Thinking in Black and White

I’m challenging myself with learning a new discipline in photography. The first step is having a digital mirrorless camera converted to capture infared light, and I’m learning about the techniques for capturing and processing these new types of images. But the camera won’t be back in my hands for a few weeks.

In the meantime, I was daydreaming about the places I would love to photograph with the infared camera — like the Florida Everglades and Joshua Tree National Park in southern California. With the limitations on travel during the pandemic, those excursions will come to pass down the road.

The scenery of Joshua Tree is fresh in my mind, since I visited the park in 2018. I decided to process one of my color photographs in black and white, as a first step in my journey to see in black and white. What do you think?

#joshuatree, #jtnp, #joshuatreenationalpark, #blackandwhite, #silverefexpro, #nik, #nikon, #shapes, #texture, #contrast, #california, #landscape, #photography, #nature, #desert, #adobe
I love the bold silhouettes as well as the textures in the Joshua Trees found in the high desert of California. A monochrome image makes the image more about shapes, textures and contrast, as it subtracts color. Processed in Adobe Camera Raw and Nik’s Silver Efex Pro.

Vineyard Nostalgia

Reading “Is it safe to visit a Vineyard?” in the New York Times took my mind back to visits to the beautiful vineyards in Sonoma, California and the South Island of New Zealand. I found this vibrant view of a vineyard near Nelson and Tasman New Zealand in December 2014. My daughter Erin and I dropped in on several wine makers that weekend for a tasting of their Riesling and Chardonnay grapes. Keep in mind that December down under is equivalent to June in the northern hemisphere. We enjoyed mid-summer greenery and comfortable outdoor weather.

#vineyard, #memories, #newzealand, #NZ, #green, #bluesky, #lush, #downunder, #tasting, #tasman, #nelson
Vineyard slopes down to a lake in Nelson/Tasman region of New Zealand, on the South Island.

During this safer-at-home period of the Coronavirus lockdown, we think back on our travels and special experiences and wonder if we appreciate them now more than ever. We are all looking forward to resuming our travels when the pandemic is over.

Finding Roots in England

Looking back at travel photos from past trips, I ask myself why a certain image resonates for me. I’m drawn to this midsummer scene in bucolic England, in a photograph taken on July 4, 2018. First, compositional elements are pleasing: the bright reflection on the Wear River brings the eye directly to the rowing crew in their boat, and the bridge in the background gives the boat implied direction through the image. Second, the greenery and still water on an ideal summer’s day, lends feelings of tranquility, perhaps even memories of a simpler time and an escape from society’s turmoil. Third, happy memories of an overseas trip seem even sweeter during this time when travel is forbidden.

#crew, #england, #wear, #riverwear, #wearriver, #durham, #durhamuniversity, #crew team, #rowing, #bucolic, #durham, #UK, #travelphotography, #why, #roots, #georgetownuniversity, #family, #memories, #pride
Rowers on the River Wear in Durham England, July 4, 2018. This scene inspires reflections on the long tradition of crew teams, in USA and England.

But, I realize there is more meaning behind my positive feelings for this image. Sixteen years ago my daughter rowed crew for Georgetown University. I watched her crew team on the Potomac River in Washington DC, and I’m proud of her many achievements. While I saw a flashback of my daughter in this scene, I also saw her place in a long history of rowing that goes back many years and across the ocean to the U.K. In this moment, I had crossed the ocean to a foreign country, but I felt like I had stumbled upon my family roots.

I believe it is true that as a photographer I will capture an image that instantaneously appeals to me, but further reflection reveals more meaning. I’m sure you can think of images that resonate for you.

A Virtual Visit to England

Today is one of those days when I feel like taking a walk in a beautiful faraway place. Maybe it’s just because I can’t! The Stay-home directive resulting from the current Coronavirus crisis is hard on a lot of us with wanderlust. Are you like me — dreaming about your next trip?

In the meantime, we can look back on past trips when we could wander along a path in the middle of a summer’s day and explore the evolving view. On July 4, 2018 I was walking alone along the River Wear in Durham, England. I would have preferred to have a friend along, but my husband was working that day.

I came to this spot along the river where the afternoon sun lit Durham Cathedral up on the bluff as well as what appeared to be the mill house, which reflected in the river. The leafy trees near me even framed my image, and the clouds fell right into place as well. Today, nearly two years later, in May 2020, I’m channeling the peace and beauty of this day.

