Leaf Art in the Tropics

It’s rare for a plant’s leaves to compete with the flowers for eye-catching beauty, but this tropical bromeliad features some very cool leaves. They look like someone hand-painted them.

#bromeliad, #sonyalpha, #luminar, #phipps, #phippsconservatory, #pittsburgh, #leaves, #art, #color, #design #flower, #nature, #photography, #skylum
This Bromeliad bloom is eye-catching with its bright colored pointed petals, but these leaves are unique. Find this tropical beauty at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh PA. © Catherine Kelly

Dawn’s Early Light

While we are staying “safer at home,” I’m looking through the images I captured in February and uncovering a few hidden gems. I have found new examples of why it really pays off to wake up in the dark and get on location as the sun rises. The reflections on the lake makes this egret look regal.

#greategret, #reflection, #lake, #light, #morninglight, #earlybird, #fishing, #color, #dawn, #florida, #naplesflorida
Great White Egret catches a tiny fish while dawn’s early lights paints the lake with color.

This image is similar to one I blogged about in February, but it’s different with the fish in the egret’s bill. Here is another frame from moments later.

#greategret, #ripples, #lake, #water, #fishing, #reflection, #color, #dawn, #morninglight, #florida, #birds, #egret, #wildlife
Walking about in the shallows and dunking its head, this Great Egret makes circular ripples in the lake.

What Ducklings?

As soon as Mama Muscovy Duck saw a photographer across the lake, she silently signaled her ducklings to hide beneath her. It amazed me to see all eight ducklings completely hidden underneath her feathers, while she confidently looked around as if to say, “what ducklings? I don’t see any ducklings.” In this sequence of photos, you can see the adorable fluffy chicks before they huddle together beneath Mama’s feathers.

#muscovyduck, #ducklings, #muscovy, #florida, #motherandchild, #wildlife, #nature, #spring, naplesflorida,
Two yellow chicks and one dark one hide under mother Muscovy Duck. Soon the rest will follow. Naples, Florida 2020.
#muscovy #muscovyduck, #duck, #ducklings, #florida, #nature, #wildlife
Muscovy Duck with ducklings. Native to Central and South America, the Muscovy Duck is an invasive species, but very common now in Florida. Note the adult’s distinctive red fleshy face. Many bird field guides do not include this duck.
#muscovy, #muscovyduck, #ducklings, #florida, #nature, #wildlife
All eight chicks have followed each other under the protective skirt of their mother. One duckling takes a moment to look at the “threat,” only a photographer about 30 meters away. Photo shot with 600 mm lens, and cropped.
#muscovy, #duck, #mother, #behavior, #protect, #ducklings, #hiding, #nature, #instinct, #maternal, #florida, #colorful
Mother Muscovy Duck, hiding all her ducklings under her feathers while she sits lakeside. Location is near my home in Naples, Florida, 2020.
#muscovyduck, #muscovy, #duck, #ducklings, #behavior, #wildlife, #nature, #florida, #lake, reflection
Mother Muscovy Duck hiding her 8 ducklings, reflected in the lake — still until the photographer leaves.

Colorful Character: the Reddish Egret

Before leaving Florida for the season, I want to share a series of photos of the unique Reddish Egret. It’s a medium sized heron with a mane of elongated reddish feathers, a pink translucent beak and a cool way of dancing while foraging. You can find them in the salt water shallows foraging at low tide.

I observed this adult breeding reddish egret on Sanibel Island at J. N. Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve in February 2020. My friend marveled at the bushy neck plumage, asking, “Are you sure that’s not hair?”

#reddishegret, #heron, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #florida, #plumage, #pinkbeak, #birdphotography, #naturephotography, #wildlifephotography, #nikon, #birds,
Reddish egret shows its pink beak and reddish neck feathers in afternoon light, Ding Darling Refuge on Sanibel Island, FL.
#reddishegret, #heron, #preening, #birdphotography, #naturephotography, #wildlifephotography, #nikon, #dingdarling, #sanibel, #florida, #birds, #feathers
Reddish egret having a “bad hair day” while preening feathers and showing its flexibility. Sanibel Island, FL.
#reddishegret, #heron, #pinkbeak, #dance, #forage, #fish, #behavior, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #birdphotography, #wildlifephotography, #naturephotography, #nikon, #egret, #birds, #outdoorphotography
Reddish egrets are known for their graceful dance moves while foraging. They extend a wing to create a shadow to attract fish close to their legs, at Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island, Florida.

As the Osprey Flies

The osprey is a bold, vocal and athletic bird. In Florida I enjoy watching them soar, pluck fish out of the water and return to the nest to feed the young. This week I aimed my camera lens at one osprey while it was looking for fish in a lake. Then I combined four images into one composite showing the same osprey in flight in four positions.

osprey, flight, birds, birdphotography, naplesflorida, florida, fishing, soaring, raptor, nature, wildlife
Enjoy the strength and grace of the Osprey in flight in this composite image. Zoom in to see even better.

Bald Eagles: Parent and Its Offspring

Watching the skies for soaring birds around 6 pm, I saw an osprey, an anhinga, a cormorant and … a large raptor that looked like a juvenile bald eagle. That possible bald eagle disappeared in the trees to the south. Leaning my heavy lens, camera and tripod rig over my shoulder, I hiked in that direction and to the nearest lake edge. I scanned the sky again. A swallow tailed kite swooped over the lake and then disappeared into the trees, too quickly for me to find him with my lens.

Moorhens near my location squawked at each other, but they are too common to attract my attention. The breeze kicked up, helping me to feel a bit cooler in the April heat. I scanned the water and the trees. “Wait, was that a brown spot in the tree across the lake?” I wondered.

