Thursday, March 31, 2011

Don't even think about it

On a visit to Bonita Springs last week with our daughters, I grabbed the camera and went for a stroll while the others soaked up the sun on the beach. I found many interesting subjects and will share some in future posts. On our way into the park, however, I had noticed an osprey nest high up on a pole. I found it again and stopped by to watch for a little while.

I noticed that an adult was busy tearing morsels off a fish and feeding it to a youngster down in the nest. I focused my lens on the activity and got a few shots. Then it seemed that the osprey noticed my presence and decided it had better thwart any attempt by me to climb the pole and steal its meal. Several times it spread its huge wings and gave me the proverbial hairy eyeball ! I was quickly convinced that it would be foolhardy on my part to even give it a thought !

(70-200mm  f6.3  1/800 sec  ISO200)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Shroom invasion !

A couple of days ago I was watering grass 'plugs' I had planted in some barren spots in the lawn (they have BIZARRE grass here in Florida if I haven't mentioned that before). Being a somewhat more observant individual these days as a result of practice during my 365 project, I spotted a few small cream-coloured dots on the ground near the stem of a cordaline plant in the flower bed. They struck me as a bit peculiar due to their smooth shape and colour, but I stayed focused on watering and I soon forgot about them.

Today as I happened by the same place, my eye again caught sight of them, except by this time they had grown about 50-fold ! The little dots were now transformed into curious aliens popping through the mulch to get a look at the world around them. I'll keep a close eye on them over the next few days in case they increase by another 50-fold !

(60mm  f22  1/5 sec  ISO200)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Well-dressed for the beach

Last week on our visit to Captiva Island where we watched fishermen trying their luck, we also noticed some other creatures that were even more engrossed in watching those same fishermen. In fact, they were so engrossed that I was able to get within 10 feet of them and they took scant notice of me. They were much more interested in the outcome since occasionally a smaller fish that wasn't worth filleting was tossed their way.

I consulted wikipedia and other sources and I believe this fellow is a grey heron. He obviously put on his best plumage for the occasion.

(70-200mm  f7.1  1/800 sec  ISO200)

Words failed

I searched for some profound saying,
perhaps the quote from a wise person
about life, the end of day, or beauty,
but after reading many words,
I found them all inadequate
and decided to let His painting
say it all.

(18-55mm  f18  1/200 sec  ISO100)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"It was an early morning yesterday ...

... and I was up before the dawn ..." Some of you might recognize those opening lines and those fit our situation as we all were up just past 03:30 a.m. to bring our daughters to the airport. We had a wonderful week with them and they made it back home safely. We returned home just after 05:00 a.m. and it was still pitch dark. We decided not to go back to bed and I found myself in uncharted territory at that time of day - up BEFORE the dawn !

Well, dawn did arrive and I decided to take advantage of a rare (for me) opportunity to capture a sunrise on a bit of a foggy morning.

(70-200mm  f18  1/3 sec  ISO100)

click on photo to enlarge

Friday, March 25, 2011

C'mon in ... the water's fine !

Today was our daughters' last full day with us - their flight departs at 06:00 a.m. Saturday (yes, in just a few short hours and we're bringing them to the airport - might be my first opportunity for a sunrise shot in a long time !). We've had a wonderful time with them.

We decided to go to a beach on Captiva Island and we read that since parking was limited we had to be there early. Good thing we followed the advice because we got one of 4 remaining spots. The water in the gulf was up to about 24C/75F - which is a little cooler than the 30C/86F in our pool.

Some fishermen were already casting off the shore, and we walked over to see what one had on his line as we saw his rod bend. Now over the past few months we've seen many fishermen and their catch but we had never seen one land a shark ! Turns out that this one is called a bonnethead, and is related to the hammerhead. Despite seeing this up close, our daughters were determined to do a little body-surfing and swimming.

