Pecking the Palms

This morning I rose before the sun to go birdwatching on our golf course. As the sun began to light the landscape, I spotted this Red-Bellied Woodpecker looking for insects on the palm trees. As he flew from one palm to the next, the sunlight gave us a good look at his red crown and black and white patterned wings.

This Red-bellied Woodpecker was spotted in Naples, Florida, but they can be found all along the East Coast of North America. Their red crown feathers are far more prominent than the tiny red lower belly.

An Infrared Book Idea

Infrared photography can really open your eyes and unleash your inner artist. There are so many ways to process an image that captures visible and invisible light above 590 nanometers, that the creative possibilities for rendering a simple scene can be inspiring. Let me explain.

When I go out to shoot Infrared photos, I look for simple compositions (less is more) with interesting shapes, strong contrast and often, a sky. For example, a an image that includes sunlit foliage against the sky will be high contrast. Walking around your familiar environment, you can find these elements. (A perfect COVID-safe activity!)

Sunlit palm tree against a clear sky at the Naples Botanical Garden, February 2021. My high-contrast black-and-white Infrared photographs are the most popular images, since black-and -white photography is fully accepted and widely appreciated. This image makes a dramatic large print.

When you begin to process at the computer, the fun begins. Using some special techniques, you can render the image in black and white, or blue and white, or blue and yellow, or blue and pink, for example. The possibilities are not exactly endless, as they are derived from manipulation of the red and cyan color channels, but there is lots of space for experimentation and expression of personal taste.

The body of work I have created with Infrared photography and creative processing at the Naples Botanical Garden gave me the idea of putting together a book that includes a variety of processing applications. When I share a single print, I get mixed reactions from people who don’t know what to make of this imaging style. I find myself explaining that black and white photography is “not reality,” but it is revered, and has been a part of our art culture for a hundred years. And consider this: fine art painters take liberties with colors, making choices express feelings and moods, rather than literal “photographic” reproduction. In contemporary art, painters have been freed from even a literal rendering of form when they paint in the abstract, right?

I find that most people don’t understand Infrared Photography, as it is uncommon. I am proud to be an Infrared pioneer, and I hope you will join me and enjoy it.

What Creativity Means

I’ve been thinking that Creativity really means that you let your mind go. Let it spin. Close your eyes and wonder where can you go next. You try something new and find out if it works. You give yourself freedom to experiment. It comes from having time to reflect and the guts to try a new path. Selectively, you embrace some rules and discard others.

With Infrared Photography, the new path I’ve chosen, I continue to embrace the rules that define strong composition, but I throw away the rules that tie photography to the way things truly look to the eye. Realistic color goes out the window. Green trees can be white…or yellow…or gold…or magenta. Just like they can be any color in a painting. But you say, “This is photography, and photography is realistic, journalistic, a witness to truth.” I say, “Before we had color photography, we had black and white photography, which was not true to life. It was and is widely accepted as an art form.” Right?

In that spirit, I present my latest Infrared Photograph: “Isle de Jaune.” I love this image for reasons I’m not sure I can explain in words. It is one of my favorite images of the past year. The complimentary colors and composition work for me. Are you with me?

Infrared photography at the Naples Botanical Garden. “Isle de Jaune,” combines complimentary colors and a balanced composition with interest in the sky and the lake. I find the image peaceful and meditative.

If you are interested in a Fine Art print or even better — a metal print of this image, please visit my website and place an order online. Thanks for joining me on my creative journey.

Unlikely Pairing: Infrared and Wildlife

When I set out to shoot Infrared Photography with a modified camera, I usually employ a wide angle lens and look for sunny skies and green foliage that create a strong composition. The direct sun and the strong composition are key.

When I set out to shoot wildlife, I use a regular camera (not modified for infrared light) and a close up lens, so I can capture true color and detail and avoid approaching and disturbing the wildlife. My strategy and my equipment are completely different.

So, today when I was roaming the golf course along the lake with my Infrared camera and wide angle lens, I was surprised to see an Anhinga (large bird) that just happened to contribute interest to my composition. “Hello, and hold that pose!”

The female Anhinga perched in the lakeside tree added interest to this Infrared photograph. Green foliage appears white in this south Florida scene.

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.

#pier, #naplespier, #friend, #faithfulfriend, #bible, #bookofsirach, #sirach, #inspiration, #shelter, #sturdyshelter, #foundation, #storm, #treasure, #sunset, #pelican, #nature, #reflection, #meditate, #history,#faithful, #support, #worth
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)

Strength in Community

Sharing positive thoughts and staying in touch with each other during the Coronavirus pandemic will help all of us stay strong as we self-isolate to keep our community healthy. I’m grateful that this photography blog has created a positive online community, and I encourage you to make it stronger. You might follow the blog by entering your email address on the site, and recommending the blog to friends and family. This artist is not seeking financial gain (there is none). The rewards are purely spiritual.

One member of our community asked for more flower photographs and flower names, as she wrote, “I love to learn more about flowers.” (She is also an animal lover.) So, today I bring you the Hong Kong orchid, photographed at the Naples Botanical Garden this year. I first discovered the Hong Kong orchid — where else — in Hong Kong in 1998 while visiting friends there. Now I count myself very fortunate that the orchid trees thrive in tropical southwest Florida, and I have one of these trees on my street.

