Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Meet Tom. Tom is one of my grandchildren's cats. He had a partner, Jerry, who was recently run over by a car when he darted across the street. Now Tom is not allowed outside. We all thought the kids would be devastated by the accident; and they were--for a couple days. Mommy and Daddy explained that Jerry is up in heaven with Grandpa and Grandpa is taking care of him for them. They seem to be fine with that.

What's amazing is that their father doesn't especially like cats. He only agreed to allow the kids to have a cat after their Grandpa died to help them with their grieving. The one who's devastated the most is the kids' father. He's lost without that cat. It's amazing how an animal in the house can become a part of the family in no time at all.

I made this photo "just in case". It's too bad I wasn't able to make one of Jerry, but the cats are only a few months old, and I never met Jerry.

The kids love this photo, and since they have a link to Grammy's photo blog, I'm sure they'll be pleased to see Tom on it tonight.

This is for you all, Nick, Nathan, Noah, Austin and Alexis; Grammy loves you! XOXOXOXO

Monday, April 26, 2010

Indian Blanket Flower

While playing around with my macro lens at Veterans' Memorial Garden at the Safety Harbor Marina a couple weeks ago, I came across this beautiful Indian Blanket Flower and couldn't resist a closeup of the stamen. (Click on the photo to see better detail.)

This flower is also known as Blanket Flower or it's proper name is Gaillardia. The scientific name is Gaillardia aristata. It is in the Compositae family and named after Gaillard de Marentonneau, a French magistrate and patron of botany.

Gaillardia is a herbaceous perennial that comes in many varieties; but this one is my favorite. I love the colors and the fact that they can be found most anywhere in Florida. I've even seen them growing wild on the side of the road. They are one of my favorite flowers and they're right up there with Day Lilies.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Meet Lila, who is the kids' nanny's sister's little girl. She just under a year old and absolutely loves the camera.

Since I photograph babies for a living, I thought I'd post one here of an older baby. The babies I photograph are under 3 days old, so this is a very different technique for me.

All I had with me is my camera and on-camera flash, so I had to get creative with the exposure to keep from blowing out her pretty little face.

Lila was pre-occupied watching the older kids play and was enjoying her toys while in the walker.

Isn't she just the cutest little thing?

Saturday, April 24, 2010


There are many varieties of Lantana, but this one is my favorite. I love the soft pastel pink and yellow combination. I have the solid colored lavender ones in my yard and wish I had some of these as well.

This variety is called Lantana Camara and can be found growing wild anywhere in Florida. Butterflies love them and they're a great addition to any garden--especially if you want to attract butterflies. They certainly can do the job.

I found these growing wild at Sawgrass Lake Park in St Petersburg, Florida. Sawgrass lake is one of my favorite places to go when I want to get out and shoot nature. There are boardwalks throughout the park and a few walking trails. I've never gone there and failed to see an Alligator or two and Armadillos. I've also seen many varieties of snakes and birds as well.

This park is small, safe and free. The free part is the best part of it because it's one of the few places left in Florida that you can visit and not spend a dime. It's great for budget minded people.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Black-crowned Night Heron

After getting home from vacation, and taking a break outside yesterday morning, I spotted this Black-crowned Night Heron hunting on the banks of Joe's Creek, in my backyard.

This is the first time I find one of these guys in this area. I know they're around; but the Black-crowned Night Heron is very secretive, unlike his counterpart, the Yellow-crowned Night Heron. I see them at all times of day and night anywhere I go in Florida. This Black-crowned Night Heron is a rarity and quite a treat for me.

It was about 7:30 in the morning and the water was very still, which made a beautiful reflection for me to capture. What about a nice bonus. Be sure to click on the photo for a larger version so you can see the detail. It may not be my best avian shot, but I like this one because it's a rare opportunity to see one of these birds.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Miracle Grandbabies

I just got back from vacation in NY visiting my miracle grandchildren. Miracle, you ask?

For those of you who don't know, these children were born extremely premature. Three of them were not expected to make it. They were just too small and too underdeveloped due to their prematurity. Crouse Hospital in Syracuse did an amazing job helping these tiny little babies to survive.

On the 18th, the triplets (top row from left), Noah, Nicholas and Nathaniel celebrated their 9th birthday and on the 22nd, the twins, Austin and Alexis, celebrated their 7th birthday. I was fortunate enough to be able to be with them on their birthdays. I'm thankful for that.

