Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Goldenrod

Goldenrod
The Goldenrod (Solidago fistulosa) is in the Aster family. There are about 120 species of Goldenrod. They grow to about 40 inches or nearly 4ft tall. Some species branch out, others are like this one growing up singular. Goldenrod is also blamed for causing allergies in humans, similar to ragweed. However, the pollen is heavy and does not blow into the air. It has to be pollinated by bees or butterflies. So, in order for humans to get an allergic reaction, they must touch them in some way, maybe brush against them with their clothes.

In North America, Goldenrod is seen as a weed, but it is prized as a garden plant in Europe.
 
Goldenrod blooms from June through November and can be found in Florida in dry pinelands, flatwoods, ditches and roadsides.

Monday, December 15, 2014

White Peacock Butterfly

White Peacock Butterfly

One of my favorite butterflies, and the first butterfly photo I took after moving to Florida, is the White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae) Butterfly. I love the iridescent color of his wings. They remind me of my favorite stone and my birthstone, the opal.

Their food plants are Water Hyssop and Ruellia and inhabit moist or swampy areas. They can be found throughout South Florida and South Texas as well as the American tropics. They have been known to stray North to Kansas and Massachusetts, but that is a rarity, because they are not really strong fliers and not very hardy.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Low Tide

Low Tide

This is one of those images I couldn't make up my mind if I liked the colored version or the black and white. The black and white won out because I think I like the drama created from the monotone and high contrast. I wanted to emphasize the light and shadows caused from the early morning light.

This image was captured last January at the South Rest Stop under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The people out in the distance were crabbing, I think. Florida doesn't really have many rocks. The "rocks" in the foreground are recycled from torn up highways, etc.

One thing I liked about the color version is it showed the green algae on the rocks, however, since it was very cloudy, with the sunlight only peeking through, the color was pretty muted. I may or may not post the color version at a later date.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Kiteboarder

Kiteboarder

This shot was made nearly a year ago with my Canon 40D and Canon 75-300mm lens. One advantage of using an APS-C camera is the extra reach obtained by the 1.6X crop factor. So, at 300mm, this lens was reaching out at a whopping 480mm! Plenty long enough to get a great shot of this kiteboarder without having to go out waist deep in the cold water.

I also like the fact that this guy was either unaware of my camera, or didn't care. Most of the guys would ham it up when they spotted the camera onshore.

When I first started out in photography, I covered sports for the college newspaper. Later on, I continued to shoot sports for a few years until I turned my attention on bands, both local and some professional bands, then models/fashion and finally nature. I've been shooting nature since about 2005. I think I've finally found my niche, at least I hope so.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lake Maggiore Island II

Lake Maggiore Island

When I'm out on a photo-hike, I like to make different versions of the same scene. I posted the other scene a few days ago. The first one was shot on the way in to the path, and this one was shot on the way out. Neither was made very far from one another.

It was maybe an hour and a half later, and the sun was lower in the sky. This version is somewhat warmer than the other as well due to the location of the sun. I also used a different focal length bringing the city of St Petersburg closer to show more detail in the city.

In addition, I had planned on going black and white with this one, but the tones were too similar, and even with adding more contrast after trying different colored filters, I decided to stick with color.

What a difference focal length and the time of day makes.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Raccoon Modeling Debut

Raccoon

Just before I started walking down the boardwalk, I spotted a family of raccoons, but I was unable to get a shot because I wasn't quick enough when I spotted them. Shame on me!

A few minutes later, I got a feeling there was something or someone behind me and sure enough, I spotted this guy following me. He was staying about 20 feet from me.  I snapped a quick shot, because I didn't want to alarm him and kept walking. The funny thing, when I quickened my step, he did too. I slowed and he slowed and when I stopped, he stopped. I had encountered a stalker!

This went on for a few minutes and I was getting a bit nervous since I was all alone and had no idea what he was up to. Finally, the urge to take a shot just got too much for me to handle. I turned around, crouched as much as I dared so I could get up quickly if I had to and took this shot. Once I did that, he gave me one last look, turned, and jumped off the boardwalk and went off into the woods. What a relief! He only wanted to pose for a picture.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Lake Maggiore Island Trail

Lake Maggiore Island Trail, Boyd Hill Nature Center

This shot was taken yesterday on the Lake Maggiore Island Trail at the Boyd Hill Nature Center in St. Petersburg, FL. In the distance, you can see the City of St Petersburg. You'll have to click on the photo to make it bigger if you want to make out the details. In the early 2000's I painted this very scene, and there were only a few buildings that could be seen from this spot. I can't believe how many new buildings there are. Pretty soon, St. Petersburg will look like every other city along the coast. The reason I was attracted to this city in the first place is because it didn't look like a city. It wasn't all built up. I guess I'm just not very good with change and progress.