#orchid, #orchidtree, #hongkong, #hongkongorchic, #growontrees, #florida, #naplesbotanicalgarden, #naplesflorida, #gardens, #botanicalgarden, #pink, #bluesky, #nature, #naturephotography
The Hong Kong orchids grow on trees in tropical climates from Hong Kong itself to Florida, USA. 2020
#hongkongorchid, #hongkong, #flower, #nature, #tropical, #pink, #fuscia,#naturephotography, #flowerphotography, #florida, #naples, #community
Close up of the delicate petals and stamen of the Hong Kong Orchid in Naples, Florida. 2020

Do you have a request for the photography featured in the blog? Flora? Fauna? Tropical or Snowy? I still have an archive of Nature, Wildlife and Landscape photography from Jackson Hole and Southwest Florida, but I’m always excited to hear from you. Thank you for strengthening our community.

Osprey: Shelter in Place

As our boat passed this Osprey family on their nest Sunday evening, I thought about our human families adjusting our lifestyles to “shelter in place,” and slow the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.

You have to admire the parental behavior of these beautiful Osprey. One parent will hunt for fish and bring it back to the nest to feed the family, and then tear apart the prey and feed the baby. Both parents keep a close eye out for any perceived threats coming close, such as bald eagles or humans. You can see the yellow eyes of mother Osprey on the right, hoping we will keep our distance. We were farther from the nest than it appears, as I made this photo with a 400mm Sony lens.

osprey_family_nest
Osprey pair bring food to their baby in the nest near Naples, Florida. March 2020

Who can resist the big amber eyes of the baby Osprey looking at the camera with naive curiosity. Babies of every species are precious.

While you curb your outside activities and exposure to other humans this month, please join our community following this blog. We love photography, nature, wildlife and travel and all four put together. I will keep posting to keep us connected. Feel free to comment and recommend this blog to your friends.

Alligator Nursery

“Alligator Nursery” are two words you don’t normally see together! This mother American Alligator owns this territory — has been lounging on this ledge for years, so it is no surprise that she has made this private corner the nursery for her babies. How many baby alligators can you spot in this photograph?

#alligator, #reptile, #wildlife, #mother, #babies, #gator, #corkscrew, #florida, #thingstodo, #corkscrewswampsanctuary, #wildlife, #wildlifephotography, #nikon, #tamron, #howmany #dangerous, #territory
Mother Alligator with at least 9 babies at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Naples FL, February 2020.

Mother gator tries to protect her young from predators, which include adult male alligators. Dad gator doesn’t hesitate to snack on the children.

This close-up of Mom Gator and four baby gators reminds me of the advice given to human mothers of newborns, “When baby sleeps, you should sleep.”

#alligator, #gator, #wildlife, #dangerous, #mother, #babies, #wildlifephotography, #nikon, #tamron, #florida, #corkscrew, #corkscrewswampsanctuary, #thingstodo, #naples, #territory
Shhh… Naptime for mother alligator and babies on Lettuce Lake at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
Collier County, Naples FL 2020. This image was made from a safe distance with a 600mm lens.

When visiting Florida, keep your distance from any alligator you see and don’t walk close to the edge of any lake or pond, for alligators are dangerous to humans and their pets. If the alligator is hungry, it will strike very fast without warning.

Is February the Cruelest Month?

Irish poet William B. Yeats said “April is the cruelest month,” but every year I like to paraphrase Yeats to say, “February is the cruelest month.” Depending on where you live, the ground is frozen and often glazed with ice; driving is dangerous and even walking is treacherous. What I wouldn’t give for a day at the beach! Even a green lawn and a hot dog at the ball park would be nice.

For Floridians, February is far different. The weather is warm, and the vegetation is green and sometimes colorful. Wildlife is flourishing, and nature photographers are inspired. This egret at the Naples Botanical Garden reveals his colorful habitat in this photograph. February? Not a problem.

#egret, #greategret, #white, #bird, #birdphotography, #tropical, #naplesbotanicalgarden, #floida, #naplesflorida, #color, #wildlife
The Great White Egret enjoys tropical weather year round in Naples, Florida. February 2020.

Mother and Child: Great Horned Owls

I identify myself as a mother more than any other role, so a glimpse of mother and child in the animal kingdom is a moment with special resonance for me. While photographing this majestic Great Horned Owl, I noticed something fuzzy moving near the owl. Hmmm. I kept my finger on the camera trigger, hoping to capture a moment when the owlet would peer over the edge of the nest.

#greathornedowl, #owl, #motherandchild, #owlandowlet, #owlet, #nest, #owlnest, #parentchild, #wildlife, #nature, #birdphotography
Looking like a cuddly stuffed animal, the owlet shows us its head and eyes for a hot second, while mother owl keeps a protective eye out for any predators.

Remember the expression, “Mothers need eyes in the back of their heads?” I think mother owl would agree, as she keeps one eye on my dog Sophie.