Anhinga and the Bottle Brush

Just like every good movie has a great actor and strong supporting actor, every great Nature photo reads the same way. This female anhinga is a regal and fascinating bird with striking feathers and an unusual ability (for a bird) to swim underwater. But this contrasting and colorful setting, the bottlebrush tree makes this image sing.

Female anhinga perches in the Bottle Brush tree, lakeside, in Naples, Florida.

As I adjusted my ISO to 1250 and focused on the bird, my friend Cecil said quietly to me, “That’s the money shot.” Thank you, Cecil.

Nature Photography Contest

Today I have submitted three photos to the Royal Poinciana Golf Club’s annual nature photography contest. All photos submitted to the contest must be taken on the grounds of the Club. Last year I won second place! My favorite submission this year is the morning light on the Great Blue Heron.

I photographed this Great Blue Heron around 7:15am on a Bird Tour at the Royal Poinciana Golf Club in Naples, Florida.
On a morning bird tour of the RP Golf Course, I also observed this female osprey landing on the nest, while her partner cries out.
My third submission shows a rare sighting on the golf course: two bobcats hissing at one another. The light was very low, and the long exposure reveals some motion blur. I was grateful to have seen them and taken a photo before they slipped away seconds later.

I will let you know if one of these images is a winner this year!

Gargoyles, “les guardiens” of the churches of Paris

From the North Tower of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, one can see many other beautiful churches in the skyline. Nearby, also on Ile de la Cite is another Gothic style church with exquisite 13 c. stained glass windows, Sainte Chapelle. It was consecrated in 1248 and was part of the royal family residence until the 14th century. This church was also restored in the 19 century.

This pensive gargoyle on the tower of Notre Dame, seems to watch over Sainte Chapelle in this photograph. Photo by Catherine Kelly, 2004.

On a distant hilltop to the north, stands Sacre Coeur Basilica, a magnificent 20th-century Roman Catholic Church decorated with mosaics inside. Sacre Coeur and its quaint neighborhood Montmartre are also must-do destinations for any visit to Paris. I recommend climbing to the tower of Sacre Coeur as well for a fantastic view.

Gargoyle of Notre Dame Cathedral frames the distant view of Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris. Photo by Catherine Kelly, 2004.

Gargoyles of Notre Dame Cathedral

If you climbed the North Tower of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, you must have enjoyed the gargoyles at the top. These fiendish dragon-like sculptures evolved in the Middle Ages originating in nearby Rouen, France. Some gargoyles decorate the end of rain spouts, and others are merely decorative, effectively keeping the evil spirits away.

These Notre Dame Cathedral gargoyles overlook the city of Paris and the Eiffel Tower. Photo in 2004 by Catherine Kelly.
This horned and wingless gargoyle overlooks the west facade of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Photo in 2004 by Catherine Kelly.

Check this blog tomorrow for more gargoyles from the North Tower of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.

The Spire of Notre Dame Cathedral, 2004

Fifteen years ago (2004) I climbed to the top of the North Tower of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris to enjoy the view and take photos. I was fascinated by the gargoyles and incorporated them into my compositions. Fortunately, I turned around and noticed the Cathedral’s beautiful, intricate spire and the copper statues at its base and made some photos in that direction as well. Since the Cathedral spire was destroyed in the fire of April 15, 2019, we can now remember it in pictures.

Here is an image with the spire centered in the frame and a closer view of the copper statues, which were removed and preserved days before the fire.

Historic Spire of Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris, as seen in 2004 from the North Tower of Notre Dame, before the spire was destroyed in the fire of 2019. Copyright Catherine Kelly
Gargoyles keep watch over the rooftop of Notre Dame Cathedral in 2004. Base of the spire and copper statues seen in the background. Photograph taken from the North Tower of Notre Dame by Catherine Kelly.

Notre Dame de Paris: Rose Windows Survived the Fire

If you watched the television coverage the catastrophic fire in the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris, the interior of the Cathedral looked like an inferno. As the burning spire collapsed inside the nave, the heat must have been intense. Somehow, miraculously, the famous stained glass rose windows from the 13 century have survived, according to news reports today.

The rose windows are certainly one of the most beautiful elements in the elegant 850-year-old Cathedral. I photographed the North and South windows during my last visit to Notre Dame of Paris on November 17, 2018.

The North Rose Window in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, built in 1250, has survived the 2019 fire.
The South Rose Window in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, built in 1260, stands over 60′ tall. It has survived the April 15, 2019 fire, according to news reports today 4/17/19.

These images, shot with a Sony mirrorless camera aIIr7, show detail one might enjoy through binoculars on site. The full resolution version of these images are available for sale on my website (in the Paris gallery), and can be printed at 16 x 20″ at 300dpi. Since I first laid eyes on these windows, as a college student more than 40 years ago, I have been fascinated by their intricacy, artistry and beauty. Take a close look yourself.

The rose window on the West facade, behind the historic organ, has also survived according to reports.

Notre Dame Cathedral: Crown of Thorns Chapel

No one would have predicted the catastrophic fire at Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral yesterday. Millions of people around the world have visited the iconic, historic and major religious site, and I imagine that millions watched the fire on television with feelings of horror and grief. We are all immensely grateful that much of the stone construction survives, and that the French are committed to rebuilding — replacing historic 800-300 year old craftsmanship with today’s. A reconstructed Cathedral won’t be the same, but we can’t leave Paris without its heart.

I have visited Paris six times, and I plan to revisit my photos from all of those trips. Most recently, I walked through Notre Dame late in the day on November 17, 2019. The security line stretched across the plaza, and the interior was packed with people, but we walked the the perimeter in the side aisles, and I took photos of the two Rose windows and the Crown of Thorns Chapel behind the main altar.

Crown of Thorns Chapel in Notre Dame Cathedral on 17 November 2018. Copyright by Catherine Kelly of USA. Prints available at http://www.cathykellyphotography.com.

My Sony mirrorless camera takes amazing images in very low light. Of course, I was not using a tripod in the Cathedral, so I set the camera for ISO 10,000 to hand hold it. It is ironic that my photo of the Crown of Thorns Chapel included a small fire extinguisher in the lower left corner.

The image shown here in this blog is lower resolution, so it will load quickly on your computer or mobile device. The full resolution image will be uploaded to my website and available for purchase. It can be printed 26.7″ x 11.6″ at 300 dpi (recommended). Please keep in mind that this image is protected by U.S. Copyright law, which means it can be purchased from Cathy Kelly, but it should not be copied and distributed without permission/purchase. If you wish to share this image, you are most welcome to share a link to this blog. Follow my blog, please, if you would like to see more images of Notre Dame Cathedral in years past. My next post will feature the beautiful Rose windows, which were destroyed in this tragic fire.

Our hearts are with the brave first responders, the French, the Roman Catholics, the tourists who visited and held Notre Dame in their hearts and the art historians who revered the Cathedral. We all mourn together.