Lightning at the Grand Canyon

My first attempts to capture lightning in a photograph have met with success, thanks to some spectacular storms firing across the Canyon from my vantage point, and a sophisticated device that triggers my camera shutter in time to capture it.

It was after sunset last night, and the canyon below us was getting quite dark. Check out these lightning forks.

Lightning at the Grand Canyon, seen from Hopi Point after sunset.
Lightning pierces storm cloud at the Grand Canyon, west of Hopi Point after sunset.

USA: East to West

My summer travels are taking me from the Atlantic coast of Cape Cod to the Pacific coast of California. As I write today from San Diego, I am sharing the scene from atop a high dune in Wellfleet, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. It’s a sunny and very windy morning. The dune fence in a state of disrepair tells the story of surviving the harsh winter weather.

Cape Cod, dune, ocean
Spokes of the dune fence have fallen like dominoes in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

What do you like best about this image? Are your eyes drawn to the ocean?

Stay tuned to this photography blog, as I’m headed to the Grand Canyon tomorrow.

Cape Cod Memories

Back in the good old days, we rented a cottage on Cape Cod near this salt marsh. In those days, we biked the trails and spent our days on the beach and some evenings at the drive-in movie theatre. Returning to this land of great memories last week, I focused on a new aspect of the area — the quiet salt marsh at sunset.

In this stage of my life, I have devoted my time to landscape photography, and I’ve become intrigued with the artistic possibilities of Infrared photography. I drove past this marsh earlier in the day, only to be drawn back for a second look before the sun set.

blackandwhite, landscape photography
Salt Marsh in Eastham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts at sunset, an Infrared Super Color photograph by Cathy Kelly. Prints available upon request.

Painted Leaves

This Tricolor Stromanthe caught my eye at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh this week. The plant is not part of a special exhibit, and I’m sure I have walked past it many times before. I was attracted to the way the plant looked enough to stop and take several photos, hoping to share how much the leaves look painted.

stromanthe, plant, variegated leaves, nature
I loved the three shades of green along with sections of white, yellow and magenta: the intriguing Stromanthe at Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory.

The Stromanthe is a tropical plant in the family Marantaceae, native to portions of the Americas from Mexico to Trinidad and northern Argentina. It can grow to a height of 2 to 3 feet. It is also called a Tricolor Prayer Plant, and it thrives in indirect light, while bright light brings out its brightest coloring.

Are you a fan of variegated leaves?

The Rainbow Bird

It’s fun to spot the Purple Gallinule tiptoeing through the freshwater stream, pecking around for food. When it steps into the sunlight, its brilliant colors delight the birdwatcher.

purple gallinule bird
From purple to blue to shades of green and yellow, the Purple Gallinule’s feathers look electric in the Florida sunshine. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park.

The Cornell School of Ornithology describes the Purple Gallinule’s behavior:

Purple Gallinules forage near the water’s edge, where they walk nimbly on muddy margins, or on aquatic vegetation. They hunt a bit like domestic chickens, walking slowly and investigating the vegetation with outstretched neck, or pecking at fruits or tubers. Like most rails, Purple Gallinules swim well, and they sometimes perch high in bushes and trees, where their long toes make them agile climbers.

Everglades in Infrared

Processing a digital infrared image requires experimentation. Once the image has been captured, it can be rendered in many different ways. I adjust the hue, saturation and lightness of each color one at a time and make several other technical changes — like channel swapping, levels and curve adjustments. Let’s just say that processing is a lot like cooking. The chef adjusts according to taste.

Everglades
A colorful and unrealistic infrared photograph from Shark Valley, Everglades National Park.
Everglades
Infrared photograph rendered in black and white, depicting wind in the Everglades.

Stop Action Series: Great Blue Heron in Flight

As an eyewitness to a bird in flight, I know the beauty we see is fleeting. In the blink of an eye, the sighting is a memory — as long as I didn’t blink! On the other hand, two photographs taken in quick succession can be studied, savored and enjoyed forever.

As a wildlife photographer, capturing a continuous series of a bird in flight is one of my goals, since I love seeing those beautiful wings outstretched. That’s not to mention the rewarding feeling of meeting the challenge of focus and freezing action of a fast moving subject!

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron’s lift off in the Everglades at Shark Valley. (First in series)
Great Blue Heron in flight
Great Blue Heron flies with wings outstretched. Everglades National Park. (Second in series)

Contrast these views with the serene beauty of the Great Blue Heron at rest, as it watches the water for a fish to catch.

Great Blue Heron, Everglades
Great Blue Heron perched waterside for feeding in Everglades National Park, Shark Valley.

Fierce Predator, Tender Parent

A fish swimming near the surface doesn’t have a chance when an adult osprey spots it and descends to sink its sharp talons into it. Once the osprey grips the fish, up it flies to the nest where young osprey chicks are waiting. Atop the nest, the osprey parent shreds the fish and feeds the youngsters. It’s a tender moment for any species…

osprey
Adult osprey feeding the young in the nest on Sanibel Island, Florida.

The Only Kind of Rain We Get

In Southwest Florida, the only kind of rain we get in March is not the wet kind that falls from clouds and waters the plants. No, this time of year it rains yellow blossoms in the breeze.

tabebuia tree
Yellow blossoms of the Tabebuia tree rain in the breeze at Naples Botanical Garden, March 2022.

I associate the perennial blooming of this lovely tree with Spring Break, since we often visited Naples, Florida when my children were on Spring Break in late March. If you take a walk in Naples today, you will see countless numbers of Tabebuia trees in bloom, raining yellow flowers. Are they as numerous as alligators in the Everglades? Well, maybe not, but much prettier.

Supporting Ukraine

Skylum Software, created by Ukrainians, is a great tool to use when processing landscape photography. Having used Luminar by Skylum for years, I was happy to support their recent fund raising effort for fellow Ukrainians now suffering terrible hardships during the Russian assault on their homeland.

This landscape photo from the Heber Valley in Utah was processed by Luminar AI, made by Skylum.

Ukraine, Heber Valley, horse, snow, mountains, landscape, skylum,luminar
A golden brown horse accents this landscape of the Heber Valley and the snowy Utah mountains on a sunny morning.