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Crystal Beach…

I’m afraid that the feature photo gives this whole post away. You’ve already seen just how pretty the sunset got. But I’m ahead of myself. When I arrived at Crystal Beach ahead of my friend I was happy to see a somewhat promising scene for our sunset shoot.

A potentially decent sunset in the making, I thought.
As I watched the clouds seemed to be moving, creating a bit of drama up there.
I kept taking pictures, becoming more excited as the sky continued to develop.

But as much as the sunset was the goal, the real excitement was that my friend, Maryann, was bringing the drone(s) she had been flying for the last few months. DroneS, because apparently you can’t have just one, or so she tells me. I’ve been amazed from the first time I’d seen drone photos, wondering how the heck you point them at what you want them to ‘see’ and then hold them steady enough to take a decent photo. Just handholding a camera can be a challenge at times. And then she arrived, and I became torn between getting shots of the sky as it got prettier, and then resetting the camera to shoot the drone itself, which turned out not to be a challenge at all because it just rose up in the sky and stayed put. Went up straight, no guesswork there, so avoiding trees and power lines isn’t really an issue. Then she showed me her phone screen, which showed the drone view, and she could take pictures at will. The controller looked like a video game controller, so that took care of aiming her. And before you take the drone up you ‘pin’ the spot where she started so that when you call her she comes ‘home’.

The drone view.
Hovering completely still, but sometimes up over 100 feet and it wasn’t so easy to see her.
Maryann had drawn a crowd and she was explaining things to them more than she was to me. I was eavesdropping as I dashed around getting photos with the camera and the iPhone.
It was hard to turn away from the sunset to pay attention to what the drone was doing.
This, I thought when I took it, would be my ultimate picture of the night.

We were about ready to call it a day when I happened to glance over and saw that behind some trees another whole cloud bank was ablaze with color. I had to go back out onto the pier to get that feature photo. It was quite the finale of the evening. And what I failed to explain is that I drive past the turn off for this beach every time I go to Clearwater for a class, and many times for the photo shoots also. But I had never noticed the sign for Crystal Beach, just another one of those details that seem to escape me as I go about my days.

PS. Maryann was happy to point out that no rules of flying drones were broken in the making of this blog post!

PSS: You can check out Maryann’s stuff at MaryannMiller.com. Also look for her at

http://www.marymiller.zenfolio.com

'scene' along the way, adventure, birds, black and white, egrets, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, making memories, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, perseverance, photography, road trip

Details…

A couple of weeks ago one of the photo club members was at Myakka River State Park and saw a flock of Roseate Spoonbills fly in. “A hundred”, he said. His pictures were amazing, and ever since then ‘Spoonies’ have been on my mind. A very fun Octoberfest party in Myakka City was just the excuse we needed to head to the park ourselves. We went this morning, and after driving the whole park it became obvious that if I was going to get any sort of pictures of the spoonies I was going to have to walk a very wet and squishy path. But I was happy to see them at least. When I got into the car and looked at my pictures I lamented that the turkey vultures had photo bombed the pictures. Earlier in the day I had said that I’m not a detail person, and when I got the pictures into the computer I saw who else had photo bombed the pictures and proved my point. How did I miss that alligator, and why did all the birds just hang around with him?

They did at least keep their eye on that big boy.
These were the most spoonies I’ve seen so far so I’m happy.
I saw this cute guy from the bird boardwalk.
Merlin says it’s a black necked stilt.
I always loved to see the tri-color heron who visited my back yard in Spring Hill.
We saw lots of wood storks and ibis too.
This is a pretty park.

There are many parks within a couple of hours of home that we can go to see birds now that the migration season is upon us.

'scene' along the way, a second look, adventure, exploring new places, friends, fun, kids, learning, nature, perseverance, photography, road trip, travel

Odds and ends…

I was chauffeur driven for a week in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, which means I was taking pictures from the car, a lot of pictures. Now when I look at my pictures I have some that never did fit into any post I made already, but I liked them, so here goes. The feature photo is one of the four tunnels we drove through every day we were in NC. Two tunnels were longer, but that doesn’t make for as interesting of a picture.

Mingus Mill. A destination in the park, but one that didn’t yield as many pictures for some reason.
I loved seeing these silos along the roadside in Bryson City. After wishing to stop each time we drove past I finally said something and my driver kindly obliged.
This view escaped us the first couple of times we passed by, but once we noticed it we made it a point to stop for a picture.
The actual water wheel in action. Just for show at a shopping area.
This is a view into the house at the farm museum at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. I noticed this boy standing still, looking into the room, after the rest of the family had moved on. I wondered, hoped really, that he was trying to imagine life in those days.
Just a flower that caught my eye.
This carving is outside the Indian museum in Cherokee, NC.

