Bird Drama

As soon as a Great Blue Heron flew into the space shared by the Woodstork and the Anhinga, tensions rose. The Woodstork had enough, and sent a clear message to the Anhinga, “Back off. I need some space!”

With feathers extended and beaks open, there was plenty of body language between these birds to communicate a “Back off!” type of message. I had to frame and focus quickly to catch the action.

The Woodstork and the Anhinga got along really well on the lakeside… until they didn’t.

At first, the scene with two dissimilar birds was one of peaceful co-existence. The Woodstork preened its feathers, and the Anhinga walked over to be alongside its friend. This scene contradicts the old adaage, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

What the Woodstork said…

December greetings! I’m back in Florida with my camera pointed at the wildlife and tropical landscape. On a recent morning, I spotted this Woodstork and Anhinga foraging along the water’s edge, and I watched for awhile to observe their interactions.

The Woodstork yawned, and I wondered if birds (like dogs) yawn to express anxiety. My imagination is often thinking like a storyteller, and these words came to my mind: “And the Woodstork said to the Anhinga…” I wondered what he would have said?

The Anhinga was “all ears” when the Woodstork opened his beak, as if to speak. The golf course was all theirs in the morning along the 18th hole in Naples, Florida.

Autumn in Sedona

Last year at this time, I was looking forward to a couple’s trip to Sedona, Arizona. While I have only been there four times in my life, Sedona is one of my favorite places. I just love to hike there and admire the ever-changing views of the sunlight on the red rock. Catching a glimpse of Oak Creek at the same time makes me feel even more serene and balanced.

Afternoon sunlight casts shadows on Cathedral Rock and softens the high desert shrubs. Sedona, AZ , November 2019.

I have included this image in my Landscape Photography calendar for 2021. These calendars will be available soon for holiday gift giving. Send me a message if you are interested in buying one, and I will reserve one for you.

A Chrysanthemum, that’s all

This photograph is meant to be simple. It invites you to gaze upon a single flower. Enjoy it. Think about it. Appreciate it.

White chrysanthemum catches my attention at the New York Botanical Garden #NYBG.

Do you know what I think? I think we should conserve Nature, in all of its diversity, and start now to save our planet. See David Attenborough’s documentary on Netflix. It’s powerful.

Fern in Infrared Light

Walking the neighborhood on a perfect autumn afternoon, I spotted ferns leaning over an old split-rail fence. The fern was fresh, while the wood was rotting. How would this scene appear in an infrared image?

In this infrared image, green foliage appears white, and the rotting wood took on a blue hue. Do you like the contrasting textures and colors? We are looking at Nature through a new lens.

Creative Possibilities

Having converted a Sony mirrorless camera (a6300) to “Infared and SuperColor,” I’m now learning how to process these odd images. When you capture an image with infared light and visible light only 590 nanometers and up, you get some unique color effects, so you need to adjust white balance, swap blue and red, set white and black points, adjust the tonality of each color and adjust hue and saturation. While that sounds like a ridiculous amount of work, the process becomes interesting because you learn about what each individual color (red, green and blue) is doing and how each individual color looks as it interacts with the others.

While you may or may not find that color study interesting, you will probably like the creative possibilities in the different results one can achieve. Here are some examples:

greyscale infared photograph
This image is essentially black and white with a blue filter applied. Processed in Lightroom, Photoshop and Nik’s Silver Efex Pro. Infared is known for giving you the raw material for a high contrast greyscale image.
Infared photograph
I like the effect of showing the foliage as white while rendering the sky in a deep blue hue. I find it ethereal.
Infared photograph
Since I like images that are somewhat realistic, and I love Fall color, I also like to render the foliage as yellow or golden, while maintaining the sky an attractive shade of blue. I could render the foliage as light pink or magenta, but that’s not my style.

Gratitude in the Garden

Sitting on the ground beside the garden wall, I noticed some purple plants reaching upwards and the pink ones reaching out. In the gap, I noticed the short garden wall. What I had was a squirrel’s eye view.

Taking a moment to look at the garden from a squirrel’s height, I found an intimate spot and a moment for reflection.

While admiring the  flowers’ vibrant colors, I thought about gratitude.

Gratitude for this quiet, peaceful moment,

For my eyesight and my health

For my camera and my photography practice

For nature’s freshness and vitality

For summer.

The Delicate Cleome

This white Cleome stands out so beautifully in Erika’s garden. I love the delicacy of this flower and also how tall, complex and balanced it looks. If someone described me this way, I would be happy.

cleome, flower, summer, white, garden
I love the delicate petals of this white cleome, growing in Sewickley, Pennsylvania.

When I was making this photograph, I looked for a simple background, so the Cleome would take center stage. I think the yellow coneflowers, shown out of focus in the background do a nice job as “best supporting actors.”

Spinning Flowers

I nudged myself to get out in the backyard and experiment with some flower photography today. Summer 2020 should be the summer of experimentation, right? I played with long exposures and spinning the camera while pressing the shutter. My favorite image was this one of my hydrangea plant that preserved the outlines of the leaves.

#hydrangea, #experiment, #creative,  #july #flowers, #flowerphotography, #nature, #outdoorphotography, #abstract, #spin
Hydrangea blossoms in pink and blue appear slightly abstract in this spinning image, nicely framed by a wreath of vibrant leaves. © Catherine Kelly

If you want to try this method, you need to set the camera to manual and dial in a long exposure like a third of a second. To achieve a correct exposure, you will need to stop down the lens (to perhaps f/11 or f/16), and set a low ISO (such as 100). The settings will vary for you based on the available light. Focusing is still important. Once you have achieved a good exposure with shutter speed, aperture and ISO, it’s time to play.

How to Improve Your Photography

Looking through my archives for color photographs that would make a satisfying black and white image made me realize that “seeing in black and white” will make me a better photographer. Any consistently successful photographer will pre-visualize the image before image capture. For starters, one evaluates dynamic range, depth of field, light quality, composition, timing of the action and whether the subject is meaningful.

To choose a good subject for black and white photography there are more factors to evaluate: tonal range and contrast, simplicity, shape, texture, interest. I like my black and white images to be strong. The image has to be eye catching and hold the viewer’s interest without the help of color. I admit, I’m a photographer who loves color, so this challenge is fun for me!

This photograph of a mother Bison and her calf grazing on top of the hillside made the cut for a color to black and white candidate. In my judgement, it has simplicity, large repeating shapes, texture in the fur, wide tonal range and plenty of interest — from the unusual wildlife sighting to the eye contact and tongue in mid-air.

#bison, #motherandcalf, #buffalo, #gtnp, #grandteton, #wyoming, #jacksonhole, #givethemdistance, #safedistance, #wildlifephotography, #wildlife, #photography, #nature, #blackandwhite, #sonyalpha, #nik, #silverefexpro
Mother and calf bison grazing in Grand Teton National Park (shot from a safe distance inside a car with a 600mm lens).