Archives for February 2011

A Change Of Pace

I normally come to florida with one thing in mind…birds and some landscapes but, I have heard mention of Ybor City over the years and the curiosity got the better of me today so, off we went to check it out. Ybor City is the home to handmade cigars, architecture and interesting people. I was anticipating working all of the above. Our first subject was the Columbia Restaurant which opened in 1905 and is still operated by the original family. It had all kinds of mosaic tile pictures on the walls and made for an interesting fisheye…

Shortly thereafter, we passed the Ybor City Development Offices and saw a map in the window so we stopped in to pick one up and ask a couple of questions. We met Brenda, who graciously answered our questions, pointed out some interesting stops and then suggested we talk to Bob, the Historic District Ambassador. A quick phone call and Brenda had set up a meeting with Bob who showed up and told us he would take us around. He took us to the New World Brewery where we were once again greeted graciously and the owner, Steve, allowed us free reign of his establishment…

We wandered down the street with Bob filling in the history of the buildings and Ybor City. We told him we would love to see inside the Columbia Museum to which he promptly made arrangements to get us in…

On Bob’s suggestion we all ordered the 1905 salad with a Cuban sandwich for lunch, which was delicious, before proceeding on with our tour. Next on our agenda was a visit to a few of the cigar stores to see them hand roll cigars. We stopped at La Herencia De Cuba and met Mr Ramirez who sat down and began rolling cigars for us…

He was a wonderful gentleman with a charming smile…

All too fast the day flew by and soon we were thanking Bob for the great tour and behind the scenes access as well as the great stories. Ybor City certainly lived up to all the stories we heard about it and more. We went to Ybor City in search of a fun day of photography and got way more than we bargained for when we met Ambassador Bob, who brought the old Ybor City to life with his tales…

Thanks Bob, for an incredible day, we’ll be back.

Images created with Nikon D3S, AF 16mm 2.8 Fisheye, AF-S 24-70mm 2.8 on Lexar digital media

Fantastic Fort DeSoto

I have packed a new suitcase for Florida. Put away are the thermal underwear, the Smart Wool socks, the heavy down coat and the gloves and I had to dig deep into my closet for a new wardrobe…one geared towards much warmer temperatures than that in Yellowstone…I am now in Florida preparing for my evening talk at the Morean Art Center Thursday evening followed by an Excellent Photo Adventure photographing the wild birds of this sunny state. With my friend Joan in tow, off we headed at o’dark thirty this morning in search of subjects. We never even made it to Fort DeSoto before we pulled over to work an eagles nest that has one chick. While waiting for some action at the nest we, worked some of the birds in the pond below the eagle nest. The light reflecting in the pond made for a gorgeous background for the Lesser Scaups…

A couple of male Common Moorhens got into a tussle over a female with feet, feathers and water flying. Low light and a slow shutter speed resulted in a couple of very nice blur motion images that I really like as I feel that the blur conveys motion rather than the stop action of a fast shutter speed…

I always tell my fellow adventurers to watch a preening bird because they will nearly always do a wing flap when they are done and sure enough this cute little pied billed grebe didn’t disappoint…

The male bald eagle flew in and landed close by, spread his wings and proceeded to dry off, not something I have seen an eagle do before. The Anhinga and Cormorant can frequently be found doing this behavior but, I was thrilled to get some new (to me) behavior from an eagle…

After he had dried sufficiently, he got to work cleaning out the nest removing any uneaten fish and flying off with it…

Today was a perfect example of what I love so much about photography, I have photographed at Fort DeSoto for over a decade now and I still come home with new images. Today, rather than working the shorebirds and wading birds that Fort DeSoto is so well know for, we worked a variety of different birds than normal in nice light with beautiful reflections and were fortunate to spend time watching and photographing a pair of nesting bald eagles and their baby. I can’t wait to share this spot with my group next week. Stay tuned.

Images created with Nikon D3S, AF-S 600mm f4 VR, TC-20E III on Lexar digital media

Yellowstone…Where Are The Wolves?


Image from winter 2010

While each visit to Yellowstone is amazing. It is different each year too. The temps can range from breathtaking -40 degrees to balmy temps in the 30’s. The snow depth varies each year too. How does this impact the wildlife? Do they prefer cold temps? How much snow is too much for them to survive? This year the wildlife in Lamar Valley was not as plentiful as previous years. The wolves were farther off in the distance and there were some days when I dare say the wolf watchers didn’t even wee them. Each trip we speculated as to why. Yesterday Barry sent me an article by Dr Jim Halfpenny that explained the situation and in fact gave dire predictions for both the grazers as well as the wolves. Here is a small excerpt of the article…

“This year’s snowpack is dramatically different from all the years I have collected data at these locations.
The impact of the 2011 snowpack on grazers is evaluated by what I call red line values. Snow becomes a critical limiter when it reaches chest height of an animal. The red line value for chest height for bison is 26 inches and for elk 33 inches. On the Lamar Valley bottom, the snowpack depth is the greatest since I start at 38 inches (96 cm). Other red line values are a density of 30% water and a Snow Water.
The statement is often heard that a “tough” winter on grazers is good for wolves. But this winter a threshold of food availability may have been crossed and wolves may starve to death. Yes, wolves can starve!
Copyright by Jim Halfpenny, Feb. 7, 2011.

To read the article in it’s entirety go here. There is a $20.00 membership fee to get the reports but, if you are interested in the goings on in Yellowstone, it’s worth the cost!

Yellowstone Below Zero It’s A Wrap!

Our final day in the park was working the north end along the Lamar Valley. We found one of the largest bison I have ever seen in the park with a head that seemed to be as large as a Volkswagon. He was near the road, foraging for food and when he raised his head his face was covered in snow. A 1.7X attached to my 600mm gave me the composition I was looking for. A B&W conversion using NIK Color Efex Pro 3.0 Infrared B&W gave me the effect I visualized when I clicked the shutter…

The light was favorable for working a section of the river where snow pillows stack up on the rocks creating sensuous curves of shadow and light…

Wanting to create a romantic feel, I converted one of the images to B&W infrared #2 using NIK Color Efex Pro 3.0 giving it a soft glowy look…

It’s interesting to study the ice and see where the snow melts near the water’s edge and then refreezes into interesting ice patterns…

We headed back towards Mammoth filled with the satisfaction of a great adventure under our belts when the skies began to turn pink. I pulled over to enjoy the sunset and boy did we ever get a great send off as it continued to build into a spectacular show…

What more could we ask for after such a great week! As Yellowstone recedes in my rear view mirror, I am already planning my next visit this year for the fall rut and next year where I have a special adventure in the planning. Stay tuned.

Images created with Nikon D3S, AF-S 600mm f4 VR, TC-17E II, D3X, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II, AF-S 24-70mm 2.8, AF 16mm 2.8 Fisheye on Lexar digital media.