I learned later this evening that the bonnethead shark is the smallest of the hammerhead family, only grows to 3-4 feet, and is considered 'timid'. I still think our daughters showed courage to share the waters with this 'timid' shark.

(70-200mm f5.6  1/1250 sec  ISO200)

Ready for action !

We were out (relatively) bright and early this morning for a day of fishing in the gulf. My 2 youngest daughters were ready to pull a good catch of fish out of the waters. We joined a larger group on board and were assigned 3 spots near the rear port side of the ship. After sailing for 90 minutes we reached a spot that (to the captain) appeared promising. Down went all the lines and in short order we had landed 4 fish ! (don't ask what they were - other than hammerhead sharks and a few other species most fish in these waters remain nameless for me).

You can see from today's photo that elbow room was at a premium, however, the conditions also made for becoming good neighbours, especially when lines inevitably got tangled. We probably shouldn't have had our early luck because we were skunked the rest of the day. That seemed to be experience of most despite the captain's search for a number of other fishing holes (which all looked the same to me 20 miles out in the gulf). There were a couple of notable exceptions though - a few people did manage to fill their buckets with fish. What still leaves me scratching my head is how fish would choose those lines over the dozens of others that were dangling within a few feet of them, also offering tantalizing bits of squid.

However, the day was definitely a winner - nothing but sun and a warm sea breeze blowing in our faces. Oh, and 8 bite-size filets in our freezer !

(18-55mm  f13  1/400 sec  ISO200)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sheepshead and others beware !

This brown pelican, ensconced on the railing of the pier, must have been in between meals when I came across him the other day. Normally he'd be flying between 20 and 60 feet above the water, spotting herring, sheepshead, pigfish, mullet and other types of fish with his keen eyesight. Then he'd dive almost straight down and fill his pouch with more fish than his stomach could hold. During a normal day of fishing, he'd consume about 4 pounds of fish.

As I approached him, he was very focused on my lens and his eyes told me "Don't come any closer to me with that thing, buddy !" I obliged.

(70-200mm  f9.0  1/500 sec  ISO200)

click on photo to enlarge

Monday, March 21, 2011

Beach beauty

Now you might have thought from the title that I'd been shooting some of the wildlife that frequents the beaches here during spring break. Sorry - wrong blog. No, I'd noticed these beauties on a number of previous walks along the beach and today I had the opportunity to make a few shots while the ladies went shopping (yes, I know - another difficult decision).

These are named helianthus debilis, but are more commonly known as dune sunflowers. They bloom year round and are drought and salt tolerant. As you can see from this shot, I think they must also be sand tolerant - these were growing near a pathway and likely receive a regular spray of sand from kids running by.

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/320 sec  ISO200)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Here comes the sun ...

Our 2 youngest daughters arrived late Sat. night as the last of our immediate family to trade the weather up north for a week of warmth and sun with us. They weren't disappointed - today we reached 30C/86F, and enjoyed a full day of sun, which warmed the pool up to the same temperature. After church this morning they couldn't wait to plunge into the warm water and soak up the rays. It's always amazing that the same sun that brings us such warmth here fails to ward off the arctic cold up north.

This evening we went for a drive to one of our favourite places in time to enjoy the sun again as we strolled around the harbour. In honour of Sunset Sunday I'm sharing just a bit of what we saw.

(18-55mm  f18  1/800 sec  ISO800)

Saturday, March 19, 2011


The causeway joining Sanibel Island to the mainland consists of 3 bridges, which are anchored on 2 man-made islands. Due to deterioration from salt spray, the older bridges dating from 1963 were replaced in 2007. The first bridge, closest to the mainland, replaces a drawbridge, and has a height of 21m/70ft. While we basked in the sun there earlier this week, I took the opportunity to get a few different perspectives of it - it was tough to pass up a photo op.

