Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Landscapes - Part III

I am always humbled by landscape photographers who have the ability to "see a photo".   My paltry landscapes pale in comparison. We, of course, get landscape photographers here during our monsoon season. They'll drive partway up Mount Lemmon just before sunset and get great photos --- including nighttime photos of massive lightning strikes. They'll set to a timed exposure  and capture a dozen or more strikes in one photo.  Nonetheless, I have a few monsoon landscape photos that I like well enough to share:

Chiricahua Mountain Monsoon

Mesquite Monsoon in Santa Rita Mountains

Monsoons at Sunset over Catalina Mountains

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Landscapes - Part II

I once calculated that there have been over 3 billion photos taken of the Grand Canyon. (It gets 5 million visitors each year). So what was the possibility of my taking the "definitive" photo? One in 3 billion? Although I have taken a few photos, over the years have trashed all except the ones of the Condors. Arches National Park is much the same. The first photo below I took at Balanced Rock. Although I like the photo I suspect there are thousands just like it in someone else's photo album. Occasionally, though a sunrise or sunset, or clouds, rain, or a "rainbow" give you an opportunity that most of the other millions of visitors don't get. In the second photo taken in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado,  it had been raining all night and into early morning. I spotted a nice male and female Moose in this field. I was the only one there at the time. (It was probably 6:00 AM). I  had just finished photographing the Moose when this rainbow appeared. I thought, what the heck, I'll take a photo just to remember the "event." Turns out I really like the photo.

At Balanced Rock, Arches National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Monday, May 28, 2012


First, let me apologize for the lack of posts this past week. I was "under the weather". However, I am now (I think) fully recovered and ready to resume my blog.

I remember a story Arnold Palmer told about advice he got from his dad when he was a teenager. Palmer was a very good athlete, did a lot of things well, but his dad said, pick just one and excel. Do it the best you possibly can. Learn all you can. Obviously, he chose golf. And he excelled. That's probably good advice for the photographer too. Whether its portraits, industrial, architecture, macro, wildlife, or landscapes: pick one, learn all you can, and do it well.

I have focused on wildlife. It is something I love doing. I love being in nature. I love wild animals. I love developing a brief momentary relationship with them. (This is probably the reason I stalled on Lighthouses). My best photos are wildlife photos. However, that doesn't mean I'll pass up an opportunity to take a landscape photo if I can "see the photo". What I mean is that as you develop your specialty, you "see a photo" that others may not. I am always amazed by industrial and architectural photos. I never would have thought that "angle" or that "composition" or that "depth of focus" would have created such a wonderful or amazing photo. I couldn't "see it."  I often stand looking at an amazing landscape without a clue of how to photograph it. The Grand Canyon for example is unphotographable to me. I don't know how to capture its vastness.

With that disclaimer, I thought I'd share with you some of my landscape photos. I'll start with the easy ones. Sunrises, sunsets, and moons catch even the normal photographers eye. 

Sunrise in Monument Valley, Arizona

Sunset here at The Azure Gate

Full Moon Rising at The Azure Gate

Friday, May 25, 2012


Over the years I had the notion to do a photo book on "100 year old Barns." My thought was to find an old barn in every state and tell the story of the barn, including photos.  Another thought was "Covered Bridges of America." And, a third was "Pacific Coast Lighthouses."

While I have a tiny start on the lighthouses, there are several hundred along the West Coast, so I have quite a way to go. 

In the meantime, I thought I'd share the few I had. These were all taken before digital, before it was easy to record and maintain dates, titles, locations, etc. What did we do before photo organizing software? So, some of these I don't even remember where they were taken. 

Cleft of the Rock, Oregon 

Heceta Head, Oregon

Mukilteo, Washington

Don't Remember

Don't Remember II

Close Up of Don't Remember II

Monday, May 21, 2012

Another Bloomin' Cactus

Here's another -- not quite so spectacular -- barrel cactus in bloom. This time white flowers. How can something so small have such big flowers?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bloomin' Cactus

One of our barrel cactus just bloomed. The first photo is the cactus blooming last year. Just a single flower. The second photo is the cactus beginning to bloom this year. (I took this yesterday).  Then today, full bloom, and finally a closeup. The blossoms don't last long. They open at night are in full bloom with the morning sun, and then by afternoon they start deteriorating. But it is a beautiful sight while it lasts. At full bloom there were over 4 dozen blossoms.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Municipal Parks - Part III

Lakeside Park is one that attracts fishermen (and women). But the herons don't seem to mind at all. There were six or seven Black Crowned Night Herons, both adult and juveniles at various spots around the lake.  Because they were so used to people, it wasn't hard to get close for a photo. Here are some of those photos:

Black Crowned Night Heron -- Adult

Black Crowned Night Heron Juvenile

Black Crowned Night Heron Juvenile

Double Crested Cormorant

Friday, May 18, 2012

Birders: Don't Neglect the Municipal Parks -- Part II

Seldom will you see bear, moose, etc. in Municipal Parks -- well, outside of Alaska that is. However, birds are a different story. Often these parks have a small pond or lake. That makes for an attractive site for birds and birding. I try to go a daybreak during the week when there are less people, children, dogs, etc. It is still not exactly wilderness because if the lake is stocked, there will be people fishing as was the case at Columbus Lake (Wednesday's Post).

