Ibis in the surf

It takes talent to hunt for dinner and manage crashing waves at the same time. These ibis have what it takes! Yesterday was a hot day in Naples, Florida, and no doubt the water felt very refreshing.

Just before sunset, these ibis pecked for a meal amid the crashing waves in Naples FL.

A shutter speed of 1/125 froze motion just enough but not too much. The final image has a painterly quality that I love.

While I reduced the size of this digital file, so it would load quickly on the blog, it can be printed with great success since the jpeg is a large file with virtually no noise (ISO 100). Email me or check my website for a print.

Quiet morning, until now…

It was a quiet morning at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, Florida until the Anhingas started to squawk. They are usually quiet birds, but I discovered that when they cry out, they can be loud. (Click here to hear one.)

Sometimes called the “snake bird” because its slender neck often curved in an S shape looks like a snake when it sticks out of the water when they swim underwater, and pop its head out to breathe. Since females have brown necks, this one appears to be a male. They are also quite large (wingspan 42″) and are commonly seen in Southwest Florida and the Everglades. Black and white feathers on the mature Anhinga resemble piano keys.

This one had a lot to say. He seemed panicked as though he was putting out a danger call. Perhaps there was a bobcat or a vulture in the area.

Texture in Florida habitats

Recently I have met new friends in Florida who ask me what kind of photography I do. I usually reply that my primary niche is landscape/nature and any wildlife that crosses my path. But many of my blog followers might call me a travel photographer, since many of my subjects come from scenic travel destinations. Last year, I brought you images from Paris, England, Scotland, Wyoming, New Mexico, California and Florida.

Today, I enjoyed the monthly bird watching tour I like to do in Naples, Florida. While looking at birds, I also look around at the environment for textures and shapes that appeal to me, and for compositions that work in a rectangular or square frame.

I like the morning light on the side of the pine trunk and the softer repeated patterns that the grasses make along the base of the frame.

This is the kind of photography I like to do. My subjects don’t have to be important. This scene conveys a peaceful moment that I wanted to preserve.

Watching for birds, found bobcats!

Whoever the teacher was who told me, “always look behind you,” was right again today. Watching a pelican at daybreak and listening to a dog barking persistently, I turned around to find exactly why the dog was barking… two bobcats were stalking in the shadows and hissing at one another.

I was lucky to have my 600mm lens mounted on my Nikon D800, and clamped on my RRS (Really Right Stuff) tripod, so I quickly focused and snapped a few frames. The light was very low in the shade of the large ficus tree and on a foggy morning at dawn, so the shutter speed was very slow. Motion blur, unfortunately, compromised the quality of the final image — but you definitely get the idea.

#bobcats, #wildlife, #nature, #florida
Bobcats seen just before dawn today at Royal Poinciana Golf Club in Naples, Florida.

These wildlife experiences are always teachable moments. One rule, often repeated for good reason is: Never hike alone. This morning I was grateful to be out with about 15 other bird watchers. The bobcats were more interested in each other than in us, but I’m sure the size of our group discouraged them from approaching us.

To capture a better final image next time, I will have changed my ISO setting ahead of time to 1600 or 3200. I confess to being half asleep at 7am, and I had not changed my ISO setting from 100, which I use for a still landscape when motion blur is not an issue.

Lastly, I feel more thankful than disappointed because this wildlife sighting was something special I experienced. It was exciting!

Pont Alexandre III, Paris

Call me old-fashioned, but I love the architecture of 100 years ago. A walk along the Seine River in Paris last month gave me the chance to admire a series of beautiful bridges. This ornate one was built as part of the 1900 Exposition. Just look at the sculptures, the gold leaf and the series of lanterns.

Looking across Pont Alexandre III in Paris toward the Champs Elysee on a sunny Saturday.

I was walking from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame. It was cold and crisp, and I was grateful that there will still a few leaves on the trees. Paris is a great city to walk until your feet beg for mercy. When that happens, you can stop for a coffee and croissant, and then walk some more.

Symmetry at the Louvre

Symmetry is a key attribute of Renaissance architecture, and this side entrance of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France is a classic example. If you fold this photograph in half, down the center line, the two sides would nearly match up — save for a few pedestrians and patches in the old roof.

Do you like patterns? You can appreciate the double and triple repetition in the exterior when you take time to study this photograph. Look at the three portals and parallel windows above. Then see how many pairs you can find: in windows, towers, statues and so on. This architecture almost reminds you of music — perhaps Bach.

This side entrance to the Louvre is a Renaissance gem. Note the symmetry and repetition of elements.

While the new pyramid pedestrian entrance designed by Chinese American architect I. M. Pei gets all the attention these days, don’t forget about the historic parts of the museum (first a royal palace) built in the 16th to the 19th centuries. This section of the Louvre faces a bridge over the River Seine.

Decoding Symbols at Versailles

Le Petit Trianon was a small but elegant palace in the gardens of Versailles, which Louis XVI gave to his teenage Austrian bride Marie Antoinette. The young queen Marie welcomed a private refuge from the abundance of formal ceremony of the court at the grand palace, and she was able to relax in a more rustic setting alongside her “hameau” or little farm.

This ornate metal banister in Le Petit Trianon caught my eye, and I am intrigued by the symbols in the design. First, I see the monogram of Marie Antoinette (“MA”), and next I see some chickens, perhaps a reference to her farm. I would be interested to hear from a scholar about the types of leaves that are represented here, laurel leaves? 

#versailles, #petittrianon, #marieantoinette, #art, #design, #history
The beauty is in the details in Le Petit Trianon within the grounds of Versailles. Note the monogram, the chickens, and the leaves in the metal work.