When I composed this photo, I put the city in several places in the frame looking for a pleasing composition. Normally, in most photos, the rule of thirds applies. The rule of thirds says to divide the frame into thirds, similar to a tic-tac-toe form. Where all the lines intersect is the most pleasing place to put what is most important. Sometimes rules are made to be broken, providing you know the rules in the first place.

In this case, the city was not the subject, but rather the view in the late afternoon golden light. I purposely shot at a wide angle, which minimized the city, emphasizing the water, clouds and greenery. What do you all think of my decision? Your comments on this are greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

My favorite nature park used to be Boyd Hill Nature Park in St Petersburg, FL. I haven't been there in 14 years. I had moved further away, and I guess I just forgot about it. Now that I've moved closer again to the park, I decided to give it another visit late this afternoon.

This is one of my favorite shots from today's shoot. This guy is a Red-Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus). They are plentiful in this area, but not nearly as plentiful as Ospreys. Ospreys are everywhere. Red-shouldered Hawks are medium sized hawks. They are called Red-shouldered because of that reddish patch on their shoulders.

These hawks eat mice, frogs and snakes, so can be seen in woods with tall timbers and water. They hunt both from the air and from high perches. They can be found in the Southeast year round.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

White Ibis and the Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret and White Ibis

It is well known that birds use all sorts of methods to hide their reflections from the fish or crustaceans they're hunting, but this one is a new one on me. I suppose if I were a fish or crustacean, I would be confused by this reflection.

I'm not quite sure what is going on, but White Ibis normally probe for insects. Are there underwater insects? Maybe he's just company for the Snowy Egret? Snowy Egrets spear fish and small aquatic animals for their food. Maybe they're chumming around together to help one another find food?

It seems I have a lot of questions when I look at this photo. What do you all think?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Great Blue Heron Up Close

Great Blue Heron
The other day during my trek to Spa Beach, I spotted this Great Blue Heron perching on a wall near a fisherman, just waiting to grab his fish.

These guys are the best at stealing a catch. The poor fishermen do all the work, while the Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets and Pelicans hang around just waiting for them to reel in their catch. As soon as the fish is above water, the bird swoops down and steals it.

Herons, Egrets and Pelicans in this area are so used to people they have lost all their fear of humans. It is not unusual to see 4 or 5 birds within 2 feet of fishermen. The fishermen try to chase them away, but all they do is move another 2 feet or to the other side of them and it all starts over again.

It's pretty comical to watch; that is, if you're not a fisherman. They don't enjoy these birds at all.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Friendly Fisherman Lighthouse

One of the forums I belong to is called, DPS (Digital School of Photography). They have weekly assignments and this week's assignment was, "Bird's Eye View". Last week, you may remember was "Worm's Eye View".

Again, I didn't want to do the obvious by shooting down from my high-rise building, nor did I want to shoot down a flight of stairs. I've seen too many of those and they're posted all over the internet. I'm trying to see things from a different angle.

This particular lighthouse is fake. It sits atop the Friendly Fisherman Restaurant at John's Pass in Madeira Beach, FL. John's Pass is a natural pass caused by a hurricane that separated  Madeira Beach from Treasure Island.

It has since become a popular attraction that both tourists and locals visit often. There are many restaurants and shops on the boardwalk, and I took advantage of that by going up to the top of the parking garage to get above the "lighthouse" to see a "Bird's Eye View" of this beautiful place.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Sunshine Skyway Bridge
This was shot about 2 weeks ago from the North Rest Stop on the approach to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, here in St Petersburg, FL.

When you look at the other view I posted showing the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, you can't tell just how high it is. The funny thing, now with newer and newer cruise ships, it seems it's still too low. They're trying to figure out if they have to raise it, or to build another port so cruise ships don't have to cross under the bridge.

The bridge is 431 ft high with a vertical clearance of 175 ft. It is roughly 4 miles long.

