Hello to all and welcome!
I can't really say what you should expect to see here as I've never before tried blogging or anything similar. It'll have to be a work in progress. I'll probably talk about photography in general (and mine in specific) as well as point out different things that are going on that I find interesting or worth commenting on. If anyone (assuming anyone actually ends up reading this) has questions or suggestions on topics, feel free to let me know.
I'm here you're with me, here at the beginning of all things.
p.s. Comments and feedback are very welcome.
Warning: This will be a long post with LOTS of photos.
I know...I've been a very inconsistent blogger and poster of images. Blame it on weather, occupations, and circumstances beyond my control. Still, it wasn't until this past weekend that I really had a lot to share or discuss.
A couple of weeks ago, I was out at Wood Lake and got some fun shots. There were these of a painted turtle:
This one is a young muskrat:
And I got this one of a green heron flying overhead:
I've also managed to add to my collection of dragonfly photos, both at Wood Lake and Lone Lake:
This is a White-Faced Darter (also called a Yellow-Spotted Darter, for reasons made clear in the second image):
And this one is a Chalk-Fronted Corporal:
So, after all that, I thought I'd head back this past Saturday, both to see what was new and to reshoot a couple of images that needed work. Plus, this provided an opportunity to go out with a couple friends from my photo club (for some reason, it is almost always more fun to go out shooting with someone else, maybe because you get a chance to bounce ideas off each other or point out an interesting subject).
As we started walking around, a glance to the left revealed something I had never seen before...trumpeter swans. A trip to the dock and closer views was obviously called for.
Looking around a bit, we spotted a pair of red-winged blackbirds flying into the weeds next to the dock.
A closer look revealed the nest and the reason the female above was carrying a bug in its beak:
And, on the rail on the other side of the dock were some fledgling barn swallows:
After a lot of fun shooting these birds (and others), we started around the lake again, and got farther this time. All the way to this dead tree with HUGE mushrooms growing in it:
I had actually seen these types of mushrooms in that same tree a couple of weeks before, but they were dead and gone the last time I was there. So, it was a nice surprise.
The others had to leave shortly after this, but I needed to continue in a different direction to reshoot a great tree stump I had seen my last visit.
I had spotted this stump and really liked the miniature landscape growing inside the stump. However, I wasn't all that thrilled with the images I had managed to capture (the above one was the only one that seemed close to decent). So I went back, tripod in hand. And it was even better than I had hoped:
Don't those small orange mushrooms just make the shot SO much more interesting? Plus the texture in the decaying wood and the plants (new trees?) sending up shoots. These shots really encapsulate the decay and rebirth that I find so interesting in tree stumps.
After that, everything I managed to capture was just icing on the cake. And BOY DID I GET A LOT OF ICING!!
First, here's another type of dragonfly that I hadn't captured before, a four-spotted skimmer:
There was actually another shot that I wanted to retry:
I had seen these flowers previously and thought they would work really well in black and white. I think I was right.
Then, there was a pair of Canadian Geese sitting next to the path, standing guard over several goslings:
As I got towards the entrance, I saw the trumpeter swans were still sitting in the same place, so I went back to the dock to try and get some more interesting shots (one of the ones above, as well as the single barn swallow images above were part of this stop). However, maybe a minute after I got there, this happened:
Actually, I got there in time to watch the Great Blue Heron jump off the log to catch that fish in the first place. Those shots were much more interesting to watch than they were to view as still images. And, the fish was too big for the bird to swallow in that last image, but I got tired of watching and, instead, decided to call it a wonderful morning of shooting.
It's a new year, lots of snow has fallen over the past day, and temperatures are below freezing. Typical.
But, that begs the question of what to do photographically until the weather is nicer. Yes, I could go tromping through the snow looking for something photogenic, but I don't really have the equipment for that (meaning boots, thermals, etc.). So, find stuff indoors to shoot or go through old photos and see if there is anything fun to play with.
Last week at my photography club, it was mentioned that one of the keys to good black and white images is having strong contrast in the initial image. Good dark areas, definite light areas, shading and texture between. So, I went and looked for some shots of mine that fit those criteria and decided to see what they look like in black and white.
This is the first image I decided to play with. It happens to be one of my favorites. But, the textures in the rocks and water, the dark areas of the stream and light of the water all fit what I was looking for.