#durham, #durhamuk, #durhamcathedral, #wearriver, #wear, #view, #riverbank, #riverwalk, #landscape, #architecture, #bluesky, #clouds, #england, #storybook, #afternoonlight, #nikon
Midsummer’s greenery cushion the stately Durham Cathedral along the banks of the Wear River in England. How fortunate I was in this moment to enjoy the afternoon sunlight, a clear day and the foreground trees to frame my view of this historic architecture. I feel like I’m part of a storybook as I walk along the shady path.

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.

Learning Your Tropical Plants

My first thought of a name for this brilliant bloom was “fireworks,” but I wasn’t far off. This splash of color drew me close at the Naples Botanical Garden. It’s a Starburst bush / Clerodendrum quadriloculare. I was not finding it under searches for “fireworks flower” or “tropical plants,” but my friend Erika, a gifted gardener, led me to its proper name. The Starburst bush is native to New Guinea and the Philippines. No wonder it thrives in the tropical climate of Naples, Florida in the “Garden with Latitude.”

#starburst, #fireworks, #tropical, #light, #garden, #gardening, #naplesfl, #botanical, #botanicalgarden, #flower, #pinkandgreen, #pinkflower, #macrophotography, #naturephotography, #outdoorphotography, #nikon, #phillipines
The Starburst bush, clerodendrum quadriloculare, looks vibrant in the late afternoon light at Naples Botanical Garden, photographed in February 2020.

In doing my botanical research, I was tempted to order some seeds and plants, but I don’t currently have access to a garden or gardening tools. I’m hoping my desire to dig and plant will still burn when I return to my home in Pennsylvania.

Witness to Nature, Moment by Moment

You might wonder if that Yellow Crowned Night Heron knew how to “pick a crab,” if you read the previous blog (with the heron holding a live crab in its beak). My friend Mary and I watched the heron dismantle and texturize and finally swallow the crab. This series of photographs will share the experience with you:

As a Baltimore native, I know how to pick a crab: first you remove the claws and legs, (although there is more than one right way.) The heron shook the crab hard enough to knock those off. You can see the claws on the sand.

#yellowcrownednightheron, #heron, #predator, #prey, #crab, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #wildlife, #wildlifephotography, #birdphotography, #floridabirds, #florida, #naturephotography
Yellow Crowned Night Heron shakes his live crab until the claws and legs come off. It was the first step in turning the catch into an edible meal. Ding Darling Nature Preserve, Sanibel Island, FL.
#yellowcrownednightheron, #heron, #floridabirds, #prey, #predator, #crab, #nature, #florida, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #action
Step Two: Yellow Crowned Night Heron pokes the crab’s body to break up the shell. Ding Darling Nature Preserve, Sanibel Island, FL.
#yellowcrownednightheron, #heron, #birdphotography, #wildlife, #wildlifephotography, #nature, #prey, #predator, #crab, #action
Step Three: Yellow Crowned Night Heron tosses the crab body in the air and crunches it with his hard beak. Ding Darling Nature Preserve, Sanibel Island, FL.
#yellowcrownednightheron, #heron, #birdphotography, #action, #prey, #predator, #crab, #sanibel, #dingdarling, #wildlife, #wildllifephotography, #floridabirds, #outdoorphotography, #nature, #naturephotography
Finally, Yellow Crowned Night Heron is ready to toss that crab down the hatch. Can you believe it? Ding Darling Nature Preserve, Sanibel Island, FL. 2020

Great White Egret’s Live Catch

This Great White Egret strode purposefully across my path at the Naples Botanical Garden. I squatted down low and focused my camera on his back-lit body, hoping to capture some action. As both the egret and I followed our instincts, we were both rewarded. Catching a wriggling lizard in its beak, the great egret found dinner, and I got my image of the day.

#greategret, #lizard, #catch, #freshcatch, #livecatch, #foodchain, #backlit, #nikon, #naplesbotanicalgarden, #botanicalgarden, #wildlife, #wildlifephotography, #egret, #nature, #florida
Late afternoon sunlight outlines the Great White Egret as he captures a lizard in his beak. Naples Botanical Garden 2020.

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.

Incoming Bald Eagle

There is something bold and brave about the face of a Bald Eagle, don’t you think? When that eagle is flying straight at you that courage and confidence are especially evident.

#eagle, #baldeagle, #birdsofprey, #birds, #raptor, #florida, #parent, #adult, #inflight, #brave, #bold, #soar, #wingspan, #wings
Bald eagle in flight, showing its massive wingspan, soars directly toward the camera. Naples, Florida, 2020.

Leaving the nest to find some fresh prey, mother eagle will soon return to feed her youngster, who has grown nearly as large as its parent and is nearly ready to fledge at 10-11 weeks.