Cold Hardy Succulent

Thank Goodness!!! When I was wandering around my rural landscape last weekend, I found some interesting views of a succulent that we have been growing for several years in our succulent garden. I’ve always loved this plant. It is about 3-feet tall and has such character. But when I found it covered in ice, it had some wonderful macro photography opportunities:

Succulent covered with Ice

Succulent covered with Ice

Like most all of the plants I found that morning, there were some icy buds on the plant:

Succulent covered with Ice

Succulent covered with Ice

Note: For the local readers that knew my wife, Karen, I will have her remaining craftwork at the Business & Health craft show tonight in Harrisonville, Missouri (at the Mill Walk Mall, 2601 Cantrell Road) from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. I have heavily discounted her crafts and will be selling off her inventory tonight.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 180 mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/8 to f/11
  • Shutter 1/80 sec. to 1/125 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Landscape Photography, Macro Photography, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Frozen Goodies, Part 1

After our recent ice storm, I took my macro lens and tripod and wandered around my 9.5 acres, finding some wonderful frozen goodies.

Right off my front porch, I captured this image of some landscape grasses that line the walkway from the drive to the house (this is a good example of why I don’t clean out my gardens in the fall):

Icy Landscape Grasses

In my circle drive, I have an American Beautyberry bush, which the birds really enjoy. But I found a few berries the birds missed, but the ice found:

American Beautyberry berries encased in Icde

American Beautyberry berries encased in Icde

American Beautyberry berries encased in Icde

Along the drive from the road to my house, I have a couple of flowering pear trees. I noticed they had been starting to bud, also. Note this ice-encased bud. Does it remind you of anything? I see a turtle’s head!

Pear tree bud encased in ice

As I wandered the acreage, I found even more wonderful icescapes. I’ll share more in subsequent posts.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 180 mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/3.5 to f/8
  • Shutter 1/40 sec. to 1/250 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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A Winter Wonderland

Over the weekend, we were square in the middle of a large ice storm that struck the Midwest. On Sunday morning, I looked out on the back deck and saw some of the ice-covered landscape that had resulted from an overnight icing. Here are a few images I captured from/around my back deck:

On the deck were several plant hangers, which I had placed on an outside table for the winter:

Ice-covered plant hanger

And looking out from the deck, I could see the many ice-covered trees:

Ice-covered trees

And a protective, plant cage I had fabricated to fit around some new plants I bought/planted in late fall:

Ice-covered plant cage

After capturing these images, I decided I needed to put on some warm clothes and venture around the acreage and see what else I could find. I’ll share some of those images in upcoming posts.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 180 mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Handheld
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/100 sec. to 1/250 sec.

 

 

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Fun Friday: On the 2nd Day of Christmas …

… My True Love Sent to Me … 2 Turtle Doves …. Hey wait, we have some extras!

Recently, we’ve been experiencing some arctic temperatures at my rural Missouri home. It’s been keeping me quite busy, filling up the bird feeders multiple times a day. Lately, I’ve been seeing large numbers of doves feeding on the covered front porch, below the sunflower feeders. When not feeding, they tend to congregate in a locust tree that spreads over my circle driveway (I’ve been really wanting to cut down that tree and get rid of all the large locust thorns, but the birds love that tree too much for me to get out and cut it down!). The other morning, I looked out and saw this group of 8 doves (Mourning doves, I believe), all huddled in the tree:

Mourning Doves

Just a note: starting later today and running through Sunday evening, we are being forecast for a substantial amount of ice, falling as freezing rain and drizzle. If that happens, I’ll likely be without electricity for several days. So if I don’t show up for a while, it’s likely due to the weather forecasters being correct in their predictions!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/16
  • Shutter 1/200 sec.

 

 

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Faves of 4Q 2016

 

Fourth quarter began as usual, with foliage showing the signs of fall, such as this Slender Bush Clover found on Snowball Hill Prairie:

Slender Bush Clover in fall colors

Slender Bush Clover in fall colors

Not far from the clover, I found 3 Rough Blazing Stars:

Rough Blazing Star wildflowers

And I have to include one of my favorite finds at a local hardware store, some fun-loving Mums (which 2 are now part of the entrance to my rural home!):

Fall Mums

And as the season transformed into late fall, more Monarchs appeared at my home butterfly garden:

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly pair

As well as some “false Monarchs”, the Viceroy butterfly:

Viceroy butterfly

And another new wildflower for me, the Gentian (found on Snowball Hill Prairie):

Downy Gentian wildflower

I found one last chance to kayak a local Conservation Area before the lake began to freeze:

Rising sun through the dense fog

Great Blue Heron in heavy fog

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

A Damselfly with it’s “many wings”:

Damselfly

Damselfly

But the highlight of the end-of-year was a first time trip to Arches National Park in Utah, for some night photography:

Star Trails over Balanced Rock

Star Points over Balanced Rock

Super-moon at Balanced Rock

Pine Tree Arch at night

Lone Pine Tree at night

Stars and the Milky Way over Turret Arch

Landscape Arch at night

Double Arch at night

Star Trails over and through the North Window

Park Avenue at night

Did you miss the first 3 quarters? If so, you can find them here:

What will 2017 bring? I can’t wait to find out! I have a few interesting trips scheduled and can’t wait for some new opportunities! Happy New Year!