I’m so glad that we made this trip. My computer is full of images of lovely fall scenery. I was initially disappointed that all the hills weren’t ablaze with color, but once I found myself traveling through tunnels of foliage overhead I was quite happy with the fall foliage we did see. It was a nice trip, but it’s also nice to be home…

'scene' along the way, a second look, birds, eagles, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, making memories, moments, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, Osprey, perseverance, photography

Nesting…

It was several weeks ago that a friend and I cruised past the eagle nest so I could show him where it was, and I was dismayed to see the barest skeleton of a nest remaining. There was so little of it left that I wondered if they would choose a new spot to rebuild. But when I returned on Tuesday I was happy to see a rather healthy looking nest, even if no one was on it. Two photographers I know were there already, but up the street a way and busy taking pictures of a single eagle on a snag. They said that the eagles seemed to have finished working on the nest, for the most part anyhow, and were leaving for longer periods, making for fewer photo ops. One had left the area a while ago, they said, and while I was still setting up they saw that eagle return to the nest with a stick. In the feature photo you see that eagle on high alert. The other photographers thought there might be some action because an osprey had just flown in and landed on a snag overlooking the nest. If there had been eggs in the nest there certainly would have been some excitement, but the osprey stayed a few minutes and then flew on, and the eagle relaxed and started preening. And posing. So a quick but successful visit with the eagles on a cool Florida morning. Soon we’ll be on the lookout for eggs, and lots more photo ops to come.

The interloper.
Grooming.
I don’t deliberately try to catch them in silly postures, but when I do…
Back to being regal looking.
More posing.
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Elk sighting…

We pulled the car over to join the line up of cars on the side of the road just beyond the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee, NC. We quickly saw the female elk that everyone was getting out of their cars, toting their phones and cameras, to photograph. She had just emerged from the tree line, and was wandering into the pasture to graze. More females followed her, emerging by twos and threes, or just one at a time. I had seen elk before, but not in such a natural setting. In Yellowstone they had taken over the streets of a town, and the rangers weren’t so much herding the elk as they were herding the people who were getting too close to them. In Colorado Springs I saw them on a lawn of a business on one corner of a busy intersection, with a traffic light and constant traffic just a few yards away. The elk were not fazed by either of these situations.

First came one female elk, testing the waters perhaps?
Others followed soon after.
She seemed to lead the herd, or maybe her collar made her seem more official to me.

What was so different about this situation was the appearance of a huge buck, sporting a very impressive set of antlers. He also emerged from the tree line, and was bugling, and obviously rounding up his herd, which had scattered a bit. It’s the season of ‘rut’, so he was probably establishing his dominance to any other bull elk in the vicinity. It was interesting that a lone female quite a distance away, but in the same pasture, was of no interest to him, beyond a glance in her direction now and then. She apparently didn’t belong. Despite his attentions the females slowly continued to wander in the general direction of the road, and the dozens of people lined up beside their cars, intent on getting their pictures. And as they wandered so did the bull, right towards us, until a female ranger suddenly ran a short way into the pasture, waving her arms, and shoo’d the gals back to the center. I thought she was carrying a camera and long lens, but I was corrected, it was a tranquilizer gun. I’m happy to report that it wasn’t necessary to use it, at least on that day. I guess seeing the beautiful scenery, and having a chance to see the animals going about their business in the same way that their ancestors had done, is the entire point of a visit to our national parks, isn’t it?

He was so far away, just in the treeline and I thought a picture would be difficult.
Then he stepped into the light, he had work to do.
He was quite an impressive sight.
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Have I mentioned?

I know I mentioned that I wasn’t particularly gracious when I found myself driving the endless hairpin turns as we traveled the last 20 miles to the cabin. But I don’t think I mentioned that the entire rest of my trip was chauffeur driven, including the first part of the drive home. That’s the part with the hairpin turns and the frustrating traffic approaching Atlanta. Whew! So I spent one of the days we were there, the day that it stayed overcast most of the day so the light was soft and the colors were nice, shooting iPhone pictures out the windshield of the car. I have, on occasion, tried to shoot pictures out the windshield while also driving, a practice that I don’t recommend since it rarely leads to a good picture, not to mention the danger involved. But with a chauffeur it was hard to resist trying for shots as the scenery was gorgeous but there was nowhere to stop and take pictures. The feature photo is one of my more successful of those shots.

We were at a higher elevation, as well as the softer light, so the colors really seemed more vivid.
Ordinarily I’d have cropped out the people at the bottom of the picture. But as you can see they are aiming their phones across the parking area. I wonder if they ever turned around and looked behind themselves?
I don’t know that I stand and savor these views since I’m usually in such a hurry to take a picture, as if someone is about to snatch the view away.
Rocks and water again.
The water is so clear.
The sound of the water was nice too, and all the while you were under a canopy of gold and orange leaves.

The drive to get to the Smokies may have been long and frustrating at times, and the lack of wifi for the entire stay, as well as not even having TV for the first two days, may have been enough to spoil the trip for some people. But our focus was to get out and take ever more pictures, so that’s what we did. Plus I had downloaded books from Audible before we left, just to use my points before I quit the app, so we listened to a Vince Flynn book for the two TV-less nights. Now we need to listen to the end to see if everyone lives happily ever after. Which is what we seem to be doing…