This was actually a lot more difficult to convert than I had thought it would be. The tops of the rocks are a lot brighter relative to the rest of the image, so I had to tone them down a bit. The moss on the rocks on the right are a lot darker than I liked, so I had to bring that section up. Still, I'm happy with the result.
Here's another image I really like in color, especially the contrast between the yellow in the center with the pink petals.
It's surprising how the shades of pink changing to gray makes the petals look like they have much more texture.
Yes, I still prefer the color versions. That said, the black and white does work well and having that as an option means that I have lots that I can play with until spring.
As the year flies past us into the sunset of that which was, it is time to reflect on what has been a very strange year in many ways. So, I'll start out the retrospective with a couple of new shots, taken while flying home from DC after Thanksgiving:
In many ways, the best part of the year for me from a photographic standpoint was finding out about Wood Lake. I've lived here over 20 years now and didn't realize this wonderful place existed. And it was there that I captured my first muskrat pictures, lots of new painted turtles, several types of birds, and several types of dragonflies and grasshoppers (you may not be as interested in those latter two, but I'm finding the variations of species fascinating and fun to shoot).
I've not seen beavers up close, but am pretty sure I've seen beaver dams/huts in the area. Because of this I was never sure what the small rodents I've spotted but not captured might be. After stopping in at the visitor center at Wood Lake, where they have taxidermy examples of both, there's NO question they have all been muskrats. Beavers are 10x the size.
It has been a couple years since I spotted any painted turtles in the area, so finding them at Wood Lake was a treat.
Some of the many birds images I captured at Wood Lake. In order they are a blue heron, osprey, northern harrier, and double-crested cormorant.
The dragonflies/damselflies and grasshoppers below are from Wood Lake and elsewhere. No reason to split them up by location.
I also managed to add several fun examples to my collection of tree stumps and dead branches:
I also got some fun shots of Minneapolis itself this year. The first one was at Lake Calhoun and shows a small sample of the number of birds that stop there each spring. The second one was me experimenting with HDR at sunset below the Stone Arch Bridge.
Finally, this was the first year I've had a chance to shoot fireworks, so I'll leave you with those and wish you all the best in the year to come.
I first started playing Ultimate my freshman year of high school. I continued playing all through college, and have been part of the Twin Cities Ultimate League since 1992.
Needless to say, it is something that I've enjoyed playing and watching for many decades now. However, being a player in a team sport doesn't leave a lot of opportunities to take pictures during a game. This past Tuesday, though, I was able to bring my camera with me to the last game of the TCUL summer league for this year.
7 on the line. Getting ready to receive.
Because Ultimate is a fast sport, it is not easy to take good photos. Use a fairly large aperture (most of these were at f8 or wider) and a fast shutter to freeze the action. I also found that I needed to zoom a lot less than I normally do. Too close meant that part of the picture inevitably got cut off. This is one case where cropping in camera was not a good idea.
Thanks to this year's team and all those I've played with in the past and in the future.
p.s. The term Frisbee is trademarked. Since other brands of flying discs are generally used, the name "Ultimate Frisbee" is now just "Ultimate". For more information about the sport, check this: http://www.whatisultimate.com/what-is-ultimate/
Sunday was a good day. I had finally finished going through all my CONvergence photos and decided to reward myself with an easy stroll at Lone Lake.
The water lilies are blooming. And, because the lake is much higher than normal right now, lots of them are quite close to the dock and easy to shoot.
There are lots of dragonflies cruising around the lilies as well.
I even saw a green heron there. I've never seen one at Lone Lake before, and haven't seen any for a couple of years.
While ambling on the trail around the lake, I spotted some interesting types of fungi.
I even spotted some new possible additions to my stumps and branches collection!
Unfortunately, none of the photos I took on Sunday came out decent. Many were not as sharp as I'd like. Others were too grainy or shaky. That happens sometimes. It doesn't ruin the memory or the enjoyment of the day.
The above photos, if you are wondering, are ones I took on Monday in order to replace the ones that didn't turn out. The exception is the green heron photos, which is quite older. I did spot the bird again, but it wasn't anywhere I could get close enough for a photo. Again, that happens sometimes.