Looking through my 600 mm lens, I confirmed that fleeting sight. It’s an adult bald eagle — unmistakable — and on the next tree is the juvenile! The juvenile looks the same size as the adult, but is all brown with flecks of white. It will take 5 years for him/her to develop pure white head feathers and a white tail.

#baldeagle, #eagle, #juvenile, #bird, #birdphotography, #nature, #wildlife, #naturephotography, #wildlifephotography, #florida, #sonyalpha, #naplesflorida
Juvenile Bald Eagle perched near its parent might be three to five months old, strong in flight, but staying close to the nest and parental oversight. Naples, FL, April 2020.

In this image, you can observe both parent and offspring in the same frame, as the juvenile takes flight. I stayed watchful for about 30 minutes, hoping to capture the adult bald eagle taking flight, but life was just perfect on that branch that evening and he/she outlasted me.

#baldeagle, #eagle, #juvenile, #adult, #wildlife, #nature, #florida, #birds, #action, #outdoorphotography, #naplesflorida, #sonyalpha, #luminar
Juvenile Bald Eagle takes flight while the adult, presumably the parent, looks on. Naples FL, April 2020.
(Clouds were added in post-processing)

Bald Eagle Action

Earth Day 2020 is a quiet one for wildlife with the United States shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The animal kingdom is no doubt wondering, “where are the people?”

Between illness and unemployment at unprecedented high levels, humans are having a very rough time. For the millions sheltered at home, trying to adjust to a new normal, art and nature can help to lift spirits.

Wildlife photography can happen in a limited way during this period, and I have found a few chances to get outdoors while staying away from all other humans. When I went out looking for bird photography opportunities yesterday, I got lucky and spotted something brown in a distant tree. The long lens on my camera focused on a compelling sight: this beautiful Bald Eagle. Please enlarge this photo on your device to see the detail.

baldeagle, eagle, bluesky, birdphotography, sonyalpha, luminar, wildlifephotography, wildlife, nature, naturephotography
Looking poised to fly, this adult Bald Eagle is a thrilling sight. Naples, FL, April 2020.

Perched in a nearby tree was a juvenile Bald Eagle. My next post will show both eagles in the same image. I hope this eagle photograph brightened your day, and I wish you and your family good health.

Spanish Moss at Sunset

I remember the first time I saw Spanish Moss on my first trip to Florida. I think I was in seventh grade, and I was amazed. It looks kind of spooky hanging from the trees.

#spanishmoss, #thesouth, #sunset, #evenightlight, #light, #sonyalpha, #luminar, #landscape, #nature, #naturephotography, #firstimpression, #florida, #naplesflorida
Spanish moss lit by the setting sun in Naples, Florida. If you grew up in the northern states, this sight will surprise you.

My delighted first impression still colors my thoughts when I observe this lacy plant hanging from tree branches. I especially like to see it in early morning or evening light when it looks like a chandelier.

Crystal trees in Jackson Hole

As we begin another week in Southwest Florida of temperatures around 90 degrees Fahrenheit and a heat index around 100, I’m thinking back on a bitter cold morning in Jackson Hole when my fingertips and toes were frozen.

Venturing through Grand Teton National Park with two other photographers, we spotted elk, bison, eagles, trumpeter swans, big horn sheep and a coyote during the day. We also admired the shapes in the snow-covered landscape.

#hoarfrost, #frost, #jacksonhole, #winter, #snow, #snowy, #cold, #ice, grandtetonnationalpark, #gtnp, #morninglight, #sonyalpha
Hoarfrost coats the branches and leaves of this enormous bush in Jackson Hole, WY, February 2020.

A visual treat of the early morning light was the hoarfrost on the trees along the creek. Rising water vapor coated branches and froze overnight. Before the midday sun melted the ice, we were able to capture some photographs of these crystalline trees.

#hoarfrost, #frost, #winter, #snow, #snowy, #cold, #winter, #landscapephotography, #naturephotography, #landscape, #nature, #morninglight, #sonyalpha, #gtnp, #jacksonhole
Hoarfrost makes the trees look crystalline in early morning light, Jackson Hole, WY, 2020. Zoom in to see the branches in detail.

Shooting the Supermoon

The rising of the Pink Supermoon last week was an ideal occasion to test the sharpness of my new Sony a2rIV camera and the 200-600 mm Sony lens. The reach and exceptional clarity of this high tech team made me a believer!

The most effective way to photograph the night sky is with a DSLR camera in manual mode, mounted on a tripod and exposed for the moon. The purpose of using a 600 mm lens (as opposed to a 200 mm or a 50 mm lens) is that the far distant object, in this case the moon, will appear far larger in your frame. The purpose of expensive, high quality glass (lens) is clarity of its focus. In addition to choosing the appropriate camera and lens, you will also benefit from the know-how to shoot in RAW mode and process in Photoshop, Lightroom and Luminar. I share with you the results of bringing all these methods to bear on our opportunity.

#supermoon, #moonrise, #sony, #luminar, #sonyalpha, #reallyrightstuff, #naturephotography, #sky, #outdoorphotography, #florida, #naplesflorida
Pink Supermoon rising, just clearing the palm trees in Naples Florida. April 2020
#supermoon, #moonrise, #moon, #sonyalpha, #reallyrightstuff, #luminar, #howto, #nightsky, #sky, #nature, #naturephotography, #naplesflorida, #florida, #palms, #detail
Pink Supermoon rises higher in the darkening sky. Zoom in to see the detail in the moon’s surface.