Born White, Turning Blue

The Little Blue Heron is born as a stark white bird, and it gradually develops those vibrant slate blue feathers as it matures. If you were not aware of that color change, you might wonder about the identity of this unique bird when you see it in the Everglades.

This juvenile Little Blue Heron shows some blue feathers coming in around the neck. The bill is taking on its blue hue as well. The white branches underline its ghostly visage in the swamp. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, 2019.

Standing on one leg, the heron rests the other while silently watching the water for fish. “Little” is a relative term, as it can grow to 29″ and have a wingspan of 41 inches. It is only “little” when compared to the tall “Great Blue Heron,” that can stand 4.5 feet high.

Looking for Color

Today I’m returning to snowy Pittsburgh where the sky may be overcast, and ice coats the sidewalks. As I board the plane in Florida, I remember my afternoon at the Naples Botanical Garden when my friend Marjorie walked around the lake on the lookout for alligators. I told Marjorie that I was admiring the textures of the grasses and pines. Marjorie replied, “I’m looking for color.” A few minutes later, I spotted this brilliant red orchid growing in the limbs of a tree. I liked the way the smooth white bark of the three tree limbs framed the plant.

This blooming orchid gave us a brilliant splash of primary colors, a wish come true.

Learning from Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams made an iconic photograph of the Snake River Valley looking toward the Grand Tetons from this very spot in Jackson Hole in 1942. So, with my Sony mirrorless digital camera and the latest software, I followed the master’s lead and made this vibrant color image at sunset in late September 2018.

#sunset, #grandtetons, #snakeriver, #hdr, #lightroom, #clearnight, #jacksonhole, #rrstripod, #sonymirrorless
Four exposures merged in Adobe Lightroom created this vivid color image of the Snake River Valley and Grand Teton Range at sunset, from Ansel Adams’ lookout.

The view was even better in Adams’ day, because the Snake River made a serpentine curve leading the eye to the mountains. Today trees obscure part of the river from this lookout. It was still exciting to walk in Ansel Adams’ footsteps 76 years later.

A Blanket of Color

#sunset, #clouds, #light, #grandtetons, #grandtetonnationalpark, #nationalparks, #light, #color, #landscape
The setting sun turned the blanket of clouds vivid shades of orange and pink in Grand Teton National Park, September 23, 2018.

While the sun’s brilliant orb slipped behind the Grand Tetons, the clouds reflected the orange glow of sunset. That evening the clouds took on a rippled texture as well as a misty, ethereal quality. ¬†We could feel the temperature fall. The light show was brief. Soon it would be dark.

Bring a bit of Scotland home

Visiting Edinburgh Scotland for the first time, we had a wonderful time walking the cobblestone streets, admiring the architecture, having a pint in the pub and exploring its castles and cathedrals. Naturally, photography helps to preserve those memories. Shopping for a bit of the culture to bring home will too.

The Scots are known for the colorful plaids that traditionally represent different clans, woven into woolen kilts or warm scarves. Today a dizzying array of plaids sold on soft, cozy scarves and wraps make it very difficult to choose one — or two or three. What will match my winter coat? What will my daughter like? They are all so beautiful!

#scaraves, #shopping, #wool, #cashmere, #edinburgh, #gift, #travel, #culture, #clan, #color, #choice
A glimpse into this basket of wool scarves in an Edinburgh shop reveals the many choices in Scottish plaids.

Tulips at the Frick

The Frick Collection in Pittsburgh is exhibiting Paul and Bunny’s Mellon’s art collection, which normally hangs in the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond. Most of the paintings are from the Impressionist period, including works of Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, Sisley, Pissaro, Redon and Morissot, but there are also some equestrian paintings and some post Impressionists like Matisse and Picasso. It’s a fantastic exhibit!

At the same site, you can visit the historic Frick home called “Clayton,” see the late Whitney Snyder’s collection of antique cars and have lunch at the Cafe. Just outside the Cafe, I also enjoyed these tulips in the garden — living, breathing works of art.

#tulip, #spring, #may, #pittsburgh, #frick
The best way to photograph a flower is to keep it simple. Shallow depth of field isolates the subject in the frame. Yes, I was down on the ground, kneeling in the mulch.

#tulips, #redwhiteandblue, #pittsburgh, #frick, #flowers
I liked the contrast between the red and white petals and the bed of tiny blue flowers behind them.

#tulip, #redandwhite, #spring, #may, #pittsburgh, #frick, #macro, #flower
Even though this tulip was past its peak, the texture, colors and detail were inviting.

Only the Beginning

The promise of Spring may be its best attribute. It begins quietly with some daffodils, forsythia and cherry trees.

#daffodils, #flowers, #spring, #pennsylvania, #beginning, #promise, #nikon
The morning sun casts light and shadows on daffodil stems and blossoms, creating nice color and contrast.

As April yields to May, the dogwood, azalea and rhododendron will follow in bursts of color around the neighborhood. There is so much more to come, very soon. How can I go for a walk without taking my camera?