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The Wet Birds of Wakodahatchee

Great Blue Heron

The Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach, Florida provide an up-close experience with birds of many species.  On a rainy January day, wood storks, anhingas, and great blue herons caught my attention during the rain and after.   The Wood Storks Not far along the boardwalk, visitors encounter a tree full of wood storks.  These giant, prehistoric looking creatures were building nests, flying from tree to tree and returning with branches two feet long and as thick as my index finger. The wood storks work in male-female pairs, although I haven’t learned to discern which is which.  On occasion, they knock their beaks together, sounding […]

Watkins Glen – The Gorge, Not the Raceway

Watkins Glen, NY, at the southern tip of Seneca Lake, has been known to auto racing fans as a premier NASCAR racing track, having originally opened in 1948 as a Formula 1 track.  I know nothing about that, as my interest lies in a much, much older attraction, the 400-foot deep gorge cut by Glen Creek, starting some 12,000 years ago.  Lauded by Mark Twain in “Roughing It” as  more spectacular than a Hawaiian “ruffled cataract of limpid water leaping from a sheer precipice fifteen hundred feet high”, the 19 Watkins Glen falls find their beauty in the narrow gorge surrounded by high […]

Ropey Pahoehoe on a Tree? In a cemetery?

Ropey Pahoehoe

It was my third trip to Elmwood Cemetery.  I had packed my gear and was just about to get in my car when I looked up at the tree I was parked next to. Ropey pahoehoe (pa-hoey-hoey) lava immediately came to mind (although, I confess that I had forgotten its name and had to look it up here).  Though running late, I unpacked my gear and took a quick set of pictures.  I was so engrossed in the bark that I forgot to look at the whole tree or take a picture of it so that I could look up its […]

Sandhill Cranes at Kensington Metropark

Sandhill Crane @ Kensington Metropark

Last weekend, my friend Raaj and I ventured to Kensington Metropark in southeast Michigan.  Our goal was to see what we could photograph in overcast, drizzly conditions.  When I entered the park,  a pair of relatively tame sandhill cranes stood off the side of the road.  What an exciting surprise!  I had never been so close to these birds in my other endeavors, and would have stopped to shoot, except that I was already late meeting up with Raaj.  I hoped that I would run into them again before the day was out. After there or four hours had passed, I wasn’t having […]

Elmwood Cemetery: Introducing the Grave Guardians

I visited Elmwood Cemetery this past weekend with a couple of friends.  While there, one of them was excited to learn that Bear Bryant’s grave was in the cemetery.  Who wouldn’t want to take a picture of a famous football coach’s tombstone (Bear would have been 103 – he was born on 9/11/1913).  The website gave precise coordinates, down to three decimal places – pretty cool!  He plugged the coordinates into his GPS and was all set to start walking, only to learn that it was a longer walk than he had hoped, about 712 miles.  Bear was buried at Elmwood in Birmingham, […]

Summer Carnival in Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor’s summer carnival has come and gone for the year.  It’s been 15 or so years since I last went with my daughter – or should I say, the last year she went with me. That had something to do with my favorite ride, the scrambler. I love(d) the G-forces as the circle-within-a-circle centrifugal force combined to slide us hard to the outside of the car. On the other hand, my middle ear didn’t agree with my sense of excitement – as soon as the ride was over, I staggered to a patch of parched grass and lay down for […]

Street Photography on St. Patrick’s Day

Street Photo

Let me start by saying that street photography is not my thing, at least not when it comes to bringing people I don’t know into pictures.  I love to photograph architecture and street details, but when it comes to featuring strangers in my photographs, I am not comfortable unless their faces aren’t showing (as at right).  That’s why I joined an A2 Shutterbugs meetup hosted by Patrick Morgan last week – to see if I could break out of my comfort zone. What is street photography? From Wikipedia: “Street photography is photography that features unmediated chance encounters and random incidents within public places.” Sounds reasonable […]

Birds of Prey – Howell (MI) Nature Center

barred owl

The Howell Nature Center in lower Michigan rescues injured birds of prey and other wild animals and invites the public to meet them. Today, I had the opportunity to photograph their birds.  The Nature Center offers an array of wildlife education programs and today’s photo shoot was my introduction to their services.  Nature Center staff did a terrific job of explaining the background of the birds, how they came to the center, and their habits and habitat in the wild. My Favorite Birds of Prey We had the opportunity to work with several species of birds of prey, including various owls, a Harlan hawk, […]

Sandhill Cranes Nesting in Michigan

Sandhill Crane at Phyllis Haehnle Sanctuary

It had been five years since I first photographed sandhill cranes returning in the evening to their nesting site in Mud Lake Marsh.  This was at the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary near Jackson, Michigan, a Michigan Audubon Society preserve.  That was my first real exposure to photographing birds in the wild … if you exclude seagulls. Getting Started This year, National Photography Workshops in Ann Arbor arranged a morning sandhill crane photo shoot at the same location.  I joined eight or nine crazy amateurs at around 6:00 on a chilly November morning to await sunrise an hour away.  Stars were bright and many in […]

Fall Color After All

Baron Pond Shoreline

Last week, I carped that this has been a bad year for shooting fall color.  But, quite by accident I found that the reality was I was looking in the wrong places.  I don’t mean to say that I found a grove of wonderfully-tinted trees at peak color – it’s getting pretty late for that.  Instead, while trying out a new lens, I learned that I had forgotten there are many more aspects to fall color than peak season.  Here are some examples: Intense Fall Color Early morning, just after sunrise, is a wonderful time to take pictures around lakes and ponds. […]

Finding Fall Leaves

Fall Hydrangea

I found it a bit challenging for shooting fall leaves in Ann Arbor this year.  Maybe it was me, but peak color waited for a frost that never came, and then the colors peaked at different times, followed by wind that blew leaves off of trees much more quickly than in past years. Here we are in November and we haven’t had a hard frost, and our days warm to the 70’s all week. Very bizarre!  Not so bad for yard cleanup, but somehow I’ve not found as many great, peak-color shooting opportunities as in past years. Still, there were fall leaves that didn’t disappear […]

Those Crazy Rabbits

Nest-Building Rabbit

Rabbits drive us crazy at home.  They eat our flowers and make babies that are just the right size for our dachshund to think he should eat. At dinner, we sit on our patio and get to watch a rabbit build its nest just 10 feet away – it isn’t scared of us and only hops away if we get within 6 or 8 feet.  If we pick the nest apart, she (or is it the he?) comes right back to build it again.  Here is the latest endeavor, about 45 seconds worth.  It starts with rabbit and its mouthful of grass, then shows the rabbit making its […]

Graffiti – The Art Within the Art

Graffiti Detail Photograph

When others do the original artwork (or architecture, or landscape, or …) and we think the creation makes for a cool subject, it’s not enough to simply take a picture and call it a done day.  As photographers, we must bring a fresh view to the subject.  Otherwise, taking the picture is an act of photojournalism, at best, and plagiarism, at the worst.  I wrote about this after my day in London, last year, where I focused on sculpture. Graffiti presents its own opportunities for photographers, as in the example above taken at a popular graffitists’ spot on an Ann Arbor Railroad bridge abutment near […]

Ice at Argo Dam

Argo Dam Ice

What better subject to contemplate before my departure to Hawaii than ice conditions in Ann Arbor.  Taken on the same day as Argo Cascades in Winter, at about 8 degrees Fahrenheit, this is what you see looking down at one of the dam’s spillways.    The dark area is the water flowing under the ice.  If you click the image to zoom in, you can better sense the oddity of the ice formations.  

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