Friday, November 6, 2015

Changing Moods

It has been an interesting fall with lots of warm windy days. Over the past few days we have waken up with fog which clears in late morning allowing the warm light to touch the trees at the end of the day. Given these conditions, the mood of a scene changes drastically over the course of the day. Here are two images from one of the local forest preserves taken about 12 hours apart one bathed in sunset light and the other engulfed in the morning fog.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Shining On

I noticed something different when I was photographing the Baileys Harbor range lights. I just couldn't figure it out until I was home. You have to look carefully at the images below to notice that the lights on both range lights are lit.After almost 46 years of being dark, these range lights are once again in active service. What was once old is new again!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Spring Blues

With Spring home projects coming to an end, I can post a few images and perhaps get to process a few more...

In either case, April (May and June) showers brought a lot of flowers, specially bluebells. These little flowers grow in large clumps in wooded areas and under the right light conditions, the flowers glow with their deep blue color. Here are three of my favorite 2015 images from these flowers:
Messenger Woods
Morton Arboretum
Starved Rock

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Time to Fly

I meant to post this about a month ago but time just got away. Owlets have been gone for a few weeks and this images were taken towards the end of their stay when the adult features were starting to fill in.
He (she?) looks just like a punk teenager. For comparison, here is mom:
One last image of the watchful eyes. Hopefully they will be back next year.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Helpers

It's not always fun hauling around a heavy bag of camera gear, tripod and other essentials so I'm always on the lookout for a good helper (a sherpa if you will). The other day these two guys showed up out of nowhere and before I knew it, they were demonstrating their skills. The made quick adjustments to my tripod and even coat it with a heavy coat of mud which they implied was good to keep the joints moving smoothly.

Things got a little wild quickly between the two of them so it was clear that teamwork may not be their strongest suit. They asked for food a couple of times and when I refused, they tried running away with my tripod. No wonder they wear a mask. Little thiefs!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

New Kids in Town

After skipping their 2014 visit, Geneva's seasonal family has returned! The pair of Great Horned Owls have taken residence once again in their customary old tree and is raising their family. It must be a good year for voles as the pair has three owlets. Those monitoring the nest indicate that the owlets were born 5 days apart. The older one is already showing its wing feathers so it may be stepping outside the nest in the coming weeks.
In the above image, the older owlet is on the left and the second born is on the right. The third owlet occasionally makes an appearance. Mom has been spending time in the nest while dad is usually spotted on some pines in the vicinity.
The forest preserve is doing their best to protect the nest and keep the birds unstressed. Sometimes, in the excitement of seeing animals, we forget that they are wild and that we should be acting as stewards to nature.
I'm thinking that I need better equipment to photograph these guys and the bald eagles that are down the street and it just so happens that the perfect piece of equipment just came into the market. I just need a bigger piggy bank.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Looking for Ice

Do you ever start your day with one plan and then throw it completely out the window for unexpected circumstances? This is the story of what started out as a simple day trip to Michigan. Forecast in the morning called for partially cloudy skies and above freezing temperatures from St. Joseph to Grand Haven. Once I got to St. Joseph, I found clear skies so I continue driving north to Grand Haven only to find overcast conditions and snow showers. Forecast couldn't have been more wrong!

I stopped by in front of a fast food and checked the forecast again. Looked promising further north so off I went. First stop was Little Sable and as predicted, some clouds were floating around. I love this area in the warm months with the sand dunes and grasses swaying in the wind. However, grasses swaying in the winter meant very cold temperatures. Snow was knee deep in some spots which made hiking interesting.

It was still early in the day so I decided to push further north all the way to Manistee. The wind was so strong on the lake shore that my tripod slid on the icy pier. This is where I started regretting not wearing long-johns...

With still plenty of daylight left, I made one more push north all the way to Frankfort. First stop was Point Betsie. The wind was really something here. This had to be my coldest outing this winter, by far. Even the camera was sluggish under the conditions. Given that I wasn't really dressed for the occasion, I had to run to the car every few minutes to regain contact with the extremities.

The ice and snow buildup on the shore was impressive. In some areas it was over 10 feet high. And the promised clouds were there, moving very quickly across the sky. Sunset did not disappoint!
Just as the sun touch the horizon, I drove back to Frankfort to catch the pierhead lighthouse against the sunset sky. I found several other folks watching the scene unfold, all of them sitting warm in their car.
I briefly considered driving back was a very brief moment. The cold had worn me out so I spent the night in Manistee. In the morning I geared up with all my winter apparel including foot warmers and several hand warmers. I was comfortable outside, maybe a little toasty. When I finally went for coffee, I saw that the temperature had risen to 0; it started out around 15 degrees below 0.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Openlands Winter

A few weeks of freezing temperatures can quickly reshape the shoreline of Lake Michigan. What used to be a sandy beach is transformed into an uninviting ice-covered coast. Carved into all the ice are intricate and delicate patterns that catch the light.
When I left home at 5 AM, the temperature was -3, It was one degree warmer when I arrived at the beach. It was so cold that the water spray from the waves crashing into the ice froze on contact. Needless to say, it was refreshing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

After the Snow Storm

The late autumn snow storm created some damage in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Several trees fell blocking roads and shutting down all access (in or out) of cars to the park. From Townsend, there was a constant caravan of cars traveling all the way to the entrance of the park only to be turned back by the rangers who, like a taper recorder, had to answer the same question: "when will the park reopen?"
Although cars were not allowed into the park, there was no such restriction for hikers. Few took this opportunity to explore the park by foot and just left. In the few hours that I was there that morning, I only encountered a handful of people, mostly photographers, enjoying the slow pace of the quiet park. Walking on the roads, without having cars speeding by, was surreal.
I was a couple of miles up the road when I heard the fast approaching rumbling of car engines. Before long, an endless caravan of tailgating cars sped by on their way to Cades Cove. None of them slowed down or pulled over to admire the beautiful colors along the river. I guess that in this case the destination was more important than the journey.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Changing Seasons

Just as the autumn color peaked around Townsend, TN, a snow storm blanketed the area overnight transforming the already beautiful landscape into something even more magical. Twenty four hours later, it was all back to normal with little traces of the snow to be seen at the lower elevations of the park.