This is our family cat Kona, curled up and sitting in his favorite spot. He sits here for hours at a time, long into the night. I took this one evening after I had already gone to bed and came downstairs for a glass of water. When I noticed him I quietly set my camera on a tripod and took this photo. I wish I could say I had thought of the idea ahead of time.
I have no idea what goes on in that little kitty brain of his but it’s safe to say that he loves the glittery lights. He’s an old cat and as such gets a little moody at times. Sometimes if he gets agitated during the day we’ve discovered that turning on the tree lights calms him down.
This peaceful scene belies a more chaotic history of Kona and Christmas trees. When he was a kitten he and our dog at the time where chasing each other around the house and Kona ran right up the tree and caused it to come crashing down. When we came to see what happened, he was nowhere to be found and only the dog was left to take the blame. Maybe that’s what he’s thinking about as he sits here. You never know.
Here we are pulling out of port in Barcelona being followed by a flock of gulls. It was amusing because they seemed to know the routine and followed the ship quite a way out. It was an excuse for me to get some funny photos.
When it comes to animals I anthropomorphize them; I assign human traits to their expressions and actions. I think we’ve had it wrong all along. Perhaps I see the animals in a different way, like maybe there’s more them.
I always try to show animals respect and never assume I know how intelligent they are or what they’re thinking. On the other hand I eat meat, so that’s something to reconcile. That’s my inconsistent sense of things and if you asked me to explain better I probably couldn’t.
The other day I stood at the waters edge of Sarasota Bay and watched the skimmers ply their trade. To get this I used high-speed settings to freeze the bird in mid flight. The skimmer flies inches above the water while scooping up food with its beak and leaving a small wake. It’s a graceful act to watch or photograph on a warm summer evening.
I just returned from the high desert. It was beautiful and very different from the Gulf Coast of Florida. Photographing the desert takes a different set of eyes than those I’ve developed for Florida. The dry land made me realize how fortunate I am to live near the water. But I would say the same thing if I lived near the mountains.
If you like photography then you will find something interesting no matter where you are. Being open to sights around you is not always as easy as it seems, it requires being flexible. Preconceived notions can block your vision when it doesn’t materialize. For instance, maybe you have a notion to capture a hillside, but there is an interesting wildflower right at your feet. It’s not just a matter of looking the other way, it also means adjusting your field of view.
When I took this I had setup to take pictures of the moon and a bridge. However I was drawn by the action of the skimmers. In the end I got different shots in addition to the one I came for. There will always be something unexpected, even in the most familiar setting. So put yourself in a setting and look around. You never know what you might see.
The other evening I was standing along Sarasota Bay and there were all types of birds by the waters edge. This egret was picking through grasses exposed by the low tide. Egrets are accustomed to humans and will come quite close without feeling threatened. However if you’re fishing it’s a different story altogether. They have no problem walking right up and stealing fish or bait right at your feet.
This one thought I might be fishing and came to investigate. When he realized I didn’t have a net he lost interest. In this moment he seemed to lose interest and hop a few meters down the shore.
I love animals very much and tend to anthropomorphize them. For instance I would say this little fella is striking a pose, deciding on his next move. If they squawk I’ll attribute it to human emotions, as though they are complaining or mad about something. I do that with wild animals all the time and especially with my own pets. Sometimes if I talk to animals they’ll take an interest in me and look back quixotically. That’s because they’re not sure what to make of a crazy human like me. At least my dog understands me, but that’s another story.
I’m not so much of a wild life photographer, but I do like capturing birds along the shore, especially here in Florida. There are a lot of egrets and herons that make for good subjects with their graceful poses and antics. But real wildlife photographers are a different bred, they are patient and calculating, and will end up with spectacular shots of nature. Me, I’m more of an opportunist; I’ll capture the wildlife if I happen to be in the right spot at the right time.
This is an example of what happens when you just sit still and let things happen. I sat here on the shore of Tampa Bay watching the sunrise. I wasn’t doing much, just sitting and watching when all of a sudden this egret landed only a few feet from me. He didn’t seem to mind me as long as I didn’t make sudden movements.
Egrets are one of the more adaptable birds to human activity. It’s not unusual to see them in the parking lot of a grocery story. In fact one day I had one on my windshield when I pulled into a parking stall. I think they’re the graceful cousins of seagulls.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m no expert on birds. However living in Florida you get exposed to them all the time. And in many cases they can enhance an image.
I’ve seen real bird photographers, they’re the ones walking around with the big ten-thousand dollar lenses. To get a closeups of a bird from any distance takes “big glass”. I on the other hand only take images of birds if they happen to be there. I’m not sure I have the patience nor time to devote to wildlife photography.