(10-22mm  f14  1/200 sec  ISO200)

click on photos to enlarge
(70-200mm  f14  1/160 sec  ISO200)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Phriday Phling Phinale

It's not often I post twice on the same day, but I got to it rather late last night (or early this morning, depending on whether you're a night owl or early bird) and again this evening. Of course I had to make a lot of photos over the past 10 days or so and many of these captured memories of phun times with our granddaughters. Since it's also Phun Phriday you'll have to bear with me as I post a few more.

This first shot is of a colourful wind catcher near a playground, spinning its wheels in the breeze, as I was out for a walk with Hailey - she had hoped to play there but unfortunately the entrances were locked.

The next shot is of Hailey at the fish and turtle pond after she'd finished feeding them, and just before she got to go go-karting. Again !

The last shot is of her younger sister Lilly who turns 4 in a few weeks - obviously she's headed for a modelling career.

We certainly had a phun-philled 10 days, and tomorrow night we start another week with our other 2 daughters. We're seeing more of our family being 2,500 km/1,500 mi from home than when we lived much closer by. You don't suppose the Florida weather has anything to do with it, do you ? Nah, I thought so !

(18-55mm  f22  1/60 sec  ISO200)

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/800 sec  ISO200)

(18-55mm  f14  1/160 sec  ISO200)

Warm memories

We were glad to hear that our most recent visitors had made it safely home today. They also reported that the weather had improved significantly from what they had left behind. Temperatures had reached a balmy 8C/46F and snow was rapidly disappearing. Our last day together was spent near Sanibel Island where we had to 'endure' 29C/84F. I hope that memories of scenes like the one below will keep them warm at least till spring arrives there.

(10-22mm  f14  1/250 sec  ISO200)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A brief moment in time

I mentioned our wilderness tour in my last post, where we bounced around over the trail in an old school bus (affectionately referred to as a 'buggy' by the tour guide - I suppose as in 'swamp buggy'). The focus of the adventure was definitely on the wildlife to be found there, but I also noticed some plants and flowers and I tried hard to get a decent shot of them. That was a bit difficult because the buggy didn't really stop at those points. I managed to get this one in my sights just as we stopped briefly to get a glimpse of a gator partly hidden behind a tree in the swamp. It will be another 3 months before we have an abundance of these back home in Canada.

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/500 sec  ISO200)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Call of the wild

All is quiet on the domestic front late this evening - everyone to bed except yours truly. I'd better not make it too late either since we're forfeiting an hour's sleep tonight and the young 'uns aren't aware of that - I expect their 'wake up call' that much earlier.

Today's main event was a trip to a 90,000+ acre wilderness adventure park where we were taken for a tour on a 'buggy' (a well-past-its-best-before-date school bus with very large openings where windows used to be). We were not disappointed by the denizens of the wild - we saw many, and we even had the privilege of caressing the skin (hide ?) of an alligator ! Our granddaughters also participated in that, although with some initial trepidation. Oh, the alligator was only about 1m/3' long and seemed to be under control of the driver - who doubled as the tour guide.

Near the end of the tour we stopped on a bridge over a cypress swamp - here are photos made of both sides of the bridge. I'll share more shots in future posts.

(both photos made with a 70-200mm lens at f5.6, ISO200 and shutter speeds of 1/100 and 1/500 sec)

Phun all week

It's been a phun-filled week with our granddaughters (and their parents). We've been busy building memories, and of course I've now added a number of photos of our time together to my archives. Blogging and visiting your blogs has had to take a back seat. A couple of days ago we went to the go-kart race track where they had 2-seater karts - I wanted to pass on a bit of the speed thrill. Much to my dismay, I drew the slow car while my son-in-law got the fast one (karma ?). At least I didn't have to brake for the hairpin turns ! But we only got our turn behind the wheel after my granddaughters had had their turn in their own go-karts !

(18-55mm  f8.0  1/320 sec  ISO200)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Double delight

I drew the babysitting assignment this evening (that's probably a misnomer - child sitter would be more appropriate I think), whilst the others went shopping (you might recall from earlier posts where shopping fits into my priorities). So I had a few minutes to review the shots I made today and show you our wonderful granddaughters who are staying/playing with us for the next 10 days. Oh yes, their parents are too.

