Feels like Charleston

A second floor sleeping porch, the perfect place to catch a breeze on a hot, muggy night might remind you of houses in Charleston or Savannah or New Orleans. But this picturesque home is found in Sewickley, Pennsylvania where I live.

Painted white with black shutters and shrouded with green trees, it seemed like a good subject for infrared photography — a medium that shows green foliage as white.

Infared photography shows foliage as white and skies black.
Infared photography can be processed many ways, but one way shows green foliage as white and skies as dark or black on a sunny afternoon.

I have just started this week experimenting with Infared photography, having bought a Sony 6300 camera and having sent it to LifePixel to have it converted to “Super color” Infared. Stay tuned to this blog for more interesting results.

Picking Up the Camera Again

Staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic knocked me off my constructive and creative track with wildlife and nature photography. I found myself absorbed with cooking, cleaning, gardening and pondering the uncertainties of when restrictions will be lifted. Seriously, how long can this go on? All of us have had the rhythms of our daily lives disrupted, yes?

I knew that if I could get myself to pick up a camera and begin exploring nature in my own backyard, so to speak, that I would begin to feel like myself again. I ventured out to the newly reopened Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh (masked and careful), and indeed the magic reappeared. My vision and my technical skills are intact! Here is the first image I captured.

#vine, #nature, #meaning, #contrast, #why, #pink, #pinkandgreen, #phipps, #depthoffield, #focus, #photography, #sony, #sonyalpha
Can you feel the tug of Nature’s work in sharp focus, standing out before Man’s work, the Conservatory building? Yet, I believe the two elements harmonize. I see the vine as fresh, delicate, independent and strong. I made a deliberate effort to show only the vine in focus by using a wide open aperture with a short depth of field.

Big Horn Sheep Family

Continuing with our family theme during this pandemic as we gather only in family groups, I have some recent wildlife photographs to share with you from Wyoming. My friends and I spotted a mother with her yearling as well as male Big Horned Sheep nearby. The location was the Elk Refuge in Grand Teton National Park in Jackson Hole, a wonderful place to visit in any season.

#bighornedsheep, #mother, #yearling, #family, #wildlife, #wildlifephotography, #sony, #sonyar7II, #200-600mmlens, #nature, #naturephotography, #nationalpark, #nps, #grandtetonnationalpark, #jacksonhole, #winter, #elkrefuge
Big Horned Sheep, a mother and her yearling in Grand Teton National Park. February 2020.
#bighornedsheep, #ram, #sheep, #wyoming, #wildlife, #wildlifephotography, #nature, #elkrefuge, #jacksonhole, #family, #horns, #nationalpark, #gtnp, #grandtetonnationalpark
Male Big Horned Sheep looked up from its grazing on the rocky hillside as horses passed by. Image captured with Sony ar7II and Sony 200-600mm lens in Grand Teton National Park. 2020

Best wishes for continued good health to all as we stay home and minimize the spread of the Coronavirus.

Osprey: Shelter in Place

As our boat passed this Osprey family on their nest Sunday evening, I thought about our human families adjusting our lifestyles to “shelter in place,” and slow the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.

You have to admire the parental behavior of these beautiful Osprey. One parent will hunt for fish and bring it back to the nest to feed the family, and then tear apart the prey and feed the baby. Both parents keep a close eye out for any perceived threats coming close, such as bald eagles or humans. You can see the yellow eyes of mother Osprey on the right, hoping we will keep our distance. We were farther from the nest than it appears, as I made this photo with a 400mm Sony lens.

osprey_family_nest
Osprey pair bring food to their baby in the nest near Naples, Florida. March 2020

Who can resist the big amber eyes of the baby Osprey looking at the camera with naive curiosity. Babies of every species are precious.

While you curb your outside activities and exposure to other humans this month, please join our community following this blog. We love photography, nature, wildlife and travel and all four put together. I will keep posting to keep us connected. Feel free to comment and recommend this blog to your friends.

Trumpeter Swans

Temperatures might still be below freezing in Jackson Hole with the lakes covered in a thick coating of ice and snow, but the Trumpter Swans find the perfect spot to keep warm and well fed — in the hot springs.

#trumpeterswans, #swans, #duck, #symbiotic, #snow, #hotspring, #hotsprings, #kellym #jacksonhole, #wyoming, #winter, #wildlife, #wildlifephotography
Constantly bobbing for food, these Trumpter Swans keep warm in the hot springs in Kelly, Wyoming. It is a challenge to capture a photograph of these two swans with both of their heads above water. March 2020.

There is a fine mist rising from the hot springs, as the air is around 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The lakes and parts of the Snake River are frozen solid, showing moose tracks across the surface. Last night, we got 7″ of fresh snow.

It’s no coincidence that the ducks are swimming near the swans. They have a symbiotic relationship, as the swans foraging makes it easier for the ducks to forage as well. The swans reach underwater with their long necks, stirring up the underwater ecosystem. Both species can find plenty to eat here.

Bison Action in Wyoming

Near Kelly, Wyoming —-  Who knew that bison have black tongues? In this image, I caught Mama Bison chewing some plants while looking in my direction. I was shooting with a 600mm lens from a safe distance.  At least, we hoped we would be safe!

