that I wasn't aware were even there and are not visible in the spring and summer months.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Our family went to the Waterfowl Festival in Easton last weekend. Riverkeepers had a store where one of the members of the organization was displaying a peregrine falcon that he has had for six years. He has trained it to hunt. Peregrines were another species whose numbers fell precipitously with the use of DDT, but like the bald eagle, these beautiful birds are once again increasing in number.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
You know I'm kidding, right?
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
While they are a common bird, crows are interesting to watch. They have tipped me off so many times to the presence of another animal as they raise an alarm and let the entire animal kingdom know there is a fox or an owl or a hawk in the area. In the past, they have tipped me off to all three.
These two were enjoying an early morning bath. You might think I have removed the color and treated the photo as a sepia tone, but I haven't. What you see is the natural light that was present at the time.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
I photographed this bald eagle a couple of days ago after it caught a shad. I didn't see where it came from since I was distracted watching a cormorant trying to choke down a huge catfish in the same area. I was surprised the eagle caught a shad. I didn't think they were in the river right now. They are an anadromous fish which run up rivers from the sea in the spring to spawn. One thing is for sure: it was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I have seen very few eagles this fall. I guess the younger ones have dispersed to find their own piece of river. I have only seen three in the area this fall.
I thought the eagle would disappear in the marsh grass when it landed, but it landed on an elevated mound and was still completely visible. It only stayed there a few minutes, then took off and flew across the river. It was streaming reeds as it flew and, at one point, put it's head down and looked under and back at it's feet to see if it had the fish. I don't think it did. All I could see in subsequent pictures were the reeds, which it was losing at it flew. If it didn't have the fish, I'm pretty sure it would return later and get it.
Friday, November 11, 2011
The wonderful colors of Fall are everywhere you look on the river this time of year. There are still a couple of Great Blue Herons "toughing it out" and probably have plans to stay the winter. Most do migrate further south, but some will stay as long as there is open water. I guess I'll stay as long as there is open water too.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
I witnessed something truly memorable a few days ago that I suspect few people have seen.
One July 4th at dawn, my wife and I were heading out to fish just north of the Thomas Johnson bridge when we suddenly found ourselves in a pod of dophin. They were breaking all around us in pairs as we went under the bridge and headed for the mouth of the Patuxent. It was one of the neatest things I have personally seen in the animal kingdom. I believe the same pod visits the Bay every summer as there are reports every year of a pod being sighted.
In the same way, the other day, I saw a flock of cormorants traveling up river. Instead of being submerged and leaping into the air, they were on the surface and diving below the water. They were cooperating in herding a school of fish ahead of them and feeding on them as they traveled up river.
In the photo the birds marked "A" are eating fish. The bird marked "B" is just diving underwater. The birds marked "C" have just resurfaced after being underwater. The remainder are catching their breath in preparation for another dive. The ones that dive under would come up ahead of the flock as the new leader.
They drove the fish all the way across the bay to my right. It wasn't until they had finished that I could tell how many there were. There were roughly twenty-five, but as they were actively fishing, I would only see eight to ten on the surface at any one time.
I have seen one or two cormorants fishing together. I have also seen flocks of cormorants resting on the water together. But, I have never seen them fishing cooperatively. It is something I feel fortunate to have witnessed.
I have made the picture a little bigger than normal. Remember, if you click on the picture, it will come up full screen so you can see it more closely.
It turns out there is such a thing as a fog bow. If you "google" the term, Wikipedia has an article about it. There is also a link on that page to other images of fog bows. Who knew...
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Fog is such an amorphous thing. Changing shape constantly, you're never sure of where the edges are or even whether you are truly discern it's form. I kept looking at the fog and seeing this bow. But I knew I couldn't really be seeing a bow, so I would look away at other things and occasionally look back. Then, I would see it again and start the same process over because I knew I couldn't be seeing a bow. The photo doesn't do it complete justice because it had a slight blueish band along the top edge similar to the bands in a rainbow. It lasted a surprising amount of time; probably ten minutes or more before it finally disappated. As you can see, it was probably no more than about an hundred yards in length.
Yesterday, I saw something that, like the bow, I have never seen before and was totally amazing. I'll post that tomorrow.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
I arrived at the river at dawn yesterday morning, which was socked in with fog. Would you have turned around and gone home? That would have been a mistake. I got some great shots of geese that didn't realize I was there because of the fog as well as other birds. The fog took three hours to clear, but as this photo shows, it was worth the wait. It was absolutely gorgeous. I also saw a fogbow. I don't know what else to call it. It was like a rainbow, but it was made out of fog. I'll post a photo tomorrow.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
By doing this an hour in advance of using the equipment, it prevents the lens from fogging up while you are trying to use it. I forgot to do it the other morning and had to deal with the front lens fogging up. Despite wiping it off, it kept fogging up. That is what is causing the "glow" on the boat in the photo above which, in this case, I thought was a serendipity.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
This scene shows where I usually stand on a dock whose owner has kindly given me permission to use it. At this point, the fog had coalesced into clouds in the middle of the river which rose, then dissipated. The first thing I saw when I got there was that muscovy duck, which swam out of the fog from up river to the front of the dock. When it saw me, it continued on down river, quickly disappearing again in the fog. I had never seen it swim and, though it is a duck, wondered if it could.