Shades of Gray

     Nothing seems clear anymore! If you are reading this and are over 50 years of age, is it just me, or has the world gone crazy? When I grew up the world was black and white, right and wrong, good and bad, hot or cold. Now there are no definite borders or boundaries. What once was the edge is only the beginning. But the beginning of what, and to where?

     When photography started in its infancy with the camera obscura (basically a box with a pinhole) a lighted objects reflection passed through an opening and was projected on a wall or paper where it could be traced. Film cameras came into being with the discovery of silver nitrate or oxide components on first wet and then dry film.  The early 1800s era film cameras were all developed in black and white until color film became available. Ansel Adams was a true master of the black and white photography landscape images. I remember my Grandfather’s Kodak Brownie box cameras, the invention of Kodachrome color films, and finally the instant Polaroid camera. I also remember looking at the stereoscope images that made the photographs look three-dimensional (3D).  With the advent of digital camera technology, film camera production halted a decade ago. Recently I heard of a new cell phone with multiple cameras that will also start producing 3D digital images. Soon they will be mounted in eyeglass type frames and you will take photos with the blink of an eye. Hope it takes awesome bird photos too.

     I sometimes long to go back to a time when there were clear boundaries. Things were black and white. You were either honest or dishonest. Good or bad, hot or cold. So in that frame of reference I chose to find some birds and other photos that look good in black and white. Hope you enjoy this little journey back in photo time. Ultimately I think it is the direction we will be heading only in reverse if you know what I mean. Be Blessed.

Billowing clouds in Black and White, frozen in time it seems.

Fish Crow, easy to do since it is all black to begin with..

The Laughing Gull is mostly shades of Black, Gray and white.

Snowy Egret glides overhead, the bright sunlight gives it an X-Ray appearance 

Great Egret in Black and White gives an Ethereal feeling

A splash of pink from the Roseate Spoonbill gives more shade of gray..

Pink Angel in black and white..

Translucent wings melt into the clouds ( Albumen print reproduction effect)

Honey I'm Home..Great Egret returns to the nest!

Sailing like a feather in the wind (Calotype Glass Negative effect)

Flaps down for landing! (Daguerrotype print effect)

9th Inning neck stretch. (21st Century Sliver technique)

Waning Moon shines in Black and White! Seems clear to me..

Beat the heat..

     How do you keep cool in the summer? The Editor and I have a “Spa tub” that we use to try to keep cool in the summer (and warm in the winter). Birds have similar needs too, especially in warm humid climates like Florida. That is one reason we don’t see many birds out in the summertime. They are in the shade somewhere trying to keep cool.

      Remember the Osprey nest I shared in the May blog called “Perilous Times”.  Now the highway crews are clearing all the trees around that bridge to build a replacement span for the existing drawbridge. There is no place nearby for them to rest and keep cool. The nest is on top of a light signal and already exposed to the heat of the sun. Most Osprey nests are like that. Not a lot of canopy for cover. The nesting bird (mainly the female) stands with its wings spread over the eggs and hatchlings to provide shade. I have watched the young mother do this for hours on end day after day.

      Birds don’t have sweat glands, they must either get into shade, pant rapidly like a dog, or just get in the water to cool off. Many birds migrate for climate control. The Osprey hatchlings can’t fly yet so they just pant or stay in the shade under the parent’s wing whenever possible. Heat dissipates through the legs or eyelid circles or anywhere there are just a few feathers. Some say they evolved that way. I think they were made that way from the get go..or they would have died out long before "evolution" had time to take place. Especially now with all this “climate change” stuff.

     We are like those Osprey hatchlings and have a similar promise of protection made to us too. In Psalms we read “He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings though shalt trust”.  Gee, now I know where it came from. The birds knew it all along. Keep cool and “Be blessed”. Harry

 

Post Script. A few days after the Osprey photo was taken the Mother Osprey was hit by a car and a local Bird Rescue organization know as BEAKS sprang into action and rescued the two hatchlings. They found the mother with a broken wing laying in the bushes near by. The trio was reunited at BEAKS where they are being cared for. She will probably never fly but hopefully the two young Osprey can be released into the wild someday.

Turn up the AC mom, sweating like a dog up here in this heat!