I will have to use moments like this, when there's a lull, to post, respond to comments, and visit you - so I expect that to be sporadic over the next 10 days. (In the meantime I will sneak over here occasionally and have a peek at your comments ... shhh).

(both shots made with a 60mm lens at f5.6, ISO100 and shutter speeds of 1/125 and 1/800 secs)

Hailey - 6-1/2 going on 18

Lilly - turning 4 in April

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A sunset tribute

Are you a sunset lover ? If not, read and look no further - this post won't be for you.

Since you are (because you're still reading) you're probably familiar with Scott's Sunset Sunday theme which has been active for over a year. You can join in - simply post a sunset (along with anything else, if you like) on Sunday. The sunset doesn't have to occur on Sunday.

Can you ever have TOO MANY sunsets ? I'm on the side that says no. Not only are sunsets different from evening to evening but they morph into a kaleidoscope (Wikipedia - " from the Ancient Greek καλ(ός) (beauty, beautiful), είδο(ς) (form, shape) and -σκόπιο (tool for examination) – hence "observer of beautiful forms.") of shapes and colours during their brief lifespan.

Like all things that are rich to the senses (think chocolate, ice cream, pastry ...) too much of a good thing dulls the senses. So I'm posting only 2 shots for this Sunday.

(18-55mm  f14  1/100 sec  ISO400)

(70-200mm  f13  1/60 sec  ISO200)

Struck by the light

I was reviewing some of my photo folders tonight and I was struck by what the camera captured in one particular photo that I likely hadn't seen with the naked eye. Our pond yielded many photo opportunities while I was doing a 365 project last year, and there were days when I had more than enough raw material to satisfy the project requirements of posting one photo.

I thought I was capturing bubbles as they sailed across the surface of the pond, however, I was surprised by what I hadn't seen.

(70-200mm  f5.6  1/800 sec  ISO200)

click on photo to enlarge

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Journey

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of the easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

                  Robert Frost   1922

(70-200mm  f16  1/100 sec  ISO200)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Reflections in fading light

I'm not sure what it is about reflections that captivates some (most ?) photographers. Perhaps it's the symmetry when that's what is captured, at other times it could be what the reflected light does to the colours, and at yet other times it could be the wonderful distortions made to the reflected image. In this case I found a perfectly still, mirror-like reflecting surface in the fading light of evening  - not even the slightest breeze was present. The scene also reflected the perfect peace and calm of the moment - as though the busyness of life, and even time itself, was suspended.

(18-55mm  f11  1.6 sec  ISO200)

Micro forest

Can you look at a photo you've made and know where you were, what you were doing, and perhaps even what you were thinking when you made it ? I can't claim that I can do it for all photos I've made and I certainly couldn't answer all 3 questions, but surprisingly I can for quite a number of them. Is that another definition of a photographic memory ?

I was on a hike in the fall with other family members up what is locally known as Blue Mountain (which is actually a tree-covered hill several hundred feet high - but when all the land around you is fairly flat you'd call a prominent bump on the landscape a mountain too). We were on our way down when I saw this patch of mossy greenery. I got right down on the ground and stuck my macro lens into the moss - these plants are actually only 3-5 cm/1-2 in tall, but they reminded me of a little forest. I suppose if you were an ant, this might be the forest you'd have to find your way through.

(60mm  f2.8  1/250 sec  ISO100)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A confederate star

No, I'm not trying to rouse any long dormant feelings about a tragic event. The plant shown below, which we purchased a few weeks ago, has an unusual name - 'confederate jasmine' (or 'star jasmine') - and I have no idea how it got its 'confederate' label. Apparently it isn't a true jasmine, but it does exude a fine fragrance, which makes it a star on our pool deck.

(70-200mm  f7.1  1/160 sec  ISO200)