This week my intention was to capture the full moon, but for one reason or another I was striking out. So yesterday morning I stopped at the Palmetto Estuary near my home. I parked and walked out to the viewing platform. Much to my surprise I saw was this juvenile eagle in the moonlight about fifty feet away. As a photographer I know these opportunities don’t come along everyday.
I don’t know much about birds but this year I’ve been watching a YouTube channel on the progress of an eaglet known as E9. I’ve come to learn a little about the behavior of eagles as they grow from a hatchling. I believe this to be a juvenile because the head is not completely white. Feel free to leave a comment and correct me if you know otherwise.
When I was growing up eagles were an endangered species. Since then the populations have recovered and sightings are more common. Because of their history I am still amazed at the site of these apex raptors. Having watched so much of their behavior this year I’ve also learned about their significant intelligence. It’s a real eye opener for anyone who might think otherwise.
Eagles like this are accustomed to our presence. This guy (or gal) never moved the whole time I was shooting. I guess that’s not surprising since they hunt, nest and breed in our towns and urban landscapes. Hopefully we can remain mindful of that by providing them the spaces they need to thrive and co-exist along side us. We will all be better for it.
It never really occurred to me, but birds learn to fly. They aren’t born flying and after they hatch much of their development is learning to fly. They learn by watching their parents and practicing all of the little steps until they master each one. It takes a lot of practice.
What got me thinking about this is an eagle-cam on YouTube. I’ve watched as the egg hatched and grew to an almost full grown eaglet in just under three months. E9, as he is known, will soon leave the nest and strike out on his own. I’ve watched with fascination as he’s practiced daily all of the little skills required to fly. Sometimes he’ll flap for minutes while balancing on a branch.
In any case, observing the behavior of E9 and his parents has provided a window into their world. Now when I see a bird I have a new appreciation for its early development.
A few days back I went out on a windy day to take some pictures and noticed a flock of gulls by the water. As they flew against the wind they were nearly stationary in their forward motion. That allowed me to capture some gulls in flight with the bridge in the background. They were quite skilled at flying in blustery conditions. And of course they’ve had plenty of practice.
As the waves lap upon the shore and the stars circle the night sky, the Heron dreams. In dreams we inhabit the same landscape, perhaps.
We miss so much when we don’t acknowledge nature. I have recently come to believe that the elemental spirits of nature, those we call animals, are so much more connected with the truth of life than we will ever know.
I am astonished at how much these beings revere us. We take it for granted, we always have. But if we stop and think, better yet, if we connect with them, we may learn something about them. We may even learn something about ourselves.
I am coming to realize that animals have so much to teach us. I think that in our current society we gloss over this to our own detriment. Perhaps it is just a temporary condition and in years to come we will correct this.
Perhaps one way to correct this is to make an attempt to respect and acknowledge the animals around us. They are all around, shouldn’t we take notice? When you look into the eyes of an animal you will see a window to a soul or spirit that is just as viable a life as our own. More often than not see love looking back.
I think that by connecting with our animal friends we will unlock something in ourselves. All we have to do is notice. This is my simple tribute to the elemental life all around us.
It seems almost anywhere I go along the water there are herons close by. They are attracted to fishermen as they wait for any scraps or bait. With this heron patiently waiting I setup and shot the image using a low angle. Even though I was holding a camera between him and the fishermen he stood his ground watching me with one eye and the fishermen with the other.
Herons are patient, single minded and determined. I sat here for about thirty minutes and he was still there when I left. They are territorial so I suspect this was his pier and he wasn’t about to give it up to some guy with a camera or the fishermen.
He was watching the waters right below the pier. It’s the perfect vantage to spot fish and then swoop down for the catch.
Herons add atmosphere to an image, I think it’s something to do with how they carry themselves, its hard to put my finger on it. In any case, they never seem to mind having their picture taken, so for the time being I will continue to include them whenever I can.
The other day I was walking through the newly opened Perico Preserve when I spotted these Roseate Spoonbills. They were busy feeding in the shallows of a pond and they didn’t seem to mind me taking their picture. I was struck by the color of their feathers which reminded me of flamingos.
When I was in southern France I heard that the flamingos are pink because they eat so much shrimp. I’m no expert but I wonder about that since even flamingos in captivity are pink. These spoonbills are not in captivity and I don’t think they eat much shrimp. I think the pink color is natural and it tends to confuse people like me into thinking they’ve seen a flamingo. I imagine it happens a lot here in Florida.
Its pretty amazing that I could just walk upon these. I get a similar feeling when I see herons, egrets and pelicans right up close. Many of them have grown accustomed to people and will not flee as long as you don’t indicate harm. In fact yesterday, I was walking through another trail and came upon two rabbits. Rather than run they just parted to either side of the trail to let me pass and then resumed to what they were doing. Not sure where I’m going with all of this other than I consider it a privilege to interact with the wildlife. I guess I just don’t look scary enough.