Remember the Oystercatcher Hatchling?  it is growing like a weed and sticking close to the parents (sometimes). 

Same hatchling as above from 21 May..see how it has grown in two weeks ..

Female Roseate Spoonbill uses her wings to keep shade on the hatchling spoonies.

"He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings though shalt trust" Wilsons Plover with two chicks under its wings…Photo by Jack Rogers with permission,

Female Mallard provides protection for her ducklings. 

Got your ducks in a row for the summer heat wave? 

You people pay money for this mud bath treatment, I get it for free each day! Who is the real birdbrain huh?

Spoon fed spoonies!

Who Dat?

     No birding trip to southwest Florida would be complete without seeing the burrowing owls of Cape Coral. The weather in the afternoon looked threatening and the sky turned dark for a while but in the end it proved to be a wonderful afternoon.  We had a little motorcade winding through the streets in search of nest sites. I still think Jack made a few wrong turns but eventually we came upon a nest with a few cooperative owls on them.  

     Per the Florida Fish and Wildlife website ““The burrowing owl is a pint-sized bird that lives in open, treeless areas. The burrowing owl spends most of its time on the ground, where its sandy brown plumage provides camouflage from potential predators. One of Florida's smallest owls, it averages nine inches in height with a wingspan of 21 inches. The burrowing owl lacks the ear tufts of the more familiar woodland owls. Bright yellow eyes and a white chin accent the face. Unusually long legs provide additional height for a better view from its typical ground-level perch.”

      There were eight of us photographers who took turns under the direction of our instructor, Mr. Jack Rodgers,  getting into position for optimum photographs of these wide eyed feathered friends. Some locals asked if we were filming a documentary. We stopped at several sites. The last nest we visited was outstanding. There was a large family of about seven fledgling owlets and one of the adults by a large nest mound with several burrows. After taking one look at us one of the fledglings was so frightened it tried to get on the parents perch for protection. Once they saw we meant no harm they calmed downed and we got some excellent photo opportunities.  

      Who can look into those bright yellow eyes and not be amused? The comical looks the fledgling owlets gave us was indeed a sight to behold. I could almost hear them whisper to each other..who dat funny looking one with the great big camera? All I can says is my doohickey sure got a work out.  Hope you enjoy the owls as much as I did. Be Blessed. Harry

Who dat with the big camera thingy pointing at me?

Look into my eyes..then leave ok?

Moma! I's scared...young fledgling tries to join "Mom" on the post.

Ok Mama but I still don't like them pointing those things at me..Hey, can we get paid for this?

What do you mean smile? This is my happy face..idiot..

Who dat gal in the funny clothes? 

Jack Rogers, our instructor shows us the get low and dirty technique..hey, it works..just watch out for the fire ants..

Three siblings pose for photo op

Voy, Vas, Va...

     Voy, Vas, Va…I go, you go, we go…to Fort De Soto,  located in Pinellas County a little south of  St Petersburg,  and then on to Little Estero Lagoon in Fort Meyers Florida.  The 2014 Southwest Florida Bird Workshop trip headed by my friend Jack Rogers was great fun and I met a number of new folks and re-acquainted myself with some I had met at another of Jack’s workshops.  This trip was my birthday present from the Editor and I had a wonderful time.

     Per the Pinellas County website, Fort De Soto is “The largest park within the Pinellas County Park System, Fort De Soto park consists of 1,136 acres made up of five interconnected islands (keys)”. Another amazing example of the importance of the park's natural ecosystems is the more than 328 species of birds  that have been documented over 60 years by ornithologist with more added each year”.  Although it was overcast for the most part we managed to capture photos of a good number of interesting and colorful birds including a Yellow Crowned Night Heron, some Willets, a Great Blue Heron, Ruddy Turnstones, a pair of Oystercatchers, Pelicans, Frigate Birds, Plovers and several other shorebirds.

     The next leg of the journey took us to Little Estero Lagoon in Fort Meyers. This small lagoon is within walking distance of the hotel room we stayed at and is home to nesting Least Terns and several species of Plovers this time of year. We also saw some Reddish Egrets, Roseatte Spoonbills, Osprey, Frigate birds, Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, Brown Pelicans, ducks, and scores of Snowy and Great Egrets. I could spend a week there and not get tired of the photo opportunities.

