Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My 50th birthday!

I was born fifty years ago today, November 30, 1959. I was anxiously awaiting my birthday and I was really hoping that it would not happen. I havew never been in a hurry to be fifty years old. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do but it wasn't going to be sleeping all day and letting the time slip by. I decided that I would spend the day by my self and drive up to Ft DeSoto state park in St. Pete. There are many migratory birds there and I knew that I would have a good day! I got my ass up at 5:30 in the morning and was on the road well before six. When I got there, it was still somewhat dark, and I drove over to the eastern side of the island to photograph the sunrise

I stayed in this spot for a while and took a few photos. I have always liked this spot and I am looking almost due east.

Here is another shot, this time I will move away from the bridge!

I enjoyed that beautiful sunrise so now it was time to move on and see some birds! I then left the eastern side of the island to drive over to the west side and visit the north beach. North Beach at Fort DeSoto is always ranked as one of the best beaches in the country.

I walked onto the beach and I immediately knew that this was a special day because I saw a bird that I have never seen before and only learned of its existence, this year. This is an image of a White Morph Reddish Egret. I understand that they are a rare bird here in Florida and I was glad that I got to see one.

I also saw a dark morph Reddish Egret. I have only seen this bird once before and it was here at Fort Desoto as well. These Reddish Egrets mate and nest here at Fort Desoto and a few other places in Florida. They are so beautiful! See what you think!

It was nice to get away and come up here and photograph these beautiful birds! I can't wait to get back again!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dinner Island WMA trip October 4, 2009

I am a very lucky man and I have a bunch of great people that I know.I met a bunch of my new friends on Sunday October 4, 2009 at Dinner Island WMA for a meet-up of a group of us that share our photos on flickr. A young lady named Heather Green organized the trip and did a wonderful job at putting this event together. Dinner Island is located several miles to the southwest of Lake Okeechobee in Florida. We were supposed to meet there at 7am and I live about 150 miles away so I had to leave my house at 4am. I followed my directions to a tee and still almost got lost because it was dark and there were no signs to show me where to turn into the entrance but I did find it.

I rolled up and I saw a few people that I recognized and I introduced myself to Heather and everyone else. I was really excited and I just kinda stood there for a few minutes until I noticed that everyone was behind their camera and then I noticed this absolutely beautiful sunrise.

I then just stepped back and looked at the place and looked at what everyone was photographing when I heard some one say to turn around and look at the moon, so I turned around and saw one of the most amzing full moons anyone could ask to see!

We were all standing there at the entrance of this place waiting on all of the people who were expected to show up. A couple of the folks were late and a couple didn't show up at all. I took more images of the sunrise and there was a horse in this coral next to where we all parked, so we all took images of that horse in the beautiful morning light. I, as usual, was so excited that I forgot to get my camera settings just right and I missed those shots by having the wrong shutter speed and wrong ISO settings to get the right shutter speed. I am still and always learning at photography.

The time went on and we finally decided to move on and see what we could find. There was a dirt road that encircled the place and so we started driving down the road not knowing for myself what I would encounter. We found a group of spider nests so we decided to get a few images of them.

We then rolled on down the road a little bit and as I drove up I noticed that everyone had stopped and I thought that we were going to get the chance to see and photograph some Barred Owls. I was right and that is exactly what we did! Someone had some owl sounds recorded and as usual, they worked.

While I and others were into the owls and trying to get the best photographs that we could, I noticed some other folks with there macro lenses out and taking some images of smaller things like a catapillar and a couple tree frogs. I had my 70-300mm lens on my camera and for the tree frogs, that one was just not going to get the job done. I went back to my truck and fetched my camera bag and took out my Tamron 90mm Macro lens and attached it to my D80. The nice thing about tree frogs is that they don't move too much. I wasn't quite tall enough to get the camera set up the way that I wanted so I went back to the truck and got a bucket to stand on. I then was able to fire off a couple long macro exposures of this tree frog.

We then moved on again and the sun was getting pretty high in the sky by this time and I didn't think that I would get many more images, as we were riding out I saw this brama bull, so I took a shot of him. Here is that image. I thought he looked kinda pissed.