This morning I made the rounds starting at Fort Lowell Park, then Lincoln Park, and then Lakeside Park; all are within 15 minutes of us. I had heard that a Wood Duck had been seen at Fort Lowell Park so I thought that would be the place to start. Well, in short he was. And, he seemed perfectly willing to let me photograph him. Here are the photos from Fort Lowell Park:

A Vermillion Flycatcher greeted me on my arrival

Then the Wood Duck

Here the Wood Duck on land

Great Tailed Grackle Male

Great Tailed Grackle Female

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Saguaro National Park

I awoke this morning as I usually do around 4:45. Realizing that I didn't have to make breakfast for anyone I thought I would go to Saguaro National Park just at sunrise. SNP is about five minutes from us. I expected to see some Black Tailed Jackrabbits, and they didn't disappoint. Got some other nice photos as well:

Black Tail Jackrabbits facing off

Black Tail Jackrabbit reaching for Mesquite flowers

Black Tail Jackrabbit staring me down

Black Tail Jackrabbit hiding -- well he thinks he is

Raven eating the flowers of a Saguaro

Swainson's Hawk chicks in nest of Saguaro

Brown Crested Flycatcher

Gambels Quail eating Saguaro Flowers

Curved Bill Thrasher standing on a Saguaro Flower yet to Bloom

Teddy Bear Cholla in the Morning Sun

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Municipal Parks

Sometimes Municipal Parks provide photographers with some nice opportunities. Not so much rare birds -- and not usually a lot of large mammals, but close ups of the more common birds. Take Sweetwater Wetlands which belongs to the City of Tucson. Since it is not a recreational park, it does get some rarer birds on occasion. Not today, but I was able to get one of my better Red Winged Blackbird photos:

Red Winged Blackbird

From Sweetwater I went to Columbus Lake which is a combination fishing spot, picnic grounds, dog run, and motorized (hobby) aircraft. Because Southern Arizona does not have an abundance of water, this lake has year round residents like herons and egrets. (Also hybrid ducks, geese, swans etc).  But because it also has so many people, these large birds seem unconcerned and unafraid and will let you get very close if carefully approached.  Here are a few of today's photos from Columbus Lake:

Black Crowned Night Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Double Crested Cormorant

Great Tailed Grackle

Monday, May 14, 2012

Patagonia Creek Preserve

After my stop at Patton's House in Patagonia, I hiked the Patagonia - Sonoita Creek Preserve which is managed by The Nature Conservancy. There are 2 1/2 miles of trails through the Preserve, most along the Creek.  The preserve protects a rare Fremont cottonwood-Goodding willow riparian forest. Some of the trees are among the largest (more than 100 feet tall) and oldest (130 years old) Fremont cottonwood trees in the US.

I was greeted by a staff member who said that there were three Thick Billed Kingbirds seen along the Creek Trail. The Thick Billed Kingbird is normally just found in Mexico, but occasionally wanders into the most southern part of Arizona. (The Preserve is about 20 miles north of the US/Mexico boarder). 

Finding rare birds seems easier when you are not looking for them. To look for one of three birds in 700+ acres would seem challenging at best. And yet, I found one. Not really close enough for a good photo, but close enough to identify. The first photo is the Thick Billed (although you really have to "zoom in" to identify).

Thick Billed Kindbird

A couple hundred yards fourth up stream I found the more common Cassin's Kingbird. The Cassin's range is essentially Arizona and New Mexico with occasional sightings in extreme southeast California and extreme southwest Texas. In the first photo you can see an out-of-focus Vermillion Flycatcher in the background. Getting both in focus would be a real challenge. You would have to take at least two photos (one of each bird) and then merge them in photo software. I got a little better angle in the second photo where you can more easily distinguish it from either the Thick Billed Kingbird or the Western Kingbird (which, along with the Eastern Kingbird,  are the most common Kingbirds in the US).

Cassin's Kingbird

Cassin's Kingbird a little closer

Finally, the Prickly Poppies were out in full bloom.  I'll show two photos with very different lighting, which resulted in very different photos:

Prickly Poppy

Prickly Poppy