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.
This has been one of those years that will be celebrated more by its ending than for anything that happened during the year. Photographically, several of my favorite places were in bad shape due to weather or weather caused problems. Others just had a sameness to them that didn't provide enough inspiration to share.
That said, I did manage to get some photos out of the year that I'm quite pleased with.
I was able to add some interesting insects to my collection
There was a young bald eagle:
And then there was the series of photos I made the dock at Lone Lake under water, which worked well in both color and black and white:
So, not much to show for a full year, but definitely some keepers.
I don't know if this counts as a post-script, I noticed there was one photos that I like that I hadn't uploaded for some reason. Here it is:
2019 has been one of the wettest years on record in Minnesota. I know I've seen flooding in places that I never have before. For instance, I have never seen this dock flooded before:
This photo was taken on May 5. It has only gotten worse as the year has gone on. For instance, here's a shot taken August 22.
To better compare, note that the waterline in the first photo is just past the second set of dock posts. In the second, the water is past the shoreline, and only 8 sets of posts are visible compared to 12 in the first one.
However, the flooding is only incidental to the image I want to discuss here. What really intrigues me about this scene is the way the dock disappears into nothingness, with the posts sinking and converging to a vanishing point on the shoreline. So, how to capture that feeling.
The first option was, obviously, shoot the dock. Based on the top image, I knew this wasn't something that I could capture with a telephoto lens; the trees are distracting and I couldn't get an angle that was satisfactory. So, something wide-angle seemed the best bet. As you can see in the below image, the converging lines of the dock posts do show up nicely. However, there are several aspects to this image that are unappealing. First, the sunlight on the dock is too reflective (meaning it stands out too much against the water). Also, I don't like the piles of dead leaves and such in the middle. Finally, I'm not fond of the way the bottom of the image works. To better give the feeling of receding lines, I think the dock needs to fill the bottom of the frame.
My next set of attempts happened on an overcast/drizzly day. The lack of glare is much better, but the dock itself is still too different from the underwater parts to get the proper feeling. Also, the tree branches on the right are distracting. However, I do like the bit of sky showing at the top, so that is definitely something to work with.
This one was a significant step closer to what I was after. I thought at the time that having a bit of the dry dock visible would help anchor the image and make it clear that the dock is under water, but instead I find it really distracting. At the same time, the posts at the base are prominent but don't add anything, so future images don't want them. I also realized that I'd need to clean up the waterline to get rid of random floating stuff. On the plus size, I really liked the way the clouds look reflected over the dock. They add some framing to the dock slats that I really like. [FYI, while going through images to put together this article, I found an image that, with a little cropping, fixed all those problems. It is included below.]
This next one has some different issues. First, I wanted to see whether eliminating the trees would enhance the perspective, but there's too much relatively empty space. Second, the sky was too overcast. Compare the color in the below image to the one above and you can see what I mean. Nothing stands out.
The final issue that needed to be resolved was orientation. All the ones above were portrait, but I thought landscape might also work. Comparing these next two images I find that the dock doesn't stand out enough in the landscape photo, even though I do like the way the clouds frame it.
So, I knew I needed a partly cloudy day with enough blue sky to set off the dock, but with enough clouds to provide texture and interest on the dock. Here are my two favorites. This first one is the cropped image I mentioned above. The clouds are nicely place while still allowing the dock to be visible in all the darker areas.
Here's the second one, and my personal favorite. Enough of the dock is visible under the water to know what you are looking at, while the clouds give really nice texture to all the different parts of the lake (and the actual sky, for that matter). Plus, being later in the summer, the assorted lilypads provide a nice frame to the dock, letting the empty space stand out.
Maybe sometime in the fall the water will recede enough to try making some new images. Plus, fall colors might add extra interest. Until then, though, there's not much to shoot unless I try wading out on the dock, which doesn't seem very safe, and I'm not sure if the ripples from standing there would work in the photo.
Addendum #1 - On a couple of occasions there were waterfowl that could be caught in the shot. In both cases, I found that they really didn't add all that much. This first one is a Canadian Goose that was swimming past. I timed this shot so it would be in the middle of the vanishing point formed by the dock posts.
This one is a mallard that was swimming around the lake, up and down the dock area. It stopped to dry off its wings and I got some shots. Again, it is fun, but kind of distracts from the image.
Addendum #2 - After looking them over, I though there might be enough contrast and shapes to make an interesting black and white photo.
This first one looks decent, but you can't tell that the dock is underwater until the water starts rippling about a third of the way from the bottom.
This one works better, but it doesn't flow together nicely. There's the trees and reflection at the top, empty dock, and clouds over the dock, but for some reason they don't feel tied together.
Here's my favorite one. The textures work well. The clouds and lillypads tie the image together. I'm just not sure if there is enough of the dock clearly visible to make it work in the same way as the color versions.
It's time again for my annual review of my favorite photos of the past year. And this year it is really kinda hard to put this together since, for the most part, I didn't get a huge number of new subjects. Rather, I've added to assorted collections and ongoing projects.
For a long time, I've had a weird fascination with dead trees. I've found the way they decay can be beautiful, and the way new life can flourish on top of them can be inspiring. So, I'll start things off with some of the tree stumps/dead limbs that I added this year.
While I generally don't try (or appreciate) black and white photography, I did come across a couple subjects that seemed like they would work well.
I was also able to add a couple new and interesting dragonfly photos to my collection
For the most part, though, I think this was a year for the birds. While the only new one I captured was a trumpeter swan, I did get some shots of familiar birds in ways I never thought I would.
So, those are some of the highlights from this year. Hope you enjoyed them. And here's wishing you a new year of joyful surprises and unexpected beauty.
It started as many other days had. I was in the mood to go take some pictures, so I grabbed my camera and headed over to Wood Lake. Once I got to the main boardwalk, I noticed that there were some barn swallows sitting on the wire railing. I started taking some pictures, slowly moving closer after each until I was close enough to get them basically full frame.
Then I looked up and spotted a 4 or 5-year-old bald eagle slowly circling overhead (that's the age at which the head turns white).
So far, nothing all that unusual. Except that, apparently, the eagle caused some egrets to take flight.
As I stood there, chatting with a naturalist who works there, watching a muskrat and the eagle and everything else, one of the egrets landed in the top of a tree for maybe a minute, then took off again.
Looking back, the eagle had left, but an osprey showed up briefly, as did a great blue heron. Then the heron dropped down to water level and started flying at us
only to fly past maybe 5 feet away.
That was pretty much it for the birds, except that, on my way out I decided to stop at the dock to see if there was anything interesting going on there. And there was cormorant swimming past, showing off the fish that it had caught.
As a sort of post-script, I need to share one last image. This was the first time I saw a snapping turtle at Wood Lake. And next to this one was the weirdest, freakiest thing I have seen for a long time. Some friends tell me it is a bryozoan, which were around before the dinosaurs.
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.