We got back to the parking lot and stood around and talked for a little while. I thought about the day and what a good time I had with my friends. We did decide to do this again, this time at Viera Wetlands, on the east coast of Florida. I wanted to remember what the place looked like so I decided to take this parting shot of Dinner Island WMA. What a cool place!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More of my rants

This is just some of the things that has been getting under my skin lately. The past two weeks have showed one example after the next, that we have become a society that just don't give a shit about anyone except ourselves anymore. The first example was when South Carolina congressman Joe Wilson interrupted President Barrack Obama's speech to congress last week. Rep. Wilson called Obama a liar, implying that Obama was lying by saying illegal aliens were not going to receive health care under his new plan. Wilson stood by what he said and only apologized when forced to do so by his fellow congressmen. I don't really care that he called him a liar but he could have done it in a better way.
Serena Williams was playing for the championship at the US Open tennis match the other day. She was getting her ass beat by Kim Clysters. She disagreed with some of the calls that the official made and she slammed her racquet upon the ground and then she threatened and berated the official right there in front of God and everyone. She too later apologized but the sincerity of that apology was questionable at best. She no more cared about that than the man in the moon. The only thing that she was concerned about was that her actions could potentially cost her money in the future because she will lose endorsement contracts and her image will take a big hit in general. Didn't her parents teach this stuck up bitch any manners? Evidently not.
The last incident came Sunday night at the MTV video music awards show. Young country songstress Taylor Swift had just won their award for "Best Video of the year" when rapper Kanye West barrged out from backstage, snatched the microphone from her hand and then went on to say the Beyonce had the best video. He too later apologized but it was too little too late. He apologized to her in his blog, what a jack ass! Who gave this jerk the right. First of all, who cares about the MTV music awards show? Does anyone watch videos anymore? Second, who gives a damn about Kanye West? How did he get that gig anyway? I have more God given talent than he! If Kanye had been a white man it would have been a bigger story because then he would have been labeled a racist and we would nevr hear the end of it.
We have absolutely no respect for anyone anymore. Kindness and respect have been thrown out the window and no one seems to care. It is really no surprise. The images and behavior on television, with the reality shows and the selfishness of the athletes that we idolize just fuel that behavior. Parents don't teach their children and everyone is all about me me me! In many ways, I am glad that I grew up in a different generation. I would have gotten my ass beat if I acted like these people have. My dad would have kicked my ass, my friends would have kicked my ass and I don't even want to think about the ass kicking I would have received from my mother.
Everyone needs to step back and take a long hard look at themselves and ask, Would my grandmother approve of the way that I am acting? Well, would she?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

All Alone

Over the course of the last year I have gone from a guy who wants to drink and smoke, get drunk and party all night to one who has become totally clean and sober. I quit drinking on Christmas night, December 25, 2008. I was drunk and I knocked a beer over onto and on top of my laptop computer that I had owned less than a year. My entire collection of photography was on that computer with no back up. I was so angry with myself that I could almost cry. The entire previous year had been spent with me trying to improve as a photographer and here I was about to lose my entire collection of photographs all because of my drinking habit. I decided at that moment that I had enough. I haven't touched or wanted a beer or a drink since. I quit smoking marijuana later on in the year when I lost my job at the restaurant. I started applying for jobs and it seems like everywhere you go is now a drug free workplace that requires all employees to be screened for drugs, so I quit! I don't miss it at all. I don't need it. I don't want it and I wonder why it took me until I was almost fifty years old, to figure it out. I feel, in a way, like I have wasted most of my life, but that is NOT true!
I remember going to AA meetings and such, and the people who knew more than I would tell me that I was going to have to change my entire group of friends. I refused to believe them. I thought that I was powerful enough to quit everything and just still hang out with the same people and do the same things that I used to do, only difference being, I wouldn't drink or smoke. I was so wrong. I have had no problems staying clean and sober. I just seem to have a problem being with people who continue to use and drink. I no longer wish to be around these people, they are all so much different than I am now and we no longer have that "thing" in common. I go to the bar to sing karaoke like I always have and I just stand in the corner all by myself. I watch everyone else drink and smoke and smoke and drink and this is all they do. I feel so alone. I move around and try to talk to everyone and be the same person that I was, but I am not and I just don't enjoy doing it any longer.
I am now all alone. I am going to have to find a whole new set of friends that don't drink or smoke. I have no fear that I will be able to do this because I have never had any problems with finding friends. I do stuff that keeps me by myself most of the time now anyway. Photography keeps me occupied most of the time and that's a hobby that I do better by myself. I don't bother anyone and no one bothers me. I just feel all alone now. I don't really want to spend my time with these folks and they don't want to spend time with me. I thought for all of this time that we had more in common than our desire to get drunk or get stoned, now that I have no desire to do that any longer, I feel no connection to my former friends. I hope that I don't sound too cold but it's just the way I feel. Those folks at AA were right all along. I will be fine. I will not drink and I will not smoke. I also quit smoking cigarettes in January of 2007 but that has been no problem with my relationships. People refuse to believe or accept the influence of the alcohol and drugs upon their pysche and the way that they think about everything. They refuse to believe that their entire life is predicated by their use of these powerful drugs, I sure didn't. I am glad that I am clean and sober! The two best decisions I have ever made. I just have to think about my decisions in the future now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My little buddies

