Two previous trips to Philippe Park to see the owls hadn’t been successful. Not only were we freezing, but the owls were hunkered down keeping warm also. But yesterday was a perfect Florida winter day, so off I went. As usual, it was the other photographers who had to point out the nest, and Mama in the tree keeping watch. But was it any wonder I couldn’t spot her when she was so well camouflaged? Thus you have the dilemma, which side of the trees do you want to shoot from? This side was the best view of the babies when I was there last year, but the other side had a contingent of photographers waiting for Mama to fly down to the nest. When the babies were stirring, that’s when they expected her to fly, and that was the shot they were waiting for. So I marched myself and my camera over to that side to see what I could see. And I wasn’t disappointed.And there was Mama too, always watching. She was preening, the babies were stirring, the photographers were sure she was ready. I realized that I could zoom out and you could see the nest and Mama, but the perspective is skewed. We were standing on a hill, so the fact that the nest was up high, and that Mama was behind, in another tree and much higher than the nest is, doesn’t show. But this was the view.I headed to the other side again, tired of waiting for her to fly, and convinced that the babies would be putting on a show over there. I missed the fly shot by just a minute, and there was a lot of activity that looked like feeding, but down low in the nest. Another photographer asked if I’d gotten the shot where Mama picked up a rat and moved it from one side to the other, but no, no I did not. I was trying to hold out for shots of all three of them, but that one baby wasn’t cooperating. Darn it. But I’m not really complaining, it was a fun way to spend the afternoon.
There are a couple of nosy neighbors in my new neighborhood. And, no, I’m not talking about my aunt and uncle. No, whenever you are outside the particular neighbors I’m talking about show up in hopes of getting a hand out. I don’t believe in feeding wildlife because I don’t want them to become dependent on me and then let them down. But mostly because I know that the sorts of things people do feed them aren’t good for them at all. Obviously someone feeds these two because they aren’t shy about asking. In this case I had brought a couple of Magnum bars across the street for my aunt and uncle and these two seemed to think that I should have shared with them also. I hear that there is at least one equally pesty wood stork that hangs around and comes close looking for a treat also, but I haven’t run into him so far. I will try to resist buying any more Magnum bars, even if they are on BOGO this week, because I have personally eaten way more than my fair share. It would have been nice to have had a more natural setting for these photos, but they will do for having walked across the street and sat in the grass with my iPhone for a few minutes…
Several years ago a neighbor happened to make a Facebook post about a photography class, Photographing Birds, that was being offered at a wildlife preserve nearby. I was off that day, and the class started at 10 AM so I had plenty of time to get there, so in that way the timing was good, but the timing was also good for me personally. After three years of being a bit of a hermit after Charley died I guess I had realized that life was going to go on after all, and as a long-term strategy being a hermit probably wasn’t the best idea I’d ever had. I believe that it was just the four of us at that class, plus the teacher, and we have stuck together ever since. Is it photography that stuck us together? Because we could not be coming to this hobby/obsession from more different personal angles, but yet here we are. So while I was away my friends had discovered a photography group that is based a lot closer than our St. Pete group, which we still love and participate in, but easy access is easy access. So I tagged along to a class last night and enjoyed it a lot. The leader, Carolyn, is a forensic photographer, so as she was explaining the settings on the camera, etc., the frame of reference she would use as examples might be to include everything you were seeing in the scene you were photographing, such as the body, the murder weapon, the blood spatter, etc. and the settings you need to accomplish that. A very different point of view to say the least.
I don’t think that this particular technique was related to her work per se, just a fun exercise in what your camera can do. To use a gauzy flowing drape is an obvious choice of prop for these pictures, and those were the pictures I was liking as I looked at the images in the camera. Then I got home and was tired, and I didn’t like the images at all. But this morning, with a cup of coffee, I liked them more. And really liked the images without the flowing robe also. Now to think of a way to use the technique. Someone suggested shooting in a graveyard and having a ghost rising out of a grave. Now that has potential…
I was in a hurry to get home. I had done enough chores earlier in the day that I had earned my trip out for a bite to eat and some shopping. That’s how my mind works. And the shopping had been successful. The success of a trip depends on whether I had gotten a bargain or not, and I had. So I was looking forward to seeing my purchases in my new/old house, to see if they would work as I thought they would. That I was seeing a pretty sunset developing as I drove home put me in a quandary. Stop on the way home or go home and head to the pond in the back for a photo? And that’s what I did, headed home, and stopped for a quick iPhone photo at the pond, then drove the block or two home. And that’s when I discovered that I’d locked myself out. I’ve been almost doing that for several weeks now, and last night I succeeded. I was lucky because my aunt and uncle are my neighbors and they have a key, but they also weren’t home. And as I waited I noticed that the sky was now on fire, I shouldn’t have given up on it so early. Or better yet even, I could have stopped on the way home after all. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Isn’t that always the way?
If you are ever in Venice, Venice Florida that is, and it’s this time of year, then do yourself a favor and stop by the rookery to see the birds. I wonder if a lot of people are like me and have no particular desire to photograph birds, but this time of year there are birds everywhere here, and to want to photograph them is irresistible. Which explains why I bought my most powerful lens. Because the photos I saw other people getting were so amazing that I had to try to get photos like that also. And seeing those birds in their natural habitat, and learning about them, just spurs you on. There were mostly Great Blue herons and Great White Egrets there, with a few Anhingas tossed in. And a pair of hawks being chased off by a few grackles. Friends went exploring and found a few alligators also, but not me. After striking out weather-wise the last couple of days we couldn’t have had a nicer day to be out. It was a good day.
One of the things I thought I’d missed by being up north recently was the eagles at the nest that I have visited in the past. While I was gone I heard that they had started a new family on a new nest built to replace the one that was lost last year. That was happy news because last year’s chicks didn’t make it, And I nearly did miss it, but not quite. This years eaglet is in his awkward teenaged stage. Not a fluffy cute chick, and not yet a magnificent eagle. I arrived to find one of the parents in a nearby tree and the young one on the nest. And that’s pretty much all that was going on, so after taking quite a few identical photos I had packed up the camera to go home. That’s when the young one started flapping his wings and hopping around the nest, It looked like he was going from branch to branch, and I saw plenty of daylight under him as he hopped, so it seemed like he was serious about it. A teenager feeling his oats. Like any concerned mother would do, his mother, I assume, flew to the nest and quashed that activity. And our favorite young eagle was looking his mother in the face and turning his head from side to side looking, to me at least, as if he was trying to get back on her good side. Nor sure about her, but he made points with me.