Sunset Golf

At sunset yesterday, I was finishing a round of golf with some friends. After the sun went down, we agreed to play one last hole. Fortunately, my drive went straight down the fairway, but I had to make a detour before I hit my next shot.

I spotted perfect red tree, standing alone on the horizon before a blue and pink pastel sky. I had to pause and capture a few photos on my iPhone. Little did I know that day that the highlight of my golf game would be a photo. But I must admit it was a well rounded afternoon with the camaraderie of friends and a relaxed nine holes when we had the course to ourselves.

golf course, red tree, sunset
Sometimes the best part of a day on the golf course is Nature. After sunset, on a western Pennsylvania golf course in October, this lone red tree makes a statement.

Uniting Earth and Sky

This stark and jagged tree on the rim of the Grand Canyon makes an interesting natural sculpture by itself. But give it the leading role in the landscape, and the tree unites the earth and sky into one composition that is filled with color and contrast.

Grand Canyon, tree silhouette
The dark, gnarled tree branches stand out on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon against a sky and landscape that is also filled with color and contrast.

Lasting signs of Irma

Hurricane Irma lashed Naples Florida in early September 2017, stripping and uprooting trees, knocking out power and damaging homes. Three and a half years later, the year-round tropical growing season has filled in the gaps and erased most signs of Irma’s destruction. The landscape looks lush and green again.

This mangrove preserve in Pelican Bay still tells the story of Irma, when she stripped the trees bare of leaves close to the Gulf coast. This infrared photograph shows some of those bare tree trunks along the boardwalk that leads to the beach.

Like bony fingers, the bare mangrove tree trunks tell the story of Hurricane Irma’s forceful winds in September 2017. Infrared photograph in Pelican Bay, Florida in February 2021.

Driftwood in Infrared

This driftwood stump caught my eye while I was walking the beach, as I noticed grasses growing out of the center. The scene spoke to me of both the passage of time and the regeneration of life, naturally occurring. Looking it over, I saw a simple composition that would be interesting to photograph with my Infrared camera.

Grasses growing out of an old tree stump on the beach in Naples, Florida. Infrared Photograph processed to grayscale and ochre with high contrast in the sky, creative choices of the artist.

Do you find this image both peaceful and intriguing? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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)

Ballet in the Desert

Whenever the shapes of Nature remind me of ballet, I have to stop and take a picture. This Joshua Tree seems to be arcing a curved arm overhead in a graceful reach to frame the desert.

A single leaning Joshua Tree frames the desert scene on a sunny day in May, 2019.

When you are visiting from the East Coast, you don’t normally think of rattlesnakes and jumping cacti (the cholla or teddy bear cactus), but I was watching my step too.

Was your week wet or dry?

We have had a wet and stormy week in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and other parts of the United States have endured worse — floods or even tornadoes. This late spring/early summer weather can be violent.

So, my mind is traveling back to last week in the dry high-altitude desert. We had cacti all around us in Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. The Joshua trees themselves are as numerous as they are unique. This one, uniquely shaped, seemed to point toward the setting moon in the west.

Old Joshua Tree points toward the moon as it sets behind the mountains in Joshua Tree National Park, soon after sunrise in late May 2019. We were thankful for a clear day to enjoy some hiking.

Along the Teton Fault

Did you ever wonder why the Grand Tetons rise straight up out of a flat valley? The Teton Fault separates two tectonic plates at the foot of the mountains. For the past 10 million years, the mountains have inched up to 13,700 feet, while the flat valley floor has sunk to its current level at 6,800 feet above sea level, according to the National Park Service.

During the Ice Age glaciers moved south from Yellowstone region, filling the valley and then eroding the mountains into jagged peaks and melting into lakes. All of this geology history tells a fascinating story too gradual for us to observe, but we can observe the changing seasons and fall color.

#valley, #grandtetons, #jacksonhole, #gtnp, #golden, #sky, #sunnyday, #wyoming, #grandteton, #landscape, #nikon
The valley floor appears golden in late September along the Teton Fault in Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park.

Do the colors in this scene leave you feeling uplifted?

(The facts in this blog were provided by the National Park Service.)

Learning from Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams made an iconic photograph of the Snake River Valley looking toward the Grand Tetons from this very spot in Jackson Hole in 1942. So, with my Sony mirrorless digital camera and the latest software, I followed the master’s lead and made this vibrant color image at sunset in late September 2018.

#sunset, #grandtetons, #snakeriver, #hdr, #lightroom, #clearnight, #jacksonhole, #rrstripod, #sonymirrorless
Four exposures merged in Adobe Lightroom created this vivid color image of the Snake River Valley and Grand Teton Range at sunset, from Ansel Adams’ lookout.

The view was even better in Adams’ day, because the Snake River made a serpentine curve leading the eye to the mountains. Today trees obscure part of the river from this lookout. It was still exciting to walk in Ansel Adams’ footsteps 76 years later.

It’s All About the Sky

A truly great sunset photo requires a good foreground. You know, the parking lot or the neighbor’s house won’t do. Many of us head for the mountains or the sea to watch the sunset and capture the fleeting natural beauty in a photograph.

But the second ingredient in a great sunset photos is the sky. The texture and the reflections of the golden light in the clouds separates the good sunsets from the great ones.

Both the foreground and the amazing clouds came together along the banks of the Snake River on this magical evening in Grand Teton National Park. Mount Moran and the Grand Teton mountain range, although backlit, made a pretty majestic foreground. For scale, notice the tiny boats on the left side.

What can I say about the clouds? As wispy as cotton candy and as vivid as a flame?

#sky, #grandteton, #nationalpark, #mountmoran, #sunset, #clouds, #backlit, #aurorahdr, #sony, #gtnp, #landscape
Mount Moran is backlit by the sunset in Grand Teton National Park. This image is all about the sky.