#bison, #buffalo, #feeding, #tongue, #action, #wildlife, #wildlifephotography, #sony, #outdoorphotography, #naturephotography, #nature, #wildthingsofwyoming
Adult bison forages on plants that emerge from the snow in Grand Teton National Park, March 2020.

In this next close-up, you can see the bison trudging up the hill in fresh snow. It was also snowing, windy and cold. I like the raised hoof indicating the action taking place. In no time, all five bison had traveled from the field where they were lying, through the hot spring, across the road and up the hill.  

#bison, #buffalo, #wyoming, #grandtetonnationalpark, #wildlife, #wildlifephotography, #action, #nature, #naturephotography, #sony, #outdoorphotography, #wildthingsofwyoming, #kelly, #jacksonhole,
With the sun on her back, Mama Bison climbs the snowy hill to “greener” pastures in Kelly, Wyoming, March 1, 2020. Grand Teton National Park.

This was our best sighting of the week in Jackson Hole. While we spotted moose several times, we never had a good opportunity for photos like this. A shout out to our guide with Wild Things of Wyoming, Colin Boeh, for his experience with finding and safely observing wildlife in Grand Teton National Park. Thanks to Colin, we had a fascinating and very educational day!

Close Encounter with Bison

Sunday afternoon, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming —

A close encounter with five enormous bison?  It unfolded like this: As the bison waded across the hot spring that separated us and approached the road, we backed up several yards to give them plenty of space. We were mindful of National Park Service rules for keeping a safe distance from wildlife, and we  anticipated that the bison planned to cross the road and head up the snow covered hill. This scenario was unfolding peacefully until a pick-up truck, pulled up right in front of the bison, blocking their path.

What did the bison do? They looked down the road to us and gave us the stare-down. “Move the truck!” we said quietly — to the driver, but only loud enough that the three of us could hear. Luckily, the truck moved on after a pause of a few minutes (surely taking photos out the window and oblivious to the spot they put us in). I looked behind me for a tree to hide behind, but there were none. I’m not sure what we would have done, had they charged at us. There were several cars and spectators on the far side of the bison, but the three of us were isolated, standing on the road.

#bison, #buffalo, #wildlife, #wildlifephotography, #nationalpark, #grandtetonnationalpark, #gtnp, #sony, #safedistance #nps, #wildthingsofwyoming
Checking us out… could she tell that I had eaten (farmed) bison filet and bison chili recently? I hope not! I came in peace only to take your photo, Mama! Bison in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. March 2020.

Once the truck moved, the bison trudged across the road and up the hill, as we predicted, stopping a few more times to stare in our direction.

There were three adult and two young bison, causing the two mother bison to exhibit protective behavior. It was our job to stay distant, quiet and non-threatening. During this time, I used my 600mm Sony lens to capture as many action photos as I could. Watching these enormous wild animals at close range was a rare and special experience. If you like this image, stay tuned, as I’ve got more good ones!

The Puddle Challenge

Here is a challenge to all of you photographers out there. Yes, this includes all of you with an iphone camera! After the next big rain storm, take a walk and look for reflections in the puddles. Maybe you will see your surroundings in a whole new light!

Cathedral Rock of Sedona reflected in a puddle I discovered while hiking Red Rock Crossing.

Coconino sandstone does not absorb water quickly. The bad news is you need to be wary of a flash flood while hiking a low lying canyon. The good news, is the rain will erode the soft sandstone over time and in the short term leave some puddles for your visual enjoyment.

Rock or Ice Cream? Erosion Tales

I’m fascinated by erosion patterns in rock that make solid rock look like ice cream that has been scooped with a spoon or carved with a giant fork. So, I was transfixed by this “fork action” on the red rock in Sedona.

Seeing this horizontal pattern in the sandstone along Oak Creek made me wonder how Nature made this carving. So I asked my geologist friend, Steve Austin. Location: West Fork Trail, Sedona, AZ, USA.

It’s amazing what Steve can tell us just by examining this photo and knowing its location. He said, “The sandstone has horizontal layers but also has inclined layers internally (25 degrees). The cliff shows these inclined layers because rockfall has sculpted the surface. These inclined layers were formed in underwater sand dunes by flow velocity of 2 meters/second.”

Wow! That’s why they call Steve “Mudflow Man.”

Finding Reflections in Sedona

If you can find a reflection of your main subject in a landscape photograph, you will create a unique image that will hold the viewer’s attention even longer. Sometimes, you need to be a bit creative to find those reflections as big lakes don’t appear on command. When I noticed a few puddles in the red rock flats of Red Rock Crossing, I lined myself up to see if I could see a reflection. What I found was quite an interesting foreground.

While this puddle only captured a portion of Cathedral Rock, I liked the pattern formed by the red rocks in the foreground as well as the leading line (left to center) that links the red rock plateau with the trees.

A good foreground and middle ground leading to the focal point of the image leads the eye through the image and allows the whole image to work together for a pleasing visual experience. The soft side lighting of sunset also enhances the tranquility of the image.

I hope this scene inspires you to visit Sedona and explore the many trails and viewpoints. Sedona is just 90 minutes’ drive north of the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. Keep an eye on this online gallery for more of my unique Sedona landscapes. Prints of many different sizes can be ordered online.