A Sturdy Shelter

“A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. “
Book of Sirach, The Bible

Those words defined my father, and they were invoked at his funeral Mass. My father was a sturdy shelter to me and many others.

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Sunset at Naples Pier with Brown Pelican in flight, February 3, 2020 before the site was closed to stop the spread of the virus.

When I reflected on the sturdy foundation of this pier, the reference to sturdy shelter came to mind. This sturdy pier brought the first settlers to Old Naples, Florida many years ago. In this millennium, it withstands the hurricanes and tropical storms and supports hundreds of individuals who enjoy it.

In these trying times of the Coronavirus pandemic, a faithful friend is a treasure, showing his greatest value in supporting those around him. As the hectic pace of life slows to a pause, meditate on your faithful friends.

“A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth.”
(Book of Sirach)

Circle of Life: Wyoming Wildlife

The first clue to the unfolding scene of predators and prey was the Bald Eagle with fresh blood on its white feathers. Our group of four photographers pulled off the road in Jackson Hole to study what was happening on this snow covered hillside.

#baldeagle, #eagle, #blood, #predator, #prey, #wildlife, #wildlifephotography, #sony
With binoculars, we noticed the Bald Eagle had fresh blood below its beak. We continued to observe to see if a story would unfold. It did. Jackson Hole, WY, February 2020.

Soon, we identified two bald eagles and a golden eagle perched on boulders. The golden eagle was much larger than the Bald Eagle, but as the scene appears compressed though the 600mm lens, you can’t see the size difference in the photo.

A larger Golden Eagle perched behind the Bald Eagle on the snowy hillside near a bloody kill site. Jackson Hole, WY, 2020.

Yes, with binoculars we spotted a bloody carcass between the boulders with a magpie (black and white bird common to the mountainous ecosystem) currently picking at the carcass. The eagles must have had their fill.

Up the hill, watching over the scene was a lone coyote. He was likely the killer of the elk, who may have wandered away from the herd, not feeling well.

#coyote, #snow, #grandtetonnationalpark, #jacksonhole, #wildlifephotography, #wildlife, #camouflage, #nature
Further up the hill, looking at first like another brown boulder, lies a silent coyote in the deep snow. Jackson Hole, WY, 2020.

Scores of elk stay safe in a tight herd in the valley. It is also possible that a pack of wolves took down the elk. All these animals and moose too roam the national park in great numbers. Soon the bears will break hibernation and join the throng.

#elk, #snow, #mountains, #herd, #sanctuary, #wildlife, #predators, #safe, #naature, #naturephotography, #grandtetonnationalpark, #jacksonhole
Nearby scores of elk stay safe from predators in a large herd in the valley beneath the Grand Tetons, 2020.

While we humans tend to pity the prey, we understand that all wildlife have to eat, and this is Nature’s way. We are privileged to witness it.

The Sunstar at Naples Pier

We arrived at Naples Pier about 10 minutes before sunset. My friend Marjorie warned me, “It’s going to go fast,” and she was right. We needed to pick a spot for a sunset photo quickly among scores of others who were on the beach for the very same reason, to witness the sunset and preserve the memories with photography.

I realized that the sun was going to slip behind the pavilions at the end of the pier, creating an opportunity to photograph the sun as a sunstar with rays. When the sun or other bright light source is clipped by a foreground object, you can create this type of image by stopping your lens down to f/16. (This assumes you know how to manually set your camera!) If not, no worries. Just enjoy this image of a beautiful end of an equally beautiful day.

#pier, #naplespier, #naplesfl, #sunset, #sunstar, #gulfcoast, #blessing, #peace, #sun,
What a blessing to share this moment of peace and wonder with dozens of other respectful visitors at Naples Pier on the Gulf coast of Florida.

Click on the image to enlarge. Need a print? Please visit my website anytime.

The Puddle Challenge

Here is a challenge to all of you photographers out there. Yes, this includes all of you with an iphone camera! After the next big rain storm, take a walk and look for reflections in the puddles. Maybe you will see your surroundings in a whole new light!

Cathedral Rock of Sedona reflected in a puddle I discovered while hiking Red Rock Crossing.

Coconino sandstone does not absorb water quickly. The bad news is you need to be wary of a flash flood while hiking a low lying canyon. The good news, is the rain will erode the soft sandstone over time and in the short term leave some puddles for your visual enjoyment.

Crossing Oak Creek 26 times

Both Charlie and I slipped and got one shoe wet while crossing Oak Creek, hiking the West Fork Trail in Sedona. Only one slip for each of us was pretty good considering the rocks and logs we needed to balance on while crossing the ice cold water. I snapped a few candids with my new iphone 11 Pro Max as we crossed a few times, to show how tricky it was.

With his Steeler hat and jacket, Charlie is ready to talk NFL football with anyone he meets, while climbing boulders and trying to stay dry crossing Oak Creek.
You hope that the rock you step on is sturdy and won’t tip over, sending you and your backpack into the water. Crossing Oak Creek on the West Fork Trail, Sedona in November.
After 5 hours of hiking and plenty of quad and knee exercise, we were a bit tired, but we paused and made a strategy for one of the last crossings of the day on West Fork Trail.

Rewards of West Fork Trail

Sedona’s West Fork Trail is described in the guide books as iconic with towering cliffs and 13 stream crossings as you follow Oak Creek for 6.4 miles round trip. The elevation change is moderate (245 ft.), so I considered it doable with camera equipment on my back.

It took us 3.5 hours to reach the end point, as I stopped for photos so often, but the exertion was well worth it. You know you have reached the end when you can’t go further without getting wet, and in November it’s too cold for that!

A mirror-like reflection was the reward at the end point of the West Fork Trail. Sunny conditions were perfect for the hike, as rain can create dangerous flash floods, and snow would make the hike too slippery.

The cave like erosion you can see along the left side of the creek reminded me of “the subway” in Zion National Park created by the Virgin River. I had to explain myself to my husband after exclaiming, “there is the subway!”

I find myself fascinated by the power of moving water that erodes rock over time. Are you?

Dawn at Lake Louise

Apparently I carried my tripod to Canada, in and out of 6 hotels in my 50-pound suitcase, for a reason. The Really Right Stuff tripod is too heavy to hike with, but I set it up in front of our picture window at the Chateau Lake Louise. Which was a good idea, because my husband pointed out the reflection of Victoria Glacier on Lake Louise early in the morning as the sun peaked over the eastern ridge. I was able to make this image in my pajamas!

Using a tripod, I was able to capture this crystal clear reflection in the early morning light on Lake Louise. Using ISO 400 and f/11 for depth of field, my slow exposure of 1/6 of a second captured this image. Notice the gentle morning light on the western slope of evergreens.

A Mother’s Love

When I photograph the children at Children’s Hospital, I am always impressed with the strong spirit of the children and their parents. Most of the children I meet are fighting a life threatening illness, and it’s a stressful time.

I was particularly impressed with this mother and son. I could easily read the love in the mother’s heart through her eyes and hands.

mother, motherandson, portrait, family, protect, strength, flashesofhope,
A simple gesture can say so much. Look at the way this mother holds her son in the portrait.

Ballet in the Desert

Whenever the shapes of Nature remind me of ballet, I have to stop and take a picture. This Joshua Tree seems to be arcing a curved arm overhead in a graceful reach to frame the desert.

A single leaning Joshua Tree frames the desert scene on a sunny day in May, 2019.

When you are visiting from the East Coast, you don’t normally think of rattlesnakes and jumping cacti (the cholla or teddy bear cactus), but I was watching my step too.

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.