     These are but a mere sample of the nearly 900 + photos I took. Ok, these are “the cream of the crop” ( I also took hundreds of bad ones ). I learned some more tips from Jack and the others there too. Grab your coffee cup and let’s go! Voy, Vas, Va and so soon we may….and Be Blessed. Harry

Sunrise Fort De Soto 31 May 2014

Yellow Crowned Night Heron…with an itch!

A Willet strolls the beach...

Tricolored Heron in Breeding coloration..truckin!  (hot date?)_

Oystercatcher about to take flight..

Great Blue Heron profile in close flight

Least Tern hovers over the surf zone looking for fish!

Least Tern eggs lie in a shallow scoop on the beach, note the natural camouflage coloration..

Nesting Least Tern returns to the eggs after giving us the evil eye!

High Key sunset in Black and White, Little Estero Lagoon..

Sunrise finds the Pelicans greeting me again..this time for my BIRTHDAY

Cormorant dries its wings…actually it thinks it should be the replacement for the American Bald Eagle symbol. 

The Great Blue Heron captures breakfast in the surf..

Roseate Spoonbill reflects in the lagoon..

Wilsons Plover keeps patient watch over a crab hole for breakfast..

Hatchling plover scurries across the sand...

Snowy Egret watches the surf for supper!

White Ibis in breeding red flames

Voy! Vas! Va! 

Summertime...

     “School’s out, school’s out, teacher let the monkeys out” the old rhyme goes. Summer has begun. I remember those years (long ago) when the last day of school ended and summer vacation began. I got a similar feeling a few years ago when I retired. "Way back then" summer vacation consisted of bailing hay and straw all summer and then going to the county fair to show steers and other livestock. Now everyday is a vacation. I have six Saturdays every week. As you read this blog I am off on another adventure to Southwest Florida hoping to capture some more award winning photographs to share.

     I am starting to venture into a new area of combining bird photography with digital art enhancements and background effects. In the “film days” the photographers spent hours in the dark room dodging and burning and touching up photographs. Me personally, I never did those things, I just dropped off the film at the drug store and picked them up a week or so latter already developed. With the advent of computers with photographic software applications, cell phone cameras, and digital photographs, we photographers (pros and amateurs like me) still spend hours doing what was once done in the darkroom. Computer software like Photoshop, PhotoSuite, and others, can take us way beyond the darkroom days.  To me, “Photoshop” is still a “dark art” but I am gradually learning some of the tricks of the trade. For this week’s Reflections I am sharing some of my first attempts at what I call “Photartistry”.  Emphasis on attempt.

     Software manipulations of digital nature photographs aren’t for everyone. Perhaps not even me but I thought it would be fun to try. That is what summer is all about right? Having fun. Grab a cup of coffee and feel free to give me some feedback if you like. Or just simply enjoy them (or not).  I will be back next week and start sharing the hundreds of photos I hope to take in southwest Florida next week. Be blessed..because after all, “It’s summertime”. Harry

Big Bird (a Reddish Egret photo) recently won first place in the annual "Wild Amelia Photo Contest for Adult Beginners class in 2014. I used this photo to create some early "oil painting" texture effects that turned out nice. 

I applied a similar artistic canvas oil painting texture effect to this Tricolored Heron photo..best seen if you enlarge your screen.

I used the same artistic effect on this gator reflection photograph.

In this photo I took a pair of herons and again used the canvas artistic effect.

For this one I took a photo of a Pelican against a clear blue sky and replaced the blue with another photo of a sunset for a completely different effect. 

Here I took the same Pelican, added a different sky, added a layer with an ancient wall texture and some blurring to give it a an aged vintage look. This is the Editor's favorite so far. 

I call this one Oystercatchers Rockefeller..did a similar technique using an antique wall background over a faint sky overlay. My version of ancient cave paintings with a modern twist..this will be printed on canvas. 

I call this one Vintage Eagle..similar technique using antique wall and sky overlays in layers.

Laughing Moon, here I used two photos (gull and moon) and two overlays to give this laughing gull a more whimsical look. 

This final one is called Summertime , I took a Seagull photo…then I used a bit of all the above techniques, the canvas oil texture, sky and ancient wall texture overlays to create this one..

email: selsorhd@me.com

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Photos are avail for purchase framed or unframed.