 

 

 

Posted in 2016, Astrophotography, Blog, Butterfly Photography, Insect Photography, Landscape Photography, Macro Photography, National Park, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak, Travel Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Faves of 3Q 2016

Third Quarter 2016 was photographically slow starting out. My wife had just passed and I was busy taking care of her estate. And at that time, my desire to get out and photograph was at a new, all-time low. But after a lot of soul searching, I knew I had to return to what was previously my passion. I also came to grips that my late wife would not have wanted me to stop what we both enjoyed doing so much. As such, I decided to visit the Badlands NP in August to photograph the Perseids meteor shower above the beautiful, colored rocks of the park. The Badlands had always been a favorite destination for both my wife and me. Here’s a few images captured during that 4-day trip:

Star Trails captured over Badlands NP

Star Trails captured over Badlands NP

Perseids Meteor Shower over Badlands NP

Perseids Meteor Shower over Badlands NP

Perseids Meteor Shower over Badlands NP

Combining several images into one, I put together this image with multiple meteors:

Perseid Meteors fly over the Badlands NP

Other Badland images include this Bighorn Sheep ewe and her young lamb:

Bighorn Sheep lamb nursing

Bighorn Sheep lamb nuzzling against mom

A grazing Pronghorn:

Pronghorn Antelope grazing on the prairie

A favorite wildflower of the Badlands, the Evening Starflower:

Evening Starflower wildflower

Evening Starflower wildflower

Evening Starflower wildflower

Badlands NP landscape

After the Badlands, it was back home and time for some late summer prairie wildflower photography. Multiple trips to Snowball Hill Prairie yielded several nice images, like these Monarch butterflies that were migrating southward for the winter:

Monarch butterfly on Sawtooth Sunflower

Monarch butterfly on Showy Goldenrod

Monarch butterflies on Showy Goldenrod

Monarch butterfly on Showy Goldenrod

Monarch butterfly on Blue Sage

A brialliant sunrise over Snowball Hill:

Sunrise over Snowball Hill Prairie (MO)

And from my new home butterfly garden:

Monarch butterfly

Red-spotted Purple butterfly

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

In the next post, I’ll feature some favorite trips and images from the 4th Quarter.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Astrophotography, Blog, Butterfly Photography, Insect Photography, Landscape Photography, Macro Photography, National Park, Nature Photography, Sunrises/Sunsets, Travel Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Faves of 2Q 2016

Today’s post features some of my favorite memories and images of nature that I photographed during the months of April, May and June. If you missed the first quarter’s images, you can find them here (“Faves of 1Q 2016”). Now, on to the second quarter!

In spring and early summer, I am usually busy photographing wildflowers and conducting some “Wildflower Shorty” workshops, where I work with small groups (often these are 1:1 sessions) photographing woodland wildflowers. 2016 was no exception … as soon as the wildflowers appear, I seem to be out every free morning! Here are some of the wildflower images I enjoyed capturing.

One of my favorites, Bird’s-foot Violets:

Bird's-foot Violet

Bird's-foot Violet

The sometimes, difficult to spot Jack-in-the-Pulpit:

Jack-in-the-Pulpit wildflower

Phlox:

Blue Phlox wildflower

And more Bluebells:

Virginia Bluebells

Dog’s Tooth Violet (aka, Trout Lily):

Trout Lily (aka Dog-tooth Violet)

And even a new insect for me, the Large Bee Fly at a False Rue Anemone:

Large Bee Fly

And in April/May, prairie wildflowers began to appear, such as this Prairie Phlox:

Prairie Phlox wildflower

Shooting Stars:

Shooting Star wildflower

And even some birds, such as this Prothonotary Warbler who sang me a cheery tune while kayaking:

Prothonotary Warbler

And an endangered Barn Owl (common in some areas, but endangered in Missouri due to loss of habitat):

Adult Barn Owl in flight

And a Yellow Warbler watching me kayak past:

Yellow Warbler foraging in the trees above the water

A new wildflower for me … the Adam and Eve Orchid:

Adam and Eve Orchids (Putty Root)

And another new wildflower … the Michigan Lily:

Michigan Lily wildflower

An interesting find … a white thistle:

White thistle wildflower

And the normal purple thistle, before it opens:

Purple Thistle wildflower

Moth Mullein:

Moth Mullein wildflower

And Daisies began to appear along the rural roads:

Ox-eye Daisy wildflower

And a White-tailed doe watching me kayak:

White-tailed Deer

During this time frame, the dragonflies and damselflies begin appearing:

Male Eastern Amberwings dragonfly

Female Eastern Amberwings dragonfly

In the next post, I’ll share some of my favorite images from July, August and September.