When the triplets were born, I told their mother I'd only stay for 2 months to help them and their nanny out. It was impossible to leave. I stayed 4 1/2 years helping to take care of them until finally the twins were in school all day before coming back to Florida. You can all imagine how much I miss them.

They had a birthday party with 32 other children, friends from school, Little League and family friends' children at the "Bouncy House" in Oswego. They all had a blast. For 2 hours they all ran around playing various video games and playing on the bouncy slide and bouncy house. What a thrill it was to watch them having so much fun.

I'm going to miss them once again, until my next visit to NY. :(

I realize this is not my best work, but a snapshot is the most I could expect under the circumstances. These kids just won't sit still and/or stop fooling around long enough for a decent photo of them. One of these days, I'll have to bring my lights, backgrounds, etc. to setup a nice formal portrait; but until then, I'll treasure this one.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Young Thai Dancer

Sunday my friends and I went to Songkran, the Thai New Year celebration at Thai Temple in Tampa. It was an incredible celebration; not at all like our American New Year celebration.

Besides tons and tons of delicious Thai food, there were many cultural dancers. There were two MC's; one who spoke Thai to the Thai people, and an English translator for the rest of us. Most Thai people were dressed in native Thai clothing that was beautiful; much more elaborate than the American Sunday dress and I must say much more beautiful. Entertainment was many Thai dancers performing traditional dances in full Thai dress. This young girl was one of the dancers.

There were two exhibitions of Moi Thai (kick-boxing). (My spelling is probably incorrect). In one of the exhibitions a girl sparred with her teacher. The other was an actual fight between a 4-year student and his instructor. They were both very good.

After that, they did a parade and a giant water fight. It is said that the more soaked you get, the more evil spirits are washed away. It was a blast watching how much fun the kids were having dumping large buckets of water over each others' heads then pouring powder onto them to make a very muddy mess. The elderly women blessed us by dipping a carnation into a mixture of water, Jasmine oil and powder and sprinkling it on our necks, shoulders and hands. This custom is to wash away evil spirits, to keep us healthy and to wish us much luck in the coming year. It smelled so good, I didn't want to change my clothes!

There were more than 200 people there and everyone enjoying the day. I had so much fun and it was so interesting. This is the second Thai festival I've gone to and I have learned to love the people and their culture. Thailand is called the land of 1,000 smiling faces and I can see why. It was almost like stepping into another world. What a wonderful experience.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mother Great-horned Owl

Another trip to Kapok Park with my friend, Margo, was very productive. This time, we saw the mother guarding the nest. Since I've already shared the photos of the baby and the father, I thought it only fitting that I share the photo of the mother.

Owls never go very far from the nest. Usually, one parent hunts for food, while the other one stays behind to care for their Owlets. This tree is only a few feet from the tree the nest is in. As you can see, mother is keeping a watchful eye on her young.

Kapok Park is a small, community park in Clearwater, Florida. It hasn't been open that long but it promises to be a really good park for photo opportunities. There are marshes throughout the park and beautiful, Live Oak trees, like the one the Owlet is in. There are many foot bridges along the trails that allow crossing over the marshes. I have many photos from my two trips to this park to share with my readers. I've seen some amazing things here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Great-Horned Owlet and Dad

This post is dedicated to my very good friend, Margo, who I met through this blog. Margo is going home after an extended visit and I'll miss her until she returns.

As promised to Margo, here is the shot of the 3-week old Great-horned Owlet from Kapok Park. You'll have to click on the photo to see her cute little red tongue. She's so adorable. I thank Margo for clewing me into this place. I'd have never found her if it hadn't been for her.

This second post is a more normal (what we'd expect) photo of the same Owlet. From what I can see there's only one.

This Owlet is the cutest little thing. We watched her/him for about 2 hours peeking down at us, preening and calling for Mommy.

I've never seen a Great-horned Owl in the wild, and to find an Owlet was a most pleasant experience. It was just icing on the cake! (Sorry about the cliche)

After a couple of hours, we saw Daddy return to a nearby tree to watch his little one. I guess Mommy was out hunting. A very nice birder told us the difference between the male and female is that the female has a wide, white stripe down the center of her chest.

Margo and I went back there today and saw the mother. It's still on my camera and I'll probably be posting it soon. We also made some more shots of the Owlet. What a thrill!

This year, was the first year I've had the experience to see Eagles on the nest and Owls on the nest. Previously, I had never seen either in the wild. It just motivates me even more to get that nice new 100-400mm lens all the much sooner. I'm saving as much as I can for it and can't wait to be able to buy it so I can get better close-ups of these cute little birds.