This is an image of our little puppies. The mama dog (Jackie) gave birth to them on July 1, 2009. We had been waiting for them and hoping with great anticipation that they would be born healthy. The dark faced one is the only one that has been sold so far. I have been waiting for the puppies to get big enough so that my room mate, Dusty, would be willing to let them go outside. Tonight was the night!

Jackie is almost impossible to photograph, she runs from me whenever she sees my camera. Tonight, I couldn't get her out of the way of the puppies. I did manage to capture a couple shots of her. We took the puppies outside and they didn't know exactly what to do, so they all decided to squat. A funny sight indeed, almost as if on cue! Jackie wouldn't get out of the way, so the puppies figured that they would take advantage of the situation and they started nursing. We weaned them a few days ago. The time passed and Jackie relaxed a bit and I was able to get this shot of the four pups together. They continued to romp and play around with each other and I was able to get images of each of them individually. I enjoy photographing my little buddies and in the coming days, I plan to get many more. More photographs to come!

Friday, August 7, 2009

I love my squirrels

I love my squirrels. I don't know when it started for me but I have loved these little creatures for all of my life. I remember as a little kid, my grandfather came to live with us starting when I was ten years old. My grandmother ha just passed away and he moved in with us, he was my maternal grandfather. He was very lonely after my grandmother passed away so he started building bird houses and bird feeders. He was good at it and it didn't take long before he had several put up around the yard. A few months went by and I noticed that we had several birds and squirrels making visits to our yard to eat out of our his bird feeders. We would sit together in the backyard, my grandfather and I, and watch all of the different birds come and eat out of the feeders. There were all kinds of birds, blue jays, brown thrashers, robins and cardnials and of course, the squirrels.
The squirrels were very big compared to the small bird feeders and they would wedge their entire body inside the feeder. They would sit in there and eat until all the food was either eaten or knocked out of the feeder by their clumsiness. I remember not liking the squirrels then because I thought that they should let the birds eat, I mean it was a bird feeder not a squirrel feeder, right? I would try to chase them off and get the birds back but the squirrels just took over the bird feeders and would eat all of the food. My grandfather built bird houses and they would take them over too. A couple years went by and the squirrels kept coming to the feeders and eating all of the food. Another year or two went by and my family and I moved into another house in a different part of the same city. This house was built on a lot that was next to a set of woods. My grandfather loved it.
Our house was built like a tree house,with trees surrounding us. The bird feeders and houses went up all over the neighborhood and the process started all over again. The birds and squirrels were all around, everyday more and more of them would show up. One Christmas, I received this brand new pellet gun as a gift and I couldn't wait to go out and shoot it. I didn't shoot anything at first but as some time went by I slowly started shooting the birds and squirrels. I was thirteen years old. I remember being out with my grandfather and my gun and one day I took aim and shot a squirrel, right in front of him. I didn't even think about it. He said nothing at first and then he looked down and said, "You know if you keep doing that, then they won't come around anymore," and I said, "what?" and he repeated himself. I felt horrible and have felt guilty about that ever since. I haven't pointed a gun at a living thing since that day. I never told my grandfather that. He passed away in 1982. I have never met a better man. I grew older and when I was in high school my friends would show me their deer rifles and ask me to go hunting with them. I just couldn't do it. I was too soft hearted and I am still. I am happy with myself, being that way. I now only want to "shoot" an animal with my camera.

