Friday, May 25, 2012

A Big Hazard, and A Heron Swallowing a Fish

Time had come into being, death, birth, and the killing and eating of other living beings, for the perservation of life.          Joseph Campbell 

Before I get to the hazard, I'm going to embed a slideshow of some photos that I took of a heron swallowing a fish. A BIG fish. You can follow it all the way down the throat. If you are squeamish about such stuff that should weed out all the people that don't want to see the BIG HAZARD. Following that, I am wrapping up my spring photos with some cuter, lighter stuff.

Now for the HAZARD--my closest encounter with a water moccasin.  This actually came after my encounter with the heron catching the big fish (carp?) or I might have been a bit more cautious about sitting in the grass taking the photos.

It looked reasonably lazy, so I did get a bit of a closer look.  I am not sure it was a great idea. 
Not a candidate for National Geographic Publication, but it did make an impression on me.
Now for some of the lighter, cuter photos.  First off, I found some nesting herons on an island in the Tennessee River.  Believe me, I was in the relative safety of a boat.  I am more nervous about coming close to a nesting heron than I am a water moccasin.  They nest in groups (it makes for easier babysitting and safety).  Luckily part of the group picked a dead branch, so I had easy photographic access to one part of this.  The nest was probably twenty five feet off the ground.

 This is a photo for Mother's Day-

For a week or two I was following the family of wood ducks in Audubon Park.  I am not much of a bird identification person, but I had to know what these things were, as I knew they weren't the garden variety of mallard, or mixture that I usually see in urban parks.  And cute?  Oh my, they are really CUTE!  The male is extremely colorful, hard to resist for a female wood duck. 

 Learning to Fly!

Spring has been an adventure for sure.  I am sending this blog off to the heat of summer with a nice cool photo of a Seattle spring.  Yes, I was in Seattle for a week.  Even though a got a lot of photos of herons in Seattle, I think we need a change of pace. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Supermoon Saturday!

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
Anton Chekhov

Supermoon Saturday presented quite a challenge for a novice photographer like me.  It does lend an opportunity to share my very favorite photo I took of the moon more than one year ago.  This was a pretty magical moment, as I can still hear all the blackbird noises when I look at this photo.  I took this before I had a camera with a continuous shutter, but I just kept snapping photos until I had some that I liked.  At the time, my Canon had a setting that was labeled “M”.  I thought it was "M" for moon, but now I think it was “M” for manual.  I am telling this story on myself because I want this blog to be unintimidating.    It was almost as if I was an accidental moon photographer.   Well, I was accidental on everything but the timing.  I keep up with moonrise, moonset, sunrise, and sunset times, as well as dew point (in case I want a fog photo).  Here is one website where you may calculate those. 

U.S. Navy Site--Time Calculator for Moon and Sun

Enter my new Panasonic camera and the eclipse of the moon last December.  I tried everything, every setting I could think of and failed to get a decent photo.  I quickly dumped them into the recycle bin.  Well, I don’t have a DSLR, only what is known as an advanced point and shoot.  The last thing I want to do is carry around lots of different lenses, so it mostly suits me fine, until it comes to things like moon photographs.
I practiced the day before the Supermoon and they turned out okay, given my lack of equipment.  I don’t have a telephoto lens, only the zoom attached to the camera, and I don’t have a tripod.    We were at our home on Birdsong Creek on the Tennessee River.  Will someone please tell me how a tripod would help on a boat anyway?  These were taken the day before the Supermoon.  
I rather like this one of the bass fisherman in the family! This one is edited to make it a bit more interesting than the original.

Here is just a straightforward shot of the moon, with my point and shoot zoomed out all the way.  

Because the moon rose about an hour earlier on Friday afternoon than Saturday, there was more light in general.  I had to wait for the moon to be relatively high in the sky to even clearly see it.  Obviously I can’t get photos to compete with the ones taken by huge telephoto lenses, so I was going more for the feeling.  Also, the best supermoon photos are taken in cities next to landmarks that are well lit, to emphasize the size of the moon.  Having the moon up against a dark tree, which could be any size, is not exactly the right backdrop.    
The next night was more problematic, starting with all the haze on the horizon.  I had no idea if the moon would even be visible.  First we tried the one fourth mile hike to the Duck River Overlook, but gave that up when I realized we would have to hike back in the dark, and my husband had a martini in hand and leather soles on his loafers.  Well, there also were bees!  We left, and had time to hop in the boat.   

I had my old Canon with me as a backup, the one with the "M" setting, but nothing happened when I turned it on. It was too dark to even see the settings anyway.   Later I figured out that I had put one of the batteries in upside down.  It was the Panasonic or nothing!

Why I didn’t think about the night being darker than the night before, and the river being rougher, I don’t know.  And, our so called lights on the boat aren’t for navigation, only visibility,  so we felt safer staying within the buoys as we scoured the eastern skies for the moonrise.  Our boat was rocking wildly from the wakes of all the boats trying to make it back to the dock before nightfall.  Needless to say, most of my photos turned out blurry, and some even had two moons.  Honestly they make Vincent Van Gogh look sane in comparison to me:

At the very least it looked like I was heavily into the martinis. Nevertheless, I am not unhappy with a couple of the photos, not because they are technically great, because they are not, but because, to me, they capture the flavor of the evening.   

We had a great time, even if this is all I have to show for it.  I was going to make up for it by being on land for the moonset, but alas, it rained all night long. 
Yes, the moon was that orange, and had these clouds of dust partially obscuring it.  I rather like this one, which is a bit dreamy looking and shows none of the craters.


The waves reflected the light nicely, but caused huge issues with the boat bobbing up and down, and back and forth.
I hope you were able to see the Supermoon on Saturday!  Any visible moonrise is a good one for me.   Would we have bothered to go out it the boat on Supermoon Saturday had it not been for my photography hobby?  I doubt it, and we would have definitely missed out.