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2016, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Insect Photography, Macro Photography, Mammals, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Faves of 1Q 2016

Finally, 2016 is behind us and in the books! For me, 2016 was a mixed bag. I had some awesome travels and some great photo opps in the year. But 2016 was also a very rough time; midway through the year, I lost my traveling companion and best friend, my wife of nearly 18 years. So with the difficult holiday season now past, I’m eagerly looking forward to a better 2017.

In this post, I’m going to feature some of my favorite images from the first quarter of 2016.

In January, I photographed wintering bald eagles on the Mississippi River, in Iowa. Here are a few of my favorites from that trip:

Adult Bald Eagle fishing

Adult Bald Eagle fishing

Adult Bald Eagle fishing

Adult Bald Eagle fishing

Adult Bald Eagle fishing

Bald Eagles fighting over a fish

 

Immature Bald Eagle soaring over the river

The eagle trip was also conducted as a small group workshop, with everyone capturing some wonderful images. Unfortunately, I won’t be doing this trip in 2017. Instead, I’ll be traveling to south Texas to photograph some of our endangered whooping cranes that winter along the Gulf Coast.

February was pretty quiet … not much photography. But in March, a very busy photographic schedule was on my plate. As woodland wildflowers began to appear, I was either out photographing them, or conducting my small, half-day photo workshops. Here are a few of my favorite spring wildflower images I captured:

Virginia Bluebells

Virginia Bluebells

Dutchman's Breeches wildflowers

False Rue Anemone wildflower

March also brought a new family to the area … a Great Horned Owl and her 2 chicks:

Nesting Great Horned Owls

Nesting Great Horned Owls

Nesting Great Horned Owls

In my next post, I’ll share some of my favorite images from the second quarter of 2016.

 

 

 

 

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Where’s That Kwazy Wabbit?

That’s one of my first thoughts whenever I gaze into the winter heavens and see the famed hunter/warrior Orion. I went out to Snowball Hill Prairie earlier this week to shoot some skyline images of Harrisonville (county seat of the Cass County) with the Christmas lights. Although some clouds and the extreme lights from some of the businesses/streets in Harrisonville caused havoc in trying to capture some reasonable images, I had much more luck finding and photographing some star constellations over the prairie.

One of the most pronounced constellations I saw was of the great hunter Orion, famous in Greek mythology. Looking up, this is the image I saw … can you find Orion in this image?

Constellation Orion in the winter sky

To an untrained eye, or someone new into astronomy, it can be difficult to find such constellations. The key for me finding Orion is to find Orion’s belt, the 3 stars in a line, at a diagonal, about 1/3 the way up from the bottom of this image. After image editing, I drew in the lines of the outline of Orion via Photoshop (note: I am pretty new at constellations, so I may not be totally accurate on the stars, but should be very close). Here is the edited image with the lines drawn in and the major stars identified and tagged:

Constellation Orion, with lines drawn in, in the winter sky

In this constellation, Betelgeuse and Bellatrix represent Orion’s shoulders, with Meissa being his head. Saiph and Rigel are Orion’s knees. Stars Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka are Orion’s belt.  the 3 “stars” below the belt (including the Orion Nebula) represent the great hunter’s sword that hangs at his side.

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon 28mm-135mm, f/4.5 – f/5.6 IS lens (with IS “Off”)
  • Bogen 3221 tripod, with ballhead
  • ISO 6400
  • Aperture f/22 (Oops, an error on my part! Didn’t check this setting before shooting. A larger aperture, perhaps f/4.5, would likely have made more stars appear in the image)
  • Shutter 25 sec.

 

 

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Pssst … Did You Hear ….?

While shooting in Arches NP, just a few miles into the park stands an interesting rock formation called “Three Gossips”. As most of the arches I was photographing were further into the park, I must have passed these “gossipers” fifty times! And each time, I would always wonder what they were talking about! Especially at a distance, the Three Gossips looked very much like like 3 individuals talking about something (I’ll let you decide the gender!) :o)

Three Gossips

Doesn’t it look like (in the above photo) that the 2 on the right side are facing each other and talking, with the one on the left leaning in to overhear the conversation?

Three Gossips

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon 28-135mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/16 and f/20
  • Shutter 1/20 sec. to 1/40 sec.

 

 

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