Monday, August 3, 2009

"Talk, talk......Talk, talk talk talk....,all you do to me is talk talk"

I have become addicted into going to the bait shops around town in the morning. I usually get up at about 7am and throw on some shorts, grab the camera and my tripod and head out the door. I arrive at Hart's Landing bait shop first and I set up there.
I try to time my arrival with the arrival of the shrimp fishermen delivering their catch from the night before. The fishermen bring their load of shrimp in and the bait shop attendant then starts sorting the shrimp according to size. All this commotion attracts a number of birds. Great blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Great egrets, Little Blue Herons and sea gulls are all attracted by the possibility of a free meal.
I am hoping that the bait shop attendant will toss the birds a couple shrimp and I can capture the moment of the birds swallowing the shrimp. Many times I have to beg the guy to give the birds a shrimp. Some of the employees are better about it than others. One guy has to be begged to give the shrimp away and another guy throws the birds the shrimp so quickly that I have a hard time getting the exposure right.
I use the spot meter for my bird shots so I have to be quick. I just place the center spot on the brightest part of the bird and zero out the meter from there. I have learned to have the exposure compensation set at +.03 if the bird is filling the frame. I use the matrix meter if the bird does not fill the frame and I have the exposure compensation set to zero. I use the manual exposure mode so I am constantly changing the shutter speed. I also let the camera focus the lens, I have enough to think about.
Hart's Landing is a cool place and I can get some good closeups there with the sky or the bay as a blurred background. I then move on and take my gear across the bay to New Pass Grill & Bait. Their shop is set up a little differently and gives me some different photo opportunities They have docks and a shoreline and some rocky outcrops over by the jetties. The sea gulls like to sit on the docks and squalk at each other. I like it here because I can compose the shots without distracting backgrounds.
I like the bait shops for bird photography because I can get close to the birds without spooking them and fill the frame with my subjects. The birds are interested in eating so they don't pay much attention to me and my camera. I hope you will like my images

I am bored!

I have been a waiter for over twenty years and for the first time in my life I got fired. Well I cannot blame anyone for this other than myself but it was all a big misunderstanding. I have never worked for a more difficult group of clientele in my life. Toojays Gourmet Deli! The place started in West Palm beach by a couple jewish men named Jay, hence Toojays. The people that come into that place were impossible. Picky as hell and just plain rude. I am surprised that I lasted as long as I did. I got into trouble because I am the type of guy who wears his emotions right there on my shirt sleeve. This has gotten me into hot water before and I am sure it will again. Do you think that I will change? HELL NO! I would get pissed off at people and I couldn't hide that in my facial expressions, so then the customers would bitch to the management about me. I was warned a couple times, they took tables away from me, anything they thought would work. I was so burned out there. The day I was to be fired started out okay, It was on a Sunday afternoon. The restaurant was dead. We were sitting around waiting for business to begin. A waitress decided that she was ill at that point and went to the managers and cried like something was wrong. The only thing that was wrong was that she had to be there. They wound up sending her home and that left us with six servers on the floor and put me into a seven or eight table station. I don't know about you but I can't handle seven or eight tables. The restaurant then filled up and all of a sudden I had six tables, a couple or three four tops, a deuce and a couple three tops. Everyone came in at once. Everyone wanted their food at once. The whole restaurant was deep in the weeds.
I was seated with a young couple and their three young children at a table in the back near the bathrooms. The lady couldn't get the child to her breast quick enough and they sat down. They asked me what I had for the children to drink. I went through the list and mentioned "apple juice." The smallest kid in a high chair started grabbing at my apron and screaming "I want apple juice, I want Apple juice" nonstop. I guess that I must have given them a nasty look because they called for their stuff to go. Anyway, I won't bore you with much more, after that I went home and on my next shift I was gone. Easy come easy go!

Little Blue Heron

I found this Little Blue Heron beside a retention pond in downtown Sarasota Florida. I took this on the first day of July in 2008. I love the color of this beautiful bird. It is displaying its breeding colors. I was surprised that the birds let me get this close. There were quite a few birds there that day. Several Little Blue Herons, a pair of Green Herons, a Great Blue Heron a couple cormorants and a Great Egret were all sharing the same pond and I was able to capture all of them. This is one of my favorite and best images.
I usually ride out to the gulf coast and take photos of the sunset but on this day I was at the traffic light waiting to turn and I looked over to my right and saw these birds. They don't congregate there much so I was happy to see them there. I am fortunate to live in a place where the wildlife is so abundant.