The Travel Channel has named this bridge #3 of the Top 10 bridges in the world. It is Florida's flag bridge

This bridge also has a dark side, however. It is also known as a popular suicide place. It got so bad, that a radio station even had a jumper pool. As of 2009, 207 people have successfully committed suicide by jumping off the bridge, and 34 others tried it and survived. One man, who had been kidnapped, tortured and beaten was forced to jump at gunpoint; while another man hung himself from the bridge. There are many more suspected with people missing, but no bodies were found. This year in 2014, there have been 7 suicides, 23 possible (no bodies found), 1 survivor, and 2 saves. This bridge is known the #4 suicide bridge in the country and #1 east of California. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Another day without going out to shoot. This Snowy Egret was shot perched above Spa Beach looking out over the water on the approach to The Pier. I doubt he even noticed me shooting up at him. He was too intent on finding his supper. Actually, there was two of them perched up there, but I'm saving that for another day. I liked this one.

The wind was blowing at a pretty good clip as evidenced by the ruffled plumage on his back.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican in Flight

Another rainy day today and more scheduled for tomorrow. So much for shooting for my bird's eye view self-assignment.

This was shot yesterday over Spa Beach on the roadway to The Pier in St Petersburg, FL. He was just about to dive for a fish. I love the graceful way Pelican's fly, especially when they hover over the water looking for fish. Unfortunately, this guy wasn't doing that. He was using his own bird's eye view from the air.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron
Today, my self-assignment was bird's eye view. Unfortunately, we had a lot of sea fog, and a high up level was shrouded in fog. So, instead I went out just looking for something to shoot.

I went to a park I haven't been to in years only to find out it was closed on Mondays. Then I went to another park and found nothing interesting there, so I went to The Pier. Although the building is closed, the roadway on the way to The Pier is still open.

I spotted this Great Blue Heron on the top of a roof on the walkway in one of the decorative shelters (it's the only thing I can think of to call this thing). He was just standing there looking out over the water. It was difficult shooting up in the air, but out of several I took, I like this one. I like the blue sky for a background and I like his stance.

It's still the same old stuff I've been posting for so long, but this time, I took my time and looked for a good background, taking care not to have any other distractions in the photo so I wouldn't have to crop anything out.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Worm's Eye View

Worm's Eye View

If you've been following my blog, or following me on Facebook, you know I've been working on photographing something out of my comfort zone. I've been bored with the "same old, same old" straight shots. So I've been experimenting with various self-assignments.

I'm a member on DPS (DigitalPhotographySchool.com), and last week's assignment was "Worm's Eye View". I had one day to complete the assignment, and it was raining outside. So much for laying on the ground to photograph something. I kept walking around the house, wondering what to do and  was determined to do something different.

Finally, I thought of this umbrella, probably because it was raining, and opened it, set it on the floor and was wondering what I could do with it. I laid down, got under it, and saw this graphic star.

I'm still not sure about this image; if it works, if it doesn't. I'd like to know what everyone else thinks. Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

North Rest Stop
I chose this file from Tuesday's batch because I like the simplicity. It's a little different from what I usually post, but for some reason, when I look at it, it makes me feel peaceful. It has very little color and with the still water and the shore birds foraging for the night it just gives me that feeling of tranquility.

What do you all think?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)

White Ibis

This White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) was just probing for food in Tampa Bay at the North Rest Stop under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. There were many other species there as well. It must have been feeding time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

South Rest Stop Sunshine Skyway Bridge

South Rest Stop Sunshine Skyway Bridge

I'm off work only 1 day a week, so I don't have a lot of time to go out shooting. I also can't pick the weather. Today, was an overcast, trying to storm all day, type of day. I originally took this in color, but the color was kind of dull.

It spans 3 counties, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee, over the waters of Tampa Bay, which is usually pretty calm, but there were warnings of high surf, so that is why I decided to come here to shoot today.

In this shot, this bridge doesn't look very scarey, but I can tell you, there were high wind warnings, and you don't want to be driving an SUV over it, like I did today. It's definitely a white knuckle drive. This bridge is 4.1 miles long, has a clearance of 175 ft below the bridge and it's vertical clearance is 193 ft. The sides, which is what makes it so scarey are only Jersey Barriers. It has 2 lanes in each direction, so there's no safety in the middle lane. The Sunshine Skyway was named #3 of the top 10 bridges in the world by The Travel Channel. The tubes forming the sails are painted yellow.

I cross this bridge every day going to work. Most times it doesn't bother me, but it took some getting used to. The only time I'm scared at all is in the blinding rain, fog, and during high winds.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Box Fiddle Player

Box Fiddle Player
This image was taken several years ago during a reenactment. I chose it today, because it is part of a 5-Day Split Tone Challenge and it is my Day 5 Post. I thought it would make a great beige and yellow split tone. This image was originally made in color.

Back to the image itself, this guy actually made this fiddle from a box. Most people in the days that this image represents had to make their own instruments. He played it very well, too!